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Lance Weyer South Africa

New Democratic Alliance Posters All About Tolerance

This week the Democratic Alliance Student Organization released a poster as part of their registration campaign at universities, causing quite a stir amongst conservative members of the community. Many parodies followed, including one of two men.

I must state from the beginning that I am not a spokesperson for the, but do have my own opinion on the matter which is shared by many members. People forget that this poster was intended for distribution on tertiary campuses, where the target demographic is different that greater society. That it has created such a reaction from the greater society perhaps speaks to the fact that this is still such a burning issue for our society. As one blogger correctly pointed out “Some people are saying that it’ll promote sex among students, which is a bit like saying we’re encouraging fish to swim.”

DASO admits that the original poster, of a mixed race heterosexual couple, was intended to start a conversation. The conversation was about race, but more than that the poster speaks to the principle of tolerance. I believe that with all the comments, good and bad, DASO has successfully achieved their goal of engaging South Africa in a frank debate about one of the most defining issues in South Africa today – tolerance.

As we have seen, the image could be replaced, as you may have all already seen from the parodies, by numerous others that all speak to the same principle, for example two men, which is naturally my personal favorite. I have also seen one of a Muslim and a Jewish person embracing, one of a Tamil and Hindi person and numerous others. I believe that the point is that we live in a country full of people that have forgotten how to tolerate people that seemingly don’t see the world as they do. On the other spectrum, and this is evident from the parodies and people’s responses, we are living in a country full of people that already do tolerate others views. This is the voice we should be encouraging to speak, that we should be giving a platform, that we should be reassuring that it is ok to not want to confine yourself to some social constructed box, it is ok because there are many of us who don’t fit neatly in those boxes too.

As our Federal Youth Chair has stated: “We will not feel ashamed or socially bullied by some people’s disapproval of a campaign that promotes what we believe in, which is tolerance.”

DA Youth Federal leader, Makashule Gana, said: “Ironically, those who are the most upset by the image are probably those who need to do the most introspection into the real reasons behind why they are uncomfortable about what is, relatively speaking, a very tame image for 2012. Claims that we are promoting promiscuity or racism say more about the individuals levelling them than anything else, as more explicit images can probably be found on the cover of magazines in the local supermarket or on prime time TV.”

I firmly believe in the vision of a South Africa where people will ultimately be in an open, opportunity society for all we need to lead and make that vision a reality. We need to inspire young people and show them exactly what we mean by that ethos. A South Africa in OUR future that wouldn’t have such intolerance as is the main point of this poster.

Part of addressing the issue of intolerance is about bringing people’s prejudices to the fore. This is done not with the intention of being belligerent and attacking people but about maturely acknowledging that people have them and the important role that organizations like DASO play is to get them to talk about it.

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