Jaco Barnard-Naude

Arendt, forgiveness, accountability and punishment

Much confusion reigns when it comes to Hannah Arendt’s position on the relationship between forgiveness and punishment. The reason why this confusion warrants clarification has much to do with our post-conflict context in which the question of forgiveness keeps coming up along with questions of vengeance, the right to punish as well as the need…

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‘Events are not on strike anymore’ – Part 1

It is interesting, frightening even, to receive news of a terror attack while you’re sitting in an airport lounge, about to board an intercontinental flight. Invariably, while you watch the horrific images on Sky News or CNN, your mind connects them with aeroplanes and crashes. Such is the legacy of 9/11. On Friday last I started a journey from…

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Exiling the poets

Many of us were shocked on Sunday last when we turned the front page of the Afrikaans Sunday paper Rapport, to see the horrific image on page two of the Yemeni poet, Walid Mohamed Ahmed al-Ramisi, who had his tongue cut off as a result of his criticisms of the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) — the opposition coalition in…

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Religion and hate crimes

How dare I attribute the blame for the continuation of hate crimes against lesbians in South Africa to religion? The Bible preaches love and prohibits murder. How can I make the sweeping statement that religion is complicit in the perpetration of hate crimes? And my personal favourite: how can a law professor use this blog…

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Religion and corrective rape

In 1843 Karl Marx came up with a phrase that turned out to be one of the most enduring in all Marxist thought: religion is the opium of the masses. With this phrase, Marx attempted to convey his belief that religion was invented by man to provide him with some consolation for his suffering and…

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What the frack?

The word gives me the creeps. Starting with its eerie “fr” alliteration (like the hiss of a dangerous beast), leading through to its flat “a”, which sounds like something is stuck in your throat, ending in a hideous “ck” sound as if trying to spit out, but something is in the way, blocking the deposit…

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The heteronormative observer — the Concourt in Le Roux v Dey

Is it defamatory, and therefore illegal, to publish an image depicting a person who claims that he is heterosexual, as gay? This week the Constitutional Court apparently answered the above question in the negative. The facts before the court were as follows: two schoolboys published a computer-created image in which the faces of the deputy…

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Notes on the revolution

It is intriguing that in the debates surrounding the ongoing revolutions in the Arab world, commentators have by and large ignored one of the most controversial post-war works on revolution: Hannah Arendt’s On Revolution published in 1963. Arendt opens the book stating that wars and revolutions determined the physiognomy of the twentieth century and constituted…

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Postmodernism and legal education

In 1997 a man by the name of Dennis Arrow published an assemblage of more than 200 pages of text in the Michigan Law Review under the title “Pomobabble: Postmodern Newspeak and Constitutional ‘Meaning’ for the Uninitiated”. Although the text claimed to be defining postmodernism and legal postmodernist jargon, it did everything but that. Instead,…

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What is ideology?

The recent press coverage of my colleague, professor Pierre de Vos’s critique of a speech by advocate Jeremy Gauntlett, made me think about the question of ideology again. In his critique, De Vos writes: “For me what would be interesting and worthwhile would be to have a conversation (or even a heated argument) about the…

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