Run, Caster, Run

Imagine a brain surgeon so good at what he does that people would rather die than take their brains elsewhere to be repaired. Imagine he was in such demand that all the other brain surgeons were forced to pack up their drills and hacksaws and welding torches and become estate agents and drug fiends.
It simply wouldn’t be fair on the competition, would it? The surgeon who was putting them out of business with his massively superior skills would have to be curtailed. He could, for instance, be instructed by the Health Professions Council to conduct surgery blindfolded. By handicapping him, the other surgeons would stand a chance of getting work and making a name for themselves too.
And this is why Caster Semenya needs to be hobbled. If things carry on as they are, it won’t be long before she is the only female athlete in the 800m and 1500m events. Why would anyone else keep pitching up if they knew for certain they were going to lose?
So the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has announced new rules for athletes with hyperandrogenism, commonly known as Constantly Winning Syndrome. Caster will have to chemically dose herself every day to reduce the testosterone in her body if she hopes to compete in these events.
Do you know who else should take medication to lower their testosterone levels? Men, that’s who. Particularly those on the IAAF committee who can’t live with themselves knowing that a 27-year-old black woman from South Africa could kick their arses with one hand tied behind her back.
In women, hyperandrogenism can cause you to develop acne, hirsutism and a tendency to keep winning the 800m.
In men, excessive testosterone can cause you to develop a tendency to punch people in the face, order missile strikes on Syria and attempt sex with anything that isn’t fixed to the ground.
Testosterone has a direct influence on libido. If I were married to someone who spent the day winning gold medals and still insisted on ravaging me mercilessly the moment they got home, I wouldn’t complain. Especially not if they made dinner afterwards.
I would, however, object if they lay on the couch drinking beer and watching sport all evening and then, when they sobered up at 3am, expected me to roll over and take it like a man.
I should point out that in these fictional scenarios, I have no idea what gender I am.
Anyway, it’s not hyperandrogenism that provides an unfair advantage to athletes. It’s the training. If I spent all day in the gym, I could also run 1500m in under thirty minutes.
If it’s leveling the playing field the IAAF is after, then let’s ban training altogether and throw competitions open to anyone whose body mass index is higher than their IQ. It’s elitist to have only eight people in the 100m. I want to see eight thousand people turn up at the starting line. No dress code, either. Wear overalls or even nothing at all, if you like. And you can eat and drink while you run. Everyone who breaks the 10-minute barrier gets a medal.
If that’s too extreme, then at least give we non-practising athletes our own competitions. Disabled people have the Paralympics so why can’t we have the Drunkalympics? Athletes will be breathalysed at the start of each event to ensure they aren’t under the limit. For instance, if you’re participating in the 20m stagger, you’d need to have a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.2%. Coaches will be allowed to provide their athletes with tequila shooters to ensure minimum requirements are met.
Given that most novices are unconscious by 0.15%, athletes will have to train hard if they hope to avoid the embarrassment of passing out before the starter’s gun is fired.
Athletes in the headline event – the 0.5% – are required to simply turn up and make their way onto the track without assistance. The first person to stay standing for one minute, draw a diagram of a cat and not choke on his or anyone else’s vomit will be declared the winner.
If it’s unfair advantages the IAAF is worried about, then they will have to restrict the high jump to athletes who stand no taller than 1.4m in their socks. People who have been convicted of violent crimes must be encouraged to participate in the shooting and stabbing events and swimmers must make way for aquaphobics in the water events. Dressage and other equestrian events must be accessible to marijuana smugglers from Lesotho while wrestling and boxing should be open to married couples only. Golf will be restricted to residents of squatter camps and members of the 28s.
If we’re going to be interfering, why stop at medical conditions like hyperandrogenism? Indeed, why stop at athletics? What about psychiatric conditions that drive people to accumulate more wealth than they can spend in several lifetimes? Johann Rupert is worth $7-billion American and you can still find him selling cartons of Rembrandt behind the Spar on a Friday night.
Absa CEO Maria Ramos took home R37-million last year. How berserk is that? Then again, she has to work in a bank and is married to a man once feared across the Cape Flats for his mad skills with an Okapi knife so maybe she deserves it. If that were me, though, I’d work for one year and nobody would hear from me ever again.
