Acceptability

11 02 2009

Just yesterday I was forced to suffer a fool on the bus.  He yammered on to his audience about his existence in the way people who his character do, discussing things from his former cars to getting pissed.  Needless to say, the words this man used were putrid and offended right to the core as the subject of his conversation gave an insight to his character that can only be described as some blend of evil and stupid.  And I have yet still to work out the exact portions.

During the long trip, another in this man’s company cracked a racist joke.  I was lead to the assumption that based on the man’s accent he was native to the state of Queensland.  As conversation does, it went backwards and forwards for a while on the subject of indigenous Australians, and while my attention had been caught by the words of the second man, it was the first that left the mark.

This man, evidently from Tasmania, began discussing the indigenous population of of his native state and his comments on the subject went something along the lines of,

“We didn’t quite push out all the Aborigines out of Tasmania when we first got there.  There are still some left.  We didn’t do a good enough job.  We should have pushed them all off the cliffs when we had the chance.  That way there’d be no more black people around.  Could you imagine that?  Maybe we should just shoot them so that there would be no more black people around, no more.”

This is all fairly accurate though I admit I’m can’t quite remember whether he suggested executing these people with bullets or through some other method, but the image and impact of these words remains the same. The amazing thing, is that this guy laughed after saying such words and I was sorely tempted to turn around and propose that if he really wanted to shoot someone, he should do the rest of us a favour and start with himself.  But after tallying up all the reasons in my mind why what this man was saying was wrong, and all the reasons why I would feel entirely justified in punching him in the face, I turned back into the second part of the conversation which had turned to the bush fires in Victoria.

For those that don’t know, Victoria was turned into a tinderbox with the extreme heat wave over that lasted over two weeks and has since gone up in flames, taken something towards 300 people with it.  It is truly a tragedy, and while my sympathies goes out to those affected by such a disaster, I should probably return to the topic at hand; the conversation.

It seems the Tasmanian man, and his fellows had been discussing the fires, particularly the one that claimed the most life and had been lit by an arsonist.  Each had taken their turn to curse whomever this arsonist was with a string of profanity and then agreed upon a certain descriptive word that made me prick up my ears.  They called this firebug, “evil” and suggested that he should be shot.  Another one of their companions who had evidently studied law or worked in the police or the courts — pretty much “worked in government” — began explaining the possible sentencing for the arsonist when he had been caught, which inevitably ended up being, “life.”  However, that did not interest me.  My mind lingered back towards the use of the word “evil” and the unanimous condemning of an act that cost human life, yet when only minutes before, these same characters had been laughing at a similar act but also proposed that such an act should be deliberately carried out against a minority.

Needless to say, I could not believe how it did not occur to these people that they were advocating murder and yet simultaneously condemning it.  Their cognitive dissonance must be so huge, so massive, that I wonder how they are able to sleep at night with their brain in such stress.  The Orwellian doublethink of the whole thing just took me back and I had to get off that bus.  I could not have stayed there with those people any longer, even if it meant waiting for the next bus.

Indeed, through this post their conversation will have been recorded publicly so that their words may stand testament to the doublethink of our time.  I’d even be willing to wager that these same men would have been those who celebrated Australia Day wearing a blue singlet, having a BBQ and waving — or wearing — an Australian flag.

Doesn’t it make you proud to be Australian?

I also suggest reading this article discussing the massacre of Tasmanian Aborigines to add an extra dimension to the whole episode.

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One response

15 02 2009
Dave Trowbridge

There’s no cognitive dissonance involved. For them, indigenous Australians are “the other:” not human and therefore a licit subject of eliminationist rhetoric. It’s the same thought process that makes wars possible, and a fundamental underpinning of state power.

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