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Updated 01 March 2016

Do you hope Oscar is innocent, or do you need him to be innocent?

CyberShrink Professor Michael Simpson 'unpacks' the many unanswered questions and irritations surrounding the Oscar Pistorius trial.

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In the lull before the Oscar Pistorius trial resumes, the public is left with a number of questions and irritations. It has also made me think about the public opinion divide. Do you want to believe Oscar is innocent, or have you already made up your mind that he is guilty?

To help us better understand the case, there are currently two areas where the media is proving to be somewhat naive.

The first is misunderstanding and misrepresenting the significance of The Final Valentine's Card. Like a conjurer, Roux flourished this at the very end, as though it proved beyond doubt that the relationship between Oscar and Reeva was wholesome and mutually adoring – a relationship where violence could not possibly arise except purely by accident.

Regarding the slushy messages, one must look beneath the surface. At best it shows Reeva expressing love and affection for Oscar, not the other way round.

Take note that there was no loving Valentine's card from Oscar to Reeva for anyone to read out, and no reference to any gift from him to her.

Read: How and why narcissistic men mistreat their women

It only reinforces the earlier pattern – of her being affectionate towards him, trying hard to please him and receiving little or nothing in return.

Read: What do Reeva's messages to Oscar mean?

The second error is the gross exaggeration of the significance and importance of the ‘Pistorians’, the group of people, suddenly appearing, showing enthusiastic support for Oscar.

They actually come across more like a well-rehearsed “rent-a-crowd” than a group of supporters who genuinely care about their hero.

Do you HOPE Oscar is innocent, or do you need him to be innocent?

You may well believe Oscar's version of events, and believe him to be innocent – even after considering all the evidence, including his testimony. But many of those proclaiming his innocence seem not to be doing so on any rational basis, but rather because they personally really NEED him to be innocent, to preserve comforting images and ideas they hold dear.

Read: How Oscar is folding under cross-examination pressure from Nel

I was recently chatting to an engineer friend, who suddenly blurted out: "I don't care about the trial; I want to remember him as the great and brave runner he was."

His having shot someone doesn't diminish his athletic achievements – but then, neither does his having won races make him any less guilty of causing the horrible death of an innocent woman, whether intentionally or not.

It bothers me greatly that so many people appear to think that an excellent sportsman should somehow be excused from the consequences of committing a serious crime while other lesser mortals must bear the consequences of their deeds.

Read: Celebrity sportsmen who have killed

So many nagging questions ...

Why did Oscar go back upstairs for a while after other people had arrived, but before the police came? What did he do? He doesn't seem to have been asked about this.

Why are a few odd things, such as the placement and movement of the fans and the duvet, so deeply important to him, actually moving him to tears?

Why and how does he think the police moved various objects, influencing his version of events, long before any of them knew what that version would be?

Who is this ‘Hairy’ Nel a certain Australian journalist keeps on referring to?

Why did Oscar need total darkness in the room, supposedly to sleep, to the extent that he was bothered about a small blue LCD on an amplifier? And then, why leave the balcony lights on? And ignore the small LED's on the light switches?

Where were the coffee mugs? Oscar said that when they went to bed they each had a cup of coffee. What happened to the empty mugs? I saw no trace of them in the bedroom pictures. If they were later found in the kitchen, who had carried them downstairs, and when?

After the gun went off in the restaurant, he insists that he told the manager he would pay for all the damages. What damages?

Notice how, when a lawyer starts by saying "With the greatest respect", he usually means he feels no respect at all.

Oscar seems to have been far more smitten with Reeva than vice versa. By chance, soon after an excellent segment on his childhood with pictures of his mother, there were some film clips of Reeva with dark hair – and the two women seemed to look surprisingly alike.

Read: Did Reeva look like Oscar's mother?

Could this be in any way relevant to his rapid development of very strong feelings for Reeva, and for his grief at the death of a young woman he had known only for a matter of weeks?

Why did he, so soon after meeting her, start planning to buy a new house for them to share and live in together?

An urgent public appeal to Channel 199

Please stop using the cliché du jour, asking every interviewee to "unpack" an event, a remark, or just about anything that turns up. It's a stale and boring expression that lost it impact years ago!

Gruesome faux pas

Surely the award of the Green Bucket prize must go to The Sowetan, which managed print on one page a story with Oscar quoting: " I wake and I smell blood", and on the opposite page a home decorating feature headed : "Make Your Bathroom Fun!"

Michael A Simpson, Health24 CyberShrink

Ask CyberShrink your pressing questions about the Oscar trial, or psychology matters

Read more:

What does Reeva's last meal say?
Why was Oscar vomiting in court?
What happens when somebody is shot?
How blood spatter analysis works
Stay updated on everything to do with the Oscar Pistorius trial at News24.com

Professor MA Simpson is Health24's CyberShrink. A South African psychiatrist, he qualified in medicine and in psychiatry in Britain. He has been a senior academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries. Read more of his columns.

 

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