Since the 9/11 attacks in 2001 some in the western world have drawn the conclusion that all terrorists are Muslims. This poorly crafted, yet well established hypothesis has, as I see it, two origins.
Firstly, the rise and news coverage of terrorism done in the name of Islam. It is best described as the logical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc, which is Latin for, after this, therefore because of this. This leads to the presumption; Islamic extremists (A) use terrorism (B) to further their cause, therefore Islam (A) is the cause of terrorism (B), therefore removing Muslims (A) from the western world will end terrorism (B).
Secondly, the understanding of what terrorism is meant to achieve has also become warped in our western society. Again we observe the use of post hoc illogic to make terrorism seem as an anti-western tool for non-western countries. Completely ignoring what Brian Jenkins, an expert on terrorism, wrote in 1975, “terrorists want a lot of people watching, not a lot of people dead.”
Therefore the greatest tool for terrorists are fear. Without it they are just a bunch of people killing other people for no apparent reason or goal. Fear is used because they often have limited access to great numbers of combatants and efficient weaponry, so the ability to take control over a government is almost impossible. That is why they need to use fear to convince a government to change and move in the direction they want it to, and to do that they need to spread fear efficiently. That is why it is more effective for terrorist organisations to have more onlookers than dead people.
Terrorism is mostly effective when the terrorists’ goal has been established, and when the fear of an unknown attack has effectively been spread through society.
On 22 May our ideas about terrorism and Islam was again challenged when a British soldier was attacked and killed in Woolwich, a district in London UK. Because the attackers made it clear to those witnessing the attack they did it to send a message to the British army to, as one of the attackers claimed, stop the killing of Muslims.
Admitting that the attack was done in the name of Islam it was quickly concluded it was a terrorist attack. Which some in the media decided to put in their headline. Feeding on both the fear of terrorism and Islam in the western world — in the name of ratings.
The English Defence League swiftly used this as an opportunity to protest, blaming the attack on Islam as a whole. Painting every Muslim, again, as a potential terrorist. A blight on the western society, as they see it, that needs to be removed. Because if Islam is removed from the western society, according to the illogical post hoc conclusion, terrorism will also be removed. Completely ignoring the fact that international terrorism attacks has been in decline since the late 1980s.
In this day of age information can reach around the world within seconds thanks to the Internet. Which is why I decided to investigate if this attack, and reaction from EDL, would also have an impact on Australia. Which I found it would have, after discovering the Australian Defence League, located in Sydney, had planned a protest against Islam on Friday 26 May.
At first there were no mention of a protest by ADL members in Queensland, but after monitoring their Facebook page, a post from Restore Australia emerged. Saying an anti-Islam protest outside Queensland Parliament House in Brisbane on that same day as the ADL protest would happen at 4 pm, urging anyone opposing Islam to come along.
I decided to go there as a journalist a cover the event, to witness how it would unfold on the streets of Brisbane, as they had been urged by the police not to burn the Koran.
When arriving outside Queensland Parliament House on George St, which is a shared entrance for Queensland University of Technology [QUT], the presence of police was difficult to ignore. Earlier QUT had also advised their fellow students to avoid that area. A situation that most might find a bit surreal to happen in a country where the locals see themselves as laid-back and willing to give anyone a fair go.
It is tempting to say that the weather did not side with the anti-Islam protesters that day, as it was cloudy, cold and keeping most people outside a bit damp with random light drizzle. Which is why when the clock turned 4 pm and that no-one had apparently showed up yet, it was first assumed the protest would not happen. It was not until closer to 4.30 pm something started to happen.
A group of three people had arrived with a large banner for the Restore Australia foundation and some signs with anti-Islam scribblings on them. We were told Restore Australia CEO Mike Holt would arrive soon. Before his arrival a group of five had gathered, talking with the media why they do not want Islam in Australia. Making various claims. During that time Mr holt arrived to take part of the protest against, what was referred to as, Islamisation of Australia and introduction of Sharia Law.
Mr Holt said Restore Australia is working for the Australian people to be able to amend the Australian constitution, giving all Australians the right to initiate referendums.
“Then we can stop Islamisation of Australia,” Mr Holt said.
“We don’t want them imposing Sharia Law on Australia.”
The anti-Islam protesters were confronted and outnumbered by a group of students from QUT. At one point the discussion became a bit heated, shouting and swearwords from both sides, but luckily the situation never escalated to violence.
QUT student Ahmed El-Merebi said he studies constitutional law to uphold the constitutional rights in Australia and Sharia Law is only a religious code.
“Sharia Law derives from the law of Jesus, from the law of Moses and from the law of Mohammed,” Mr El-Merebi said.
“It [Islam] was founded upon Christian principles.”
Protester Stuart Boyd said we all came here for a peaceful demonstration and we all want to voice our opinion calmly.
“I am not against muslims, I am against Sharia Law,” Mr Boyd said.
“There is a lot of good people out there.”
Mr El-Merebi and Mr Boyd were there on opposite sides, disagreeing on most things. They did however agree the media might be culpable for inciting unnecessary conflict in society.
“The media holds the key,” Mr Boyd said.
Mr El-Merebi also made the point that we are brainwashed by the media. Which I as a journalist can understand why such harsh criticism is directed at my colleagues. As I pointed out in the beginning, the attack in Woolwich was instantly labeled as a terrorist attack. Which raises the question, when did a random stabbing of one person by two attackers become a terrorist attack?
It might have been one, but before we make that call, let us first wait for the investigators of that case gather the evidence, before we make such a hastily claim. Because all we have now as evidence are two people with dark skin, claiming they are Muslims and killed the British soldier because they accuse the British army of killing Muslims. There are more criteria to be fulfilled before you can attach the terrorist label on someone or an act. For now, all it was, yet still gruesome, a random attack (when this column was written).
This is exactly what the media, us journalists, need to be aware of. Sometimes we need to forget about who can publish something first. Rather focus on who can publish something accurate and factual.
Which is why I have decided to omit the worst things said from the protest, from both sides — those opposing Islam and those defending it. Not because I support censorship, but to avoid putting emphasis on stereotypes. It was a protest where the tension between both parties being there was evident. Enough tension there if a larger crowd were present it would easily provide more courage to each side to antagonise each other to fight with their fists rather than words. But it did not happen — this time.
