Hate Speech and You: Choosing Your Words in the Logistics Industry

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July 9, 2014

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Photo credit: Nairobi Wire

Photo credit: Nairobi Wire

Ramadhan Kareem to all folks around the globe. I understand the topic of the day would certainly be BRAvsGER but lets comeback home and discuss some few things in our surroundings in relation to our obvious and favorite subject: Logistics.

The case for being careful and deliberate with your words has never been stronger than it is today, both globally and in our own backyard. Right here in Kenya, a number of political figures have come under fire for fanning the underlying flames of ethnic and political tension with inflammatory statements, mostly said to have been made during public rallies and with obvious malicious intention. Director of Public Prosecutions, Keriako Tobiko has in fact ordered an investigation into two MPs alleged to have uttered statements intended to incite conflict, after receiving official complaints from the Law Society of Kenya.

As the extent of their wrong doing is being assessed by higher powers, it is important for us to turn our gazes inwards and ask ourselves: are we being careful with our speech? As logistics managers, our version of hate speech generally includes all communications designed to undermine our competition by marring their reputation with negative publicity. In other industries, things such as advertising wars tread the line between appropriate and misinformation designed to make consumers lose faith in the competition. Falsely speaking ill of another party is legally known as slander, while running false publications in print media is referred to as libel.

The most obvious ramification to either of these approaches comes from the law. Corporate lawsuits can not only ruin a company financially but also destroy their professional reputation and make it difficult to find business partners or corporate clients. As logistics managers, we must work to protect our companies from legal liability by refraining from commenting on our competitors, or if we must, ensuring that everything stated is irrefutably true. The only guaranteed safeguard against accusations of slander or libel is proving that statements made were true, but even then, it is best to stay away from situations that will drag your company name through a lawsuit.

Photo credit: ReganLaw.net

Photo credit: ReganLaw.net

Corporates also have a moral obligation to practice ethical business. A key part of this is being able to compete without stooping to unnecessary mudslinging. Any good business leader will tell you that when it comes to such situations, it is best to stay above the fray and maintain the company’s spotless reputation. As supply chain managers and business owners, the importance of having a good name in the industry cannot be overstated as there are often very few participants in the industry: alienating them with poorly advised defamatory campaigns can only serve to be damaging in the future, possibly even affecting your profit margins by missing out on deals. After all, would you want to do business with someone known for slandering others in your industry?

The ill effects of hate speech go beyond our corporate scope, of course: by inciting each other to hate and violence, we continue to rip away at the fragile fabric of national cohesion and edge Kenya closer to the brink of untold horror. African conflicts mostly have their roots in a disunited people incited by a reckless few into raising arms against one another, resulting in bloodshed and suffering that is a burden to us all. Let us each do our part in choosing our words carefully to promote a peaceful Kenya in harmony, not just because we fear arrest, but because we are Kenyans working toward a better Kenya. Have a patriotic week, won’t you?


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