South African media (even more illiberal than America’s) have almost nothing positive to say about Steve Hofmeyr, an immensely popular singer, songwriter, actor and Afrikaner activist. (In the new multicultural South Africa, Afrikaner identity is tantamount to a “racist” identity, naturally.) For speaking out of turn, the forces of tyranny have converged on Hofmeyr with the intent to silence him, and worse. Note the sovietized nomenclature used to bring one man to heel and to induce conformity: Hofmeyr is said to go against “nation-building,” to be “extremely abnormal,” to express a “startling sentiment.”
A fellow named Brad Cibane, in training at the American Ivy League (which, increasingly, does not stand for true intellectual excellence) to excel as Conformity Enforcer in South Africa, illustrates his terrifying notion of allowable speech. Deploying somewhat specious distinctions such as the “vertical right to free speech vs. horizontal right to free speech”— Cibane does, however, make a valid point with respect to Hofmeyr’s court injunction against a clown called Conrad Koch. Both have a natural right to speak out of turn. Nevertheless, I do understand Hofmeyr wanting to use all arrows in his quiver because the deck—the state included—is stacked against him and his cause.
The libertarian imperative here is to deal with the meta-issues, leaving out the substance of the offending words: They are irrelevant. As this column has explained, policing what people say for political propriety is not a dance in which libertarians should partake—it is “a dance adopted by the political establishment to cow contrarians into submission. By going on the defensive—allowing themselves to be drawn into these exchanges—libertarians are, inadvertently, conceding that speech should be policed for propriety, and that those who violate standards set by the PC set are somehow defective on those grounds alone, and deserve to be purged from “polite” company.”