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Lord Roger Migently?

 back to the regency future

Sir Roger Migently, as you must surely realise, has been quite unwell. He has been managed like an unlucky skier in an induced coma these many months since September 2013, when the floor of the Migently Mansions entertainment complex collapsed beneath him and he landed heavily on his Conservatory, hitting his head repeatedly against the wall.

It should be understood that “the Conservatory” is not the cheery, sun-washed place it seems. It was conceived by the Abbott in the Dark Days of John Hunt, “the Coward”, as a place for torture; a place of despair, where all seemed bright and beautiful but all the beautiful plants had deadly thorns, and all the bright things when touched turned to dust, and the wafting perfumes of such sweet and seductive promise turned dreams into terrifying incubi.    

Anyway, Sir Roger was rushed to the Migently Mansions bathroom cabinet where medicines were administered and soothing unguents applied, but to no avail. Sir Roger swooned and would not unswoon. “So a coma it is,” said the Doctor.

Not necessarily surprisingly, attempts at his gentle revival seem always to coincide with yet another dreadful jolt in a string of momentously stupid and dangerous utterances from Canberra and Sir Roger falls back into his protective deep sleep.

However, so many people have been at sea without his mentoring and discourse that his staff have tried what they can to evince some guidance for his adoring public.

And yet in one’s daily attempted mind-meld with Sir Roger one has been unable to rouse Sir R from his slumber.

Perhaps the whiff of Abbott the bigot (of course there’s nothing wrong with that) protecting his cute friends (nothing wrong with that), Sir Andrew Bolt, Sir Alan Jones and Dame Gina, from those nasty decent-and-intelligent-people has drained his remaining energy and convinced him to continue to emulate a plank.

Nevertheless (or perhaps more) one is certain that, had he seen the old queen Flint, in anticipation of his own impending magnificent elevation to glory, go onanistically red-in-the-face ["EIIR! I love you! I love you! ... Oh! Oh! Oh dear! ... Unnhhh ... "]  it would be Sir Roger’s view that we have lived through the monochromatic 1950s already and have moved on, leaving the Womens Weekly behind.

Sir Roger clearly is not against imperial honours per se (or ought that be qua honours?) but he would surely feel that the value of his own cherished knighthood (bestowed, he dimly recalls, by some German inbreed or other) would be debased by the addition of random honours gifted for political sycophancy and party donations to the riff-raff and nig-nogs. Unless….unless…

… Given that Sir Roger was the “natural” son of Lord Lummy and Lord E. Lordy, ‘Lord Roger Migently’ has an appealing ring to it, a siren song, the seemly snugness of a perfectly fitting glove lost in the garden for generations and new-discovered; a rightness, a coming-home, a certain comme il faut.

A peerage is an honour for which Sir Roger, like Courtney Bryce and General Storr, or whoever these stiffs are, would in a moment, as Bill Hayden infamously did, repudiate his democratic and republican instincts in favour of the narcissistic rewards of personal aggrandisement, and assume an air of indulgent condescension toward the lower classes. 

“EIIR!” can’t you almost hear him panting, “EIIR! I love you! I love you! … Oh! … Oh! ……… Oh dear! … Unnhhh … Zzzzzzzzzzzzz …..”


[for Sir Roger Migently]

Hoban’s Heroes

Sir Roger was contacted yesterday by an outfit called Bogan Recruitment. Or Hoban. Or something.

“Lindsay” left a message because Sir Roger was attending a board meeting about protecting the Migently Millions and what to do about the servants.

Lindsay wanted to have a chat about someone (let’s call her “Annabelle”) for whom Sir Roger had once agreed to be a referee.

Now, Lindsay had rung at 4.55 pm and Sir Roger didn’t get the message until well after decent people had gone home for the day. (Sir Roger hadn’t gone home, obviously, but then nobody has accused Sir Roger of being “decent”.) Nevertheless, as soon as he could Sir Roger raided his files to find Annabelle. Yes, he recalled, she had been well worthy of a reference. She was mature though young, punctual, committed, focused, capable, experienced, bright. She listened attentively and learnt quickly.

So this morning Sir Roger rang the offices of the fabled – and as it turns out octopoid – Hogan Conglomerate only to find that their phones were experiencing troubles and he had been transferred to Melbourne. But they would leave an email for Lindsay that Sir Roger had called and she would call him back.

Lindsay did not call back.

In his loyalty to Annabelle, who after all was a good stick and deserved a break, Sir Roger rang a second time.

Lindsay wasn’t available at this time, apparently on the phone making further spurious calls, but the young lad would leave a message and Lindsay would call Sir Roger back.

Lindsay did not call Sir Roger back.

Sir Roger was not seeking a job. Sir Roger would not use the services of any agency but himself.  Sir Roger was doing a favour for someone who deserved one. He felt treated like an applicant, he felt treated like a thing. He felt Lindsay was very rude indeed. And/or extremely slack and bad at her job. (Who rings someone at COB to have a conversation that will often take about 20 minutes?) And even if she no longer needed the reference she ought to have returned Sir Roger’s calls. She did not know how important Sir Roger might or might not be, or how valuable his time. She worked off a stupid narrow world view and an ignorant theory of mind.

