There appears to be a storm spilling out of its teacup and soiling a perfectly good saucer all because of some poorly chosen stock photography. The Democratic Alliance Student Somethingorother have published a poster which has been described by some as ‘shocking’. It features a beefy white guy hugging a non-beefy non-white non-male person who may or may not be indecently dressed. I for one would like the guy to put on a shirt, because really, some of us struggle to put on muscle mass. It’s unkind.
Anyway, the poster is so shocking that I am completely willing to post it on this site, which will automatically email it to my mother (hi mom!). No, it really isn’t shocking at all.
While some writers have intentionally misunderstood the meaning of the poster for comedic effect (it does invite some ridicule unfortunately), it quite clearly means to communicate that the DASO aims at a non-racial future in which the scene pictured will illicit no surprise. It’s an entirely praiseworthy message, although depending on the context, bumping into people apparently that undressed will hopefully always cause a double-take.
In spite of it not being any more shocking than day-time television, the Christian Democratic Party went to town on it. Theunis Botha, clearly unfamiliar with the extremes, claims that it is ‘distasteful to the extreme’, and that it promotes sexual immorality and promiscuity. He adds:
“In a country with high levels of Aids and an overdose of crime, especially the high incidence of farm murders this year, this poster sends the opposite message to the country than needed.” (Source: Mail & Guardian)
Of course, this is ridiculously far from reality. The couple isn’t doing anything lewd, and who says that what they may or may not be planning won’t be taking place within the bonds of holy matrimony? There is not much immoral or voyeuristic about the image either, because even though it is slightly racier than Jacob Zuma’s last election poster, the couple in view might easily be on the beach; there is nothing more revealing here than is on display onyour average day out with your kids to the seaside. The poster certainly isn’t advocating sex or spreading STDs, and it doesn’t promote promiscuity, unless seeing biceps the size of my thigh sends you into an uncontrollable frenzy. It may encourage farm murders, but I have yet to spot the connection.
As a Christian, I’m extremely disappointed that a Christian party would try to score cheap points against a rival on such flimsy moralistic grounds. Is it really serving any sort of discussion in this country to oppose a message of racial harmony because of an excessive amount of arm skin? Is it really necessary to radicalise your disagreement so that vaguely tittilating imagery must be described as ‘distasteful to the extreme’? In connection with a poster about racism, must you bring up farm murders, the big white-advocacy issue of our day?
I wish Christian parties were rather at the cutting edge of positive change, good ideas for promoting peace and reconciliation, for combatting poverty and so on. Instead we get this. It’s annoying that in response to a poster encouraging unity any Christian politician should be leading the polarising, petty, divisive rhetoric against it. The first step to overcoming our national problems just really isn’t the banning of pictures of hugging.