You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Schapelle Corby case cuts across Left/Right lines

UPDATE: Now Bolt is taking on Mark Steyn, over whether the Muslim population of Malmö, Sweden, is 25% or 40%. For heaven's sake. Doesn't Andrew realise that all right-wing columnists are supposed to march in intellectual lockstep?

But what the frakk does The Spectator have against Australia?

'For Mr Blair, after the brief spell at university and having been back for holidays, naturally knows better than the rest of us that Australia is the model to embrace. Here is that most tedious dinner-party companion, the sanctimonious bore who bangs on about how dreadful everything’s become over here in the UK – the filthy streets, the terrible schools, etc. – who announces that the minute the last child is finished with uni, he and Pamela are emigrating to Oz. Well, it’s all so clean over there, isn’t it, and all that space! Everyone surfs, they’ve never heard of asthma, the food’s unbelievable, and you can buy a beautiful bungalow in one of Brisbane’s best suburbs, with a pool and a couple of acres, for the price of a garage in Highbury Fields! Honestly, it’s quite beyond me why anyone in their right mind wants to stay in nasty, stinky old Britain when there’s heaven on earth to be had in Australia.

One can understand the charm of a country with no history for a man who regards any event before 1 May 1997 as, at best, an irrelevance and, at worst, an encumbrance. And so much the better if Australia has come to share his own distaste for the old world of Europe, gazing longingly over the Pacific, just as Mr Blair looks across the Atlantic towards big brother America.

Distanced by vast oceans from the rest of the developed world, as devoid of culture as of history, Australia’s sole method of establishing a global identity is winning at sport. "At the Commonwealth Games you once again showed the world the exuberance and sheer style that is modern Australia," Mr Blair schmoozed the Canberra Parliament. "You also won rather more than the rest of us!" Of course they did. The country with the closest parallel to the Australian sporting fixation is South Africa, and despite the public face of liberalism it boastfully presents, Australia is as close spiritually to an apartheid state as the democratic world knows today...'

- Matthew Norman, "Blair thinks he is the Wizard of Oz", The Spectator (1 April 2006).

[Sigh] Yes, yes, it's true that Australia may not be as egalitarian, unprejudiced, open and non-hidebound a society as Great Britain, where Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Normans, Welsh, Scots, Northern Irish, Southern Irish, Pakistanis and West Indians have dwelt together in glorious harmony for centuries. But likening Australia to Setheffrika? That's a way low blow. Almost as low as Eric Ellis sneering at Mercedes Corby (a convert to Hinduism, BTW) for being infra dig, and at Schapelle's supporters for being Indonesian-hating racists, while somehow omitting the (you would think) highly material detail that Mercedes' husband Wayan Widiartha, the father of her two children, is Indonesian. Ooops. Might spoil The Spectator's stereotype, eh? eh?


Left, pro-Corby: Margo Kingston.

"... Australian citizenship doesn't matter much to this government. Unlike just about every other nation whose citizens were incarcerated and tortured in Guantanamo Bay, we've let the Americans do what they will with Hicks and Habib. Until the public screamed too loud, it was also happy for Corby to be thrown to the wolves for the sake of friendly relations with Indonesia...."

- Margo Kingston, "Democracy not a spectator sport", Northern Rivers Echo (26 May 2005)

Right, anti-Corby: The Spectator.

[...] Surrounding Our Schapelle is a cast of characters made for the tabloids: a screeching big sister (Mercedes), a dope-smoking Dad (Mike) and a hysterical Mum (Ros). But why "Schapelle"? The Chappell brothers, Ian and Greg, dominated Australian cricket when the Corbys’ younger daughter was born. Australians everywhere were naming their boys after these heroes. That was tough for Aussies with daughters. But Ros — or so the story goes — spotted the feminine possibilities in "Chappell", and named her new daughter with what she imagined was a certain je ne sais quoi of Euro-sophistication to give her new daughter a leg out of the grim Aussie suburbs.

