7 Jun 2012
I have spent the past few days full of anger. Literally, brimming over with wrath.
It is not directed toward anyone. There is no smiting of enemies to be done. I have been furious in a way I haven’t felt for a while.
It started on Monday night. I watched 4 Corners. It was about people smuggling. It was about people having their loved ones taken away from them, about men, women and children dying, it was about criminals robbing people of their futures and all their money. At one point during this story, it became apparent that one of these smugglers had sought asylum in Australia, and was detained. During the detention, this person continued to conduct his business. Then suddenly Robert said, I bet they end up in Canberra. I couldn’t believe my ears. What do you mean? I asked him. He explained that all the behaviours added up to amazing audacity and the most audacious place you could end up after entering the country in this manner, was the National Capital, seat of power, and place where the policies and legislation were made.
There, in the next few minutes was a shot of the sign on Fairbairn Avenue, one direction Queanbeyan, the other Canberra. At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore. How stupid are we? Then the clincher, the families are living in public housing. Housing that could be otherwise be occupied by needy Canberra families.
As the ABC website says:
This program reveals how many of them have made their way to Australia posing as asylum seekers and have persuaded the government to grant them refugee status and residency. Now they ply their lucrative and sometimes lethal trade, whilst living on taxpayers’ money.
What Four Corners discovers is shocking and calls into question the entire refugee assessment process.
How did they get here and how can they operate their criminal network with impunity right under the nose of police and immigration authorities?
Needless to say this is an extremely complex issue. What made me furious beyond all reason was the brazen flouting of all of the aspects of society that keep it functioning. It was so comprehensively audacious that someone could cheat people, potentially be responsible for their deaths, and then profit, not only from their own lying and illegal activities, but by then occupying a position in society that could otherwise be offered to someone who genuinely needed it. A genuine refugee, for example, who needed a job collecting trolleys for a supermarket and a house to live in.
If that wasn’t enough to be angry about, I moved on after Monday, to the latest depressing round of mother bashing, of internet trolling and abuse metered out to the bloggers occupying the top of the pile in the writing about mothering, about women’s issues and anything else they care to write about.
I am not going to point to any specific posts or writing on this issue, it’s all there if you’d care to google it. What upset me here is how narrowly defined the territory is once more. The blogging world, with all its promises and hope for democracy, real dialogue and sharing, has become carved up along the same lines as every other segment of women’s lived experience. The very same strata as exists everywhere else only much worse. The individual voices get compartmentalised, segmented and the readers carved up. Dissent is suppressed. By the time the radical filters down, it’s packaged up into manageable easily digested soundbites that sound like everything else. The day that marketers realised this blogging business was a great lucrative market, was a dark day indeed. This is the most depressing thing I have written for a long time.
All the tropes are there, being played out. The self-serving disguised as altruism, the backhanded compliment, the out-and-out libel, the list goes on. Rather than having to hurl insults from the back of the room or from behind the bike shed, you can just go online, pour out your vitriol and feel better. Pour yourselves a wine everyone, have your say.
And what a say it is. Insults. Hate speak. ‘Closed’ Facebook pages slagging off other bloggers. Tearing women down in public. Comments on other women’s choices, their parenting, their hair, practically everything. It made me despair. It’s 2012, I shouted at the laptop. What the actual fuck?
Then to top it all off, I couldn’t help myself. I was on a wrath roll. I proceeded to get riled up about practically every injustice, every act of moral cowardice, every broken promise, dream or idealistic illusion; at one and the same time. By the end of Wednesday, my colleagues at work couldn’t wait to see the back of me, and I stormed around ranting about everything, literally every little thing. Raaaaaaaa.
It did take me a long time to calm down about the people smugglers and to realise that if Sarah Ferguson was able to get so much detailed information, eventually, this injustice, at least, has some hope of resolution.* These of rest of it? I don’t think I will be calm about it for a long long time.
My post wrath recovery concluded with a resolution that I’d seek out the different voices. The words that deserve to be heard, but are getting lost in all the noise of the haters. I will still blog, even if that writing is madly uneven, and badly constructed, as I know this piece is. It is important that alternative voices are heard. The fringe is where I am heading and that is ok with me.
*As I finished writing, I read this
** And yes it took an awful lot of restraint not to write what I really feel, and also to not edit out the ‘whilst’ in the text from the ABC.
*** While I would defend your right to say whatever you like, I don’t have to agree with you.