20 February 2013

17 mangled musings on the news of the day


is everybody in the US as glued to the whole oscar pistorius business as the brits? is this the OJ of our time? (except can it be, since OJ was already the OJ of our time? is this the OJ of the next time? are we in the next time? is NOW the NEXT time? or are we just at now now and next will be then? existential crisis!) 

as one of the two mini-dramas unfolding nearish to my time-zone (the hilary mantel/kate middleton smack-down being the other), i'm kinda riveted. 

first, because this story is everywhere. that shouldn't be at all surprising given i'm in a land where prince charles's taking the tube is major front-page news. it does, however, make it difficult to keep perspective, and i'm fast losing my understanding of what constitutes 'major' news. 

you guys, it is like i am in wolf blitzer's THE SITUATION ROOM all of the time. 

but i'm also interested in this story because it begs to be dissected from the angle of story telling. there's been absolutely no analysis of the media accounts that i've seen over here, which is odd (or maybe not really, because are the british papers known for their introspection? is that a distinctly american journalistic trait? as an american in a foreign country, i find myself rushing to brand every inconsistency as a national difference). because there are some fascinating dynamics at play here. 

there's the disgraced olympian angle. the boogie-man that is the south african prison system. GUNS! and violence against women. plus, at the risk of being totally gauche, there's the fact that this is a crime involving a paraplegic.

there's all kinds of layers to stories like this so it's problematic to say that this story wouldn't be such a big story if that detail weren't a part of it. pistorious also wouldn't have been a paralympic hero if he weren't a paraplegic, so imagining how altering details might have changed the outcome of how his story was told is pretty futile. still (bear with me, because there's probably no way i'm going to word this right), that is an issue here, yeah? at least it is in the british papers. 

pistorious's argument is that he felt 'vulnerable.' which is interesting. i don't have a clue what to believe about what happened here, but i do think it would be far more interesting if the vulnerabilities of paraplegia were discussed overtly rather than just being exploited for titillation, as they have been. a quirky detail in a salacious crime. particularly as culpability seems to hinge on this. 

the fact that pistorious had to put his prosthetic legs on, and when, precisely, he did. 



17 comments:

mak said...

We're pretty riveted over here, too, but maybe not quite in the same way the Brits are - though lately, American journalism has been aspiring to their level of sensationalism.

oline said...

as meggie has pointed out, pistorius is a double amputee and not a paraplegic. i suck! but this does maybe reenforce my notion that we should be talking about this more so that discussion of it isn't such a taboo.

Linda said...

quote of the day: "is NOW the NEXT time?"

Meggie said...

I want him to be innocent. I really do because he is such a great role model for our patients who are going through something truly traumatic. We have patients that refuse to ever get out of their wheelchair because they are "no longer a man" without their legs.

I have several friends from South Africa (huge community here) and it is truly a frightening place over there. They are all heavily armed because the violence is so prevalent. I can understand waking up and thinking that someone is in your house and wanting to protect your loved one. I can also understand the feeling of helplessness if you don't have your prosthetics on. Ideally, you do a visual confirmation of your target before you shoot them but most people aren't adequately trained with their firearms and panic in those situations. But that is for a different argument.

oline said...

THANK YOU. that is precisely what i wanted someone in the media to say.

mak said...

I so want him to be innocent, too, for all the reasons you pointed out, Meggie - but the layout of the house makes me worry. (Somehow, I thought it was an apartment where the bathroom was right off the bedroom for some reason - because in my mind, even Olympic athletes and models live in modest dwellings...)

Meggie said...

Mak--I haven't read about the layout of his apartment. I was assuming it was an en suite from the way they were describing the scene. Is it not? He is adept at scootching around without prosthetics on but I would assume he would keep his prosthesis beside the bed so it should only take a minute or two to put them on so it wouldn't make sense for him to not put those on before shooting through the door.

oline said...

here's a layout photo: http://www.globalnews.ca/uploadedImages/Global_News/World/Pistorius-floorplan-1.jpg

i DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE.

Meggie said...

Ok, here are my thoughts...

1) There were plenty of places for her to hide in that bathroom from the gunfire. The door is all the way on the left. Go hide in the shower. He can't hit that angle without busting open the door.

2) It will be interesting to see what ballistics comes back with in terms of the angle the bullets hit at. That will tell whether or not he had his prosthetics on.

Meggie said...

Oh, and I feel the need to state that despite my knowledge of guns, I am not a homicidal maniac and I do support stricter gun legislation. I don't want to be thrown in with the crazies who want all the guns. I own guns and am married to an Army officer which is why I know these things.

oline said...

ha. you're obviously a maniac what with all your ballistic know-how :)

but this does prove my point. the prosthetics really play a key role.

Meggie said...

Hey, we both know I am definitely a little off of normal. LOL.

Yeah, the prosthetics play a key role but I think there will always be questions. Even if he did take the time to put them on and walked over to the bathroom door to shoot her, did he ascertain that it was in fact her in the bathroom? Did he walk over to the bathroom knowing she was there and murder her or was it an honest mistake in the moment of half-awake panic?

I also read one report that stated that one neighbor who said that he heard them fighting was actually something like 5.5 football fields away at the time. That would have to be one hell of a fight to be heard from that distance.

mak said...

And sure, sounds seem easier to hear in the middle of the night, but who's to say they could pinpoint where said shouting was coming from? Hrmm.

Also, filed under "Uncomfortably True" is this quote from a CNN lawyer guest this morning regarding bail-or-no-bail: "Pistorious is pretty recognizable. The man has no legs. It's not like he can slink away into hiding."

oline said...

tacky to say, and yet true. what do we make of him making bail?

mak said...

Perhaps an eye to potential for reasonable doubt? I don't know South African law, but in the US, the burden of proof is on the prosecution (at least, it's supposed to be) and if the defense can introduce enough reasonable doubt, that's grounds for not convicting.

Meggie said...

I emailed this to Caro (my phone won't let me comment on the blog) so Caro, please insert anything I forgot.

The South African system (from what I have read) is different. There is no jury. The judge decides whether or not he is guilty. The judge also called out the prosecution for completely bungling the case so far and introduced the possibility of evidence tampering by the former lead detective. The judge also stated that bail in SA is not indicative of whether or not Pistorious is to be presumed innocent or guilty but whether or not he is a flight risk. The judge flat out said in a statement that it would be rather preposterous to assume that he is a flight risk considering he is a double amputee and didn't think it would be likely for him to be dashing around corners. I believe the judge must have missed the Olympics.

mak said...

(I'm glad it wasn't just me who couldn't comment by phone - damn you, Apple!)

And in further crazy, I'm still saying "Whaaaa?" over this: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/oscar-pistorius/9884676/Oscar-Pistorius-Chief-investigator-should-be-taken-off-case-over-attempted-murder-charges.html