It is of course tempting to say because of the few anti-Islam protesters there that they lost this round. But in reality, a confrontation like this is very similar to a war. One side will lose, either by force or by being outnumbered. But at the end of the day, in war, there are no winners, only casualties. We were all casualties that day. The anti-Islamists are casualties of fear, those opposing them are casualties of hate and us, the media, are casualties of being spreaders of this fear and hate.
On that day, we all died on the battlefield, only our spirits went home that day, giving the illusion we are still alive.
This is a typical morning for me. I just had breakfast with a cup of coffee. Caffeine gives me that extra kick of energy before I start writing – like I am doing right now.
What is slightly different with this morning, compared to last year, is that I have made this morning a bit more Scandinavian. It is not the coffee I brought back [to Australia] from Sweden, but the Swedish oral tobacco known as snus I have shoved under my upper lip.
This type of tobacco is also known as smokeless tobacco. It has this awesome perk that it does not bother people around you when you get your nicotine fix. Nor does it stink up the place with tobacco smoke. Yet most governments around the world seem hell-bent on making it illegal.
Even if it often are used by smokers to quit smoking.
Snus has been made illegal to sell in the EU, except in Sweden due to its long tradition there. Something the Swedish government has been fighting hard for, even though EU seems still tempted to enforce some kind of regulation on smokeless tobacco in Sweden.
Due to it also being illegal [only sale not personal use] in Australia you have no choice than to import it yourself, which will cost you dearly, as I learned when arriving at the Australian border. Luckily for the Australian government it is not a high demand product, not enough people to object to the harsh legislation, so it is very easy for them to get away with robbing those who would like to bring some [snus] in with them.
It is a costly pleasure, but now after 10 minutes of having nicotine pumping through my body I have to admit it was worth it. Not just for the nicotine hit, but also giving me an even better understanding why it is so profitable to smuggle banned or high-taxed goods into a country, and why black markets thrive under such foolish regulations.
The best example regarding black market profits and prohibition is the alcohol prohibition between 1920s and 1930s in USA. It was the best economical decision the US government made for the mafia. They [the mafia] knew there were a demand for alcohol, so like any smart business owner, they provided the supply when it was made illegal. It was a high risk business, but it also had a high [economical] pay for those willing to take the risk.
Until the US government decided to lift the ban, understanding prohibition was not the answer.
There is no need to really go that far back in history to find an example like this. All we need to do is to take a look at how beneficial the war on drugs have been for the black market. Again we see the same pattern of supply and demand, and how such a ban keeps the black market’s profits go up.
It is however the end of the [alcohol] prohibition that is mostly interesting. As it shows how decriminalisation a substance has a huge negative impact on the black market, while the government and the consumers positively benefit from it.
With that said, let us focus back on Australia and tobacco. Smoking tobacco is readily available here, yet there seems to also be profitable enough for the black market to smuggle even cheaper smoking tobacco into Australia.
Which is why when I read about that The Victorian Cancer Council did a survey and found that majority of smokers within the state of Victoria thought it would be a good idea to ban tobacco alarm bells went off in my head.
Regarding health it is understandable why this seems like a good idea. However it is a bit short-sighted, regarding how it will only give the black market another great product to supply to an already existing high demand.
Tobacco, alcohol and even caffeine is rarely considered to be part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Yet we have decided that in moderation we can accept and tolerate it.
It is abuse and overconsumption that is the issue. Which is why harm reduction is a better approach than prohibition.
We humans are funny like that. We know it is not healthy, especially overconsumption, but we for some reason love to get high. A demand which has been around for centuries, a demand that will most likely not go away over not, or more likely, never.
The best way to handle consumption of any kind of substance is to first differentiate between use and abuse.
Someone that is able to use any kind of substance in moderation and without diminishing their health too much should and deserve to be left to their own device and responsibility. Yet still be provided educational information to know when use turns into abuse, and to provide help if they want to end their use.
When it comes to abuse it is important to recognise that this should not be punished. This only exacerbates the stigma of abuse, forcing the person struggling with addiction to become ashamed and even scared to seek help.
In addition, by making a certain substance illegal only pushes the responsibility to the black market, which is only interested in one thing – profit. For the black market abuse, or addiction, is more profitable than [moderate] use.
Which happens when a government decides to, instead of helping its citizens, make something illegal in hope use and abuse will drop to zero. In a way it drops, but not for the right reasons. Some might stop using due to fear of punishment, instead of seeking help, but more importantly, use and abuse becomes extremely difficult to track, because no one is comfortable admitting they are using or abusing a substance that is illegal.
This leads to a lack in data showing how many that actually can moderately use a drug such as cannabis, but also lack in data showing those who are willing to seek help for their addiction.
The only reason a ban on smokeless tobacco in EU (except Sweden) and Australia have been successful in theory is because usage was most likely very low from the beginning, so not enough people objected against it.
I am not a big fan of smoking tobacco mainly due to the horrible smoke, but a complete ban on it would not work so well– only for the black market –because of the large number of users.
The best example and argument is to look at how most countries deal with alcohol. To buy alcohol you need to be at a certain age and the idea behind the taxation of alcohol, most of the time it seems, is and should be used to fund services that help those who have gone from being an user to an abuser [of alcohol]. Moreover, the government is able to be aware of usage of alcohol and oversees the quality of alcohol. This in turn ensures that customers knows exactly what they are drinking and the strength of what they are consuming.
Again, the black market does not really care about quality nor safety. As long that it makes a profit and that you will buy more, they are happy.
Looking at how well it works for most people, regarding consumption of alcohol, tobacco or caffeine, from that we can maybe loosen up a bit regarding other substances. Understanding that better education about a substance will result in safer use. But also understanding that help is far better tool to combat abuse rather than punishment.
More importantly, banning is rarely a good solution, because it does not work so well as the goody-two-shoes think it will. And let us be honest, the police have better things to do than to spend time chasing people that might opt for cannabis rather than a few cold beers on a Saturday night.
The Internet is a funny place, a wondrous place. A place where you can be who you want to be, a place to gather support in in need. Where laws barely apply and people take the law into their own hands. Unleashing their own interpretation of justice as they see fit.
