Category: shtupidt people


Sometimes as i am typing a comment on Facebook i pause for a moment to think of all the people going, “Oh man, there he goes again.” i imagine for a lot of people i am THAT GUY.

i found out years ago at church that there was a certain lady, who, anytime i opened my mouth at a meeting, switched off immediately because she knew i was going to rant about a certain thing. To her i was THAT GUY [and it’s been so interesting that 20 years later i now see her on Facebook occasionally liking some of the stuff i post and say].

While i do think there are many more occasions when many more of us should jump in and be THAT GUY [in the generic non-gender specific meaning of the word ‘guy’ so ‘person’] often the silence is relatively overwhelming and so once again i will tend to jump in and be THAT GUY and hope that others will jump in as well. [You might be amazed at how much i hold back from jumping in to things i’d like to].

And so i am quite happy to be THAT GUY if that means reacting to pictures like this shirt which i was tagged in with the words “So I think I found the perfect T-shirt for you”

Offensive slogan t-shirt

You clearly did not know me in even the slightest of ways if you thought i would be okay with this monstrosity sitting on my FB wall, let alone thinking somehow that this would be “the perfect shirt” for me. Firstly, themewise i’m not the biggest rugby fan at all – if it was cricket then there would have been the smallest amount of more possibility, but mostly because i am the hugest fan of marriage and i feel like the joke here undermines that. And while people will no doubt think i am overreacting, i feel like marriage is under pressure so much in the world today that even the smallest digs and jabs are completely unhelpful and unnecessary. There are worse things, but i can’t get my mind around how a wife would feel about her husband saying he wants to wear this as a joke even. [Or the other way around].

I am also quite okay with being THAT GUY when i share this picture on social media and people respond with absolutely no sense that what is being depicted could probably be true in any way:

racecard'

From Brad Kurth who chose sarcasm: I love analogy. It can have an emotional impact while being completely factual.

To Paul West who started with children’s literature: About as factual as a fairy story………… Once upon a time…….

Before continuing with: It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, I am oppressed therefore I am nothing……. What a crock…. Oh and by just being white, something I have no choice over, I am guilty, also guilty for the sins of my father. Life puts obstacles in ones way, it is how you tackle those obstacles that determines how your life comes out…… Slave shackles on the wrists have been broken… but the shackles on the mind hasn’t. It is a shame indeed

[In Paul’s defence, after a bunch of back and forth we are going to meet in two week’s time and hopefully get to chat over some of this stuff over a meal, which feels to me like the only way you are likely to really get any kind of serious progress in one of these online conversations/arguments.]

[Update – 5 minutes later – Out of Paul’s defence – nope, another race story arrives on my wall and he jumps straight on and gives himself away completely…]

To Cameron Olivier’s misdirection to what i imagine he thought was humour: have you ever tried to race someone wearing a suit?

To Jason DeZurik’s: This meme misses a very important point Or perhaps it’s your interpretation of the meme. IDK which it is but here’s something to think about: If parents and grand parents worked their tails off, made good choices to get where they are in life by taking risk’s in order to reap the benefits of said risk’s isn’t it logical that their children and grandchildren should absolutely reap the benefits of those decisions as well. Most parents and grand parents I know, made those decisions because of their children. And you will notice I am not the one bringing the color of ones skin into this.

And more. And it frustrates the crap out of my friend Megan that i take time engaging some of these people. And i have written about the primary reason i do so in a post titled ‘Why i Run With Trolls’ which in a nutshell is almost always for the sake of others reading and not commentating [and online arguments have often led to some incredible offline/behind the scenes chats with other people that no-one else gets to see] who are generally more likely to be influenced than someone who comes in with really strong arguments and doesn’t seem as open to engagement.

i will very likely always be THAT guy when someone online makes a joke about rape or uses it as a verb to describe something like a test or sports match that is so far removed from the reality and horror of what rape is [as written about briefly here]. In this case i don’t care if i know you or not, i will jump in and be THAT GUY cos that is NEVER OKAY!

