Christina Engela - 2011-10-06 Untitled Document
If you look at all the weird and wonderful new bills being tabled in South Africa these days there is little doubt in my mind that the Constitution and the freedoms contained within it are clearly under assault. And those of us whose civil rights and equality are protected by those very clauses in the Constitution which are under assault somehow seem unaware that we fill the sights and scopes on the weapons being directed at us by those who would chip away at our equality.
The new encroachment on personal liberties and freedoms called the Dangerous Weapons Bill is the latest. Primarily it bans the carrying of any item, even a household item, in public, for any reason. Thus, even an 80-year-old grandmother carrying pepper spray to deter rapists and muggers while out for a walk would be breaking the law – and would not be allowed to use "deterring crime" as a defence in court – and she could face up to three years in jail. It invalidates clauses which grant citizens the right to self-defence, as well as the right to freedoms of expression.
Pagans are also directly affected by this new law, because it prevents them from using any religious accoutrements in their rituals if held in public spaces, such as in a park, for example. Pagans do not have church buildings or temples, and often live in apartments with no access to a garden where they can include nature in their rituals. I wonder if they even care to know that the ritual sword and athame are not actually supposed to touch or cut anything? That this in itself negates their use as weapons?
If they ban athames, swords and wands from being used in Pagan rites in public spaces, and people from carrying pepper spray for self-defence, then will they also ban Christian Bibles from being carried in public? After all, the Bible is often used as a weapon of intimidation in public spaces. Sound fair? Or is the whole idea a load of rubbish?
Oh, sorry – you're asking, "What's a Pagan?" Hmm. That proves my point. Pagans need to stop being so quiet, avoiding drama by pretending that they don't exist, because – as the Pink Community has already found out – if you pretend hard enough that you don't exist, the people at the top will try very hard to prove you right.
I look at this ploy in the light of the other recent innovation of turning the weapons application process into a nightmare of paperwork and drama, and find it ironic how the government seems intent on stripping the law-abiding component of society of its ability to defend itself against the very criminal element the government is unable to protect us against. It makes me think: are they really unable ... or are they actually just unwilling?
If they want to argue that "dangerous" items shouldn't be carried in public, perhaps they are arguing that "most" people are not trustworthy or responsible enough to be allowed in public with them? After all, some people can make a weapon out of almost anything. A half-brick in a sock is a pretty good start.
It's insane – if a person wants to harm someone, they will do it – with or without a weapon of any kind. The issue, then, should not be with what someone carries, but with what they do with it. South Africa needs to have a law like they do in the US, which is a clause in the Constitution that guarantees the right to bear arms, but not the right to use them against innocent people who are not actually attacking them.
A friend of mine who is particularly witty commented, "If they ban swords, then they are going to have to ban the pen as well ... ‘cos everyone knows the pen is mightier than the sword." Of course, I had to reply with, "That's where the Secrecy Bill comes in ;)."
We always have to hear how much more tax they need for the essential services they are supposed to provide – and yet we also hear about all the missing money, ponzi schemes, extravagant and wasteful parties, fancy cars and houses and wrist watches certain officials wear. How about the family holidays MPs go on, taking their kids or spouses on trips overseas at our expense, fantastic "performance incentives" that get paid to officials at parastatals like Eishkom – despite the power crisis South Africa is in due to their incompetence and failure to update and maintain the power grid?
South Africa is still sending aid to Uganda in the form of free or cheap electricity. That’s a disgrace – assisting a government that tramples on the human rights of its own citizens – but I suppose home is where the heart is. And how about the new one – “White tax”? That's right – a new generation of South Africans is going to be introduced to the bite of racist taxing – that'll teach them to be born white, and naturally rich. How about that ridiculous new state medical scheme that will do nothing for the people it is supposed to help – the poor? But it will sink medical aid companies, private hospitals (which are currently the only decent, clean and moderately safe hospitals in the country) and increase the load on ordinary tax-paying citizens who dare to earn above the poverty line.
Before money started disappearing from the state coffers for all this rubbish and wastefulness, roads were built, maintained and upgraded from those funds – and we didn't have toll road companies extorting money from taxpayers and road users. Cars didn't disappear into pot holes, and trains carried freight on rail instead of in trucks that destroy the highways. Now trains stand rusting in shunting yards, while the few that do run are brought to a grinding halt when cable theft strikes – and despite South Africa’s not having any copper mines, our biggest export remains copper. Weird.
