As an atheist and citizen of Cape Town, I was most disappointed to see the acquiescing of Pic and Pay to the rampant attacks handed out by God's self appointed agent – Pastor Errol Naidoo. This week Pic and Pay pulled the UCT Rag magazine from its shelves as a result of an email campaign orchestrated by Naidoo on behalf of “Cape Towns Christian Community”. It was particularly distressing to see the Rector of a world class University, Thandabantu Nhlapo apologising to Naidoo for granting his students the right to free speech
Now I do understand, that Pic an Pay is foremost a business and must satisfy its customers first, but Errol Naidoo and his flock are not the only customers and they are not the guardians of our rights to speech. Their opinion of content is simply another of the many diverse views held by South Africans. Their God, or the means of describing him or debating his merits, holds no sway in the minds of the rational.
I have not read the contents of the offending SAX magazine, having now had the rights to purchase it removed from me, however the content is not relevant to freedom of speech. Unless it is publishing child pornography, inciting violence or producing hate speech, Errol Naidoo's opinion is of little lawful relevance and his actions are merely an encroachment on the rights of other Pic and Pay customers. Clearly any editorial in the magazine is not the opinion of Pic and Pay or its directors, any more than the selling of easter eggs is a commitment by Pic n Pay to the teachings of Jesus.
We live in a country of diverse cultural views. Alternative views are never comfortable, but granting another citizen the right to free speech, even accompanied by profanity, is a cornerstone of our freedom. No matter how important Naidoo's God is to him, it is simply an offensive fairy tale to me. It may come as a shock to Naidoo that selling easter Eggs or Hot Cross Buns in Pic and Pay is as offensive to me as blasphemy is to him. However I grant his flock the right to express their cultural religion, and sometimes even buy a bun myself.
I don't go running off to Jonathan Ackerman telling him to move the Matzos back off the shelf.