Lawyers, Guns and Cory Bernardi

Cory Bernardi is a funny guy. A very funny guy. He’s likeable in a down-homey kinda way that reminds you of country town museums or Chiko rolls – both things that reflect the Australia that used to be, not the Australia we know today.

While we know what the news tells us about young Cory, he tends to have a few skeletons in the closet he’d rather us not know about. I guess it’s like the nasty secrets in a country town museum or even worse, the secrets inside a Chiko Roll.

Since at least 2012, Bernardi has been the Australian representative to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is funded by big business (corporate members) and consists of politicians (nearly all Republican), business representatives and ‘Task Force’ members who work on special projects. Young Corey is one of these.

The membership, activities and communications of ALEC are secret and closely guarded, yet a couple of US journos have managed to infiltrate the membership base – no doubt to Bernardi’s horror. The public interest group ‘Common Cause’ has also won legal battles to reveal members, yet the activities and plans of ALEC are strictly confidential. Hard to know, easy to guess.

At ALEC we see big business working alongside politicians to help draft laws that will benefit them. The ultra-conservative ‘Lawyers for Civil Justice’ are members and a terrific help here. Corporate members include tobacco, oil and pharmaceutical companies. It also includes the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The NRA uses ALEC to get laws passed that benefit weapon manufacturers and the NRA agenda. Reducing the restrictions on gun ownership and fostering the ability to bear weapons in ‘open carry’ is typical NRA conversation. If the NRA had their way, every high school student would carry a gun. So would every teacher.

This isn’t covert stuff, but widely known in American political circles. Businesses like Glaxo Smith Kline, Exxon Mobil and News Corp all belong to and use ALEC to the max to foster their business aims. Don’t believe me? The full list of all members can be found HERE.

Interestingly, big companies like Amazon, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google and McDonald’s and are all ex members who were either barred due to their beliefs or voluntarily withdrew their membership and support. Some ex members like the grain exporting giant Cargill deny ever having been a member. Evidently it’s just bad PR.

Yet young Cory jets off every year to strut his stuff on the ALEC stage, support the NRA killing machine and bring back wonderful ideas on how Australia can be more like America. He’ll jet off in July to the next ALEC AGM and come back with lots of good stuff there’s no doubt. Gun ownership will be high on his list as will conservative civil law reform. It will be the lawyers, guns and Cory Bernardi show! As Warren Zevon said in his 1978 hit ‘Bring lawyers, guns and money’, … “Get me outa here!”

Why both sides of politics has let this human firecracker even get on a plane let alone represent Australia at one of the biggest conservative talk fests in the world is the question we should be asking. What’s worse is that we the taxpayer pay for this jaunt.

So Cory, one of your skeletons is out of the closet and I guess there’s more to come. After the Sandy Hook school massacre in 2012 I tried to get some Aussie journos interested in your little hobby and a couple were. I think a few more will be now.

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The new stars of Australian Cricket

MEDIA RELEASE cricket-australia-logo

For immediate release

19th November 2016 – 8am

Debutantes receive Baggy Green Caps in preparation for 3rd Test

The 3rd test team to play South Africa starting on 24th November in Adelaide has been named with some surprises signaling a change in direction for Australian cricket.

The team is Steve Smith (C), David Warner (VC) Usman Khawaja, Buddy Franklin (WK), Tim Cahill,  Mitchell Starc, Israel Filou, Steven Bradbury, Nathan Lyon, Black Caviar, Cooper Cronk and Digger the Staffy x Cattle dog (12th man).brad-with-cap-2

With two non-humans in the squad Cricket Australia expects some raised eyebrows from traditionalists but Chairman James Sutherland states the selection is entirely within the rules.

"I'll be fielding close in at short leg. They won't get past me." said Black Caviar
“I’ll be fielding close in at short leg. They won’t get past me.” said Black Caviar

“There is absolutely nothing in the rules that forbids including non-humans in the squad. There are rules about gender but no mention of species. Both Cavo and Digger are males and are fitting in well with the others. We’re expecting big things from both of them.

“Black Caviar is extremely intimidating in the field – especially when fielding at short leg. Digger is very fast in the outfield and returns the ball with tremendous enthusiasm.” Sutherland said.

The squad will commence training at Rosehill Racecourse before flying out in two shipping containers on Wednesday.

