It has been a while since my last post, as I have been doing linguistic research, but recent South African police violence has inspired me to leave my books and write a bit.
What happened was apparently 8 South African police officers cuffed a man (a Mozambican taxi driver) to their car and dragged him through a busy street, causing extensive injuries, which the man then died from. The ordeal was caught on film, and there were many witnesses, so now there is a bit of a public outcry; the President has even condemned the act and called it “disturbing“. Anyone who knows the past in this country can surely see the congruences with the old Apartheid regime’s tactics and their treatment of civilians. This is noteworthy, because the last time these images were resurrected was at the Marikana Platinum mine massacre of 2012.
The “Marikana Massacre”, as it was labeled, faded from public discourse incredibly fast, and as far as I know, nobody has been held responsible as of yet. The eight men accused here will probably not find the same fortune, I believe, as they were on regular cop duty, not protecting the interests of a British mining company. I say this because their actions have earned them a place in public discourse, which will over time naturally decide on their guilt. The other interested parties, such as the SAPF or the SA government, have only so much (and this is not very much) influence on this discourse. This situation can then be compared with the Marikana Massacre one, where very well connected parties, such as the Lonmin mining company (and all other international companies that own mines in Africa who could by affected by a change in the status quo), with ties to multinational media outlets, can actively force this sort of dialogue out of international discourse, blur opinion on the matter, or create an illusion of debate.
From a linguistic standpoint, I would say that this problem could find the beginnings of a solution in changing the South African school syllabus to included things like Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, to teach our youth about the danger to us all that is involved in treating people like this, instead of focusing on stories of Shakespearean castles which are so far out of context, and presented in such an inaccessible language for second and third language speakers, that they are barely imaginable.
The Frost Interview
Desmond Tutu: Not going quietly
– The Nobel laureate on his role in South Africa’s struggle against apartheid and his alarm over recent developments.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the famous Nobel Peace laureate, and one of the world’s most respected church leaders, was a central figure in ensuring an end to white minority rule in South Africa.
He was instrumental in the struggle against apartheid, also acting as chairman of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). He has since gone on to play a role as one of Nelson Mandela’s handpicked ‘Elders’ along with others like former US President Jimmy Carter.
The archbishop takes Sir David Frost on a tour of his beloved South Africa; he talks about his time in the anti-apartheid struggle movement, his work with the TRC, and his alarm over recent developments in the “rainbow nation”.
As a defiant campaigner against apartheid, Tutu is one of the world’s most prominent defenders of human rights.
Growing up in a racially divided state he tells Sir David how hard it was to explain South African politics to his children:
“We’d just come back from England with our youngest child. The youngest was born in London and she saw some children playing on swings and she said, ‘I want to go and play’ and, we had to say, ‘No sweetheart, you can’t’.
“We still have children learning under trees. Now that is quite unconscionable really, to have people going to bed hungry in South Africa. Our economy is not madly prosperous, but then it is also not one of the worst …. But we seem to have lost the plot to some extent.”
– Desmond Tutu, on South Africa
“And she said, ‘But there all the children playing’, and it was incredibly difficult. It really just made you feel, ‘I wish the ground could open and swallow me up’. How do I tell my child that, yes you are a child, but you’re not a child like those other children who are on the swings?”
The archbishop recalls how the injustices he saw under apartheid tested his Christian faith:
“I really got very angry with God, and would rail at God and say: For goodness sake, how can you allow such and such to happen?”
But he later says: “Someone up there must really have been on our side or batting for us …. After [Nelson Mandela’s] release and the build-up to our first democratic election, it was one of the roughest, one of the bloodiest, periods in our history.”
Tutu hails Mandela as an “incredible guy!” – after all Mandela was a prominent participant in the negotiations that led to South Africa’s peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy.
“His contribution is immeasurable; his stature,” says Tutu. “I mean for someone who was the commander-in-chief of the military wing of the ANC to be at the forefront of persuading people that it would be better for us to negotiate; it is better for us to lay down our arms. And then to try to live that.”
Moving forward, Tutu expresses his concerns about the direction the current government in South Africa is headed. He has also become more outspoken about his criticism of the ruling party, and the rainbow nation, of what he was once so proud.
“We are a wounded people,” Tutu says, recalling the painful testimonies he heard as chairman of the TRC hearings.
“Things could have been a great deal worse but I still have this sense that they could have been a great deal better,” he says of South Africa’s political transition.
“I think we have let the people down, in so far as you have an elite that has done very, very well for themselves, who have got quite quite rich, and the bulk of the people are still where they were, or sometimes worse off.”
The Frost Interview can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2000; Saturday: 1200; Sunday: 0100; Monday: 0600.
Monday, October 1, 2012
Iranian Currency Falls 17% in One Day
Sanctions against Iran are making their impact, on the innocent working-class people of Iran–and the destruction of the currency may be getting a boost from the CIA.
International trade is dying and the currency is in free fall. It fell 17% this morning. The rial has lost more than 80 percent of its value since the start of the year.
