Monday, March 31, 2014

Why Do Conservatives Hate Asylum Seekers?

In the latest salvo of the government's cruel and pointless war on asylum seekers, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced today asylum seekers will no longer have access to legal aid when processing their claims. Gay Iranian man wishing to contest your deportation because your sexuality and views leave you at high risk of being hanged? Don't expect Australia to stump up for the appeal! Depressing.

So it's safe to say that the Liberals, and conservatives in general, really, really hate asylum seekers. The question though is why? Look at it. Asylum seekers show all the values that conservatives claim to hold dear:
  • They show initiative;
  • They support the free market;
  • They're self funded;
  • They support private enterprise;
  • They take the opportunity to solve problems themselves instead of waiting for governments to make everything better;
  • They're willing to work hard to achieve a better life for themselves and their families.
And conservatives hate them? They should be viewing the boat arrivals as a Liberal party recruitment drive! I'll never understand right wingers. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Your Cancer is Such A Downer

"Yeah, look, I've been meaning to talk to you about this for ages. It's just - I'm really sick of you having cancer. It's hard to say this but I really have to say something. We used to have a good time hanging out, but now, whatever we do, you've always got cancer, you know? All of us just want to go out and have a good time but there you are, sitting around with cancer. The symptoms of your cancer are awful and embarrassing. We've tried to cheer you up but nothing makes the cancer go away; it's no wonder you have it, really, with that attitude. The rest of us work hard to stay upbeat and not have cancer. I know you're getting treatment and it takes time but your cancer is such a downer. I don't know why you can't just try not having cancer for a while, surely it's not that hard.

Anyway give us a call when you don't have cancer any more, maybe we can catch up but right now with your cancer - it's just too much trouble trying to be friends with you. Sorry. Bye."

Okay, now replace "cancer" with "depression".

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

No Public Housing Sell Off in NSW

Rumors have been mooted for years on both sides of politics, but today the NSW government has confirmed it will be selling public housing in the Rocks, in inner Sydney. This will raise oodles of money for the government; many of these properties have prime harbour views and will fetch millions on the open market. Most of the properties are old, and require a tonne of maintenance, and these residents aren't really the image of the global city of Sydney we want to present, are they? They have to go. I can see this being a very popular decision. Why should poor people get to live in such a desirable location, anyway?

In looking at all the reasons why selling off these houses is a terrible idea, we have to go back a bit. Many of the residents have been living in their houses for decades - and they moved in at a time when the Rocks wasn't a desirable location. Historically, Sydney Harbour was very much a working harbour - with all the pollution, docks, and industrial infrastructure that came with it. The Harbour was seen as dirty, and smelly, and only poor people lived in close vicinity; better off people preferred garden suburbs away from all that mess. Where better to stick public housing residents than the waterfront? Now that Sydney has become a place where people would sell their kids to Piers Akerman as sex slaves for a glimpse of a harbour view, those residents are finding themselves moved on to cater for the changing fortunes of an economy they cannot possibly participate in.

Times do change, of course, so if we expect these disadvantaged and (often) elderly people to move with them, what happens? They're uprooted from the community they've been part of for decades, away from family, friends, familiar shops and parks, medical care, and find themselves isolated, tossed out to some development in Reiby or Bidwill, far from the city, where the rest of us don't have to look at them. It's only increasing their disadvantage, the isolation, lack of transport and facilities. We've tried this before, and it didn't work. Back in the 1960s, "slums" of public housing in the inner city were cleared out, residents uprooted from Surry Hills, Glebe, Darlinghurst, Waterloo, and sent out to shiny new estates in places such as Claymore. It was done with the very best of intentions. No more mouldy, crowded terraces, no more pollution, there'll be fresh air and sunshine and space for kids to ride their bikes. But of course, with communities destroyed, lack of transport, shops and facilities, the conditions for disadvantage were built in. It was a disaster, with the ABC reporting on the crime, depression and despair in the area as early as 1980, a handful of years after it was completed. I really wish the ministers involved would read that report. Have we learned nothing at all from history?

