All Aborigines are drunks!

I think most people would have seen articles in the news lately about a particular racist Facebook Group. Aboriginal Memes was created purely for the purpose of targeting Aboriginal people with racist taunts and the propagation of negative stereotypes aimed at damaging public opinion. In essence, the site ‘celebrated the destruction‘ of Aboriginal people, portraying them as inferior drunks who sniff petrol and bludge off welfare. Rightly, there have been questions raised as to whether this site is in breach of the Racial Discrimination Act and much of the offensive material has been subsequently removed.

I’m sure that most people would also be aware that the current Opposition, if it wins Government, has targeted the pertinent section of the Racial Discrimination Act for repeal as it is their view that it undermines the right to freedom of speech. So in 18 months such racist, hate-driven sites will be lawful.

Get ready for the onslaught. We might will be bombarded with all sorts of myths.

If we can’t stop the rubbish, maybe we could do our best at dispelling the myths.

A post I wrote almost a year ago attempted to do exactly that. As the subject is now topical because of the publicity surrounding Aboriginal Memes, I’ve dusted off the cobwebs to again promote what I consider to be an important message. It’s about the consensus reality that all Aborigines are drunks.

I heard the phrase consensus reality while listening to a recent talk.  I liked it.  It stuck with me.  I also liked what it defined, when explained, that it is a shared, social construction of reality that we believe to be true.  It doesn’t have to be true; we just need to nod our heads in agreement that we believe it to be true.  A bit like herd mentality, really.

Can you think of any examples?  I can.  Many, in fact.  The pages of history are filled with them.  The earth is flat!  The earth is the centre of the universe!  God created the earth in seven days!  Or some more contemporary ones: The dingo didn’t do it!  All politicians lie!  All dole-bludgers are lazy!  All gay people die of AIDS!

One I used to hear a lot in my former line of work always put me on the front foot: All Aborigines are drunks!

This is the horrible perception shared by the majority of non-Indigenous people in this country.  The consensus reality.

Let’s face it, we’ve all seen Aboriginal people drinking or drunk in parks, yelling at each other or intimidating passersby.  These may be the only Aborigines that many city dwellers see on a regular basis and hence they fall victim to consensus reality.  Every Aborigine I have seen has been drunk, so it must be true; they’re all drunkards.

I’m quite happy to tell you that it isn’t true.  More the truth is that Aboriginal people drink in open areas, whereas non-Aboriginal people tend to confine their drinking (and unsocial behaviour) to enclosed areas such as hotels, restaurants, clubs or their or someone else’s home.  For every one drunk Aborigine I’ve seen in a public park I’ve seen 500 drunk white people in a public bar.  Further, for every Aborigine I’ve seen drunk in a public park I’ve seen hundreds of sober Aborigines in country towns or remote lands.  I for one don’t share the consensus reality that all Aborigines are drunkards, yet this is the stereotype often reinforced by the media and the wider community.

There is an element that are, but this is not the purpose of this thread.  Nor is the important reason why some drink, notably due to loss of culture and identity.

Now let’s look at some facts on Aboriginal alcohol consumption:

Contrary to public perception surveys have in fact found that proportionally fewer Aboriginal people drink alcohol than whites do.

29%  of Aboriginal Australians did not drink alcohol in the previous 12 months, almost double the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.

Aboriginal people are 1.4 times more likely to abstain from alcohol than non-Aboriginal people.

Further statistics I have found, which are similar to those that were produced while I was at ATSIC show that:

By comparison with non-Aboriginal people, a large proportion of Aboriginal people do not drink alcohol at all and, in some Aboriginal communities, alcohol consumption has been banned by the residents.

Up to 35% of Aboriginal men do not drink alcohol compared with 12% of non-Aboriginal men.

40% to 80% of Aboriginal women do not drink alcohol compared with 19% to 25% of non-Aboriginal women.

In the Northern Territory, it has been estimated that 75% of Aboriginal people do not drink alcohol at all.

So why do we perpetuate the myth, the consensus reality that all Aborigines are drunkards?  I am certain that events such as the Northern Territory Intervention helped perpetuate the myth.  But it is about as far from the truth that the earth is flat.

Our Indigenous brothers and sisters deserved better than of the image society has created of them.  Let’s not stereotype all Aborigines because of the visible ones.  The invisible ones are a proud people.  Perhaps that’s the consensus reality we should be promoting.

Let’s make our voices louder than the Aboriginal Memes of the future.

The Westminster System is the Problem – Get rid of it!

Guest Post by: Ghanpa

Andrew Carrick Gow: Cromwell Dissolving Long Parliament

What brought that on? Well, it’s been bubbling away for quite a while, but only crystallised a couple of years ago. The process started in the early 1960s.