And more. No, i am not the internet police. But i am involved in a fight against racism and sexism and various other things that inflict pain on people or cause heart-ache. i may not jump in on all the causes you want me to, which doesn’t necessarily make your cause any less important or vital. Believe me, this THAT GUY stuff can be tiring and it can be lonely. But if you can say or share things publically, then they can typically deserve some kind of public response.

WHAT LIGHT THROUGH YONDER WINDOW BREAKS

While i was in the midst of frustrating attempts at trying to get people to understand the reality of the uneven playing fields between black and white people [in both Americaland and South Africa cos by then our argument had gone international], my friend Linda Ndaba jumped in with a “brilliant” comment. [When one of my black friends jumps on and affirms a post trying to deal with inequality/injustice/racism it is often a helpful indicator to me that i may be on the right track], my friend Lester Pillay jumped in with some helpful commentary, an old youth friend of mine Amy Halliday initiated a chat conversation with me [she is busy taking a Public History class this semester which focuses on mass incarceration in the US (and includes work with activists, prisoners etc)] and encouraged me and finally another friend, Wendy Lewin jumped into the comments with an encouraging cheer.

That is what makes it easier. Hints that you may be on the right track, suggestion that other people are with you on this, affirmation that your words and stance are important and news that you are not alone. These are all strengthening and persevering-enhancement moments and i am so grateful any time those come my way.

My wife tbV shared this quote from the Spoken Word sessions she attended last night that helped sum up one of the ridiculous arguments that was given to the cartoon:

“Do not let me think I know what water means to you because I have also swum. We have different currents that brought us here” Pieter Odendaal @inzyncpoetry at the Open Book Festival tonight

And then finally i am okay with being THAT GUY when THAT GUY means i share immensely genius or horribly painful [depending on your perspective] puns on my wall. Someone has to and sometimes it has to be me. i do prefer ones that are a little cleverer, like this one:

achilles

Are you THAT GUY? Or THAT WOMAN PERSON? If so where [what are the things that cause you to jump on] and if not, is there perhaps some place where you could and maybe should be THAT PERSON? Strength in numbers… What are the things that you refuse to let pass without comment?

smokers

Let me begin with a disclaimer: What follow is not true of all smokers. In fact, most of the smokers I know are very much not like this. But I strongly suspect we will all know exactly who these particular offenders are. The signs will be your head nodding along as you read this, or your fingers starting to, on their own accord, clench into the angriest of fists if you’re actually shouting out loud, “Yes! Morons!” before you get to the end of this piece, then this disclaimer is not for you.

I should also probably add that I grew up in a very different time. When smoking was seen as cool and it was the norm. Cigarette companies made the very best of ads showing us all that being a smoker equated to being a rally driver or an excellent skier and that it definitely was the reason all those smoking hot women (and smoking, hot women) were lining up in the club to be with you.

It’s not like that any more. Times have changed and now the smokers are the pariah and have been pushed to the fringes of society. We get to do the looking down our noses at them, and they for the most part keep to the side and stay out of trouble.

Except they don’t, do they?

Exhibit A: the freely distributed second-hand gift of death

A little too dramatic, you think?

Well yes, and no. This has certainly been attended to largely by the fact that smokers are not able to smoke in nearly as many places as they used to be. And it was definitely more in the days of the free-for-all where a smoker could sit next to you at a bar and pretty freely blow smoke in your direction. Which I have never understood. Especially when studies started to emerge that pointed to second-hand smoke being even more deadly than taking it in directly. “Excuse me while I blow some potential cancer in your face!” Except they would rarely ask, and it was often just a given.

I imagine the same person may have had some sort of a problem with me if I had sat next to them on a bar stool one day and then suddenly turned to them and spat directly in their face. Oh, and did I mention that I had a spit-borne disease? Whole different story and social norm, right? And yet, in many ways, pretty much the same thing.

The ‘polite’ request of, “Sorry, but do you mind if I smoke here?” hardly that far removed from the idea of me turning to someone at a social gathering and saying, “Would you mind if I proceeded to empty this bucket of rooting fish in your lap?”

Exhibit B: if it has my lip prints on it, it’s not littering

This is a phenomena I truly don’t understand. To be honest, I just struggle to get my head around the okayness of any form of littering. But this feels like all of that, plus.