That's all well and good, they say, but why should public housing residents get to live in such a great location when I can't afford it? Well, look at it this way. Will selling public housing make it any more affordable for you? (Of course not, other way around, prices will go up). Will you sleep easier at night knowing that public housing residents are out past Mount Druitt, and investment bankers have taken their place? Will your life benefit at all, in any way, from this action? Don't be petty. It won't.

I hope it's not too late for the government to change their minds, but I suspect it is. As I said, this is likely to be a popular decision with very little backlash. Who cares about poor people after all? I worry though, these problems always end up costing more to fix in the long run - financially, emotionally. I know there will always be jobs for community workers to try to patch these things up, but I kind of wish there wasn't.


~~~~~
Help get a youth worker on the road? Consider donating to get me driving and back to work!

Monday, March 17, 2014

March in March Report

After all of the build up to the March in March, I nearly ended up not marching at all. First I was supposed to be marching in Newcastle, then it looked like we'd be in Sydney, then Sydney was cut short but I was having niggling health issues and considered staying home. But heck, I'm the "ordinary Aussie wife and mother", mentioned in Jenna Price's Canberra Times article on the march (about the only MSM coverage ahead of the event), I had to be there; I knew I'd always regret missing it.

So DH, Baby G and I set for the Newcastle march on Sunday morning. We'd no signs, unfortunately; I'd been away for the few days prior, but the main problem was I couldn't think up any witty, yet peaceful and family friendly, slogans. The closest I got was BRO'S BEFORE EMBRYOS, which lacks a certain punch. Also, it required me to insert an erroneous apostrophe, which goes against everything I stand for, but I didn't want anyone to think I was referring to the 1980s Scottish boy band Bros.

Mr Abbott, who are you leaving behind?

The Newcastle march assembled in Pacific Park, in the east end of the city near the beach, to march towards the heart of the city at Civic Park opposite Town Hall - a distance of about 1km. We bussed it in, and were extremely gratified to see the bus was packed, with a bunch of other people heading to the march. This was going to be BIG. When we arrived at Pacific Park just before heading off, there were people packed in as far as the eye could see. We attended the rally against a fourth coal loader in the port of Newcastle, and that was pretty big, but this was huge, and very exciting.


The crowd was a real mix - old and young, plenty of people with their kids, unionists, students, workers, parents and grandparents. Ferals? I saw maybe one or two, whatever they are. But there were thousands of ordinary, peaceful Australians proud of their country and dismayed at the path the current government is taking us down. Out of some 4000 attendees, I saw no threats, no crude cartoons, no effigies. The only thing I saw which made me frown a bit was the hammer and sickle of a communist flag. Communists have a right to have their say, just like anyone else; I just worried about it being misconstrued as representative of the whole march. Of course there was a lot of that going on, but more of that later. The vast majority of those marching were just ordinary people like, well, us.


There was so much buzz about the march on social media in the lead up, but I wasn't sure if it would come to anything, especially in a regional area like this - whether there may be a few hundred straggling people. So to see the crowds packed in, to feel the atmosphere, was electrifying - so many people rolling up early on a Sunday morning, ready to say to the government no, you do not govern in our name, you do not have our silent consent. Alone, we may be lone voices in the wilderness, but when we combine our voices, things can happen.






It was thrilling to see the march packing the length of the Hunter St mall. By and large, it was pretty quiet; occasional chants of "hey hey, ho ho, Tony Abbott's got to go" and the like, which sent Baby G into frenzied dancing on his Daddy's shoulders, to the amusement of the general vicinity but not much more than that. (Incidentally, we were asked was this Baby G's first protest. No, I said, he's marched for equal pay, and been to the opening of Occupy Sydney, and against a new coal terminal, and...well, this is in his first ten, anyway). I didn't witness a hint of menace, no violence, never felt threatened. There was a small contingent of police and an ambulance, but they kept their distance and weren't much required. What was exciting was as the march came out of the mall and turned onto Hunter St, drivers beeping, people coming out of their flats and shops to cheer us on, and even train drivers sounding their horns in support.



At one stage, the march filled Hunter St from the mall to west of Darby St, which if you know Newcastle, you know is pretty impressive. Anyway, we marched on, past the Federal MP Sharon Claydon's office, and on into Civic Park. The atmosphere was festive. We watched the Welcome to Country:



then the speeches got underway. I'm still heartbroken by the loss of the fig trees above Civic Park, but I have to admit it forms a great venue for speeches and events now, an unintended amphitheatre. These photos don't really give a true sense of the size of the crowd. It was very hot in Newcastle yesterday - nearing 30 degrees at 11am - and a lot of people were clustered under the trees at the back.




