What is the first thing Oscar Pistorius did after shooting the love of his life? Guess

via The Guardian

Reeva Steenkamp – via The Guardian

Allison Pearson from The Telegraph writes

If you have just accidentally shot dead the woman you love, what do you do? Is it:
a) Dial 111 and summon an ambulance.

b) Call your girlfriend’s parents and beg forgiveness.

c) Go to a church and pray hard.

d) Hire a leading PR firm to manage your reputation.

Call me a foolish romantic, but I would rule out ”d” right away. If you were innocent and grief-stricken, why would your thoughts turn to ”crisis communications”? Yet this is exactly what Oscar Pistorius did within hours of the violent death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his home in Pretoria.

The 26-year-old Paralympian called Stuart Higgins, the former editor of the London Sun and now a public relations expert. Pistorius’ PR team lost no time in relaunching his website to put the most positive spin on what they variously describe as ”these tragic events” and ”this terrible, terrible tragedy”. Looking at the website, with its stirring pictures of the Blade Runner in action, you notice that the words ”murder” and ”death” do not feature. For, lo, we have entered the soothing land of PR euphemism, where world-famous disabled heroes do not gun down women.

This is what fame requires.  You need a defense lawyer for court, and another defense lawyer to manage public opinion.  But it appears they’re pissing into the wind.

Among those paying tribute to Pistorius is his uncle, Arnold Pistorius. ”Words cannot adequately describe our feelings,” he says. ”The lives of our entire family have been turned upside down forever by this unimaginable human tragedy and Reeva’s family have suffered a terrible loss.”

Observe that it is the Pistorius family that has suffered ”an unimaginable human tragedy” – their golden boy faces a career-wrecking charge of premeditated murder. The family of Reeva Steenkamp, the victim of the crime who appears to have been shot three times while in the toilet, has merely suffered ”a terrible loss”.

Steenkamp’s irrelevance to the main event was confirmed by a tabloid headline. ”Blade Slays Blonde”, it proclaimed, not bothering to give her the dignity of a name. On Tuesday, as a hearse took her body to the crematorium, Oscar Pistorius sobbed throughout a bail hearing. It was an affecting performance. Commentators began to admit they felt a sneaky sympathy for the stricken track star. Even the magistrate asked him if he was feeling all right.

He might indeed get to swap his gold medals for an Oscar then.

And so, very cunningly, the tragedy is appropriated from the dead woman and becomes the tragedy of the man accused of killing her. The reports that, according to a neighbour, he silenced Steenkamp’s screams with two further gunshots, are of little consequence to Pistorius’ supporters.

”I didn’t have my prosthetic legs on. I felt vulnerable,” explained Pistorius, playing the disability card for the first time in a life that has, until now, been remarkably free of self-pity. He was explaining why he fired at a locked bathroom door behind which he was convinced there was a burglar. Because burglars always lock themselves in bathrooms, don’t they? To steal the soap and the hand towel. Just as girlfriends always lock the door when they need a pee in the middle of the night. And men who think there’s a burglar in the bathroom never bother to shout out first and give their girlfriend a chance to say, ”Baby, put the gun down, it’s only me.”

Pistorius’ story has more holes than a colander. I don’t feel an ounce of pity for him. Of course, his PR man, Stuart Higgins, begs to differ: ”Our job is to capture some of the support that Oscar is receiving from all over the world, lots of positive messages from people who still believe in him,” he said.

Fame – that is, real global fame of the kind Oscar Pistorius enjoys – has its own protective force field. You can believe in a star even when you no longer believe the story they’re trying to peddle. That’s why Michael Jackson kept selling records. That’s why, even now, there are Lance Armstrong fans who have clung to the faith. When fans say they still ”believe” in a celebrity, what they mean is: ”I refuse to let any unpleasant facts interfere with the noble image I have of you.” Even if those unpleasant facts include the corpse of a 29-year-old model and law student who was, by all accounts, as lovely as her face.

At the height of the Jimmy Savile scandal, the entertainer’s niece said her relatives were angry when she decided to speak out about what creepy Uncle Jimmy had done to her. ”Without his fame, they’d be nothing,” she said. Fame can do that. It zips people’s lips and mortgages their hearts.

Only weeks ago, Oscar Pistorius fired a gun in a restaurant. The bullet narrowly missed a friend’s foot, but police were not called. If a complaint had been made, maybe the testosterone-fuelled athlete might have realised he was not above the law. But the restaurant owner was happy to accept that no gun had been fired because Pistorius’ friends lied to protect his reputation.

The obvious comparison here is with O.J. Simpson, who went on trial in Los Angeles in 1995 for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman. Like Pistorius, Simpson had form when it came to domestic violence. The prosecution thought it had a solid case. But, also like Blade Runner, O.J. was a good-looking sports god who had overcome considerable odds to find fame, fortune and a beautiful blonde. Race was a complicating factor, but it was O.J.’s celebrity that turned a vicious murder case into the Trial of the Century. Last September, 18 years after Simpson was sensationally acquitted, Kato Kaelin (a TV personality and witness at the trial) was asked if Simpson killed Brown and Goldman. Kaelin replied: ”The statute of limitations has now passed … so I can now say … yes, he did it.” Asked why he let O.J Simpson get away with murder, Kaelin said: ”I was too scared. I was terrified … People hated me. I’ve been spat upon. They threw gum in my coffee.”

Fame can do that, too. Never underestimate the human desire not to know the worst about our heroes.

Let me leave you with a piercing irony. Just days before Reeva Steenkamp was killed, she sent tweets offering her support for female victims of violence. Her country has a deplorable record in that area. On average, a South African woman is killed every eight hours by her partner or relative.

After her funeral, Steenkamp’s Uncle Mike told reporters that his niece wanted to be an activist for ending abuse against women. ”Unfortunately, it has swung right around, but I think that the Lord knows that her statement is more powerful now,” he said.


H/T:  Marcus Lush

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.