Hero worship and the perception of goodness

Hiya all.

The recent murder of Reeva Steencamp at the hands of Oscar Pistorius shocked me to the core. On the day it happened, my husband came home from work and said conversationally 'Did you hear Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend to death?' My head swivelled like the girl in The Exorcist to look at him, and he said my face was a picture of shock.

The first words out of my mouth were 'Really?! Noooooooooooooo!' I didn't want to believe Oscar Pistorius could be capable of such a thing. A part of me still doesn't, yet a poor girl is dead. That makes me feel terrible about myself. I've been reading all the news stories greedily looking for some evidence that it really was a terrible accident, but thus far I haven't found it with any certainty. Because the South African judiciary are pushing for premeditated murder, which carries a minimum sentence of 25 years, it makes me suspect we aren't being given the full picture of events.

Up until last week, Oscar Pistorius was a hero of mine. I've been loosely following his career ever since I saw a documentary about his story some years ago. When he won the 400m gold at last year's Paralympic Games, I wept with joy, whooped and waved my arms in the air. As well as admiring him for his tenacity, I also fancied the pants off of him. I still do *cringe*.

My initial disbelief that he could have done such a thing and my continued desire to want to disbelieve it has really made me consider the effect that hero worship has on us as a society and on me as a person. When we see famous people on tv and in magazines who seem to be nice people, who seem to do good deeds, who have worked hard to overcome adversity and who happen to be very pleasing to the eye, we transfer some kind of positive value onto them as people. When something bad happens and that person's 'goodness' comes into question, it can leave us with uncomfortable questions about ourselves, so it's often easier to continue to blindly adore our heroes despite their actions.

I have to ask - do famous people receive preferential treatment in the judicial system, aside from the obvious advantage being able to afford a great defence team gives? Do we subconsciously attach positive traits to people who are good looking? Would an ugly celebrity be treated worse than a good looking celebrity who committed the same crime, or does their fame and money override such concerns? 

It's been remiss of me in this post to talk about the actions of Oscar Pistorius and about hero worship yet not talk more about the victim of these circumstances - Reeva Steencamp. She was due to give a speech about abusive relationships at a school on the day she died. Let's remember Reeva's name, and vow to utter the names of ALL the women who die in violent circumstances at the hands of men as we see their cases reported. Let's reverse the cycle of talking about the perpetrators of crimes and not the victims of it.

Whatever happened in that bathroom in South Africa - and I do believe more details will come out over the next few days - a girl is still dead, her family are bereaved and hurting, and things are not looking good at all for Oscar Pistorius.

What are your thoughts on this story?

Thanks for reading.

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