Suck on this, Honourable Member

Many people feel they’ve been betrayed by the ANC. The party that brought us Freedom, with a little help from their now mostly forgotten friends, has now brought us Freedom Lite. It’s hard for some ANC supporters to stomach, and it’s certainly unpalatable to a fair number of political fence sitters.

Give me a break. Feeling betrayed and hurt because a group of politicians has disappointed you is a bit like being surprised when a feral rat tries to bite you while you’re petting it. What did you expect? Has the 20th century taught you nothing? Politicians are just the unnatural lubricant on the democracy-flavoured condom that government dons every time it tries to disguise the fact that it’s about to screw its citizens again. Politicians aren’t the enemy; we are the enemy.

As Cassius suggests in Julius Caesar, the people get the government they deserve. And boy, do we deserve a self-serving, myopic, flawed government. We voted for them, and we appear to be still voting for them, based mostly on a fond memory of some empty promises and a shared hatred of people who try to make us think.

If you want to get an idea of the average intelligence of our fellow voters, listening to talk radio is always a good place to start. I was amused by a quiz the other morning. What African country has the highest number of billionaires, asked the host? “Uh … Saudi Arabia?” answered the contestant, tentatively.

But even that remarkable lesson in the hubris of making fun of Americans was eclipsed by a subsequent comment about Black Tuesday. Some of our fellow citizens, confronted with a stark choice between supporting a movement to preserve their constitutional rights or opposing a movement that’s concerned with making sure bad journalists have a get-out-of-jail-free card chose to do neither. Instead, a caller to talk radio chose to lament the fact that it’s called “Black Tuesday”. Apparently, this is perpetuating a stereotype of blackness as evil.

It’s ridiculous. We’re fighting for the right to expose corruption in government, and you’re worried about the fact that black means dark in a certain context? There’s a massive difference between “Darkest Africa” and “It’s always darkest just before dawn”. I don’t want to whitewash the whole thing, but I’m fairly sure BEE doesn’t actually stand for Black Etymological Empowerment.

If you want to fight about the abuse of words, I’d suggest starting a movement to eradicate the appellation “Honourable” from our Parliament. Watching the debate around the Protection of Corrupt Politicians Bill, it was amazing how many times they felt it necessary to use the word.

A reader reminded me of Mark Antony’s speech in Julius Caesar, where the repetition of “Brutus is an honourable man” eventually drives home the sarcastic point that Brutus is, in fact, a backstabbing ANC MP. In the same way, the constant use of “Honourable Member” in Parliament during the debate starts to sound like “The Bribable Dick”.

It seems that people actually believe that the secrecy Bill is about the media versus the government, instead of being about your freedom versus the government’s desire to cover up corruption and undemocratic evil. If you’re that stupid, you deserve what you’re about to get.

Follow Chris Roper on Twitter @chrisroperza

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Chris Roper
Chris Roper

Chris Roper was editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian from July 2013 - July 2015.

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