I find it hard to contain my disgust at the response in South Africa and abroad to Nelson Mandela’s hospitalisation for what is quite clearly a terminal illness. It has been nothing short of ghoulish.
Mandela is 94. Given what he has experienced in that long life, it is perhaps surprising that he has survived to such a ripe old age. Now it is time to let him go.
But ‘letting him go’ has not been an acceptable option for the country’s politicians, its churches and many of its citizens. The nation is encouraged to ‘pray for Madiba’ – not for a peaceful end to his suffering, but for the extension of that suffering or, at best, his survival in what may be little more than a zombie-like state. What masquerades as loving concern is in fact the ultimate selfishness.
I’m an atheist, so I see prayer as having no function other perhaps than to comfort the supplicant. But my objection to the prayers for Mandela springs not from my unbelief, but from the very notion of asking God to prolong the life of a terminally ill 94-year-old man. Because the inevitable corollary of that prayer being answered is that it will be repeated again and again, on each and every future occasion that Mandela is taken ill. In essence only eternal life for their hero can satisfy Madiba’s followers.
What South Africa and the world needs to do is to mourn Mandela’s death when it occurs and, when the mourning time is over, celebrate the life he lived. Instead, we crowd like vultures around the hospital bed of a dying man, some savouring titbits of hope, others in the expectation of gathering the first morsels of publicity that will increase their journalistic reputations.
Elderly gent attempts to read Tournament Parking Terms and Conditions
For more than a decade we have run our media training courses at the University of Auckland’s television studio complex in the Kenneth Myers Centre in Shortland Street.
There could no more appropriate venue. The building was constructed in 1934 as the first home of the 1YA radio network and later housed the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation’s Auckland television studios. I have vivid memories of recording Gallery interviews there in the late 60s and early 70s.
Directly across the street, and wonderfully convenient, is a Tournament Parking building. It’s pricey, but then all private parking is pricey in Auckland. On average we run one or two half-day training courses a week. So over the last 11 years we’ve paid Tournament Parking a hell of a lot of money. And we’ve never overstayed the time paid for.
A couple of weeks ago, however, we were delayed by a client and arrived back at our car to find that a ‘parking officer’ had just placed an infringement notice under our wiper blade. The ticket showed that parking had been pre-paid to 4.45 pm. The ticket had been issued at 4.51pm.
Tournament allows a grace period of five minutes, so we’d exceeded our permitted parking time by one minute. The parking fine, which Tournament euphemistically call a ‘notice’, was $65.
The parking officer was now photographing the number plates of other offending vehicles and ticketing them. When I confronted him with the fact that he had clearly been waiting beside our car for the prepaid time to expire, he apologised profusely. It was, he agreed, ‘outrageous’ but he had his job to do. ‘This lot will be gone in a couple of weeks anyway,’ he added.
I haven’t been blogging for the past ten days or so because I fractured a bone in my left hand and can’t type. It still hurts like hell but I’ve been drawn out of this enforced temporary retirement by my irritation over the attempts by the Right, led by National Party clown Tau Henare and assorted hangers-on in the blogosphere, to make political capital out of two questions put to Education Minister Hekia Parata by my colleague on The Nation, Rachel Smalley.
I need to start by making one thing perfectly clear: I have not spoken to Smalley about this, nor have I informed TV3 Head of News and Current Affairs, Mark Jennings, or The Nation’s producer, Richard Harman, of my intention to blog about the rights and wrongs of this issue.
I watched the Parata interview in the ‘green room’ at TV3 as it was being recorded and was hugely impressed by the Minister’s performance. When she returned to the green room to collect her belongings I said to her, “That was absolutely brilliant”. She smiled, thanked me and showed absolutely no sign of having been upset by Rachel’s question-line.
I had a similar conversation in the green room today with Judith Collins, who’d also faced some tough questioning from Rachel. “You are,” I said, “the consummate performer.” Read the rest of this entry »