Thursday, December 17, 2009

And you thought garlic left a bad taste in the mouth...

The recent death of former South African health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has surprised nobody, as there have been concerns about her health since 2006.  What I did personally find shocking, though, were the reactions of some to the news.

Msimang is of course infamous for her emphasis on treating AIDS with vegetables rather than ARVs, and garnered much well-deserved criticism.

I really hate to be "that guy" and get on my soapbox (no, really, I do!), but sometimes I feel like my hand is forced.  The news of Msimang's death prompted some comments on news sites, Facebook, and elsewhere, which are, at best, unfortunate and unpleasant.

Some choice quotes:

I danced around my house when I got the SMS. And to miss quote Elvis Costello, all I wanted to do is live long enough to dance on her grave.

Good riddance. Sorry her family has to loose [sic] the free ride.

Finally! At last a cadre is correctly deployed.

Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has died! oh happy day! They should of [sic] tried to revive her by rubbing garlic on her forehead!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that in death she should be free of the criticism that she very much deserved in life.  That would be illogical and absurd.  The truth is that she was and is responsible for the deaths of many, many people, and probably should have been tried for genocide.  Nonetheless, there is a point where untempered criticism can stray into the realm of viciousness and bad taste, and I think the above comments exemplify the wrong side of that line.

If your first reaction at the news of a person's death is delectation and glee, perhaps you should stop for a moment and realise that that says more about you than it does about them.

It's a pity that these comments - and the death that prompted it - occurred on what was supposed to be Reconciliation Day.  Sadly, though, most people with whom I spoke didn't even know what specific public holiday the 16th of December is; to them it's just another excuse to stay home, get fat, and get drunk.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As someone who believes that whatever you send out there comes back to you in threefold, I have to agree with you on this one...

Yes, she was a sadly misguided individual, but the people who made these specific comments should remember that they are still very much alive and they'll have to live with what was send out there... but that's just my opinion :)