I am also hearing that the CIA may be pumping newly (CIA printed) rial into the country in an effort to destabilize the country through hyper-inflation. The Fed may think money printing boosts an economy, but the CIA knows what it really does.
Ordinary Iranians are increasingly struggling with the resulting inflation, which was officially put at 23 percent even before the latest plunge of the rial.
“Prices are rising every day and it just doesn’t stop,” said Khosro, a retiree who gave only his first name. He was forced to work as a taxi driver to boost his diminishing pension, he said.
Even locally made products were becoming more costly in Iran’s supermarkets.
“The price of my toothpaste, a foreign brand, has tripled in just a few months. Now, I’m buying an Iranian one, but it has also nearly doubled in price,” said Maryam, a young shopper.
The New York Times Announces an Editorial Policy Change.
BY Sarah Rosenshine
– – – –
The New York Times has been a steadfast beacon of truthful reporting since printing began in 1851. Our slogan, “All the News That’s Fit to Print” applies well even to this day, though our definition of “fitness” has evolved as decades have progressed. It is with this in mind that we are making an important announcement. In a medium that not only prides itself on conciseness, but is rooted in it, it is absurd to waste entire strings of words and even sentences avoiding a particular word. We’re going to print it now. It’s “fuck.”
There will, of course, be rules regulating our use of the word, as with all journalistic style. We won’t be using it, for example, in the sentence “Paul Krugman is a motherfucking badass.” Unless, of course, someone starts a Tumblr by that name, in which case we will use it, and spare the reader the construction “a Tumblr named for Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman punctuated with an intensifier depicting incest of the Oedipal variety.” Because that’s stupid, and everyone knows it.
Which brings us to the subject of Tumblr blogs in general, because if we must dedicate a “Style” article to every third Tumblr in existence (and we must) “fuck” is an integral part of this geography. And so we will use it there. We won’t use it in the phrase “The fucking New York Times paywall” because that would require acknowledging the highly flawed and unnecessary scheme of ours in something other than an advertisement, and that we simply will not do.
And when we choose to profile a band or a book with the word, because we live in an era where that happens now, we’re just going to write it. We won’t say, “a band with an unprintable name” and come up with wink-y article titles that dance around the subject, like “Group With Procreative Name Is Pro-Creative.” We’ll just print “fuck” and move on, like grown-ups.
This new policy will also allow us the opportunity to print Neil deGrasse Tyson’s bi-weekly rants about Pluto’s status as a planet in full, a welcome change from the tempered and toothless versions we’ve presented so far.
We won’t use it in the “Weddings/Celebrations” section, because that would be crass, even though our readers know every article could accurately conclude with the happy couple going to take part in the very act depicted by the word we have now resolved to print on occasion.
We will use it in quotations, titles, and excerpts. We’ll rarely use it as an adjective. After all, we aren’t fucking Gawker.
We do this because if our readers can handle headlines like “Thousands Dead and Mangled in Massacre” they can handle the word “fuck” once in a while. We do this because it’s ridiculous to live in a profane world with no profanity. It isn’t some Unforgivable Curse from New York Times Best-seller Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Printing the word “fuck” isn’t going to condemn anyone to death. We cover homicides, bombings, earthquakes, and the rest of the staggering list of terrors perpetrated on humans by one another and by God. Surely the public finds these concepts more upsetting than a simple word. No more fecklessness by fuck-less-ness. We are the fucking New York Times. We print “fuck” now.
P.S. The monosyllabic vulgarity for a woman’s genitals is still completely off limits.
Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for. When you hear of atrocities in war, don’t be fooled with imagery of good guys and bad guys. If something is worth killing over, it is already worth doing so ‘dirty’. Protecting your family is worth fighting for, defending against invading forces too, so there are no rules – a person will do whatever it takes. Spreading democracy, protecting the world from terror, building control over oil reserves, these are all things that are not worth fighting for – hence they should be negotiated for instead, and if you are fighting people to accept them, you must at least abide by certain rules of engagement.
The US military, using unmanned aerial drones, participates in what are known as “double-taps”. I know of the term from the film Zombieland, where the hero claims that he shoots zombies twice to make sure that they are definitely eliminated. The term is also used to describe the terroristic practice of planting two explosives, one to cause some initial injury, the second targeting the police and other first responders. The US military engages in double-tap practices themselves, targeting recently attacked strike zones as well as the funerals of deceased men believed to be militants. This is a despicable practice, with civilian casualties always far outnumbering any terrorist ones; apparently even the Mafia has a strict policy of not attacking funerals. In attacking the Middle-East and North Africa, the US doesn’t even seem to distinguish anymore between, who they believe they can call (from a control room across the oceans) “militants” or “terrorists”, and ordinary foreign civilians. In fact, the latest development is that the US military intends to classify any and all “military aged” (18+) males, in any one of the countries that they are busy in (even the undisclosed ones like Yemen and Pakistan), as potential militants, unless proven otherwise. Soon we may have to see this classification extended to include woman and children… in this unmanned aerial war: on what?