We live in a time where, thankfully, the days of Apartheid are a legacy resigned to a shameful period in humanity's history books.
But Apartheid in South Africa, Segregated America, the Jewish Holocaust and Indigenous Assimilation in Australia are among the atrocities that, while in our past, should never be forgotten for the lessons we can learn about being better humans.
Hearing a row between councillors at Shellharbour Council described as Apartheid is shocking, disappointing and ignorant.
Apartheid is translated from the Afrikaans meaning 'apartness'.
Perhaps this is the word that Councillor Rob Petreski was going for when he said: "We have an apartheid at the moment in council, and unfortunately, the four Labor councillors are the ones who are on the receiving end of that apartheid."
But Apartheid and apartness have very different meanings.
If you're unfamiliar with Apartheid laws in South Africa, it demanded people register according to their racial group.
People were treated differently because of their race, including needing passes to carry in 'white' areas and separate public facilities for whites and 'non-whites'.
In short, it forced black South Africans into poverty, and many generations later the scales have not yet been adjusted.
To compare this to a few councillors feeling like they are being ganged up on beggars' belief.
Of course, there is some adjustment going on in the local Labor camp as they get used to the status quo.
Perhaps they are quite right to feel that they are being treated unjustly. Politics can be a slippery game. But at the end of the day, losing a vote here or there is unlikely to be a life-or-death scenario.
Words are important. The meaning we apply to words is important.
Here at the Mercury we spend a great deal of time considering our use of language, particularly in its written form.
You might say that it's our craft, but I also argue that it's the craft of a councillor to consider their use of language carefully.
- Gayle Tomlinson
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