A few weeks ago the Huffington Post in South Africa was tricked by a troll into posting an article about how white men should lose their right to vote, which was meant to show how bias they were against men. Boy did it work!
It worked so well, in fact, that Huffington Post SA editor-in-chief Verashni Pillay actually resigned recently after a ruling by South Africa’s press ombudsman (basically a press council) and an investigation into the bogus article!
The organization that operates HuffPo SA, Media24, released a statement about the scandal, saying that it was “highly damaging” to the credibility as a news agency.
“Responsible journalism is at the heart of what we do; it’s the currency we trade in,” said Media24 CEO Esmaré Weideman. “In an era of fake news, I know only too well that our editors spend an inordinate amount of time checking the veracity of information before they publish. When our systems fail, we’re not just alarmed; we’re outraged. This is a sad day for journalism.”
The press ombudsman also said that they found the controversial blog post to be both discriminatory and constituted hate speech.
“Let me be short and sweet: If disenfranchisement of anybody (whether white males or black females for that matter) is not discriminatory‚ the meaning of discrimination should be redefined‚” wrote Retief in the 14-page finding. “Moreover, the reasons given for such a malicious suggestion certainly were denigratory.”
“I do not believe that this statement needs any further justification,” he added. “I do not believe for one moment that such discriminatory and denigratory opinions can be described as being in the public interest – especially given this country’s history of its struggle for liberation. To disenfranchise a section of the population once again would indeed represent a huge step backwards – one that may have some serious unforeseen consequences.”
In case you missed it, here’s some of the highlights of the piece (which has since been deleted):
“Some of the biggest blows to the progressive cause in the past year have often been due to the votes of white men,” the piece stated. “If white men were not allowed to vote, it is unlikely that the United Kingdom would be leaving the European Union, it is unlikely that Donald Trump would now be the President of the United States, and it is unlikely that the Democratic Alliance would now be governing four of South Africa’s biggest cities.”
“If white men no longer had the vote, the progressive cause would be strengthened. It would not be necessary to deny white men indefinitely — the denial of the vote to white men for 20 years (just less than a generation) would go some way to seeing a decline in the influence of reactionary and neo-liberal ideology in the world,” it went on to say, adding that even though “it may be unfair . . . a moratorium on the franchise for white males for a period of between 20 and 30 years is a small price to pay for the pain inflicted by white males on others.”
I mean, it’s no surprise to us that HuffPo would run something so ridiculous, but I’m glad the rest of the world may finally be waking up to it…