Freedom of speech: The abuse of it.

By Turkson Sylvester
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By Turkson Sylvester

5/9/2012 5:17:22 PM -

'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither should you be afraid'. JOHN 14 : 27.

As I was writing this article I remembered a story my father told me about what he claimed happened in his village:

Almost all the youth in the village made their way to a cinema for the first time. The crowd was huge and all were enjoying the movies. But just after 30 minutes into the movie when the whole room was quite, there was a shout 'Fire! Fire! ..... run for your lives'. The whole atmosphere turned into a 'May 9' scene: stampede, screaming and run and running for dear life.

The young man who ignited the stampede watched quietly as the people struggled and after some minutes he shouted, 'It was just a joke!' He continued after he was quizzed why he did that: 'I was only exercising my freedom of speech'

Now my question is what is Freedom of Speech? Does freedom of speech allow me to go into someone's house and say what I like about his living room? Or does freedom of speech give me right to look straight into the face of someone and describe her as 'ugly' and walk away freely?

Freedom of speech is said to be the lifeblood or cornerstone of democracy and must not be trampled upon. We live in a world where people considered to be respectable and honourable make inciting comments all in the name of freedom of speech. Perhaps, they need to be reminded of what my uncle's brother's sister's daughter once told me: 'Uncle Ebo, your right to extend your fist/arm stops right in-front of my nose.'

Wherever you are reading this I will be happy if you can close your eyes and say Lord thank, because what happened some days ago about the inciting comments of 'Honourable' Kenndy Agyepong could have ended in something disastrous. The painful aspect of the whole thing is how learned and educated parliamentarians are justifying such hellish comments.

I had to come to Tema just to survey his house, which is just about 20 metres away from mine, and I was terrified by the 'macho men' who were surrounding the house all in the name of security. Anyone who is stays around community 12 knows about Hon Ken Agyapong for two reasons:

1. His 26th December party that feeds a lot in the neighbourhood and gives inhabitants the opportunity to see some of the politicians they have heard so much of but never seen. One of them is Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, the flag bearer NPP.

2. The long queue that is formed at his gate in the name of seeking financial help from him. You can't take that away from him.

Why will such a man make comments like '... if you see any Ewe or Ga in Kumasi strike him with anything you have in your store' when you're noted and boast about your generosity?

Our Lord Jesus, when was about to be crucified in John 17, prayed for the people that were given to him and thanked the Father for their safety. Now I want to tell our power-hungry politicians that just as a sheep is given to a shepherd to be kept, as children to a teacher to be taught, and a patient to a doctor to be cured; so are we Ghanaians given to you the leaders and politicians of this country to manage our economy and resources. One day when the trumpet sounds, don't think it is only the Pastor who is going to give account of how he took care of his members (sheep). As parliamentarians and leaders you are also going to do same.

So do you think the NPP stalwarts will be justifying and giving the war monger this hero's welcome that is equal to what Kwame Nkrumah received when he declared: 'Your beloved country is free for ever.' If Kennedy Agyapong's comment was made by a member of the NDC, do you think the NDC would also be condemning it as they doing now? Never. The NDC and NPP are the same but it will not be right to justify wrong with wrong. Let's condemn any such attitude any time it comes up.

Any objective God fearing man would never justify the comments made by Hon Ken Agyapong. It is about time we called a spade a spade and stopped calling it a big spoon. Dan Botwe for a long time I have admired and liked your way of politics but the justification you gave to this case comes as a shock to me.

The 1992 Constitution of Ghana, Article 17(2) says 'A person shall not be discriminated against on the grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion or social or economic status.'

Former president John Agyekum Kuffour always thrills me with his proverbial way of addressing issues and I like what he said about the way Kennedy Agyapong's comment was treated: 'Killing a fly with sledge hammer.' He may be right because a friend told me 'I thought terrorism, treason were related to the Afghanistan Bombers.'

I think it is only proper and wise for Hon Ken to apologise publicly to the Ewe and Ga people in Ghana. War has no advantage. It only breeds division and turmoil. If a people are divided they are less likely to realize the truth. War comes up and spreads like rashes and Ghanaians are not ready for comments like 'Ghana will be like Kenya or Rwanda.'

Let's live peacefully because if anything happens Ghana would be hopeless than any other war afflicted country ever, because they run here when they face war, and all around us are French-speaking countries and the heat in Nigeria is not welcoming: Boko Haram, I pray they don't read this article before they start looking for me, no weapon fashion against me.......

I end with this with these two biblical quotations for the NDC and NPP.

To the NPP: 'Pay no evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all' Romans 12:17. And to the NDC: ' Finally , brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you' 2 Corinthians 13:11.

Disclaimer: "The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article." © Turkson Sylvester.

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