What constitutes hate speech?

People who consistently make comments that are considered to be hate speech could soon face jail time.

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha announced that a proposed bill to help combat hate crimes and hate speech has been opened for public comment.

Jane Duncan, Professor of Journalism at University of Johannesburg says the Constitution is very clear on what constitutes hate speech.

She says if you are not consciously attempting to propagate hate speech then it doesn't constitute hate speech.

We have to show that not only are we being hateful ourselves, but we are also getting other people to hate as well, in a manner that may cause either physical or psychological harm to the person that is directed against.

Jane Duncan, Professor of Journalism at University of Johannesburg

Duncan says the context in which the hate speech is spoken matters as well.

If a person advocates hate speech in a non inflammatory context, then it may not necessarily be hate speech.

But in a context where such speech may result in people engaging in harmful actions, then that may be considered as hate speech.

Listen Professor Duncan explain what constitutes for hate speech below:


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