I was astounded to see an Australian journalist pose the question of what Oscar Pistorius’ alleged crime meant for the future of disabled sport, and it has me thinking about the way athletes get treated.
I’m happy to admit that when I heard of the incident on Thursday night, I like many others thought how tragic it was.
Within 24 hours all I could think was “He’s going to be spending a lot of time in prison if things don’t work out as he planned.”
I’m all for the presumption of innocence until otherwise proven, (so for the benefit of this post it was an accident [despite an obvious bias below]).
If found guilty, he will be sentenced to life imprisonment (minimum 25 years), as the prosecutors have deemed his acts were premeditated.
If it’s true he has a history of violence, then I think it can be shown that he had planned the act.
I’m not trying to be a criminal expert, just somebody who has an interest in both areas and thinks one cannot excuse the other.
How often in society have we seen somebody say “oh, they didn’t know better” or “oh, they’re famous, so the fact they were drink driving isn’t as bad.”
I fear Pistorius will attempt to use the same defence, citing all of those Paralympic words.
Paralympic words include – Hero, inspiring, amazing, feat of humanity… You know, the ones the able-bodied commentators and journalists roll out because they’ve got an embarrassingly small amount of experience dealing with people with a disability (Steph Brantz saying “So, does Cerebral Palsy affect your everyday life?” not only takes the cake, but the whole bakery).
I hope nobody falls into the trap of continuing to believe the hype around Pistorius.
He can now be seen as little more than a criminal who had managed to find his way into the public eye before potentially committing what is an all too common atrocity.
Don’t defend him, don’t talk about how fast he can run, don’t talk about him being one of the most respected people in the world and for your own sake and the sanity of people with a disability worldwide please don’t focus on the fact he has a disability.
Disabled or not, athlete or lawyer, Pistorius faces something which has the power to ruin his life and that’s the only thing he should be judged on from now until the saga concludes.