Credit where it's due

By skepticlawyer

A few days ago – via a friend’s Facebook news feed – I learnt that a thread concerning asylum seekers on Perth Now’s Facebook page had spiralled out of control in a particularly virulent way. Based on reports (I do not know whether they were true) that a boatload of asylum seekers off the Western Australian coast was sinking, a significant number of commenters on the relevant story took to wishing death on the unfortunates concerned — all under their own (or at least Facebook) names. Yes, you read that right. Numerous variations on ‘I hope they drown’ were bandied about. The thread was toxic on every level – regardless of one’s views on immigration, asylum, ‘turning back the boats’, and so on.

However, the story has a happy ending, because this happened:

I am not a native of Western Australia (although my brother-in-law is from Derby and my sister lived in Perth for many years), so I did not expect any response, especially not a response to a single, polite expression of concern from a non-subscriber. ‘Perth Now’ is apparently the digital arm of The Sunday Times, which (I’m assuming) is the News Limited weekly paper familiar to me from visits to the West to see my sister when I was a teenager.

I do not usually have kind words to say about media companies (public, private, News Ltd or not), but this was A Good Thing. There is also part of me that hopes Perth Now kept a record of the thread for posterity, if only to prove that there really are people out there who would have asylum seekers die in preference to them reaching Australian shores.

30 Comments

  1. Posted September 1, 2012 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    But is this any worse than the Greens and Labor and others on the Left who don’t give a damn about them but simply want to use them as a political and ideological weapon against society, just as they are happy to see Aboriginal society self-destruct simply for the sake of using them to achieve an ideological and environmental agenda?

  2. kvd
    Posted September 1, 2012 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    [email protected] I’d be interested to see specific proof for your claims. Or is anyone expressing any concern always simply acting from self interest? What a sad view of life.

  3. Mel
    Posted September 1, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    When I was a member of the Greens I noted that a lot of the members were also involved in helping refugees, including practical help, such as collecting tinned foods, blankets, etc to be given to refugee families. I left the Greens for policy reasons but I must say they were, with few exceptions, the nicest, kindest group of people you are likely to meet outside of a Quaker knitting circle.

    Personally, I’m closer to SL’s position, as I don’t want our existing social order upset any more than is already the case plus I don’t want to see any population growth.

  4. Posted September 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Yes, what Mel & LE said – that’s been my experience, too. There are a few people on all sides of this issue who do argue in bad faith, but most do not. Typically, it’s just a failure to think through the implications of their respective positions:

    1. Why do we have free movement of goods and capital but not persons? Are the reasons we don’t have the latter good ones?

    2. Do we want a workable minimum wage or a high refugee/low skill intake? (Because we can’t have both; we have to choose; there is a substantial body of empirical evidence documenting this phenomenon).

    3. If we admit many low skill immigrants, do they come from cultural traditions that extol the dignity of labour for both men and women? If they do not, are we storing up immense cultural problems in the future? (This is common in Britain and France, where the bulk of low skill immigrants come from cultures where men are bad at ‘taking direction’ from women or non-coreligionists, with the result that in many Muslim immigrant families, the only employed person is the wife – often as a cleaner or maid – while the men are on welfare. Also exhaustively documented).

    4. If we take high-skill immigrants, we force more flexible, adaptable people to compete with each other; if we take low-skill immigrants, they become a means whereby middle-class people can have someone cheap to clean their house… which leads back to (3). Exhaustively documented again, especially in France.

    5. Low-skill and refugee immigration could be made more palatable by ending all forms of welfare assistance for new arrivals (a position advocated by many libertarians), however this would have to include the very substantial wealth transfers in which western countries engage by supplying free education and healthcare. Do we want to live in a society where some people cannot send their children to school or have to pay for hospital case, when other people don’t?

    Etc etc etc. This is an immensely complex issue.

  5. kvd
    Posted September 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Not addressed to SL’s position (about which I know nothing) but more to the questions:

    1. Because, for “persons”, ‘they’ are not like ‘us’ and that is mildly frightening. Dunno if they are “good ones”, but they are certainly pragmatic imo.

    2. Having accidentally drawn a winning ticket in the game of life, we are unwilling to share our prosperity with others. This is a form of trade protectionism which I agree with; but at least let’s be honest about it.

