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John Passant

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April 2011



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Maribyrnong, refugees and democracy

It started off well. 200 or so people at Maribyrnong turned up to demand that the Gillard Government close down its detention centres and free the refugees. We listened to various speakers making the same points – asylum seekers are welcome here.

We chanted about locking up Gillard and throwing away the keys, ending with ‘Free the refugees.’

We had ribbons to tie on the perimeter fence to leave a message for these prisoners of mandatory detention if they couldn’t hear us.

And so we set off around the hell hole, chanting loudly in the hope the detainees could hear us.

We walked past cops on horseback and I thought WTF? When we reached a spot around the back six or so two legged police lined up in front of the perimeter fence, a wire contraption surrounding another, larger fence of stronger metal and a more secure structure.

The cops let some people tie ribbons on the fence. Then they started pushing us back.

Ribbons evidently are a threat to democracy as we know it. OK, some of the protesters were rocking on the fence. Maybe that too was a threat to democracy. 

Then two people in front of me reeled back, clutching their eyes. The cops had used capsicum spray on them. One was a photographer. Evidently taking photos is a threat to democracy too like tying ribbons to a fence.

Five people helped the other protester as he staggered about, blinded and in pain for the crime of attending a demonstration.

This was police assault, pure and simple, designed to intimidate us. It didn’t and it won’t.

Then the horses came in to force us back from the fence. Apparently ribbons, fence shaking and photos are such a  threat to democracy as we know it that horses are needed to protect it and its symbol – the Maribyrnong concentration camp that keeps innocent people in and out.

Its fence serves two purposes now – brutalising refugees and now demonstrators. We are all refugees.

So we moved to another spot. This time the cops prevented us getting near the fence. The horses came in and one cop drew her truncheon and laid into a group of protesters at the front attempting to exercise their  democratic right to put, shock horror, ribbons on a fence.

Are ribbons a threat to democracy? Apparently so, if the actions of the cops on their horses and the truncheon yielding defender of all that is right and proper are any guide. 

As these brave armed defenders of democracy repulsed yet another assault on freedom we chanted ‘Get those animals off the horses’.

Unfortunately the horses didn’t cooperate. They aren’t clever enough to understand concepts like democracy. Apparently the cops have that trained out off them too in their defence of the established order and the criminal mandatory detention system.

And so we went back to our original spot at the fence and tried again to tie ribbons on the fence. Some people were able to do that. 

The cops let us do that for about two milliseconds until one of them realised we dangerous revolutionaries were subverting the natural order and so they stopped us  indulging in the heinous crime of ribbon tying.

Let’s hope that the ribbons of freedom fly high and send a message to our brothers and sisters in the detention centres. We are with you and no amount of police provocation or attacks will stop us expressing our solidarity with you.

But the state violence against demonstrators is at this stage minor compared to the violence against asylum seekers. These are people who have committed no crime and whose only goal is justice yet who have been locked up for months and months and in many cases years.

Refugees are the real heroes with their determination, commitment and struggle to win democracy and freedom.

Julia Gillard, close down your detention centres.



Comment from Graham Dooley
Time April 26, 2011 at 9:09 am

Unfortunate set of events however I recall a recent post that made the (seemingly) logical point that some form of vetting process is required lest we have an influx of refugees with little or no idea of the legitimacy of their claims for asylum protection. Do you think this is a solution or do you maintain that no such filter should be applied – given we have not achieved Socialist Utopia just yet so must endure this inconvenient (yet globally accepted) system of national sovereignty.

Comment from Graham Dooley
Time April 26, 2011 at 10:53 am

Obviously I was not there to see how things unfolded but pushing at a fence might have been sufficient justification for police to ask then demand demonstrators move away from it. Demonstrations are hard to control from either side, tempers flare and emotions run high. Any use of capsicum spray will be investigated as a matter of course to determine whether use was appropriate in the circumstances. Any demonstrator can make a submission in relation to that as I’m sure you as a lawyer know. On the topic of lawyers, did anyone have the foresight to have legal observers in place, because that might make it simpler for you to glean fact from fiction should any of this end up before a Court? I note no-one was arrested according to the ABC. Was capsicum spray widely used or just in the circumstances you describe?

