Our days of tak­ing the Mickey are num­bered

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

IT’S worth not­ing that, amid the chaos and hurly burly that threaten to en­gulf us all, the gov­ern­ment is at least crack­ing on with the busi­ness of crack­ing on.

There have, in other words, been dra­matic de­vel­op­ments. And not at a lag­gardly pace ei­ther.

This week the coun­try be­gan the process of with­draw­ing from the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court, a pro­posal to make hate crime a, uh, crime was an­nounced and De­fence Min­is­ter No­siviwe Mapisa-Nqakula sug­gested se­cu­rity forces shoot stu­dent pro­test­ers in the feet – but not in a way that hurt them.

All of which cer­tainly got our at­ten­tion, here at the Ma­hogany Ridge. As one of the reg­u­lars re­marked, “It’s a bit like wait­ing for the train. Sud­denly Metro­rail an­nounces the next two ser­vices have also been can­celled.”

Mapisa-Nqakula’s sug­ges­tion con­cerns the po­lice’s ap­par­ent lack of train­ing for riot sit­u­a­tions. How for­tu­nate, then, that stu­dents are do­ing their bit to help out here. It’s a mat­ter of prac­tice, prac­tice, prac­tice – and even­tu­ally they’ll get it right.

That may seem harsh, par­tic­u­larly as Uni­ver­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand stu­dent leader Shaeera Kalla was hos­pi­talised af­ter be­ing shot, re­port­edly sev­eral times, in the back at close range with rub­ber bul­lets on Thurs­day. But, next time, God will­ing, and with the proper train­ing, po­lice will shoot her a dozen times or so in the feet.

At the risk of laps­ing into what UCT law pro­fes­sor Richard Cal­land has termed “a bi­nary, one-di­men­sional anal­y­sis that is self-de­feat­ing and in­tel­lec­tu­ally ster­ile”, I would sug­gest the es­ca­la­tion of vi­o­lence on cam­pus by the Fal­lists was al­ways go­ing to be coun­tered with a sim­i­lar es­ca­la­tion by the au­thor­i­ties. It’s a bit like Newton’s third law of mo­tion, you could say.

Newton, of course, is shortly to be re­moved from our cur­ricu­lums – if UCT Fal­list Mickey Moyo is to have her way. An ex­tra­or­di­nary video clip of her re­cent pre­sen­ta­tion to the uni­ver­sity’s science de­part­ment has gone vi­ral. In it, Moyo had this to say of “Western” knowl­edge:

“It is say­ing that it was Newton and only Newton who knew and saw an ap­ple fall­ing and out of nowhere de­cided grav­ity ex­isted and cre­ated an equa­tion and that is it… De­colonis­ing the science would mean do­ing away with it en­tirely and start­ing all over again to deal with how we re­spond to the en­vi­ron­ment and how we un­der­stand it.”

On Wed­nes­day, an un­known UCT Fal­list con­ducted his own in­quiry into the laws of grav­ity by drop­ping a rock from the up­per storey of the Steve Biko build­ing on to a pri­vate se­cu­rity guard’s head, se­ri­ously in­jur­ing him. The fact that the guard was wear­ing a hel­met al­most cer­tainly saved his life.

In an­other un­pro­voked in­ci­dent that day, a sec­ond guard was rounded on by a Fal­list mob near the food court in front of a large crowd of stu­dents who looked on with the sort of in­dif­fer­ence that bor­dered on dis­ap­proval. Film clips of the sus­tained beat­ing suf­fered by the guard, who was also hos­pi­talised, have gone vi­ral.

Speak­ing of which, Pro­fes­sor Pene­lope An­drews, dean of law at UCT, ap­pears to be in awe of the protest lead­ers’ use of so­cial me­dia to in­form and mo­bilise stu­dents. Writ­ing in The Con­ver­sa­tion, she said: “In this, they’ve dis­played a pas­sion and gusto that refuse to be ig­nored.”

It is dif­fi­cult to ig­nore, for ex­am­ple, the pas­sion and gusto in UCT Fal­list and Black First Land First ac­tivist Linds­day Maas­dorp’s com­ments on Twit­ter. A gen­eral theme is “F*** White Peo­ple!” But he was more spe­cific with this par­tic­u­lar one: “I have as­pi­ra­tions to kill white peo­ple, and this must be achieved!”

And just where is the love these days, we won­der.

But per­haps it was this sort of sen­ti­ment that was up­per­most in the minds of the drafters of the Pre­ven­tion and Com­bat­ing of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill.

Ac­cord­ing to Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency Jeff Radebe, there’s a whole whack of “crim­i­nal con­duct mo­ti­vated by bias, prej­u­dice or in­tol­er­ance” out there that is, frankly, unac­cept­able.

Penny Spar­row! Your days of call­ing peo­ple mon­keys are def­i­nitely over! By the same to­ken, we may be done with mak­ing fun of politi­cians as well. There goes satire – for what is lam­poon­ing if there are no vic­tims, no bias, no prej­u­dice?

What a grim life lies ahead for us all. We will be de­colonised of ev­ery­thing and I may just have to take up knit­ting.

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