Oh, look. I’ve just got an email from DStv. Addressed to me personally. That’s a first. “You probably think we haven’t noticed but we know you’ve stuck with us to get the best in entertainment.” It’s true. I do spend a lot of time thinking that DStv hasn’t noticed my loyalty and there are times I cry a bit when the feelings of neglect get too much. Then I brighten up when it occurs to me that they do notice when I stick with them because the moment I don’t, they cut me off.
“As a thank you for the years you’ve spent as a part of our family, we would like to give back with a special offer.” At this, I wept openly. My own family barely tolerates me and now I find out that all along I have had another family. It doesn’t matter that they never call on my birthday, invite me for Christmas dinner or help pay for my surgeries. They were there. That’s what matters. As if that’s not enough, they also want to give me something! Will this run of good fortune ever end?
“If the phone doesn’t ring and you’re having problems during the process, SMS ‘Help’ to 42480 and we’ll call you back with the exciting details.” Oh dear. My phone frequently doesn’t ring. Often for weeks at a time. At what point will I know that I am having problems with the process? Quite frankly, family, I am a little uncomfortable sending an SMS for help to an unknown number. I don’t know who might arrive. It could be the police. Or, worse, Jehovah’s Witnesses.
You seem genuinely grateful for my custom and I’m sure you will find a way to let me know about this exciting special offer. What is it? Can I guess? Is it a new channel of Japanese game shows? A DVD of the mating habits of the common periwinkle? Perhaps, if I’m really lucky, a DStv keyring at a reduced price? I can hardly wait.
12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Five

Send the exorcists to Canberra

Oi! Yeah, you. Australia. I’m talking to you. What’s your problem, mate? A travel advisory? Is this because we caught your cricket blokes cheating? Seems a bit harsh.
Our gummint reckons your advisory deters Australians from visiting South Africa and tarnishes our image. If anyone’s going to tarnish our image, mate, it’ll be us. You won’t beat us at that game. We’ve been working at it for years.
The advisory warns visitors to South Africa to “exercise a high degree of caution”. That’s a mistake right there. We don’t want anyone coming over here with a view to exercising. We’re laid-back and lazy and proud of it. You don’t believe me, check our GDP. You want to exercise, go to Germany.
According to Aussie rules, “This level means that there are more or bigger risks in this location than what you would typically find in a large Australian city.” Don’t make me laugh, mate. The biggest risk in any Australian city is that the pubs will shut before you can get rat-arsed.
You warn of robberies and say that “visitors to shopping malls should remain vigilant at all times”. I fear only two things when I go to the mall. Not being able to find parking is one. The fear of being jostled is another. We have a big emerging middle class and they tend to emerge all at once on a Saturday morning. You won’t get murdered or robbed, but you might get jostled.
You also said the advisory was issued because “there is a threat of terrorism in South Africa”. Ah, come on, mate. Play fair. The last terror attack we had was when Steve Hofmeyr released a new music video. Your National Security website, on the other hand, says, “Credible intelligence, assessed by our security agencies, indicates that individuals or groups continue to possess the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia.”
Chuck in box jellyfish, wolf spiders, cone snails, tiger snakes, saltwater crocodiles and Russell Crowe and I’m starting to think we’re the ones who should be issuing a travel advisory. Perhaps we already do – if you don’t like it here, boet, we advise that you emigrate to Australia right away.
Moving on. Last week I was caught with my pants down in the first harbinger of Cape Town’s savage winter. I had expected to be back in Durban by now but something keeps coming up. Besides, I can’t find my pants. This happens more than you might think to men who live alone. This is because they are either recovering from a break-up or heading for a breakdown and tend to have a lot on their minds.
So I lit a fire with bits of milkwood I found lying around. Most of the bits were attached to the milkwood trees around my shack. Milkwoods love a good pruning and, by the look of them, these ones hadn’t been touched since Simon van der Stel stopped off in Kommetjie for a spot of raping and pillaging.
