Analysis of and commentary on South African politics from a liberal perspective.

Tag: Heroes

On hysteria

TheThingAboutSERIES: Much public rhetoric in South Africa is defined by hysteria and our response to current affairs, often hysterical in turn. So it is worth paying some attention to the idea. What is the nature of hysteria? Certainly it is extreme in nature but how so? It is perhaps best understood as a kind of drama, with heroes and villains, good and evil. And thus, the last thing hysteria will ever indulge is subtle or ambiguity, doubt or uncertainty.

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An Open Letter: Why The Spear is staying up on Inside Politics

FEATURE: Over the past 48 hours a series of people and institutions once dedicated to freedom of expression and tolerance have surrendered their position on The Spear in the face of intimidation and bullying. In each case, an emotional justification has been offered. In many cases it has been accepted, for bullying is felt as intimidation not by the victim alone. I am not taking down The Spear from Inside Politics. What follows is an open letter and explanation as to why.

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On heroes and villains

ARTICLE: Something about sensationalism fuels the impulse to adulate or denigrate people – that is, to see them either as heroes or villains, good or bad. When that attitude is well set and pervasive in a society, the subtlety and ambiguity that marks human nature is overlooked in favour of the kind of moral absolutism that understands everything (and everyone) as either right or wrong. Not only is it temporary – one day someone is a hero, the next a villain – but often it is to misunderstand the attributes of a real hero in the first place.

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