I’ve debated about the title of this post, torn with an alternative following on from the statement in one’s Aboriginal heritage with a title that would allude to John Howard Griffin using his famous novel as the header, Black Like Me. But whilst I spend time with people of many colours and creeds on a daily basis, having not taken the path of Griffin or more recently John Saffran, I am harking back instead to the things we hear as children. How often did you hear the title phrase from your parents? No parent likes being reminded by their children when they are doing something wrong or risky, but if you want truth they say, ask a child or a dog. And wouldn’t you know it, both Bakchos and I are born in the year of the Dog!
The recent spate of pingbacks –as-attacks on Blak and Black are designed with one apparent intent – to insult, vilify and intimidate Bakchos. The insults include the use of abusive language; universally, they make use of racially offensive terms such as ‘nigger’ or ‘coon’; they intend to intimidate through the use of links back to the large Big4 accounting firm Ernst & Young and to ACT Policing, a branch of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and under the ultimate direction of the Chief Commissioner for the Australian Federal Police, ACT Policing Mr. Tony Negus. Linking back to these sites is designed to intimidate Bakchos, but perhaps also intended as a warning to others. Emboldened by the anonymity of writing behind a range of false user identities and wearing pillow cases – I’m sorry, it’s been balaclavas more recently – to protect their visages, the perpetrators of the attacks have shown their true colours and they’re all jaundiced.
In 1995, Australia brought into law the Racial Hatred Act, now incorporated into the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, described as the ‘principal act’. The purpose of the insertion of the clauses relating to racial hatred are to nominate the circumstances and behaviours that constitute racially abusive conduct by an individual or group.
Part IIA – Prohibition of offensive behaviour based on racial hatred
18B Reason for doing an act
(a) and act is done for 2 or more reasons; and
(b) one of the reasons is the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of a person (whether or not it is the dominant reason or a substantial reason for doing the act);
then for the purposes of this Part, the act is taken to be done because of the person’s race, colour or national or ethnic origin.
18C Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin
(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
(a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people; and
(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the person or of some or all of the people in the group.
(2) for the purposes of subsection (1), an act is taken to be communicated to the public; or
(a) causes words, sounds, images or writing to be communicated to the public; or
(b) is done in a public place; or
(c) is done in the sight or hearing of people who are in a public place.
(3) In this section:
public place includes and place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, whether express or implied and whether or not a charge is made for admission to the place.
The attacks made upon Bakchos both via the pingbacks and threats (Tom Payne linking to Ernst & Young; http://www.ey.com/AU/en/Newsroom/News-releases/BlakandBlack-com linking to a non-existent site TomPayneandtheniggerhunters; You’ll burn you coon cunt linked to ACT Policing) and to his person early last week fall well within the definition provided within the act. A note at subsection 18C indicates that the victim of an act of racial hatred should take their complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), formerly known as the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), established in 1986 by a separate Act of the Commonwealth. Reporting a racially offensive attack to the AHRC is all well and good, provided they are permitted to act with independence and transparency. Unfortunately, that is not what the former ACT Commissioner for Revenue (Pat) found. Pat, who when vilified by the Inquisitor (an ACT Department of Treasury employee) because of his indigenous heritage, which was apparently reinforced by Ernst & young’s recruitment consultant Tanya Taylor and was subjected to yet further abuse at the hands of the ACT public service, backed by a useless ACT Bill of Rights and a cowardly, supposedly independent Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), was abandoned. His case was referred to the HREOC, but was stymied by the ACT Public Service and ACT Government. It’s somewhat ironic that the HREOC homepage link, along the bar at the top of the page, includes a page link dedicated to ‘Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Social Justice’. Pat has certainly had no justice.
The reality of this situation is that all the offenders implicated in the racially charged destruction of Pat’s life are virtually untouchable. So much for the rule of law and equality.
The failure of the system in proceeding with transparency leaves the Australian Federal Police, the ACT Government and Ernst & Young liable for the harms that have been perpetuated against Pat and his family since his first attempts to have the situation resolved:
18E Vicarious liability
(1) Subject to subsection (2), if:
(a) and employee or agent of a person does an act in connection with his or her duties an as employee or agent; and
(b) the act would be unlawful under this Part if it were done by the person;
this Act applies in relation to the person as if the person has also done the act.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to an act done by an employee or agent if it is established that the person took all reasonable steps to prevent the employee or agent from doing the act.
In failing to address the racial discrimination being perpetuated by the Inquisitor and his cronies upon Pat, they have become complicit in subsequent racially charged attacks and abuses made upon both him and his family. The attack made upon Bakchos almost two weeks ago, the attack upon Australia’s most senior Indigenous female banking executive, the attack upon Bakchos at his newsagency in which he was shown a photograph of a young family member and threatened, all detailed on Blak and Black, have been enabled through the inertia of the very people and institutions charged with ensuring that the rule of law is applied to each and every person. In failing to do so, they have corrupted the system and put themselves beyond the law.
In the past few days, the Australian papers have remained relatively quiet on the brewing diplomatic disaster with Vanuatu. Having directed the Vanuatu Prime Minister and his entourage through routine immigration channels rather than to the transit lounge on their way to Israel the Australian Federal Police arrested Clarence Marae, the Prime Minister’s secretary. In response to Bakchos’ post AFP racism sparks diplomatic row between Australia and Vanuatu, in which he argues that that the high-handed manner of the AFP in constructing a situation in which they believed they could legally arrest Mr Marae, one commenter made the following comment:
“It’s got nothing to do with race. It’s to do with a suspected crime. Do they believe that suspected crims should roam free, just because they know somebody?”
Ignoring the breaches of international diplomacy, this comment highlights the very issue at the heart of the what has happened to the former ACT Commissioner for Revenue and his family. To this day, the Inquisitor remains an employee in the ACT Department of Treasury, has never been charged for any of his racially abusive acts and nor have his accomplices. It is now ten years since the Inquisitor first made his attack, so the question must be asked, when will the AFP investigate, arrest and charge all those who are implicated in this ongoing disaster?
In the past week a report has appeared about two South African women who are being investigated for “hate speech” for comments they made on Twitter. Both women are models, one white, one black.
Hate speech is illegal in the country, and the South African Human Rights Commission released a statement on Monday saying that it was processing complaints against Dos Santos ”and others”.
”Ms Dos Santos’s alleged remarks contribute to a disturbing pattern that seems to be taking place in the social media space, and has to be addressed … her remarks have the potential to undermine social relations and may potentially also violate the provisions of the Constitution and the Equality Act,” the commission said.
In this case, the South African Human Rights Commission is taking submissions from members of the public, they are taking the situation seriously in an endeavour not to sink back into the Apartheid that consumed the country for so many years. Contrast that with the experiences of Pat here in Australia. Whilst the complainant made to the AHRC in Australia must be made by the victim, not members of the public, why would one bother when the gerrymander that is in place means that it will not only be ignored, but perpetuated because of the Commission’s inaction, lack of independence and transparency?
And so I come back to my opening statement and title: Do as I say, don’t do as I do. The rule of law it seems only applies to those with influence or connection to those in positions of power. There is no point in reporting a crime to a corrupt police force, human rights commission or public service commission if they are not going to be subject to the same set of rules as the general poplic. This is where the most fundamental breakdown of our democracy occurs. This is why people become disillusioned, distrustful and advocates for change. This is when the only recourse for a complainant becomes to make an appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Council through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Double standards are always a bad idea. The resultant disillusionment can lead only one way – to the decimation of the bonds of society. The democratic state creates its own gadfly when it subverts its own rule of law.