Anyway. Whatever other qualities it has, milkwood sucks as firewood. Or maybe my chimney’s blocked. Within moments of setting the wood on fire, the shack filled with dense smoke causing me to flee sans culottes, pantaloons or any other item protecting my delicate gentleman parts from hypothermia.
To the casual observer, not that there are any around here, the scene resembled one of Hieronymus Bosch’s depictions of hell. All the elements were there. Smoke, flames, naked tormented white man in a heightened state of agitation unable to reach the fridge for fear of asphyxiation. Everything but the giant blue bird sitting in an armchair swallowing a naked woman while swallows fly out of her bottom.
That this was happening on deadline made it all so much worse. I wrestled with the urge to set fire to my house and the barking dog’s house, buy a kilo of amphetamines and drive for fifty straight hours in any direction, then stop and live right there.
Then, in a moment of divine clarity, I realised this was a malignant spirit talking. Knowing that I had, through a weird set of circumstances involving fire, smoke and no pants, become possessed by the devil, or more likely one of his minor henchdemons, made it easier for me to rationalise the situation and thereby reject arson and a life on the run.
What I needed almost as much as a beer was an exorcism. I looked for a local exorcist on google but where I live, there is no salvation. We are damned. There are no priests in my village but there is a bottle store that doesn’t sell alcohol because the owner can’t afford stock. And there is no deliverance.
I wouldn’t have this problem if I lived in Rome. There are restaurants in the Campo dei Fiori that have been delivering pizzas since the Lions beat the Christians in the Colosseum Cup. As for the other thing, there are more than 400 trained exorcists in Italy alone. They do over half a million exorcisms a year.
If you suffer from demons, Ernest Simoni is the man you want on speed-dial. The 89-year-old cardinal was a big hit at the 13th annual exorcists convention in Rome this week. Seriously. It’s a thing. More than 250 exorcists from 51 countries came together to share ideas on how best to drive the devil from people whom he has possessed, or even just moved in temporarily while looking for something more permanent.
Simoni says he has come face to face with Satan hundreds of times. This says a lot for a man who has never been married. Because he lives in Albania, which is so far away that nobody even knows where it is, he can’t always make house calls. What he does do, though, is four or five exorcisms a day by phone. I imagine it’s like the reverse of telesales calls, where the person tries to plunge you into debit order hell.
Some priests criticised the cardinal’s dial-a-demon method because “the possessed person often writhes and levitates during the extraction of the devil from his or her soul”. I imagine the priest should be there to pin them down in a half-nelson and get them to submit. Given the number of exorcisms being performed, you’d think there would be more levitations on YouTube than just the one performed by Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
Simoni also performs frequent exorcisms on Albanian Muslims who want spiritual liberation from the devil because “the possessed aren’t just Catholics”. I like him, this Ernest Simoni. He doesn’t discriminate. I always thought of the devil as being a bit of a Christian, what with them believing so implicitly in his existence and all.
I wonder what the cardinal would do if he got a call from a member of the Church of Satan saying, yes, I did invite him in and I do have a pentagram tattooed on my forehead, but I’ve just become a father and need to get on with stuff that doesn’t involve sacrificing chickens on a Sunday night.
Simoni told the conference, “There was a very tall woman. It took six people to hold her down in a chair. After hours and hours of struggle, I was able to banish the evil. I cast out the demons.” I don’t know. I’ve been married twice to women who weren’t very tall at all, and I know for sure that six people would not have been able to hold them down when they were angry. They wouldn’t even have tried. They would’ve given me my money back and left. Were they full of demons? Of course they were. It’s one of the reasons I married them.
The cardinal also said that millions of people were possessed by Satan but that “when Satan hears the word of God, he is terrified”. What he seems to be saying is that Satan is a bit gay. That he doesn’t like confrontation and would rather be doing his satany stuff without anyone shouting and making a scene. I find this a bit implausible, to be honest. Ever since Satan was invented, he has been portrayed as a crimson-hued, cloven-hoofed, trident-wielding beast with horns, uglier than Donald Trump but less narcissistic. I imagine that Satan, like Patricia de Lille, is not easily terrified.
