This story is for adults. If you are one, but are impeded by self-righteous inhibitions, I suggest you read something else, or occupy yourself with an upbeat religious song.
The story is about five sadists and five masochists. It ends with the sadists being sentenced to imprisonment and the masochists being put on probation. And the reason for their imprisonment was this.
Every week or so, the sadists and masochists would rendezvous at somebody’s apartment. Once there, they would pair off, one sadist to one masochist. One would dispense pain, and the other would receive it.
During the course of the evening, the sadists would perform acts that gave both themselves and the masochists pleasure; canings and beatings and whatever other pain-inducing activities that gave them sensual gratification.
One piece of evidence presented in court was particularly horrific: that of a masochist who enjoyed having his scrotum nailed onto a wooden plank. Afterwards, everyone would clean themselves up, apply antiseptic, have a drink and a chat and make arrangements for the next week.
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It was all going well until the police showed up, raided the flat and found evidence of criminal assault. They questioned the owner of the house who freely admitted that he permitted these acts. But since everything was between consenting adults and in private, they did not see why this was a problem.
The police arrested him and the other sadists. The masochists came forward to give evidence that no crime had been committed against them, and that they were actually willing participants.
At that point, the masochists were arrested as accomplices before and after the fact. They had aided and abetted the sadists in the crime of assault. According to the law, a crime had been committed and therefore charges were pressed. The fact that the masochists enjoyed it made them accomplices to the crime. So, they were also charged. The sadists all got prison terms and the masochists got probation.
This story is actually true, and is told in a book by Dave Trott, a British author and adman who read it the evening news many years ago in London.
You could argue that the police and the court followed the letter and not the spirit of the law. After all, the law was created to protect people from oppression. But the law, in persecuting the masochists and sadists, is violating their self-expression and freedom because it views it as oppression. Should the law protect people from willing participation in oppression? Was the law the oppressor in this case?
This story forms the basis for very conflicted musings regarding the Anne Waiguru impeachment case. I have heard many arguments, but two viewpoints stand out.
The first angle is that this is a story of political masochism. That Waiguru was elected by the ‘pain-seeking’ people of Kirinyaga, who went to the ballot with the knowledge that the governor they are electing had previously been dogged by graft claims.
For that reason, they should not be denied the ‘pleasure’ of oppression. That doing so is a violation of their constitutional self-expression and freedom. They, after all, gave their consent – just like the British masochists who were given probation.
The second is that this failed impeachment is a story of political sadism. That the manipulation of the legal process is irreparably sadistic, taking the ‘obviously’ unlawful through a constitutional charade, and sending an arrogant, subliminal message to Kirinyagans and Kenyans: “utado? or “what will you do about it?”
But there is an opposing argument. In Kenya today, accusations of graft are the easiest and catchiest thing to level against a politician. There is, therefore, a chance that politicians themselves can fall victim to vendetta-driven allegations.
In Waiguru’s case, she was fighting a losing battle when it came to public perception. It was a war where the truth may have been the first casualty.
Whether you think that Waiguru’s impeachment is a sadomasochistic episode, or a case of a victimised politician, the law has spoken. It is done.
Fortunately, Waiguru has two years and four months to prove to Kirinyaga that they are not a population of masochists. Personally, I hope she does just that.
But finally, a word of unsolicited advice to the good governor, now that she has vanquished her foes. The moment of victory is often the moment of greatest danger. In the heat of victory, overconfidence can cause you to make more powerful enemies than you have defeated.
Leo Tolstoy gives a short story about two cockerels who were in a vicious fight. One won and drove the other away. All the hens gathered around the cockerel and began to praise him. The cockerel wanted his strength and glory to be known in the next farm, and he flew to the top of the barn and crowed in a loud voice: “look at me; I am untouchable!” The cockerel had not finished when an eagle seized him in his claws and carried him away to his nest.
–The writer is a PhD candidate in political economy at SMC University. [email protected]