I've had my outs with Newcastle lately, so this restored my faith, I was so pleased and proud to see the city turn out. Unfortunately I still wasn't feeling tremendous, and it was getting hotter and hotter, so we bailed, and I spent the rest of the day thrilled to read reports of other marches, that despite the lack of media coverage in the lead up, so many people had organised, come together, spoken out.

So of course the backlash soon began. The right could only dream of such attendance in their wildest dreams - given that they are fundamentally lazy, they really should be terrified of the abolition of compulsory voting - and lashed out. We were ratbags and ferals - standard terms of insult, overused to cliche. We didn't respect democracy, announced people who fail to understand that democracy lasts beyond election day and includes the right to free speech, free assembly and peaceful process. We should go back to Russia, announced those who seem to have missed that Russia abandoned communism 24 years ago. The majority of Australians spoke on election day and we need to get over it, proclaimed people who seem oblivious that things have moved on since then.

As the right on social media moved themselves to apoplexy, none of this came as a surprise. What was slightly surprising, and disappointing, was the lack of coverage in the mainstream media. By the smallest estimates, over 100,000 people marched yesterday. Alan Jones' pathetic "convoy of no confidence" had more journalists than attendees so where was the reporting of yesterday's march? When do 100,000 people participate in anything else that is almost completely ignored? ABC NSW's TV news bulletin was the only MSM outlet to provide even halfway decent coverage - reporting tens of thousands marched Australia-wide in a vote of no confidence in the government. As for the rest, it ranged from pathetic - the SMH reporting marchers numbered in the hundreds and had links to the illuminati - to the outraged, with Andrew Bolt posting pictures of signs he took offence at, branding the marchers hateful and deranged.

When I saw the signs calling for Tony Abbott to be killed I thought "oh no, the media will be all over this". And I certainly don't want Abbott to be killed. Resign yes, and go into a deep, media free retreat to write books of his far right ramblings. I don't approve of those signs. And most of the other marchers don't, either. The organisers of the march repeatedly asked people to keep signs respectful, family friendly and peaceful. And it's worth remembering those signs were held by a tiny handful of participants (again, apart from a handful of F*CK Tony Abbott t shirts I saw no such signs amongst the 4000 marchers in Newcastle). There were no effigies, no violence, only a very few arrests. Show me another gathering of so many people with so few arrests. Ahead of major events, police repeatedly call for no drunken violence. Are the police then to blame if the violence break out? Of course not. March organisers wanted a peaceful march. Of course opponents and naysayers will focus on the few offensive signs; they're too terrified to contemplate the larger issues here. To say a few rogue protesters with signs condemned by the majority is comparable to Abbott giving a speech under a sign saying "ditch the witch", well I think that is so ludicrous as to be beyond any serious consideration. That's the difference between right and left wing violence in Australia. Lefties are isolated, from the bottom up (and it rarely gets very far up). Right wing violence is institutionalised, from the top down.

Anyway, the culmination of the weekend of protests is the main March on Parliament House in Canberra today. I wish I could be there, and send my best good wishes to all who are attending for a peaceful, inspiring march. We won't be going away. They can't ignore us forever.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Provoking Politics

You'd think right wingers would be happy with the state of things in Australia right now. Their guys are in government, their chief protector owns all the newspapers, what's not to like? But it seems they just can't let go of their fetishistic hatred of the left. They're particularly incensed right now at the continuing spread of Greens Senator from WA Scott Ludlam's Welcome to WA, Prime Minister speech to the Senate, which is getting a lot of screen time from them given they claim its audience is the irrelevant Twitter users of the left. Miranda Devine lets loose in News Ltd today, in a column which begins with a claim that the left has "lost its marbles", then goes on to prove hers were never in existence. There's accusations of hate speech, dog whistling, sneakiness and bigotry, finishing up by calling Senator Ludlam a loser.

All that's to be expected, but it's when Devine turns her adoring eye on Abbott that the fun really starts. In reporting Abbott's speech to the annual dinner of the Australian Forest Products Association, in which he described loggers as "the ultimate conservationists", Devine writes, "Abbott’s words fell on the room of foresters like a chorus of angels signifying the dawning of the light."

I'm not making that up. I couldn't. My sides. Ms Devine has made much over the years of her Catholic faith. Where, then, does she stand on idolatry?

Anyway, whilst such masturbatory fawning proves Devine's irrelevance to the national debate (and has already been the target of much mirth), it's not really the problem with that column. There's a deeper issue here, one that points to the sickness at the heart of the Abbott administration. Referring to Abbott's speech as a "giant finger to the green movement", Ms Devine writes that Abbott's "deliberate provocations are unhinging" the left. The problem here isn't that Ms Devine is wrong. She's right - about the deliberate provocations part. The problem is this is exactly what Abbott is doing, and that anyone thinks it's even vaguely okay.

For better or for worse (well okay, it's worse), Tony Abbott has been elected Prime Minister. That means, if my Year 9 civics teacher was right, he was elected to lead a team of other elected members to govern the nation. It's a role he's clearly out of his depth in. He was a tremendously successful opposition leader; he opposed everything beautifully. But now in government it's clear opposition was the place for him. He still acts like the opposition leader in many ways, spending an inordinate amount of energy opposing  and attacking Labor instead of presenting his plans to run the country. That's a huge problem in and of itself. But in pointing out Abbott's deliberate provocation, Devine shows how Abbott is doing more than merely oppose. He's using his role as Prime Minister not to govern with dignity for the good of the nation but to carry out personal vendettas, throw his weight around and generally act like the bully  boy of student politics he is so often accused of being. The idea that it's in any way appropriate for the Prime Minister to make statements or enact policies just to piss people off - well, that I find astonishing. It doesn't matter what side of politics you're on. John Howard didn't carry on like this. Gillard and Rudd didn't think "how can we annoy conservatives this week?" (Although Gillard was not above insulting the Greens to score points).

But Abbott is doing it. Instead of elevating the office of Prime Minister, he's using it to carry out a spiteful vendetta against enemies real and perceived - and the right, dizzy with love of Abbott and loathing of the left, is cheering him on. Well, Tony Abbott, you do not deserve the office you know occupy. You're a disgrace to Australia. And on Sunday we're going to all turn up and show you.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Class Privilege: Still Taboo

Social Justice Kittens, from Liar Town USA

I've always been a proud Novocastrian, even accounting for I've lived nearly half my life in Sydney. So my recent post expressing my mild dismay at the hipsterisation of Newcastle and pricing out of the working classes was written with the best intentions. It wasn't received that way; apparently a few of the cafe-attending sorts I wrote about were quite upset. Well, can't please everyone, and on I rolled. Meanwhile, a new curated Twitter account for Newcastle started; I was booked in to host one week, and really looked forward to it. So I was a little...put off to see the first three hosts posting more of the same "ooh, look at the gorgeous boutiques and cafes!" stuff I'd been writing about. There's a lot more to Newcastle than that, a whole world outside the mall where we're taking our groceries home on the bus. I wished for a different perspective, a host who was poor and angry, and said so.

Well, didn't that upset everyone. The creator of the Newcastle Twitter account informed me that my views were not what the account was about, and that my hosting services were no longer required; one of the previous hosts asked me was she meant to be offended, that she works hard to not be depressed and poor.

Don't mention the war class privilege!

If there's one thing many well-meaning, better-off lefties struggle with, it's the notion of class privilege. Mention white privilege to them and they solemnly agree how much work society has to do to overcome it. Mention class privilege - that they have choices not open to others because of money - and they get angry and defensive. But there's no denying it. The revitalisation of Newcastle does exclude many on financial grounds. It is bloody impossible to get a decent, inexpensive lunch in the mall. It's not just Newcastle, obviously; this happens anywhere urban renewal takes place. Look I don't resent people for being better off. I like reading reviews of restaurants I can't afford to go to, theatre events that are a pipe dream. I'm just tired of being told to shut up about the fact I and many others are excluded from this.

I really don't think those who haven't struggled with poverty have any freaking comprehension just how exhausting and grinding it can be. I replied to the tweeter who told me they work hard that "if all success took is hard work, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire". (Don't even get me started on the idea that depression is a choice). Someone else replied that they measure worth on the inner value of a person, and in that respect African women are richer than any of us. I could only blink at the privilege inherent in such a statement. I'm sure a woman watching her baby die of starvation in a Sudanese refugee camp feels comforted by the knowledge of her true worth. I know I tried calling up the power company and offering to pay the bill with my true worth, but they laughed at me and hung up. A comfortably off person telling the poor money doesn't matter is like a white person saying they "don't see someone's skin colour". Of course you don't, if you've never been made painfully aware of just how much it affects you.

We see this smugness everywhere. Just look at Jamie Oliver, lamenting the food choices of Britain's underclass, calling on people to shop at markets instead of supermarkets. Where to start with that? I love farmers markets, but they're a rare treat for us, with prices much higher than the supermarket, and usually open once a week only, not much use for getting something for tea on the way home from work (let alone by the time that they're open, the week's money could well have already been spent). I've seen Warren Mundine, the Uncle Tom of Australia's Aboriginal population, lecture an Aboriginal mother (the Koori Woman, whose blog is awesome and who writes about this stuff much better than I can) that if she doesn't send her kids to school because they can't afford shoes, he'll get her a pair of shoes and anyway what's so wrong about going to school barefoot? Insulting paternalism, and...missing the point. Someone once suggested I could eat at cafes if I ordered the cheapest things on the menu. Great! That won't make me feel like a complete loser at all. I think I'll go to McDonalds if it's all the same to you.

Those who would die of shame before telling a racist joke think nothing of scorning those who eat at KFC and shop at K Mart. Well, how about listening to the poor before deciding what's best for them or how they should feel about things. If I've offended you writing this, I'm kind of glad. The first step to fixing a problem is realising there is one. Check your privilege. Realise that you have one. You deserve the right to tell your story, just don't get mad when I request the right to tell mine.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

How To Write Good Essays, By Someone Who Does

I've got a lot of friends heading off to university for the first time this year, and many are worried about that big chunk of university assessment - essays. I know how worried I was this time last year. But whilst I'm no genius and crash and burn in group work, the one thing at uni I've realised I'm good at is writing essays; I consistently score over 90%. I've done this by working out an essay writing method and sticking to it. I can't promise it will give you good marks, but give it a try; it works for me and I hope it will work for you too. What you're doing when you write an essay is working out what you want to say in response to the question, finding academic references that agree with your view, then rewriting them in your own words. Crazy, but that's how it goes.

1. Ideally you'll need to start at least two weeks in advance of the due date. Read the question. Make sure you understand all the key terms - now is the time to contact your tutor if there's anything you're unsure of. Read the marking guide, re-read the question, make sure you understand exactly what's being asked.

2. Time to hit the library. Research. Read widely. For a first year essay, you'll need to cite between 8-15 sources. Read more than this, as you won't know at this stage what is going in the essay and what will be left out. Take copious notes; don't assume highlighting or remembering what you've read will be enough. Taking notes will help you understand and digest the information. Make sure you keep a record of everything you've read, including page numbers. You'll need them later.

3. I like to leave a day or two between research and the first draft, to work on something else or simply let my mind subconsciously work over the information. Anyway, first draft time. I get all my notes together and then just write as fast as I can, not stopping to consider whether what I'm writing is any good or not. Just let it all out. You can always edit later, no matter how poorly written it is; at least the basic idea is there. It's impossible to edit a blank page. I always do the first draft in one go; of course, this is easier with a first year essay of 2000 words than a third year 5000 word whopper, but if you've made it to third year I'm going to assume you know what you're doing by now. Just make sure you include those references with page numbers; trust me, it is a lot easier to put them in now than to try to track them down later.

4. Again, I like to leave it a couple of days before I work on the second draft. I open up a new word document, then read through my first draft, pasting over the bits that work and extensively re-writing the ones that don't. It usually takes at least as long as the first draft. This is where I try to get it right. It's important not to assume the lecturer or marker knows what you're talking about - they will assume you don't know what you're talking about, and mark you accordingly. You have to spell everything out. I got tripped up on this point many times until I got the hang of it. You may find you need to do more research. That's fine, it's all part of the process. As shown by the teeth of the British, the floods in Bangladesh and the human penis, even God doesn't always get it right first time around.

5. Print the thing out and give it a proof read. You've run it through spell check already but have you missed any punctuation? Clunkers of sentences that just don't work? Fix all that up, then if at all possible send it to a friend to read over as well, even if they've no particular knowledge of your subject (actually, that's even better - if you can make the topic clear to someone without any knowledge of the subject, you're in pretty good shape).

6. One last polish. Don't worry, you're nearly there! I'm usually up to this stage the day before the essay is due. Double check your bibliography complies with the appropriate referencing system, that you're happy with the wording, and any other little niggles. Fix them, print out your final copy in duplicate, save one and hand the other in. It's over. Go get yourself some chocolate or a glass of wine or one of Kylie Minogue's backing dancers to have sex with, however it is you reward yourself.

I hope this helps, and if you've any questions, please drop me a line in the comments.

~~~~~
Help get a youth worker on the road? Consider donating to get me driving and back to work!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Enough

I've never been one to back down on something I believed in. And after my experience giving birth to Baby G in 2011...I vowed I would never again keep quiet about something for the sake of keeping the peace. I wanted to make sure what happened to me wouldn't ever happen to another woman; that if an abuse survivor requested a caesarean birth, she'd get one, without having to plead or beg or tell her story to an endless series of hospital staff for evaluation. I initially complained through the official hospital process, and that ended up with an apology from the Head of Obstetrics...but they said I "slipped though the cracks". There was no indication anyone would be held accountable, no sign anything would change. So after some time and consideration, I decided to lodge a complaint through the Health Care Complaints Commission.

What a mistake.

Dealing with the HCCC has been an experience almost as painful and degrading as the initial treatment in hospital. I'd been warned they were fairly useless, but good Christ in heavens above. Their initial "investigation" consisted of asking the hospital had they done anything wrong. The hospital claimed no, they had not (contrary to what they told me in my initial complaint). That was good enough for the HCCC. Case closed.

Worst of all, though, was hearing that the nurse at the heart of my complaint - who refused me a c-section, when she had no right to do so, instead of referring me on - was now denying I'd ever asked her that. That was a punch in the guts; I exclaimed "she's lying!" and had to end the call, sobbing. I couldn't get over that. Initially, I would have been satisfied with an apology from her (a real apology; not "I'm sorry you're upset" but "I am sorry I did the wrong thing"). Now I wanted justice; she should be suspended for this. I read case after case of previous decisions by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Nurses have been reprimanded for far less than leaving a patient verging on suicide and then lying about it. I appealed the HCCC decision, and I had one thing on my side. A letter from the hospital, dating back to my initial complaint, where plainly stated I had asked for a c-section when I first saw her. Written proof. I've got her now.

The HCCC didn't care. They didn't ask to see my written evidence that the nurse was lying. It is not their role to investigate, and whilst it is very regrettable that I am still distressed, the level of care was not below that which is expected.

Once I'd gotten over my shock, grief turned to fury. I could see I would have a bigger fight on my hands here. Not only the hospital, but the HCCC itself now, for what is the point of a regulatory body if it does nothing about these kinds of things. I must do this for all the others. I started a petition, made an appointment to see my MP, wrote again to the HCCC...

But as the petition failed to take off like I'd hoped and I actually came under attack from pro-natural birthers (can you believe it?! Against elective caesareans, don't have one), I wasn't strong and fighting. I was crying constantly and feeling helpless and frustrated. A short trip away helped me reach a decision. Enough. I give up. I can't do this any more. I wanted to help other women. I wanted to make sure it couldn't happen to anyone else. But, as they say, fit your own air mask first. Putting myself on the line like this, baring my past and soul to strangers to get passed off with bureaucratese, was driving me to the very brink of despair. Each letter from the HCCC sent me into hours of misery. Every signature my petition didn't get was like a message that what happened to me was okay, it didn't matter. I was carrying this with me all the time, and I have to let it go. Maybe when I'm feeling stronger down the track, I'll pursue this more (I think I'll bypass the bureaucracy this time and just straight-up sue). But by letting go, I'm refusing these people permission to upset me any more. Yes, it niggles that I'm letting that nurse get away with it, but I reason that a nurse who has this effect on a patient and lies to cover it up has to realise they're a bit shit as a health practitioner and a person, and that gives me peace for the time being.

