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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oscar Pissed-off-at-us

Everybody has heard about Oscar Pistorius shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp by now. When the news first came out, the angle that Pistorius had mistakenly shot at a suspected intruder got some play.

But then it turned out that he had been yelling at Steenkamp beforehand, and not only had she been shot four times but the side of her skull had been bashed in. A former girlfriend surfaced to say that Pistorius was "not the person the public thinks he is." And it turned out that he had kept a supply of injectable testosterone at his house.

There were rumors that Steenkamp was also seeing a rugby player, and that Oscar had shot her out of jealousy.

Pistorius's lawyers are sticking with the accidental shooting story, but that seems less and less likely. He had to have seen that Steenkamp wasn't in bed when he went to the bathroom. And what kind of intruder breaks in only to lock himself in the bathroom?

At his arraignment, Pistorius couldn't stop sobbing, and his family turned out in full force to support him -- not something you normally see with sociopaths.

But if he had a supportive family, what turned Oscar into the kind of person who would shoot a girlfriend out of jealousy?

Was it the testosterone supplements he was taking? Steroid rages are certainly a well documented phenomenon. Or was it something even more basic? If it wasn't his family background, was he filled with rage because of his handicap?

Obviously, no one is responsible for a congenital malady. And most of us feel sympathy for someone who is handicapped. But what did Pistorius himself feel? At a certain level, it would be impossible not to feel rage if one had been born without fibulas.

Pistorius certainly made the most out of his situation. And he certainly deserves credit for not having just given up on life. (His mother reportedly deserves a lot of credit for that as well.)

I'm glad we live in a world where a Paralympian can become an international star and get an endorsement contract from Nike (though, frankly, I never thought Pistorius should have been allowed to compete against normal runners with his carbon fiber blades, any more than a wheelchair athlete should be allowed to compete directly against able-bodied marathoners).

Put yourself in Pistorius's place for just a moment. You've achieved world fame, you've overcome your handicap to some extent, you've become rich and famous, and you've even gotten yourself a beautiful model girlfriend. But then she cheats on you with a rugby player with perfectly formed legs.

How would that make you feel?

It makes one think of some of the old time fictional villains, who were given handicaps to make them seem scarier. Think of Long John Silver, or Captain Hook, or Captain Ahab, or Dr. No. And it worked: there was less of them, but somehow that made them more scary.

(Reeva must certainly have found Oscar awfully scary at the end there.)

Or think of that more recent real life example who came to light, Richard III, with his severely curved spine. (Perhaps Shakespeare was unfair to him; perhaps not.)

The idea with all these characters was that their deformities had turned them into bitter, twisted, vengeful beings.

Such an assumption is of course completely unfair to the vast majority of people missing body parts, most of whom are perfectly fine human beings.

But I know if I'd had only stumps for legs from the time I was a year old, I would, at a certain level, be angry at the world. Extremely angry.


Anonymous said...

Why do you mention the testosterone but completely ignore the alcohol he was drinking?

lowly said...

There is a wheel chair bound woman hereabouts. Don't even think of helping her. She is the nastiest, foul mouthed human being I've ever come across. And I've spent time in inner cities, as a manual laborer and have been in the service.

Never heard of this Pistolus fellow before.

John Craig said...

Anon --
I had forgotten about that; good point.

John Craig said...

Lowly --
Being a victim certainly doesn't guarantee good character. And maybe it's even a hindrance to it, which I guess is the point of the post.

Trace Jarman said...

Hi, was hoping you would write about Oscar because I knew it would be interesting. I live in South Africa and I believe he had serious anger issues. Love your blog.

John Craig said...

Thank you Trace. It's usually the people who see someone up close who have the most accurate opinion. The media often have too much of an agenda to present accurate portrayals.

Anonymous said...

John--If I were to guess why he did such a crazy and destructive act, I would say that it was a trifecta, a perfect storm. 1) born with no legs and the rage deep within. 2) too much testosterone which can create extreme aggressiveness. and 3) being drunk, which is enough to set off the other 2. Think of it, any one of them doesn't constitute what he did, but put all together and it's a deadly mixture. That's not an excuse of course, just a likely cause of him snapping--oh, not to mention that he's into guns! Thanks, Brian

John Craig said...

Brian --
You're probably right, it's the combination.

Pete said...

Just take the sports and fame part away and what do you have left? A guy, who may have been drinking, kills a girlfriend who he thinks may have been cheating. Happens every day. Most cases one hears about barely even register because they involve nobodies.

John Craig said...

Pete --
You're right. I think part of the reason we're so fascinated with celebrity murders is it shows they're no better than the rest of us. More fun to watch someone fall off a pedestal.

Anonymous said...

I always considered Pistorius to have defective character, for suing his way into the Olympics (r)(tm). He wasn't blessed enough to have not been born in ancient Greece & tossed over a cliff; to have access to 21st Century prosthetic technology that enabled him to walk, run and sprint; to compete against similarly-disadvantaged athletes in the Paralympics. No, he was entitled to have everyone else's cake and eat it, too.

You are 100% right that he should have been denied the chance to compete in the Unspecial Olympics. Even if he was able to prove that his prostheses did not provide mechanical advantage over natural feet, they did afford him another, undeniably unfair advantage: he was able to avoid injury to those missing parts, most especially during training. He would never suffer from a sprained ankle, plantar fasciaitis, stubbed toes, ingrown toenails, broken bones or torn ligaments or cramps in the muscles he lacked. Medals have been stripped for alleged performance boosts from simple cold medications, but bionic limbs are perfectly kosher?

The murder charges against him have not turned my world upside-down, to say the least.

Mostly, I am disgusted that he killed such a beautiful young woman, who will not get to enjoy several years of her prime, or share them with anyone else. What a despicable loss.

John Craig said...

Anonymous --
Amen, you just made the case against him competing perfectly. I had never even considered the injury-free aspect of his carbon blades, but yes, absolutely, that is anther reason he should not have been allowed into open competitions.

And yes, what a tragedy about Steenkamp.

Steven said...

I definitely think it would make you more jealous and insecure when it came to relationships. He seemed to have an acute case of this.

John Craig said...

Steven --