Monthly Archives: July 2011

Surely there’s a noun Norway could declare war on instead

Wait, so Norway isn’t going to create an expensive paranoid police-state “war on terror” apparatus that validates the persecution complex of people like the killer? Weird.

“It’s absolutely possible to have an open, democratic, inclusive society, and at the same time have security measures and not be naive,” Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Oslo. “I think what we have seen is that there is going to be one Norway before and one Norway after July 22,” he said. “But I hope and also believe that the Norway we will see after will be more open, a more tolerant society than what we had before.”

Oh, come on. Surely there’s an unrelated country they could invade?

Dodgy DoJ survey designed to trick Victorians into calling for harsher sentencing

You’re a conservative government that wants to build more prisons. You know that all the research on sentencing – the detailed studies undertaken by the Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council – show that, contrary to the impression given by the tabloid media, when informed of all the facts in a case, Victorians prefer lower sentences than actually imposed by Judges.

What do you do?

You commission a one-sided survey with highly misleading questions, designed to get the answers you want. You put up scenarios that do not include any mitigating factors (but several aggravating factors), you leave respondents to guess as to whether the person has similar priors or not (as if it’s not highly relevant to sentencing), you do not give any context in terms of what will be likely to reduce reoffending, you give the maximum sentence available under the law but not the current average for that offence, and you give no context in terms of recidivism rates under the various sentencing options (corrections orders vs jail).

And then, because with those massive distorting factors, that survey will inevitably give results that wrongly indicate that current sentences are less than the public would (when informed of the facts of a case) really want to impose, you clod around in parliament increasing sentences and adding mandatory minimums and removing sentencing options and, in general, prejudging cases in advance – and, well, benefit in whatever way that helps you. Pleasing the Herald Sun, pleasing donors who build and run prisons, looking like you’re doing something about crime (that will, conveniently, probably get worse as you train minor offenders in prison to be more serious offenders, thereby prompting the building of more prisons, ad infinitum), enjoying the satisfaction of putting poor people behind bars. I don’t know – I’ve never quite grasped why locking someone up is such a vicious pleasure for people not motivated wholly by revenge.

The problem: people when fully informed did not follow the tabloid “we want tougher sentences” script.
The solution: take out the “being fully informed” bit, trick citizens into thinking they support tougher sentences than they actually do.
The result: more people in prison for longer – huge increase in public expenditure on prisons; significant increase in crime; more lives ruined.

That’s what the Liberals mean when they talk about “law and order”.

ELSEWHERE: The Law Institute is very concerned about any reliance whatsoever being placed on this highly-flawed online “survey”. Tim at 5 Star Laundry is similarly appalled.

They might as well just do sentencing by Herald Sun voteline poll. Oh, hell, I’ve just given them an idea.

Cost of living increases that we can’t yet blame on the carbon price

Today’s Herald Sun, whinging about cost of living increases that have NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH THE MINING BOOM and are NO REASON we should’ve had a super profit tax on those milking our national resources and adding huge inflationary pressure to the economy as a whole:

Keep the above image in mind when, in two years’ time, the Herald Sun runs a nearly identical piece but blaming it on the then carbon price.

Spoiled little brats

News Ltd is rightly appalled at the idea of treating “illegal” children even slightly humanely:

Those darn “spoiled” children with the bare minimum education we can get away with providing them.

Gosh, the way we’re so nice to immigrants! It just makes you want to… you know. You know what I mean, unhinged News Ltd readers, right?

SHOCK: Important new book reveals that the far right doesn’t like The Greens

You know that new right-wing book full of insights as to why market and Christian fundamentalists don’t like the Greens? Launched yesterday by Kevin Andrews and Janet Albrechtsen, and containing chapters by luminaries like Wendy Francis, Kevin Donnelly, Mirko Bagaric, Peter Faris, and Ted Lapkin, you’ll be SHOCKED to discover that the Greens are EVIL LEFTISTS WHO DON’T BELIEVE IN THE PRIMACY OF CHRISTIANITY AND CORPORATISM. It’s a book that will convince every far-right Australian who would never vote Green in a pink fit (because that’d be gay, obviously), not to vote for the Greens.

Anyway, we here at An Onymous Lefty have been fortunate enough to see some of the early planned covers, before they ultimately stuck with the bland “Policies, Reality and Consequences” subheading.

I think they would’ve sold more copies:

Marriage excitement

Less than a month to go to our wedding! Less than a month before I marry my darling. It is extraordinarily exciting.

Counting down the days, because I can’t wait.

In related news, there’s a rally for marriage equality on the Saturday beforehand, 13th August 2011:

I’m embarrassed that as a condition of getting married, we have to agree to the celebrant reading out John Howard’s bigotry at our wedding – although we’ll be making sure she emphasises the word “current” in front of “law”, and noting that we hope that all consenting adults will also have the opportunity to marry the person they love – but we can at least do our part to undo the damage by standing up to be counted the week before.

See you there.

Why don’t we care? Do we blame them?

There are many disturbing parts to this desperately sad Guardian story about one hidden group of victims of rape in war – men who are raped by other men, who cannot reveal what has happened to them without being even more victimised – but there’s one that we can apply immediate pressure to reform:

As part of an attempt to correct this, the RLP produced a documentary in 2010 called Gender Against Men. When it was screened, Dolan says that attempts were made to stop him. “Were these attempts by people in well-known, international aid agencies?” I ask.

“Yes,” he replies. “There’s a fear among them that this is a zero-sum game; that there’s a pre-defined cake and if you start talking about men, you’re going to somehow eat a chunk of this cake that’s taken them a long time to bake.” Dolan points to a November 2006 UN report that followed an international conference on sexual violence in this area of East Africa.

“I know for a fact that the people behind the report insisted the definition of rape be restricted to women,” he says, adding that one of the RLP’s donors, Dutch Oxfam, refused to provide any more funding unless he’d promise that 70% of his client base was female. He also recalls a man whose case was “particularly bad” and was referred to the UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR. “They told him: ‘We have a programme for vulnerable women, but not men.'”

That’s not good enough. Oxfam? The “cake” might be too small, but you are adding to the problem by artificially excluding from help one group of victims with even fewer avenues for assistance.

It’s funny – peculiar, not ha ha – how selective compassion can be. Because the perpetrators of most violence are men, we ignore it when other men are the victims of violence – as if they deserve less sympathy because, hell, they already had the gender identity to be the givers rather than receivers of violence, so really it’s somehow their own fault that they fell into what we’ve defined as the woman’s role?

There’s a lot of nasty and destructive gender thinking in that last sentence. And you’ll see in the article just what it does in practice.

UPDATE: Not that you can imagine male rape being treated in the West with as much indifference.