Over a month on from when he first appeared in court, the world is still gripped with the trial of Oscar Pistorius.
But why are we so fascinated with him, the killing and the trial?
Is because he’s an athlete? Is it because he’s an Olympian? Is it because he’s disabled? Is it because we can watch someone called to account, live on TV, for what he’s done?
In the period between when Pistorius fired the gun to now, there have been many tragic incidents around the world claiming many more hundreds of lives than that of Reeva Steenkamp. Flight MH370 still hasn’t been found; Russian-backed militia are taking Ukraine to the brink of civil war; a ferry sinking in waters off South Korea has killed over 300 passengers, most of whom were school students; 200 school girls have been abducted in Nigeria. There have been many more.
But let’s be more specific. On average, in South Africa 45 people are murdered every day. Since Reeva Steenkamp was shot – a year and two months ago – statistically speaking that’s over 19,000 murders. Just in South Africa.
South Africa is a country with a high crime rate – many of them are incredibly violent – and many people carry guns to protect themselves. This, though, is not about the right for people to carry guns. This is about why should no longer be so focused on one man who has admitted shooting, and killing, his girlfriend.
The court case is to decide whether he did it on purpose or if it was, as he says, an accident when he was trying to shoot at burglars he thought were in his bathroom.
What this is really about is our obsession with what happens in the lives of ‘celebrities’. We watch them on TV, in magazines and online. Some have their own shows or appear in movies. We like to see how they’re dressed, what they eat, what their new songs sound like, or how good their latest clip on YouTube is. We love it when they do good things, we like it even more when something goes wrong.
It’s time for the media to end its celebrity gossip – their successes and, in this incredibly tragic case, failures. Just because someone is famous, or has won a gold medal, it doesn’t make him or her any more or any less likely to do something amazing or terrible.
All this media attention on one man is outrageous. A waste of money, time and information when there are things happening throughout the world that deserve equal – or more – attention.
And let’s not forget Reeva Steenkamp. A victim of another violent crime in a violent country.
Article written by Ben Egerton
[colored_box color=”green”]This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry
amongst your students:[/colored_box]
[colored_box color=”yellow”]Critical Thinking Challenges:
1. Why do you think that in the media things are not always equal – the Oscar Pistorius trial gets more coverage than, for example, any of the other murders in South Africa?
2. Who decides what to cover in the news? Or what to leave out? Why?
[colored_box color=”green”]Practical Tasks:
1. What’s making the news around the world at the moment? Use a variety of online news sources to make a list of current events that are being reported. Discuss what’s hitting the headlines with your classmates, or as a whole-class discussion.
Here’s a small list to get you started:
2. Use the news sources above (and others) to find out some important news that isn’t in the headlines but you think should be.
It could be to do with the environment, climate change, a natural disaster, loss of human life, something surprising. Research it, write it up as an article and give it a headline. Share this important news with the rest of your class – and explain why you think it’s worth sharing.
[colored_box color=”red”]Have Your Say:
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