Saturday, 23 February 2013
I am not much good at idolatry. I regard Nelson Mandela as less than a god, though I can see his merits such as dignity, old age and a talent for conciliation. Neither have I been carried away by Oscar Pistorius, said to be the second most admired South African, perhaps because I place athletic prowess rather low on the scale of human accomplishment. In my heart of hearts I even find the adulation accorded him bizarre, tasteless, dishonest and emotionally kitsch: but one is not allowed to say so.
I nevertheless found the reports of his appearance in court on a charge of having murdered his girlfriend fascinating, more for what they told us about ourselves and our society than for what they told us about him. We must, of course, bear in mind that the facts of the case are not yet fully known; no man is guilty until he is proven so.
But it is clear that he was accorded considerably more sympathy in the report of The Guardian for 16th February than would have been the case if he were, shall we say, a tattooed member of the National Front with a Staffordshire bull terrier who was in more or less the same position: ‘He remained inconsolable and silent, a lonely man in a crowded room.’
Then we read the following, which makes Mr Pecksniff seem like a pioneer of raw self-examination: Pistorius’s family and management company issued a statement making it clear that he intends to fight the charge.
“Firstly, and most importantly, all our thoughts today must be with the family and friends of Reeva Steenamp.”
Just how focussed the thoughts of Pistorius’s family were on the family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp may be judged by the following. Stuart Higgins, a former editor of the Sun and now a PR consultant, has flown to South Africa to help co-ordinate the Pistorius family’s press strategy. Presumably Mr Higgins did not fly to South Africa on the off-chance that he might be wanted.
Management companies’ statements, PR consultants, press strategies: everything is a matter of appearances and how to put a gloss on them, rather than of deeds actually done and their real meaning. With such widespread shallowness, perhaps Mr Pistorius would make a good President of South Africa and Mr Higgins a good Prime Minister of Great Britain. We already know how good a training PR is for the latter job.
First published in Salisbury Review.
Posted on 02/23/2013 5:16 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
23 Feb 2013
It pains me to say it theo but since you've retired you've beome a crashing bore
23 Feb 2013
Pistorius was admired for overcoming a physical handicap, not just athletic prowess. Guns are ubiquitous in white South Africa, as in many parts of the United States. They are ready accessories to crimes of passion by otherwise sane and law abiding people. If we can't achieve adequate government regulation of guns in the United States, maybe we should require gun owners to carry liability insurance and let the insurance companies sort out the risks. Which tyrrany do you prefer? Public or private?
23 Feb 2013
U.S. Citizens prefer neither public nor private tyranny. Thus, the Constitutional right to own fire arms. Kinda moderates the behavior of the thugs,whether they are from the streets or city hall, when they approach your house and family.
And were you a white South African, you could bet your sweet ass that you and your family would be armed to the teeth.
24 Feb 2013
liamjq: Why 'crashing'? I've always been puzzled by that cliché.
27 Feb 2013
AJH, as a white South African I would like to point out that most white South African's don't have guns. And in fact many of those who do, have been shot by their own guns when criminals have broken into their homes and gotten hold of the guns therein.
Pistorius is one of those pathetic specimans suffering from American-style gun mania. After Pistorius' girlfriend was shot, the Cape Times newspaper (19 Feb, 2013) reported that Pistorius had, in the previous month, applied for licenses for the following weapons:
a maverick shotgun,
a winchester shotgun
a mossberg shotgun
a smith and wesson model 500 revolver
a .38 revolver
a vector .223 rifle.
According to the Cape Times, the smith and wesson model 500 is the most powerful production revolver in the world and the vector .223 is described as "a powerful weapon that was used for hunting or kept by collectors. [It] was not understood why Pistorius would need such a weapon... It's powerful enough that you wouldn't use it in the surbrb unless you were well trained."
Most white South African's find this kind of gun-mad mentality repellant.
This gun obsession of Americans and others around the world with a similar mentality shows how shortsighted the crtiques of ailing western culture are when they only point at leftist cultural marxism/postmodernism (these are only half the problem) and ignore the global capitalists' contribution to the destruction of western culture: the weapons industry, the media barons, the financial services industry, GM food industry, mining corporations, the fast-food industry, etc (i.e. the domain in which greed is considered the highest virtue, to be serviced at the expense of all others).
Gun-obsessed people are simply enriching the ruthless and amoral weapons industry and making their societies more dangerous at the same time.