Portly Ros and the beer-gutted Mike have long been estranged but they’ve briefly got back together for the sake of their daughter. Mike, who has cancer and a magnificent salt-and-pepper beard, has taken to visiting his daughter in prison in the Ocker-Abroad uniform of shorts, singlet and flip-flops. When someone suggested to him that he might wish to smarten up a bit out of respect for the local culture, he showed up at the jail the next day in a singlet bearing the logo of Indonesia’s national beer brand, Bintang. Mike likes to shriek "Schapelle’s cummin’ home, she’s cummin’ home," thrusting a triumphant fist in the air as the hacks scribble away. "How’s that gunna happen, mate?" the [media] hackpack inquire. "In a plane, mate, in a plane," yells back Corby, before he’s whisked off. [...]

But the elite aren’t calling the shots on this one. There has been talk of a "redneck coup". And the circus shows no signs of packing up. A new lawyer has just been appointed to handle Our Schapelle’s appeal. I met him last week, and he did not disappoint me. His name is Paris Hutapea, and he carries two sidearms (a Beretta and a Walther), sports shiny blue suits and an impressive mullet, and drives to work in a Humvee. His fingers drip with opal and diamond rings. He and big sister Mercedes should hit it off.

- Eric Ellis, "The whingers of Oz: Xenophobic hysteria over the conviction of Schapelle Corby", The Spectator (11 June 2005)

Left[ish], anti-Corby: Madonna King.

[...] How daft a situation when the Salvos, who helped a million Australians last year, were forced to announce that no funds would flow beyond our borders in order to secure the same level of donations as previous years?

How un-Australian is it to turn the verdict delivered against Corby – who might or might not be guilty – into a boycott of Bali; a move that risks damaging Indonesia's tourism economy, pushing thousands of innocent people into the poverty spiral?

How un-Australian is the response by some Brisbanites to abuse store-owners specialising in Indonesian furniture, or to scribble abuse and threats on billboards, road signs and fences between here and the Gold Coast where Corby's family lives?

And to top it off, how cowardly and un-Australian is the attack perpetuated in our back yard that closed the Indonesian embassy, quarantined staff, and threatened to send relations with our neighbour spiralling downwards? [...]

- Madonna King, "Think before you make a stink", Courier-Mail (Brisbane) (4 June 2005)

Right, pro-Corby: Tim Blair.

[...] About 51% of Australians believe Schapelle Corby is innocent, according to one poll. A far greater percentage, judging by various comments, believe Corby and her kin are guilty of high-level boganism. “I think ther[e] are more important things to be concerned with in the world then [sic] some bogan hairdres[s]er cow”, wrote one internet elitist. “It must be bogan and racism season”, wrote another, on the issue of a Bali boycott. A third wondered at the etymology of “Schapelle”: “We can only assume that her bogan parents thought it would be nice to use the French for ‘name’.” Bogan-loathing increased following televised coverage of Corby’s sentencing, which showed the reaction of her family. Instead of seeing understandable human grief, many saw only a pack of ravening white-trash Corbeasts. Prejudices beyond racism are clearly at play here. [...]

- Tim Blair, "Enough to make you nuke", The Bulletin (8 June 2005)

Schapelle Corby’s terrible crime, and the hostile, bigoted reaction of many Australians to her sentence, threatens Australia’s delicate and valuable friendship with Indonesia. To calm the situation, Prime Minister John Howard last week asked that “we all pause and understand the situation, and recognise and respect that when we visit other countries, we are subject to the laws and the rules of those countries”. Quite right. As one online leftist remarked: “In the end, a good and respectful relationship between Australian and Indonesia is much more important than the fate of Schapelle Corby.” Yet there must be more that Australia can do to restore the good relationship built between the two countries following our generous tsunami donations, and now endangered by those encouraging a Bali tourist boycott. I urge that Howard invite Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Australia, so that the pair may discuss the issue and finally arrive at a satisfactory outcome.

But the prime minister’s invitation would only be a first step. The next would come somewhere between Jakarta and Sydney, when a covert baggage-handler, operating under Australian government instruction, would add 3kg of high-quality Afghan heroin, 2kg of uncut Bolivian cocaine, 1kg of hydroponic marijuana, four child pornography DVDs, and 120 MDMA tablets to the president’s luggage. Also, several panda cubs and one or two handguns. The baggage handler need not worry about leaving any fingerprints, as this “evidence”, when discovered by customs officials, won’t be tested. Nor will Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s angry denials be videotaped; instead, he’ll be reported to have instantly asserted ownership over the drugs, DVDs, protected species and weapons. In fact, according to customs staff, the president would at one point attempt to ingest all the drugs at once while screaming obscene abuse about Phar Lap and Ruth Cracknell.