We lived in Perth, in Scotland. I began my secondary education in Dundee, some 20-odd miles (30 km) away. About 5 miles south of Dundee lies St Andrews, where the golf course is. The golf links are bounded on the north side by the River Eden, and on the far bank is RAF Leuchars, whose purpose has always been the defence of Scotland’s industrial midlands against any attack from the east. So, in those Cold War times, it was a Class A target, one to be knocked out before anything else. A nuclear strike on the RAF base would have vapourised it instantly, along with most of the country for 10 miles around. People in Perth might have had time to notice the flash before they, too, vanished.

In 1962 RAF Fylingdales came onstream. This was a radar station, built at enormous cost. It could detect an object the size of a household door as far beyond the Moon as the Moon was from Earth. It was built to provide four minutes warning of an ICBM attack. I doubt if I was the only one to point out that if I had to be vapourised – in a flash, you might say – I would rather not know about it at all . Nevertheless, a few years later it was upgraded to provide eight minutes warning, at about twice the cost of the original installation. I began to wonder if any of the people responsible ever actually thought through what they were doing.

In 1963, The Profumo Scandal broke. The ensuing trials revealed not only that London was a hotbed of vice (well, everybody knew that anyway) but that Whitehall civil servants were operating a vice ring, to cater for visiting dignitaries of all sexual preferences; the clientele included many MPs and Lords, from Westminster, just along the road. At the time, prostitution, drug-dealing and homosexual activity were all serious criminal offences.

Barely six months later, Mary Quant introduced the mini-skirt. Within days, a Private Member’s Bill was read in the Commons. It aimed to limit the brevity of mini skirts “to protect the morals of the nation’s youth” – namely 14 yr old me. I ask you…incontrovertible proof that Whitehall and Westminster contained more deviates and perverts to the square yard than any other part of Britain, yet six months later the denizens of that bastion of respectability want to stop me seeing a pretty girl in her finery? It does make you wonder, doesn’t it?

The Bill failed of course, but by then I was sick of politicians and their posturing, and ever since I have looked at what they do with a critical and very jaundiced eye. Now, some five decades later, 44 years of them living in Oz, I have decided the ‘Westminster System’ has become so decadent and degenerate that it must be replaced. Representative Democracy was last sighted in the early years of the American Colony, but became extinct not long after.

With the help of a fine Australian Red, I raised this and other points with my youngest brother, who still lives in Scotland. My thoughts and his comments appear below. I would like to hear constructive comment and suggestions from a wider audience.

The ‘adversarial’ requirement of the Westminster System has led to the current situation, where politicians are concerned only with advantage; routine dishonesty is their stock-in-trade, and they have neither the will nor the ability to distinguish right from wrong. They represent themselves first, their faction second, their party third, and their electorates purely by chance, because issues are never considered on their merits, being decided by street theatre and other niceties of the rules of debate.

The Westminster System is the problem. Get rid of it.

And while we are sweeping away the Westminster government system, what exactly (or even in general) do we replace it with?

Well, the first thing is a return to representative democracy. We currently have a situation where national or federal parties appoint their choice of representative to your community, just as Tesco or Coles want a presence in your suburb. Candidates will be chosen by the communities, not by the parties, and in fact membership of any party will preclude appointment to Parliament. You can join any Party you like, but if elected you must relinquish your membership.

‘Election funding’ will be a severely limited fixed amount for all candidates. Broadcast media will be required to freely provide a total of 30 minutes air time, and print media a total of 30 column inches.

Appointments will be for a period of no more than two consecutive years and will be legally required, as a form of National Service. There will be no loss of income for those appointed.

Since there will be no ‘party’ in power, there will be no need for donations to party funds by the big corporates or anyone else; this alone will eliminate much of the corruption. Individual members’ finances will be under continual surveillance, but not automatically open to the public. In France at one time (and possibly still) tax assessments addressed demonstrated lifestyle as well as reported income. That principle would also be applied.

Now that is what I call a reasoned answer.
You’d get my vote – public service as national service is a clever notion, and you are right about the whole funding/broadcasting/advertising thing. Not sure about ‘demonstrated life style’ – if one is seen to live high off the hog one pays more? Would that not encourage miserliness against redistribution of wealth by extravagance?

But I do tend to think it is the party system is the root cause – debates, for instance, do not decide anything, since the majority vote as whipped for fear of losing advancement. I saw this myself when Robin Cook’s resignation speech made as thorough a demolition of the case for war in Iraq as could be hoped for, yet persuaded no-one, save the awkward squad who would have voted for it anyway. Crucially, it did not persuade the Tories, who were yammering for war, despite the fact that they were the supposed Opposition, and here was a senior cabinet minister speaking against the government.

Plato would probably agree with you – his main test of suitability for office was reluctance to assume it; those who wanted it were the last he would choose.

In the French system, should there be a marked disparity between reported income and evident lifestyle, awkward questions will be asked. (As they have been of some people here – “As a constable first class, after 5 years of service, your salary is $85,000 per annum. You not only own your family home, but are the registered owner of several commercial properties in the Gold Coast CBD, conservatively valued at $2.3million – how can this be?”)
They can’t ALL have won Lotto….

What think ye?