Adam Catzavelos, Racism and Prevailing Double Standards

A matter that received a lot of attention this past week and rightly so, was that of Adam Catzavelos and his now infamous video below in which he used the k-word.

Almost at the same time, the news broke of another incident in which a member of the ANCYL, Suzanne Govender, used the k-word in a WhatsApp message. Here is a link to the Govender story breaking:

KZN ANCYL executive in hot water over ‘racist k-word’ outburst

Both incidents in essence are the same as both used the k-word via WhatsApp. Adam Catzavelos posted his video as I understand on WhatsApp, whereas Suzanne Govender had a discussion on WhatsApp as per the screenshot below:

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I believe that both of them are idiots for what they have said but as a firm believer in freedom of speech, I believe in their right to make idiots of themselves in public rather than trying to suppress their thoughts and views as racists as it may be. Suppressing racists and their views via legislation in my view is just going to drive such behaviour underground and will serve no public good.

As soon as both the Catzavelos and Govender incidents broke I decided to track how many media articles and mentions each incident received via a simple Google search and the result is reflected in the chart below which speaks for itself. Whilst the Adam incident quickly gained traction and grew from 0 to 22 300 articles or mentions in no time and are still trending upwards, the Govender incident has barely registered as a blip on the mainstream media radar and are trending to nowhere with only 143 articles/mentions by 18h00 on the evening of 24 August 2018.

Adam

I also analyzed as many of the articles on both incidents as I could and identified 44 direct consequences for Adam Catzavelos, some of which has dire consequences for him such as losing his job, being investigated by the the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) at their own volition, a radical political party visiting his residence and threats being made against him. For Suzanne Govender I could only identify 9 such direct consequences, the worst of which is that she lost her party political position on an executive committee (not sure if this was her full time employment) and a possible further investigation against her by the SAHRC, that’s if they decided to take the matter further.

I will summarize my findings of the analysis undertaken below (disclaimer – it was a rapid analysis and if I missed something and therefore what I state below is not factual please let me know and I will gladly correct same):

  1. Calls were made to boycott the family business that Adam used to work for and some of their existing clients took their business elsewhere.
  2. Both incidents were condemned but with the Adam incident, receiving much much wider public condemnation. Even Afriforum condemned Adam for his use of the k-word.
  3. Govender denied having used the k-word whereas Catzavelos, in the end, admitted ‘guilt’ and made a public apology for his actions. His apology was however not accepted well on social media.
  4. Major organizations such as Nedbank, 702 and Nike distanced themselves from Catzavelos whereas in the instance of Govender only her ward committee and the local ANCYL did so.
  5. Other political parties such as the EFF and the DA got involved in the Catzavelos incident but none in the case of Govender other than the ANCYL of which she is a member.
  6. The EFF visited the house of Catzavelos but not so for Govender.
  7. In both instances, a case was opened with the SAPS. In the Catzavelos instance, the EFF laid a charge and in the Govender matter the local ANCYL. The EFF gave the police a deadline within which to arrest Adam.
  8. Fun was poked at Catzavelos on social media and a campaign launched,  #AdamCatzavelosChallenge. I could pick up no such campaign against Govender.
  9. Catzavelos family released a statement condemning his actions. No word as yet from the family of Govender.
  10. In Catzavelos instance, the government released an official statement, none in the case of Govender.
  11. In the Adam incident, calls were made to criminalize racism and experts provided a number of opinions on the likelihood of him being successfully prosecuted. No such opinions on what Suzanne did.
  12. In the Adam incident, calls were made for all to say no to racism and to acknowledge that we are all to blame.
  13. In the Adam incident, the SAHRC decided to investigate the matter out of their own violation, although the DA and others subsequently also reported the matter to them. In the Suzanne incident, the ANCYL in her ward reported the matter to the SAHRC but its not sure whether they will take the matter further.
  14. The private school where Adam’s children are enrolled banned him from their premises. Rapper AKA congratulated the school.
  15. Various other SA celebrities condemned Catzavelos, none did so in relation to Govender.
  16. In the Adam instance, social media went berserk and the matter soon trended on SA Twitter.
  17. Twitter was used as a medium to track down Adam and his personal details were made public on social media (the personal details of Govender is not known).
  18. No such social media explosion happened in response to the Suzanne incident.
  19. In the Catzavelos incident, threats were made against him and the family business and some Nike stores closed for a short while out of fear for the safety of their staff.
  20. Adam Catzavelos wife and her employer Nike were also drawn into the incident. We don’t know if Suzanne Govender is married and if so who her partner works for.
  21. Catzavelos was fired from the family business and Govender resigned as a member of the ANCYL Exco in Ethekwini (but only after she faced a suspension and disciplinary hearing). It’s not clear whether she has any other formal employment.

From the aforementioned, the double standards at play should be clear and evident to all. I wrote a blog piece about this prevailing double standards earlier (see link below):

The Spur Incident versus that of the Pregnant Women (and yes also that of Ashwin Willemse)

The same double standards were pointed out in a report compiled by the Solidarity Research Institute in 2017 (see the following links for more information):

It looks to me like the race of the ‘perpetrator’ plays a major role in how the mainstream media, social media, political parties, the SAHRC, public analyst, radio talk show hosts and the government treats instances of racism. It’s high time that all of them be called out for this in the interest of balance and fair and equal treatment in front of the law and the court of public opinion.

Unlike in my previous blog posts highlighting double standards, I will this time around try and get comment from the parties listed above but don’t hold your breath.

One response to “Adam Catzavelos, Racism and Prevailing Double Standards

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