Lydia Forson Joins Calls For Satirical Sites Such As ScrewLife.Com To Be Censored


There’s been a growing clamour amongst a section of the media for satirical sites in Ghana to be shut down, a clamour which dates back to the very first days of ScrewLife.Com.
The argument often advanced goes like this- Ghanaians are bad are reasoning, and often fail to read articles beyond the headline- therefore satire is lost on them, and many believe what they read on these sites. Therefore the sites must forfeit their rights to free speech .
It’s an argument that makes little sense, one that concedes the lack of critical thinking skills of a majority of the population, but then places the blame on those exposing the problem, rather than those who are actually the problem.
Actress Lydia Forson have joined these calls, saying that satirical sites should be held responsible for their satire if people fail to grasp the fact it is satire and act on it. In a blog post on her website Friday, Forson essentially made the same argument Screwlife’s numerous media critics have made- which is to shoot the messenger.
Forson, as part of a longer tirade against the Ghanaian media, argued that writers should know their audience, and thus if Ghanaians fail to grasp satire, it should not be served to them.
She wrote…

So many blogs have sprung up as satarical [sic] sites, and although I’m all for a little humour, I’m also smart enough to understand the country I’m in and it’s people. And I would expect that a good journalist should always know his audience.
In a country where the word satire is even foreign to a lot of people, one should be smart enough to know that many will miss the points being raised.
And although the writers can’t be faulted for people’s lack of  understanding, it is also their responsibility to know that because of that if care isn’t taken, depending on what they write could easily spark a fire.
So if you knowingly write a piece directed to an audience you’re aware will not understand the humour in it, and it inadvertently starts a fights a, shouldn’t you be held accountable to an extend? [sic]

The problem with this argument is the same it has always been, that one man’s ignorance is not really grounds for another’s rights to be curtailed. And no matter how the point is obfuscated, these calls amount to censorship, which is a call back to the worst periods of humanity’s past.
One can argue that the concept of satire was lost on the terrorists who massacred the journalists of Charlie Hebdo, and one would be right- but that does not justify calls for the magazine to stop their satire, and indeed they haven’t. The calls were made though, and like those being made now, they are wrong.
Lydia also touched on many more aspects of the media, raising other concerns. The piece, titled Who Really Runs Ghana?, can be read in full on her website.


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