Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything was simple?

What do you think of this?

CANBERRA, Australia - The Australian government Tuesday introduced bills in Parliament to fight child sex abuse among Aborigines, in a plan condemned by critics as discriminatory and an attack on indigenous culture.

In introducing almost 500 pages of legislation, Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough described Outback Aboriginal communities as "a failed society where law and order and behavior have broken down and where women and children are unsafe."

…Under the plan, alcohol and hardcore pornography will be banned from Aboriginal communities and Aborigines will be forced to spend a portion of their welfare checks on essentials such as food.

Child abuse on Aboriginal-owned land in the Northern Territory, covering an area the size of Texas but populated by only 30,000 people, is fueled by alcohol abuse, unemployment, poverty and other factors leading to a breakdown in society, the report found.

Former Federal Court Judge Murray Wilcox said the government has acknowledged the plan is racially discriminatory …

Full article here.

I’m not sure how accurate the “report” mentioned above would be. Certainly indigenous cultures have suffered as a result of European colonization. It seems clear that introducing alcohol, destroying a way of life, and decades of racial discrimination tend to grow social pathologies in conquered peoples.

So let’s say the rate of child molestation IS really higher in a particular community or subculture. At what point would one be justified in legislating intervention on this scale?

A broader question would be: If I have experience, education, or some other advantage that enables me to know what is better for another person, what is my right or responsibility to encroach on the freedom of that person (or his/her neighbors & family) to “save” them?

I imagine we all agree it’s not okay to force your neighbor to change his tie because it clashes with his shirt.

How about drug abuse? We do interventions, but we don’t (can’t) force a person into recovery unless they commit a crime.

In the case of threat of suicide, we intervene 99.9% of the time.

For general mental health issues or dementia, we sometimes intervene and sometimes let the person crash & burn.

When the behavior is potentially harmful to others, we intervene before it even happens (eg, a drunk sleeping it off in the front seat of his car can be arrested for drunk driving).

And we typically grant ourselves much more authority when it comes to protecting children.

In the Australian case, it seems like a really slippery slope. The spectre of the Stolen Generation looms gigantic whenever White Australia attempts to do something for the "good" of the indigenous peoples there.

Your thoughts invited.


At Wed Aug 08, 09:32:00 PM PDT, Blogger Lisa said...

Oh, don't even get me started. As a therapist, I have to 5150 someone who is threatening suicide, even though we all know that people will do what they want to do eventually.

But if you tell me that you killed your boss yesterday?? Not a DANG thing I can do.

Does that make sense??

At Wed Aug 08, 10:53:00 PM PDT, Blogger Left Coast Sister said...

And yet, Lisa, in the county I used to work at, people would walk in to the mental health emergency tx facility and not be admitted unless the gun they were holding to their temple was actually loaded. Erk.
Is it fair to make a sweeping ruling over a specific group of people even if statistics show they are more likely to behave in certain ways? Hmm. Depends on if you are one of those people or not I guess.

At Thu Aug 09, 05:18:00 PM PDT, Blogger blogball said...

This is really a difficult dilemma for the Australian Government.
As you mention they were introduced to alcohol and pornography by the government that is in control and now they want to take it away.

I don’t live in Australia and I am not familiar how their laws and government work. I’m not even sure if Aborigines are supposed to obey the same laws so for me to comment would be unfair.

But I will anyway.

The full article said” the government was prepared to bypass anti-discrimination legislation "in the interest of saving children."
If a child is in danger they should be protected the same way any non –Aborigine child would be protected. If necessary move the child or the women that are being abused to protection services. There would be no need to bypass any anti-discrimination laws because they would be treating the Aborigines like any other Australian citizen

I don’t think you can ban something or make something illegal for only certain people.
And then say it’s OK for everybody else.

If this problem is mostly concentrated in the Aborigine community then the government should be extremely pro-active in this particular area and start protecting the women and children first and foremost. Arrest the suspected abusers and give them the same rights as any other arrested individual has in Australia.

If convicted the criminal should face the punishment not the alcohol or the pornography.

Just because a government or another culture introduces people to something that might be considered unhealthy such as alcohol or pornography that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t introduce these same people to the consequences to what will happen if someone happens to harm or abuse others.

A conscience society or country should not walk on egg shells trying to protect or preserve a culture and sacrifice what is truly right and wrong.


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