God I wish I was in Sydney. I’d sign up for this in a nanosecond.
Julian Morrow (a Chaser) has this to say about NSW’s new “don’t piss off the Pope laws” – which could land you with a five grand fine for simply wearing a non-sycophantic t-shirt – in his SMH article (previously bitched about here):
Governments in liberal democracies should not pass anti-liberal, anti-democratic laws. But they do, more and more, and regardless of political persuasion. Sadly, repressive legislation is one of the few areas where the Iemma Government is not below average. It is simply average.
So what should citizens do when governments fail them? Put simply, bad laws should be defied. But defying a law does not necessarily mean breaking it. (I tend to agree with Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi and Simon Townsend that sometimes breaking a law is justified, something our politicians and even judges can and should recognise … but that’s another story)…
An attention-grabbing act of defiance can be just as effective as breaking a bad law, not to mention far less hassle. Lord knows World Youth Day is appealing: it’s the chance to take on two decrepit authoritarian institutions for the price of one. So if these laws have got you thinking about doing something less bland and boring than writing a self-righteous opinion piece for a newspaper, here’s my advice.
First, don’t be intimidated. That’s what they want. Second, try to be smart about it and prepare carefully. For example, even under this awful law it’s not illegal to annoy World Youth Day participants (although you can’t obstruct the event) – it’s only illegal to not comply with a direction to stop. With the right idea, it may be possible to make a good statement, or even just a good joke, before anyone asks you to stop.
Outstanding. Wish I could be in Sydney for this meeting of the mindless. I dunno what I’d do though…maybe just ride around on a bicycle dressed as Satan, doing bunny hops and big long skids in front of people. That can be pretty annoying, even without the devil suit.
Julian Morrow makes a great point here, not just about this specific situation, but about protesting in general (and I’m inclined to agree with him, being a bloke who busted into APEC and got away with it instead of being sent to Gitmo), namely that laws which are stupid should be defied but not necessarily broken. However retarded a particular law is, it’s still a law and police officers are still required to enforce it whether they agree with that law or not. One hope of mine is that if/when people see police resources being wasted arresting people wearing t-shirts or otherwise exercising their right to free speech and peaceful dissent, they’ll be struck by the pointless stupidity of this latest Sydney crackdown. It will be interesting to see if anyone actually gets charged and convicted for wearing a t-shirt which says something like (off the top of my head), “he aint MY saviour”, “uh, Jesus who?” or carrying a banner simply saying “CONDOMS WORK”.
It saddens me that this kind of foolishness is happening in the liberal democracy of Australia. I can understand madness like this in an openly totalitarian or theocratic state like North Korea or Saudi Arabia. I can completely understand shit like this happening in the American Republic (which is really only a democracy in theory), where people have actually been ejected from public events for wearing dissenting t-shirts and where such things as Orwellian-sounding “free speech zones” exist at government-controlled events. You might say, well, those were obviously political moves & the Pope isn’t a politican. True, he’s not. He’s far more powerful than any politician – any democratically-elected politician anyway, who must necessarily compromise to some degree with his opposition, fellow members of government and the people.
But the Pope isn’t your average leader. He’s the leader of a vast, centuries-old, ridiculously wealthy empire. He’s elected by an oligarchy of bishops and cardinals, usually on the basis of how best he will uphold the dogma of the empire and thus keep it populated and wealthy. In addition to the Vatican’s untold billions, the Pope controls the very hearts & souls & private lives of perhaps one billion people in nearly every nation on Earth. One sixth of the world’s population. His word is more than law to these people, it’s God’s Law. Especially the millions of poor, superstitious illiterates in the third world that have always been the favourite target of missionaries of all stripes – and who are kept poor & superstitious (but are taught to read bibles) by these same missionaries. It’s for these people, the ones who are forbidden the freedom of preventing pregnancy & disease that everyone in Sydney with an axe to grind should get out there and grind it in the face of not just the Pope and his minions, but the face of NSW Premier Morris Iemma and those of his government that have permitted this gross abuse of public power.