The Problem With Our War On Hate Speech, Warmongering And Fraud Policies » Capital News
For the past week, citizens and politicians from all sides of the political divide have risen in revolt against the wording and perhaps the intent and/or interpretations of the Meru Senator. Interestingly, many ratings, including the legacy media houses, were uneasy about repeating the words. Different interpretations have been made and Kenyans sympathetic to the hustler movement have backed the senator with claims that his arrest was purely a witch hunt and worse, some have found other politicians using such, if not worse, phrases have used and speech pertaining to hate speech, warmongering and incitement to violence.
One thing that is clear in our politics is the truth that politicians sometimes achieve what they want to achieve by sending ambiguous messages with a line of interpretation that offers a safe interpretation to hold on to, around their skin to rescue. The intended interpretations are almost always very controversial and overdosed with obvious emotion, evoking feelings that have proven deadly. Unfortunately, when some of these hate mongers are condemned for their choice of words, the impact of their messages is almost always well internalized by their target audience. In fact, the intended audience rarely comes into contact with an apology or the consequences of such inflammatory messages. Although the good senator immediately apologized on social media and many leaders have since condemned the comments, the majority of people who attended Uasin Gishu’s rally, probably the actual target audience, do not have access to social media or old media . They probably have no idea that what they were told at the rally has since been retracted and an apology given.
These guys are probably mulling over what the news meant, and there have been reports of evictions and home burning, although there’s no evidence or any connection to the rally. It’s pretty much the same as what has happened at demonstrations in the past. The media reports on protesters and the police breaking up of protesters, and what people don’t know is the extent of the casualties. After the demos, we often get the numbers of the injured and if there are any dead, those too. However, the last three elections have since shown that no one ever goes back to find out how the injured ended up, and if there were injured who weren’t in the picture at the time the news footage went to press or was picked up, they didn’t end up with it. As a result, the scale of the demonstrations and the aftermath of incitement by politicians is never appreciated. So when leaders make reckless statements and their rivals respond with equally reckless statements, the bigger picture is almost always larger than the window of the picture we access in public.
Put simply, our discourse on hate speech, incitement to violence and warmongering needs to change. NCIC and other advocacy groups must rise above this as warmongers unleash their hateful and emotional utterances, redefining the fight against these vices that threaten our social fabric and peaceful coexistence. A campaign that gets everyone on board must be boldly pursued, and the fear of speaking out some of those words must be jettisoned.
Kenyans need to be socialized with words like madoadoa, kwekwe, non-native and all that in such a way that they have a clear understanding of both the connotative and denotative meaning. The public needs to understand what these words mean, and the media should be bold enough to say what they mean when they are used. Data journalism should anchor the unwrapping of the reach and dissemination of such words and their consequences when uttered publicly to the reach of apologies on social media. Boldly helping the public understand those words would mean that the politicians who dare to use those words will essentially reach the public with their warmongering, and because the public already knows, the politicians will, at the Exposing the end for what they really are – warmongers, anti-national unity and enemies of peace. In short, if the public is well informed enough, it would be easy to portray these politicians as enemies of the people rather than heroes and heroines.
The problem with our fight against some of these anti-national cohesive behaviors lies in the fact that rather than investing in proactive awareness-raising, designer-clad commissioners and advocacy groups continue to wax lyrical after incidents of hate speech and warmongering. Concerted efforts to bring from the fringes; true stories, lived experiences and the plights of Kenyans who have taken the brunt of reckless speech should be the way to go.
NCIC is a commission that would only be considered successful if its advocacy focused on helping the citizenry detest leaders who turn communities against each other. The impact of NCIC should be seen in a citizenry that is moving away from political leaders who spread hate speech and incite people to war; an immediate and public condemnation of loose cannons spewing hatred. Such results are only achievable if all NCIC-led stakeholders embark on an advocacy campaign based on telling stories that help the public trace the suffering, struggles and plight of hate speech victims of hate and warmongering . That requires powerful real-life stories, not current talk show discussions on TV and radio.
The author is a doctoral student in media studies and political communication.