To stand up against bullying is admirable and important. Especially now when these creeps can hide behind an online identity. Making it too easy to torment anyone, swiftly sneaking back into the shadows of the Internet after ruined a life.
One popular way to deal with these pests are, often referred to as, naming and shaming. It is quick and effective. Which often is the issue, as it spreads like a wildfire. It does not leave any room for fact-checking.
The risk of outing the wrong person is often very high. But if it is the right person, the revenge is oh-so-sweet. Which is why these vigilantes take the risk of outing someone. Forgetting that if you have named and shamed the wrong person, it can not be undone, especially online.
But for some, admitting that they made a mistake is not always that easy. Even if the vigilante is confronted by both parties, the alleged bully and the alleged victim, no apology or admitting to have been wrong is ever uttered. As the vigilante sees it, they are doing the right thing, keeping the Internet clean from bullies.
That is what Dan Schwartz ended up doing. Himself a victim of bullying in 1985 when he had to start wearing hearing aids at the age of 24 due to a hearing impairment.
A multidisciplinary electrical engineer with experience as a hearing aid dispenser often shares his views on audiology via Twitter and his blog, even though he has no degree in audiology.
He is an active user of Twitter where he very aggressively tries to push his views about hearing aids and especially Cochlear Implants (CI). Going so far to attempt to provide a diagnosis without ever have met these people in person. He also tries to help– so he claims –those who are bullied [on Twitter] for being hearing impaired, due to his own experience of being bullied.
“I don’t like people who bully us in the hearing impaired community; and sometimes I give them a taste of their own medicine,” Dan said.
His aggressive personality is not something he hides. When Dan was approached via email for comment he respond via Twitter with anger.
“Go harass someone else. I’ll answer whichever e-mails I choose; so piss off.”
He did eventually provide a response via email where he explains why he approaches those he claims are bullies, but not explaining why he responds so aggressively. When reading his response it seems that because of his degree and his life experience he has some kind of carte blanche to behave the way he does. Attacking supposed bullies and questioning experienced audiologists. Drawing the conclusion that anyone who disagrees with him is either attacking him or downright wrong.
“I’m a multidisciplinary electrical engineer so I can throw stones with impunity.”
He also congratulated me for finding his personal email. Which isn’t really that difficult when you are dealing with someone that is very open publicly with his opinions. Also it is my job as journalist to find information.
It is no wonder he acts in the way he does, and so openly. He has convinced himself that his behaviour is perfectly normal.
This is evident when visiting both his Twitter accounts and his blog. He is not afraid to have opinions about audiology, but seems to be unaware that that is all they are – opinions. And when they are not opinions, they are nothing more than vile attacks on those who either disagree with him or he thinks are bullies – unaware he is nothing more than a bully himself.
What made me keep an eye on Dan Schwartz and his antics was when he mistook two friends joking with each other on Twitter. Without asking for clarification if Caitlin Moran was being bullied by Catherine Alberti, he took matter into his own hands and looked up Catherine Alberti in the white pages; then posting her information on Twitter, calling her a loser and urging people to contact her.
Both got in touch with Dan Schwartz [via Twitter] telling him that there was no bullying going on and urging him to take down the information. He was however still adamant that Catherine Alberti was a bully and that she deserved to be named and shamed. Defending his posting of her name, phone number and home address, that it was already publicly available.
Other people chimed in, urging him to take the information down and that he made a mistake. I asked him [via Twitter] several questions regarding the incident.
I was given an angry response, and he also decided to block me.
“Everything I’ve posted is publicly available; so piss off.”
Which is a common response from Dan when people object to his attacks, he always defends his actions that they are having a public conversation.
“What do you expect when you have a public conversation? You can’t be THAT stoopid [sic], can you?”
Yet not taking into consideration that what he also puts online is also public, not aware how some of it might sound a bit weird if taken out of context.
“Tina, I just commented on your blog: It looks like I popped the cherry! (and the color reminded me of that!)”
He seeks out people on Twitter to either push certain hearing aid brands and CIs, give clinical advice [which he is not trained to do] or seek out [presumed] bullies to name and shame.
Often when he approaches people on Twitter they seem a bit confused to why and that he is making them feel a bit uncomfortable.
“I don’t feel comfortable giving you my information,” Monica Taylor said.
“Do I know you,” Kayshia Nia Rowe asked.
After trying to diagnose and give clinical advice via Twitter the person tried to kindly decline Dan’s suggestions.
“If my own audiologist had felt that was the recommendation for me, he’d have made it. Not good to diagnose over the ‘Net,” Barbara Brill said.
A rejection Dan decides to respond to with vitriol.
“Well, then suffer with your deafness. ~300,000 people now are walking around with CI’s [Cochlear Implants] in them, many able to use the phone.”
He kept on sending her tweets to which she tried to make the point that he should stop contacting her.
“It is not an admirable trait your making assumptions about me. Please drop it.”
The least admirable tirade he partook in was when he accused a teenager of using the slogan the university he studied at [Georgia Tech] uses and he claims is the universities intellectual property.
“Hey, sugar tits: DON’T STEAL OUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY! Go make your own slogan, you lowlife STD-infested skank.”
“Skanks of feather, flock together.”
“Is that because you have your iPhone slid into your vagina, vibrating after each tweet mentioning your skanky name?”
In an unrelated altercation another Twitter user sums up Dan Schwartz’s behaviour very well by writing, “this guy is creepy.”
It is tempting to say that it seems that he tries to mean well, but fails miserably at it due to what seems like anger issues. He takes friendly banter out of context and if you challenge what he says he blows several gaskets. Always making it as if it is your fault and that you are the one being nasty.
This is why I decided not to contact Schwartz by phone, even if in a situation like this you would pick up the phone in an instant to get a comment [as a journalist]. But not knowing how aggressively he would react to it, and with a person like this I personally prefer to be able to record interviews, even if they are off-the-record. For the legal safety of the person I am interviewing and me, to avoid possible delicate situations where someone makes false allegations.
The last week however he has toned it down a bit. Actually, he has toned it down a lot compared to some of the things he has previously said. That might be due to the fact he is moving from Philadelphia to Chicago to be with his girlfriend. Keeping him busy and hopefully making him a bit happier with life.
