Brewer's Droop #252
NICE TO BE BACK
What with moving house and moving offices and the consequent battles with service providers, I realise I haven’t had a good rant for a long time. And there are SO many subjects available!
After the joy of seeing the ANC (a party I once admired) soundly thrashed at the elections there followed several scandalous events.
I’m going to side-step the SAA issue where Dudu has been given another term to completely destroy the airline and take a look at “titles” and “hair”.
Everybody’s heard about the girls’ schools spat. But another was a radio interview I happened to catch hosted by (in this case anyway) an incredibly rude Eusebius McKaiser about how to address a judge in court. Curiously there’s a strong link between the two.
It’s about “standards”.
You address a High Court judge as “My Lord”, “My Lady”, “Your Lordship” or “Your Ladyship”. These titles date back to the English aristocratic institutions and have been adopted in South Africa since the days of the Union of South Africa. In lower courts (Magistrates for example) the address “Your Worship” is preferred but I have never used anything other than “Your Honour” or, simply, “Sir”.
You certainly can argue that titles such as these are not only non-African but they’re also way out of date. But then, so many other things are too. For example, why do we call a medical doctor “Dr.” and yet still give the same honour to someone who has a PhD in pastry making?
We often get side-tracked by irrelevance. My neighbour is a Judge and I call him “George”. We chat about rugby scores and single malts and which actress we’d most like to spend a dirty weekend with and so on. But if I was ever to appear in his court I would address him as “My Lord” because, in that room, he really does have the power of freedom in his hands (it used to be life and death) just as the Lords did throughout history. His office (not George himself) has to be given respect and dignity. Courts are extremely serious places of business.
You could also argue that wigs and gowns are also no longer practical or fashionable – but that’s not the point. It’s part of a process. It’s where all serious issues of law are adjudged (hence the title “Judge”).
The alternative is that we abandon the titles and the dress codes. Good idea – everyone can wear casual things and, on Friday, we can relax it to swimming costumes. As for titles, we could call each other “Mate” or “China” or whatever takes your fancy. We can also get rid of those high benches – rather hold “courts” in a kind of social club environment, one with a bar and a boerwors roll maker at the back.
So the guy that phoned the radio station and said that calling a judge “Lord” made him nervous shouldn’t worry. It’s supposed to work like that.
But Eusebius is not the right person to ask – especially in a public forum where he controls the microphone. I listened in disbelief as he piled insult upon insult to a caller who sounded like a very nice person to me. He hadn’t listened to what she said, which is bad for a man who is a self-styled “critical thinker”. Instead he just talked over her and then switched her off. She was making perfectly good sense too and was explaining the history of titles much as I’ve done here.
As for the hairstyles – Puleeze!
Schools are serious places of learning. They’re not fashion emporiums. That’s why learners wear uniforms and are guided as to how to behave and address others.
I went to a private school which had a strict uniform and appearance code. One day I had a crew cut done. The next morning, during assembly, the headmaster made a spectacle of me in front of the entire school and then, later that morning, gave me six cuts with an extremely nasty cane.
It was quite a lesson about respect for authority – even if he was a sadistic pervert.
The bottom line (excuse the pun) is that South Africa shouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to change things that are not critical. Encourage progress in a peaceful and effective way. There really is no need to burn down a library or a school. And there is no desperate need to change standards of the law courts or dress codes and acceptable behaviour in schools.
Now get back to class or I’ll get George to lock you up!
MEDIA PLANNING PRIZE
It was an easy decision as to the who qualifies for the worst media planning award, and I was alerted to this by Cathy Dlodlo, a very determined reporter from OFM News.
First prize goes to the numbskull who took the Free State Province newspaper budget of around R2.7m and spent circa 99% of it in The New Age.
In fact the numbers are: R2,724,508 spend in total in newspapers and R2,706,102 spent in The New Age.
Somehow I don’t think readership or circulation was a deciding factor for this plan.
It shows just how easy it is to “re-circulate” the taxpayer’s cash.
But never mind, Summer’s virtually here!