Constitutional Hill

On Woolworths and freedom of conscience

An interesting debate has been raging – especially in the Afrikaans press – about the decision of Woolworths to stop selling certain religious magazines in its stores. The retailer decided to restock the magazines after an outcry last week by fundamentalist Christians. One report suggested that Woolies decided to stop selling these magazines because of two articles in Joy! magazine, which reportedly had offended a senior Woolies executive. The articles were about the subject of “Judaizers”.

Judaizers are apparently Christians who observe certain Jewish customs, like having the Sabbath on the Saturday. The articles, written by an alleged “missionary” called Peter Hammond, described the behaviour of Judaizers as “unchristian”. Hammond is controversial because he had been accused of smuggling guns to Renamo during the civil war in Mozambique and more recently to rebels in Sudan. During the nineteen eighties there were also persistent rumours that he was working with the South African military to destabilise Mozambique.

I have no idea whether these rumours are true, but having read stuff he had written, I am of the opinion that he is a rather scary and deeply reactionary man. But that is besides the point. The larger issue centres on our understanding of section 15 of the Constitution, which guarantees for everyone the right to “freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion”.

In the one corner defenders of Hammond and Joy! magazine argue that Woolies showed a contempt for their Christian faith and that the decision not to stock the religious magazines (as well as subsequent criticism of such magazines and of people like Peter Hammond) at best display intolerance towards Christianity and at worse infringe on the freedom of religion of those few Christian believers who read Joy! magazine every month to keep up to date with news about the deep and abiding faith of people like Joost van der Westhuizen and Amore Vittone.

In the other corner, there are those who argue that Woolies should not have capitulated to religious fundamentalists who insist on their right to see (but seldom to buy) these magazines while standing in the queue at Woolies. Why, they ask, did Woolies not stand up to these religious bullies? How can we be a completely free country if a handful of religious fanatics can dictate to a large retailer what goods they should and should not stock? Are we not on the slippery slope to a Christian dictatorship where Christian values and beliefs (instead of, say, Sharia Law) determines how we live our lives?

Well, the text of section 15 makes it pretty clear that the first group has nothing to complain about. Section 15 does not only guarantee the right to freedom of religion, but also the right to freedom of thought, belief and opinion. We are all entitled to think what we want, believe what we want and express any opinions that we want — as long as we do not defame somebody else or break some other constitutionally valid provision of the criminal law.

Anyone is therefore perfectly entitled to criticise religion in general or the tenets of a particular religion specifically. If I want to say that the beliefs underlying Christianity or Islam are absurd, demonstrably untrue, oppressive and deeply offensive to any conception of freedom, I am entitled to do so. Granted, blasphemy is still a criminal offense in terms of our common law, but I cannot imagine that if challenged this provision will not be declared unconstitutional. The Broadcasting Complains Commission of South Africa has already accepted that blasphemy as defined in our law will not waistband constitutional scrutiny.

Blasphemy is usually defined as the unlawful and intentional insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God/Christianity/Islam. There is no equivalent law criminalising contempt for atheism because if there were the Pope, and thousands of other religious leaders would have had to be locked up long ago. Anyone who challenges the prohibition on blasphemy will therefore have every possibility of being successful as the blasphemy law infringes on the right of non-believers (or the believers of those religions whose God was not targeted) to not only privately believe what  they wish, but to state their beliefs in public.

I obviously have sympathy for the second group, but their complaint does not seem to touch directly on a constitutional issue. In a capitalist state where everyone is free to complain if a retailer stocks or does not stock certain products and is free to urge a boycott of that retailer, the pressure put on Woolies was probably not unlawful or unconstitutional. One could argue that Woolies had caved in to bigotry by deciding to stock these magazines and then one is free not to shop at Woolies because of its cowardly capitulation to right wing bigots. That is what freedom means.

But this question is rather complex.

The fact of the matter is that if one is an atheist, agnostic or if one believes in Judaism, Islam of Hindu religion one is part of a small minority in South Africa. The vast majority of South Africans claim to be Christians (which usually means they go to Church for christenings, weddings and funerals and otherwise ignore religion until they are in big trouble in which case they say a silent prayer to Jesus our Lord).

This does not mean that Christians can demand that their views be accepted by the majority. In the Pillay case, in which the Constitutional Court found that the schools code of conduct was unconstitutional because it failed to accommodate the practices of the Hindu culture and religion, the court made it clear that rules or codes which seem neutral, but which are really based on Christian values, often marginalises and oppresses minority groups and may discriminate against them.