Bullying online can get extremely nasty. Because it is too easy to hide your identity and too easy to get away with it. Which is why reactions to bullying often end up being equally bad. Both sides acts as if they are in a fight with no holds barred. Ending up hurting more than needed. And it gets worse when an innocent is attacked by mistake.
Of course we should stand together against bullying, but let us not become the bullies, the monsters we fight. Or as Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”
If you are bullied, harassed or wrongfully named and shamed on Twitter, try to avoid becoming the bully. Instead, visit Twitter’s abuse page and follow the suggestions posted there: https://support.twitter.com/forms/abusiveuser
Utter the words police and excessive use of force in the same context, and most people will instantly think of the US. Then in the same breath of air, mention journalists and censorship, and most might instead refocus to China. That is what I’ve experienced; reading comments on news sites, following discussions on forums and on Twitter and when talking with people regarding such topics.
Excessive use of force by police is often attributed to the US while silencing the media is attributed to China. It’s a stereotype, an unfortunate one.
Wednesday last week, 16 May, changed that perception regarding such presumptions about the US and China. The use of excessive force and silencing the media can happen anywhere.
A group of Indigenous Australians had set up a Tent Embassy in Musgrave Park to protest the lack of rights they have in their own country – which were taken away from them in 1778 by the British.
The day before, Tuesday 15 May, they had been served with a final notice by Brisbane City Council to move-on and disassemble their Tent Embassy. This refusal was met with a warning that on Wednesday 16 May the Tent Embassy would be removed and disassembled by Queensland Police Service.
6 am on Wednesday 16 may it had been announced the police would move-in on the Tent Embassy.
At around 6 am about 200 police officers surrounded the Tent Embassy in Musgrave Park with 50-60 protesters and few journalists that had managed to enter before the police started their blockade.
Musgrave Park, which the Tent Embassy was located in, and its surrounding streets were closed and blocked for all access. You could leave, but police would not allow entry or re-entry to the Tent Embassy. Telling journalists, that if they would try to enter or didn’t comply with police orders, they would be subject to arrest.
After a two-hour long negotiation between the Tent Embassy and police, the police decided to evict people from the Tent Embassy and disassemble it. During negotiations the police offered less and less to the point the Tent Embassy felt they weren’t given any choice than to stand their ground.
The police moved-in en masse on the Tent Embassy, first targeting the media; telling journalists that if they did not move-on they would be arrested. When most of the media had been cleared out and stood far away the eviction started.
Wednesday 16 May was a day Australians were reminded that the government still doesn’t really care about the rights of the Indigenous Australians. It is also a day that should not only remind Australians, but also the world, censorship and threats directed at the media can and will happen anywhere – even in western democratic countries.
That day, silencing a minority and the media, happened in Australia.
Ticket controllers are employed to help public transport to stop people from avoiding paying the fare. They often come in groups and check your paper ticket or smart card. If caught avoiding paying the fare it is most common to be asked to leave the bus/tram/etc and/or be given a stiff fine. Citizen’s arrest differs from country to country and those countries it is accepted the law is often very unclear. Jeanette Halldin from Gothenburg, Sweden experienced that this week, when she was accused of avoiding the fare and tackled to the ground because she panicked when surrounded by several burly ticket controller.
Västtrafik is responsible for the public transportation in the county of Västra Götaland. To curb fare avoiders they have their own ticket controllers, similar to guards from a private security company, which check the passengers have paid their fare.
Jeanette Halldin was taking the tram to work Friday morning, using a smart card to pay for her fare. The ticket controllers that entered the tram that morning claimed she didn’t, accusing her of touching-on only because she saw them enter the tram.
Usually a situation like this is resolved very quickly and hassle free. Ask the accused fare avoider to stay till the police arrives or remove from the tram.
This implies of course that the ticket controller(s) have caught the passenger avoiding paying the fare red handed. In other words, the evidence needs to be convincing enough that it can be used in court.
However, in this case the ticket controllers decided to stand their ground and aggressively detain the accused passenger, Jeanette Halldin.
Ticket controllers have the right to do a citizen’s arrest, according to Swedish law. Still, it’s only allowed valid if the person was seen committing a crime.
If there is any doubt about this, it is advised to not do a citizen’s arrest – meaning it is unlawful and you might be the one standing in front of a judge.
A video of the Incident was uploaded to YouTube where you can hear the ticket controllers’ accuse Halldin of avoiding the fare. The accusation is however disputed not only by herself, but also fellow passengers stating she has touched-on – paid her fare.
Västtrafik has seen the video and said to SVT that they see nothing wrong with how the ticket controllers behaved. They go on saying they [ticket controllers] did a good job.
This has caused an even bigger uproar from the public, that Västtrafik accepts this type of behaviour.
For argument’s sake, let us assume Halldin did touch-on only because the ticket controllers entered the tram. This still raises several questions; was the force and authority used acceptable, could this have been resolved in a better way, and lastly, that if a ticket controller assumes you have committed a crime, you might risk being bullied and assaulted like Halldin and Västtrafik is okay with that, what message do this send out to the customers of Västtrafik?
Below I’ve added the link to the video for you all to see. It’s in Swedish, but the gist of it is that; Halldin again and again says she has paid, which other passengers give their support. She is restrained a few times because she panics – one person surrounded by several burly ticket controllers.
Louis CK was advised not to release his show online, Live at the Beacon Theatre, without DRM, in HD quality for only $5 on the Internet. Going against this advice he ended up earning a– in lack of better words –shit-loads of money. Showing all the naysayers that people will still buy your product, as long it is at a good price and offer them what they want. In return you will earn a profit.
Unfortunately there will always be a few rotten eggs that will crack and stink up the place.
I was shocked to learn that a
few lot decided to make the $5 Louis CK show available for free. Honestly, how poor are you if you can’t afford to pay $5 for the real deal? While being apparently able to afford a computer and an Internet connection.
Let’s not get into this “it’s stealing” vs. “it’s not stealing” discussion. Let’s just look at this isolated incident. Where a guy does all the work to create something on his own and put it out there, available for everyone and anyone with a computer, an Internet connection and with $5 to spare.
