Tweets I thought I’d get in more trouble for than I actually did

Number 1 in a series of… well… probably quite a few, to be honest.

This ended up on my timeline yesterday evening:

Local “musical” act “The Kiffness” is referring to the Afrikaburn festival, which took place in the Tankwa Karoo this past weekend. It’s the South African equivalent of Nevada’s infamous Burning Man festival, and the final acts of the event involve the burning of some of the large artworks.

“The Kiffness” makes the point that the materials used in those installations that are burned could be put to better use to help rebuild shacks in townships which are regularly affected by fires.

And he’s right. Perhaps they could be.

But…

If we’re going to choose to police what people can do with their private property and money, if we’re going to choose to police free thought and art – however destructive it may be or seem to be – then let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

Because it wasn’t so long ago that “The Kiffness” voluntarily posted this on one of its social media feeds:

Yep. There’s our protagonist outside one of Cape Town’s more salubrious venues, with a fistful of dollars and a hashtagged promise to #makeitrain*.

An image which I included in my reply to his original tweet:

Yep. Surely, if there are better things to do with the materials used in the construction of flammable artwork, then there were also better things to do with that that R600 – especially in Cape Town’s CBD in the middle of winter?

Some would argue that even if there were no local poverty or homelessness, there would always be many better things that you could do with R600 than spend it at Mavericks.

But I’d say that what “The Kiffness” chooses to do with his money is his choice. Just that his Afrikaburn thoughts might gain better traction were he to practice what he preaches. I’m reliably informed that “The Kiffness” does “jazzy dance and electronic music”, but apparently it doesn’t draw the line at delving into HipHopcrisy.

Sorry, not sorry.

I thought his legion of fan would come after me for pointing this out, but evidently, it was busy doing other stuff yesterday.

Oh, and it’s worth noting that the Afrikaburn organisers do support a number of local charities, including:

The Bergie Bag Project
Bags of food, clothes and medical supplies to homeless people in Cape Town.

I’m sure R600 would go a long way to supporting the cause of those sleeping rough near Mavericks on Barrack Street, and beyond.

 

[For the record: I have no affiliation with Afrikaburn, “The Kiffness” or Mavericks, and have happily, repeatedly and successfully avoided all three during my time in South Africa.]

 

* I am of the opinion that this should likely read “make it rain” – a popular culture reference described thus: “When you’re in da club with a stack, and you throw the money up in the air at the strippers. The effect is that it seems to be raining money”, and not “makei train”, which is the railway route between Minsk and Kalinkavichy, funded under Department of Transport and Infrastructure Minister (now Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs), Vladimir Makei.

I hope this clears things up for you readers. 

Mixed messages from PnP et al

A lot has already been said about the allegedly “proposed” Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT) and the despicable Protection of Information Bill (PIB), not least in that post last week on here.
And so it continues with Gareth Ackerman, chairman of local retail giant Pick n Pay weighing in with his opinion:

Pick n Pay recognises there is a close link between economic and political freedom. The economic freedom on which business depends flourishes best when citizens are able to rely on an unfettered flow of information that is free from excessive government control and regulation.

And since so far, 99% of the criticism of these proposals has come solely from “the media”, creating an “us versus them” scenario, they leapt upon his words with gay abandon, obviously delighted to have an ally outside their close-knit ranks and quoting his ever so luscious soundbites one after another.
In the Times:

The business sector should not believe itself exempt from this duty of responsible citizenship, and we thus have no hesitation in adding our voices to those who have expressed their misgivings about the consequences of the governing party’s proposals.

And with cautious optimism in the Daily Maverick:

“Any erosion of our open society, now that we have achieved it, will only impede economic growth and national prosperity,” he said.
In airing these views… Ackerman may have opened the door for others of a similar persuasion to do the same, which may finally move the debate beyond an increasingly acrimonious to-and-fro between the ANC and political bodies on the one hand, and the media itself on the other… Ackerman has effectively called on the business community to stand up and be counted.

Of course, these words come from the same company that recently banned certain newspapers from its shelves, which had at least one columnist from er… The Daily Maverick up in arms:

After a couple of pesky complaints about “nudity” and bad language in the Afrikaans newspapers, Sondag and Die Son, Pick ’n Pay decided to no longer carry these papers on its shelves. This was despite the fact that the Sunday weekly is sold in supermarkets in sealed plastic bags.
Speaking to the Saturday Star, Ingo Capraro, Sondag’s editor, said the decision was disturbing: “The constitution enshrines freedom of choice, freedom of association and media freedom. Pick ’n Pay’s decision to decide on behalf of its customer what they are allowed to read flies directly in the face of freedom of choice.”

Pick ’n Pay appears to have taken the decision unilaterally, without any consultations with media or civic or watchdog organisations. The company acted as judge, jury and executioner… this would be a very bad time for Pick ’n Pay to start playing media censor.

Local tabloid the Daily Voice was also withdrawn from sale , although apparently it is now available “in selected Pick n Pay stores”.  So presumably T&A are not ubiquitously offensive. I’m not sure how one would go about deciding exactly which stores would have open-minded enough shoppers allow sale of such publications, but I’d be willing to be surveyed if it involved commenting on a series of pictures.

And yes, this is entirely different from “freedom of the press”, but then as Gareth has told us, all these freedoms – media, press, freedom of expression, political freedom, economic freedom, freedom of choice – are interlinked. Right?

