I'm a light weight. I admit it, and generally therefore steer clear of any emotive issues in the media insofar as blogging is concerned. (Therefore I recommend you go here for an opinion on this subject instead).
Emotion ruling judgement is something I disagree with. Much of the media seem to disagree with me however, and emotive banner headlines have become the stock in trade of the majority of newspapers and magazines. It's easy to use emotion, to get someone riled. It's much harder, yet more important to maintain a reasoned and practical view of an emotive issue and understand that both sides of a discussion may have merit. It's also important to look beyond the point of focus and see the issue in a broader sense.
I admit that I wasn't always like that. I went to my fair share of marches and demonstrations strong in the belief of my cause. I've waived placards and linked arms. I loudly proclaimed my idealistic thoughts to people who didn't really give a toss. I've also, strangely enough, been on the other side. When working for a short while for a security company some years ago, I was part of the attempt to keep protesting students out of a city hotel that was hosting some conference or the other attended by the then minister for education. The emotion fuelled anger and hatred from the other side was terrifying. It became extremely violent from my perspective, and many of us were injured. I remember wondering at the emotion of the crowd, and the lack of a rational spokesman. (Funny story really, An American Rock band was staying at the hotel and I mistook their ripped jeans and tattered appearance and stopped them from getting to the elevator until I was told who they were and ordered to let them pass, but that's another story).
Life experience, (read age), does indeed make you wiser. That's not to say wise, just wiser. The emotivness of my youth has given way to the reasoned and researched viewpoints that I hold today. I am neither left nor right. I base my beliefs on individual situations and whilst the emotion does provide the foundation for those beliefs, the structure that covers them attempts to be a reasoned argument filtering as many of the facts as I understand before I come to judge a situation or take sides. Even when I have reached a conclusion I am open to the reasoned opinion of others who have achieved the opposite view and wish to discuss the matter.
But I hate a lynch mob. People who run to do the justice that they believe was not done by those whose job it is to dispense said justice. You live every day in the old west getting on just fine with the Sheriff. Then one day you disagree with his judgement, break into the gaol with a mob and carry out your own justice for whatever reason by hanging the supposed horse thief from the nearest tree. Maybe you were right in your assumption of the inmate's guilt, or maybe you go home to find the horse was in the wrong paddock.
Shapelle Corby has a reverse Lynch mob. The first part of the judicial process is complete and the mob wants to break in and set her free. Emotion is rife. Protests, (please let them be peaceful and without any hint of racial prejudice) will happen, petitions will be signed; people will/have already scream/ed emotional and unintelligible remarks at anyone with a microphone. The unfairness of it all had people weeping openly in the streets, abusing television screens, swearing to destroy Bali's economy through lack of tourist patronage. One man, (a brother or other family member?) spoke of Australia's assistance for victims of the Tsunami, and even spoke of the navy personnel who died in the helicopter crash helping earthquake victims, neither of which are at all relevant to this case.
Here's my view for what it's worth.
- Unlike many Australians I have no idea if she is innocent or guilty. I do not presume to have all the facts of the case because I have read the tabloids or watched the current affair style shows. When the Telegraph is admissible as evidence in a court of law I will start to take its diatribes seriously.
- Along with most Australians I agree that 20 years is immensely over the top for 4 odd kilos of pot. I think the Indonesians should make a far bigger distinction between deadly addictive narcotics in large quantities and boogie board of weed.
- I have been told by many people pre verdict that she would most likely get the death sentence. That is just wrong. The charges she was facing carried a maximum penalty of life which is an example of the amount of mis-information that is prevalent in the case. If she had been caught in possession, but not at the airport, (which made the charge importation not possession), the maximum penalty would have been six years. By reducing the sentence to 20 years the judge has already attempted to do her a service. The appeal process has a good chance of reducing that even further, and yes I know that the prosecution will also appeal.
- I agree with anyone who says that the Indonesian judicial, police and customs system have a less than exemplary history as far as corruption goes, and I agree that the lack of protocol at the airport checking for fingerprints on the plastic bag, forensic tests on the marijuana to work out its point of origin etc was wrong and may have sealed her fate.
- I disagree with anyone who feels that the Australian Government should have put pressure on the Indonesians for whichever reason. We have, or at least should have, left the days of imperialistic rule behind for one, and secondly we whinge mightily when Bush leans on Howard. It is another country. Agree or disagree with their ways all you like. But don't expect Australia to do what it doesn't want done to itself.
- Do not blame the average Indonesian in the street any more than you want to be personally blamed for Howard taking us into Iraq.
- The amount of Australians around the world in similar situations, those in the past who have been hung in Malaysia, imprisoned in Indonesia etc, with little being said about them does make one wonder about this case. I can see the argument that she's not to hard on the camera lens, or that we have a natural disposition to want to protect women, (yes I have heard both of those arguments), and that if she had been a middle aged bloke the media attention, and therefore our attention would be no where near the level it is in this case, and I can't say I disagree. Where was the outpouring of support for Christopher Parnell who nearly died during his time in prison in Indonesia? And let's face it, who thinks of Barlow and Chambers when planning a trip that stops over in Kuala Lumpur. I remember similar promises from many Aussies to never set foot there again after the hanging, but I doubt it lasted longer than six months.
Shapelle will most likely serve at least ten to twelve years in a prison where you have to purchase your own food and pay for a cell of your own if you don't with to be billeted with 10 other inmates. She will find it horrifying, of that I have no doubt. Indonesian sentences are excessive I agree but keep in perspective the many Australians suffering in similar or worse situations who do not benefit from your support or that of the media. Remember that Indonesia does things differently, and has the right to do so. Remember that the average man in the street does not run the country.