Hateful speech, hateful characters (but good TV)

In the course of writing a column (see The Daily Maverick, next Wednesday) on Julius Malema and whether ‘Kill the Boer’ should be banned, I was wondering whether there was anyone I hated. Think on it for a moment – “hating” someone is appealing to quite a strong emotion, and I wonder how often it’s true. We might use that word fairly frequently to mean something like “have contempt for”, or “be very angry at”, or somesuch, but what does “hate” add to the picture? Does it mean you want them dead? I did come up with one example of a person I hated, but unfortunately, that person was on my television screen – Marlo Stanfield from The Wire. I certainly want him dead, preferably with some torture and great suffering thrown in beforehand. A great character, certainly, but one that should suffer.

In case you haven’t see The Wire, I’ll say no more. Except that you should see watch the series, which I came to very late for some reason. But now that I have watched it, there’s no question that it fits into the category of the best television shows ever, at least in my estimation (even though I might not be able to help this – it’s listed on Stuff White People Like, after all). To further expose myself to potential ridicule or potential accusations of a deficit in aesthetic judgement, here’s my list, rank-ordered for bestest-ever TV:

  1. The Wire
  2. Deadwood
  3. The West Wing
  4. Battlestar Galactica (the 2004 version)

While I was intending to tell you why, there are lectures to be written, and a Sunday to enjoy. But if there are any of these four that you haven’t watched, they are all worth checking out. And seeing as it’s soon to be Winter, you surely need to think about what to do on those days and nights where leaving the house is unthinkable. Unlike today.

By Jacques Rousseau

Jacques Rousseau teaches critical thinking and ethics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is the founder and director of the Free Society Institute, a non-profit organisation promoting secular humanism and scientific reasoning.