But I suspect there is a difference between a public institution like a school or university or a workplace environment dealing with the behaviour of employees on the one hand, and a private business dealings on the other.  The former can never discriminate. The latter cannot discriminate against individuals it employs but in conducting its business it can probably take decisions that would favour one group or another without fear of being taken to the Constitutional Court.

There is a grey area here between the public and the private and it will not always be easy to decide when the religious views of some could be relied on by a private institution when it made decisions about its business practices. While the Woolies example probably does not implicate the right to freedom of conscience, other examples will be far more problematic. For example, if a Golf club decides, based on the views of its members, not to allow Muslims to join this will probably be unconstitutional (as well as an infringement of the Promotion of Equality Act). But where that same Golf club decided that its members should not play golf on a Sunday I am not sure whether one would be able to challenge this if one happened to be  Jew or an atheist.

It is always complex to deal with (and respect) the widely held superstitions of the majority while also protecting the minority from discrimination and oppression. The  line will not always be easily drawn between permissible Christian influence on the one hand and impermissible marginalisation and oppression on the other.

  • Shannon

    I think if you remove the waffling “probably” from your statement, you’re right on. Christians, or anyone else, have a right to kick up a fuss if a store is not stocking what they want and to vote with their wallets. Businesses then have a right to choose to ignore or to capitulate. Those angered by the capitulation may then use precisely the same tactic: a public outcry and a boycott.

    It’s not “probably” safe constitutionally; it is.

  • Donovan

    Some nice questions being posed Prof. But I wonder about this conclusion:

    “For example, if a Golf club decides, based on the views of its members, not to allow Muslims to join this will probably be unconstitutional (as well as an infringement of the Promotion of Equality Act). But where that same Golf club decided that its members should not play golf on a Sunday I am not sure whether one would be able to challenge this if one happened to be Jew or an atheist.”

    I get your point that you are taking the self-same view as that which informed us on the Black Media Association matter. Wherein it was okay to call the association Black, and its rules could promote the issues of Black media persons, but it could not stop White people from joining the association.

    But would the club be able to discipline somebody if they played golf on a Sunday, because it was a rule of the club. It could close the club on a Sunday on the basis that the club is a Christian club, but it could not stop members playing on a Sunday elsewhere. If it did then the club would be infringing on the rights of those who either practised Christianity differently or were not Christians themselves. The club cannot force anyone to practice the way they believe how Christianity should be practiced, but the Club could have a legitimate expectation that when you joined the club you believed and agreed that this is the way Christianity should be practiced. But this can only occur in the confines of the club, anywhere else infringes upon the rights of others.

    The only time this could be challenged is if all clubs operated in this manner based on Christianity, then one could argue that there was no alternative and you were being punished to play on a Friday, which a person of Jewish or Mulsim faith regards as a holy day. As a sidebar, does this not already occur in SA rugy, where no games are played on a Sunday. Although in England, Australia, New Zealand, France, etc, they do play on a Sunday. On international games (other than Barbarian matches are the only ones where SA rugy involves players on a Sunday) we also do not play against anybody on a Sunday, this seems to be only where SARU is part of the organising.

    But as I said earlier, there are some really thought provoking questions herein.

  • Brett Nortje

    Pierre, lees jy Afrikaanse koerante?

    Is jy nie bang jy steek aan nie?

  • marco polo

    “Are we not on the slippery slope to a Christian dictatorship where Christian values and beliefs (instead of, say, Sharia Law) determines how we live our lives?” Woolies giving in to a campaign to stock a magazine means we’re on a “slippery slope” to a theocracy? Is there a pill for paranoia? Better still, is there an institution out there that is sponsoring research into a possible link between having a “progressive mindset” and a disposition towards paranoia?

    “The vast majority of South Africans claim to be Christians […] This does not mean that Christians can demand that their views be accepted by the majority.” Spot the logical contradiction and win a Woolies voucher.

    “How can we be a completely free country if a handful of religious fanatics can dictate to a large retailer what goods they should and should not stock?” Bigotry check: substitute the words “religious fanatics” for the pressure/special interest group of your choice – for example, “gay activists” – and see if your answer differs.

    But seriously, folks …

    Until the facts emerge (if they ever will) as to why Woolies pulled the mags, it is difficult to identify the specific issues at stake. Pierre de Vos refers to the allegation that Joy was pulled because a senior executive was unhappy about an article. If that is the case, then the debate is about whether or not retailers should be able to pull publications because they don’t like their content. This amounts to a form of censorship. But why shouldn’t the owners of a company have the right to choose which publications they want to stock? If they refuse to stock publications that are popular, then that is their loss if they want to put their beliefs before their business interests. Of course, the problem becomes who decides on behalf of the retailer? A single senior executive? The board of directors? What is at stake here is not freedom of religion but business freedom.

