By Caitlin Kelly
Have you been following this story?
My Twitter feed includes the BBC reporter sitting in the courtroom, so I’ve read a lot of detail, some of it horrific, and reading about it in The New York Times.
As someone who spent only one day — an unforgettably frightening one — covering two criminal trials in an Ontario courtroom decades ago, the coverage is making me crazy, because:
We don’t know if he is guilty. Endless speculation by journalists, almost all of which assumes Pistorius is guilty, appalls me.
The prosecutor, and Pistorius’ defense attorney, are not there to offer the truth. Their job is to present the most polished and impregnable version of whatever facts they have been able to assemble.
Mocking a defendant is cheap and nasty. Even the judge — as there is no jury system in South Africa — felt compelled to point this out to “Pit Bull” state prosecutor Gerrie Nel:
At one point during his testimony, Mr. Nel snickered. That prompted a rare interjection from Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa, who seemed to be addressing the prosecutor and the gallery but whose comments could be heard far and wide, as the trial has become a global spectacle.
“You possibly think this is entertainment,” the judge said. “It is not.”
The trial is grisly and terrifying in its detail. I feel for the reporters who must listen to it and look at photos.
Why is it so impossible to imagine Pistorius’ very real terror if he thought an intruder had entered his home?
How would any of us feel or react if we awakened fearing an intruder — and we did not have quick, easy movement without prosthetics?
People who have never fired a handgun (as I have), have no idea — none — what that feels, smells and sounds like. To do so, as he did, half-asleep, in a small and enclosed space, would have been extremely loud and disorienting.
There is tremendous dislike and contempt for gun-owners by those who do not own a firearm — which includes most mainstream journalists covering this story. I know this, having spent two years researching gun use in the United States, interviewing 104 men, women and teens for my first book, “Blown Away: American Women and Guns.”
Like this New Yorker story.
I don’t own a gun but I get why some people make that choice. No matter how repugnant to others, their firearms are as normal and unremarkable a part of their life as a frying pan or car.
Prosecutor Nel demanded to know why Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp had never emailed or texted the words “I love you” to one another. Really? Relevance? Not everyone is verbally effusive with their affection.
One piece that does confuse me — why Steenkamp would have locked the bathroom door in her lover’s home.
Have you also followed this trial?
What do you think of it all?
Do you live in, or know what life is like in, South Africa? I’d love to hear from you especially.