Currents and undertoads

Things have been rather adrift for some time, for many of us. Obviously Covid-19 for all of us, and then everyone’s other stuff – perhaps the same as before or perhaps changed, but always at least complicating the lives of the person dealing with their particular version of a life.

My novel story (as in “a new thing that one is dealing with”, also sometimes an escalation of an old thing) involves the last few years at the University of Cape Town, which has been in the news of late, for the same reasons spoken of in said news. As you’d expect.

Epistemic exuberance at the dinner table

(This is the accepted manuscript of a recently published paper in Gastronomica: The Journal for Food Studies 22 (3), DOI: | Image credit: Rachel Park via Unsplash.)

In “The ‘worst dinner guest ever’: On ‘gut issues’ and epistemic injustice at the dinner table” (Dean, 2022), Dr Megan Dean raises a number of provocative questions regarding not only the epistemic status of claims that eaters make regarding what they should (or can) eat or not eat, but also, regarding the moral and social obligations we should be cognisant of when inviting others to join our dinner tables in cases where they make claims relating to sensitivity, intolerance, or allergic reactions to certain foods.

Vaccine mandates, personal freedom and public health

A disclosure right up front, namely that I’m a member of the UCT Covid -19 Vaccine Mandate Panel, which is currently seeking comment on the draft vaccine mandate policy that we have drafted. (And, it’s no doubt also relevant that I’m a member of UCT’s Council, which will have to approve the final conditions of any mandate the panel proposes.)

Vaccination, ethics and freedom of choice

Earlier this month, News24 asked me to contribute to a piece on whether vaccine mandates were ethically defensible. Here are some more fleshed-out answers to their questions. David Benatar’s (a colleague at the University of Cape Town) Business Day column on the same topic is worth reading, if the paywall isn’t an impediment for you.

Liberalism doesn’t rule out compassion

There are many things I won’t mention here. If you choose to assume what my views on those things are, go ahead, but if you choose to do so, please realise that you’re simply rolling the dice.

One of those things is speculation regarding the motivations of those who are laying much of KwaZulu Natal and parts of Gauteng to waste in the days following the imprisonment of President Jacob Zuma.

Assisted dying, religion and reportage

While this isn’t as egregious a case as the News24 “news” (rather than opinion, or whatever) article on lockdown protests in Muizenberg was, the problems with Daily Maverick‘s piece on a new court challenge regarding right-to-die legislation extend beyond the clickbait headline, and merit brief comment. (As a disclaimer, I contributed columns to Daily Maverick between 2009 and 2013.)

South African alcohol bans under Covid lockdown

Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa’s President) reinstated a ban on the sale of alcohol at both restaurants and retail outlets on December 28 2020, and that ban is still in place today, with an end-date to be determined by the whims of the National Coronavirus Command Council.

Credibility depends on where you live (apparently)

Many, many years ago, I wrote something about how Barry Ronge was talking nonsense when he said that we can’t take Breyten Breytenbach calling South Africa a “kleptocracy” seriously when he (BB) doesn’t even live in South Africa.

Today, Helen Zille is talking the same nonsense, in response to a Justice Malala column (probably paywalled) that includes this paragraph:

Trusting ourselves after lockdown

South Africa will move to level 3 of our Coronavirus lockdown on June 1. More economic activity will be permitted, we can exercise anytime (within the curfew hours), buy alcohol, and attend religious services (in groups of 50 or fewer). We won’t be able to buy tobacco, even though the state’s case for this restriction is threadbare.

But even as the gradual resumption of something resembling normal life picks up pace, there sometimes seems little room for optimism. There are widespread riots in the USA after more black citizens were killed by police, and here at home, Collins Khoza is one of many who have been killed by overly zealous members of the police and army while enforcing their interpretation of lockdown.

The City of Cape Town and management of public spaces

Last week, I suggested on Twitter that Capetonians might want to comment on the City’s “management of public spaces” by-law amendments before the deadline of May 17, but didn’t say why, hoping that people would read the amendments and decide for themselves.

But in case it’s useful, here is a short summary of my concerns. You are free to copy and paste them into your responses if you choose, or to submit a version of them under your own name.