I would really enjoy hearing why someone can’t afford to spend $5 on an original product. Where those $5 goes directly to the artist. Not anywhere near some distribution company. The middle-man has been removed.
Isn’t that what the majority of pirates want? That the artist gets paid directly by their audience?
But looking at some of the major torrent sites it’s obvious the Western World suffers from poverty, because there is a lot of people who can’t afford spending $5 which goes directly to Louis CK. Yet being able to afford a computer and in Internet connection.
Louis CK put his product out there for a very cheap price, DRM free. Yet his product still became pirated. Even if he did apparently everything right.
This will in turn give the entertainment industry yet another reason to not catch up with technology. They will focus on using DRM if they have to but probably still prefer CDs and DVDs with DRM. Because what better argument can you have than: “Hey, Louis CK released his show for $5. You can barely get a new DVD on sale for that. Yet people decided to download it for free instead. And this is why we must continue to use DRM with out digital products.”
I applaud you! Those of you who couldn’t dig up a sweaty old $5 bill from your wallet. Thank you so much for proving the entertainment industry right. Making their FUD and lies become true. All because you couldn’t bloody spend $5.
Was Louis CK unreasonable to ask $5 for his show?
Nothing wakes you up quicker than a letter from the debt collector. These bastards don’t mess around. If you don’t cough up the cash they will take everything you own and kick you out on the street.
Some tend to miraculously find the exact amount owed before a debt is sold to a collector agency. How they came across that money is usually not spoken about – due to legal reasons.
Who thought this would be a good solution? You can barely afford to pay rent and buy food. How can you suddenly afford to pay a huge lump sum with penalty fees, etc attached to it?
Where’s the logic in this!?
You just started a new job. You pay rent, bills and food. You get nicer looking clothes for work. Treat yourself to a better mobile phone. Everything seems fine – so far.
Suddenly the company decides to save money.
You were the last one in. You will be the first one out.
It’s easy to say that you shouldn’t sign up for anything that might land you in debt. By that logic you shouldn’t go outside. Because who knows, you might get killed by a mugger.
You can’t expect people to know what will happen in the future or how the economic climate will be like five years from now.
No-one expected the recession a few years ago and the ongoing crisis in Europe.
The last thing we should want is a hand-out. But there must be a better way to handle debt. Or should we just assume that everyone with a debt deserves being in that situation? If they end up on the street, it’s purely their own fault?
If you look around it’s evident that how we handle debt isn’t really working so well at the moment. At some point– most likely ages ago –an alarm should’ve gone off. Letting us know the way we handle debt will create poverty.
We have become obsessed with safety. Everything must be safe. Everything is too risky worth doing these days, because who knows, something bad might happen.
Are you safe? Have you locked your door, taken all your medication, paid all your bills and acquired a huge mortgage to live in your own safe house?
As long it makes you sleep at night, it’s all good – right?
That is what most humans have become. A bunch a nervous wrecks that are willing to give up all their money so they can have a momentary safe life – at least that is what some of them tell each other. Because in reality they haven’t spent a dime of their own money on that house – which they call security. They’ve spent the banks’ money. And if you don’t make that down-payment, you will soon find out who really owns that home of yours.
But this obsession of delusional safety of owning your own home has seeped into other aspects of our society. We are told to get the most secure job – the one that will ensure a good income and employment till you retire.
If you want to study at a university you are told to get a degree that will provide you with employment when you have your university degree in hand. Let go of your dreams, your aspirations – now!
This attitude sickens me to the core.
We’ve become so obsessed with living that picture perfect life you see on TV. Owning that beautiful house with white picket fences. One car each and 2.5 children. Wake-up in the morning, go to work, come home for dinner and go to sleep – latter, rinse and repeat.
And if you want to study something different like Journalism, Music or Philosophy you are not guaranteed a secure income – you are told.
Because we don’t need more journalists, musicians, philosophers, writers, etc in this world. We need drones! Mindless humans who just do as they are told. Only breathing, eating, working and barely sleeping. That’s what we need. Not these creative people. They are dangerous. They challenge the status quo. We can’t have any of that!
How dare they have dreams! How dare they have aspirations! How dare they be willing to work hard to get what THEY want! How dare they be that selfish – wanting something better for themselves – for society!
How dare they be different!
Not only have we become delusional. We’ve become cowards. We are afraid to live. Just look at what you find on The History channel and certain news channels. One provides us with inaccurate, mindless entertainment – while the other provides us with fear mongering, mindless entertainment.
What a sorry excuse for a species we’ve become.
When I started writing this piece, the focus was on how Occupy Brisbane absolutely fail with their PR. They can criticise the public all they want for being brainwashed; but if they can’t win the support of the public, that is failure – no matter how you try cover it up with hippie-speak.
Why don’t you and other go seek the information [...] or do you need some one to hold your hand, like a politician, corporate spokesperson, ideological / theological informer?
But that all changed after spending some time on their very interesting Facebook page.
I admit it, I was supportive of the Occupy Brisbane movement in the beginning. Seeing someone protest with so much passion is rare here in Brisbane – and Queensland in general. But as I was covering the movement for a local paper I had to stay objective. Not letting my personal views corrupt what I saw and experienced when visiting their camp.
Something happened to the movement after they got evicted from their first camp in Postoffice Square. To be honest, I’m not really sure what happened – did something scare them during the eviction?
There is now two Occupy Brisbane movements. The original Occupy Brisbane followers are occupying in Musgrave Park, far away from the city centre, far away from anyone to really take notice of them. Which is probably why they are left alone now by the police. While Occupy Brisbane 2.0, as they call themselves, are only occupying cyberspace to re-group.
It’s not the split that is worrying me, it’s how some of the supporters of the movement act on the Facebook pages of both Occupy Brisbane movements. If you support them, they will shower you with admiration, but if you dare to question their intentions, motives or even just ask what they are really about – prepare yourself for a shitstorm of vitriol flung in your general direction.
Unfortunately it gets worse.
Occupy Brisbane claims to be a supportive protest for the main Occupy Wall Street protest. Which is all nice and well, but that sentiment ends up in the shadow of the craziness they allow to be posted on their pages under the Occupy Brisbane name.