The Rome convention included seminars with titles like, “Angels and Demons in Sacred Scripture and the Teachings of the Church” and “People Who Buy Dan Brown’s Books –Mad or Possessed?”
There were also panels on African witchcraft “such as the JuJu curse”. I am not making this up. Their idea of the JuJu curse is probably different to ours, though.
Participants also heard from criminologists, medical doctors and psychologists “to help exorcists discern between genuine devil possession and mental illness or even creative criminals who claim the devil made them do it”. Ah, Hansie. You’re not alone.
Speaking of evil, the convention cost R4 400 to attend and another R3 700 if you wanted simultaneous translation from Italian.
Exorcizo deo immundissimus spiritus, indeed.
witchdoctor

Farmyard follies

So how about them farmers, eh?
I don’t know much about them because I don’t move in crop circles or have any truck with livestock, but I think it’s important to get an insight into their lives. It can’t be easy. The waking up before midday alone would kill me. And there’s always someone or something about to give birth. On the plus side, you can play your music as loud as you like and have as many dogs and guns as you want.
Wanting to learn more about what makes farmers tick without actually having to talk to one, I did the next best thing and bought a copy of Farmer’s Weekly.
There were two cows on the cover, each with a yellow tag in their ears. Something’s written on the tags. Probably their names. If I was a farmer I’d give all my animals names. How else would they know when to come for supper? And when they try to get up on the furniture, you’d need a name to shout at them.
The headline on the cover screams, “BEEF PRODUCTION”. I don’t know. It doesn’t speak to me. The sub-head reads, “Get to know your profit drivers!” I don’t know what this means but it left me feeling thoroughly disinclined to become a farmer or even pay for the magazine so I put it down my broeks and walked out.
“Get to know your cows!” would have been better. Of course, the story would then have to be about getting to know them on a personal level. Their likes and dislikes. What turns them on (probably not the milking machine). Their hopes and dreams. Where they see themselves in the next five minutes (cows don’t understand the concept of years).
Another teaser on the cover reads, “Expropriation Without Compensation”. A hot-button issue if ever there was one. It’s just a pity there wasn’t a sub-head saying, “I’ll give you my land when you take it from my cold, dead hooves.” Which wouldn’t really make sense because those cover cows, as glamorous as they might be, are quite likely by now less than the sum of their shrink-wrapped parts. I don’t eat a lot of red meat so I can look them in the eye and say, “It wasn’t me, girls.”
Inside, there’s a handy diary of upcoming workshops, including one on how to start a poultry business. Beyond getting some chickens, I don’t know what else you’d need. I’d be interested in the Growing Mushrooms at Home course. Where I live there’s a small but very vocal market for liberty cap mushrooms. Well, they’re vocal until the psilocybin kicks in. Then they’re just a happy, smiley pain the arse.
In the last week of May, the World Potato Congress is being held in Peru. It’s an ideal opportunity to bring home some South American ‘potatoes’. If you get searched at the border, tell them it’s Smash.
There a From Our Archives page where they indulge in a nostalgic journey into the past – to March 2, 1990 – with a story that starts, “The common housefly remains a significant problem in South Africa.” It wasn’t long before flies were ousted from their position by the common housebreaker.
For just R28 270, Farmer’s Weekly is offering a package to the AgriTech Show in Tel Aviv. The tour includes airfares, accommodation, a gala dinner and a visit to the occupied territories where the Israeli army will demonstrate, with the use of live ammunition, how to keep Palestinians away from the security fence. I made that last bit up. Obviously an excursion of that nature would cost extra.
There’s a piece on South Africa being slow to expand avocado orchards despite global demand outstripping supply. Apparently it’s due to a lack of breeding stock. Maybe they’ve all turned celibate. Or gay. A warning was issued that “consumer resistance would be encountered” if prices became too high. They already have. It’s time to join the Avocado Resistance Movement. We march on Woolworths at the next full moon.
A game farmer recommends paying up to R5-million for a 48-inch buffalo bull “to service the hunting market which readily pays R100-thousand for a good trophy”. If I had R5-million I’d rather buy a house on the beach than a buffalo, no matter how many hunters he services with that four-foot willy of his.