    The other problem with this debate is how it has been framed. A generalisation is made about “Christians” vs Woolies. But who actually kicked up a fuss? Errol Naidoo and his Family Policy Institute. And how many Christians do they represent? Who knows. (Incidentally, Naidoo is identified as Joy’s “editorial consultant” . Peter Hammond is a “contributing editor”, so clearly there are other interests here apart from “freedom of religion”.

  • Snowman

    Both the Christian lobby and the Gay lobby make a huge noise in the media about trivialities. How about making a noise about something that is not self serving?

    Come to think about it, neither the Christian lobby nor the Gay lobby made a noise about apartheid and its associated atrocities.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    I have experienced a great deal of JOY! in the checkout line at Woolworth’s. I therefore applaud the decision to return this fine journal to the stands, in defiance of the secular humanists, who make a God of RATIONALITY and Western LOGIC!

    Thanks very much.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Snowman

    “neither the Christian lobby nor the Gay lobby made a noise about apartheid and its associated atrocities.”

    True enough – unless you count Archbishops Tutu and Hurley, Beyers Naude, the Christian Institute, the SACC, and one or two other trouble makers.

  • Snowman

    Ah, Dworky, you were reading my mind again.

    When I was thinking “Christian” I was thinking of the real ones, the charismatics.

  • Pierre De Vos

    And apart from Simon Nkoli, Zackie Achmat and the thousands of other gay men and women who happened to have been involved in the struggle.

  • Observer

    The Joy magazine over the years has published scathing articles about the legal permissibility of abortion, undermined the achievements of women’s liberation movements, called for parents to block the teaching of Evolution at high schools, denounced traditional African polygamous marriage and of course same sex marriage. If the values of that magazine turn out to be the values of a significant segment of our population, maybe it’s is not too far off in saying there’s a possibility of a negative impact on our constitutional democracy. The values expressed in JOY! are absolutely theocratic. After all, God is a much higher authority than out constitutional court; if the editors of JOY! had their way, it would seem the laws of the new South Africa would have to be rewritten.

    This story proves that there is at least one significant group of people who demand that this publication be made available and possibly subscribe to its values. At best this is an unfortunate state of affairs in the new South Africa and at worst it is an indication that perhaps our constitutional project is built on shaky foundations.

  • Ricky

    Totally irrelevant for the subject but I wonder what you all think of the ANC statement in respond to the COSATU meeting; I am particularly thinking of “We should all learn from history of what happened in some parts of the continent, when some labour leaders working together with civil society formations, came up with alternative political parties to unseat the ruling parties and governments in those parts of the continent. We believe the leadership of Cosatu is fully aware of what we are talking about here, and we believe the majority of the Cosatu leadership have no intention of implementing regime change in South Africa”.

    This would seem to put all the blame on the problems in Zimbabwe on the MDC, having had the audacity to stand up against the liberation leader Mr. Mugabe, and actually comparing the oppressive ZANU-PF regime with the ANC government.

    Also, does ANC really consider itself to be a “regime”? According to he Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary regime “mainly disapproving a particular government or a system or method of government” and Regime change: “a complete change of government, especially one brought about by force”.

    So should ANC one day loose power due to an election, would ANC consider that to be the dreaded “regime change”? Very strange.

    The practical question is, however, how Jacob Zuma (or any other ANC person) can be considered to be an honest and impartial broker in the Zimbabwe conflict when ANC so clearly blames MDC for the problems in Zimbabwe?

  • etienne marais

    I found Mantashe’s words chilling, to say the least !

    particularly this part:
    “…but we nonetheless caution that an action like the one of leading a charge for the formation and for the mobilisation of a mass civic movement outside of the Alliance partners and the ANC might indeed be interpreted as initial steps for regime change in South Africa”

    One cannot be certain that the reference and imagery evoked is that of Zimbabwe, but if it is, it can only be read as an admonition of the legitimate forces of democracy in that country.

    The implication is that our ruling party would deem any alternative, popular political stream subversive. We should hope that this is just a trivial undercurrent and that it does not evolve into a new political theme.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Maggs! Need your help here! Can we permit Etienne and others to get away with saying that Mantashe’s warning about “mass civic movements” signals that ANC does not want to “deepen democracy”?

    Give us a break, Etienne.

