Michael Francis

To the commentators on Thought Leader: Stick to the topic

There are a number of regular commentators on Thought Leader who write as much as the bloggers do. Some are clever and witty and make relevant points that further a blog or challenge what the blogger wrote. Many also make nasty, snide, irrelevant remarks that have no bearing on the blog. I notice that some…

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Why I hate smokers

My disdain (that borders on a hatred) of smokers has nothing to do with my desire for a nanny state or for social controls to stop smokers from smoking. I really do not mind if people wish to smoke and harm themselves, but the problem is that smokers do not just harm or affect themselves….

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Blaming sexual violence on women for dress sense is un-African

There have been a number of blogs on Thought Leader about sexual violence and rape. One of the things that leap out at me is the number of comments by self-proclaimed Africans (haiwa tigere for one) that echo the comments by a Zambian conference delegate as relayed in Jennifer Thorpe’s blog. The notion that women…

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Israeli-Palestinian conflict leaves me conflicted

I read yesterday that there was a small victory for Boycott Israel Movement in South Africa. The University of Johannesburg (UJ) announced a conditional boycott against Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in Israel. It’s conditional in the sense that it is not a boycott but the threat of one. UJ has committed to ending any relationship (teaching…

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Why I am against affirmative action

I am against affirmative action because it is premised on a fallacy. Race is a misleading political and socially loaded concept that has no real or biological basis. The justification for the continued use of these crude categories is a political programme that will not do what it claims to — that is, uplift the…

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Why are South Africans so violent?

I was challenged by a commentator (realpolitik) in my previous blog post to write as a social scientist ie provide some analysis of crime and criminality in South Africa. The problem with writing about crime and violence is that it is so pervasive — violence infuses everything. Some examples: The students at UKZN arranged protests…

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My love-hate relationship with SA

I have returned to South Africa (again). She tends to get under one’s skin in strange ways that make her unforgettable, loveable and detestable in so many contradictory ways. I do have a viscous love-hate relationship with this strange land. I came back after eight months absence and was feeling all enthralled and loving despite…

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Hate crimes and farming in SA

Eugene Terre’Blanche was a figure of ridicule and disdain for many people. He evoked strong responses of anger and shame for his political beliefs and in death further polarises South African society. I am horrified by the responses that bluntly state good riddance and that he deserved this type of death. I feel for his…

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SpeakZA: Can Jacob Zuma be called an apie?

I am echoing the old debate where Eugene Terre’blanche referred to a statue of Chief Tshwane as an “apie”. For the record, I do not think he is ape-like at all (Jacob, not Eugene; I find Eugene slightly simian). I actually do not even wish to talk explicitly about Jacob Zuma, but about freedom of…

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Let’s assume there’s no global warming

If there is no global warming then it is business as usual, right? We should remove any barriers to economic growth and dismiss the consequences. What I hear in the constant refrain from those that either dismiss or downplay global warming is that we should not worry about environmental issues at all. It seems that…

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