Credibility issues

As Sarah Britten penned an article documenting Helen Zille’s slow but steady meltdown on Twitter and with political commentator Eusebius McKaiser even suggesting:

For its own sake, the DA might need a new leader.

suddenly the rug has been smartly pulled from beneath DA supporters’ feet, as their previously solid and reliable leader seems almost to be suffering some sort of breakdown, resulting in her, her party’s and her supporters’ credibility being eroded; the sage advice of arguing only with logic and not emotion seemingly forgotten.

But while the own goals of opposition politicians are important in our democracy, there are bigger problems involving credibility facing our country. Hot Cross Buns.

Yep – Woolworths (and as we’ve said before, this isn’t the same Woolworths as went bust in the UK, this is the SA equivalent of M&S) are out and about offending christians again. But after their previous capitulation on the decision to remove loss making christian magazines from their shelves back in 2010 (a decision which resulted, incidentally, in a loss of credibility for the store), “surprisingly” this time it’s the christians who have lost the plot. This just a couple of weeks after their “Jesus is alive/Jesus is dead” car crash of an argument over the Red Bull ad.

Because today, christian people (not all christian people, it should be said, but some very vocal christian people) are ever so upset about there being a Halaal marking on Woolworths’ Hot Cross Buns.

And yes, they’re really annoyed:

I hate woolworths… How can you do that to the Christians, I hope that God will have mercy on you. And dnt be surprised if your shops run bankrupt.. I will pray to my living God and you will see what he is capable of!

Let’s pop back and review that threat in a few weeks, months or years, shall we? Because while your bloke upstairs is allegedly both omnipresent and omnipotent, Woolies do sell awfully nice chocolate brownies, very decent fresh fruit and veg, and have a huge selection of quality clothing as well. With their latest results indicating a turnover up 11.4%, profits up 26.8% (despite not selling very many christian magazines) and total assets of R9,218,000,000, it seems unlikely that they’ll go under any time soon.

But with several people up in arms over some seasonal bakery products, who knows what the future may hold?

Even the SA Catholic Bishops’ Conference spokesperson Chris Townsend said “people were overreacting and needed to be more understanding”:

Hot cross buns are only a symbol, and not a central tenet of Christianity. There are a lot more weighty issues to deal with in SA than a few ‘hot cross Christians’

However, for me, it’s just another nail in the coffin as far as christian credibility is concerned. And to be honest, we’re running out of space on the lid now. When members of a religion (or any other group) display such stupid, irrational (shock) and intolerant behaviour, there comes a point when society will simply stop listening.

And if they want their reasonable and sensible suggestions to be considered in the future, just like dear Helen, someone needs to tell them to pipe down before that moment comes.

UPDATE: Here’s some opinion from Georgina Guedes. You may recall that I also agreed with her thoughts here back in 2007.

UPDATE 2: Oh dear – there’s precedent! Tesco in the UK has lost market share, profit and has been infested by mice (twice) – all “since supporting Gay Pride“.

UPDATE 3: Hayibo’s response is brilliant.

UPDATE 4: This is also worth a read for a different perspective on this.

  • konfytbekkie

    It is my fervent hope that fundamentalist “Christians” will eventually (sooner rather than later) break off and start a new religion/denomination that will ultimately be so far-flung from moderate Christianity that it’ll be more associated with Scientology and other fun ideas than with the rest of us, non-fundamentalists.

    Because really all they’re doing is annoying the world in general and giving the rest of us a pretty bad rap.

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  • Henry Crun

    A facebook friend was pointing out the irony of hallal hot-cross buns and halaal Easter eggs yesterday. To which I pointed out that the true irony is that Easter has sod all to do with neither chocolate nor Christianity and if anyone would find it offensive it would be Pagans. She has since taken the hump.

  • konfytbekkie > There will, inevitably, be some degree of tarring with the same brush here, agreed.

    Henry Crun > Seriously, Paganism aside, if the Halaal sticker prevented christians from eating the buns, I could almost understand it.

  • While i do think Helen has become a tad verbose on Twitter i think her use of the platform is showing a certain transparency that i prefer as opposed to other leaders who are all too quiet. The average person (including myself) has a very limited knowledge of politics and for the first time in my entire life i actually feel like i’m involved now. In the past people have voted for someone based on what they have heard them say in newspapers or at a public rally. How many people though who voted for Zuma or Mbeki can say they actually know the person they have voted for? All the press releases and public speeches are written by advisors no? I have eff all idea what Zuma would say if he was asked to answer a question immediately. I don’t want a researched answer..i want the person to answer now. Twitter provides that. If its a kak answer or a controversial statemnet then so be it. At least i know. Helen may be shooting herself in the foot with her overzealous use of Twitter, but at least people are getting to understand what she’s all about. Like her, dont like her..at least now you can actually make a better decision instead of chosing to vote for someone just because you don’t wanna vote for someone else.

    And im by no means defending Helen. My post about her refugee tweet was very clear in saying that she’s treading on thin ice and needs to think before she pulls the trigger or it’s only a matter of time she really says some dumb shit. Then again saying dumb shit might actually land her the presidency a la ‘HIV doesnt cause AIDS or taking a shower will prevent you from getting it’.

  • Savage > Thanks for the comment. And I agree that all the “real person vs puppet with researched answers” is all very appealing. My point is this: if the real person cannot hold herself back from letting emotion make foolish decisions (or in this case saying foolish things on twitter) in the heat of the moment, then is that really the person we want to be running the city, province or country? And if the argument is that there is a safety net of advisors and such to prevent her from doing that in Government, then are we really seeing the real person anyway?
    I guess what I’m saying is that I think a lot of people aren’t impressed with the “real person” now they’ve got to know her.

  • Agreed, but the same goes for those already in power running the country. They could well be just as hot headed or if not more so than Miss Zille, but we would never have the opportunity to find out. At least now i know what i’m getting myself into. Of course many people are no longer impressed with her since they’ve seen what she’s like on Twitter, but that’s a natural response isn’t it? You see an attractive girl at a bar and reckon its worth going for a chat only to realise she’s a complete airhead and a waste of your time. So you move along.

    Lets level the playing field and see other politicians do the same as Zille to see how they match up. Her sarcasm has been critisised, but i would love to see Zuma field a Q&A on twitter himself and see how he handles it. Or forget him..lets see someone from the ANC with a big mouth field questions. I’m pretty sure some epic f**k ups would occur.

    You’re probably aware that i go to Canada every year for several months and they have a tv channel dedicated to showing what politicians are saying in parliament on a daily basis. You get to hear and see what every single politician is like when they have to debate something or answer questions from the speaker. No prepared speeches or advisors. I long for that in SA.

    I guess that’s why Zille’s use of Twitter is appealing to me. I get to see what she’s like. Like i said before..i ‘d rather know that she has flaws than not knowing anything at all.

  • Savage > OK, but then you must also agree that those flaws will put some people off as well – those people are (naturally) voicing their opinions as well.
    I don’t think that there’s any chance of JZ (or anyone else) going ahead and doing this now they’ve seen what has happened to HZ. I don’t think that any politician has ever come out of twitter Q&As winning. They’re just too easy to sabotage.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2003994/Ed-Milibands-Twitter-question-answer-session-backfires.html

    Also, comparing the DA with the ANC is one place where I think the DA is going wrong. The ANC should be raising their standards to meet the DA’s, not vice versa.

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