  • I am wrong –

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder says:
    November 3, 2010 at 6:39 am

    Hey Big Dwork,

    Our resident thunsil has stumbled on very important revelations.

    Dramatic Dramat was strategically deployed to from his office in the strategic state institution to halt any further investigations into the arms deal.

    Min Cwele has bee strategically deployed to introduce the PoIB (like the US Patriot Act in some ways).

    Some have been deployed to introduce the MAT.

    Why all this you may ask?

    Well we are possibly prepare to enter a state of emergency – dark forces are intending to attack our country to effect regime change, which may be worse than the Iraq war.

    Of course in code – see “formation”, “leading a charge”, “mobilisation”, “outside “, “forces”, “regime change”

    We will fight them on the beaches, we will fight them …, but we will never surrender.

    There will be peace and friendship!

  • JAM

    Much response to Christinaity is based on, or perpetuates, misrepresentation. While there is nothing inherently “wrong” with expressing views in an emotive manner (if the issues are important enough, then anger can be appropriate), this can be a pointer to a slight loss of rationality.

    Yes, of course this last statement can apply to Christians who can get very hot under the collar, and express themselves in a manner that is not entirely lucid. However, if one examines the language here, then I feel that Prof sometimes loses the plot when it comes to Christianity (including some rationality lapses).

    Firstly, the label, “Christian fundamentalist”. In some senses, this is a technically correct description of a vast body of Christians (probably the majority of practising Christians in South Africa). The term arose from a series of publications about 100 years ago, calling Christians to return to the “Fundamentals” of the faith, such as belief in an omnipotent, omnipresent God (sorry aout the lingo, but lawyers also use obscure terms to convey precise meanings concisely), and the veracity and reliability of Scirpture. Also “fundamental” is the belief that Jesus Christ was both fully God and fully man (implying acceptance of the Virgin birth), that he was crucified, and that he rose from the dead and later ascended into Heaven.

    To the materialist (one who believes that matter is all that there is), these notions will obviously seem absurd and irrational, and of course, “extreme”.

    However, in the flow of history (including the historical fact of the life of Christ, and the subsequent birth and flourishing of the Church), it is not and can not be termed “extreme” to express belief in these “truths”, and to attempt to base one’s life on the assumption of their truth.

    This is historical Christianity. Many of us Christians fail to speak out in support of these beliefs when the occasion arises, and many of us fail to demonstrate adherence to these truths in the way that we live our lives. But these failings do not negate the underlying truths (if they are, indeed, true), or undermine the essential rationality of what we believe.

    The fact that relatively large numbers of those who profess Christianity may have abandoned firm belief in the founding tenets or truths (the fundamentals) does not logically detract from the validity of holding to them. Nor does this make the holding of those beliefs logically “extreme”.

    While it may seem “radical” to hold firm convictions and attempt to live by them in an age of relativism, this is still a reasonable and rational way to live.

    However, the use of the term “fundamentalist” has become pejorative, and should therefore be shunned. It gets used to minimize or intimidate those “fundamentalist” Christians who exercise their God-given (and Constitution-given) right to speak up for what they believe in.

    Your description of Peter Hammond is sloppy, both in logic and in truth. You call him an ‘alleged “missionary”‘. While he does not work full-time on the mission field, he IS a missionary – a fact which can easily be verified. And to put the term, “missionary” in quotes seems aimed at diminishing or otherwise casting doubt on what is a normal activity for the Church.

    Verbal tricks that do not have a substantive basis are a very poor vehicle to get your ideas across. I grant that you have used the term “alleged” (or “purported”) in connection with certain political figures’ office, but you have done so when there are logical or substantive reasons to doubt the validity of their holding of those offices.

    The (very) old stories about the gun running are a tired and cheap means to attempt to discredit somebody when you are merely repeating someone else’s unsubstantiated accusations, and have no direct knowledge of the matters at hand. You also ignore the fact that Dr Hammond is a “Bible runner” into these regions, which are known for their vicious persecution of Christians (human rights violations on a grand scale).

    Dr Hammand is a controversial figure, but this is mainly because he has the courage to speak out strongly on views that many other hold, but who are too timid to express. Whether one likes his STYLE, or his forthrightness (he does tend to offend people) is another matter, but tha cannot justify the defamatory dismissal of him that you offer.

  • Brett Nortje

    Speaking of freedom of conscience, everyone watching the Democrats being spanked?


    Barry Soetoro has been found out. Big mistake hanging around Robert Rubin when he and Alan Greenspan were responsible for the banking crisis and he and the Clintonistas were responsible for shipping the US’ manufacturing sector to China for campaign funding.

