No common sense prevails in the public sphere

FILE PICTURE: Rhoda Kadalie, anti-apartheid activist.

The public sphere is littered with verbal diarrhoea.

Within 10 minutes of walking into the Waterfront shopping mall this week, I bumped into two struggle stalwarts who told me how disgusted they were with the protesting students and President Jacob Zuma. But unlike many, they did not blend the two.

“When you get everything for free, you do not value what you get,” the one friend said. “These constant demands epitomise what the entitlement state is all about.”

The other friend uttered in desperation: “Where are the leaders? During our time, the leaders had legitimacy and the students listened to them. Today, the youth listens to no one.”

In the spring of our discontent, the despair in the air is thick. There are those who say Zuma is responsible for the state the nation is in, and the destructive violence is a direct result of it.

Then there are those who say “don’t destroy your buildings and education, but direct your anger at Zuma”.

“Respect your right to education and protest, but use your vote responsibly to change the government you despise.

“In destroying the educational infrastructure, you are allowing education to fall, the very thing you are fighting against.”

Problem is, nowhere does any common sense prevail. South Africa’s talk show hosts are the worst.

The public sphere is littered with verbal diarrhoea. Some of our presenters do not believe in conversations, but bludgeon people to death with their banal and parochial populist views when callers differ from theirs. Others drone on as unfiltered as their views are unresearched.

The word ‘Fallists’ has come to mean destruction and a derailment of the constitutional democratic compact between students and society, and students and government. Yet presenters bend over backwards trying to give credence to a word that puts our young people on a path of destruction.

Radio presenters need training in the Bill of Rights, equality vs customary law, tolerance, culture, respect, modesty and basic knowledge about how to build social capital. Recently, someone innocently called in to a programme to ask “why have the Americans suddenly turned against Hillary Clinton?”

Without thinking twice, the presenter answered emphatically: “Because she is a woman.”

Off the airwaves, I say!

On a serious note, the FBI had just reopened the case against Clinton for not only lying under oath, but for enriching herself while secretary of state in the same way that Zuma bestowed special favours on the Guptas.

But she also destroyed thousands of classified e-mails, which landed on her adviser’s paedophile husband’s (Anthony Weiner’s) computer. Fortunately, WikiLeaks published them, revealing serious criminality and deep dissent within the party.

And instead of educating the public about the sanctity of the rule of law, the presenter called Trump a misogynist, racist and a liar. No one talks of the many officials with minor infringements of a similar kind who went to jail.

This is what we are fighting against in this country, and it is what Thuli Madonsela has come to represent. One of the US talk show hosts rightly admitted: “If I can go from burglar for the government to talk show host, you can go from entertainer to congressman.”



today in print

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