On the topic of asylum seekers, refugees etc. I repeat the point that some sort of filtering system is required and in the absence of identification papers etc. I assume the filtering becomes more intensive. The RAC makes some interesting points about the current system and the lack of many other UN signatory nations between trouble spots and Australia. Demonisation of asylum seekers obviously plays to intolerant sections of the electorate but I wonder if demonstrations like this do anything to sway those opinions. It certainly fires up demonstrators and “bloods” young police officers but not sure this is a net social good given the potential to engage in debate with people about the sources of their prejudices and (like RAC) publish information that coherently argues the case FOR tolerance.

Comment from Calligula
Time April 26, 2011 at 10:03 pm

All talk, no action.
Maryibyrnong was once a centre for our defence.
I’m not entirely sure but expect that what was once a facility for defence technology is now a concentration camp.
I know that Howard put such changes in train – privatising defence procurement and selling defence facilities to his mates, the con-men.
Now there’s an article that should be behind bars.

But the new regime continues his work at an accelerated pace.
John bitches about blow-ins being locked up.
I can’t work out whether Drooley agrees or disagrees with the sentiment.

Hang on – I’ll check on that –
John – pigs on horseback and on shank’s pony. The usual confrontation.

Drools wanting a vetting process for migrants.
Drools must vote labor and be on the inside of the system
Labor has granted him his wish.

Drool’s condensed comments, an analysis; just to prove that I’ve read his drivel –

“(he) Was not there – demos hard to control – tempers flare – capsicum spray – lawyers should be there – to oversee – simpler to glean fact – before court – more capsicum spray – no-one arrested but capsicum spray used anyway.”

Helpful that. He wasn’t there and has nothing to offer other than the authorities can clean up the mess they’ve created by keeping people locked up in concentration camps.

His second effort; he’s learning.
Note that he didn’t once mention ‘the elephant in the room’ –

“Filtering system required – in the absence of papers – assumes filtering becomes more intensive – ROYAL AUTOMOBILE CLUB makes interesting points about – current system and lack of signatories – UN trouble spots and Oz – demonisation plays to electorate intolerance – do demos sway opinions? – fires demonstrators and gives cops the jollies – and not sure if to the nett social good – potential for debate – sources of prejudice – publish coherent argument – for tolerance. “
Brilliant. I bow to the floor cowering under the weight of his profound mastery of the subject.

Now, if anyone could tell me what any of it has to do with Marybong – Matbringen – that place in Victoria?

Are ribbons a threat?
No, not especially.
But if you ask Isadora Duncan about her long scarf and it’s unfortunate meshing with the final drive of a Type 22 Bugatti – she’d probably warn you against robust ribbins too.

Comment from Graham Dooley
Time April 27, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Cal, is this the discourse you had in mind? You sound a bit bitter and twisted old chum. Take a breather at that other blog you recommended and see if you can do a little better than shoot the messenger. My points are “on point” if you care the read them sans ideological blinkers. You do yourself no favours being so obviously angry all the time. Calm down and think clearly. Where’s the discourse you promised?

Comment from Calligula
Time April 27, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Do yourself a favour, go to the library and borrow a TinTin comic.
Get one featuring Captain Haddock.
He’s good at longstream, effortless cussing.
Borrow a TinTin and learn.

In the meantime there does remain a concept at law even in this politically incorrect travesty of a once-nation.
‘Reasonable anger’.

It is about being reasonably angry and having the perfect right to express that anger.
So go for it you silly pussy. Don’t shilly shally – abuse the stuffing out of me.

In the meantime get out of my face and let me have my pathetic little say with those who, without the tyranny of distance, I’d one day like to meet as friends – even if we don’t agree about every issue.

Meanwhile I’ve decided that I don’t particularly like the cut of your jib – nor do I like your elephant in my room.
It disturbs the neighbours what with its trumpeting about and breaking the furniture.

Why not get your sorry little arse over to my pages if all you want to do is use big words and dissemble?
I won’t mind.
Why not do that and leave these pages clear for a bit of old glory and bashing down the barricades.
“No favours – obviously angry” – you poor attempt at a wannabe control freak.
You ignoble little twerp !