Perhaps Steven Bradbury, the Gold Medal winning Aussie Speed skater from the  2002 Winter Olympics was the biggest surprise of all. He has been chosen for his ability to come back from last to win at all costs.

I know I'm in for my fielding but I plan to score runs too." said Digger
I know I’m in for my fielding but I plan to score runs too.” said Digger

“I’m delighted to be chosen and am going out today to buy a bat. I’m taking big Davey Warner with me to help choose and we’re looking forward to shopping together.” Bradbury said.

Other newcomers like Cahill, Cronk, Folau and Franklin have been watching footage of games from the 1970’s involving stars like Doug Walters, Max Walker and Greg Chappell in order to learn the game quickly and properly. Israel Folau has been particularly taken with the skills and demeanor of Doug Walters who he is trying to emulate in every way.c14c0533d3153f19e8a071cae91067c7-2

“I never thought I’d take up smoking and drinking but I’ll do anything for Australian Cricket. Dougy was doing 40 cigs a day when he scored a century in both innings against the Windies. If that’s what it takes I’ll do it.” Folau said.

Tickets to the game go on sale on Monday wth CA adding a new ‘pet friendly’ seating zone for fans of Digger and Caviar to watch their debut.

ENDS

Media Contact: Phil Dye 0412 678 179

 

 

Where politicians went wrong in 2016!

What lessons can politicians (or aspiring ones) take from the 2016 Australian election schmozzle? As someone who helps organisations get their message across in the media, I’ve put together 10 points that leaders should take note of. Those wanting any ghost of a chance in 2019  should ignore these points at their peril.
  1. Don’t say something you don’t believe in. Us voters see through it even if your media advisors don’t. Malcolm had to alter his stance on many things to appease the party yet he never believed any of it. Taking responsibility for the dismal campaign performance was his latest piece of rubbish. He knows it wasn’t completely his fault yet is taking the rap. It’s like he’s drugged.
  2. Never look at the camera in a TV interview. Scott Morrpoliticiansfluroison take note. It makes us think you’re lying.  Are you?
  3. Don’t wear a hi-vis fluro vest. Sorry but we’re over it. Why you need to wear a hi-vis vest when you’re in the car park is a mystery to us all. Will cars fall? Take responsibility for your own wardrobe. Don’t listen to the media advisors.
  4. Don’t have lots of people behind you nodding at everything you say. It looks stupid and like something from a Monty Python film. Be strong on your own.nodders
  5. Don’t talk about the economy all the time. It’s boring. As a matter of fact, don’t talk about it at all. Talk about human stuff; stuff like kids education, aging, Aboriginal recognition, jobs for young people and voluntary euthanasia.
  6. Don’t mention immigration. We instantly turn off. DO talk about safe suburbs, the crime rate and the great communities that people from different cultures create. Acknowledge there’s a problem in some areas of the country. Be real about it and know you can’t please everyone all of the time.
  7. Say “I don’t know”. This would be sooooo refreshing. It’s OK to say this as we’ll all then think you’re normal. Are you?
  8. Don’t hang around with other politicians. That’s right – you can’t trust them and their very presence next to you could bring you down. Get a group of besties who are normal people who wear normal clothes (no hi-vis) and actually drive a car. You might like it!
  9. Don’t be perfect. There is a shift to REAL people making REAL mistakes but trying their butts off. Swear occasionally and do the shopping.
  10. Ignore your media advisors and PR people. You can’t trust them coceand they all take too much marching powder. Their world is of big data and big image. Your world is of real people with real human nature who can shift with the wind.  No big data here – just be the mammal you are.

Hopefully these 10 points will help. If you want to ignore them, that’s OK. You’ll just continue to get what you’ve already got.

___________________________________________________________________

Phil Dye is an educator at the University of NSW, a media trainer for social causes or not for profit and a social commentator. He has written three books and made more than 300 mistakes.

 

Quexit: Should NSW be moved away from Queensland?

New ‘landscaping’ technology can now facilitate the entire removal of vast tracts of land and replace the empty space with other land masses. This remarkable technology has secretly replaced the entire west coast of Paraguay  with the island of Sicily. Now there is an opportunity for Australia to finally get it right. Vote for our future below.

Do you want NSW to be moved away from Queensland?

