Someone writing under the pseudonym of Shelly Garland, a philosophy student at a supposed university, wrote a blog fort the Huffington Post entitled “Could It Be Time To Deny White Men The Franchise?” The piece was published on April 13th, 2017, and advocated for the removal of white males from being eligible to vote in South Africa.
The Huffington Post did a follow-up article on April 14th, 2017, with writer Verashni Pillay, the editor-in-chief for the South African branch of the Huffongton Post, defending the piece and mocking those who called it out for being racist. The only thing is… the original article went against the South African code of ethics for press outlets… and it had to be removed.
Instead of actually retracting the piece or fact checking the author, Pillay’s original follow-up was titled “This Blog on White Men Is Going Viral. Here’s Our Response.” It proceeded to mock those who found Garland’s piece racist, and Pillay even posted excerpts from e-mails of people who were not appreciative of the piece.
The hubris with which the Huffington Post defended an article advocating racism and fascism quickly caught the attention of Kotaku in Action, a sub-Reddit hub centered on covering ethical lapses and narrative agendas in media journalism.
In the original defense article on the Huffington Post, Pillay wrote…
“The Huffington Post South Africa has received an onslaught of messages and comments from those angered by the blog, particularly via our email address inviting corrections from our readers.
“It would appear that perhaps much of the outcry derives from a very poor reading of the article — or perhaps none at all. Dismantling the patriarchal systems that have brought us to where we are today, a world where power is wielded to dangerous and destructive ends by men, and in particular white men, necessarily means a loss of power to those who hold it. A loss of oppressive power. Those who have held undue power granted to them by patriarchy must lose it for us to be truly equal. This seems blindingly obvious to us.”
One of the e-mails that Pillay shared was similar in response to the people who called out former BioWare developer Manveer Heir for his racist remarks about whites during the promotion of Mass Effect: Andromeda, where one person wrote…
“Lets do an experiment: 1 – copy this article in MS word 2- Hit “Ctrl+R” and replace “White men” with any other group, gender or ethnic background. 3 – Read the article again…Are you offended? If you are, why are you printing this garbage?”
That particular point is never addressed in Pillay’s defense of Garland’s piece, and instead she stands by the piece, defending its original intentions.
However, Huffington Post was forced to reassess the blog post from Garland when it turned out that they couldn’t seem to trace Garland back to being a real person.
Pillay and the Huffington Post staff were then forced to remove Garland’s piece, and they re-arranged the defense article into an apology.
The piece published on April 14th, 2017 had its title and contents changed on April 15th, 2017 to read “White Men And The Vote: Why We Took The Blog Down”.
“We have done this because the blog submission from an individual who called herself Shelley Garland, who claimed to be an MA student at UCT, cannot be traced and appears not to exist.
“We have immediately bolstered and strengthened our blogging procedures that, until now, have operated on the basis of open communication and good faith. From now on, bloggers will have to verify themselves.”
Pillay also had to retract their stance of supporting the racism espoused in Garland’s piece, since they had to reaffirm their alignment with the Preamble of the South African Constitution, which can be found on the official South African government website, where it states that “[…] the people of South Africa believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.”
Pillay went on to add that the post also violated section 5 of the South African Press Code, which covers discrimination and hate speech, with 5.2 explicitly mentioning that media should not publish material that can be construed as propaganda to incite violence or the advocacy of hate toward another race (regardless of ethnicity). Pillay wrote…
“In addition, Huffington Post South Africa is a signatory to and supporter of the South Africa Press Code. We support free expression as limited by the following value as set out in that code.”
“We apologise for the oversight. We welcome further discussion.”
Readers were none too happy about this turn of events, but some people who espouse the liberal extremist views attempted to defend Garland and the alleged advocacy of racism against whites. Many others stated that such propaganda was dangerous and only furthered the “hate-bait” campaign that the media has been utilizing these last few years.