    Hopefully, this is the Revolution of 1994 ver 2.0 and we will not find a bunch of Republicrats have slipped in through the cracks.

    Ron Paul! Ron Paul! Ron Paul in 2012!

  • Michael Osborne

    Brett, I take it then that you agree with Christine O’Donnell (Republican Tea party candidate for Delaware), that masturbation is a very bad thing, to be avoided at all costs!

  • Michael Osborne

    @ Etienne

    “One cannot be certain that the reference and imagery evoked [by Manthashe ] is that of Zimbabwe”

    Now we can be sure. According to the BD, Cmd Mantashe expressly warned against the type of movement that led to the Cmd Mugabe being challenged for power.

    He complained: “This was the process that preceded the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe.”

    [Maggs, I know you insist on rigorous citation, especially of anything attributed to Cmd Mantashe, so here goes:

    ‘Business Day,’ Wed. November 3, 2010, p. 1, foot of page, columns 2-5.]

  • I am wrong –

    Michael Osborne says:
    November 3, 2010 at 10:10 am

    hahahaha – well done Michael.

    In future I will be happy with his words as he said them (I will search if necessary).

    Of course if you want to interpret what someone said, then it will good if you said that and not pretend that those are the words of whoever it is.

    Anyway – I suspect that Cde Mantashe is supportive of the conversations taking place despite his “harsh words”. Maybe he is just feeling ignored, but as Dworky will say he is young and has a lot to learn. And maybe too he will inherit the ANC (after Juju that is).

  • Gwebecimele

    Shouldn’t be having a topic on Pioneer foods my favourite company? What is more serious between a politician who get a few million rands tender and a company that denies people basic food such as bread and rob them a few rands in the process?

  • Gwebecimele
  • Brett Nortje

    Michael, I am no expert on the topic – I will defer to you when ‘masturbation’ comes up.

  • I am wrong –

    Gwebecimele says:
    November 3, 2010 at 10:30 am

    The Competition Commission is just about a revenue agency for government.

    Companies get fined (huge fines) then increase prices so the consumers effectively pay the fine for having been the victims in the first instance.

    Some while ago during a discussion with a then commissioner around this it was said that the Commission is powerless post imposing the fines.

  • Brett Nortje

    Hey, Michael – don’t sulk. I was joking!

  • marco polo

    @ Brett Nortje
    Alas, I fear that the Republicrats will hijack – if they haven’t already – the latest “revolution”. However, watching the Hopey-Changer being spanked is most delightful. Ironically, he’ll probably turn out to be a better president if the Republicans take both houses, as was the case with Bill “close with my cigar” Clinton.
    Ron Paul in 2012! Viva!

  • Michael Osborne

    @ Marco Polo

    Are you fearful that Christine O Donnell’s brave Tea Party stand against masturbation may be shelved by the Republican establishment? Do you think the campaign to teach Creation Science in schools (re which one can read in JOY!) will be advanced across the board?

  • Shannon

    The party in the White House has lost seats in every midterm election at least since Eisenhower with the lone exception of 2002, because of its proximity to 9/11.

    Young people (under 30), who formed a critical piece of Obama’s constituency in 2008, historically do not vote in midterms. They kept the historical trend this time: 18% of the electorate in 2008, 10% yesterday.

    A New Republic article cites exit polls indicating about 37% of voters expressed discontent with Obama–which explains why, in the midst of a recession worse than anything we’ve seen since the Great Depression, his personal approval ratings are high and his political approval ratings are around 46%–higher than either Clinton’s in ’94 or Reagan’s in ’82. Both of them, of course, sailed to second terms.

    Ignore all the sky-is-falling rhetoric that will be coming in the next couple of days (particularly from the British press which the SA press borrows from so liberally). This election actually followed the script pretty closely. I might not be thrilled but I had my moment in 2006 and 2008, and will have it again in 2012. For now, we recalibrate, and avoid the hysterics.

  • marco polo

    @ Michael Osborne
    I am glad to see that you derive your understanding of American politics from the M&G and assorted liberal-left newspapers in SA. This explains why you are so well-informed about the issues there.

  • Gwebecimele

    Although this might have something to do with the ABSA/RUGBY sms, I support this move, banks have been milking us for a while.

  • Brett Nortje

    I hope the GOP are reading Shannon’s post.

    A lot of questions will have to be asked in the House about Barry Soetoro’s Constitutional eligibility to be President of the United States.

