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Editorial

The Exercise of Rights, Especially Freedom of Speech

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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 1986 Liberian Constitution.

To the extent that the President of Liberia, officials of government, as well as other high profile Liberians, among others are even publicly  insulted or credibility un-necessarily desecrated by some talk show hosts, their guests and phone-in callers without observing the rule of the game – the responsibility attached to the freedom of speech we continue to enjoy, it has become 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 corrupt, 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 Liberia is a very gullible society wherein people tend to accept information on the surface without second thought or analysis.

For example, House Speaker Alex Tyler’s recent news conference in which he pointed accusing fingers at President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for ‘master-minding’ his removal as head of the Legislature was 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, it is also fair to suggest that he was no way part of the plot that removed then Speaker Edwin Snowe (something to which Snowe himself can attest – except wherein he wants to be politically mischievous because of the current situation); 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. Varney G. Sherman and Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine.

Tyler may have gone into the actual picture after the realization by Cllrs. Sherman and Brumskine that President Sirleaf was supporting Representative Forh in the process of electing a new Speaker at the Unity Conference Center in Virginia, where majority members of the Legislature were sitting at the time.

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 talk
show hosts of these stations who may be creating such impressions in the ears of the public.

Being on the radio requires the highest degree of accuracy, balance and clarity in the information dissemination process to the public and not half-baked 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 as we have always considered.

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