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Freedom of Speech as provided for in Liberian Constitution

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Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution gives Liberians certain basic rights, including FREEDOM OF SPEECH and that of the PRESS with responsibilities. Since President Sirleaf’s incumbency, this Constitutional provision continues to be adequately utilized, especially through radio phone-in talk shows and other forums.

Though the government of Liberia has, for the past eleven years, been so tolerant and liberal as far as FREEDOM OF SPEECH is concerned, such Constitutional right has been so loosed that no one cares to observe
the responsibility which accompanies Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution.

To the extent that the President of Liberia, officials of government,  as well as other high profile Liberians, among others are even insulted or desecrated by some talk show hosts and phone-in callers without observing the rule of the game – the responsibility attached to the freedom of speech we continue to enjoy, it is a completely loose right and a violation of the very Constitution of Liberia these same people claim to be upholding.

It is often said that ‘he/she who preaches equity, must come with clean hands’- a popular adage many of these very Liberian callers and rights advocates utter and do not take cognizance of. Most of these callers/advocates under the banner of so-called civil society are even so corruption, reckless, indecent and wicked so much so that their closets are filled with uncountable skeletons – characteristics that they cover up to bad-mouth others, without any response from other Liberians who know them by such characteristics.

Interestingly, when particular issues are discussed, talk show hosts with very little knowledge, allow most of these less or uniformed callers/advocates to evade such radio discussions with character assassinations and gullible information – just on the basis of sentiments, biases or lack of adequate knowledge, Unfortunately, most Listeners accept these assertions – many of which may be unsubstantiated, only because the Liberia is a very gullible society wherein people tend to accept information on the surface without second taught or analysis.

For example, House Speaker Alex Tyler news conference in which he appointed accusing fingers at President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for ‘master-minding’ his removal as head of the legislature is being discussed by a few talk show hosts on Truth FM, FABRIC Radio 101 FM and a few others to suggest that “since Tyler was also instrumental in the removal of representative Snowe, he was crying wolf because of what he did to the latter.’

While one may choose to differ with most of the contents of Tyler’s news conference, he was no way part of the plot that removed then Speaker Edwin Snowe; in fact, Tyler was not even a force to march Representative Edward Forh of Montserrado County, who was heavily supported by President Sirleaf and other formidable forces, as well as Representative Armah Sarnor of Gbarpolu County, who was also supported by Cllr. H. Varnet G. Sherman and Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine.

Tyler may have come into the actual picture after the realization by Cllrs. Sherman and Brumskine that President Sirleaf was supporting Representative Forh. And on the day of the election for Speaker at the Unity Conference Center in Virginia, outside Monrovia, Representative Sarnor was persuaded by the two Counselors-At-Law to withdraw in favor of Tyler against Forh – and that’s how Tyler came into the picture as Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was never part of any conspiracy to oust Snowe – even Snowe, himself, will never agree with the talk show hosts of these stations who create such impression.

Being on the radio requires adequate research and information for accurate, balanced and clear information are presented to the public and not half-baked information to an already gullible Liberian population.
And so, in utilizing Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution, we must also be very cognizant of the responsibility thereof, and not rely on public sentiments.


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