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.