I am dumbfounded by news today from South Africa that legless Olympian runner Oscar Pistorius has been charged with murdering Reeva Steenkamp, his longtime girlfriend, with four gunshots.  Why would a man like Oscar ever raise a gun in fear or anger?  Hasn’t his life taught him that obstacles are to be overcome and never under-gunned?

Early Thursday morning, the police responded to a report of gunshots in the upscale housing complex where Mr. Pistorius lives, said Col. Katlego Mogale, a police spokeswoman. When they arrived, they found paramedics treating a 30-year-old woman for gunshot wounds. The woman was pronounced dead and a 26-year-old man was taken into custody, Colonel Mogale said.

Colonel Mogale would not comment on a possible motive for the shooting.

“A case of murder has been opened,” she said before the police said they had formally charged Mr. Pistorius.

I have celebrated Oscar in this blog for overcoming his disability.  He was born without fibulas and both legs were later amputated below the knee before he turned one year old.  Without legs, he still decided he wanted to race the wind, and he did, even when those in power tried to stop him:

When Marlee Matlin recently appeared on Dancing with the Stars there were some — including the judges — that felt she deserved no reasonable accommodation in the grading of her dancing because “she has to be treated just like everyone else” even though she is profoundly Deaf since birth and cannot hear music.

That sort of mindless cruelty against the disabled — all in the name of a misguided “universal fairness” and a sorry burping of “the spirit of competition” slogan — is disgusting and unnerving, and we all need to support the Oscars and the Marlees of the world who must not only fight against their own disability, but go to war every day against the misguided intentions of a condescending world unfairly set against them.

When Oscar ran his heart out in London, we cheered:

I’m not sure why people are so quick to condemn the disabled who want to be equally treated by the middling mainstream — do we really think hearing aids give Deaf people “super hearing” or that a white cane gives sight to the blind or that a man can run faster on fake legs? — but the fact remains there are still a lot of misanthropic people out there in the wilds, festering prejudice and tending hatred and growing more condemnation and discrimination just because they are all too willing to believe in science fiction fantasies and not in rooting out the everyday hardship of living a disabled life.

Now, the man appears to have become a murderer — and in that four-shot act, he has cheapened his accomplishments and lowered his disability to that of sideshow freak — and he tumbles down the anonymous Black Hole of Moral Decay that has vacuumed up the careers of other Sport stars like O. J. Simpson and Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong and Sammy Sosa.

Do famous and talented people deserve our admiration and respect for their accomplishments without any notice or concern for who and what they are as a person?  Can we ever accept O. J. without the memory of Nicole Brown?  Is it possible to ever envision Lance Armstrong without a blood test hanging around his neck?  Do we forgive Hitler just a little bit because he loved dogs?

Posted by David Boles

David Boles was born in Nebraska and his MFA is from Columbia University in the City of New York. He is an Author, Lyricist, Playwright, Publisher, Editor, Actor, Designer, Director, Poet, Producer, and Boodle Boy for print, radio, television, film, the web and the live stage. With more than 50 books in print, David continues to write 2MM words a year. He has authored over 25K articles and published more. Read the Prairie Voice Archive at Boles.com | Buy his books at David Boles Books Writing & Publishing | Earn the world with David Boles University | Get a script doctored at Script Professor | Touch American Sign Language mastery at Hardcore ASL.

36 Comments

  1. Gordon Davidescu February 14, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Such a disgusting turn of events. I have no understanding of why people are driven to do things like this when they have so much more than so many.

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    1. Oh, I still can’t believe the news about the murder. If he did this, then I think he’s the Number One Most Hated Guy in the World! He had so much power and support and good wishes with him. Then he threw it all away for the lust of four bullets against the love of his life?

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  2. This is most unfortunate. I can not believe that such a brave man could do something that may reduce him in society’s eyes as a killer. He had so much going for him and even if he had nothing to do with the shooting he can never erase it from his “record” for the rest of his life.

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    1. You’re right that this will likely taint him forever no matter who pulled the trigger, Brielle!

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  3. Going to talk to my South African friend to see if she has any insight into this. I am dumbfounded as you are by these events.

    As to your last question anyone who wins by cheating, performance enhancing drugs, mobile phones in exams or by whatever means does not deserve respect and deserve to have it removed when the case against them is proven. Those that have the equivalent of a not proven verdict against them – usually given in legal cases in Scotland where it is known they did it but there is not enough evidence deserve to be held suspect in our minds. And no we do not forgive Hitler one iota because he loved dogs.

    When our stars fall from grace or our heroes are disgraced we should wait for the facts to come out then make our judegement.

    Sometimes we are all too ready to elevate people to heros and in doing this we forget that they are human. I say this one is too early to call ………………….

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    1. Thanks for checking to see how this will play in South Africa, Nicola!

      You’re right we need to read and wait — though here in the USA the story is playing that he pretty much did it — but maybe that’s just our mainstream, cynical, press reacting to “foreign” news reports.

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      1. I want to know how and why …………….. what sent this “paragon of virtue” over the line

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        1. We always hope there’s some grand notion behind these sorts of impulse killings — but we are always disappointed in the end, eh? Common jealousy, unrequited love, untempered anger…

          I do appreciate your previous point that we place our heroes on pedestal only to yank them down as soon as we place them up there… the thrill of the fall and all…

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          1. and then there are those who live on the genuis madness line – the most brilliant and the most at risk of destabalising who SNAP and yes I accept it often comes down to being human like the rest of us. And yes I guess I like to believe the best in everybody until proven otherwise.

