Complaint about segment containing alleged hate speech against Pagan Witches. Complainant televisionconcerned that Witches have been negatively stereotyped and that a link between witches and evil in a popular programme such as 50/50 could lead to renewed witch persecutions and witch hunts. 

 The Tribunal held that presenters may express opinions as long as they are fair.  Judged within context, it is clear that the comment in question was said in a jocular manner, was the presenter’s opinion, was not malicious and most probably referred to a different aspect than what the complainant understood and therefore could be considered as having been fair. 

Although freedom of expression must be limited when it sanctions, promotes or glamorises violence based on religion, no traces of this could be found in the segment.  The segment forms part of a bona fide documentary and is therefore exempted from a limitation of the right to freedom of expression.  Regarding the question whether the comment might have been experienced as hate speech based on religion, the Tribunal concluded that there was no advocacy of hatred or incitement to cause harm to Pagan Witches.  Clearly the segment was not intended to injure, nor was it malicious or mala fide and thus cannot be seen to be injurious to Pagan Witches.  No contravention of the Code could be found and the complaint was not upheld.

[2010] JOL 25813 (BCCSA)