A few anti-vaxxers are starting to spruik their views on how dangerous they claim vaccines are. Trying to back up their claims with their own personal opinions and experiences. Their camp also has 9/11 truthers and supporters; and allow posts on their Facebook page about conspiracy theories regarding Tesla and his writings, that has been allegedly confiscated by the CIA. Not forgetting a person who believes and claims to have proof that Obama went to Mars once as a teenager.
Do these [hopefully] few represent all in the Occupy Brisbane movement?
Of course they don’t, but being part of the movement and spruiking their fringe views under the Occupy Brisbane banner they will be seen as speaking on the behalf of the group.
This is what the public sees and is most likely why they are hesitant to support Occupy Brisbane.
Sorry to say this, but this is what democracy looks like – the public has been given an option and has made their choice. Deal with it! Forcing people to follow and support Occupy Brisbane has nothing to do with democracy. That is more in the lines of fascism.
Those who don’t like the occupy movement need to buckle up tho, because according to a self-claimed genius at the Occupy Brisbane camp, Wayward Septic, this occupation will go on for another ten years.
Dokter what ever change happens, it will be more likely over the next ten years, and from many angles. But unsurprisingly after many generations of advertising et al, the majority of consumer mindsets out there, have to have it today.
I’m not a religious man, but if this chaotic indecisiveness will go on for that long,
God help us all.
Earlier this week I walked through Musgrave Park. I noticed a few tents and immediately thought it would be the Occupy Brisbane mob. However I had my doubts. Why would they hide in Musgrave Park? How are they going to protest against corporate greed so far away from Brisbane CBD? And to whom?
I’ll be damned!
Their website confirmed it was the actual Occupy Brisbane mob I’ve had passed earlier that day.
The Musgrave Park camping didn’t last long though. A few of them felt so threatened by the Indigenous Australians who gather there, that they called the police to ask for protection against them. Because of this disgraceful behaviour from a few in the group they decided to move to another park.
Next park falling victim to the Occupy Brisbane mob was Orleigh Park. Which is even further away from Brisbane CBD. It’s almost as if they are on some kind of Brisbane park tour. Traveling around like a bunch of nomads, but without any sense of direction or meaning.
The lack of direction was somewhat noticeable in their General Assembly meeting Friday 11th at 5.30pm. They seemed to agree on more clearer guidelines, which is a step in the right direction, just a bit too late. They still seem to be lacking that a few important goals; what needs to be changed, how to accomplish that change and how to communicate it clearly to the public.
Chris McKay from Brisbane City Council came to deliver one simple message during the meeting on Friday 11th, that the same laws still apply to them when occupying Orleigh park. If they are caught erecting tents, camping, etc, they will be fined and if worse comes to worse, they will be evicted — again.
Most of the Occupy Brisbane mob were respectful when Chris McKay from Brisbane City Council spoke, some even thanked him for speaking to them, but others decided it was appropriate to heckle him. Telling him that “we paid for your shoes” and asking “how much are they paying you to be here?” One person said it was “unfair if they would be fined, because that would enslave them, forcing them to get a job so they could pay their fine.”
I was informed earlier that day someone had stolen drugs from a fellow Occupy Brisbane participant. When that person found out who had stolen his drugs, he beat him so severely that his jaw got fractured and had to be picked up by an ambulance.
That is of course an isolated incident, but it still raises the question, how can they try to act as role models when they let things like that happen within their group?
Occupy Brisbane would be better off throwing in the towel at this point. This might actually save them some face. Moving from park to park, they still have no clear official goals, constant in-fighting and violence due to drugs. This protest or whatever they want to call it has been nothing than mockery of what democracy really looks like.
At 7am on Saturday 12th they were asked to move-on again by Brisbane City Council or else they would be fined. No fines were issued, but it is probably a matter of time they will try to occupy another Brisbane park or square.
Moving from park to park will change nothing. Their time would be better spent by joining an already well-established political organisation and lobbying to their local representative. This dilly-dallying is leading nowhere.
Last week I decided to visit the Occupy Brisbane camp. One of many world-wide Occupy camps, setup in support of the original Occupy Wall Street camp and to sympathetically protest against corporate greed.
What drew me there was the vitriol Occupy Brisbane was receiving online on Twitter and Facebook. I was curious to see for my own eyes if these people were as crazy as some claimed, or if the vitriol was only a bunch of hot air.
Occupy Brisbane received a lot of flack when someone on Twitter shared his experience with a group of protester who heckled him for buying a cup of coffee nearby the camp. This was condemned by the Occupy Brisbane organisers and participants of the camp has been told to not approach people, but let people approach them instead.
I visited the camp two days in a row, to get feel of what is going on there. And I have to admit, I am impressed with the Occupy Brisbane camp so far. I could see no heckling, every decision within the camp seems to be made in a very democratic manner, especially during their daily General Assembly meetings.
An officer from QPS informed me that they have not had any major issues with the Occupy Brisbane camp so far. If they have raised any issues to the organisers, they have quickly complied with the orders. This shows that the QPS wants to resolve any issues peacefully and to hopefully avoid what has happened in Melbourne and Sydney.
In regards to any protest, when protesters are forcefully moved they usually move to another location and become even more violent towards the police. Something the QPS seems to be avoiding by being diplomatic.
So is the vitriol about Occupy Brisbane online warranted? From what I have experienced and seen for myself at the camp, no. But if you take your time to visit their Facebook page, where anyone can post, you might get a different impression when some of the participants freely express what they believe in.
A few days ago I was witness to some petty, internal bickering between Occupy Brisbane participants and organisers. An organiser was accused of abusing his power and not being democratic, when he apparently was just acting out what the majority had voted on. In a democracy, that is referred to as ‘majority rule’, which is done when a group is unable to reach an unanimous decision. Which raises the question, what political ideology do the Occupy movement support?
Which is why Occupy Brisbane must publish a Mission Statement. Not only to show people outside of the protest why they are protesting and how they are running things, but also to show their own supporters what is going on. Because if petty power-struggles like this continues, the whole operation will implode on itself. Unfortunately “proving” to the sceptics that the Occupy movement don’t know what they are doing.