    3. No. Yes.

    4. Contains no questions; refreshingly honest.

    5. “Made more palatable” – why single out new arrivals over any others in the community? “when other people don’t” … don’t what?

  6. Posted September 1, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s important to also ask the question about what we’re trying to achieve with immigration policy:

    a) Minimisation of suffering globally? or in our own country?
    b) Minimisation of the harm we directly or indirectly cause?
    c) The best outcome for the current citizens of our country?
    d) The best possible country in the future?
    e) A fair outcome for the particular individuals currently on our door step?
    f) A system that produces the fairest outcome for all in need?

    The reality is that while each of these might be noble goals, they’re going to come into conflict with each other at certain times. Unless we can come to some agreement over how to weight these goals then there’s going to be continual disagreement over what the correct policy should be.

  7. Posted September 1, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    I would not be too hard on our politicians overall regarding migration policy. We are the only developed country with significant migration where migrant kids score better than locally born in PISA scores. So we are world champions at cherry-picking our migrants.

  8. Posted September 1, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I should have mentioned that Australia and Canada cherry-pick high skill immigrants extensively. Both are helped by non-membership of the EU, and by a rather flexible approach to the various refugee conventions.

  9. Posted September 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that the comments here focused on the migration issue rather than the Perth Now response to the comments.

    So far as the comments themselves are concerned, and I have not read them, I do wonder how we manage this type of outbreak from a community and social perspective.

  10. Posted September 1, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    I do wonder if the internet brings out the worst in people, or simply brings out the worst people.

  11. Posted September 2, 2012 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    desipis: is it possible to suggest ‘a bit of both’? [Obviously I hope mainly the former, but I’ve been very wrong on things before…]

  12. Posted September 2, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    In regard to [email protected]many individuals on the Left who have strong views on this are that they do genuinely care about refugees – and [email protected]a lot of the members were also involved in helping refugees, including practical help, such as collecting tinned foods, blankets, etc to be given to refugee families – ask yourself the following:

    1. Why do the Left have love-ins for Castro and Chavez? (yes, unbelievably, at ANU I once saw a theatre-full of lookalike angry grey haired leftists at a ‘hug Hugo’ lecture – talk about mentally ill leftists!)
    2. Why is the Left’s obsession with Burma absurdly, comically, out of all proportion with their expressions of concern for the rights and freedoms of people living under dictatorships in other countries?
    3. Why did the Left obsess over black suffering under white rule in Zimbabwe and then remain all but silent (including one notable former PM) about the murder, rape and torture of black Zimbabweans under Mugabe?
    4. Why do SBS (the Hitler channel) and the ABC obsess over the Nazis and all but ignore the atrocities of other dictatorial regimes – an estimated 60 million dead under Stalin and 100 million under Mao – that’s right, 100 million. More pertinently, read the Australian War Crimes transcripts and any of the many excellent books on the Nanking massacre to get an idea of what the Japanese did during WW2. Captured Australian troops were used for bayonet practice and were often mutilated just for the ‘fun’ of it. In one documented case – and certainly not the only one – an Australian soldier was tied up in a bent over position and had a bayonet rammed into his anus and was then left to die. In Nanking the Japanese troops got civilians to dig pits and then threw the people into the pits, poured petrol over them and set them on fire. There are accounts of Japanese troops competing to see who could behead the most civilians in a day. And so on and so on. No, the leftist media don’t tell you about this, do they? Just as an aside, this shows how racist the Left are. The are racist because a) they hate their own race; b) they have absolutely no genuine regard for the lives of the people whom they logically must regard as belonging to ‘lesser’ races – including illegals/asylum seekers I might add; and, c) they excuse the behaviour of other races because, obviously, they believe those races are not capable of the higher level of consciousness of their own race. Again, talk about mentally ill leftists!
    5. Not too long ago I saw on TV an item about ‘refugees’. It featured a young male ‘refugee’ and a middle aged woman who belonged to an ‘advocacy’ group. During the voiceover they showed vision of the two walking through the countryside. Because the camera was on her at one point the woman put her arm around the waist of the male. You could see the confusion on his face. Now, the question is: what would motivate the woman to make such an overt ‘gesture of support’ that was totally out of proportion in the circumstances. She was making a statement. Ask yourself what that statement was and, much more importantly, what state of mind led her to want to make that statement – her true motivation?
    6. This list is endless, so let me conclude by raising one issue that is much more relevant to LE’s and Mel’s posts. Go to the parliament house web site and look up lists of submissions to hearing of the migration committee and any other committee hearing that dealt with the question of refugees. You will see an endless gaggle of organisations – an ABSURD number of them – with names such as refugee action this, advocacy that, support this and so on and so on. Now go to the submission lists for committees that, for example, dealt with Aboriginal health and disadvantage and, when you see how comparatively few there are, ask yourself where is all the ‘caring and compassion’ that is apparently so abundant when the subject is ‘refugees’. And, Mel, ask your Greens friends if they have collected tinned foods, blankets etc for Aborigines. Or why not for all the disadvantaged people in the outer suburbs – that is, the people whose suburbs have been turned into violent ethnically divided ghettos by the immigration policies of successive governments. No, there is no caring and compassion for them. All they reserve for them is the contemptuous epithet ‘dumb, drunk and racist’.