God-Gearing: The tax rort that must be stopped

Negative gearing is seemingly off the table in the heady season of Malcolm Turnbull tax reform.  Yet perhaps Malcolm should take a lateral look at the tax problem and that seemingly untouchable bastion of our tax system: God-gearing.

While religious groups often declare that their members can in some way skirt around the death issue, they also enjoy a tax-free status most of us only dream about. And it’s not only the large corporate religions that benefit from our Aussie God-geared tax haven. Every small sect who manage to cobble together a merry band of deluded followers can claim religious tax-free status.Managing-Gods-Money

Is it because our politicians consider God-gearing a kind of insurance against group electoral action? Perhaps. Is it a small gesture in case the hereafter does exist? Unlikely.

What has always been the argument is that religious groups have significant ‘public benefit’ and therefore need some sort of special consideration. And The Australian Tax Office has a peculiar reference to the ‘spreading of religious doctrine and practice’ as being necessary criteria for obtaining tax-free status. Doesn’t the Islamic State do that?

I bet that you, as either an individual taxpayer or business owner also have significant public benefit. You either undertake work that facilitates economic and community growth or provide people with employment . Most of us, religious or not, do our best to create a world that is positive and livable. Good works are not the sole domain of the believer.

As an educator, I have hopefully given individuals some benefit over the past 40 years and will continue to do so. I find it very amusing that the ATO also gives ‘the advancement of education’ as another criterion for tax-free status. Really! Why then isn’t every teacher in the country paying less tax or none at all!

Contributing through taxes, while painful at times, is a basic tenet of democratic society. If 100% of income goes towards good works, then no tax is paid – it’s pretty simple.

Like Apple, Google, Pratt Holdings, McDonalds Asia Pacific and Hoyts, church groups are rorting the tax system while collecting property assets worth billions. Property owned by the church sits outside of the property tax system. Cardinal George Pell knows lots about God-gearing.

Yet religious groups, or schools flying a religious banner are at the very centre of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. These organisations pay no tax and hope that the government will fund any redress system for victims, a request the Government has rightly ignored.

Perhaps if the Catholic Church and all religious organisations paid their share of tax they may also find themselves adhering to the laws of state the rest of us follow for a safe, non-abused society. At the moment, the divide between church and state is not only robbing our country of tax dollars, but facilitating abuse and the misuse of power. It’s time to close the divide.

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While being an atheist, this piece wasn’t written from an anti-religion platform, but from a nagging sense that those who facilitate the worst of crimes pay the least of tax.

Burqas, Biology and the Islamic Reformation

This opinion piece first appeared in ‘Online Opinion: Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate’ on 3/12/2015. The article on that site can be found HERE

As an Atheist I have no contact with God in any of his or her forms. Yet as an educated human I understand that some people need a belief system in their lives. While I may think that nearly all of these systems are devoid of common sense, some are more palatable than others. Islam, in its purest sense, isn’t one of them.

Now we don’t need to have immersed ourselves in the teachings of a particular religion to feel the ‘vibe’ of the religion. Our 21st century brains are very well trained at getting the ‘gist’ of most things. From films to books to consumer products, we don’t need to be scholars to get our own personal perspective of things and religion is no exception.

The Hindu religion is fascinating and has some wonderfully colourful characters. When travelling in India or within Indian communities at Lord-Ganeshhome in Australia I’ve never felt threatened or insecure. Sure, there’s some scary Hindu Gods like Kali or Shiva who supposedly create havoc at times. Yet there’s also some very likeable ones like the protection deity Ganga, or my favourite – Ganesh – the Elephant deity of Arts and Sciences. None of these deities urge Hindus to kill.

I find the Buddhist faith equally as benign. Buddhists seem to laugh lots and experience their faith more inwardly. They don’t evangelise unless it’s to those who seek it and they don’t make me feel threatened or insecure. However, I don’t like their orange robes much.

The Christian faith, with its often dour and humourless preaching does make me itch a bit. The churches are always dark and devoid of colour. There’s no orange and there’s no elephants. On visiting the Hillsong Church in north-western Sydney recently, I’ve come to believe that Christians are among the ones likely to form armies of blind faith to march against something or someone. That in itself is scary.