Are you serious?
Haven’t you ever notices that certain pages like these tend to revolve about perceived grievances?
Most who write in here are gnashing their teeth about one subject or other.
The bloke who orders discussion here tends to be trumpeting one topic or other, all tantamount to the bellyache.

How precisely should any of this be ordered to your satisfaction, toolhead?

Something like – “Excuse me Granny but they’re machinegunning the unionists out front again.”

Yer bloody dickhead – grow up.

Comment from Calligula
Time April 28, 2011 at 12:11 am

Drooles, old pin –
Why not simply accept, you little pumpkin, that some of us (according to your own terms) are more IMPORTANT than you.

Comment from gra
Time April 28, 2011 at 12:30 pm

virga quod calx

Comment from Graham Dooley
Time April 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm

“Discourse (from Latin discursus, meaning “running to and from”)” – Cal, you’re half way there, you’ve got the “running from” down pat, now just try the other side. At your convenience Cal, I’m nothing if not patient. GD

Comment from Calligula
Time April 28, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Not patient dooley – just a trial.
An elephant in the room – a user, mostly of glib catch-phrases.
A control mannykin devoid of imagination who hides his fury behind glibness.
I cast my mind back (go on, tell me I lack a mind) to when Mr. Passant told you where to go early on in the peace.
Now this article is supposedly about Maribyrnong, refugees and democracy.

So would you permit me to reiterate that I have concerns about ex-defence establishments being converted to concentration camps.
Now I wouldn’t mind if certain specimens were put away carefully in such establishments – but saying that I’m not referring to legit political asylum seekers.
You can shove your eugenics too.

Put it another way. Your insinuations are indeed tiresome but I’m not in the least concerned about you simply being an annoying prick.
Rather there are subjects that could be better discussed without asinine ( bickering and the sort of side-tracking you obviously intend to pursue.

We are all human and fallible but some are unfortunately more susceptible to that Dunning/Kruger effect.
It appears that you are not so much susceptible to that as disadvantaged with it as a profound congenital defect.
Putting it bluntly I reckon Oz would be a better, less dangerous and infinitely more interesting place if we let out the reffos and locked up your sort in their stead.
PS – Discourse. My discourse comes from ‘disco-discus’ – to make noise and play with overweight, low-technology Frisbees.

Want to play catchie, Mr humourless?

Comment from John
Time April 28, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Can I suggest instead of attacking each other you both just make comments on the post at hand and ignore each other’s jibes.

Comment from John
Time April 28, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Somebody (Calligula I think) made a reference to Tin Tin and now I can’t find it. Maybe I deleted it instead of approving it and maybe some others. It is late and I am tired. I was going to ask which version should we read of Tin Tin, the English or the French one?

Comment from Gradool
Time April 29, 2011 at 7:19 am

Happy to try but you ad hom button seems a tad slow when acolytes post. GD

Comment from Gradool
Time April 29, 2011 at 8:42 am

My final point on this post is this:

Action that enflames emotions of detainees such that they incur a processing penalty is poorly thought out action. When that action is in the form of off-site protestors encouraging detainees to damage property etc no-one wins, except maybe those who use such protests to foster their own personal agendas, be they the off-site groups or people who have their own prejudices reinforced by events like these. The detainees don’t appear ANY better off, in fact look likely to lose what public sympathy they may have had. Something to ponder the next time you decide to rattle fences instead of engaging in well thought out political strategy. GD

Comment from John
Time April 29, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Instead they just get brutalised in concentration camps. Desparate people do desparate things.

Comment from Gradool
Time April 29, 2011 at 5:24 pm

The detainees are desperate not the middle class activists egging them on JP. Don’t you see the misery your “help” inflicts on them? Are you that detached?

Comment from John
Time April 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm

So campaigning to close down concentration camps is the cause of the misery refugees suffer? Wow. I suppose the refugees who attend the protests are middle class activists too. Dear oh dear.

Comment from gradool
Time April 29, 2011 at 6:48 pm

If they’re not detainees at the time I ask how they think their activism as displayed on the day is any help to anyone inside. I mean real help JP not empty sloganeering etc. Real help. Whose ego does all that activism stroke?

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