Renaldo Gouws: 'Out of context' argument is bulls**t - here's why...

Renaldo Gouws, a Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament. Graphic/IOL

Renaldo Gouws, a Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament. Graphic/IOL

Published Jun 25, 2024


Siyabonga Gumede

DA MP Renaldo Gouws found himself at the centre of controversy yet again after a new video surfaced showing him using racially charged language, including the words "Ka*ir" and "Ni*er."

The ensuing backlash has been significant, yet some of his defenders argue that the video was taken out of context - their reasoning is that in other parts of the video Gouws explains he is using these words for dramatic effect, juxtaposing Julius Malema singing the struggle song 'Kill the boer'.

This defence is not only insufficient but fundamentally flawed.

On what planet do the words 'Ka*ir' and 'Ni*er' mean the same as 'Boer' or 'Farmer'?

It is a lazy and dangerous argument that attempts to normalise the use of offensive and hurtful language. In other words - it's bulls**t.

Let’s be unequivocal: there is no context in which the words "Ka*ir" and "Ni*er" are acceptable. These words carry the historical weight of oppression, violence, and dehumanisation.

They have been used for centuries to demean and subjugate people of colour. The idea that context could somehow mitigate their impact is a gross misunderstanding of the power these words hold.

Imagine if someone used these slurs in a supposedly educational setting, explaining their historical use. Even in this scenario, great care and sensitivity would be required, and the words would never be uttered casually.

In Gouws' case, there is no careful framing—just the raw, harmful impact of the words themselves punctuated with the flawed logic of his mindless comparison to a struggle song.

Moreover, comparing these deeply derogatory terms to words like "Boer" or "Farmer," is also intellectually dishonest.

"Boer," while historically complex does not carry the same universally violent connotation as "Ka*ir" or "Ni*er." It does not embody the same history of racial hatred. The term "Farmer" is even less comparable.

The use of "Boer" does not equate to a racial slur designed to strip individuals of their humanity. Attempting to equate these terms only dilutes the conversation and distracts from the real issue: the persistent racism embedded in a section of South African society.

Those defending Gouws by claiming his words were taken out of context are missing the larger point. The words he used are not just offensive; they are tools of oppression.

Their use in any context perpetuates the harm they historically represent. By downplaying this, his defenders are effectively enabling the continued normalisation of racial slurs, undermining the fight for a truly inclusive society.

If anything, the entire saga has seen all sorts of racist sleeper cells crawl out of the woodwork under the guise of the 'Out of Context' argument. Almost like the person at the braai that says 'I'm not racist BUT...'

In a country like South Africa, with its painful history, we cannot afford to be ambivalent about the use of such language. It is a timely reminder of the work still needed to address racism in all its forms.

** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Media or IOL.