The Sharia difference
Yet the Muslim religion is different. Sharia law is the basic legal framework of the religion and the introduction of Sharia Law into western countries is a goal of Islamist movements around the world. In its truest meaning it is a body of moral and religious law and deals with both state and personal issues. State issues could involve sharia-law-jpllpunishments like stoning and beheading while personal law could relate to hygiene, diet and sexuality. There are vast differences between Sharia Law and secular law and these differences are a point of conflict between progressive, moderate and fundamentalist Muslims world over. Fundamentalist Sharia however, is very scary.

Most Muslim countries only practice partial Sharia law meaning secular and Sharia Law work side by side without the extremes we’ve come to see in news broadcasts. Islamists – the fundamentalist kind, don’t represent most Muslims.

Yet our western understanding of Islam is predominantly based on our exposure to news reports about terrorism or crime. Islamic State related terrorism can occupy well over half of a media’s news space while the disproportionate involvement of middle-eastern men in Australian crime has featured heavily in local reports over the past decade. This is reality and reality hasn’t been kind to the Muslim faith in Australia.

Now some may feel I’m being unfair to state that men from middle-eastern backgrounds have a disproportionate involvement in Australian crime. In 2013, the then NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said that the middle-eastern crime wave was getting ‘‘increasingly difficult to combat”. Middle-eastern involvement in Australia’s illicit drug trade is immense. The number of young men from middle-eastern backgrounds participating in gang rapes around the country is staggering. The crimes of Bilal and Mohammed Skaf and many more like them illustrate a hatred of western women that is hard to understand but clearly present.

Yet what frightens me more is the way women are treated in a strict Muslim household. On a recent visit to the Sydney Suburb of Merrylands to check out a 2nd-hand lounge, I found myself in a Muslim household with six men and three women of mixed ages. It was around dinner time. I smiled and said hello to everyone yet the women weren’t allowed to speak to me. One woman tried to illustrate with hand movements how to get the lounge to recline yet was quickly ushered away by a man. It was not a comfortable environment and the muzzling of women is not something most Australians are used to.

The Burqa and Niqab
The Muslim religion is the only one where the more fundamentalist streams hide the faces of women via the Burqa or Niqab. Of course, more moderate Muslim women may wear the Al-Amira, the Hijab, Burqa_Womenthe Shayla or the Chador- all headwear that show the face and still display respect for Muslim values. No problem there whatsoever.

Seeing the face of another human is one way we, as human animals, measure our personal safety. The face shows intent and without seeing it we can only guess at what that intent might be. Sure, we may be wrong at times when a smile hides hate or a frown hides confusion, yet when a fast decision is needed, our initial gut-response is important. Perhaps if the balaclava was worn less in terrorism attacks and robberies we might trust the Burqa a little more. This is unlikely to happen.120511-muslimwear

The Burqa or the Niqab make our initial biological assessment of safety versus danger impossible. When facial visualisation cannot take place, assessing our relationship with that person becomes futile. It just makes matters worse if women can’t shake hands or speak. Women become chattels or objects devoid of a vital human and indeed natural attribute – communication.

Is this the way we want people to relate to one another in Australia? Is this how we want to see women regarded in this country?

While my left-wing sensibility tells me I ‘should’ tolerate this difference for the sake of diversity, my common sense and indeed biological need for a secure environment tells me this is not OK.

3bc98a269d1f174fbba494b61a884b4dEmbracing English
In an interview following the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015, the Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed spoke all of his answers in Arabic. Is it too much to ask the leader of an Australian religious group to speak in English? Is it too much to ask anyone who elects to become a citizen of Australia to use English as their main mode of verbal communication?

Not embracing the transition from Arabic to English is another way that makes assessing ‘friend or foe’ impossible. If the dominant population of English speakers can’t understand what is being said by a group who are not just over-represented in crime statistics but solely represented in terrorism news, then our first response is to mistrust it. Is there a hidden intent? Is there something they don’t want me to hear? Are they mocking me?

For civil rights types to express disgust at these defensive yet natural responses is to put an entirely non-human perspective on what is really a very human reaction. These are the types who if being chased by a lion, may first say “Oh, here comes a nice, friendly lion because really, some lions CAN be friendly”. They become lion food very quickly.

Open faces – open arms: The push for an Islamic Reformation
Now I understand fully that most people of the Islamic faith in Australia speak English and don’t wear the Burqa. Yet the minority are those with the greatest impact. They are the ones who stand out simply because we can’t possibly relate to them. They may be a regular ‘Aussie’ in lion’s clothing, but gee, we can’t be fully sure.