Then would come the president’s trial, before one of our finest narcoleptic magistrates and a jury selected randomly from Bali bomb survivors, East Timorese refugees and Corby family members. Despite the best efforts of his legal team (three TAFE engineering students), Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono might expect an unusually harsh sentence: something in the range of 7000 years, plus hanging (and don’t forget the $13,000 fine!).

The final step would be relatively simple, beginning with an email (subject line: “prisoner exchange”) from the prime minister to the Indonesian government. Events thereafter would swiftly restore the post-tsunami harmony both nations have recently enjoyed.

- Tim Blair, "Corby II: Revenge on Susilo. There's no reason the Indonesian president shouldn't enjoy a spot of good old Aussie bag-handling", The Bulletin (1 June 2005)

Right, anti-Corby: Janet Albrechtsen.

[...] There is a sneaking suspicion that Corby is getting just a teensy weensy bit more than your average Australian sitting in an overseas prison. Why? Because, well, she's a good-looking Gold Coast girl who has become one of Australia's most recognisable faces. [...] You know too many Australians are overdosing on compassion, with scant regard for reason, when mainstream talk starts suggesting that Corby's courtroom demeanour and good looks somehow demonstrate her innocence. Where does that kind of logic take us? To the position that we should wash our hands of ugly and poorly-groomed defendants because they must be guilty? [...]

-- Janet Albrechtsen, “Legal reason taken prisoner by compassionate spin”, The Australian (1 June 2005).

Addendum 1:Speaking of "bogans" (aka bevans, booners, westies, mooks), the wonders of Google have at last cast some light on the mysterious origins of that term.

Addendum 2: pace Eric Ellis, anyone who "carries two sidearms" and "sports [...] an impressive mullet" can do even better wom[e]n-wise than Mercedes ...

Addendum 3: It gets better. Mr Hutapea's first name is "Hotman". Snigger all you like, but using that handle may avert the considerable embarrassment that could arise were Mercedes to write "Consult Paris H. re videotape evidence" in her diary.

Addendum 4: Not often you can slide a stanley knife between Andrew Bolt and Tim Blair, but the Boltcutter is in the Corby skeptics camp:

[...] Yes, Corby may be as innocent as she says. But picture how she must look, and how we all now look, to an Indonesian, whether a judge or a citizen. Here is a surfer girl who worked as a bar hostess in Tokyo’s nightclub area, flying into Bali for reportedly the fifth time in six years. [...] Keep picturing. The Indonesians learn that Corby, although having no criminal record, comes from a wild and woolly family. One of her brothers is in jail for burglary and stealing, her mother is on to her fourth partner after having six children by three men. Her father had a minor conviction some 30 years ago for possessing marijuana. Sure, none of that makes her guilty, but how would all this make Corby seem to an Indonesian? Here’s a tip: Not like she came from the responsible land of the straight-and-narrow. It gets worse. Corby’s defence team is soon headed by a salesman who looks like a spiv and is a former bankrupt who still owes creditors plenty. [...]

-- Andrew Bolt, "Corby and the mob", Herald-Sun (Melbourne) (1 June 2005)

Addendum 5: Like Marvin in Pulp Fiction, Ernie Saluszpopuli doesn't even have an opinion on l'affaire Scsàpélkörbyi: "Depths and the maiden", Weekend Australian (18-19 June 2005). Which leaves the Online Trinity of the Willing deadlocked, 1-1-1 Yes-No-Abstain, over SC's innocence.

Addendum 6: Welcome Tim Blair readers!

Addendum 7: Only one way to break the one-all split on the Right... to call the venerable Truthful Godlike one out of retirement. And he's...err, he's for... no, wait, he's against... err, he's something on the issue. "Corby's plight lets loose the rednecks from the jungle bar", The Australian (10 June 2005).

Addendum 8: There is another explanation for the origin of "The Bogan" ... and (as one overhyped but iconic Seventies franchise nostagia piece would put it), it was long ago and it was far away...

