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View Full Version : Help me identify where this woman was from.


Kyla
08-14-2005, 03:41 PM
About a year ago (I've seriously been meaning to post this since then, but never thought of it when I was sitting at the computer), I was riding a bus here in beautiful downtown Chicago. In the seat in front of me, a man with an ordinary American accent was playing the tour guide to a woman with an accent I originally pegged as South African. FWIW, she was white.

At one point, the bus went by a guy who had set up a table filled with anti-Bush propaganda (this was shortly before the election and all). He had some sign up that said something to the effect of "Bush Has No Brain". The woman in front of me was shocked that people were permitted to say something like that about the president and that "at home" he would be in trouble for broadcasting such a sentiment.

Although I could be wrong, I don't think South Africa bans public insults to the president. So help me, Dopers, where was this woman from?

John Mace
08-14-2005, 04:04 PM
You really didn't give enough info, but it would probably be hard for an American to tell the difference between a (white) South African accent and one from a (White) person living in Zimbabwe. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimbabwe)

Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
08-14-2005, 04:20 PM
Yep, sounds like a Zimbabwean, especially with the reference to the limits on speech.

Kyla
08-14-2005, 04:33 PM
Zimbabwe had occurred to me, but I was wondering if there was another country I could be missing.

John Mace, I'd give more information if I had it! It's bugged me for so long I wish I'd just struck up a conversation with her so I could have asked her where she was visiting from.

panache45
08-14-2005, 08:56 PM
The phrase "at home" could refer to where she's currently been living, not necessarily where she grew up and acquired her accent.

Maybe she's from Texas.

Duck Duck Goose
08-14-2005, 09:15 PM
I don't think South Africa bans public insults to the president.

Step into the Wayback Machine, m'dear... :D

http://www.southafrica-newyork.net/consulate/news.htm
...South Africa's press, with a proud history of criticism of the previous government's apartheid policies, entered the new democracy unburdened by the pre-1994 restrictions.

< snip >

History of the Press in South Africa

During the apartheid era, newspapers had to apply for registration if they published more than 11 times a year. An arbitrary amount was also required before registration was approved.

The government also enforced regulations controlling what newspapers could or could not publish, especially relating to articles and comment on activities against the apartheid system. Newspapers were, for instance, not allowed to quote banned organisations and their spokesmen, or report on conditions inside prisons or the activities of the security forces.

At the height of the anti-apartheid struggle in the 1980s, when two states of emergency were declared, censorship regulations were tightened. Newspapers were barred from reporting on any demonstrations or activity against the apartheid government or any of its laws.

The threat of closure forced newspaper editors to apply a self-censorship policy, while other papers printed blank pages or whole paragraphs blacked out as a sign of protest.
So, although you think of South Africa today as having free speech, it was not always thus. And if she was older than about 30, and if she's been living in the U.S. for a while (since 1994, say), she'd be correct, if a bit out of the loop and a little vague on specifics, in remembering that "at home", you were not allowed to criticize the government in public.

Hypnagogic Jerk
08-14-2005, 09:56 PM
So, although you think of South Africa today as having free speech, it was not always thus. And if she was older than about 30, and if she's been living in the U.S. for a while (since 1994, say), she'd be correct, if a bit out of the loop and a little vague on specifics, in remembering that "at home", you were not allowed to criticize the government in public.
Sure, but she wouldn't have been shocked to see that Americans are allowed to criticize the President, since she would have already realized that long before.

Duck Duck Goose
08-15-2005, 09:22 AM
Well, maybe what caused her "shock" was not the fact that the guy was criticizing the President, but rather the personal and insulting way it was phrased: "Bush Has No Brain". Maybe what she meant was, "At home you'd be in trouble for outright ad hominems."

My understanding is that other countries tend to have more stringent slander and libel laws, so maybe she was reacting to that. It's one thing to criticize your leader's actions, but it's quite another to criticize his basic intelligence.