Monday, September 19, 2005

The price of free speech

Under its newly expanded “counter-terror” laws, the Australian Government has the right to detain, deport & a whole lot of other ‘ds’ – including, probably, dismember & disappear – anybody they feel is engaging in terrorist activities.

But terrorist here doesn’t mean terrorist in what you or I would consider to be the strict meaning of the word. It can be anybody who speaks out or protests about globalisation or advocates world peace.

The government has just cancelled the visa of & deported U.S. citizen Scott Parkin, & billed him $A11,000 for the privilege of doing so. Parkin had been travelling around Australia over the last few months, sightseeing, but also giving workshops on non-violent political activism. Late last month he was one of hundreds of anti-globalisation demonstrators against the Forbes Global CEO Conference which was held at the Sydney Opera House.

A couple of weeks later, after he had arrived in Melbourne, he was “invited” by ASIO, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, to come in for an interview. When told it was a purely voluntary visit, Parkin declined. Several days later he was sitting in a café when ten men from the Australian Federal Police and the Immigation Department detained him – not arrested, because that implies a basis for their action that could be tested in a court of law. Five days in a Detention Centre followed, & finally deportation to Los Angeles in the custody of a couple of minders, which is what the bill was for.

More details of this sorry action can be found here.

Seems like an appropriate time to re-post a poem from a year or so ago.

Caught on tape

Certain words are flagged
for recognition. The surrounding
passages on the endless
monitoring tapes are
isolated & extracted, sent past
voice recognition software,
digitalised for immediate
interpretation of combination
& association. Names, times,
places. More words to add. This
is no brief history of the world
but a paranoic infinite
dictionary. By themselves
the words are meaningless.
Meaning is added later. “I am
going to the shops” is sufficent
reason for assassination.

1 comment:

Guambat Stew said...