Death should not be trivialised, so it’s understandable that some of us are wary of legislation that allows for assisted suicide. But if it’s the dignity of life that we’re hoping to preserve, it’s unclear how denying suffering people their final choice promotes a sort of dignity worth preserving.
Universities are best situated to produce ground-breaking research, thereby sometimes playing a significant role in promoting the welfare of a country and its people. But in developing countries like ours – especially ones with dysfunctional education systems – they also end up playing a remedial role.
The Democratic Alliance has launched its 2014 Election campaign with “Know your DA”, highlighting the role that DA members – or members of the DA’s earlier incarnations – played in the struggle against apartheid. According to Gwede Mantashe’s desperate propaganda, “Know your DA” is desperate propaganda.
South Africa has an education policy which goes a long way towards separating church and state, while also allowing for expression of diverse religious and non-religious viewpoints. A pity, then, that the policy is routinely ignored in favour of Christian proselytising.
The UCT student newspaper, Varsity, ran a story that included a graphic showing how “UCT” voted on the “most attractive race”. This time, it wasn’t only Marius Fransman who let hysteria triumph over common sense in reacting to this graphic.
Making progress in resolving disagreements with regard to culture, values and religious beliefs is difficult enough, given the emotive nature of the beliefs in question. We could perhaps make the task slightly easier through paying attention to not misrepresenting each other, and also sometimes through getting our own houses in order.
An “Anti-Harmful Religious Practices strategy” was recently launched by Gauteng education MEC Barbara Creecy. But the strategy seems to be biased against some religions in favour of others, and also seems complacent with regard to two issues: the possibility of religious belief, rather than practice, being a source of harm; and the possibility that some practices have little or nothing to do with religion.
In my previous column, I explained why I’d be presenting to the Icasa hearings in support of TopTV’s planned adult content channels. Based on what I heard that day, any ruling against TopTV would be ample evidence that Icasa need lessons in basic logic and statistics, as well as a reminder that anecdotes don’t count as data.
TopTV’s strategy for rescuing itself from financial ruin includes a second application to Icasa for the right to screen pornography channels. As with the previous application, religious lobby groups are up in arms. But with there being no good reasons to believe that pornography is harmful, Icasa will hopefully remember that their mandate does not include the enforcement of religious moralising.
Choice architecture (or “nudges”, as in the 2008 book by that name) is an example of what has been called “libertarian paternalism”, in that it is an attempt to get people to do what’s best for them. But if we know that people aren’t always the best judges of their own interests, is there perhaps room for even stronger interventions?