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Friday, 16 July 2010


jacki janse van rensburg

i often see people being very mean, personal and vindictive about people in the public eye. people like paris hilton, britney spears, julius malema,jeremy mansfield etc. even you and i. the same person would never talk that way about people they know, or even about that person if they were to meet face to face.

if we were to know caster semenya personally, we would never say the things about her that we would tweet/say about her now.

i think it is because we think we know that person. they share their lives with us, after all. but we don't see their pain, their struggle, their insecurities. i know if i am mean to my mother or brother or child, it would hurt, because i can see that. but i can joke about someone public, and i don't see the hurt, so that makes it ok.

the internet is especially open for that, because it is easy to write mean things when we don't see the hurt it causes. because it is written, it is worse, because it doesn't go away.


"...it is easy to write mean things when we don't see the hurt it causes. because it is written, it is worse, because it doesn't go away."

And that's precisely what you're guilty of here. There was an error of judgement and you react in a completely disproportionate manner in this mean-spirited blog posting with the intention of humiliating these two women. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Clive Simpkins

Hey Carl. Intention not 'to humiliate these two women' as you put it but to invite them and others like them to think before humiliating those who can't fight back. They didn't make an 'error of judgement'. Stop with the euphemisms already. These are seasoned wordsmiths and experienced business women.

Roy Blumenthal

Hiya Clive...

Yup. I agree with you.

And at the same time as agreeing with you, I have to admit to my own cheap Caster jokes.

I think it's EASY to take cheap shots for the immediate laugh.

A sharp mind finds it easy to find jokes in all sorts of terrible areas. A sharp STUPID mind commits those jokes to the public arena.

Having said these things... there are other factors at play. Caster is a public figure. Caster KNOWS who Caster is. She knows about her own hermaphroditic issues. It's not as though she's some innocent who just HAPPENS to have been outed without her even knowing there was anything different.

So when people make Caster jokes, there's a chance that a greater good might be in the process of being served. MAYBE an inherent penchant for South African corruption is being revealed? Maybe it's an expression of discontent for a status quo that allows our politicians and sportspeople to lie and steal and cheat?

It's true that cheap shots at Caster Semenya are below the belt. And it's true that they're shameful. And it's true that media-savvy types SHOULD exercise better judgement.

In my case, I most often take on the role of jester, the shamanic coyote. And it's the job of the jester to expose the uncomfortable things in a rotten society.

Where I'm seeing a difference between my own Caster jokes and the incident you've written about is this: I'm not pretending I made a mistake. I'm not apologising and trying to hide my shameful jokes from view.

For me, it would be a terrible mistake to simply will these things away. They're said. And they're etched into the public record.

Does it matter if people think ill of me? Yes. It polarises things for me. But it also means I have a voice.

I'm really glad you've written this piece. Cos it made me really examine why my Caster jokes made me uncomfortable when I wrote them. And also why I chose to go ahead and press the 'send' button anyway.

Clive Simpkins

Wonderful article from www.salon.com about Internet trolls, anonymity and what it does to people. The last paragraph is the killer insight.

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