If I thought there was free speech in Australia since the Andrew Bolt case, I would tell you what I really think about the execution of the two Australians in Bali. But I would be pilloried and treated like a leper for daring to express an opinion other than the official one approved by the political, media and celebrity elite. So I am too afraid to tell you. All I can do is suggest a few things that have come out of it.
First, it shows how we rely on wild assertions about public opinion without a skerrick of real evidence. The official view was so clear that, unique among all issues I can recall, the opinion polls themselves did not think it necessary to run a poll on the issue and none were held. Oops! I forgot; there actually was one, a Gallop poll that showed 52 per cent in favour of the executions, so I suppose it was better not to have any more polls as they might show the unpalatable truth that the public have a very different view from the experts. But the paucity of polls encouraged me to run my own. To make it more accurate, I did not ask any half-demented fogies like me who might actually believe in capital punishment; rather, I kept it to the cooler generation who hang around the coffee shops of Melbourne. You had to have either a nose ring, neck tattoo or shaved head to be allowed to take part in my survey. Most people replied that they did not like seeing people killed, but ‘they knew what they were getting into, dude, and got what they deserved. Like. Yeah.’ But who needs to ask people what they think when we have so many celebrities around to tell us?
Another thing. The President of Indonesia has been roundly condemned for carrying out a policy that is overwhelmingly popular with his people and for doing so precisely because it is popular. You would think he would know better by now, wouldn’t you, after all the money we spend on teaching them about democracy and how to run their judicial system? Where will it end, if governments get this idea into their heads that they should be servants of their people and do things the people actually want done, like putting a stop to murdering others by trafficking in heroin?
But then, the Indonesians are clearly not as good as us when it comes to killing people and they have a long way to go to reach parity. They execute only a few, for the most hideous of crimes and after a laborious judicial process that goes on for years with endless appeals; we specialise in allowing the killing of the innocent unborn by the thousands, on a mere whim, with no wrong done by the innocent victim, no judicial process, no sanction on the perpetrator and all dressed up as a human right. But having assumed the burden of lecturing the Indonesians about human rights and provided they follow our example, they should eventually catch up and achieve parity with us in the killing department.
The other thing that came out of this issue, to my immense surprise, is that our government’s policy is apparently that the death penalty will never be applied in Australia, not for any crime, even the increasingly horrific murders of women and children and the most horribly imaginable terrorist outrage. I can see it now: some terrorists take out the entire political leadership of Australia, except the Greens, from whom even these hardened guerrillas recoil in horror. The ignorant public want the perpetrators executed. But no, we believe in love, redemption and rehabilitation. Look, says the government, their ring leader is remorseful, he is now an ordained sheik, a true master with the scimitar and an unsurpassed expert in human incineration. Why, he has even been taking cooking lessons, an inspiration to his cell mates and with the right nurturing, he could one day be on MasterChef. Naive as I am, I thought we were serious, that the fight against Islamic terrorism was a fight to the death, that the billions we spend and the loss of our civil liberties was justified in the service of a higher ideal – saving our civilisation. I still believe it. But the fight to the death seems now a ritual, with life imprisonment the ultimate penalty, or to be more precise, 20 years or 8 with remissions and a scholarship named after you to keep the dream alive.
The event has also taught us a lot about international law. It seems that we got what the Age calls ‘high legal advice’ from two renowned university experts who say it was illegal to execute the Australian duo. Why? Well, because international law says that capital punishment is illegal, except when applied for ‘the most serious crimes.’ So what? Well, our learned friends tell us that trying to export 8 kgs of heroin into Australia is not a serious crime. So there! It really takes an academic to show such wisdom and perception. There again, although it is true that the Indonesians ignored our high legal advice, once we get them up to speed on international law in the human rights department, they will see the attraction of our more constructive way of looking at things.
It is a great pity, though, that I cannot tell you what I think about the executions; my life would be made a misery if I did. But talking of free speech and Andrew Bolt, I loved the way the left and their acolytes objected to the sacking of SBS journalist Scott McIntyre for denigrating Anzac Day. Of course he was offensive, they said, but the right to be offensive is part of free speech. Hey! That was Bolt’s point. And where were those hypocrites when he was being pilloried?
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