The Naked Blogger

Being a blogger is like taking all your clothes off and walking starkers down Main Street. It opens you up to all kinds of crazy.

Of course, you’re sharing your personal brand of crazy too. And that’s okay.

When you prepared to let it all hang out, it is worthwhile realising that people do actually read your blog – yep, I know, believe it or not.

If you don’t intend people to read it and want to keep it as a personal odyssey keep it offline.

Now, March 21 is Human Rights Day in South Africa. It commemorates the horrific massacre at Sharpville, but that’s not what this about, it’s about what happened as a result.

Instead of being “Just Another Public Holiday” (which in all honesty it is) we are encouraged to take the day to remember what our human and civil rights are, as set out first in the Freedom Charter and then in our terribly progressive, yet utterly useless, constitution.

One of the most important things to remember in South Africa is that unlike in America, my right not to be offended or discriminated against outweighs your right of freedom of speech. This applies to every sphere public and private.

It means you don’t get to call me a bitch or the C-word.

It means you don’t get to use the N-word or the K-word.

Ever.

It means that racist, homophobic, xenophobic or sexist speech is a criminal offence.

Yes, even on a blog.

I don’t care if you’re a proud white supremacist with a pillow case over your head.

Go wild and have a pillow case party all by yourself in the real world, but spreading your particular brand of poison in the public sphere is not only politically incorrect (we are BIG on political correctness in South Africa), it is criminal.  140_with_great_power

Blogging is a lot like being Spiderman (or Winston Churchill).

With great power comes great responsibility.

Think about what you’re saying.

Think about the effect it has on other people.

 

So when Emporer Lubu waxes lyrical on the feminine ideal according to his world which is inhabited entirely by a sex he likes to call the bitches (and not in a friendly “Hey! Bee-atches” kind of way), I wonder if he stopped to think:”Gee, if R. Edneck were to read this and go home to his trailer and beat his wife into a pulp because his beer wasn’t cold, would I in any way feel I was partly to blame for condoning and justifying his actions that were only intended to train her properly, after all he wouldn’t have hit her if the bitch hadn’t talked back in the first place?”

Having a blog is not a licence to trash your ex, find SWF’s you want to cook and eat for dinner, share your sexual fantasies about children and sheep, or let loose a vitriolic stream of hatred.

By all means spark debate, start a conversation, be controversial, but watch out for that line. In simpler words – don’t be an asshole.

And if you feel your loathing of all women, gays, blacks, Jews, Muslims etc. is worthy of sharing with the world, be prepared to deal with those who disagree.

And for heaven’s sake add a little bit of self-deprecating humour so you don’t come off as a total <insert P-word here>.

 

 

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Behold the spear

It is time to jump on the bandwagon and wave my spear around.

Here is some background.

A few weeks ago a largely unknown artist named Brett Murray opened an exhibition at the Goodman Gallery.

Quite by chance a local journalist popped in to have a look – probably a lunch hour escape – and alighted on a painting of our esteemed State President, Jacob Zuma.

The painting is a rip-off of one of Lenin, except that our ESP had his willy out. In all its flaccid glory.

The journalist spread the word, the newspapers ran the story and all hell broke loose.

The President sued for breach of privacy and a right to personal dignity.

The arties got all high horsey about freedom of artistic expression and censorship.

Two chaps were caught on a remarkably good CCTV video defacing the painting – really good CCTV footage with close-ups and cool angles and everything.

My tax money circled the drain.

The masses were bussed in for a demonstration and got free t-shirts. They also totally blocked any access from my office to my child’s school. All that did was piss me off.

The gallery refused to take down the picture.

And so it went on.

The President’s lawyer burst into tears.

The prodigal son, Julius Malema, got high-handed about brutal state censorship – but if it had been a painting of him, he’d have gone medieval on the artist – so it doesn’t count.

Personally, the painting is no David, it’s not that great. It was meant to be offensive and it was.

Did it say anything we haven’t heard or thought before?

No.

We know our President is a womanizer and the impending case of fraud hanging over his tenure is known to us all. So what is it about his spear that upset everyone so much?

I could rationalize the painting thus:

The artwork captures the ideology of socialism that underscores the ANC’s founding beliefs, celebrating the virility of the African male and the patriarchal power wielded by the icon of the state.

Or:

The painting dehumanizes the President by placing him in a position of ridicule, his flaccid member an indictment of the lack of direction and persistent rumours of fraud that have dogged his tenure. On a larger scale it represents the failure of the ANC to live up to their socialist foundations and values.

So, you see, you can look at it any way you like.

I’d rather not look at it at all.

One of the more interesting conversations I’ve had around this topic was with an African man, who explained that while Europeans have thousands of years of artistic expression behind them and understand the purpose or message of the piece without offense, black South Africans have not. The piece depicts a man who represents our country in a manner that provokes ridicule and is insulting not just to him, but to all South Africans.

The outcome is that the painting has now been taken down and in future galleries will have to notify patrons if an exhibition contains adult content. Fair enough. I don’t want have to explain the President’s spear to my kids either. But, it does raise the question of where to draw the line.

Is all art worthy, or just great art?

What makes it great?

More importantly to my mind, how much were we played by a well-oiled PR machine?

A struggling artist now an international celebrity.

A President with a flagging fanbase is more popular than ever and may hang on his to leadership of the ANC after all.

Everyone wins, but the taxpayer.

Me.