Winning at any price?

Arnold Pistorius has issued a statement about his nephew, saying that “… this is only the beginning of a long road to prove that, as we know, Oscar never intended to harm Reeva, let alone cause her death.”

Oscar Pistorius’ defence, however, is that he did unquestionably intend to harm someone and cause their death – but merely that that someone was not Reeva Steenkamp.

For Pistorius, the debate is about what kind of murderer he is.

Pistorius’ family have amended his official website to include this statement: “The Pistorius family and Oscar’s management company have been inundated with messages of support and condolences for Oscar and for the family of Reeva Steenkamp from all over the world.”

Condolences for Oscar.

Three days after the killing of ‘Oscar Pistorius’ girlfriend’, his coach Ampie Louw gave a statement saying “I am looking forward to the day I can get my boy back on the track.”

It appears that Oscar Pistorius, his family and management company can all live with an image of him as a man who deliberately set out to kill an unseen and unverified intruder (the hero protecting himself, his property and his woman from however unspecified a threat) and see his lethally violent mistake as a tragedy for their boy.

What is clearly unbearable to him is the self-image of a man who used four bullets to shoot dead a defenceless and possibly terrified woman who was trying to hide from him.

If his account of why he shot to kill is genuine, then of course that is unbearable. (Though he still set out to kill someone who was already cornered.) But if he’s lying, then is his traumatised denial of unbearable reality – that he cannot bear to see himself, or be seen, as that kind of murderer – further evidence of the kind of narcissistic rage that may have fuelled the killing?

In which case, at what point did a family’s laudable aim of raising a disabled child to believe himself capable of any achievement, and their celebration of his amazing Olympic prowess, roll over into such fatal narcissism?

And at what point does the (largely male) discourse of world-class sport all too commonly roll over into such an unhealthy cocktail of self-obsession, entitlement and tunnel vision that it, too, is blind to such narcissism?

Killers often remain in a shocked state of denial about what they’ve done, but I can’t help wondering what part the well-intentioned construction of such narcissistic personality traits has played in both the crime and – regardless of who he intended to kill – the denial of what Oscar Pistorius has done?


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