Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Steven Friedman’s latest column was a collection of platitudes signifying little, the comment not being particularly insightful (Unvoiced prejudices are the deepest and most harmful, April 4). He said those who would not be insulted by Vicki Momberg would find the punishment harsh, while those who would be insulted by her would welcome it.

Similarly, those who defend freedom of speech are the ones never hurt by it. So according to him, people (except for left-leaning intellectuals, of course) are generally too thick or too emotionally deficient to apply their minds objectively.

For instance, it would not be possible for a black person to think that, while Momberg’s utterances were disgusting, the two-year custodial sentence for a nonviolent crime is by any standards and comparisons a bit harsh, and not allowing bail pending her application to appeal (which is normally allowed even to rapists and murderers when there is no risk of them absconding or interfering with witnesses) smacks of vindictiveness.

Furthermore, would an unbiased person not think that the woman in question (who dug her hole deeper knowing it would disadvantage her) needed help?

There was no psychiatric examination, which is usually called upon when a defendant exhibits such outlandish behaviour.

The Constitution and the universally accepted norm of nondiscrimination, and that merit not race should be the basis for advancement, is not good enough for Friedman, who is concerned that what is merit or not is only decided by white people. He therefore discounts our universities, educational experts and the institutions that set benchmarks and qualifications, but is silent on the method that should be used. Perhaps a committee of right-thinking people like himself?

It is true that there is nothing you can do about what people think, and devoting regular column centimetres pointing that out serves no purpose. The only way to deal with it is to have clear laws regulating behaviour with clear parameters, which must be applied rationally without fear, favour or discrimination to all, regardless of race or status.

Sydney Kaye
Cape Town