How I lost sympathy for (some) bushfire victims

The Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 were, in terms of lives lost, the worst fires in Victoria’s history. In Kilmore East, 118 people died and over 1,200 houses were lost. Earlier this year, a group of around 10,000 people affected by the fires launched a massive class action against power company SP Ausnet, based on allegations that faulty cables (due to poor maintenance processes) triggered the bushfires. SP Ausnet denies that claim and is fighting it in court.

My gripe is in this article. It discusses how SP Ausnet entered private property (which is perfectly legal in some circumstances) to conduct some tests that they believed would exonerate them. It seems that by accident or design, entering private property for that purpose was illegal. The response of the plaintiffs is to try and have that evidence excluded from the case on the grounds that it was obtained illegally.

In my mind, this act completely removes the moral high ground that the plaintiffs have. They are no longer victims using the civil court system in a way it should be used, i.e. to ensure that perpetrators of criminal negligence are caught and punished. Instead they are using the civil court system the way we mock the Americans for – just to squeeze a major payout from someone out of some misplaced sense of entitlement.

  • If the evidence that SP Ausnet gathered proves that they were not negligent, then what right do the plaintiffs have to pursue the case and get a payout? It’s nothing short of greed.
  • If the evidence that SP Ausnet gathered does not disprove negligence, then the courts will figure that out and ensure that SP Ausnet is punished appropriately.

This kind of court trickery is very disappointing. The plaintiffs should be seeking truth, not a deep-pocketed scapegoat.

Derryn Hinch: ‘I am genuinely hypocritical’

Derryn Hinch, the human headline, has stood up in court and said that he is “genuinely sorry” for breaching a suppression order and revealing details of the criminal history of a murderer facing trial.

But he also says what he did is morally right.

I think he is just being a big ol’ hypocrite.

If he believes he did the right thing, then he should get up there and say that. To suddenly be all contrite and apologetic in what looks like a rather transparent attempt to wriggle out of a punishment is just hypocrisy.

The laws were put in place by a government elected by the people. If I were to unilaterally decide I don’t like a particular law, I have no right to just go around breaking it. Especially if by breaking it I am going to have a negative effect on other people’s lives. I should either work to get it changed (through campaigning and so on), move somewhere else, or just suck it up as a side effect of living in an otherwise pretty good society.

There are exceptions, for example a law might be put up by a “bad” government against the will of the people. If I was darn sure it was a bad law, and I knew that most of the people were against it, AND I was a heroic person (which I am not), I might elect to break the law as a method of social change. The classic example is Gandhi and his “assault” (see what I did there!) on British oppression back in the 1930s.

The heroic part is how I know I’m going to go to gaol or get some sort of punishment. But I’ll take that punishment on the chin because it serves as a rallying point, and if the mood for social change is right it can be a spark that causes enough of a fire to make the politicians notice and change the laws. Then I’ll get let out of prison (hopefully) and get streets named after me and stuff.

If Mr Hinch believes that the law is wrong, and believes that society agrees with him, then he should stand up and say so. Otherwise he should not break the law in the first place, but campaign against it through other means. He had a radio show for crying out loud; it’s not like he didn’t have a voice of far more influence than you or I will ever have (unless you, dear reader, are a celebrity of some sort, in which case I’d love a little shout out in your Twitter feed or whatever!).

Anyway, we’ll see what happens. It sounds like the judge is intelligent enough to see this as fake genuine sincerity (i.e. he’s not a four-year-old!), so maybe Mr Hinch will have some time in gaol to reflect on how sorry he really is.

Free Bradley Manning! Or Julian Assange! Or something like that.

I am torn between feeling hate and pity for the misguided individuals who defaced a Melbourne statue with slogans such as “Free Bradley Manning” and “Free Julian Assange” and “Why do we allow ourselves to live in a police state?”

I mean, seriously, “police state”? Some dole-bludging wannabe hippie who has never stepped outside the sheltered existence of an incredibly free and non-corrupt country has this whacky idea that somehow we are in a police state because another country wants to prosecute one of its own citizens for an alleged crime committed entirely within that country?! Or is it because one of our citizens allegedly committed sexual assault on someone in Sweden and the Swedish government is trying to extradite him so that he can be charged under Swedish law? If I went to Sweden and raped somebody, would you expect the Australian government to protect me from facing charges for it?

If Mr Assange is innocent, he should go back to Sweden and be exonerated. If he is guilty, he should go back and face his punishment. Sweden is less corrupt than Australia, so it’s not like it’s a¬† big worry that he’ll get an unfair trial. USA and UK have an extradition treaty, so if the US wanted to get him for his wikileaking, they could have done it direct via UK rather than some convoluted system of him going to Sweden first.

It seems to me like he is just using his wikileaking as an excuse to avoid paying his debt to society (if any) for sexual assault, and his fans have fallen for it hook line and sinker. Some idiots just don’t seem to understand that people are not one-dimensional figures that fit into a box labelled “good” or “evil”; and just because they did a good thing, it doesn’t give them carte blanche to do bad things (well, apart from Roman Polanski).

Guantanamo Bay recidivism

I just happened to stumble across this article (from about a year ago), which talks about the recidivism rate of inmates of Guantanamo Bay. That is to say, the number of inmates who then go on to join or return to militant activity.

It seems to me that given the gloriously wonderful conditions of Guantanamo Bay, it would be surprising if inmates didn’t rise up to fight against the oppressive Americans.

If the goal is to turn people against the US, you have certainly succeeded. Well done America!