On the social page there’s a picture of four white men from Monsanto South Africa holding long- service awards. One of them is the Roundup product manager. Roundup is the brand name for a yummy chemical called glyphosate. Police helicopters in the Eastern Cape regularly spray it on marijuana crops and anyone who might be near a marijuana plant. The World Health Organisation has labelled it a “probable carcinogen”.
An article sponsored by the red meat industry says, “The increase in the value of livestock due to the drought means that it is now more profitable than ever to be a stock thief.” My first thought was, “Get in now!” It’s a mistake to tell South Africans about things that have never been more profitable. It just makes us want to finish up our beer and go out and do it.
And there’s a feature titled, “When alcohol disrupts the working day.” Farmers work hard and drink hard. It goes with the turf. And I imagine it must become a problem when you can’t get out of bed and there are several hundred pregnant sheep outside your door waiting for you to get up and declare the lambing season open. Oh, wait. There’s a sub-heading that says, “How to act when an employee is under the influence.” Personally, I’d perform a Monty Python sketch. If your workers are drunk, it’s better to entertain than antagonise them. Maybe even keep them drunk. It’s hard to do a farm murder if you’re legless and laughing.
I came across a snippet called, “Points to consider when selecting a bull.” They are almost identical to the points a woman should consider when selecting a man. For instance, “Fertility is always the number one trait.” The bulls should also be tested for performance. And you want to breed cattle that are the most profitable for you.
Oh dear. I’ve taken so long to write this that a new edition has just come out. The cover of this one is far more dramatic. It’s like the editor was abducted by aliens and replaced by someone who understands the visual impact of two male wildebeest in a clinch. They’re fighting, not hugging. If that’s the kind of filth you’re after, start your own magazine.
I wanted to end it here. I really did. The column, not my life. But then I made the mistake of flipping through the latest issue and my shattered eyeballs came to rest upon an opinion piece written by Dr Jan Venter, a well-fed man nurturing a wildly satirical chin-beard.
The headline – “The true majority must speak up to combat radicalism” – was so overladen with subtext that if it were a taxi it would be pulled over and impounded.
The first paragraph was a quote attributed to EFF leader Julius Malema. “Unlike Jesus, I don’t need a silly cross to save my people. I believe I’m the messiah of our time. I’m gonna save this nation like Jesus saved Christians. Except I’ll be able to save you without some silly cross.”
Dr Venter, a “political analyst at Aginfo”, followed this up with, “No one came forward to criticise (Malema) when he made this statement; as far as I know, no authoritative Christian pastor said a thing.”
My suspicions rose like a regiment of Zulu warriors at Blood River. No one, on the reactionary right or rabid left, had said anything about Juju claiming to be the new messiah? It seemed unlikely.
So I turned to the intergalactic oracle and punched in the quote. And there it was. Dr Venter got it from a reporter called “Patrick”. The story appeared on a website called hinnews.com on March 12. The reason no one criticised Malema for these outrageous utterances was because HE NEVER MADE THEM. I know this because anyone with basic motor skills and minimal intelligence knows that hinnews is a fake news site. Proper fake news. Not fake in the Trumpian sense.
Don’t believe me? Here’s the headline for a story written by hnnews reporter “Prince” on March 5, “Julius Malema allegedly diagnosed with severe listeriosis ailment and he is loosing more weight.”
Also, the hin part of hinnews stands for Happenings in Nigeria. Dr Venter took the clickbait like a hungry mullet.
I have consequently lost all interest in Farmer’s Bleakly, no longer wish to be a farmer, and, listing sharply to starboard, I am proceeding in a crablike fashion to bed.
BenBrand

Oy vey it's the DJ

Dear DJ Black Coffee,
Shalom and congratulations on becoming a household name across South Africa. Thanks to your gig in Israel on the Easter weekend, even white people have heard of you now. To be honest, I always thought you were a musician. I suppose the letters DJ should have tipped me off, but it could have been your initials. Like PJ Powers.