  • anton kleinschmidt

    This one for Brett, just in case his blood pressure needs tweaking

    I had no idea and now I start to understand why you get so annoyed

  • Shannon

    I absolutely hope they start investigating it, Brett, as it will be so patently absurd that it will guarantee their defeat in 2012.

    It will be like the sweet, sweet Clinton impeachment hearings that led to Democrats picking up congressional seats in 1998 and 2000.

  • Michael Osborne

    @ MP

    “you derive your understanding of American politics from the M&G and assorted liberal-left newspapers in SA.”

    I am sure you know much, much more than I about U.S. politics. But it does assist me a liitle that I studied in the US, and lived in NYC for a decade. (Also, I have long subscribed to the New Republic, the fine periodical that you cite.)

    But seriously, are you really a Tea Party supporter? If so, does it not bother you just a little that it fields lunatics that condemn masturbation, and preach creationism, adopts a Mbeki-style denial of climate change, boasts as its spiritual leader a former governor of Alaska that even McCain’s aides describe as utterly ignorant, and has Mr Beck as its mouthpiece?

    (Speaking of Beck, did you get to the Rally to Support Sanity and/Or Restore Fear in D.C? I missed it.)

  • Shannon

    @Michael Osborne: I’m the New Republic subscriber, not MP. I’d guess he doesn’t read it, though that’s just a hunch. Still one of my favorite periodicals though and worth what I have to pay to get it on Kindle, along with the Atlantic.

    The nutters in the Tea Party aside, if they will actually tackle defense spending, which is a preposterous amount of the budget (although commenters who like to sneer that it’s 10 times what the federal govt spends on education miss the point entirely, since education is funded at the state level) they will earn my respect. If they don’t, they’re just windbags as I suspect. Rand Paul seems the best bet on that as he has been consistent in his criticism of the defense budget.

  • Brett Nortje

    LOL! Shannon is in denial!

  • Brett Nortje

    Au contraire, Anton, I couldn’t be more delighted!

    The report blows Pierre’s argument that the FCA will be saved by the limitations clause when tested in the ConCourt out of the water.

    May I say that this Minister is on the opposite pole of his igniminious predecessor, which he proves here again, and which he proved the day Terreblanche was murdered, and when the cops made us so proud of their handling of security for the World Cup?

    JIQ appears very bright, and very organised, and very efficient, and I hope she manages to turn around the body constitutionally tasked with civilian oversight of the cops which the Quiet Diplomat’s team ran into the ground. (I am not a JIQ fan, remember….)

    Anton, please do not take what you read at face value!

    The Minister is admitting that implementation of the FCA is a disaster.

    I have been telling you that for a year.

    The Minister is not telling you that out of the goodness of his heart. He has no choice. However…He is still trying to spin while rearranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic. He is trying to save ANC face.

    GOSA’s submission to the Secretariat’s inquiry was simply that implementation of the FCA should be subject to a forensic audit before anything else. Why did they not follow our advice? Is anyone saying how much this ode to gun control has cost?

    And why not?

    Has anything we said not turned out to be so?

    There are 3 major constitutional challenges to the FCA pending. Between us we are represented by Counsel who number among the top constitutional lawyers in the country. (OK, Pierre is still a bit non-committal about arguing my amicus curiae submission to the ConCourt…)

    May I (mis)quote John Paul Jones when asked if he wished to strike his colours?

    We have not yet begun to fight!

  • Shannon

    @Brett: or, Shannon is an American who actually understands the nuances of American politics and doesn’t get her news from Fox or The National Review.

  • Shannon

    I seem to recall an article Michael Osborne (is it our same Michael Osborne?) wrote for in which he addressed the white South African resentment of America’s “mongrelization”–the seething anger that we had a black Secretary of State, for example. And this was before we had a black President. (Clarification: not all white SAfricans, of course, just the old guard.)

    Brett, you seem to fit the profile of which he spoke.

  • Brett Nortje

    Don’t ass-ume too much, Shannon. I am pleased American Christians elected a black Christian as their President. Typical of the Democrats’ Tammany
    Hall politics though, to slip in a candidate who was ineligible to be President. Reminds one: Party of the Daleys.

    Your stereotyping reply makes me think back to when Richard Jewel had just been nabbed for setting off a bomb because he was the nearest fattest white guy to the explosion. Dees & Co were mouthing off about the racist Georgia Militia being responsible. Ergo, Richard Jewel was…. I was glued to the TV because my aunt and her husband were at the Games in Atlanta.
    That stereotyping kept on until the media tracked down the head of the Georgia Militia who turned out to be a big black guy. LOL! Typical of the fiberals.