    There are explanations for all of the above and those explanations stem from the fact that politics is about people, which means that it is about the psychology of people. Politics has nothing to do with ideology (in spite of what I said in my original post). Identify a person’s psychological motivation and you will explain their politics (the Left all fall into about six profiles, but that will have to wait for another time). A lecturer I once had explained that ‘nothing about human behaviour is random; there is an explanation for everything people do’, and this is so very true of politics. Let’s look at an example. I have in mind a certain completely imaginary politician. It is a fair bet that as a young university student the politician fretted over their self image and was thus drawn to causes that were perceived as being ‘opposed’ to mainstream society. You see, the young student resented society for having values that led to the young student developing a low sense of self worth. To put it crudely, the person was drawn to the Left because they saw the Left’s policies as a way in which to take revenge on society. People’s politics are mostly defined by what they are opposed to rather than what they support. The politician’s case is one example of that. Now, if you were to search through the politician’s speeches, you would find an unhealthy obsession with ‘refugees’ and all but a complete lack of concern for anyone else in society. The reason is self-evident.

    To conclude, someone said in a post that they were opposed to immigration policies that would lead to the same social unrest as has happened in Britain. That post seems to be missing now? The fact of the matter is that it is too late for that. The seeds of social unrest have already been sown in this country. The Howard government is just as culpable in this as are Labor governments.

    This might seem off-topic, but it is not. The people who use social policy as a weapon against society are no better than the people who wish harm on others.

  13. Mel
    Posted September 2, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Barry, you lost with your opening claim:

    “1. Why do the Left have love-ins for Castro and Chavez? ….”

    I’m on the Left and I’ve never had any interest in supporting the above two characters nor do most others Leftists. It is dishonest of you to ascribe to me actions I’ve never indulged in. No Lefty that I associate with is a fan of these thugs. Those Leftists who do have “love-ins” for Castro etc are usually associated with tiny minority factions like the Green Left crowd and are no more significant than race baiting right-libertarian groups such as the LDP.

    None of your other points are any more interesting so for that reason as well as troll induced fatigue I’ll just point to this one which is easily dealt with:

    “4. Why do SBS (the Hitler channel) and the ABC obsess over the Nazis and all but ignore the atrocities of other dictatorial regimes – an estimated 60 million dead under Stalin and 100 million under Mao …”

    Again you are blowing hot air out of your arse. Only a few weeks ago I watched an SBS documentary on Mao called Mao’s Great Famine and three months ago SBS featured the three part documentary Stalin:Three Faces Of Evil. Nonetheless SBS/ABC do feasture many documentaries about the WW2 Axis and this is because Australia fought against them. Ditto for the extraordinary number of documentaries on the American War in Vietnam.

    You obviously have far too much time on your hands and no purpose other than pointless posturing.

  14. frankhunt
    Posted September 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    I wish these folk werent encouraged onto the boats.
    I wish these folk weren’t encouraged to put their children on boats.
    I wish these folk weren’t encouraged to discard their identity documents once aboard the boats.
    I wish that various folk couldnt see a very profitable income stream by putting people aboard these boats.
    I wish that some of my compatriots could see that their preferred policies encourage all of the above.