Perhaps deeejays do consider themselves to be musicians these days. If so, I apologise. When I was a teenager, disc jockey was little more than a fancy title for the neighbourhood geek with a record collection who was sometimes persuaded, usually by threats of violence, to be in charge of the music at a house party so that everyone else could have fun without the hassle of changing the records themselves.
I imagine things are a bit more sophisticated since then, although the basic principle remains the same. You people – deejays, not black people – are like the taxi drivers of the music business. Instead of women saying, “Take me to Verulam and please don’t kill me” they say “Play some reggae or my boyfriend will kill you.
Even the music has changed. It’s all digital and electronic and you have to have an ear for it. You don’t need much of a brain, obviously, but an ear is quite important. I lack the ear, quite frankly. I always seem to miss the moment the beat drops. I don’t even notice when I drop my car keys.
Your job can’t be easy, though, even if it means putting on a clean T-shirt every day. You’re on your feet the whole time and your mission is to keep everyone happy. It’s especially important that we keep the Israelis happy, particularly the soldiers who must have enjoyed your show after being out in the field all day. Shooting Palestinians is hot and heavy work, even if they are unarmed and several hundred metres away. Soldiers are people too. There is a time for shooting and there is a time for dancing. It’s a good thing the Israeli army knows which is which or the carnage at Gan Ha-Slaim (that’s The Rocks Garden to the goyim) would have been awful.
You probably know by now that not everyone is delighted with you spreading the love among the Israelis. The ever charming and always restrained Lindiwe Zulu said in a statement this week that it was “with deep concern that the ANC has learnt of the recent visit to Israel of Mr Nkosinathi Maphumulo, popularly known as Black Coffee.”
It was with deep concern that I learnt Black Coffee is not your real name. I’m not judging. All the best people have pseudonyms. Don’t worry about the ANC, comrade. The party never once noted with anything remotely approximating deep concern that the previous president and half his cabinet were stealing money hand over fist.
I do think it’s damnably unfair of the government not to even mention that your concert was a sell-out. You sold out, Black Coffee. That’s got to count for something.
Nobody could blame you for taking to Twitter to defend yourself. Hell, if you were an Israeli you would have taken to a Merkava battle tank. Your critics are fortunate that tweets do a lot less damage than 120mm armour-piercing rounds.
“Like everyone else,” you tweeted, “I have rights and free will and no, Black Coffee is not a political party. I work as an entertainer to feed my family. To sum it up I’ll take a bullet for my family.”
Funnily enough, 18 Palestinians literally took a bullet for their families on Good Friday. It’s their own damn fault for protesting about something or other instead of entertaining people with music and maybe doing some magic tricks for the kids.
Anyone with an ounce of compassion in their hearts understands that you work as an entertainer to feed your family in much the same way that Syrian President Basha al-Assad works as a warlord to feed his family, Kim Jong-un works as a dictator to feed his family and Jacob Zuma didn’t really work but he still managed to feed his massive family. We understand.
I read somewhere that you’re worth R27-million. I don’t know how big your family is, but I do know that kids eat a lot these days. Nobody wants to see your family go hungry.
You say Black Coffee is not a political party but have you considered going into politics? Now would be the perfect time. The only place to go is up. You could have bilateral relations with the Myanmar government. Set up your decks on the northern border and give the Rohingya a rousing sendoff as they flee to Bangladesh. Or hook up with the Chinese. Play at the Yulin dog festival to raise money for organ harvesting among the Falun Gong. And there are still massive opportunities in Russia and North Korea. What about doing a Taliban tour? Or, closer to home, a benefit concert for the Freedom Front Plus? The possibilities are endless and you’d be a fool to think the world doesn’t need more people who are prepared to do anything for money.
This isn’t your first rodeo in Tel Aviv, is it? You played there in 2014. At this rate you’ll be declared an honorary Israeli in no time at all. If you’re not already circumcised, get it done soon. You wouldn’t want something as silly as a foreskin getting in the way of being granted the freedom of the city.
Back then, a centrist group of left-wing conservatives called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa asked you not to do it. Maybe you didn’t get the memo because you reportedly feigned ignorance about Israel holding 4.5 million people hostage while slowly stealing their land. It’s okay. Feigning ignorance is an old South African tradition, albeit one that is largely restricted to the white population, especially when it comes to apartheid.
