A disturbing piece of television during national women’s month. A female student talking-to a television reporter is bearded by a male colleague.
“We are protesting,” he says. “No interviews” and with that he pushes her in the small of her back into the throng of toy toying youth.
She doesn’t protest. Neither does the reporter.
This blatant violence against a woman is explained away as part of the students’ reluctance to talk to the media.
Now I don’t expect students to behave in a way I would approve of. Their job, as students, is to break the boundaries. To get up my nose. But I cannot be expected to accept thuggish behaviour.
I have mixture of amusement and foreboding at their refusing to speak to the media.
People who refuse to talk to reporters are behaving like people who run away when police ask them a question: they look guilty.
Consider a couple of those who have displayed such misgivings?
Pol Pot Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and
Algeria’s deadly Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.
I remember complaining to an activist in Algiers that I could not do my job reporting on the disturbances if I could not speak to dissidents.
“Yes,” she said. “A young man from Le Monde was making a similar point to me a fortnight ago. They found him in the souk a week ago with his throat slit.”
That was the year when Islamists who regarded the media as the enemy killed 52 journalists in Algeria, so I thought better of violating their do not disturb instruction to journalists.
Of course some of the really bad guys believe it is vitally important to get their message out.
Think of the nazis, the apartheid regime and the Myanmar junta.
Goebbels popularized the Big Lie.
So keen was the regime of John Vorster to perpetuate this that they secretly founded a newspaper to make sure they did it in both official white languages.
Buying the messenger turns out to be as unadvisable as shooting him or her.
Surely, the best answer has to be to use that medium.