Quote of the week

Both the constructive disagreement intrinsic to science and the adversarial scrutiny necessary to politics disappear in this invocation of science as the ultimate authority – this trick will become familiar in the coming months. An extraordinary emergency requires extraordinary powers; no one disagrees with that. But it is politics, not science, which grants these powers legitimacy. How long will they endure?

James Butler
London Review of Books
20 December 2011

The end of the year

It has been a long year, with so many political and constitutional twists and turns that it sometimes seemed hard to keep track of events and of who is up and who is down in our politics. The latest seemingly outrageous decision of a Parole Board to release two of the Waterkloof 4 killers to house arrest is just the latest in a long line of questionable decisions made this year by various officials.

I tried to ascertain – by reading the relevant sections of the Correctional Services Act – whether the release of the 2 Waterkloof killers were unlawful, but that Act is not easy to understand and I am just about to embark on holiday and, for the time being, was defeated by the complicated provisions of that Act.

What did strike me is the manner in which this case has been reported in especially parts of the Afrikaans media. Unlike with Schabir Shailk, where the reporting focused on the possible abuse of power in ordering Shaik’s release, some Afrikaans media outlets have been treating this case as if the Waterkloof killers have been the victims of a terrible injustice. How the cold blooded killers of a homeless man can ever be seen as victims is beyond me. I guess sometimes in our society race and language solidarity trumps everything else – including considerations of justice.

In any case, this is probably my last post for the year. I will be back early in the new year. Hope all readers of this Blog have a good holiday.

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