    So, Michael was getting dinner invites selling horror-stories about white South Africans, was he?

    Ag, shame…

  • marco polo

    Seems Michael Osborne has competition in the form of Shannon of who can post the most patronising/insulting comments/assumptions about what other people allegedly know/don’t know and believe or don’t believe. Should be interesting. [eats popcorn and observes]

  • Shannon

    marco, are you not the one who presumed Michael’s knowledge of American politics came from the Mail and Guardian until he clarified his 10+ years of living in the US?

    And Brett assumed I was “in denial” because offering a rational, historical analysis of this election doesn’t fit his triumphalist narrative.

    Perhaps the glare from your glass house is blinding you and you might want to put down your stones.

  • Shannon

    Also, it’s almost not worth remarking on, but the “Barry Soetoro” reference marks Brett as a Birther. Soetoro is Obama’s stepfather’s surname. He was registered under that name at school in Indonesia, although he was never adopted by the stepfather, always retained his original surname, and the same Indonesian school form notes Hawaii as his birthplace. An April Fools Day article a couple of years ago suggested that Obama had enrolled as a foreign student at Occidental College under that name, but the school has him on record as Obama, as does the student lookbook. The article has been widely discredited as a hoax. is always a good first stop when we hear silly things.

    And yes, I do make assumptions about Birthers, unapologetically.

  • Brett Nortje

    Eina, Eina! EINA!

  • Brett Nortje

    OK, I have my coffee, now I’m ready for Shannon.

    Actually, Shannon, one of my favourite conspiracy theorists claims Barack Hussein Obama II was born in The Coast Provincial General Hospital at Mombasa in Kenya at 7.24 PM on August 4th 1961????

  • marco polo

    Mr Nortje, the facts about Obama’s past (and present) can be found here:
    Obama Rumors Untrue—And Less Interesting Than The Truth

  • Shannon

    Like I told my dad, Brett, when he was new to the interwebs, I will do this for you once and thereafter you must learn to source-check for yourself:

    Frankly, while it’s not pertinent to Obama’s case, I’d like to see a constitutional amendment that allows naturalized citizens to be eligible for the presidency. I think the clause limiting it to natural-born citizens runs counter to the professed equality of citizens and the recognition of the US as a nation of immigrants (an argument made by James Madison among others), and was in part a political maneuver at the time to keep Alexander Hamilton, who was Caribbean-born, from becoming president. My godson was born in Congo but has been in the US since he was 4. At 14, he’s as American as his classmates and should have all the rights they have.

  • Brett Nortje

    Thank you aunty Shannon!

  • Brett Nortje

    But, surely, Shannon, you knew that the Council on Foreign Relations set up Snopes to deflect any in-depth investigations into the people it hired to manage the US?

  • Brett Nortje

    The other question that arises is how you define a ‘natural-born’ citizen?

    Is one parent allowed to be a ‘non’ citizen?

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Brett, I have heard that Obama was born in a Madrassa in Hamburg at 16h47 on 2 January 1966, of a Mexican mother and a Muslim father from Mars!

    Please let me know if your sources can verify this.


  • I am wrong –

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder says:
    November 4, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Hey Dworky,

    Stop interfering with Brett everyone knows that Obaba’s father was not from Mars. Obama is Black, not Green.

    On a more serious note, I went to Woolworths to buy a gun – would you believe that they don’t carry it?

    Let’s start a boycott of Woolworths!

  • Brett Nortje

    Which Madrassa?

    Maggs, are you not concerned that Dworky has taken none of your tutorials about citing references to heart?

    I mean, we all learned that in English1!

  • Shannon

    Both parents are allowed to be non-citizens, as long as you are born in America. If you’re born outside, only one parent has to be a citizen. If I got pregnant and had a baby while here in SA, my child automatically has US citizenship.

    What is meant by “natural-born” was left up to states to decide until the 14th amendment was passed, and even since then it’s been the source of much litigation. But yes, one parent is allowed to be a non-citizen, even if the child is born outside the country.

  • I am wrong –

    Brett Nortje says:
    November 4, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Hey brett,

    “are you not concerned that Dworky has taken none of your tutorials about citing references to heart?”

    Dworky does not need to cite references.

    He lies as a matter of course and does not pretend that his fabrications are fact, nor does he present those as academically sound.

    Are you joining the Woolies boycott?

