Selectively observing our bias

2015-03-16 14:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

I think we have pretty much established that neutrality is like white people who didn’t benefit from apartheid – it doesn’t exist.

The best you can hope for is complexity in your bias. Look at craft beer. ‘Craft’ coming from the Latin word for “I made it in my garage”. Craft beer has cultural baggage. It’s umqombothi for white people.

Of course, the more black people drink craft beer, the less this will be true, and conversely for umqombothi. Because right now we have a name for a white person who drinks umqombothi: Johnny Clegg.

The problem is we apply reflexivity, the ability to observe our own bias, very selectively.

How did Luthuli House (ANC headquarters) reasonably believe Public Protector Thuli Madonsela might be in the CIA? Will she be the next James Bond, with a gun that shoots Nkandla reports at politicians?

I suspect they also think she brought down Air Malaysia flight MH370.

And how did the Sunday Times put Graeme Smith’s divorce as their lead story last week? If you want your shack fire to make front page, my friend, best you tell them you are actually burning Graeme Smith’s divorce papers, or that your shack is a mansion in Tokai.

Look at this Islamic State executioner character Mohammed Emwazi, dubbed “Jihadi John”. His Western prisoners called him John; the British media added Jihadi. It’s much easier to bomb people when they have been turned into cartoon characters.

If there were a “terrorist” called Rolihlahla, they’d probably just call him Non-White Nelson. Of course, Mohammed Emwazi and Nelson Mandela are not at all the same. Emwazi is a self-confessed Man United supporter, so we know he’s crazy.

Even the most basic of statistics seem to be a matter of bias. The other day, President Jacob Zuma said black people owned 3% of JSE shares.

The JSE said it was 23%. Black people make up 90% of the population, so really the debate should be: is it insanely bad or just stupendously bad?

Bias is the idea that 23% is acceptable.The problem is the bias cycle means my bias just creates reactionary bias.

Now the ANC wants the SABC to be more positive about Zuma. How? Must they remove showers from Auckland Park?

Picture that briefing with SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng: “Don’t see yourself as part of the news. See yourselves more as an ad with journalists.”

Eskom wants us to turn off unused appliances. I suggest we start with the SABC board.

We all see the world from a position that advantages us. That’s why, even in the midst of the Western Cape inferno, we could be certain there was someone in Luthuli House who said: “See, they had no fire pool.”

@chestermissing is SA’s top political analyst puppet and a regular on LNN with Loyiso Gola

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.