I WAS saddened to read an absolutely unwarranted attack on Denford Magora by one of your readers recently.
This attack on Magora epitomises the tragedy that has b
efallen our society. When the nation’s leading newspapers are reduced to platforms for the propagation of insults and mudslinging then we have a big problem as a nation.
When the nation’s best brains (as readers of the Zimbabwe Independent can be classified) stoop so low as to waste valuable space hurling insults at those who seek to find solutions to the problems bedevilling our beloved nation, then we lack one of the essential ingredients to a nation’s success – tolerance and encouragement of radical thinking.
The attack on Magora demonstrates that we still have to go beyond the level of the unenlightened era of people who crucified Jesus and those who persecuted Galileo for thinking outside the box of their time.
In my view, Magora is one of the few people whose contributions in the press are well thought out and seek to advance certain view points with reasoned arguments as opposed to playing to the gallery by merely engaging in Mugabe/Zanu PF-bashing.
Whether or not you agree with his views, you cannot help noticing that Magora has Zimbabwe in his mind and heart.
His arguments are meant to find solutions to the country’s problems. I expect those who disagree with him to put forward convincing counter-arguments to show us that indeed Magora is mistaken in his opinions.
But if the best those who disagree with him can do is to hurl insults at his person, ignoring or failing to counter his arguments, then the nation and Magora are left the poorer, for no useful dialogue can take place.
Instead of being a marketplace of competing ideas, newspapers are thus reduced to rallies where emotions, as opposed to reason, rule.
Those who resort to hurling insults are not very different from those who throw stones and visit physical and verbal violence on their opponents at rallies or some such places.
The moral blameworthiness is actually higher for those who hurl insults on opponents in newspapers because, as erudite citizens, they should know better.
The learned and sophisticated citizens of this country should set an example to those of their brothers who, because of ignorance and lack of sophistication, still think that differences can only be solved through violence and that anybody who holds a different opinion is an enemy.
It is my humble submission that newspapers fail in their duty to provide leadership to the nation when editors in their “infinite wisdom” let their newspapers be reduced to platforms of shrill denunciation and verbal abuse of opponents.
With corruption rampant in our society and public services collapsing all over, citizens need to use the little space available to mobilise public opinion against such evils and suggest solutions to the plethora of problems facing our society, instead of abusing those who seek to do that.
We should as a nation discard the high school mentality where one’s ability to insult those in authority or opponents using high-sounding phrases is considered a sign of being clever.
I was listening to the George W Bush and John Kerry debate recently and was impressed by the maturity displayed by the two contestants and the audience.
There were no mean-spirited personal attacks but robust and reasoned attacks of their views.
I did not hear the equivalent of the hate-inspired reference to Mugabe, nor the snobbish reference to Joseph Chinotimba as a gap-toothed, uneducated goon.
Zimbabwe’s learned lot are not providing the leadership to society expected of them. They set a bad example, mimicking their unsophisticated counterparts who settle differences through physical violence by using verbal violence to settle scores.