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Opinions of Saturday, 29 May 2010

Columnist: Coffie, Emmanuel Dela

Freedom Of Express And Politics Of Insults!

I found it repugnant, condescending, irritating and deeply insulting, that another NPP activist would have the effrontery to compare His Excellency President Mills to “Chimpanzee”.

Not too long ago, it was Nana Darkwa Berfi who seek to impute criminality on the part of former President Jerry John Rawlings with his unfortunately loose, unguarded, libelous and grossly mischievous comment. And now a self-styled NPP social commentator by named Alex Adu Gyamfi has called the President “Chimpanzee” “To me he looks like a Chimpanzee” ….. When I look at Ataa Mills he looks like a Chimpanzee” Those were the exact words used by Adu Gyamfi in his description of the President.

How on earth can such an incorrigible arm-chair critic make such a stinking proclamation against the president? This is absolute gibberish and Adu Gyamfi should bow down his head in remorseless shame! What kind of world do Ghanaians live in? It is unacceptable for such an insult to be flung at the President. It is shameful because we are trying to destroy one of the pillars of our humanity-respect for leadership, and the protection of “Sacred Institutions”.

Gradually, we are losing respect for leadership. We are also subjecting the Presidency to undue scrutiny; targeting President Mills is a typical example. This is not just an insult to the President alone but the whole presidential seat of Ghana.

Insulting the President in that manner is the lowest thing to do. I think that as nation we’ve lost it all in the name of partisan politics. This is irreverent, inappropriate and very reprehensible!

I am wondering why a chick with such an affliction of juvenile delinquency and exuberance would want to fly without sprouting wings! What happened to public morality, civility and decency? What does free speech mean to an average Ghanaian? While free speech remains one of the enduring hallmarks of civilized democracy, it has no room for eccentric declarations. I think most Ghanaians have a problem understanding this so-called freedom of speech. In developed countries, they don’t attack people but rather issues.

It is a sad commentary that we the youths of today seem to be growing in a polluted environment. This is because the attitude of some adults, especially some political leaders leaves much to be desired. Their conduct in both words and deeds most often do not befit their status. They seem to place their political and parochial interests above issues of national concern and the need to lead exemplary lives. To this end certain comments are passed and some unbecoming conducts are portrayed all in the name of promoting and defending their political agenda.

When will we learn? Will we ever learn? When? Freedom of Speech comes with responsibility. It does not imply opening your mouth and speaking without caution and decency.

Every freedom has its limitations in the constitution, for the freedom of speech; one must make sure that, his speech does not tarnish the image of another person let alone the President of the republic. In a world where issues are dominating pettiness, the NPP is still refusing to change and has continue to call people names to the extent of calling a sitting President Chimp. I am ashamed about the level of indiscipline in the NPP.

Inasmuch as we may disagree with the President with his policy direction, we cannot be seen to be endorsing this kind of uncivilized behaviour on the excuse of freedom of expression. The politics of insult and blatant disregard for authority should be erased from our politics being NPP or NDC. We must not use the mistakes of the past to rationalize this reckless and infantile loose talk. For how long are we going to defend, compare and refer to the wrong and bad attitude by some of our leaders? Lets us all condemn wrong things by all standard.

I strongly believe that irrespective of our political affiliation, we owe it a duty to be mindful of our choice of words when addressing people in high office. I have spent some time commenting on this, because it satisfies conviction, that the Presidency is a respectable institution. We have to protect, rather than destroy it.

President Mills is fallible, and that makes him human. He is not above the law, he do accept constructive criticisms, not criticisms characterized by insults and personal attacks.

Let’s stop the cheap mindedness and mediocrity that has crippled us for so long and understand that, the fact that you disagree with the President does not give you the mandate to disrespect him. We should be circumspect in making public statements because once an irresponsible statement is made; it becomes difficult to retract it as the damage might be irreparable.

We cannot move forward in the needed direction if we lack cardinal virtues such as discretion, temperance, fortitude, decency, civility and so forth.

For opening his mouth too wide to spew such dangerous nonsense, Adu Gyamfi should be dealt with accordingly. At least 180 days of community service should teach him some lessons.

I rest my case!

Emmanuel Dela Coffie /