It is truly alarming to see a chiseled muscled athlete so continually unhinged. Oscar Pistorius, the Olympic and Paralympic champion, finished out five grueling shriveling days of cross-examination in the South African courtroom, under the hammer of prosecutor Gerrie Nel. Throughout the cross examination and regularly at all points in the trial, the court has had to recess because of Pistorius’s weeping, wailing, and vomiting.
The state is attempting to make the case that Pistorius and his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp had had rousing fight in the early morning hours of February 14 of last year. The state asserts that, as a result of this fight, Steenkamp fled for her life into the bathroom where she locked herself inside a toilet cubicle, at which point the trigger-happy enraged Pistorius shot her repeatedly through the locked door.
Pistorius claims it was all a terrible accident. He said he thought that intruders were behind the locked door and were poised to spring on him and violently assault him. So in a twisted way Pistorius is summoning the notion of self-defense — while Reeva cowered in the locked toilet cubicle, with both her cell phones, and (according to witnesses) screaming for her life.
The only thing more bizarre than the tortured logic of Pistorius’s defense is the complete inability of the accused to maintain composure, even when being questioned on matters as mundane as the placement of a fan. He absolutely falls apart when he is confronted with an incongruity that Mr. Nel is pressing him to explain. In the trap of his erratic and often contradictory testimony Mr. Pistorius starts crying. Mr. Nel waits. Mr. Pistorius keeps crying. Judge Thokozile Masipa, who is black and female, calls a recess so that he can pull himself together.
The tears at first seemed to reveal a tortured and pitiful soul who was handed a rough deal in life –having the lower portions of his legs amputated when he was 11 months old. As time has gone on and the logical questions are evaded through a barrage of tears, he now starts to appear unhinged. Even those who pity him or want to pity him cannot help but be compelled to question the melodrama.
Reeva was the one behind a locked door being shot at. Yet Pistorius persistently paints himself the victim in this. He said repeatedly that he has been “traumatized” by the event. “I’m tired.” “I’m upset.” The trial has become all about Oscar and how upset he is.
Reeva was struck first in the right hip. This caused her to fall back crashing onto a magazine rack. She screamed. Pistorius fired again, hitting her in the arm, and he fired again, hitting her in the head. He fired yet again, for good measure. By then the screaming had stopped. He silenced her. There is no more screaming coming from the mouth of Reeva.
It is about Oscar’s screaming now. In as much I have truly pitied him, what with not having legs, his histrionics have gone too far. It feels like a sideshow.
It is time for Pistorius to stop crying. The moaning, wailing, vomiting and whimpering has to stop for the sake of Reeva and the dignity due her. His self-indulgent outbursts repeatedly subject the victim’s family to the effrontery that Pistorius is making this his tragedy, it’s all about him.
And it is a tragedy. Worse, it’s a stupid tragedy. His lack of composure only strengthens the case the prosecutor is successfully advancing: he possesses an innate propensity for self-absorption and a complete lack of self-possession. He is incapable of steadying himself. He simply doesn’t know when to stop.
A guilty verdict is the best thing that could happen to Pistorius. Paying for these reckless tendencies with hard time will do his soul good.