Why politicians need a whispering slave

Abstract: What modern political leaders could learn from the ancient Romans. As the world waited with baited breath as North and South Korea did the 21st Century equivalent of rattling sabres, I imagined North Korean leader Kim Jong-un perched on a throne, stroking a furry white cat on his lap, whilst he grinned and jabbed a podgy finger at little plastic missiles on a large map of the world. Grouped around him were his trusty generals, continually bowing and scraping the floor, shiny medals littering their chests and beads of perspiration glistening on their furrowed, worried brows. And I thought, "Boy, that man needs a whispering slave". In ancient Rome there was a very special tribute that was accorded to a victorious general. It was called the Roman Triumph. It was a lavish parade designed to honour Rome, but where the general was the

Should editors be our moral arbiters?

Abstract: Are TV news editors really qualified to determine what we watch? On 20th October 2011 Muammar Gaddafi was captured by rebel soldiers, taunted, beaten and shot. His body was then publicly displayed and abused. You will remember it because it was shown on TV. It savaged some of the fundamental moral guidelines of broadcasting, but was considered justified for reasons that are dubious. It deserves re-examining now because South Africa is, unfortunately, being increasingly riddled with such 'Gaddafi' moments. Shortly after the murder of Gaddafi I had the opportunity to challenge a professor of journalism and one of the UK's most respected authorities on issues around morality in the media why the local TV stations aired footage of his capture. I asked him who makes the decision whether or not I, as a viewer, should witness Gaddafi's obvious distress. He missed the broader

When ‘gut feel’ goes big

Abstract: There really is a powerful 'emotion' that comes from the stomach... Regular readers of this column will know that I have been afflicted with a most colourful malady - I tend to become infected with words and phrases. I doubt if there's a cure for it, and the last time I visited my doctor he literally threw the book at me - it was a rather large copy of the Oxford English Dictionary. Leaving his office, with said book bouncing off the back of my head, I heard him shout, "Come back to me when you have something more worrying than a dose of visceral morality!" This 'visceral morality' thing had been bugging me for a while. Whereas some words and phrases are like burrs and hook themselves to my conscience during my daily stroll through life; others are like lint, coalescing near