Friday, December 31, 2010

The Meaning Lies in How You Use the Word

“We are scared to the point where we are no longer free.”

This observation was made by Max Price, vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, to The Economist ('The Great Scourges', A Special Report on South Africa, '5th June 2010) after the murder of yet another member of the staff last March.

The murder rate in South Africa is 33 per 100,000, compared to 5.1 in the United States. The rape rate is the highest in the world. 50 murders, 100 rapes, 330 armed robberies and 550 violent assaults are recorded every day. And the violence is often mindless.

Yet - and this is even more mindless - Freedom House gives South Africa a ranking of 2 in its 'freedom of the world index'(7 being completely unfree).

If you are not free not to be raped or murdered, then what kind of freedom is that? Clearly Freedom House's definition of freedom is very different from what most of us mean by that word.

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