CONTRARY to news reports that a “black magician” is behind the outburst which resulted in my arrest ‘on charges of intimidation”, and that my grievance revolves solely around the rejection of a story about a black musician by a news editor, the canard of false reports which started out at Media24, spread to IOL and have now made their way into the MG Online and several other publications, bare no resemblance to the truth.
IOL reports: “Cape journalist freed after outburst” (November 09 2007 at 04:24PM) “ In an affidavit to his attorney, Mike Jennings, Lewis said a story he had written about a black magician (not involving Radio Heart) had been rejected due to alleged racism.” [my emphasis]
While an earlier MG Online report “Writer threatened to ‘blow up’ radio station” (09 November 2007 04:10) only added insult to injury by way of inflation: “A journalist, furious because his stories had been rejected, stormed into a radio station’s premises and threatened to “blow this place up” unless his grievances were aired,” [my emphasis], the exageration was simply followed by the appearance of the mysterious Black Magician featured in “Cape writer freed on threat charge”.
News24 merely repeats the “black magician” squib. As does the Sowetan. All these reports are thus based upon a single ”report” emanating from the venerable South African Press Association (SAPA) and the so-called “Press” are thus a bunch of docile sheep.
The molly coddled SAPA reporter then literally invents a “legal” scenario in which “the charge should have alleged intimidation.” There is no such thing as intimidation and every case is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Regardless of the facts and opinions raised, and obvious lack of skilled staff to cover the whole trial, I have been found not guilty according to the law and have every right to feel aggrieved at the mishandling of this story and the violation of my rights as a member of the press and being reduced to nothing more than an internet zombie.
The “black magician” piece of voodoo journalism really takes the cake, not simply because it is probably an unconscious typo by an overworked sub, but should be seen as emblematic of the kind of shoddy reporting that passes for journalism these days. In this case the reporter misses the point altogether, which is that I was fired for writing a story about a black jazz musician, and complained about getting gagged for my trouble, made the mistake of looking for P4 and got stuck in the Hair of Heart 104.9, and this is not Hollywood, has nothing to do with demanding to go on air, or questioning the editors right to accept or reject a news story, however racist such a decision may be and yes, how dare I question the authority of an editor or attempt to relate all of this to the confusion of a lesbian news anchor?
The pending labour dispute (18 months and counting) and the various attempts by Media24 to have this case squashed, has also tended to confuse the issue as far as the press are concerned. It is easier to simply write me off as a lunatic who does not deserve a fair hearing. Why would I want to “bomb” a radio-station not related to the company I am pitted against? Unless of course, wake up, the sheer sensationalism brought about by a digital public has rendered the words of journalism, absolutely useless?
Zulpha Khan try as she might, is not what one can call a reliable source of information. An entire article is dedicated to her side of the story, in salacious detail, with no attempt to include either cross-examination or closing statements by my attorney. As it turns out, not only has she contradicted her statement to the police under oath, but testimony by two witnesses (one of whom was in her bathroom doing her hair, and thus wasn’t even on the scene of the alleged crime) were not able to back up the fantasy.
The evidence crumbled under cross-questioning and the persistence of Michael Jennings. So much for the truth and conflicts in the matter, but what is lost are the questions I have raised regarding the wider implications for journalism, when editors take up an openly racist and combative stance, when editorial policy is driven by the board-room, when media houses support such tribal notions as racial profiling and ethnicity rules the day.
Whether or not the Labour Court (or another forum) will find that all of this amounts to discrimination is open to debate, but the ongoing case against Media24 has barely escaped being derailed by a total lack of support from the self-same press which continues to bleat about fraud amongst our nations politicians while committing perjury amongst itself when it comes to the truth. And now this outrageous and terrible incident — a storm in a soul-less radio station no less?
Whatever shock and entertainment value there is in lesbianism, or the outrage one may conjour amongst the youth now deprived of home grown rap and grassroots jazz, should be deserved for the revelation that our communities are being brainwashed by media executives who deny readers access to the modern idiom (jazz, rock ‘n rap), and who think nothing of throwing out stories that are the flesh and blood of the city.
So like it or not, one inevitably ends up having to fight the struggle over again. Whether at Heart or in Hell / At Media24 or with a 48 Hour Press Pass, in an atmosphere in which merely speaking out about the struggle is considered grounds for assault, in a claustrophobia and stultifying stuffiness in which merely raising ones voice to speak, to utter freedom, to cry Amandla (while lifting ones fist to salute Black Power and its contradiction Non-Racialism), means that our words are still being banned, and the truth continues to get us locked up in jail.
Undoubtedly people will say that the real reason I got off, is because the judge was black, did not have lesbian tendencies and I had a good lawyer. (The current wisdom is a botched charge sheet), Or that the entire case was somehow based upon a technicality which can never be understood by the public and so the charges remain. The law is very clear: It is not a crime to verbally assault a building. To rail against the crumbling edifice of a media monolith. To wage war against the bricks and mortor of ignorance.
But as Alfred North Whitehead once cautioned, against what he termed the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, “if a shoe was really a shoe, one would not use it as a hammer”, how much more true in the age of electronic copy? Words are not bullets and language is not a bomb?
This is not a threat of course. I am not about to disappear into a virtual world of mixed metaphors. And though I may often deploy simile and use the art of rhetoric, such devices as may be considered useful, should not be misconstrued as incitement or threats of eminent danger. But as a poet like Baudelaire and writer who reads Rimbaud, undoubtedly and unlike lawyers, my words are bombs, my language is a bullet, and my head has turned into a Serbian-Made cruise missile. Language is an incredible thing and the President is being far too gracious and coy when he reads into Blake, an opposition to anarchy that can only come from an outmoded sense of order and concrete amidst the chaos of globalisation.