Who says something and why they say it can be more important than what they say. When Julius Malema says most Indian South Africans are racist, he is accused of smearing an entire community. But, his supporters point out, former Constitutional Court judge Zac Yacoob said something very similar and no one complained. When two people make the same point but one is blamed while the other is not, surely that is a double standard? Not necessarily. Two people can criticise the behaviour of others in exactly the same way and yet mean something entirely different. Yacoob is of Indian origin — he was criticising the racial attitudes of the group into which he was born. So it seems likely that he was not encouraging people to dislike the group but seeking to change its behaviour. Someone born into another group — like Malema — could have a very different goal: to persuade people that the group they are accusing is evil. In both cases the accuser is making a moral point. But in one the goal is...

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