The Burqa and Niqab must be prohibited in Australia. If we are to give a little by accepting those who need refuge, the Muslim faith must also give a little. Our society has open faces, not just open arms. While civil libertarians and fundamentalist Muslims may see a ban on the Burqa as an attack on Islam, clear thinkers see the reverse to be true – that wearing the Burqa is actually an attack on not just Australian values, but the rights of women. Women should not be muzzled or hidden in this country.

Muslim leaders and indeed any leader must also communicate in English and if they can’t they shouldn’t be speaking in publichelp.

Perhaps what the Islamic faith needs is a reformation; a movement that will bring the outdated and stricter Sharia elements of Islamic belief into the 21st century; a New Testament Islam if you like. If men are too entrenched in inflexible doctrine to mount this reformation, it is the women who, like the feminists of the 1960’s, must take control and force a change that will benefit Muslims around the world. The 1960’s feminist cry of ‘Burn the Bra’ could translate to ‘Burn the Burqa’ – the progressive Muslim women’s cry of the 21st century.

While it’s perhaps too much to expect women from Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan to forge a ‘New-Testament Islam, progressive Muslim women from Australia may be perfect to lead the way.

Why Rosie Batty has it wrong

Rosie Batty has it wrong. There is no doubt she has endured terrible tragedy and been the victim not only of domestic violence but of a failed system. She’s a strong and resilient woman. However, this doesn’t mean she’s right.video-undefined-1CC1743B00000578-474_636x358

Domestic violence isn’t a women’s issue, it’s a mental health issue. Now this may seem obvious to most but to some this has seemingly gone over their heads. Furthermore, while women are primarily the victims of domestic violence, it’s overwhelmingly a men’s issue, a drug and alcohol issue and a community issue, not a women’s issue.

And no amount of refuge funding, crisis accommodation or advertising dollars is going to change that.

I can imagine the perpetrator of domestic violence watching a TV add that criticizes his behaviour jumping up, saying he’s sorry to everyone and forevermore changing his ways. Unlikely.couple

The nuclear family, our society’s lynchpin for family relationships is a breeding ground for all types of dysfunctional behaviour. While those more well-off in society may find the nuclear family  tenable, those locked away in three bedroom brick veneer in the ‘risk area’ fringes of our cities and regional centres are doing it tough.  Without extended family help, financial security and a supportive community, these couples exist in a cauldron few cope well with.  The pressure to pay the mortgage – often a pressure falling on the man, is a pressure that is often too much to bear. It didn’t work in the 1950’s and it doesn’t work now.

Men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women. In regional and fringe areas, this figure is greater. While women obviously feel the pressure that nuclear family isolation provides, women are more likely to have a social group for sharing and working things out. Men on the other hand are more likely to take refuge in alcohol or other substances in order to quell their depression – a depression they are unlikely to admit to. The crystal meth epidemic has taken hold in Australia. Add this to the availability of alcohol and we have a mental health crisis, a crisis with domestic violence as just one of the by-products.

Rosie Batty’s focus on the court and refuge system is missing the point completely.  Yes, there needs to be consistency in the law and support for victims. Yes, the $400,000 per year to keep an asylum seeker is silly when we have problems on the home front. Yes, saving the lives of woman and children is important.

Yet so is the overall improvement of services that support men as well as women.  As a society we must address the problem at its root cause, not simply provide a band-aid after the cut is made. For then the damage is done and can’t be reversed.

In a civilized society, we’ll stop it happening in the first place.

BREAKING NEWS. Abbott makes George Bush a Saint!

This is a work of fiction. Please don’t email me with factual errors 🙂

These are glory days in Australia. First Tony Abbot awards a Knighthood to old Prince Philip. Phil would have been chuffed for a few minutes – or maybe not. Where is Australia again?

Next, the Socceroos win the Asian Cup. Now I strongly believe this would not have happened if Tony hadn’t done the Knighthood thing. Everyone wants to be knighted now and our boys would like nothing better than a horse, a sword and a good old-fashioned feast.

Now I have it on good authority from my mates in Canberra that Tony is going a step further this week. A big step. A master-plan. In order to take media attention off the Liberals’  drubbing in the Queensland elections, Tony has decided to make George W Bush (the junior one) a Saint. Yes, you heard correctly. St George of Dallas.