And it seems to be largely car-enduced. Sure, there have been times when you see a smoker walking in front of you and they casually toss their butt into the street. That happens. But more often than not, it seems to be while you are driving behind a car, sometimes at pace but more normally at a traffic light, that the hand appears out the window and flicks the cigarette butt into the road.

Butt.

But…?

Butt!

In what universe…

In which culture…

In whose norm…

…is that kind of behavior possibly okay?

I’ll give you a clue. The answer is NO-ONES! As in never ever ever is it okay. It’s just not.

Stop. It.

And the best part is that i don’t think they see it as littering. (Forget fire hazard, let’s not even go there, although that does add a more sinisterly illegal kind of flavor to this whole thing). I don’t know how I know this, but I do. It’s just one of those coming of age gut feeling knowledges that life bestows upon you…

It’s like their lives are divided into two categories:

[A] things that might be considered litter and put into rubbish bins, and,

[B] cigarette butts!

There is something inside of them giving them the signal that this kind of behavior is alright. Even normal.

Anyone’s fingers clenching?

News Flash miscreant. It is NOT okay!

cigarette

Your smoking near me and sending your smoke in my direction, politely requested or not, is an unwanted, literally in my face affront.

And your tossing finished cigarettes out of your car window is littering. It is illegal. It is wrong. It is every kind of pathetic and infuriating and it needs to stop.

It needs to stop now.

And no butts.

i hate white people!

i know, i know,  i could barely believe it myself when i found out, but having heard so many people suggest it on my blog the past week or two [some in comments i chose not to print due to their not-fit-to-be-read-by-other-humans content] it really must be true.

It started when i started suggesting that i don’t think white people are better than black people [if i had a dollar for every email pointing me towards either inventions or I.Q. test results as proof of why white people are clearly better, i’d have dollars – strangely they never cite the electric chair, nuclear bombs or Adolph Hitler in their ‘white people are better’ speeches]

It became more glaringly obvious when i suggested the phenomena of ‘White Privilege’ was an actual thing, because clearly nothing says, ‘I hate white people!’ than the suggestion that we might for the most part be at a bit of an advantage starting off in this country simply because we are white…

In case you don’t believe me, here are some of the thoughts of visitors that i have been able to publish from this last week as parts of comments on my blog:

Listen here dimwit. I am sick to death of being told that because I am white I am privileged, [Tony]

Do you sell drugs to earn a living? How do you afford tablets, TV, car travelling to the USA? Going to shows, cricket, and so on? Or are you a trustfund kid? Please do tell oh enlightened one how you can afford this lifestyle of lazing about, writing nonsense and hate speech against whites, watching cricket all day and generally living like a teenager at your parents house.[Melanie]

Who pays you for all this lazing about, talking about how bad whites are and how they must bend for blacks…? [Melanie]

Lets hope that if we do somehow survive this, that never ever ever again will we share this land, never ever ever again show any form of mercy to these savages, shoot all on the spot or if not we can simply repeat this exercise [Francois Du Toit]

Francois does have a bit of a point there. i really don’t believe that someone who refers to black people as ‘savages’ should ever be allowed to share land with them and the sooner you head off to another country on another continent, the better for us all, sir.

black white

Well, i have a bit of a secret to share. i actually do like white people. Heck, some of my best friends are white.

i don’t want anyone to apologise for being white.

i don’t want anyone to be going on about how bad white people are.

i certainly do not encourage hate speech against white people.

However, at the same time, i have a bit of another secret to share. I kinda like black people. Heck, some of my best new friends in recent times have been black.

i don’t want anyone to apologise for being black.

i don’t want anyone to be going on about how bad black people are.

i certainly do not encourage hate speech against black people.

 A FRIENDLY SUGGESTION

This blog, among other things, is going to be a space where time and energy is given to seeing how we as people of different colours and cultures [and i include all of those who don’t merely fall into black or white here] can work together to create a unified, transformed society where the majority of people can live in freedom with balance in terms of the opportunities they have.

If you don’t like the idea of that, then my suggestion would be to you, to go somewhere else. This is my blog which means i get to choose what happens here and what doesn’t. You are under no obligation to spend any time here. i am certainly under no compulsion to give your racist and hateful words and ideas and airtime. If you don’t like what happens here, why do you keep on coming back?

