February 18, 2013

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius

And here, from February 13, was the last Tweet she”€™d ever write:

What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow? #getexcited #ValentinesDay

Two days after her death, South African TV aired a reality show Steenkamp had filmed where the 29-year-old blonde model delivered a passage that uncomfortably foreshadowed her demise:

Not just your journey in life, but the way that you go out and make your exit is so important, you have either made an impact in a positive way or a negative way….I’m going to miss you all so much and I love you very, very much.

Pistorius had slightly damaged his own PR last summer during an extraordinarily bitchy case of sour grapes when he complained about the blade length of a rival Paralympian who”€™d bested him in a race.

But after news of the shooting, evidence quickly started bubbling to the surface that inside Pistorius lurked a personality far darker than the cherubic amputee who”€™d won hearts and endorsement contracts the world over. An alleged friend of Steenkamp’s said she”€™d been complaining that Pistorius had grown increasingly possessive. A former girlfriend warned that he is “€œcertainly not what people think he is”€ and has reportedly been asked to testify against him in court. An associate recalled that beneath his media-savvy gloss, Pistorius was prone to bursts of hostility and screaming.

But in court on Thursday as he was formally being charged with murder, Pistorius was a sobbing mess. He faces a bail hearing tomorrow on the same day when Reeva Steenkamp’s friends and family will be holding a memorial service for the slain model.

If he is found guilty of murder, he becomes an even more uncomfortable emblem of South Africa after apartheid. I doubt that many people who cheered for Mandela’s ascendance and a new “€œRainbow Nation”€ expected South Africa to subsequently become a world leader in rape, violence, and genocide. And I doubt that many sports fans who found inspiration in Oscar Pistorius expected him to murder his girlfriend. Such are the pitfalls of romanticizing and idealizing the disadvantaged.

What’s perhaps most unsettling about his alleged crime is the fact that he’s disabled and is therefore presumed to always be a victim and never a perpetrator. But I like to believe in an equality of corruptibility. I cling to the hateful fantasy that blacks, women, gays, and the disabled are every bit as capable of malice, ill will, and murderous intent as are fully ambulatory straight white males. And as far as I can tell, Oscar Pistorius was perfectly able to kill.


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