Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bullet in the Chamber

     Hello, everyone. I am currently off the grid, at least temporarily, as I am on a road trip to my new cousins’ baptisms in the eternally flat hellhole known as St. Louis. That fact, however, will not prevent me from indulging in a little ranting, a little raging, and maybe-if we are lucky-some semi-coherent thought. As a rule, there will be more than a few typos because I don’t proofread these-this is strictly for the blog and for you guys-not for the school newspaper.

     Oscar Pistorius was a hero. More than a man, more than a myth, hell, more than a legend, his journey from a double-amputee to a shining example of the resiliency of the human spirit is well chronicled. Only now did we realize that the dashing South African was actually a deeply flawed man…just like the rest of us. He made a horrible mistake, and he will ultimately pay for it, and the fame he labored to achieve has only made his swift fall from grace that much more painful. He’s successfully escaped legal punishments before, and it’s a damn shame all these are coming to light now when it matters most rather than as they occurred. We all simply covered our ears and sang to ourselves to keep the mythology of the Blade Runner alive, purposefully forgetting his less than perfect attributes. We failed to listen to the whispers of imperfection after he crashed his speedboat into a pier and ultimately ended up needing facial reconstruction surgery and over 100 stitches. Bottles of liquor were found on board. We failed to listen when he brought a loaded gun into a crowded restaurant, and accidentally shot it. He asked his mere mortal of a friend to quite literally take the PR bullet. We failed to recognize his dangerous and speed-centric lifestyle. He loved fast cars, firearms, and the fairer sex-he seemed, as one friend said, to desire to be known as “a man’s man.” Perhaps he was trying to compensate for his legs, or lack thereof? We can never be sure, but that guess is as good as anyone else’s at the moment.

    The severity of Pistorius’ crime is unarguable, but we must take partial responsibility for being surprised that the man was human and therefore intrinsically fallible. We are at fault here too. But the runner is the one on trial, and we must examine the facts and figures surrounding the death of one Reeva Steenkamp before coming to a verdict. Pistorius had a history of jealousy and a bit of an inferiority complex, facts that lead me to my hypothesis mentioned in the prior paragraph. Ultimately, however much we perpetuate the man’s flaws, they are not particularly relevant to this case. Sorry ladies, this isn’t a domestic violence case, and I thank God it’s not. Those who say it is are sadly mistaken. This crime was gender-neutral, as Pistorius never actually know the gender of the person behind the bathroom door. What’s more, is that he stayed at the scene of the crime rather than running away, as is common in domestic disputes, called the police, and tried to resuscitate his spouse. His actions indicate this was not an argument gone tragically awry and also that Pistorius willingly submit himself to police investigation. Chance cannot be sexist. Furthermore, Steenkamp was a strong woman, and was a champion of women’s movement in South Africa. Those close to her said she would have left any relationship she felt was unhealthy.  And now she is gone. A memory. Another innocent life taken by poor judgment and molten lead. But this case isn’t a public referendum on gun control either-thank God for that as well. Pistorius needed weapons for protection anyways-without legs he is essentially defenseless, in a situation eerily similar to that of the Black Knight in Monty Python

     The facts show that this was clearly an accidental homicide, but a murder nonetheless. The facts also show that astronomical crime rate in South Africa makes Pistorius’ story that he believed himself to be shooting at an intruder plausible. But what the facts cannot ever show is what truly happened that night, or what was going through the Olympian’s mind when he pulled the trigger. Were his actions merely reflex stemming from countless hours spent at the shooting range? Did he have a valid fear for his safety? Did Oscar Pistorius fire those bullets with intent to kill, or to defend himself? Ballistic tests show that he did not have his prosthetics on at the time of the shooting, and only put them on to kick the bathroom door through which he shot down, after all. I do not believe this to be premeditated, and find the runner’s actions to be made valid fear, but I also find it to be a punishable crime and a murder. I believe Pistorius is truly sorry for his actions, though such regrets cannot bring back Reeva Steenkamp. But if the court rules that Pistorius had an intent to kill without a reasonable claim of self-defense, regardless of whom he was shooting at, as his statements unfortunately and unintentionally express, then he will be found guilty of murder in the first degree, his life all but over.

     The Blade Runner, as we all know, is human. He crashed back to Earth after living in the clouds amongst the gods. We all know he is a good man with a compassionate heart, and deeply regrets his actions, or at least pretends to be. Likewise, we realize this is not the first time he has been in trouble with the law. We are at fault here as well. We worshiped him and his story. We made the man a legend beyond flaw and it took a tragedy to recognize he is like us. When the verdict comes in this case over the summer, I hope the courts show mercy to a man who made a mistake, but punish him to the full extent of his crime. I hope we can learn something from this as well. I hope we can learn to avoid making myths out of men, immortals out of mortals heroes out of humans, and gods from earthly greatness. 

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