I don’t know whether to call you Comrade Black or Mr Coffee. Nevertheless, I applaud you for your decision not to boycott Israel even though you boycotted the Swaziland arts festival in 2011. At the time you said, “We can’t be happy when Swazi people are suffering. We support the call to boycott the festival and I am not going.” Good for you. King Mswati is way worse than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He refuses to allow his marijuana to flow freely into South Africa, for a start. The man is a monster.
Cultural boycotts don’t work. Imagine if losers like Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Keith Richards and Jimmy Cliff hadn’t pledged in 1985 to never play Sun City while the apartheid government was in power. They’d be rich and famous today. So much for principles.
You probably know that the level-headed and not at all barking mad Lindiwe Zulu also said, “We await an opportunity to engage Black Coffee and the creative sector at large with a view to … creating common cause between all South Africans in rallying behind Palestine.”
My advice is that you tell her you’re already engaged. And what is this creative sector of which she speaks? We’re a splinter group at best. Full of jagged edges and shrapnel. The minister of arts and culture is the former minister of police, for heaven’s sake. You want funding? Come and get it, painter boy. Make my day.
Also, we can’t physically rally behind Palestine because that’s the Mediterranean sea behind Gaza and it’s full of Israeli patrol boats and anyone on the beach is liable to get shot at or blown up because at that distance nobody can tell for sure what kind of shells those Palestinian kids are busy with and I still need my legs so I can get to the bottle store on a Friday afternoon.
You’ve upset some very powerful people. You can either double down like Donald Trump and become the resident deejay at the Orania Home for the Eternally Unrepentant or change your name. How about DJ Caffè Macchiato? Black with a bit of white foam. Or DJ Kafe Shachor? That’s Hebrew for black coffee. Or move away from hot beverages altogether.
Whatever you do, though, don’t move to the ghettos of southern Tel Aviv. Netanyahu just did a big flip-flop after his rightwing homies called him out for being a schvartzer-lover. Go back to Africa or go to jail now seems to be the migrants’ only option.
Anyway. What do you care? You’re off to Ibiza for six months. Keep living la vida loca, my friend.
Mideast Israel Palestinians Ramadan

And the banned play on

Now and then I hear of someone who has been banned from Facebook for a period of time and I try to imagine what heinous filth they must have been disseminating for such harsh action to be taken.
Were they trying to get the Gestapo back together? Lower the age of consent to seven? Show us the Trump pee-pee tape?
This week I discovered you needn’t do any of these things to get banned. All it takes is a letter to Australian home affairs minister Peter Dutton and for one person to be offended. Am I bitter? Of course not. I deserve to be punished. I don’t know exactly what it is I did wrong, but it’s important that I be disciplined.
We need to be sensitive to the demands of the offended, even if it is only one in 250 others who liked, loved or laughed at the post. The easily upset have so few options open to them. Yes, they could stop reading my column when they start to feel themselves becoming infuriated and go for a beer. But what if they are tied to a chair and someone insists on reading it to them, ignoring their anguished cries while deliberately repeating passages that cause them the most distress, then laughing openly at their pain?
The other option they have – the most popular one, by all accounts – is to keep reading. Turn up the heat and let the outrage build to boiling point. When they can stand no more of it – and there is no more only because they have read all the way to the end – they want retribution and they want it now. Burning my house down is not an option simply because they don’t know where I live. Slumped on the couch, reeking of anger and cheap brandy, they report me to Facebook. I say ‘they’ even though it’s almost certainly just one person who did it. Man, woman or kid who found dad’s drugs? I can’t be sure. Facebook protects the identity of those who snitch on others.
The column had to do with Australia’s offer to fast-track visas for our white farmers before they are all wiped out in the genocide. Amid the deluge of likes, loves and laughter, three of my more emotional male Facebook ‘friends’ voiced their displeasure at the piece.
They came out gums blazing, shooting their mouths off like it was a showdown in the Wild West. Which, I suppose, it was in a way. It was like Ant-Man, the Wasp and Doctor Doom confronting Irony Man, except I’m a real superhero and their only power is to get me banned from Facebook for 24 hours. Curses. You won this time, villains. But I’ll be back.
