Joost a minute, what a load of bull dust

2009-04-04 00:00

South Africans are a conservative lot about sex and lace their traditionalism with unappetising dollops of priggishness and spurious moral superiority. Stoking the fires of wrathful righteousness are a media that hide their intellectual barrenness behind a foundation cream of gutter grime.

Admittedly, some of the preoccupation with people’s private lives stems from legitimate public interest. When Jacob Zuma becomes president it is the taxpayer who will foot the bill for his assorted wives, concubines and many children. Joe Soap is then reasonably entitled to express strong views about polygamy and spawning out of wedlock.

If a minister of religion who weekly sermonises about the importance of family values is caught canoodling with the deacon’s wife, it becomes more than a matter of ecclesiastical law. Hypocrisy makes him fair game for sniggers and jests.

If the head of the national Aids prevention programme and of South Africa’s Moral Regeneration Movement is having unprotected sex with the HIV-positive mentally fragile young woman who thinks of him as “Uncle Jacob”, it becomes even more irresistible. When Uncle Jacob is then accused of rape and reveals that his antidote to possible HIV infection is a quick shower, it is veritable manna from media heaven.

Similarly, it is germane to publish the long-whispered claims that former president Thabo Mbeki was allegedly a serial adulterer who stocked his cabinet with former lovers. Given the incompetence of several of his female ministers and their fireproof status, some distasteful kind of quid pro quo was conceivable.

It is more difficult to argue the case for running a front-page report on President Kgalema Motlanthe having a young lover, as the Sunday press did recently. Adultery is not illegal and there was no suggestion that he abused public trust or his office, in the fashion of United States former president Bill Clinton.

What aggravates the invasion of privacy was that the newspapers turned out to be the dupe of a political smear. If you did not notice its coy retraction of the lie, you are one of potentially thousands who now think that Motlanthe is a cheat.

The buckets of media drool currently being exuded over the alleged sexual peccadilloes of Joost van der Westhuizen, former Blue Bull and Springbok rugby player, now television sports commentator, are similarly revolting. Joost, or his lookalike, was secretly filmed getting a blow job, sex and a snort of some white powder. Not all at the same moment, of course.

The salacious slathering has been justified by pontificating over Joost’s responsibilities as a role model, a husband and a father. What rubbish. The only justification, not to be mentioned, is that sordid sexcapades by celebrities sell.

In any case, his marital and familial relationships are a matter for him and his wife. Nor does being a celebrity mean that Joost has an immutable responsibility, punishable on pain of public humiliation, to act as a role model.

He is a rugger bugger, for goodness sake. As a top player, virtually by definition, he has an excess of testosterone. And as a revered household name and prime physical specimen, he has the keys to many a maiden’s chastity belt, metaphorically speaking.

It is outrageously presumptuous of editors to claim the moral high ground, when the video was made by a self-confessed extortionist, featuring a stripper who uses and peddles drugs.

The only issue of any real importance is whether Joost and his partner used suitable protection. That is, did he use a condom and did she use a gum guard?

Preferably an appropriately coloured Blue Bulls one.

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