Wednesday, August 21, 2013

OPINION - Know your rights? Know reality.

Another rant post, folks. Feel free to skip if you're just here for the tutorials and reviews.

This opinion post centers largely on Australia, but many countries around the world work on a similar system, so it can be adapted and applied as needed.

Australia is a democracy. It is famed world-wide for being a land of freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of work, freedom of religion, freedom to go about your lives in peace.

But that is an illusion. A front. A ruse. As I've gone into before.

You often hear people say "know your rights", which is something I agree strongly with. It is important to know ones' rights, and to understand them. But one must also understand that rights are subjective things, and if it comes down to an argument in court where it is your word as a citizen against the word of a government official or officer of the law, you're going to lose, rights or no.

Australia is not devoid of obscene police brutality. Now, I'm the first to admit that some people have it coming to them. Some people attack police and I believe that the police have a right to defend themselves, but you just have to watch a few videos taken surreptitiously on smartphones to see that the violence extends far, far beyond self defense and into downright assault.

And what if it goes deeper than a simple punch-up? What if an entire force is out to get you? This happens, too, for things as innocent as people exercising their "right" to freedom of speech.

Not too long ago, a young man named Jordan Nash - having undergone horrific bullying at his school - was made to "disappear" along with his mother, Jennifer Nash. They both underwent multiple arrests, removal from the houses of parliament, police brutality and a full media blackout (to the point of having videos about them blocked on public access and library computers) in order to silence their story (which I recommend reading about). To this day it is incredibly difficult to find details on their story as our "democratic", "free" country continues to maintain their silence.
To clarify here, Jordan and his mother were not being violent. Not being obtrusive. They had simply exercised their right to peaceful protest after Jordan had requested an inquiry into the bullying going on at his school - bullying that went beyond students and into the staff towards him also.

I mean think about that for a second. If you're a high school student, and you are getting bullied, who do you go to? Your teachers. What if the teachers don't do anything? You go to the principal. And if the principal does nothing? You go to the school board. And if they do nothing? You go to the police. And if they do nothing? You go to your state member for parliament. And if they ignore you? (Yes. Their very own political representative ignored them - literally walking past them pretending like they weren't there - for 24 weeks). Your only recourse is to go to the federal government. But what if they won't help you either? What if, for approaching them about it in a peaceful way, you get violently tackled - in parliament house - dragged, screaming out of the building, assaulted, thrown in cuffs and arrested, then have media and newspapers ordered to ridicule you in the public eye?

What do you do then?

Nothing. You do nothing. You CAN do nothing. And that is the country we live in. Words like "Justice", "Ethics", "Fairness" and "Rights" are all subjective terms which can be bent, warped and skewed by an ever-increasingly tyrannical government. We have no rights, no choice. We have the illusion of rights, the illusion of choice. And we have a populace who is afraid of their government, when it should be our government who is afraid of its people.

The story of Jordan Nash is just one of many, many similar stories, and that number will continue to climb until things change, but Australians aren't the type to fight. We're not brave like the Turkish people who stood up to their government's ridiculous laws on rights. We're not courageous like the pro-gay advocates flocking to Russia to protest, knowing that it will end in a harsh beating and a cold cell. We're lazy. We're uninformed and we're easily distracted by nonsense like the latest episode of Big Brother or the ridiculous charade that they call an election.

"Doing the right thing" can - and will - get you killed here. Violence is rampant in Australia. Not nearly as bad as other places, that is true, but the fact that there are other countries with worse violence does not in any way make the violence in Australia less bad.

I present to you a first-hand example. I was recently with a friend visiting a country town a while away from where I live, and we decided to stop off at an empty road-side park to enjoy some lunch when a car flew in from the road and a heavily tattooed, roughneck sort of man jumped out and starts making a bee-line straight for me, with a heavy air of malice. My friend asked the man what was wrong, but he only had eyes for me. Luckily for me, I'm quite a large individual with an intimidating mein, and when he got close enough to see that, his resolve faltered ever so slightly, and he decided to maintain a distance of about 3 meters from me before exploding into an abuse-filled tirade about how I was "eyeballing" him as he drove past. I calmly explained that I had just been watching the road and that we had just been enjoying some lunch.

At this point, the man started challenging me to "have it out" and see who the bigger man was. He was pacing back and forth like a caged lion and had such rage in his face and tone that I have to admit I thought I was going to have a bit of a situation. As it was, being a highly trained martial artist - and knowing that my friend is even more skilled than I am - my discipline through training kicked in and I maintained a calm, confident demeanor until he finally realized that his attempts at intimidation and awe were simply not working on me, at which point he left. Something about my calm, even gaze seemed to unnerve him, not to mention him realising that I'm six and a half feet tall and over a hundred kilos - not a small person by far - while he would have been about sixty kilos and maybe close to six foot. It was a fight he couldn't have won. Even against me on my own he would have been outmatched, but to have my very skilled friend at my side, he would have been down in seconds.

All of this was flying through my head as it was happening, and I had the realization that the only sane reason he would have approached and challenged us as he did, with those odds, would be because he was armed in some way. A knife, perhaps, or a gun? It was the only logical conclusion.

What if he did pull a knife on me? Or my friend? Yes, there are ways to defend oneself against a knife, but they're extremely dangerous.

There are very, VERY strict laws regarding the carrying - particularly concealed carrying - of knives in Australia, but common thugs like this fellow pay no heed to those laws, and so it leaves only criminals to have weapons, while the common citizen has nothing. It's the same with gun control. You can never reduce gun possession to zero. All you do by applying more and more laws are leaving it so that ONLY criminals have them.

However, as I said, my friend and I are both very skilled martial artists, and even if he did have a knife, I'm confident we could have - together - overpowered him. But wrestling with a knife is risky business. If our assailant was accidentally stabbed in the fray, my friend and I could be arrested for manslaughter or use of excessive force and thrown away in prison when we did nothing to deserve our fate.

In the end, our own intimidation won out and he had a change of heart, leaving us with a few choice words of abuse and getting back into his car. A wise move on his behalf.

But it begs the question. Why can't Australian's defend themselves adequately? Some would say that we can, and on paper, that's very true. The law states that you can use adequate force to defend yourself or those in your charge. But this excludes any use of weapons, meaning that if you DO defend yourself, it will have to be with your own bare hands.

But an unarmed population is a population that can't fight against its government. You can't escape the hard truths that after imposing its gun bans, the number of armed robberies in Australia went up by an incredible 69%, assaults involving guns went up by 28%, the number of gun murders went up 19% and home invasions went up by 21%, all because those weapons laws ONLY affected law abiding citizens who wanted to be safe.

And so you have a choice, when it comes down to it. And yes, you DO have a choice, but it's a difficult one.
  • Be law-abiding, but put your trust in the system to protect you at all times
  • Go against the rules. Carry a weapon. Train in its responsible use, and protect yourself
And I do mean train in it, as it will be more harm to yourself than your attacker if you aren't familiar with it. Even something as simple as a kubotan can mean the difference between being mugged and being safe, or getting raped and making it home safely.

It's a sad fact that in most states in Australia, a young woman can't even legally carry pepper spray in her purse. The law says there is "no excuse" for it. But tell that to a rape victim. Tell that to an old woman who has had burglars steal from her house. As someone who has had several attempted muggings on their person (none successful, I'm proud to say) and as someone who has gotten cut by one attacker who used a knife, I can tell you that relying on police to protect you is not an option.

When the people who swear they value your safety knowingly impose and enforce laws which severely compromise that safety, it should make you think about these peoples' motives.

And I encourage you to do so.

- CumQuaT

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