In another time, long before the Empire, and before the Republic had been formed, a holy man called the Skywalker became aware of a powerful energy field which he believed influenced the destiny of all living creatures...after much study, he was able to know the force, and it communicated with him. He came to see things in a new way. His 'aura' and powers grew very strong. The Skywalker brought a new life to the people of his system, and became one of the founders of the Republic Galactic...As you know, the 'FORCE OF OTHERS' has two halves: Ashla, the good, and Bogan, the para-Force or evil part. Fortunately, Skywalker came to know the good half and was able to resist the para-Force; but he realized that if he taught others the way of the Ashla, some, with less strength, might come to know Bogan, the dark side, and bring unthinkable suffering to the Universe. For this reason, the Skywalker entrusted the secret of THE FORCE only to his twelve children, and they in turn passed on the knowledge only to their children, who became known as the Jedi Bendu of the Ashla: 'the servants of the force'. For thousands of years, they brought peace and justice to the galaxy. At one time there were several hundred Jedi families, but now there are only two or three.'


John H said...


Is that a bit like the recent British coinage, "chav"?

Stephen said...



Save The Bogan


"Identifying a Bogan is not difficult. Males sport a distinctive hair growth called a "mullet" (short front and sides, long at back). Some scientists believe the growth is genetic, while others argue it is a product of nurture, as even extremely young males seem coerced by parents to adopt the growth. Other distinguishing male characteristics include a tight black denim covering on the hindlimbs and bright flannelette markings on the forepaws and belly. Males adopt a dominant status within the community, with a vague sense of rank defined by the ownership of aging Ford and Holden motor vehicles.

# Female Bogans are entrusted with the raising of multiple offspring, a role they perform from a young age and often without the presence of the male. They may be similarly identified through distinctive denim markings, though the color is usually "stonewash". In warmer weather, females have been known to shed the lower layer of demin to just below the genital area, resulting in a "cut-off" effect. Both males and females have been known to cover their lower hind-limbs with furry pouches called "ug-boots." While the wild population of Bogans is dwindling, it is still possible to view them in their natural environment. The species has been known to congregate around regional "shopping malls", where family units often come to settle domestic issues using high-pitched wailing sound"

It seems a brief google of "chav" has a slightly different emphasis, but reveals a no less despised subculture than the "bogan".

Anonymous said...

So, there are snobs in Australia, too. I would have expected better from a country founded by criminals...

Uncle_Milk said...

Myself, I use "snob" to mean someone looks down on others because of either (a) traits or activities those others cannot control or change (skin colour, poverty, class or caste of birth, school attended... you could also include religion or accent), or (b) traits or activities of those others that are not really any of that person's business, ie that don't harm others (eg, the sorts of foods they eat or music they listen to).

True "bogans [bevans, booners, etc]", on the other hand, impose or rather inflict themselves very noisily, and in some cases violently, on their fellow citizens (vandalism, midnight drag-racing, leaving chewed gum on seats, sampling packaged foodstuffs and shiding dirty nappies in supermarket aisles, etc).

Or, worse, leaving their children in the custody of dodgy friends while they go out partying partying at the pub -- frequently with lethal consequences.

It's not a matter of rich vs poor: quite a few bogans seem to have more money than I have (possibly because they weren't stupid enough to go to post-Dawkins university). It's more a matter of, as PJ O'Rourke's grandmother told him, "You're never too poor to clean up your front yard".

They do so voluntarily, albeit by habit. Legislating against boganism would be counterproductive and illiberal. Using mockery, however, to help 'em "see oorsels' as o'ers see us", and to make boganism socially unacceptable, is the only option.

For the record, having said that, I do not put the Corbys in the category of "anti-social bogans", although they are a colourful lot who are larger than life.

Stephen said...

As we say here in Aus, the original colonisers were "handpicked by the best judges in England".

Although some prefer thge term "invaders" to "colonisers" these days.

But to put the matter even straighter, Australia's reputation as a country founded by convicts is a misreading - they were transported against their will in the Enlightenment effort of depopulating the shores of Old Blighty of the undesirable and wretched elements of society. How else can you explain sentencing 12 year olds to transportation for 7 years for stealing a loaf of bread (in an overcrowded, disease-ridden ex-British navy wreck on a perilous months-long voyage). Cutting off a thief's hand may be considered brutal, but only slightly more so. The difference is in degree, not kind.