If, however, you want to disagree with me [or ideas being shared here] and challenge what is being spoken about, or share a different opinion and have the means to be able to do that respectfully to all involved then be my absolute guest. This is a wrestling ground where we will search for truth, life and hope together. i certainly don’t know all the answers and feel like i’m fumbling my way towards them at the best of times. We need to see a whole lot more people engaging here and trying to work out the next step forward with us. So bring your friends. Be chatting about these things over dinner tables. Be inspiring and hope-giving and full of life.

Tony, Melanie, Francois, Jacques and others who have visited here and posted words that have felt mean, unhelpful and at times hate-filled… this door will always be open to you – the stage won’t be and until you can change your tone you won’t be getting as much access to the mic. as some others might. But we would love for you to invest and engage and be open to ideas outside of your own, to leave the fear at the door and start listening to some stories from people who are different to you. And consider the possibility of joining hands with them to help create a united future for us all.

[For those who would like to hear more about first steps in moving forwards in this country, click here]

[For a simple but helpful visual illustration of what is meant by the term ‘white privielege’, click here]

hands

babies

a guest post by my friend Sindile Mlingo Vabaza responding to a much made comment on this blog recently about people in poverty, although typically been aimed at black people, having too many babies as one of the main factors of their continued impoverishment:

There are a lot of people out there who are putting up ‘family planning’ as the solution to certain societal ills in the country.

I want to assert that this is a misdiagnosis of the problem.

Let’s look at the facts:

1. Birth rates in South Africa on the whole are falling and have been falling for a while now(largely due to more women gaining access to education and jobs).

2. The population growth in the country is actually down to what the clever people call, “population momentum”. Basically, SA has a large concentration of people who can bear children and who feel the biological urge to do so(ages 15 to 44)… Our growth rates should plateau sometime in the future and eventually decline.

3. The larger problem in society, the root cause of so many unwanted pregnancies and babies is patriarchy and gender inequality.

Let me explain.

When women are given access to proper and sound education and have control over their reproduction(health services, easy access to contraception etc), they are far more likely to hold off having children and in fact have fewer children.

This is a fact anywhere you go in the world.

It cuts across race, ethnicity, religion and political leanings.

4. That’s where the rub comes in. Women are disempowered in this country.

Women of colour especially(because of poverty).

Talking just about family planning misses the larger point altogether…..

Women want to have children. It is biologically wired into them.

The reason some women hold off on children and plan is because their social milieu allows them too; they have an education, career ambitions etc etc

What compelling reason do women in poverty have?

Facing abusive men, misogynistic attitudes, nurses in hospitals who judge them and slut shame them when they want contraception and a future that is incredibly bleak.

Friends, let us not miss the point here.

We must fight for gender equity; we as men must stand with women not only because it is right but it makes so much practical sense for society at large.

The key to poverty elimination can be summed up in one sentence……

THE EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN.

[For other posts related to South Africa, click here] 

pearls 2

i like to call myself ‘The Eternal Optimist’

This is particularly true when it comes to sport, and especially cricket. If it is still mathematically possible, i hold on hope to the very end, even if it looks really likely that we are going to lose. And then get genuinely surprised when we do.

i like to think i am the same with people to a large extent. i want to believe the best of a person. Which is why when someone hurts me or i hurt them, i tend to do whatever i can to make peace, often pursuing long after people think i should move on. And always leaving the door open, on the off chance that person wants to restore relationship.

i also like to think i am someone who doesn’t care what people thinks about me.

Although, having been married for five years to tbV, i know that is not true. The person who means the most to you’s opinion does tend to hold much weight.

And after a few years of having a blog, i have found that hurtful comments can and on occasion do have a deeply hurtful effect. Even when you know they are not true.

THERE IS A TIME TO ANSWER, AND A TIME TO REMAIN SILENT [AND WALK AWAY]

The last two days in particular, for some reason, unknown to me, knocked me a little bit. Part of it is the eternal optimism and the hope that people can and will change if they are just presented with reason [Although i am grateful for other people who jumped into the comment sections like Garth, Nkosi, Michael and Nicole who provided a calmer and more balanced voice of reason than mine] and also caring so deeply about the topic at hand – race and reconciliation, particularly in South Africa.