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Maggs, I choose to ignore your vulgar sarcasm. Brett and I are justifiably skeptical of the liberal narrative to the effect that Obama was born in Hawaii. So, where do YOU say he was born?

  • Brett Nortje

    Still, Maggs, if Dworky had paid attention to your style sheet it would have resonated in more accuracy and detail and less generalisation.

    “A Madrassa in Hamburg”? Could be any Madrassa in Hamburg.

    But really, Maggs, that is not what I wanted to focus on today.

    I have been giggling since Monday, my dear Maggs. (OK, yesterday I was also giggling because I was trawling for our wannabe-Americans Michael and Leigh. I hooked Shannon instead.)

    You are a well known proponent of gun control on this blog, Maggs.

    Having gone so far in the past to try and justify 15-year sentences where a guy who made trap-guns for jackals in his garage and where a guy in a small village in Mpumalanga last week was sentenced for being found in possession of an unlicensed pistol, which was found under his pillow – OK, serial no ground off – but he did not have a single cartridge for it….

    How do you feel about the Minister’s announcement Tuesday, Maggs?

    Billions poured down the drain after people of your ilk’s advocacy diverted that money from the poor to fuel your pie-in-the-sky fantasies because you do not approve of guns?

    A litany of violations of constitutional rights?

    Your dreams in tatters?

    P.S. I happen to like Woolies’ potato sticks. I do not really like sweet things but if I do eat icecream I like soft scoop chocolate swirl.

  • Shannon

    I haven’t had the potato sticks. However, in keeping with the original sentiment of this post, I did notice that the woman on the cover of “Joy!” was once my high school Sunday School teacher, who has since turned into this global evangelical women’s phenomenon. Apparently our Texas megachurch of 20,000 people with a bowling alley and a cafe called “Garden of Eatin'” was but a stepping-stone to bigger things.

    I bought the magazine and sent it to her daughter, so who says no one buys these magazines? I am doing my part. Although it was at Spar, not Woolie’s. And I will not boycott Spar ever, under any circumstances, because they are the only place that sells Dr. Pepper.

  • Brett Nortje

    Shannon, I thought ya were a yankee! I thought dancing on a table in Atlanta was a form of carpetbagging!

  • Shannon

    Brett! Yankee is a curse word in my parts! I am a Texas girl, born and bred. I drink iced tea and write thank-you notes and still call my parents ma’am and sir losing your manners is the worst sin there is, even worse than having raised two daughters who are Democrats, to their everlasting shame.

    Do I have Yankee tendencies? Are these like white tendencies? Although it is true that nice Southern girls don’t let you touch them on their studio.

  • I am wrong –

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder says:
    November 4, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Hey Dworky,

    “So, where do YOU say he was born?”

    a) in a manger (slightly used one)
    b) in Brett’s dinghy (that’s why he’s sanding it)
    c) in heaven
    d) UCT Law Fac.


  • Brett Nortje

    I should have known when you whupped me so for teasing you with conspiracy theories.

    Maggs – Have you left the building?

  • Brett Nortje

    Oh, cool.

    Could you answer the questions?

  • I am wrong –

    Brett Nortje says:
    November 4, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Hey Brett,

    “How do you feel about the Minister’s announcement Tuesday, Maggs?”

    I am impressed – you did a great job convincing the Minister.

    “A litany of violations of constitutional rights?”

    Boycott Woolies I say.

    “Your dreams in tatters?”

    Sadly so. :(

  • Brett Nortje

    Will you guys in the Cape please post the moment you hear anything about Judgement in the JASA compensation case?

  • I am wrong –

    Brett Nortje says:
    November 5, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Eish Brett.

    Do you mean that you have not yet got paid?

    And here I was complimenting you on the success.

  • Nigel

    I’m afraid you’re mistaken. When you become a Christian you become one with Abraham’s seed and become adopted into the family as ‘spiritual Jews’. The laws of God are for all man of all nations, for all nations are made of one blood. The bible does not say only Jews do this or Jews do that. A christian should know this, especially when Jesus was Jewish ! Either you’re with him or you’re against him, we must deny the world of man for it it inferior to our Lord in Heaven ! The Sabbath is not optional, it is a commandment and the only commandment which begins with the word ‘Remember’. God spoke it and wrote it with his finger in stone…not tin, not plastic but stone for it’s symbolism which is to represent ‘forever’. And the bible is very clear that God’s word does not change, man has no power to change it only God and God tells us to Remember his holly day. The Sabbath is for all of mankind who want to forge a relationship with God for God said for 6 days we should work and on the 7th day (the Sabbath, Saturday) we rest with God.