Rush to join the Memorable Order of Tinfoil Hats

It’s astounding how much this so-called pandemic has revealed about the way people behave during a crisis. The compassion. The solidarity. The gibbering, eye-bubbling lunacy.

I watched a clip of mostly white people in Cape Town holding a “rally” to … I don’t know. Does it matter? One doesn’t really need to add anything to the phrase “white people protesting in Cape Town” because in the scheme of things that matter, it ranks several notches below Should Dassies Be Allowed.

These people make satire impossible. They are doing my job for me, and badly at that. Many are of a certain age. They grew up in a time when white people were assured of a decent education. I went to a government school in Durban North. Once I had learned how to read and write, I had no use for the rest. I could have left school at the age of seven and, all these years later, you would have found me sitting in this very same bar. Okay, perhaps not this particular bar. But a bar somewhere. Unless, of course, I had made even worse life choices and was, in fact, dead. Or wealthy, yet morally and emotionally dead. In which case I’d probably own the bar.

So what happened to these people? Even if they did get a government education in a school worse than mine, it was still a reasonably good education. The National Party made sure of that. They would have learned how to spell, discovered that the earth wasn’t flat, and been able to tell the difference between, say, a volcano and a hamster. 

So now, when these grown-ass people stand up in public and say Covid-19 is a hoax aimed at world domination by, I don’t know, Gila monsters, I can’t help wondering what happened to their brains between then and now. 

A certain percentage of people will sustain blunt trauma to the head during the course of their lives, but this is almost as if they were all in the same shop when the roof collapsed and their doctors later released them into the care of their families saying, “There’s not much we can do. Keep them calm. Don’t let them read newspapers or go on the internet.”

Next thing you know, they’re among us. Shouting through loudhailers about how Cyril Ramaphosa is an iguana and vanilla custard is a plot to sterilise white men.

It takes a lot for me to be alarmed, but when I hear what these people are saying in front of a television camera, out on the street, I make sure the guns are loaded and the hounds unleashed.

I can’t be accused of academic elitism or snobbish intellectualism because, as I said, I went to a government school. They didn’t come close to teaching us how to be critical or analytical thinkers. I escaped with a matric certificate. If it wasn’t for the fact that my mother took me to the library three times a week, I’d probably be lining up for a fake Rolex after retiring from a career on the railways.

Perhaps I’m being unfair. Belief in conspiracy theories is not always confined to the less-educated. Personality type also plays a part. These people are usually suspicious of conventional wisdom and authority. I’m with them on this. Well, maybe not the wisdom so much. But show me a figure of authority and it’s all I can do to stop making a petrol bomb, except petrol is too expensive so I make it out of tequila instead, add a dash of orange and before you know it, I’m reaching for a tiny paper umbrella and then it’s a quick lie-down next to the pool to plan my next move. Which invariably involves making another tequila bomb.

At the Cape Town “protest”, a swivel-eyed man held up a sign reading, “Media is the virus.” Who comes up with these slogans? Has there ever been a time when someone was watching the 8pm news when they suddenly erupted in angry welts, began frothing at the mouth and ran down the street biting people in the face? If the media is the virus, then what does that make the actual virus? Oh, right. It doesn’t exist. It’s all a construct of the toxic press, disseminating filthy lies in the hope of … what? Taking over the world? Journalists can barely get to work on time.

Another read, “Fear is the currency of control.” Know who the real fraidy cats are? Conspiracy theorists. They tell us the Covid-19 vaccine contains a tracking chip, mobile telecommunications towers are controlling our thoughts, condensation trails left by aircraft are deadly chemicals, 9/11 was an inside job, George Soros is a shape-shifting reptile controlled by Bill Gates. If I believed this sort of stuff, I’d also be terrified.

Then there was the placard that said, “Cape Town will not take the mark of the beast vaccine.” To be fair, our increasingly unstable Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has to take some credit for that piece of work.

A snaggletoothed harridan with a sign saying “Stop 5G” picked up a bullhorn and screamed, “Covid-19 stands for Confirmation of Verification ID. The 1 is A for Artificial and 9 for Intelligence. We will not be manipulated by the government of this world!”

A bald middle-aged biker dude with shades and leather jacket said: “We’ve been in crowds, we’ve gathered since last year April… so logic dictates if this kills you, one of us should be dead, and we’re not.”

It’s like stumbling into a village composed entirely of village idiots. 

Forget AstraZeneca – break out the Haldol and Thorazine. What we need are teams armed with dart guns roaming the suburbs, firing powerful antipsychotics into these loons.

18 thoughts on “Rush to join the Memorable Order of Tinfoil Hats

  1. Jane

    Sienie and Kate Give the guy a break. Why are his columns only fantastic when they suit your own particular opinion or viewpoint and not when they offend your idea of what is right. We are trying to broaden our minds to embrace all kinds of differing viewpoints not retreat into our blinkered opinions and starting to attack those we claimed to have thought wonderful just one column ago. Anyway if we are offended or indignant seems like Ben has done his job well. That’s what satire is all about.

    • Verne Maree

      Well said, Jane. As a borderline tin-foil-hatter myself, this wasn’t my favourite of Ben’s columns – but I believe he’s expressing a genuine opinion, for better or for worse.

      • Jane

        In reality I am as well but try not to get too stuck in one viewpoint to the exclusion of any other because it leads to blinkered thinking. I like to extract myself from being too identified with any one way of looking at the world, especially as given different circumstances, I could have been one of the snaggle-toothed harridans in a mob setting. Gotta laugh at oneself.

        • I agree, Jane. In these increasingly polarised and intolerant times, it’s essential to listen to differing viewpoints. Because if we don’t, it’s all too easy to end up in an smug little echo-chamber. And yes, self-ridicule should be on every day’s to-do list.

  2. Brian Gaisford

    I am sure these are the same who invaded the US Capital in DC. Hiding out in SA but now we have pictures of them. Yes I remember the narrow minded yelling about the sky falling in, then we saw their cars at the brothels in Swaziland / Swatini.

  3. Jane

    All I’m wondering is whether this vaccine will do what it is supposed to do or if we are all going to be used as a giant test – that wily old virus has multiple variants apparently. Those who are supposed to know don’t seem to say much. Someone likely to make big bucks out of this pandemic. And those who don’t know but have an opinion are becoming the self proclaimed authorities on fact and fiction. But those two are so merged now who knows which is which.

  4. Sienie

    Sorry Ben – with this column you have made it obvious that your employment by mainstream media has affected your rationality. It’s obvious that your paycheck has become more important than your reality check.

    • Kate

      Yup agree. Pity I am totally put off now after so many years of enjoying his humour. He sold us out just like Trevor Noah

  5. jenni parfett

    very very funny! “when the roof collapsed on their heads”😂😂you’re probably too young to remember when mini skirts came out that demented old nat. party cabinet minister said “the sky would fall on our heads “….. seems to have come true with a specific section of folk!…
    ps: you are obviously back safe and sound
    yay!

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