Comic rapped for 'hate speech'

Hindus complain over radio sketch

A radio station has been officially rapped for propagating ‘hate speech’ after a comedian made fun of Hindus – joking that it was not use killing them because they ‘keep coming back’.

Comedian John Vlismas was suspended by South Africa’s East Coast Radio, which said the sketch should never have been broadcast. The station twice issued an on-air apology for the skit, in which Vlisma pretended to be a Christian cleric.

However, six Hindus complained to the country’s Broadcasting Complaints Commission – including two who did not realise the sketch was a spoof and thought a genuine pastor was insulting their religion. They complained that he mocked the number of gods Hindus pray to and their appearances.

One complainant, U Sewsunker said: ‘This “pastor”, with an obviously miniscule intellect, went on to launch a bitter tirade against South African Hindus by attacking us for worshipping “cows, elephants, and stones” and implied that we were a “stupid” race.

‘I find the ignorant and arrogant remarks, against the ancient religion of Hinduism, which preaches love, tolerance and a universal respect for all living creatures, to be utter distasteful.’

Another listener, J Palakdhari, complained: ‘I cannot believe that ECR would allow something of this magnitude to be broadcast on their radio station. I think that it is disgusting that people have no respect when it comes to religious matters.’

The broadcast watchdog noted that the comic intent of the ‘sermon’ was ‘clearly not understood nor appreciated by the complainants’ but ruled that his ‘derogatory’ reference to manifestations of the Hindu deity exceeded the bounds of humour and ‘constitute the advocacy of hatred’.

The commission also found there was ‘incitement to cause harm’, despite the killing comment being intended as a quip about the Hindu belief in reincarnation

Published: 27 Oct 2010

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