Friday, April 11, 2008

Censorship In South Africa: The Times Gives Columnist David Bullard The Sack Over A "Racist" Column, ANC May Have Applied Pressure

The Times of South Africa gave controversial columnist David Bullard the sack over a supposedly "racist" column he wrote. Story published in a multitude of sources, including News24, the Times Of South Africa, the Mail and Guardian Online, and

While Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya is denying any 'other' hand in the dismissal of Bullard, speculation doing the rounds at two key industry events where leaders in the media, marketing and advertising industry were assembled - the annual Apex Awards and John Farquhar's 80th birthday party celebration - was that political pressure has been brought to bear on the Sunday Times with Government threats to pull advertising. However, Makhanya denied the allegation, insisting that it was about "values" and that Bullard's column no longer fitted in with the values of the Sunday Times.

But many in the industry felt that this was an opportunity for the Sunday Times to "get rid of Bullard" as he became more and more vocal in his criticism of the Government and the ruling party, the African National Congress. According to a senior writer who was with Bullard at an event he was MC-ing, Makhanya fired him over the phone due to his "racist column". Says the journalist, "Surely the buck stops with the editor? If he or she thinks any copy is unsuitable or racist or whatever, he or she should pull it, not fire the journalist!... Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought that columnists were entitled to express their opinions?"

Bullard later told reporters that he was surprised by the action, since he believed he had the latitude to write provocative material to stimulate thought and discussion.

This is clearly an act of censorship. One must seriously wonder if he would have been given the sack if he was black. In a tribute to his courage in telling the truth about the "New South Africa", White Reference reproduces his column here in its entirety:

Uncolonised Africa wouldn’t know what it was missing

Published: April 7th, 2008

Imagine for a moment what life would be like in South Africa if the evil white man hadn’t come to disturb the rustic idyll of the early black settlers.

Ignored by the Portuguese and Dutch, except as a convenient resting point en route to India. Shunned by the British, who had decided that their empire was already large enough and didn’t need to include bits of Africa.

The vast mineral wealth lying undisturbed below the Highveld soil as simple tribesmen graze their cattle blissfully unaware that beneath them lies one of the richest gold seams in the world. But what would they want with gold?

There are no roads because no roads are needed because there are no cars. It’s 2008 and no one has taken the slightest interest in South Africa, apart from a handful of botanists and zoologists who reckon that the country’s flora and fauna rank as one of the largest unspoilt areas in a polluted world.

Because they have never been exposed to the sinful ways of the West, the various tribes of South Africa live healthy and peaceful lives, only occasionally indulging in a bit of ethnic cleansing.

Their children don’t watch television because there is no television to watch. Instead they listen to their grandparents telling stories around a fire. They live in single-storey huts arranged to catch most of the day’s sunshine and their animals are kept nearby.

Nobody has any more animals than his family needs and nobody grows more crops than he requires to feed his family and swap for other crops. Ostentation is unknown because what is the point of trying to impress your fellow citizens when they are not impressible?

The dreaded Internet doesn’t exist in South Africa and cellphone companies have laughed off any hope of interesting the inhabitants in talking expensively into a piece of black plastic. There are no unsightly shopping malls selling expensive goods made by Asian slave workers and consequently there are no newspapers or magazines carrying articles comparing the relative merits of ladies’ handbags.

Whisky, the curse of the white man, isn’t known in this undeveloped land and neither are cigars. The locals brew a sort of beer out of vegetables and drink it out of shallow wooden bowls. Five-litre paint cans have yet to arrive in South Africa.

Every so often a child goes missing from the village, eaten either by a hungry lion or a crocodile. The family mourn for a week or so and then have another child. Life is, on the whole, pretty good but there is something vital missing. Being unaware of the temptations of the outside world, nobody knows what it is. Fire has been discovered and the development of the wheel is coming on nicely but the tribal elders are still aware of some essential happiness ingredient they still need to discover. Praying to the ancestors is no help because they are just as clueless.

Then something happens that will change this undisturbed South Africa forever. Huge metal ships land on the coast and big metal flying birds are sent to explore the sparsely populated hinterland. They are full of men from a place called China and they are looking for coal, metal, oil, platinum, farmland, fresh water and cheap labour and lots of it. Suddenly the indigenous population realise what they have been missing all along: someone to blame. At last their prayers have been answered.

But black South Africans have had someone to blame all along - Whitey. Whitey is to blame for everything that is wrong. The legacy of apartheid continues to be used as an excuse, even though under black majority rule, crime has shot through the roof, police are corrupt, and Eskom can't even keep the lights on. To illustrate how vulnerable all South Africans are to crime, here's a YouTube video of......David Bullard himself, during a March 2007 hospital stay after being shot during a robbery at his Johannesburg home:

Upon learning of Bullard's sacking, the newly-reconstituted South African Hell blog (formerly known as South Africa Sucks) expressed its outrage and offered him a blogging slot straightaway. However, it appears that South African Hell's ardour may have been somewhat dampened later on by a subsequent report in which David Bullard denied he was racist. However, I suspect that's strictly a tactical move on Bullard's part to take some of the heat off himself.

Times editor Ray Hartley discusses the decision on his paper's blog and claims that most of the 315 public comments posted to the story supported The Times' decision to sack Bullard. But that doesn't make it right. Hartley should come clean as to whether or not the ANC government pressured The Times into axing Bullard by threatening to withhold advertising.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check out the funny take on Bullardgate from South Africa's best satirical website

They suggest Minister Shabangu now wants to kill Bullard!