George W Bush being told about his Beatification
George W Bush being told about his Beatification

Now some traditionalists may think Beatification is not the role of the Australian Prime Minister and I see their point. Yet for too long this job has been held by those at the top of the Holy Roman Catholic Church and for too long they’ve been sitting on their hands waiting for the next miracle – which to be honest, may be a fair way off.

Always the progressive Catholic, Tony  Abbott has had enough and I can’t blame him. The bestowing of Sainthood should be a job for all folk, not just those in red robes. By Beatifying George W Bush, Tony has taken Sainthood out of the hands of the Cardinals and in his trademark subtle way,  given us all permission to bestow Knight-hoods, Saint-hoods and royal titles to whoever we please. Power to the people! A master-plan indeed. All hail Tony!

For example,  on the weekend I made my good friend and old teaching buddy Mark Smith a Prince.

The Wrap-overs sold millions
The Wrap-overs sold millions

Mark was the inventor of a headset worn by tennis fans attending Maria Sharapova matches. In reality, it was just a set of industrial earmuffs made into the shape of small tennis rackets. He called the headset the ‘Maria Shav-wrap-over and sold millions to those tired of her grunting and wanting to save their hearing. I also gave him 16,000 hectares of prime land at Jervis Bay. Well done Prince Mark. All rise.

On a roll, I then bestowed the title ‘Earl of the Garter’ on the famous Japanese inventor Yoshika Naramatsu for his invention of the ‘Toilet Roll Hat (pictured).

Toilet Roll Hat - Brilliant!
Toilet Roll Hat – Brilliant!

This simple invention has revolutionized treatment of the common cold. Well done Yoshika Naramatsu – Earl of the Garter. All rise.

We should all now follow in Tony’s footsteps and award those we admire the awards they deserve. We need not know them and indeed they could be dead. They may even be fictional. They may not even be human. They could even be a politician. I’m seriously thinking of Beatifying  both Tim Cahill and Cadel Evans. They’ve done more to unify this country than any member of parliament.

In a couple of years, we’ll all be asked to think hard and bestow the award of ‘Prime Minister’ once again. Let’s hope we think a little harder this time.

 

 

Cutting the nose from our national face

The following article first appeared in Online Opinion on 14/7/2014 under the title ‘Obliterating the past obliterates its lessons’. As an entertainer who once performed on the same bill as Rolf Harris, I was moved to write this after he had his Aria Award revoked. I don’t in any way support Harris and he deserves his punishment. However, he also needs to be remembered for his positive contribution to Australian music.

Here’s a crass riddle for you. What has ancient Egyptian pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut and Rolf Harris got in common? Mmmm? The answer could lie in the fact that while living more than 3,500 years apart, they were both celebrities.Rolf-Harris

Yet that’s not it. The answer is that both of these individuals are victims of ‘Damnatio Memoriae’ – the practice of chiseling, painting over or otherwise removing a person’s image or legacy from public view so they are purged from the national psyche. Sometimes it’s done by ordinary people as a sort of communal catharsis. Sometimes it’s ordered by a new regime or powerful elite as a prescribed amnesia. They did it to Saddam Hussein and they did it to ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. They wanted to do it to Bill Clinton. I imagine that soon they’ll do it to Todd Carney. Watch out Ned Kelly.

Most of the time, it doesn’t matter if the individual had performed hundreds of good deeds in the past or even managed, as in the case of Hatshepsut, to build a nation. The new dynasty of Pharaohs scraped her face off buildings anyway. Those who render ‘Damnatio Memoriae’ (let’s call it DM from now on), look only to the ‘perceived’ dark side of a person’s character and condemn them on that.

I say ‘perceived’ dark side as it’s often the political thinking of the day that decides what is dark and what is not. It can also be decided by money, ideology and gender. These days it can also be decided by who has a Smartphone in the vicinity.

While some DM may be deserved, University of North Carolina Lecturer Sarah Bond recently wrote that the practice does more to cement the individual in the national mind than remove it. The image may not stay in the public eye, but it stays in the mind and in legend where it can be distorted – sometimes positively.

It’s also true that without the image or legacy of a disgraced individual to reflect on, we can’t possibly learn the lessons their downfall could teach us. A faultless history makes for a system of theoretical learning with no grounding in reality. We learn far more from the mistakes and horrors of history than its wonders. A sanitised national fairy tale is a useless teacher.

