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EDITORIAL: Radio Stations Don’t Commit Crime, The Operatives Do

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DEAR GOVERNMENT of Liberia,

YOU HAVE IN MANY ways shown a high level of insincerity in most of what you do, but what we, as a media entity, consider extreme is the shutting down of Roots FM because of what you consider hate speech.

ARE YOU TOO naive to know that the radio dtations does not commit crime? Or is it that you’re incapacitated to deal with the real issue?

WE ARE NOT only disappointed, but also very much concerned. We are concerned because we find ourselves in the same line of work and ours is key to the sustenance of democracy and ensuring check and balance since the three branches of government is massively failing to do so.

IF THE GOVERNMENT performs to the expectations of Liberians, the people themselves would know, see and feel it, no one radio station would succeed in telling them otherwise, but when the people see glaring signs of misrule, mismanagement and endure hardship, they are likely to concur with commentaries and opinions of wastes and corruption in government and would see the need to protest against such.

WE ARE CONVINCED that the three branches of government are failing, without an iota of conscience to keep checks and balances amongst themselves because, if it were the case, the court would not see sufficient ground enough to issue search and closure warrant on Roots FM.

THE COURT, we think, is now in cohort, despite the glittering monument of the ‘Blind Goddess of Justice” before the Temple of Justice signifying that justice should be served without fear or favor. The government and the powers that be often benefit from the favor of the court – favor is not justice.

WE MAY NOT AGREE with all the contents coming through Roots FM, but we know that it is the opinion of whomsoever that is behind the microphone and their right to free speech and expression and that must be respected at all times.

WE ARE WAITING patiently to see what both the government and court will describe as hate speech. Hate speech is widely considered around the world as Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful. It can also be considered as speech that is intended to vilify, humiliate, or incite hatred against a group or a class of persons. Hate speech does not include our freedom to express the actions of the government and its officials that we hate.

AS FOLLOWERS of Roots FM, there has never been a time when we heard any of its staff pouring out statements against race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability or sexuality, amongst others. What we have keenly followed on that Radio station is the expression of differences in political views and the call for social justice, equality, transparency and accountability.

IT IS QUITE apparent to us that this Government is not interested in listening to the plights of the people it governs. It is becoming glaring that this government, perhaps, wants the media, which is the watchdog of society, to remain mute, while national resources are being plundered and ill-fated decisions are being made. Maybe some media institutions have signed up to that, but please remember that not all the media houses would backstab the people.

OUR COUNTRY has come a long way in safeguarding free press; of course, this has also come with a handsome reward – sustaining democracy. The price for ensuring and sustaining free press in Liberia did not come on a silver platter and as media practitioners, we will not sit and let it slip through the fingers.

WHILE WE would not condone unethical journalism and the misuse of media tools thereof, we will not also sit and allow the atmosphere for the operation of a free press to be tampered with.

THIS IS WHY we do not take kindly the closure of Roots FM and we strongly believe that said decision and political will was ill-advised and should be reversed immediately with Roots FM being reopened.

THE TOLERANCE of speech is in itself a sign of a growing democracy. There’s reason to be worried about the state of our democracy when the powers that be have very thin skin.

WE THEREFORE call on the government to without any delay reopen Roots FM in the spirit of its commitment to press freedom. We, through this medium, remind the Government of Liberia that as the country continues to slip down the mud economically, it is high time it focuses its energy on the real issues confronting the nation and its people and find some realistic solutions to our problems.

IF THE GOVERNMENT performs to the expectations of Liberians, the people themselves would know, see and feel it, no one radio station would succeed in telling them otherwise, but when the people see glaring signs of misrule, mismanagement and endure hardship, they are likely to concur with commentaries and opinions of wastes and corruption in government and would see the need to protest against such.

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