    We cant hope to provide a place for all the refugees in the world, but when we do provide a place for refugees they should be of good character, in peril and financially struggling. So many from the boats seem to be none of the above.

  15. kevin
    Posted September 5, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Such sanctimonious crap.
    Many people think that these people are breaking the law by illegally entering the country.
    Therefore, if they die in breaking the law, so be it.

  16. kevin
    Posted September 5, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Your quote of Elliott is all very well but you should add that the other half of the harm is caused by people wanting to do good.
    Especially Green and lefties promoting causes.

  17. kvd
    Posted September 5, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Yes. What LE just said.

    But further than that – we are obligated by international law to offer at least temporary safe refuge to anyone claiming asylum, having reached our territory. We are not obligated to accept any refugee wasting away in a camp – except insofar as it suits our wider international aims and ideals.

    The people from the boats have a far more legitimate call upon our response to international obligations than anyone presently sitting in a refugee camp – however sad their circumstance.

  18. kvd
    Posted September 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Except I disagree with LE when she says people to get a foot on Australian soil illegally. Asylum seekers are doing nothing illegal, however they arrive. More the case that their specific action gives them far more legitimacy than any other (request for domicile, migration,…) action open to them.

  19. Posted September 7, 2012 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    The people from the boats have a far more legitimate call upon our response to international obligations

    Asylum seekers are doing nothing illegal, however they arrive.

    KVD, and does this include those that phone Aus Search and Rescue from the other side of Indonesia, those that the Indonesians cannot find who phone Aus Search and Rescue from within Indonesian Territorial waters, those that threaten self harm or worse to rescuers who intend to continue sailing to Singapore and those that set fire to boats killing 5 of their fellows and injuring 2 Australian military personel?

    This is and is seen to be a rort. Pandering to it is tosh … plain and simple.

  20. kvd
    Posted September 7, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    [email protected] my answers to each of your scenarios is: probably not, even bearing in mind your two out-of-context quotes of my comments.

    But the main thing I disagree with is your own comment that anything about this issue is “plain and simple”.

  21. kvd
    Posted September 7, 2012 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Henry, the other thing to point out to you is that your first two scenarios are solas issues; the third more akin to piracy on the high seas, and only the last – actions where our Border Protection was assuming control – was criminal.

    If you want to discuss our solas obligations (or, specifically, renounce them) then bear in mind this would also apply to that Bullimore fellow, and might have applied to Jessica Watson – both of whom I regard as self-indulgent, selfish, unnecessary imposts upon our responsibilities.

  22. Posted September 9, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    KVD @ 27
    I think that SALSR obligations should be limited to our territorial waters and solely due to our positioning they would extend farther to the south than in any other direction. If this means we are responsible for SALSR in the roaring 40s well so be it.
    I still have a problem with a boatload of ‘refugees’ that conveniantly have the direct phone number and the technology on hand to use it , when other folks in distress set off an EPIRB and let the relevant authorities decide who does the rescuing.

    and only the last – actions where our Border Protection was assuming control – was criminal.

    Funny that, even though these actions were found to be criminal by an Australian Court the criminals were still granted refugee status.

  23. kvd
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Henry, the Customs and Border Protection hotline number is 1300 363 263. I found this with a google search, and clicked on the first link. That link also states the 24 hour overseas number as 1800 06 1800 or, more helpfully, if outside Australia +61 2 6246 1325. epirbs are so 1980s 😉

    Regarding criminal acts, unfortunately you also need to identify the specific criminals responsible.

  24. Posted September 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    The comments described are pretty bad, and sadly unsurprising given what I have heard with my own ears from what is best described as white trash (regardless of how much is in their wallet).

    I wonder whether there is a useful study to be done of moderated/taken-down comments to see the /real/ prevalence of such hatred, or if one has been done, what the data say.

    In cynical mode I would say that take-down policies are less to do with limiting the damage from the hate (it’ll find some other way of expressing itself all too often), but limiting the visibility of it, to avoid scaring away tourists (recreational or educational).

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