            I hear the first part of the court process is tomorrow – hopefully we will know a little more then.

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          2. Your comment immediately takes me to Phil Spector — who is in prison for killing a woman — but his website sure is alive to honor his musical genius and it has over 10,000 Facebook page likes, too!

            http://www.philspector.com/

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          3. I had him in mind , also those comic geniuses who suffer from depression and cross the line to suicide. They tend to self harm more than harm others though ….from what I understand,

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  4. There was a hold up for a couple of hours where it was devatedif the press should be allowed in or if it would be a closed hearing today – looks as though the press have one and this will be a trial by media – or as my friends are already calling it – the press against the defence lawyers !

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  5. Pre trial and bail hearing postponed until the 19th Feb – he is going to be charged with premeditated murder – so bail will probably be out of the question .

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    1. Thanks for the updates, Nicola! It doesn’t look great for Oscar. He’s run his last race.

      I can understand shooting someone by mistake one time — but four times is on purpose and determined to leave behind only a body and no mind.

      If she was in the bathroom and he shot her though the door — I think the “intruder defense” is pretty dead, too.

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      1. Have to say that it looks like my faith was misplaced – my friend has just sent me the following

        “just read an afrikaans posting from a lady who stays across the road from him.. said she heard them fighting.. then the girl shouting please dont Oscar, then the shots..”

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        1. And the fact that the police were called to the apartment two hours before he shot her — does not look like this will make for a good ending for Oscar.

          If guilty, will be put to death? Life without parole? Or is there some small hope within him that he might be a free man again?

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          1. South Africa abolished the death penalty for all crimes in 1997 – source – http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-for-all-crimes.

            I would guess life without parole which will be a death sentance in itslef for a runner.

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          2. Fascinating! I wonder what extra costs he would have as a disabled prisoner? Would he still get access to the latest leg technology at the expense of the State or not?

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          3. I suspect access to the level of healthcare he as enjoyed up until now will be one of the first things to go. I have asked the question of my friend. From memory South African prisons are pretty dreadful places – not the cushy number they would be in the UK for instance!

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  6. The more I read about this, the sicker I get.

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    1. Me too. He was an icon and threw away his legacy. Not a Greek God, but now just a tragic figure.

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  7. Thanks for the info on the prison situation, Nicola. I asked because I saw a documentary on TV about prison life in the Netherlands or Sweden or a similar place where all the prisoners live in apartments with spa-like surroundings. The idea is everyone will eventually be released no matter their crime because everyone is rehabilitatable — and so they must all be treated humanely and reasonably without punishment. The murderers there had a better living set up there than 80% of New Yorkers!

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    1. According to a statement from the ex boyfriend of a couple of years ago the prison he will go to is the “worlds worst prison” .

      There is a popular meme photograph going around facebook at the moment which says something along the following lines

      Something is wrong here ……………….

      Prisoners get

      Free Secure accommodation with heating and air conditioning
      Free hotmeals a day
      Free bedding and laundry
      Free medical and dental trreatment – free hospital treatment
      Free internet and satellite TV
      Free libraries

      Old age pensioners get

      low grade insecure accommodation with nobody to call on if they fall or get injured
      die because they cannot afford their heating
      die because they cannot afford medical and dental treatment
      cannot afford TV or internet
      mostof the public libraries have shut down or charge.

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      1. That’s an excellent point. There’s an old saying here that if you’re homeless or old or hungry, commit a small crime, and you’ll be given “three hots and a cot” for a few days in jail — and I know that’s a sad way of life for some people.

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        1. It is dreadful that it has become a lifestyle option …………….. something very wrong with the way we as a society deal with our elderly.

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          1. Not just the elderly, but the mentally ill, too. We warehouse them in jails. There’s “no money” to actually build them safe living spaces.

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          2. The UK has “care in the communiy” or had – due to the savage cuts there is very little left and they fall through a very large gap – there are I think still two specific prisons for the most serious mentally ill offenders – Broadmoor and Rampton. Not sure what the situation in Portugal is – I will investigate – adds to list

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          3. I’d love to know the system in Portugal! Thanks for checking!

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  8. I still find it hard to believe that Oscar did it…. that too intentionally…. but after Lance Armstrong, everything is posiible, I guess – unfortunately. 😦

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    1. I guess we can never really know another person, Katha. We need to trust, but to not be expected when our best hopes are dashed.

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      1. I agree David. Thinking about Oscar’s family, friends and relatives… really tough for them. Read it somewhere – “sometimes you have to get to know someone really well to realize you are really strangers.”

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        1. Well said, Katha! The Sunday Morning news shows are filled with stories from Oscar’s family — and how much he’s suffering in jail — oh, the gall of it all! Who speaks for the dead?

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        2. P.S.

          Oh, “ugh!” Right now on the Today Show on NBC, they’re calling the story, “The Beauty and ‘The Blade'” …

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  9. UPDATE:

    On the morning news shows, “Oscar’s Friends” are being interviewed about this arraignment today, and the official theme seems to be, “He’s disabled. He’s scared. He always needs to be ready to defend himself.”

    So that’s the defense — he has no legs, so, of course, he’d shoot his girlfriend four times! They are truly awful and despicable people if that is going to be his defense to the killing.

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