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The Other News Round-Up: What a queer explanation

Marelise van der Merwe and Daily Maverick grew up together, so her past life increasingly resembles a speck in the rearview mirror. She vaguely recalls writing, editing, teaching and researching, before joining the Daily Maverick team as Production Editor. She spent a few years keeping vampire hours in order to bring you each shiny new edition (you're welcome) before venturing into the daylight to write features. She still blinks in the sunlight.

Each week, Daily Maverick brings you some of the world’s weirder happenings. This week: we don’t know where to start.

I have just one question for Pastor Oscar Bougardt. Jacob Zuma is recalled and within the hour there’s a series of moerse thunderstorms in Cape Town. So tell me, was it all the gays’ fault, huh?

Kidding. Maybe it’s your fault, pastor. Maybe God hates nags?

I don’t really know where to start with this week. If the haters are right and all the world’s misfortune is a big old queer mistake, I’m going to go out on a limb and say there must have been a hell of a lot of straight weddings and baby-making going down this week. Particularly in the time between Zuma’s initial “what did I do wrong?” address and his resignation speech. Those were obviously some critical hours.

Then there were the Gupta-related arrests that went down on Wednesday morning (boom!) and the news that Ajay Gupta is officially a fugitive. Thanks for holding it in then too, homos. You did your bit for the country.

I find this linkage of sin and disaster very intriguing. I drove past a church this week that urged passers-by to repent to bring rain. Which, I admit, I find curious for its non-specificity more than anything.

I’m not against the idea of remorse leading to the solving of problems, you understand. I just think we should take a slightly more – how shall I put it – targeted approach to corrective action. It’s perfectly logical to look at the water crisis (or various leadership crises, or energy crises, or housing crises, or any crisis of your choosing) as the culmination of our various mistakes. And then you could quite rightly argue that being sorry about it and then taking the appropriate corrective action is a very good way to solve the problem. That’s called accountability. Yay for accountability! It applies perfectly comfortably whether you’re religious or not, provided you’re sensible about it.

It’s the illogical linking of imagined and unrelated crimes, and the imposing of one group’s rules on another, that becomes a little problematic. In which case it’s less helpful to prescribe broad-spectrum penance to all and sundry and hope for the best. That, I’m afraid, is neither accountability nor problem-solving.

Unfortunately, it remains prevalent, despite the glaringly obvious and measurable failures of accountability staring us in the face literally every day.

South Africans have done their share of blame-shifting onto the LBGTI community, both for disasters and institutional failures. Sometimes it’s just gay people, sometimes it’s just trans people, sometimes it’s the whole LBGTI shebang and all their allies.

Following the Knysna fires in 2017, a paramedic came under, um, fire for saying the fires were the fault of gay people. (Wait till I catch the gay person that lit that match.) Bossie Boshoff took issue with Knysna, which hosts the Pink Loerie LBGTQ festival, having been home to 12 gay marriages on one day.

Then there was pastor Errol Naidoo, who blamed gays and “radical feminists” for Marikana, saying this gruesome twosome drove a “culture of death”. (No comment.)

Then there’s Bougardt, who blamed Cape Town’s water shortage on the LBGTQ community. Just place a giant (sic) over everything:

“Blame ‘drought’ on wickedness and homosexuality and church leaders who fail to preach the bible and sodomite abomination,” said Bougardt.

“I believe that this drought is God divine judgment over a City of Cape Town that has turned against God and accepted the lifestyle of sodomites as normal. Couple of years ago I predicted that God will strike all countries and city who chose pervertion instead of the holy ways of God with natural disasters, it is happening right here at home.

“This is just the beginning, turn to God and let all these reprobates burn in hell,” he said. “Cape Town is the capital sodomite city of the world and it leaders are wicket, do not be surprise more natural disasters coming.”

He also joined Bossie in blaming queer folk for the Knysna fire.

The gay agenda – it must be said – is apparently increasingly busy, locally and internationally. It’s a wonder LBGTQ folk have any time for choosing rainbow trousers or hanging out on floats these days, given everything they’re busy plotting. This list isn’t exhaustive, but just a few of the things queer folk have been up to include January’s achievement of single-handedly causing murders, drug abuse and violent crime worldwide.

They’ve also been blamed for causing lower grades at school, precipitating the Rachel Dolezal scandal, the global financial crisis, a super-mouse infestation in Covent Garden, Brexit (I’m pretty sure economics had something to do with that), the rise of ISIS, the Holocaust, causing the 9/11 attacks, wrecking Roy Moore’s career, starting Hurricane Harvey, sparking Hurricane Joaquin and Hurricane Sandy (very good at hurricanes apparently), setting off the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan as well as causing the deaths of masses of blackbirds, and an earthquake in central Italy. Oh, and the fall of the Roman Empire.

These quirky theories don’t fall in a vacuum. Yes, they are the product of ignorance and bigotry on the part of those spouting them. But they’re also the product of a broader failure of accountability, which leaves space for insanity to sprout.

So, as we bid farewell to our former president this week – and listen to the deafening silence regarding why, or who did what wrong – maybe we should ask ourselves whether such bizarre blame-shifting would be at home in a culture of true accountability, where the origins of failure were identified and publicly owned. For natural disasters, not so practical. But leadership disasters? There’s room for improvement. And maybe if more of that happened, there would be less scapegoating in the world. DM

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