That is not the only unflattering things I’ve come across on their official Facebook page. A person, whom is known to have extreme opinions, has shown her support of Gaddafi and said he was wrongly persecuted by his own people and Western Countries. Claiming anything negative about Gaddafi is fabricated by the ‘lame stream media’ [sic]. And also using a right-wing propaganda poster comparing Hitler and Stalin to Obama — claiming tribalism is the best societal structure.
I was advised to ignore personal views [like those], as some might be a bit extreme and put Occupy Brisbane in a negative light. Yet, I’m still writing about them? These opinions are already publically available on their Facebook page. I understand they want transparency and openness, but why let opinions like this be associated with them online when they tell me, a journalist, not to mention them?
These opinions might be only held by this person, but again, for those on the outside, it will be associated with Occupy Brisbane as a whole. Something they need to ask themselves, do they want that kind of opinions associated with Occupy Brisbane?
Taking a step back, looking at it only as a protest, I find it hard to criticise Occupy Brisbane. Because it’s nothing more than a reaction. A reaction to hope to make this world a better place. That we have issues that needs to be dealt with now, not later. And that people are not afraid to speak up in public — instead of sitting at home whinging online. However, the lack of respect for the organisers within the group is scary, but not as scary as a lack of Mission Statement. In addition, what is equally frightening is when you have people, part of a grassroot movement, sympathising with a dictator who had no problems with killing those opposing him, terrorising his own people for decades and comparing leaders who try to do good with Hitler.
So I can kind of understand why those standing on the outside being a bit confused and wary about Occupy Brisbane.
However, only time will tell if the Occupy movement is successful or not. All I can say, it’s too early to make a final judgement. We just have to be a bit more patient.
Originally published in the Westender. But as I full ownership of my work published through the Westender, I am allowed to re-publish it. I’m publishing it here because I feel this is a very significant movement. A movement that might have an impact. Or will it?
We had just received envelopes containing information about the local election. Not just simple reminders, but the actual voting cards, which we could fill out and send back in an enclosed envelope. Absolutely perfect, not having to meet up at an over-crowded hall smelling of sweaty old men.
“Hey, hunny — we’ve received our local voting cards in the mail,” I told to the missus. She looked at me funny, “but we’re not Dutch citizens, we can’t vote.” I then explained to her that in most European countries you only have to be a resident to be allowed to vote.
That was in 2008.
After we moved to Australia in 2009 I’ve lost that freedom. The missus is an Australian citizen, so she don’t have to worry about that, but I’m only an Australian resident. To be allowed to vote in Australia, one of the criteria are that you are a citizen. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been here or that you pay taxes, you have to be an Australian citizen.
You can of course contact your local representative in the are you live, but that doesn’t guarantee you will be heard. But being able to vote, gives you one guaranteed say about who you want to run Australia.
If you are allowed to vote, given you’re a registered voter, you are forced to vote. Meaning, you will be fined if you do not excercise your “right” to vote.
In countries like Norway, The Netherlands and the USA, you are not forced to vote. You have a right to vote, but you also have the right to decide if you want to take advantage of that right. It is, as most democratic and freedom loving countries sees it, part of the democratic freedom, that you decide if you want to vote or not. However, exercising that right is very important. If you are unhappy with who is running the country or you are happy with your country’s leader, the best way to express that is by voting.
By not voting, you are silent while others speak for you. Is that what you want?
Forcing your citizens to vote, as I see it, has little or nothing to do with freedom or democracy. As some Australians have pointed out to me, statistically it looks very good to force citizens to vote. Although, as I’ve tried to point out to them, it doesn’t guarantee an accurate vote, just a nice statistic.
A too common argument here, in Australia, is to point at USA and say, “they are not forced to vote, this is shown in the few numbers of citizens who turn up to vote.”
That is a good point. Maybe if more people were forced in the USA to vote the country would have better politicians. Or would it? And what about their freedom to choose to vote?
Recently there were local elections in Norway and apparently there were more than usual who decided not to vote. A lot of political parties blamed them for their loss in the elections. However, my friend had a different view than blaming those who didn’t vote. He blamed the politicians for not being interesting enough. He said that, “it’s the politicians job to make you want to get out of your chair and vote.”
Maybe that is the issue in Australia and USA. Australian politicians are so hopeless that they have to force their citizens to vote, or else no-one would turn up. While the US politicians are not interesting at all, so most people couldn’t give a shit and decides not to vote at all. Maybe it’s time Australian and US politicians starts to truly work for their money and make people vote, not because they feel forced, but because they want to make a change — a change that will happen, not just promised.
The economy in the US, when writing this, things doesn’t look so good. While Australia might not suffer from yet another world economic crisis, I prefer the US over Australia in regards to voting. Because if a country promises me freedom, I want to have freedom. Telling me I have the freedom to vote on any party I want, but as long as a vote, is not freedom in my eyes.
Voting on any party without having to fear prosecution and being allowed to decide if you want to vote or not, that is freedom. I want to vote because I can and want to, not because I’m told to do it.
Please don’t hold it against me, I know it’s somewhat of a tacky play on words, but I just couldn’t resist doing it. It also sounded a bit catchier than just calling it nymwars. But that is somewhat part of the long-standing Internet culture, being able to think outside the box. Not following dominant social conventions.
Blaming all bad behaviour online on the use of pseudonyms is unfortunately also part of the long-standing Internet culture. Because that is much easier to do then to look at why something was done and by whom.
It is easy to blame a rise in murders on the access to guns legally. As it is easy to blame alcoholism on the easy access to alcohol legally.
Instead we should rather look at us — our society.
Social networks, guns, alcohol, etc — they are only tools for some to, lack of a better word, express themselves stronger. Unfortunately, when the effect of that expression is negative, it is of course unwanted.
However, social networks are great tools to stay in touch with friends and family, make new friends and quickly spread independent news. Guns can be great fun when shooting at targets in a competition. And a cold beer after a long day at work on a summer day — beautiful.
Let us take a look back at social networks, how they can easily spread news and important information rapidly across the world. If the news or information you are putting out there is considered controversial, showing your true identity might not be in your favour. Depending on the country you are in, the risks can be anything from being laughed at to ending up dead.
