Why all this politics of insult

Tue, 25 Jun 2013 Source: Mensah, Emmanuel

It is very normal for people to have contrasting opinions. It happens everywhere – in marriages, politics,intellectual discourses, court cases, etc. These contrasting opinions usually arise when people believe that their ideas are much more superior to the ones suggested by others.

Going through the comments for some articles posted on ghanaweb.com, one will notice disagreements between the authors of the articles and the authors of the commentaries. You see, the problem is not about having different or contrasting opinions. Rather, it is about how these contrasting opinions resolve the matter of concern.

On Ghanaweb, one hardly sees commentaries suggesting that a point worth noticing has been made by an author but the author would have made a better argument by approaching the issue in some other way. Maybe the author did not have to mention some names or use some particular words in the article. Such constructive criticisms are, in fact, very hard to come by these days so what we usually see are commentaries that are abusive, insulting, and inconsiderate, and as a result, generally unfit for publication on other mediums.

Look, I’m not calling on anyone to censure the articles and commentaries before they are published. We also don’t need laws to know that it is wrong to use insults to solve disagreements. All we need is a little bit of consideration, self-reflection, and patriotism, as it were, from each one of us ’cause that’s the only way we can sustainably build the “Ghanaian Dream”, the developed-Ghana you wish to see.

And so yes, I will not blame Ghanaweb for allowing such publications without censure as some have suggested many times. Ghanaweb is doing all of us a lot of good by giving us this platform, free of charge, to share our ideas in the service of Ghana.

If you are reading this piece, my hope is that you will join my course for restraint, to fight for Insult-Free- Discussion-Platforms where people will not use abusive words. You will do this not because you have been told not to be abusive and inconsiderate, but because you know intuitively that insults and unhelpful criticisms are obviously not the way forward.

I know it’s going to be difficult for some readers to read an article that they consider deserving of insults without feeling the need to quickly "retaliate" with insults. Please let them go when we see such distractions.

We will therefore have to start NOW to make the choice, and like I said, the change must start with us. We are all learning from each other, and from our selves, even.

Let us help build a new society for the Ghanaian future generation with our Insult-Free campaign. It is ok that we may not be around when our Dream is finally realized. But that should not discourage us from making the effort. Remember that most of the scientist who gave the world the foundation of our modern technology, most of the political thinkers who helped free human beings physically and mentally, most of them, did not live to see all the fruits of their work. Unfortunately, what some of our forebears succeeded in doing was to sell some of our kind into slavery in exchange for "mirror and gunpowder." Kwame Nkrumah and co. tried their best to change the African fate and mentality in their time. But, the dream was side-tracked along the way. Insults without redeeming value will not solve the Ghana development problem for Ghanaians.

Fellow Ghanaians, it is up to us, and only us, to make the change we desire to see. Our elders say: “if you are siting in the shade, remember someone planted the tree many years ago”. It is up to Ghanaians and Ghana supporters to build Ghana. Why? Because: This is Our Own Land (YEN ARA YASASE NI).

Arthur Kobina Kennedy is right that "we must lower the level of noise and increase the level of sense in our public discourse". Some authors, including commentators, may need to revisit their frame of reference and make sure they choose their words with consideration for all manner of readers. Let us use self-respect to "settle disputes" on this and other forums.

We are looking forward to you, our brothers, our sisters, our elders, our leaders, to set examples for us all.

May this article change opinions/lives, for Ghana's sake!

Mensah Emmanuel,

BSc. Development Planning Student, KNUST 0247867669

Columnist: Mensah, Emmanuel