In South Africa, we find ourselves in ideal territory for the politically correct to do battle. The moral ugliness of apartheid and the very real atrocities that accompanied it are such that a timorous critic of politically correct positions can be cowed into silence by the mere suggestion that their views represent a disguised defence of the old order and show an insensitivity to the plight of black people. The merits of the argument become less important than the suspected moral stance that is said to lurk behind it. White intellectuals are particularly susceptible to this kind of attack, since political correctness preys on white guilt.

Likewise, among their black counterparts, to go against the politically correct narrative - whether affirmative action, the national minimum wage or land expropriation without compensation - is to run the risk of being perceived as heretical, a traitor to the black cause. Yet many black South Africans have reservations about these policies.

Some have expressed concern about the unintended consequences of affirmative action on black self-esteem and self-reliance. I have explicitly, consistently and assertively made this argument, but in many cases, concerns such as these are expressed in a muted way.

Freedom of expression and individual liberty are prerequisites for a free, open and equal society as promised in the constitution, yet this freedom is always in a precarious position in any society, especially in South Africa. It requires eternal vigilance. South Africa requires people who are willing and able to defend the idea that no matter how unpopular or even deeply offensive one's expression might be - short of calling for violence - it must be allowed. Those who would see these values undone in the name of political correctness must be engaged on a consistent and nonracial basis. Anti-freedom measures such as the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill - which will soon be tabled in parliament - embody this sad phenomenon of political correctness.In violation of the proposed policy as it stands, there is a real danger that one could be sent to prison for up to three years for expressing such inexpressible ideas. Political correctness is a phenomenon that...

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