2001-2008
Home
Main
- About TFT
Friday Thing Archive
- Politics
- Media
- Culture and Society
- War On Terror
- People
- Places
- World
- Popped Clogs
- Music
- Books
- Film
- Etc
Help And Info
- Contact Details
- Advertising
- Jobs
- Privacy Policy
- XML Feed

Home > World

Dead Kid On The Block

"Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder? You better run, you better take cover"

- Men at Work

17 February 2004

muggins.JPG

It’s all been kicking off in Sydney. About 40 police officers were injured by rioters protesting about the death of 17-year-old Thomas Hickey, who died after a police chase.

Or who didn't die after a police chase. Depending upon who you believe.

And were the rioters actually protesting about the death of a young boy from their community, or were they just bored and drunk? Again, it depends who you believe. You might want to believe Bob Carr, the New South Wales Premier, who said:

"The advice I have had from both the Premier's department representative at the scene and from the police is that alcohol and, no doubt, the heat of yesterday played a large part in this. They are in no doubt that there was orchestration by elements who've chosen to urge a major incident."

Violent drunks. That's who caused it. Nothing to do with the poverty gap. Nothing to do with the fact that, to quote the Guardian:

Unemployment stands at 33% in the 1,000-odd Aborigine population, and the hepatitis, HIV and respiratory disease rates are far higher than in affluent adjacent suburbs.

Aden Ridgeway, the only Aboriginal member of the national parliament, said:

"There's been simmering tension building up in communities ... and Thomas Hickey's death became the trigger point for this stress and anxiety to be expressed in such an extreme way. This isn't being harnessed by any particular political movement but instead you have young people feeling a sense of hopelessness and despair about life's opportunities."

Hopelessness is caused by a lack of power. By the distance between everyday life and political influence. We can all feel it. We see the destruction of the rainforests, we feel hopeless. We see a war brought about simply to line the pockets of Haliburtons executives, and we feel hopeless. Occasionally we march. Occasionally we throw stuff. Probably not enough. But then again, most of us don't live in Redfern.

The Guardian quotes the then Australian prime minister, Paul Keating, speaking in Redfern 1992:

"Just a mile or two from the place where the first European settlers landed, in too many ways [Redfern] tells us that their failure to bring much more than devastation and demoralisation to Aboriginal Australia continues to be our failure. I am confident that we will succeed in this decade."

1992 was the year of the riots in South Central Los Angeles. A decade afterwards, at a commemoration of the riots, George Bush Jnr said:

"I fully understand that 10 years ago this city because of violence, a lot of violence, saw incredible destruction in lives and in property. A lot of hopes were lost, and yet out of this violence and ugliness came new hope.”

What a stupid, stupid comment.

“Because of the violence” the destruction happened. Bush talks of violence as the cause of the destruction, as if the violence itself arrived ex nihilo. It just happened.

Bush sees the “violence” as a thing in itself, as the opposite of “hope”. Heaped up on one side of his simplistic moral scales there is “violence” and “ugliness” – on the other side of the balance sits hope. Although – obviously – violence isn’t the opposite of hope. It is the absence of hope.

Likewise, the mere absence of violence doesn't equal hope. As Einstein said: "You can't solve a problem on the same level on which it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level." And the next level up is a political level.

This battle has to be fought politically if it is going to be won, much as it might seem preposterous to many Aborigines to have been forced to engage in this power struggle at all:

"For 50,000 years we have never had any desire or reason to build cities, let alone live in them. For almost 200 years we were locked away from the new Australia that was built on our lands without our input. We are not happy with many of the results of that nation-building process. We are not happy at our forced exclusion in the building process."

- Ray Minniecon, director of Crossroads Aboriginal Ministries in Redfern



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

Subscribe to The Friday Thing for free


 ABOUT THE FRIDAY THING
Bad words ahead The Friday Thing is a weekly email comment sheet. Casting a cynical eye over the week's events, it is rarely fair and never balanced.

A selection of articles from each week's issue appear online, but to enjoy the full Thing, delivered by email every Friday - as well as access to almost five years of back issues - you'll need to subscribe. It's absolutely free.

READERS WRITE
"Razor-sharp comment and gossip." - The Sunday Times

"Hilariously cynical..To describe it as 'irreverent' is to do the newsletter an injustice." - The Observer

"Sharp, intelligent, opinionated, uncompromising and very, very funny. Just like 'Private Eye' used to be." - Alec McKelland

"Wicked" - Channel 4

"Ace" - Time Out

"'We rise once again in advocacy of The Friday Thing. We realize that some of you may be unwilling to spend [your money] on plain-text comment, but you're only depriving yourself." - The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

"Subscribing to this at the beginning of the year was undoubtedly one of the better decisions I've made. Superlative, and utterly marvellous. I look forward to Fridays now, because I can't wait for the next issue. Fucking fucking brilliant." - Meish.org

"Featuring writers from The Observer, Smack The Pony and The 11 O'Clock Show... will continue to attract new subscribers sight unseen" - NeedToKnow

"The Friday Thing is so good it's stopping me from doing a bunk of a Friday afternoon." - Annie Blinkhorn (The Erotic Review)

"So now" - The Evening Standard

"Damn it, you rule. May you never, ever back down." - Paul Mayze

"Ace" - PopJustice

"Snarky" - Online Journalism Review

"Can you please stop making me laugh out loud... I'm supposed to be working, you know!" - Tamsin Tyrwhitt

"Your coverage of stuff as it spills is right on the money." - Mike Woods

"Popbitch with A-Levels." - Tim Footman

"In an inbox full of trite work-related nonsense, TFT shines from under its subject heading like the sun out of Angus Deayton's arse." - Nikki Hunt

"A first rate email. It's become an integral part of my week, and my life would be empty and meaningless without it (well, *more* empty and meaningless anyway)." - Mark Pugh

"Genius, absolute bit of class. And you can quote me on that." - Lee Neville

"If you're hipper than hell, this is what you read." - MarketingSherpa

"The most entertaining email I've had all week. Great tone." - Matthew Prior

"A massive and engrossing wit injection." - idiotica.co.uk

"I wouldn't know satire if it bit me on the arse. But I did like the Naomi Campbell joke." - Matt Kelly (The Mirror)

"Has had an understandably high profile among people who know about these things." - Guy Clapperton (Guardian Online)

"Satirical sideswipes at the burning issues of the day." - Radio 5 Live

"Puerile and worthless... Truly fabulous... Do read the whole thing." - Stephen Pollard

© The Friday Thing 2001-2008 - All Rights Reserved