Monday, June 25, 2007

Update - here are some more folks talking about the ban on alcohol and pornography in Australia:
Someone actually from Australia
I think this blogger is also from Australia
here's a Christian perspective
and finally this blog here.

Governments worldwide are taking a hard line on pornography, but not without controversy:

courtesy Yahoo News -
SYDNEY (AFP) - Police and soldiers began deploying to outback Australia Monday as part of a radical plan to end child sex abuse in Aboriginal communities which has been criticised as a return to the nation's paternalistic past.

Prime Minister John Howard last week announced he would use police backed by military logistics to seize control of indigenous camps in the Northern Territory to protect women and children.

The controversial decision, which includes bans on alcohol and pornography and medical check-ups for all children under the age of 16, was taken following a damning government report into child abuse in indigenous communities.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough said 20 Australian Defence Force personnel were already on the ground and their number would be boosted in coming days as they prepared to deploy to remote communities.

"Right now I'm trying to stabilise in the order of 70-odd towns in the territory -- that is a massive undertaking," Brough said.

Federal police also began arriving in the Northern Territory capital, Darwin, Monday along with those from several states, each of which has been asked to contribute 10 officers.

But one of the most troubled communities, Mutitjulu near Uluru, has questioned what some of its leaders termed a military occupation.

"The fact that we hold this community together with no money, no help, no doctor and no government support is a miracle," community leaders Bob and Dorothea Randall said in a statement released by their lawyer.

"Police and the military are fine for logistics and coordination but healthcare, youth services, education and basic housing are more essential."

They also questioned whether children should undergo medical checks.

"Of course, any child that is vulnerable or at risk should be immediately protected, but a wholesale intrusion into our women and children's privacy is a violation of our human and sacred rights," the Randalls said.

Former conservative prime minister Malcolm Fraser also criticised the plan as a throwback to paternalistic practices of the past, such as the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their families.

"People must be treated with respect, and in relation to this point they have not been," Fraser told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"In relation to that, I said it was a throwback to past paternalism because it clearly this time has been put in place, announced without any consultation with the communities."

Mutitjulu resident Mario Giuseppe said women were scared that the police were coming to take their children away, just as the so-called "stolen generation" of Aborigines were snatched from their parents under ethnic assimilation policies between the 1930s and the 1970s.

"They think the army is coming to grab their kids and the police are coming to help them," he told ABC radio.

"This is bringing back a lot of memories and opening a lot of scars for these old people here, they are running to the hills and hiding."

Howard dismissed accusations of high-handedness over the plan, which was devised without consultation with Northern Territory leaders.

"I have no doubt that the women and children of indigenous communities will warmly welcome the federal government's actions," he said.

I haven't seen much of this around the blogosphere - possibly because I haven't been paying close attention, but it occurs to me that many of us living with White Woman Syndrome are a little daunted by the prospect of commenting on the lives of Native Australians, which I gotta admit I know less than nothing about. in fact, I wouldn't even know where to look for reliable information. So maybe the relative silence (or at least, as I've observed) is due to the fact that no one wants to look like a bigger idiot than usual.

And I can see how concern for women and children of Native Australian descent led to the Australian government's action - you don't need a master's in Native Australian Studies to grasp that the most vulnerable members of that community are really suffering.

However, if one comes out AGAINST government troops with guns marching on Native Australian communities, does that mean one is coming out FOR pornography, in this case?

and what is this "paternalism", anyway? what does that mean?

and would a kinder, gentler, less stormtrooper-y approach really make a difference?

here's something from a blogger from Australia, Scarlet Words (linked above):

However, I don’t believe that Howard has got it right. It’s pretty hard to ignore the fact that these decisions have been made without any consultation with community leaders or even Clare Martin, the NT’s Chief Minister. Instead we have a disturbing paternalistic intervention that does not address the two biggest contributors to their predicament: Addiction, and the horrific events of the past 200 years that began the cycle of this widespread addiction. For the record, non-indigenous Australia is responsible for most of those.

is the Australian government trying to say that only indigenous Australians are harmed by alcohol and pornography? if not, why are they only "protecting" indigenous Australians?

of course, what the news reports may not really be what is really happening. maybe we in the US aren't getting the full story.

also, I am moved to observe that I haven't seen much commentary from the anti-porn world either.

feel free to chime in with links and further info as y'all wish.
I've seen countless blogs on this topic. Just type "stolen generations" or "aboriginal" into Technorati. Most viewpoints online seem to be against the government's action, although it's probably a different story on radio and some TV stations. There's also a nice round-up of news and opinion from mainstream press on the Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation website:
thanks, amber and priscilla!
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