These good old boys, who chose to follow me on Facebook, accused me of crossing the line. I had no idea there was only one line. And it applies to everyone? I wonder if this ever happened to the divine avatars who attracted disciples. For instance, we know about Judas Escargot, but did Peter, John, Simon the Zealot and the other dudes ever take Jesus for a beer and tell him he’s gone a bit too far.
“Listen, J. That business today with the money-lenders? We think you crossed the line, there.”
“What the hell are you talking about, James the Lesser? What line is this?”
The owner of the tavern might have announced drinks on the house at this point because there was a bit of confusion the following morning and nobody could remember who said what.
“Matthew said something about a line.”
“Who’s Matthew?”
“Guy with the beard.”
“We’ve all got beards.”
“Isn’t his name Levi?”
“Point is, there’s a line.”
“Where do we put it?”
“In the Bible, idiot.”
“Also Facebook,” said Paul the Seer, who wasn’t a disciple but the lads liked having him around because he could predict the results in the Galilee Handicap.
And so the line was handed down from generation to generation. Everyone understood it was a line that nobody should cross. Obviously it no longer applies to money-lenders because the only line they recognise is the red line they draw around suburbs too poor to qualify for home loans.
In my case – when you are reported to Facebook it is registered as a case – the line has to do with humour. You need to stay on one side of it at all times. This makes sense. If you think of humour as a six-lane freeway, you need to stay in your lane or risk causing an accident. This makes no sense at all. An accident on the crowded highway of humour leaves no casualties in its wake. There are no bodies. No injuries. Just someone standing on the side of the road complaining that his feelings have been hurt.
Even though the content is free and I never asked you to be my friend, your hurt feelings apparently trump my right to be on Facebook. Fortunately my offence only warranted the removal of the offensive piece of filth and a 24-hour ban. The dark overlords who rule this electronic megalopolis warned that a subsequent offence would get me banned for three days. And if it happened again, well, they didn’t say. But the threat was implicit. Cyborgs would be given my digital scent. They would hunt me down and chew my fingers off. And if I persisted with voice-activated software, bionic otters would be sent across the ocean to bite off my tongue and suck out my eyeballs while I slept.
The truth is, I’m in an abusive relationship with Facebook and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to be treated shoddily. I don’t know how many others have been banned for writing something that someone didn’t find funny. It could be millions. Maybe it’s just me. Real friends have been quick to condemn Facebook for censoring and banning me. But they’re wrong. Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg and it’s not him who did this to me. It’s an algorithm. Or at best a callow youth called Verminox who is frustrated because he can’t get laid and the NRA keeps rejecting his membership application and won’t give him reasons why.
Facebook won’t give me reasons, either. I was informed that I had violated community standards, which I imagine are closely related to the mythical line. Dear Obergruppenführer Verminox, have you ever heard of audi alterem partem? No, it isn’t a a new car from Germany
I was banned on the grounds of one complaint. That strikes me as a little bit insane. How many Verminoxes must work there that they can ban someone every time a humourless rightwing nutjob files a complaint? Bashar al-Assad must complain endlessly about offensive stuff posted by members of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. Do they get banned for 24 hours? Of course not. That kind of treatment is reserved for savages like me.
On the day I was banned, Facebook sent me this message. “Ben, your friends have liked your posts 74 000 times! We’re glad you’re getting support from your friends and hope this has made the world feel a little closer.”
A more accurate message might have been, “Ben, one of your 5 000 friends who have liked your posts 74 000 times was offended by a post. We’re sad that not all your friends support you and hope you understand why we have to ban you for 24 hours.”
So I had no access to Facebook for a day. After the first hour, my skin started clearing up and my eyes stopped hurting. Six hours in and I could feel my short-term memory returning. By the evening I felt so young and alive that two beautiful women offered to come home with me knowing they wouldn’t have to compete with Facebook for my attention.
Getting punished by a company that covertly distributes personal information, and which quite possibly helped get Donald Trump elected, is a badge of honour. I’d recommend everyone tries it.