But these two guys managed to get to me a little, more for their comments and the attitudes that seemed to be prevailing behind them. And these are just two of their many comments that flooded the blog [some that i posted, some that i chose not to]:

”If they breed like flies, they should live like flies.’ [Jim, aka James Marais, who i believe is racist]

‘It is time that black people decided whether to return to the iron age, or to embrace the modern times and give thanks to the Europeans for advancing them out of history. I am tired of always having to work so hard to feed freeloaders who only seem to want to make babies they cannot feed. What if we all just stopped working and expected a handout? Everyone would starve.’ [Chris, aka Chris Thompson, who i believe is a racist]

Both of them are white and privileged and seem to be strongly focused on not having to give up any of their hard-earned money to black people, who in their opinion mostly sit around lazily, begging for money grants or expecting others to look after them, and of course making lots of babies.

They say, ‘Don’t cast your pearls before swine.’ But sometimes, especially when you are an eternal optimist, you only realise that your pearls have been cast before swine, when you see them crushed to fine powder beneath the feet of pigs.

i think one of the biggest reasons it has been a rough few days of ‘conversation’ is because it seems like these guys are talking about issues that they see or imagine. And i am talking about people. i keep thinking to myself, ‘If only these guys could come and have a meal with me and Nkosi and Fezile and a few other mates, then they’d realise what is really going on here.’ But i don’t know that they would. The words they use seem to indicate a deeply entrenched condition.

And so while i will always keep the door for conversation open, in the hope that those who would genuinely engage, despite how differently they may think from me, will take opportunities to share a meal and wrestle with important, significant and transformative things, i do believe there is also a healthy practice to be had in safeguarding the conversation a little bit more. And in not engaging beyond a certain point.

i think that feels like a wise place to head towards, in the same way that asking for this tattoo wasn’t.

stupid

southafrica

i do not know all the answers.

Let’s start there, shall we. This is not a post from the guy who knows all the answers, trying to make you feel bad because you don’t. In fact, at the moment i’m really just working on trying to figure out the right questions.

I’m not expecting you to have all the answers, and i’m not claiming that you do and that you’re ignoring them or a really bad person for not jumping into action and putting everything right. None of this is about that.

When i post a rant about the ridiculous amount of money that football players get for being transferred from one club to another and you jump in with your statement of, “Yeah, but the football player doesn’t see that money. Most of it goes to the club.” as if you are suggesting that the poor football player is barely keeping his head above the breadline…

When i speak about the idea of ‘White Privilege’ and how we need to address some of the imbalance that still exists between black and white [and others] in this country and you are quick to defend with a statement about how it’s okay because “the blacks stole it from the khoi and the san” or something that looks more like, “i worked hard for what i have, so do you just want me to give it up?” as if the wealth is now equally distributed in our country and as many white people are caught struggling to even make enough for a daily meal as black people…

i am not wanting you to take the blame and admit that everything wrong in this country is your fault…

i am not even wanting you to take partial blame and say that anything that is not great in this country is your fault…

i am not asking you to give up everything you have, sell it and give the money to the poor…

i am not expecting you to have all the answers we need to fix government and education and service delivery and more…

and i am not even expecting you to have one answer to one problem and feel the responsibility of getting that one sorted…

unequal

All i am wanting to hear and see from you, right now, is for you to be able to look at the picture of wealth standing alongside the picture of poverty in South Africa and to be able to utter the words, ‘That is not okay.’ 

This is not acceptable. It is not good. Something really needs to change.

i feel like if we can just get to there, that will be such an excellent starting point for everything that is to follow.

“I want to be part of that change.” is the war cry i would like for us all to work towards after that.

But can we just agree, when we drive to the airport in Cape Town and look to our right [if we can pull our head out of the sand, long enough to do so] that ‘That is not okay.’

Do i know what to do? No. [Although i may have some ideas to start us off and know people with ideas]

Do i need to ‘fix it’ all myself? No.

