A political science lecturer at the University of Ghana, Professor Ransford Gyampo, has said the freedom of speech being enjoyed by Ghanaians is not a guarantee for hurling insults and baseless allegations against one another.
According to him, in civilised democratic dispensations, freedom of speech does not cover the attitude of insulting persons in the society.
His comments come on the heels of the arrest of a National Democratic Congress (NDC) activist, Appiah Stadium, who was arrested on Tuesday, September 26 by the Ashanti Regional Police to substantiate an allegation he has levelled against Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that the First Gentleman of the land smokes ‘wee’ (marijuana).
Since his arrest, the Ashanti Regional Youth Organiser of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Yaw Brogya Genfi, has called for the immediate release of Appiah Stadium, a serial caller of the NDC.
But commenting on this development on his Facebook page, Prof Gyampo said: “Freedom of speech is not licentious for spewing insults and baseless allegations. Freedom of speech cannot mean freedom of insults in any civilised democracy. Democracy must be able to protect itself from abuse. While we guard against absolute and unrestrained freedom, we must be mindful of the latent possibility of our action to create a culture of silence.
“Appiah Stadium’s insults not only to the President, but also to other key respected personalities in society like clergymen, cannot be tolerated simply because of freedom of speech. We must chain our freedom a little. JJ Rousseau advocates for a bridled exercise of freedom and that’s how come he observed that ‘man is born free but everywhere, he is in chains’.
“We must however be careful in dealing with those who overstep their boundaries in exercising their freedoms. We must not use a sledge hammer in dealing with them.
“A simple invitation for questioning and subsequent further action if needed would have sufficed in the case of Appiah Stadium. The handcuffing bit wasn’t really necessary.”