Thursday, 17 July 2014

"Form and its Usurpers", by Brendan Vance

I've been sharing this post by Brendan Vance pretty much every, but I feel I would be amiss if I didn't share it here too. It's a long read (and has two earlier articles that lend it some context), but I'm all kinds of serious when I tell you that this might be one of the more important pieces you'll read this, well, forever!

I'm dead serious.

You've probably all felt from time to time like FB, et al. have been screwing you over, but I doubt you've been able to put it in words you could articulate intelligibly to another person. Well, Mr. Vance has been, gone, done the cogitative leg-work for you and his post (essay, really)  is the result.


Read it now.

If it makes your head hurt then go take a break from your screen before coming back to finish it. I can barely believe how much noise I'm making about this essay, but I'm also dead certain that it's completely worth it.

Go now.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Australia the Duck

"Stop the world! I want to get off!"

It's a phrase I hear every now and then from my maternal grandmother.

I have similar moments. Times of being sufficiently overwhelmed and/or not-okay with the situation I find myself in that I just want out. Out I tell you!

Only, this time around, it's: "Stop the country!"

The prompt is the debut column by Guardian Australia's new legal editor, Richard Ackland. In it he highlights an ongoing problem with our current government's approach to asylum seekers attempting to gain access, via boat, to the mainland: it's illegal.

Not just illegal by international standards either; illegal under Australian domestic law.

Ackland writes:
Refoulement is the forcing back of people to their place of origin where they are expected to face persecution or threats to life and liberty on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.
[Australia's non-refoulement] obligations also form part of our domestic law because that article from the torture convention is incorporated into the Migration Act. The legislation defines persecution as "serious harm ... systematic and discriminatory conduct".
So the government can't even claim to be toeing that odious line (taken on by so many national states around the world and across history) of subscribing to international treaties only so long as it doesn't stop the national entity from doing things their own way. Screw playing hokey with the rules the neighbours set out, that's for chumps. We're not even going to follow our own rules!

And yet...

And yet the idea of the government acting duplicitously isn't what's gotten me to the point where I'm despairing of my country of birth (at least, not that idea alone). I keep digging down, trying to find the source of these feelings, and the thing that seem to throw me the most is realising just how aethical the whole Aust. gov. approach is.

Aethical? I hear you ask. Is that even a word?

Well, maybe not, but I'm taking a leaf out of Shakespeare's book and creating where I see a need. Why? Because the problem with saying something like "amoral" is that it opens up a whole can of worms about "Who's morality are you applying to the situation?", and "Who are you to say what's moral for another person?", and a whole bunch of other self-righteous (heh, ironic that) twaddle from the moral relativists. (Fuckers. Go come up with a decent solution to the reformer's dilemma. Then we'll talk).


So yes, anyway, 'aethical'.

What I mean by the term is that the Australian government, like a toddler in the sandpit (ergo having no concept of 'others'), has no problem acting without reference anything beyond it's immediate desires. It sets about doing what it sees as necessary without pausing to consult the statues that others in times past have seen fit to institute.

To put it plainly: the Australian government is aethical because it does not operate according to any consistent, external, articulated framework that might otherwise serve to stricture (or at least limit) its excesses.

I'm sure that sounded thoroughly hyperbolic.

But really, when you get down to it, what else do you call it when the government (you know, the people who are involved in drafting, passing, and upholding law) starts disregarding certain bits of legislation simply because it's politically expedient?

I don't know.

I mean, one would expect, one would hope, that the government was actually interested enough in doing their job that they actually abided by the rules and regulations they set themselves. No?

Because if they weren't then it calls a lot of things into question. A lot, a lot of things...


Anyway, this is all getting rather depressing, so instead of continuing to stare into the abyss I though I'd finish with an amusing little anecdote about a Muscovy duck I once knew. (Well, amusing might be up for debate, but it's an interesting story at any rate. I'll leave people to draw their own conclusions).

Hugo was a miserable excuse for a duck. Not that he himself was miserable, but his lifestyle and personal habits left much to be desired. Hugo, you see, was in the habit of finding a warm spot of sun to snooze in after the daily bucket of grain had made its appearance. This in itself would not have been such a bad habit, but Hugo so enjoyed the little nests he created that, come the call of nature, he would rather defecate in said nest than get up and do his business elsewhere. But this was not all, oh no indeed; Hugo was a most singular duck. During his slumber he would shit and turd up his snug little nest something terrible; however, the real sanitary disaster came not only from his propensity to make continued use of the same nest, week after week, but from his compulsive habit of expunging the contents of his inner plumbing into and over his nest whenever the opportunity presented itself! There's little more to be said for Hugo, other than that his habit of constant 'refoulement' eventually lead to him (as a friend eloquently put it) "Going yellow, and then dying, in his own poo".
Ho, hum.

Here, I guess, endeth the lesson.