Do people with money need to feel bad? i hope not. i have money. so only if we are not using it well, i guess.

All i want to hear from you as step 1, is whether you think this is okay or not. Reply in the comments. 

My name is brett “Fish” anderson and i do not believe this is okay!

[For other South African related posts and taking this conversation forwards, click here]

troll

i think this is a helpful thing to explain.

Comment threads on the internet can be a dangerous and frightening place. Okay, that is probably not a necessary thing to explain. Because either you don’t participate in comment threads, or you have before and are very likely to know this. The anonymity one gets when one can hide behind a ‘Guest’ or ‘Pseudonym’ poster often gives people the bravado most of them would not have in the offline world. Freedom to say whatever aggressive, hurtful or disparaging things i want to because no one knows that it is me saying them. Some people manage to do all that and not even need the hidden identity. The freedom of sitting in front of a screen can sometimes be enough for people to write in a way they would not likely speak if they were face to face with you.

trollyoday

Yoda speaks some truth here. People who pick fights in message threads or word bully those who are trying to engage with the original thread are often referred to as ‘Trolls’ and the common wisdom is not to engage with them. They thrive on people fighting back or taking them on and typically that doesn’t tend to end well, or produce anything helpful.

For the most part i won’t take on trolls who are being offensive and hurtful to people for the sake of it. i have not seen much good come out of that. But there are times when i engage with someone in a comment thread and it can go back and forth for a long time and people sometimes ask me, ‘What is the point if you are not going to change the person’s mind?’

That is a very valid question and i think i have a valid answer for it:

I’m not.

audience

i typically don’t enter into debate with someone online expecting them to change their opinion.

Don’t get me wrong – there is always space for that – i see myself as the eternal optimist and so always hold out hope that someone can see the error of their ways [if the person is in error – sometimes that person can be me, which is always good to keep in mind] BUT the chief purpose of my engagement with others is the idea of everyone else who is watching.

[A moment of clarification here: i am not only talking about engaging with actual troll types, but also about strongly worded arguments/discussions with people who think very differently with me on some point. They are not trolls. It is a very clear distinction although there can sometimes be crossover. If there is a clearly troll comment, i will often engage with it as if the person is not a troll, giving them the benefit of the doubt and hopefully creating some potential for change, but if that person responds as a troll then i will typically leave that conversation fairly quickly, although the same principles below apply]

On the internet there is always an audience. When someone has a really strong opinion and engages me on a topic, the likelihood is that we are both going to end the conversation still believing what we believe. But there might be a number of people who are following the conversation who are grappling with the issue, or wanting to know or understand more, and i typically stay engaged because of them.

One thing i hope is that my manner of engagement is a lesson in itself. This is definitely more true now than it would have been years ago when i would have been much quicker to just call someone who strongly disagreed with me a dick [or whatever the christian-approved equivalent of that word is]. Now i wait a couple more lines before i jump to that. No, but seriously, i hope that engaging with someone i disagree with strongly in a manner that lets them [and others watching] know i value them as a person and have respect for them can be a great show of grace and patience [which is something a lot of us need a lot more of]

Secondly, if i am arguing something i believe [i typically try not argue anything i don’t believe!] then there is the hope that people will have their present ideas challenged and [if i am right, which happens from time to time] even changed. It is almost always about the unseen audience beyond the person i am verbally wrestling with.

Which i think can be really helpful. Which is why i continue to. Sometimes [often!] it can be hard to not let emotion take over and say something out of anger or responding in a negative way to something that feels negative from the other person, and i definitely get this wrong at times. But a lot of the time i think it creates some helpful conversation and engagement for people on the edges to take not of.

And so that is why i run with trolls. And engage with others who think very differently to me, often in very strongly worded ways. When the person is troll-like in their behaviour, it can turn out to be hard sometimes. It is difficult not to take personal attack personally. And sometimes it feels like you end up on the fire. But more often than not, it feels like there is good to be achieved…

trollfire

Have you ever observed an argument/discussion on a comment field that gave you something helpful to think about or changed your mind in some way?

[For some more comments on this and some examples, in a sTroll Down Memory Lane, click here]

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