my own reaction was mixed - yes, i thought about yet another fallen sports hero, immediately connected him in my mind to lance armstrong, but mostly i thought about the young woman who had just had her life cut short, who had died an awful death. and given that an act of violence like that doesn't happen in isolation, i wondered what she might have been through prior that.
the one thought that didn't cross my mind was "poor oscar". of course he may be found innocent, and regardless of whether he is or not, there is no doubt he is suffering because of this incident. but really, his suffering is totally secondary to the fact that an innocent woman lost her life, (allegedly) at the hands of a person she was close to.
yet on twitter, there was a constant stream of "poor oscar" tweets. it's not that i have a problem with people feeling sorry for mr pistorius per se - particularly when some people were believing that he shot her by mistake thinking she was an intruder. but it was more that was a serious shortage of tweets of "poor girlfriend who just died". it was almost she didn't exist, or if she did, it's only in relation to the great tragedy that mr pistorius' life had just become.
i read a couple of article by sports writers, and yup, the main focus was on fallen heroes and "how much can we really know our sportpeople" and "but what he achieved as a sportsperson is still inspiring". all of which is true, but what about her who died? what about her right to be safe, to be alive? you're writing a piece within hours of her death, and yet you have nothing to say about her other than to passingly mention her name? and yes, i get that you're sportswriters, but that doesn't mean you're not allowed to mention domestic violence in piece about someone who just been involved in a fatal incident of domestic violence.
some of the news reports today have been better. we are at least getting to hear about reeva steenkamp and from her family. but the majority are still like this one. because he's the more famous one, he gets to be the one reported about, the main focus. it's taken a "gratuitous" picture by a british newspaper for the hashtag #HerNameWasReevaSteenkamp for her to become, at least for one aspect, the centre of coverage.
until she becomes the focus of coverage across the board, we won't be talking about the issues that are most important here. not the loss of a sporting hero, but the need to deal with domestic violence, to focus on the causes and to work a lot harder to prevent the loss of life. given that we so recently had the 1 billion rising initiative designed to raise awareness about domestic violence, you would think that would influence some of the coverage. but clearly not.
this tweet says it all:
@piersmorgan tragic for #hernamewasReevaSteenkamp. Just because he was a sportsman doesn't mean he wasn't a domestic violence perpetrator
— Claire (@Claireyj99) February 15, 2013
ETA: i had to include this one as well: