Someone in the city/Gets a piece of paper/Someone in the bush/Holds the law in their hands

Hello, new readers who followed Crikey’s blogwatch. I’m sorry you came for Kevin Rudd vs. John Howard and mostly found a tonne of stuff about mining, Peak Oil and Merrill Lynch last night.

I also discovered one of my posts (Dr. Price, if you’re there) re-posted in full at some blog called green.bligblog.com. With no attribution (really, even politeness dictates a link, something). It got back to me only because I linked myself in the same post (which is not why I do it. Self-refernece is pure ego). I confess to feeling somewhat put out by such behaviour.

But onwards. I’ve noticed there’s a pattern to my posting, and it begins with Australian stories (I always start with Australian media, and their news cycle ticks over just after I’ve gone to sleep, so it’s usually on in the morning that I find anything). So now as ever. Speaking of Crikey, I hadn’t bothered pointing to them over their wonderful dissection of the report Little Children Are Sacred, because I didn’t have much to say, let alone add.

There has been a big to-do (not that there shouldn’t be, but bear with me) over the findings concerning child abuse in Indigenous communities in the north. Our gaily bedight Prime Minister declared

“This is a national emergency,” Howard told Australian parliament. “We are dealing with a group of young Australians for whom the concept of childhood innocence has never been present. That is a sad and tragic event.

“Exceptional measures are required to deal with an exceptionally tragic situation.”

We assume, no doubt, the worst (that is, the worst of Aborigines). Except that, as this article states later and Crikey discussed at greater length still,

Myth: Aboriginal men are the only offenders …It is the Inquiry’s experience that the s-xual abuse of Aboriginal children is being committed by a range of non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal offenders …The Inquiry…remains concerned that, at times, Aboriginal men have been targeted as if they were the only perpetrators of child s-xual abuse in communities. This is inaccurate and has resulted in unfair shaming, and consequent further disempowerment, of Aboriginal men as a whole. (Report, p. 59)

I wake this morning to find Australia’s soft paternalism has hardened, somewhat. From the Guardian:

Pornography and alcohol will be banned for Aborigines in Australia’s Northern Territory, the country’s prime minister, John Howard, announced today, after a report found that “rivers of grog” were leading to rampant child abuse.

“This is a national emergency,” Mr Howard told parliament. “We’re dealing with a group of young Australians for whom the concept of childhood innocence has never been present.”

The sale, possession and transportation of alcohol would be banned for six months on Aboriginal-owned land in the Northern Territory, Mr Howard said, and sales would be reviewed after that.

It’s a national emergency now?! I will remind our non-Australian readers that John Howard has been Prime Minster since 1996.

Alcohol is an important part of the Inquiry’s recommendations, but only a part. The report also mentions

a number of individual non-Aboriginal “p-edophiles” had been infiltrating Aboriginal communities and offending against children …As is often the case, these offenders appeared to have offended against many victims. However, they…often held positions of influence or trust in a community rather than being a “stranger”. (Report, p. 63)

I wonder how restricting the availability of alcohol, something we’ve spent 2 centuries of neglect and cultivated welfare-dependency getting indigenous communities addicted to, will affect this? I wonder what such circumstances will do to the influence and trust non-Indigenous people will gain when they can brink alcohol in to communities without decent amenities, and who’ve managed to interest the government only enough to have them ban alcohol, rather than provide schools, expanded horizons and the same opportunities that the rest of us have?

The report also made a bundle of recommendations concerning education and community empowerment. I wonder how long before the Prime Minister notices that ‘state of emergency’?

Real research into indigenous communities can be found at places like CAEPR. I will leave you with Crikey’s original commentary. Squalor pornography indeed.

Aborigines are in the same predicament. So are people in East European cities like Kishinev, Moldova, where the 12-year-old crack whores will pester you all the way from the station to your hotels. Or half a hundred other places across the globe.

Bad enough this is happening, worse that people are pretending it can be solved quickly, or that the report’s release will make any major difference. Thus Nicholas Rothwell, whose work veers between good sense and received wisdom:

“A LINE has been drawn in troubled sand. A taboo, long and artfully maintained, stands broken. From this day on, no one can say they do not know how deep the nightmare is in remote Aboriginal Australia, or how urgent the need.”

Empty pointless rhetoric. Most people will never hear about it and few will care for more than the space of a news bulletin. Aborigines are 3% of the population, most living far from the Californian hyperspace of white/Asian Australian suburbia. For the latter, anything happening north and west of Broken Hill is another country, and nothing that happens there to people white or black is of much concern, no matter how many bridges are walked over.

What we will get is more squalor pornography — thousands of words poured forth detailing this rape that beating at this camp this settlement, jaded playwrights and novelists making flying visits to cart away a bit of homegrown horror. The ostensible purpose will be to expose terrible conditions for which we are all etc, the real effect is to make people reading the Saturday papers feel good about their own lives. Catharsis sells, as does an implicit sense of racial superiority.

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2 comments so far

  1. literaryc on

    I agree with you, Catharsis sells – anything to do with bad publicity also sells which isn’t setting a good example to the general public nor children.

    In my daily newspaper, one article on Wed, 20 June, mentions how children are becoming anorexic and having eating disorder problems, mental breakdowns early, anxiety and depression. The newspaper also mentions that children are being affected by severe and worsening emotional problems.

    As for racial superiority? That’s another element for deep analysis.

  2. giorgia on

    re: green.bligblog.com copying your posts… well, I reckon there’s a bot behind that or something, because each and every post on that blog is copied and pasted from other blogs, never mentioning the source, and one’s aware of that just because of technorati… wonder what’s the point of that, tho – for instance “they” copied a post from a blog of mine, including images (hello? hotlinking? anyone?) not even realising it’s written in Italian, and I don’t really think “they” can read Italian, it was just randomly grabbed from the web only ‘cos it has the words “Live Earth pledge” in its title…


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