Anyway, to mark this decision, I chopped off a foot of hair and dyed the rest bright pinky red.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Who Are The Trolls?

There's a video doing the rounds of immigration minister Scott Morrison referring to our ludicrous border protection policy, Operation Sovereign Borders, as "operation sovereign murders" before hastily correcting himself. It's telling - why would he have described it thus if he had not already done so, likely jokingly, in private conversation?

 

 Anyway, the Australian Greens posted the video on their Facebook page; I added my two cents worth and went on my way. Until I found myself flooded with notifications. My unspectacular comment couldn't be getting that many likes from Greens supporters, I thought, and it wasn't. The notifications were replies from Greens opponents. Trolls. People who signed up to the Facebook page of a party they professed to hate and posted about how awful the Greens were, a bunch of inner city lefties who needed to get out into the real world, why didn't we want the boats stopped, we were responsible for 1200 deaths at sea, why didn't we invite asylum seekers to live at our houses...you get the drift. We've already come across opinions like these, it's no surprise that they're out there, but what I noticed in this thread was it was the same handful of people who were posting these things over and over again. One guy left scores of comments over an eight hour period; there were others not far behind. Why would they do that? What did they hope to achieve? Who are these people?

I had a look at their Facebook profiles to find out, and the pattern was obvious. They were all white (of course). All but one of them were male. None mentioned any education beyond high school, which made sense considering the semi-literate nature of their comments. Most claimed to be self-employed (unemployed possibly? One described himself as "Self Employed at CEO of my life"). For an urbanised nation like Australia, an incredibly high proportion lived in regional areas. And to judge from their photos, which featured a bunch of kids but very few apparent partners, a lot of them seemed to be single dads.

In other words, these people are about as disenfranchised and powerless as a white skin allows you to get in Australia. They're angry, and justifiably so. The pity is they're angry at all the wrong people. Malcolm X once said "If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”. These people are above all the victims of economic rationalism; it has destroyed the foundations of the blue collar Aussie male's world; secure employment, home ownership, family security, a comfortably modest future to look forward to. Yet they have been brainwashed, through a steady stream of News Ltd tabloids and talk back radio, into blaming asylum seekers, feminists, greenies, do-gooders, and people who don't smack their kids for their plight. And they turn up on election day and vote into power the party which is the biggest proponent of the policies which have left them so disempowered, so unlikely to find secure employment, their future so bleak. (Not that I'm excusing Labor in all this; it was Paul Keating who was the initial champion of the Friedman economics in Australia, selling public assets, removing tariffs and destroying industry).

They've been played like pianos, these people; deluded into thinking that a man who hacks murdered kid's phones is a benign influence on our nation, and that when he says a man who is the epitome of the inner Sydney elite is a nice Aussie family bloke like them, he's telling the truth. They've been fooled into believing that business is on their side against the evils of government and the unions, and that if there is a clash between what's best for them, ordinary Australians, and what's best for big business, Abbott will side with his pal the true Aussie bloke. I feel sorry for them, even though they hate me; I really do. They know not what they hate, the party and groups which offer alternative commentaries on the system which has so betrayed them. They think, with a Liberal government and a voice in the comments of Andrew Bolt's blog, they have some power, when they don't; they're completely disposable to the people they've put in power. That's why there will never be a revolution in Australia. The elites tell the battlers "we're on your side", and they so desperately want to believe it, they ignore the truth and focus their enormous, justifiable rage on all the wrong targets.

Update: it's now 30 hours since the thread started. All the lefties have long since abandoned it. But the same Lib trolls are still there, trading insults back and forth, an endless right wing echo chamber. Maybe they are in the end just nuts.