Yet why do some disgraced celebrities get DM’d while lots of other bad as hell celebrity types have their crimes forgotten and the ‘bright’ side of their character lauded? Why is one guilty celebrity damned while another praised?

Nigel Milsom, one of Australia’s most successful artists, was recently awarded the Nation’s richest art gong – the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize while in prison for armed robbery. Brandishing a tomahawk, Milsom most certainly inflicted severe psychological damage on some poor shopkeeper. While out of character and influenced by depression,  it was in anyone’s language, a crime. His Portrait Prize remains however and so it should.

Radio personality Alan Jones has been found guilty of defamation, racial vilification or contempt of court on no less than 12 occasions. He has hurt millions through racially motivated comment. His blathering about Julia Gillard’s father “dying of shame” has been condemned from both sides of politics. He received an Order of Australia in 2004 for his charity work. He still has it.roman-polanski

Much closer to Rolf Harris is Roman Polanski. While not a home grown celebrity, his contribution to international cinema is unquestioned. He received many awards years after being found guilty of the rape of a 13 year old girl and has many more awards pending for 2014. He’ll probably get them. So he should.

Now I was no great fan of Rolf (notice past tense – I’ve subconsciously DM’d him), yet I did on one occasion perform on the same bill. He got far more applause than me and deservedly so. He was good; very good. As an entertainer he made the lives of millions brighter. He changed the direction of Australian music and gave national identity linked with humour a place on 20th century radio playlists around the country and around the world.

Harris is being treated like Saddam Hussein. His image is being removed from murals across the country. His Aria Wall of Fame award has been revoked and his portrait removed from the National Portrait Gallery. I’m waiting for the ABC songbooks to be re-written. The Pharaohs of Egypt would be proud.

Just as Jones, Milsom and Polanski remain recognized as influential contributors in their field, so should Harris. His bright side – that of an outstanding entertainer must remain in our national psyche.

Harris was stupid. His dark side was judged and he will pay for his crimes – probably in far more ways than we’ll ever know. Yet our inability to see that all of us are capable of doing both good and bad things is even more stupid. When we fail to recognise this in the celebrities and sports stars we condemn, we fail to recognise it in ourselves and a white picket fence perspective of national identity becomes a deceitful norm.

Unlike an amoeba, we are multi-dimensional beings, and not all of those dimensions are socially or legally acceptable. Cutting off the nose of a nation in order to rewrite history may have been done in ancient Egypt, yet in 21st century Australia, we should hope that our local pharaohs have a more rational view of history and humanity.

 

Schapelle Corby Headline predictions 2014

My three Schapelle Corby headline predictions for 2014 follow. With big TV and Magazine dollars floating around, you can be sure the ‘exclusive’ is not limited to one single media event, but a ‘calendar of sensations’.Schapelle

All headlines and lead sentences will also be on my ‘Musings’ Facebook page. Please share the this post with friends. If anyone is willing to place a bet that NONE of these will occur please let me know.  Here goes…

Headline 1: (June 2014?)

CORBY: “I HAD SEX WITH JAILER”

In an amazing disclosure, paroled drug smuggler Schapelle Corby admitted to having sex with one of her jailers twice during the first 12 months of her internment. The prison officer, who left the prison shortly after, initially told Corby he could help her in future appeals and parole hearings.

Headline 2: (December 2014?)

CORBY FAMILY IN BATTLE
OVER MILLIONS

The family of convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby have begun legal proceedings in a claim for over half of the supposed $7 million paid to her last March for media exclusives. Yet the family matter, led by sister Mercedes, is likely to lead to a bitter court battle over the millions that are widely known to exist, but can’t be formally accounted for.

Headline 3:(April 2015?)186898-a717eea8-2c89-11e3-9e23-6fef8332cdf9

(I reserve the right to swap ‘SISTER’S EX-HUSBAND’ with ‘JAILER’ as I believe there’s chance of either happening.)

CORBY TO MARRY SISTER’S EX HUSBAND

Ten months after her ‘marriage’ split with Ben Panangian, paroled drug-smuggler Schapelle Corby has wed her sister’s ex-husband Wayan Widyartha in a traditional Balinese ceremony in Kuta.  The ceremony was followed by a small gathering of friends in the ‘Envy’ local nightclub in Jalan Pantai. No family were present.