Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's cool by the Pool - right? [COLUMN]

The current brou ha ha around Caster Semenya is perfect fodder for this column. The title of this column is a colloquial expression, which simply stated, goes like this: everything's okay, right?

In terms of Caster Semenya, plenty of intelligent people have hysterically stood on their soap boxes and hollered some of the following gaffes:

- don't be sexist
- don't be racist
- don't be racist sexists

These comments say a lot about the emotional state, and psychological state of those uttering them. They say even more about these people's perception of reality versus their addiction to their own ego gratification.

Leonard Chuene was chief circus clown today, beating his chest, prodding the media spotlight with his finger, jumping around and gesticulating, basically doing what Tom Cruise did on Oprah Winfrey's couch. Indignation and defiance characterise his response to perfectly justified uncertainty in the world athletics community.

If Caster was suffering from a bad case of flu, and the results of the tests were still outstanding [for perhaps an H1N1 infection] how many doctors do you know who would, not knowing the scientific answers, jump around doing indignant cartwheels, and being 100% confident of the prognosis. Well, probably none, certainly no self respecting doctor would be so bold, and arrogant. But what do we see? We see Caster saying very little, and the sports administrators and politicians saying a lot. God, whatdo they even know about politics, they're a bunch of bloated warthogs.
One of the etv commentators called it correctly - saying they leaders should have followed Caster's lead and said very little. It would have been better to have a modest entry into the country with somewhat modest, somewhat subdued celebrations. Modesty. Humility. Not arrogance, defiance and accusations. Not indignation.

After all, if the youngster's prospects and state of mind were really close to Chuene's heart, you might have seen him look at her once during his 15 minutes at the pulpit, you might have seen him wanting to shield her from the public glare, rather than try to do a show off the reflected glare.

It may turn out that Caster's body is for all intents and purposes, normal. What is in question is quite simply: does she have an unfair advantage over other female athletes or not? This is then investigated, and when the investigation is completed, which takes months, you have your answer. Until then, statements about whether she is male or female are really just about hogging the spotlight and being self-righteous.

Did ASA ever conduct any tests to determine her gender?
We did not.
Why not?
There was nothing that warranted us to do that.

I can easily imagine Chuene quitting his post in a few months, based on those results, when they do come out, and a few newspaper editors [who are also on the self-righteous self indignant bandwagon] and Presidents and politicians looking particularly ashen.

I hope that Caster has not abused male steroids, but the evidence thus far - 3 times the level of testosterone, in addition to the infamous doctor in charge of the SA team.

Officials brushed aside reports that the head coach of the South African team, Ekkart Arbeit, is a former East German coach who was accused by a female athlete of giving her so many anabolic steroids that she was forced to undergo a sex-change operation and live the rest of her life as a man.
Then there is also Caster's already masculine features [voice, mannerisms and attitude]; all of which suggests that one ought to be modest and careful until the results are revealed. This is due to happen in about a month.

Probably, the likes of Malema will call any results that approximate to doping a european conspiracy, meant to embarrass Africans. He's call it 'all lies', in order to further justify himself, to get himself off the hook.

It is especially worrying to see our own President making proclamations when no one knows what the results of those tests will be. It is like going to a courtroom as a lawyer on behalf of someone you hardly know and grandstanding, and making bold statements. Yes, we'd love the achievement to stand, and coming from such a deprived background it is a wonderful story. But let's keep our minds and find out what is really happening below the surface. Doping could be involved. Until we know for sure that it isn't, this hysteria around racism and sexism says a lot for how backward and reactionary we South Africans are in our thinking. If you don't get to cheer and celebrate when you want to, you don't get to hurl your own accusations. That attitude is no better than the suspicion that Caster's prosecution is baseless.

So the Caster Controversy demonstrates how divorced and disinterested almost everyone is in the underlying reality. Everyone gets caught up in the hype, but the real answers remain slippery, and subtle, and need to be patiently awaited. But when you are greedy for money, power, and attention, the truth, subtlty and patience are an irritation. Worringly, this is true throughout society, from the very smart to the very dumb, from Presidents to pretenders. Since society is so vrot with its own imperious attitude to itself, how can it register credible threats to itself? The answer is, it cannot. It is so self-important, or in a word, arrogant. The same arrogance extends to swine flu, to the 'reocvery', to energy consumption, to what we eat, to the fantasy that we will be driving cars and living in suburbia for the rest of our lives.

For reality, go and stand on a scale. Weigh yourself. Those numbers are reality. Train with a heart rate monitor. Those numbers are reality. The food you eat can give you cancer. In the 20th century 100 million people died of cancer. In the 21st century, if we ever get all the way through, it's estimated that 10 times that figure will die, 1 billion. 1 third of all cancer deaths are tobacco related. Talk about that to a smoker and wait for the self righteous rhetoric to start. We are sick society for one simple reason. We cannot be honest with ourselves, apparently, about anything. It's a perfect world for ponzi schemers, crooked politicians, frauds, silicone beauties and sham artists. The good news is, it's not going to last forever. Not even to the end of this generation.

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