But then, this isn’t the first time that PnP have made unilateral decisions and statements over the freedom of expression. Who could forget the whole 2009 “blasphemous” (or “unneccessarily offensive” as I thought), SAX Appeal magazine debacle, when PnP pulled the magazine off the shelves after receiving “several complaints”:

Pick n Pay spokesperson Tamra Veley said that “students putting the magazine together should be extra careful while documenting, reporting and cartooning their work to avoid blatant disrespect of any faith, culture and race. We therefore made the decision to remove Sax Appeal from sale in Pick n Pay stores.”

But Freedom of Expression Institute executive director, Jane Duncan, said last night that blasphemy was no longer a recognised ground for restriction of publications: “So arguments to restrict the publication on this basis do not hold water”.

Look, I’m not stupid (no, really, I’m not). I recognise that Pick n Pay is a business and a business needs customers to keep going. And to keep the customers spending money, you must keep the customers happy. That’s obviously why they chose not to sell those newspapers and to withdraw the SAX Appeal magazine from sale. And yes, Ivo Vegter is correct in his assertion that one must:

…distinguish between the legal right to publish, and the right to sell what you want.

But I fail to see how the media can suddenly flip-flop and conveniently accept the support of Gareth Ackerman and Pick n Pay in their vigorous campaign against the MAT and PIB. It seems hugely hypocritical to me and has a more than faint smell of desperation about it: it seems that when you’re struggling, you’ll accept help from any quarter – even one that has blatantly stood against the same principles you’re fighting for on several occasions previously.

To me, that devalues your message, your campaign and with it, your chances of success.

Playing with fire

Fox hunting, hare coursing, seal culling and bull fighting. A range of trendily unpopular pastimes which I actually don’t have a huge problem with. And before you stop reading in simulated and dramatic disgust, if you eat meat, if you wear leather – in fact, unless you’re a total  and absolute vegan – then you’re being hypocritical in wanting any bloodsport banned. Animals live, animals die.
I’m not saying that watching a greyhound taking down a hare is particularly pleasant to see. It certainly doesn’t ring my bell.
But if you find that equally unappealing, then you shouldn’t enjoy your bacon sandwich just because the chop chop squeal squeal goes on behind closed doors.

And just occasionally, nature gets one back – it might just be the bovine equivalent of a 90th minute goal when you’re already 5-0 down – but it’s still one back.

That same hypocrisy is running through the ranks of the greenies who are aghast at the extent of the damage caused by the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Again, an environmental disaster is not something I want to see – who does? – but unless those whining greenies are 100% self-sufficient, then they rely in some way on oil. So while their complaints that BP should (could?) have done more to prevent this from happening may be justified to some extent, their insistence that we should boycott BP because of the Deepwater Horizon incident is frankly laughable.

This could have happened to any oil company, anywhere in the world, at any time. Any company producing oil for everyone on the planet.
While watching Sky News earlier, the irony of the video taken from the Greenpeace plane flying over “Ground Zero” as they called it, wasn’t lost on me. While the commentary lamented (in a hugely annoying voice) that big business was ruining our oceans with its constant thirst for oil, I was left wondering if the plane they were in was powered by. Fresh air? Fairy dust? Or some fraction of the crude oil that was spilling out of the seabed below them? I wonder.

You’ve used more aircraft fuel than I have this year, Greenpeace, so stop trying to lecture me on the moral rights and wrongs of my drive to work. Bugger off.

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
And those greenies are full of shit.

Good Old God!

I’m an atheist. A very happy one at that. You won’t sway me, so please don’t even try. Equally, I won’t try to tell you who or who not to worship. Other than me, obviously: but that’s a given, anyway.

What I don’t understand (and probably never will) is reactions such as those of “Bruinman” to the deaths of three children (since updated to five) in a horrific car accident near Pretoria.

It is always sad to read news like this, especially when there are children involved. My condolences to the family and friends of the children.
May the Lord be with you and give you strength in this time of bereavement. God Bless.

Look, I’m completely with him about the “sad news” bit. And, for what it’s worth, perhaps even the condolences bit, too. But then it goes horribly wrong, because I’d actually have liked the Lord to have been with the kids in the back of the car, looking after them and maybe preventing them from plunging 15 metres (45ft) off a road bridge and onto the freeway below; not turning up a day later with a bashful apology and a pat on the back for the grieving parents, like the murderer bringing flowers to the funeral.

Perhaps someone can explain to myself and my readers as to why the “loving”, “omnipresent” God wasn’t there to stop these five innocent kids dying in such a horrible way.
While you’re at it, help me out with the rape stats in South Africa (52,000 pa) – can “He” not  do something to sort that out at all?
Cholera in Zimbabwe? 80,000 infected, 3,500 dead. Why would “He” let that suffering occur? And while we’re there, why do “He” and his followers tolerate Robert Mugabe swearing himself in (again) on the Bible “in the sight of God”? Not the sort of message I’d want to be sending out, but “He” allowed it to happen (again) this week. 

I could go on and on, you know. I often do.

It’s unfathomable to me as to how Christians (and those of other religions) can so easily turn a blind eye or make excuses for those things which don’t fit conveniently into their religious demographic.
If you think you’re different and you can tell us how and why these things happen with such regularity and apparent impunity right under “His” beard, please leave a comment.  

Note well: The first person to use the phrase “God works in mysterious ways” will be banned. Immediately.