Public comments on the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill were due at the end of January. A coalition of some of SA’s best comedians and satirists has taken a stand against the bill and filed submissions arguing that its hate speech provisions are unconstitutional. Among them are Pieter-Dirk Uys, John Vlismas, Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro), Kagiso Lediga, Conrad Koch (and Chester Missing), Nik Rabinowitz, Tumi Morake, Joey Rasdien, Nina Hastie, David Kau, Casper de Vries, Celeste Ntuli, Mark Banks, Jason Goliath, John Barker, Christopher Steenkamp and the creators of the satirical programme ZA News. The submissions on behalf of the comedians began, as one might expect, with a joke. "What do you call 1,000 lawyers chained together at the bottom of the ocean? A good start." Of course, no person in an open and democratic society would seriously consider that this lawyer joke constitutes hate speech. But the definition under the bill is so broad that even this coul...

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