CHRISTINA ENGELA. Just about a week ago, a pastor with a regular slot on the Afrikaans radio station RSG – Radio Sonder Grense (Radio Without Borders) – publicly belittled gay people and made them out to be “evil”. Faced with numerous complaints from listeners, “RSG station manager Magdaleen Kruger said that although she received a number of complaints via e-mail, it was no more than the amount the station normally receives.” I’m not sure what is more concerning, the fact that the radio station apparently doesn’t give a toss and hasn’t fired his ass yet, or the fact that the radio station is used to receiving that many complaints.
Category: Christina Engela
CHRISTINA ENGELA. This past week I have been contemplating crime… that is, the concept of crime & punishment. People seem to think that punishment and the concept of consequence provides a framework of limitations which go beyond just saying “don’t”. Punishment implies the “or else…” and waves a nobbly finger in the air. Some are so quick to demand the death penalty for a certain sort of crime, often without seriously considering the application, implications and consequences of all of the above. Right at the top of my list of concerns is the death penalty – which many people view as a necessity – which they also claim is some form of deterrent – a “magic bullet” if you will, against crime. Hang or fry a few people, and pretty soon, would-be criminals will be too frightened to get caught to risk it… or so the theory goes. But we all know that reality is completely different, don’t we? Especially here in sunny South Africa.
CHRISTINA ENGELA. We are all losing a little bit of our equality and freedom, a little bit at a time. All of us, in every social grouping, whatever the basis for discrimination or differentiation, are affected. We all belong to a race group, a gender, a sexual orientation, a personal expression, and have our own religious beliefs. How long before all of us are equal only in our disenfranchisement, powerlessness and despair? The looming Secrecy Bill which is, I am certain, designed to cushion the State and ruling party from ongoing Media criticism and scandals resulting from numerous and plentiful allegations and revelations of corruption, fraud, mismanagement and gross incompetence, it seems “some” newspaper Editors enjoy indulging in a little secrecy of their own.
CHRISTINA ENGELA. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? – this a Latin proverb meaning “who will guard the guardians?” or “who will watch the watchdogs?” Correct me if I’m wrong – but in a democracy, that is the job for the People, the Citizenry, the Electorate, or the body politic. That’s us. We do. Or don’t – depending on what little laws or obstacles those elected to power roll in the way to obstruct our view of what they are up to, post-fact. Or of course, unless they are lucky enough to have an electorate too apathetic to give a rats ass what they do in our name, be that for us – or to us. I sometimes forget what an authoritarian state we live in today, but things like the Secrecy Bill serve to remind me that we still live in a racist state, where the only thing that has really changed is the guard – and the black-white polarity has switched. Jobs are still being reserved for people of specific race groups, wealth has been redistributed along racial lines, and the poor still are getting poorer, and the rich are becoming and remaining obscenely so.
CHRISTINA ENGELA. It is very close to the end of another year, and the time has come again for me to reflect on the past, to take stock – and to chart a new course for my future in human rights activism. You may recall I started out as an activist for the human rights of the Pink Community, specifically with the SA Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (SA GLAAD) – an organization I am still serving on – and have since also become more involved with other causes attached to the cause of human rights. Among these was a group called ECGLA. Having been with the Eastern Cape Gay & Lesbian Association (ECGLA) since March 2009 until 2 weeks ago, I saw many changes in the organization and in the Committee. From the original 7 members who met every week at the Italian Job pub, until today – where the group has an extensive network of associates and affiliate organizations, and are even helping other community-based organizations take their first shaky steps.
CHRISTINA ENGELA. Once again my country, South Africa is the laughing stock of the free world – an outright embarrassment – for turning back on its tracks to forsake hard-won democracy for fascism and dictatorial totalitarian rule. This is the country once described as “a miracle” for embracing democratic rule and not tearing itself apart in the dangerous days of the early 1990’s. Is this really the same country? Is this really the same ANC that fought so hard for all the ideals it is now tossing aside in the interests of pursuing absolute power? You DO know what they say about absolute power, don’t you? Has South Africa just demonstrated that it is on the path to despotism, corruption and self destruction – like 99% of all other post-colonial, human-rights-abusing African states which it has such close ties to?
CHRISTINA ENGELA. As a non-Christian, I have never understood the need some people have to indoctrinate others, or to try and force their own views on them. When this sort of thing takes place during a time of grieving and mourning, such as at a funeral, it just makes it even worse. I have to wonder what they think, the people who arrange funerals and memorial services. Cheerful subject, I know – but do they assume that everyone who would come there is by default a Christian? I think they do. I think they just sweep aside all considerations of diversity, and figure that well, if anyone doesn’t like it, then they don’t have to be there. Too bad if they knew the deceased, or cared about them.
CHRISTINA ENGELA. I believe where it is SAFE to do so, transgender people should be out and proud. And where it isn’t safe, they should be proud if not out – and they should still work for equality, dignity and human rights so that they – and the generations that are to come – one day can be out. Nobody cares about people they don’t know about, folks. When people don’t remind folks that they really do exist, the haters, purists and bigots like to believe and pretend that they don’t. Many people say that being transgender or transsexual does not define them as a person, and I agree that being transgender, or transsexual is only one small part of who I am – but we trans folk don’t get discriminated against specifically for being Christian, or Muslim, or goth or a Twilight fan – we face discrimination for being trans. If you’re post op, successful and alive, a veteran of the transition and loads of prejudice, there is so much you can do for those who come after you – by such people pretending not to exist, the new generation loses so much and has less access to mentors, and people who can stand up and guide them or work for the good of the whole.