Which leads us to the expression, nymwars. It heated up when Google didn’t allow the use of pseudonyms on Google+. Much like Facebook, they both demand that you use your real name. Because doing so, people will act more nice and it will prevent spam, they claim.
If you ask me, regardless of real name or not, people will still behave like jerks if they feel like it. Go to a nightclub and you will experience people being jerks to each right in each other’s faces without much hesitation. And it will hardly prevent spam, more like increasing it, making it easier to track you because you are using your real name.
Online I’m known as Dr. W. But if you ever receive my business card, you will find my real name and Dr. W printed on it. Because that is who I am — online. It’s not made-up, more like an abbreviation. I don’t have much to hide, just my privacy.
The use of pseudonyms isn’t new. Mark Twain used one. So has Stephen King. Unfortunately far too many abuse that power to be able to hide their identity. But punishing those of us who has no ill intentions is not the right way to do it.
If we were to follow that logic, we would have to punish a lot more people and ban a lot more things. Which means we would have to, in the end, say goodbye to freedom. And we don’t want that, right?
Remember when your grandfather told you how he got his job? That he had to start at the bottom and work his way up to the position he aspired for. Amazing how that has changed. You can be well-read, well-traveled, well-spoken, well-anything, but if you don’t have that magical piece of paper, that tells your employer where you got that piece of paper and if it is an approved degree, you might as well not bother at all.
It is fascinating, in a bizarre way, that we have gone from admiring the self-made (wo)man to almost hating him with a passion. Like if he is some kind of parasite on society. A fraud or a con-man. Someone who can’t be trusted at all. A (wo)man who must be kept down!
Society has blinded us with the delusion, that the only way to know something is to be educated by academia. You can no longer sit down with a stack of books and learn on your own — being your own teacher. Society has lost all belief in the ability to educate ourselves. Therefore we now assume we need someone to tell us what to believe and what to know. As long as we can recite that information, which was given to us by academia, we can hopefully get a stamp-of-approval that is believed to be proof enough we should know what we are doing and talking about.
“He must be right, because he is an academic.”
This is exactly why people can hardly fathom that someone has great knowledge about something if they haven’t attained a degree in that certain topic.
“How do you know this for sure? You don’t have a degree in this.”
Unfortunately I’m forced to play-the-game to get the job I want. One day I hope to make a living as a freelance journalist. 70 years ago a professor would probably laugh if I went to a university and asked if I could study for a Bachelor in Journalism. When he is done laughing at me, he would most likely offer me to either take a few writing lessons or study English Literature. Then after that, ask for a job at the newspaper and do like everyone else in that era, work myself up from the bottom.
Strange how famous writers like Hunter S. Thompson, Ray Bradbury and Mark Twain can be so respected still, when they were all mostly self-taught writers. But ‘back in the days’ you could teach yourself things and it was acceptable. Now, for some reason unknown to me, we apparently are unable to do that. We are most of the time discouraged to do it, because it’s not valued that much anymore.
How long until you need a Ph.D to work at a clothing store as a store clerk? Not because it is needed, but because university degrees being the next thing that will suffer a recession.
Photo: Mark Twain
On July 22nd 2011, Norway became a victim of terrorism. At this point
93 77 has been confirmed dead. A bomb went off in the executive government quarter of Oslo. Two hours later, a lone gunman went to Utøya dressed as police officer, where Arbieder Partiet holds a yearly summer camp for their youth party, AUF, members. Walking around the island shooting at people and at boats trying to save those who had fled into the water.
When the bomb went off the Norwegian media were very careful with speculating about what had happened. It was mentioned that it could have been a late reaction to the Mohammed cartoon or Norway’s role in Libia, but they stressed that they could not confirm, at that point, what had really happened.
The relief was huge when they arrested the culprit, Anders Behring Breivik.
The first mention of him said he was a white male. Then upgraded to ethnic Norwegian. Learning more about his motives he was referred to as a conservative Christian fundamentalist and right-wing extremist. He was also called a madman. As far as the Norwegian media was concerned, what Anders Behring Breivik did was nothing other than terrorism and that he is a terrorist.
Due to what has happened the last decade, terrorist has unfortunately become synonymous with dark-skinned middle-eastern Muslim. Because of this, it seems certain news networks avoids using the word ‘terrorist’ when mentioning Anders Behring Breivik. Instead they are more comfortable with calling him a ‘madman’.
I have been following this horrible event unfold through the eyes of the Norwegian media. Not only because I am Norwegian, but also because I don’t want to risk anything being lost in translation. I have been informed that certain news channels are avoiding the T-word when talking about a Christian fundamentalist and a white supremacist. Must be difficult to accept one of their own is the terrorist.
However, the way the Norwegian media put a lot of emphasis that Anders Behring Breivik is white, Christian, far-right and ethnic Norwegian, was very important in the beginning. Because when they finally shifted to using words like terrorist and terrorism, people would not unfortunately think ‘Muslim’ when hearing ‘terrorist’. Instead, when hearing terrorist, they would hopefully think about the Christian, ethnic Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik.
About a day later Amy Winehouse was found dead in her flat in London. Another great artist joined The 27 Club. Unfortunately a few didn’t really understand how greatly the terrorist attacks the day before had affected Norway. Some tit by the name Dan Wootton managed to tweet: “Amy all the way for me. Norway is a day old. Amy is an icon gone.”
Amazing how shallow some people can be. It is sad that Amy Winehouse is dead, but there is a time and place for everything. That kind of discussion was not appropriate in a public forum. I know this is common to discuss behind closed doors before the paper goes to print, but the public is better without these heartless discussions.
Unfortunately it also shows our obsessions with celebrities. A day after 77, majority of them teenagers, killed by a terrorist they are considered old news by someone who gets a hard-on from living vicariously through celebrities.
What is truly fascinating, in bizarre way, is Norway’s PM and government’s response to the terrorist attacks. Instead of demanding more surveillance and less rights for Norwegian citizens, they have decided to rise from this gruesome event by being more democratic and more open. That must be a solid kick to the balls for the US government. The same government that decided, after 9/11, to more or less put USA on indefinite lockdown.
Sometimes attack is the best defence, but that is only sometimes, not always.