Sooner or later the smart alecs in government will get their way: people who like democracy, freedom, the right to earn money through legal means – and to keep it without being killed for it – who dislike corruption and rampant nepotism and institutionalised racism, will take their money, ingenuity and know-how and head off to greener pastures – leaving this country exactly like the rest of Africa – depleted, decaying, impoverished – and not just in terms of finances.
Politicians – stop wasting our tax money on this shit – making up silly, facetious new laws when you are proving how completely inept you are at enforcing the laws we already do have!
But wait ... there's more.
Last week Erroll Naidoo cheesed me off again with one of his “newsletters”, in which he brags about what a great humanitarian and all-round good person he is. He states: "The feminist, hippy and homosexual movements all conspired to radically redefine the family unit" and "There are mountains of evidence proving that the Biblically defined family is the bedrock of society."
Hark at him – these very words show why this man and his little band of religious fundamentalist thugs, while goose-stepping over human rights like strident and fanatical fascists, are irrelevant, obscure, obsolete.
"Anti-family activists are working diligently to make all manner of sexual deviant behaviour socially acceptable, with very little resistance from the Church" – he says. I ask: When are Christians going to stand up to this insufferable little boy waving his finger at the masses in the school yard and talking down to them, guilt-tripping them and shaming them for living in peace with others and for following the example of the Christ in whose name he claims to speak – and in hatred – and tell him to “stfu, you don’t speak for me”?
"As a result of past successes, activists are now lobbying to normalise paedophilia." This is what he calls legal campaigning to equalise the age for same-sex relations with heterosexual relations. Suddenly, gay people engaging in sex from the same age as straight teens constitutes "paedophilia". Riiiight. It never ceases to amaze me how these people manage to beat ploughshares into swords to distort and misrepresent facts to suit them.
As Errol keeps pointing out with his favourite quotation, "Evil triumphs when good people do nothing": When will good Christian people rise up and put this upstart reactionary bully back in his place – preferably somewhere where he will no longer slander their religion, embarrass those of good conscience who identify with it, or work and conspire to undermine human rights, freedom and democracy in their name?
All of this he does while he disseminates calls to fight the sex industry under the ironic title of "Make Your Voice Heard & Fight Human Slavery!" Hello pot, this is the kettle calling.
He signs off his newsletter with, "Battling on the frontlines for the advancement of Christian values in society" (yes, I can hear the trump-trump-trump of their boots already). "Despite the many challenges facing you and me, I am convinced there are many opportunities to transform society. That is why I am grateful to God and to you for making it possible for me to fulfil my calling" (by sitting on your ass as a Christian and letting this man hijack your religion and act out of hatred in your name, of course).
Don't worry, I'm calm. I'm pointing out the need for people to stop acting like blind and stupid sheep and letting people like Naidoo wage physical and spiritual warfare on others and use their authority to do it. Note how he refers to human rights activists as "anti-family activists". WTF?? People who want to be treated equally under law, marry, adopt, or raise children together are "anti-family activists"? Where is the intelligence in an argument like that?
Interesting to note that the census now being conducted still doesn't include any options for religious annotations – meaning that Naidoo will be able to go on claiming that, despite having Christians, atheists, agnostics, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Rastafarians, African traditional faiths, Catholics, Pagans, Wiccans, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons in South Africa, we somehow live in a "Christian country". I would love to see the smile wiped off his smug chops when he realises that we do not. Of course, our government being overcrowded with lay pastors, religious fundamentalist fanatics and honorary preachers, I wonder if they will ever allow it?
I saw an article about the increase in trans assaults and murders in Washington DC – the capital city of the USA. It seems that anti-trans violence is on the increase there. It gets better? Really? Not without a fight. If you want to be treated equally one day, or want the next generation to be treated equally, then it starts with us. As long as there are loopholes in laws that allow discrimination, people will get the message that it's okay to destroy the lives of other people. End discrimination now.
Incidentally, Thursday was yet another day on which the world was supposed to end, the "Rapture" was supposed to hit, and we dirty, rotten non-Christians and non-heteronormative deviant scum were supposed to be "cast into a lake of fire from which the smoke of our torment would rise forever and ever ...” Nope, never happened – again. Duh.
Just goes to show – some people will believe anything.