He wondered whether Lindsay judgmentally makes employment decisions or recommendations on the basis of applicants’ ability to do the job, their punctuality, efficiency, customer service ability?

He felt, if so, that Lindsay would fail badly on her own criteria. He felt Hobans failed miserably.

It is nothing really to Sir Roger. His future is not on the  line – not on their line at least. He will never see Annabelle again, or ever know whether she was successful in obtaining the position. But Holborn Human Placements and its android staff made an enemy they didn’t need to. And of course they don’t give a shit because they are so huge.

So Sir Roger recommends avoiding Bogan’s Heroes because they don’t seem to care about people or understand what that means. It’s just the profit margin. Just the business.

 

Liberal Party

 

Feel free …joined the liberal party

 

No really. Pin it, fb it, tweet it, email it. With Sir Roger’s blessing.

Just don’t join the liberal party really

Rentier Socialists

 

Just (sorry) Sir Roger thinks IT’S TIME to refer back to the recent squabble about certain t-shirts and heap some shit on those who assert ownership of the commonly used English phrase “It’s time”. 

Universities once, in all the centuries up to but not including this one, were laboratories for learning and thinking, experiencing and exploring. They fostered the free flow and sharing of ideas. They created possibilities. They were machines, hothouses, for ideas, rather than being mainly and merely commercial employment factories basing their teaching on the (safe) theories of the past. (Better the devil you know than the one you might unearth with your damnable curiosity and cause all sorts of uncertainty and, worse, discomfort.) 

So when a university, especially a university, or a “controlled entity” of a university, indulges in trademarks, copyrights and any “intellectual” properties it can get its hands on, what does that do? Well, it prohibits the free flow and sharing of ideas. It steals possibilities. And so it steals from a nation. 

What is that? wondered Sir Roger, that lives off the rental or hoarding of ideas and goods, or off other people’s work? By chance he came across a term which describes, or once described, such a person or “entity” – the rentier

 

447px-Uriah_Heep_from_David_Copperfield_art_by_Frank_Reynolds

 

A rentier (/?r?nti.e?/ or /r???tje?/) is a person or entity that receives income derived from economic rents, which can include income from patents, copyrights, brand loyalty, real estate, interest or profits.

Rentier is a term currently used to describe economic practices of parasitic monopolization of access to any (physical, financial, intellectual, etc.) kind of property and gaining significant amount of profit without contribution to society.

The rentier was the ultimate bourgeois, like Helen and Allison. But then, aren’t we all, or don’t we all aspire to be, rentier capitalists? A second, third, fourth, investment property? Write a book and live off the royalties and movie rights? Perhaps. But Sir Roger thinks rentier capitalism is not a core value that one associates with Gough in his heyday, not even after they turned his marbles into a bust and stuck him on a plinth, in fact ever. Perhaps that’s why we voted for him.

 

Democracy – Dancing for Joy?

About 300 years ago, like a smouldering kapok pillow, a massive revolution began its slow burn.  A scientific revolution. A social political revolution led by great minds. Newton, Spinoza, Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau,  Diderot, d’Alembert, Montesquieu. Hume. Robert Burns. Thomas Payne. The Age of Enlightenment surged on and rational, egalitarian thought swept everything from its path. Except religion, of course. You’ve got to give it to religion – it’s resilient. Like an ocean wave at last it broke into violence. The French Revolution, The American War of Independence. But in the rubble a fragile flower bloomed.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen [Déclaration des droits de l'Homme et du citoyen] of 1793. The Americans, between their Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, embraced the same sentiments at about the same time.  

By these documents were guaranteed the liberties and rights whose influence quickly spread throughout the western world and which we now take so much for granted.

Homo sapiens sapiens has been around for perhaps two hundred thousand years.  The Neolithic Revolution, farming and domestication of animals, and the building of cities, occurred perhaps 10,000 years ago.

Not so long ago (post Agriculture, not before) life was indeed, as Hobbes imagined, “nasty, brutish and short”, a seething battleground of warring lords and ruthless despots, of slaves and serfs, and of absolute monarchs who had the arbitrary right of life and death over all people.

It was just 300 years ago unrest began to swell in earnest. That’s just 3% of our history since the rude beginnings of agriculture.

Only 200 years ago – one thousandth of our history as a species, a minute dot in time – the tide turned and democracy began to struggle to life. That democracy was tiny and constantly under threat from still powerful influences. But with the aid of its champions and nurturers it survived and grew.

Yet it is still under threat from those same influences, barons of another kind who control the thinking of the masses, press barons, princes of religion and those who desire power for themselves for power’s sake.

Our democracy is an infant. New Zealand was the first to introduce universal suffrage (including women) in 1893.  Australia followed with not quite universal suffrage in 1902. That’s just yesterday in historical terms. But it was not until 1962, only 51 years ago, that Australia gained universal suffrage by including the Aboriginal people.

This is a new thing we have, a child, not an obvious, done deal. It needs nourishing still and it needs vigilant champions. We are not as far as we imagine from the possibility of the events of Egypt in the last few weeks.

Our democracy is still under threat and it is under threat from three sides.

First, the politicians themselves, who would be kings but are fools, who corrode, erode and mock the meaning of democracy with their travesties, and all for their own petty, selfish and shortsighted ends. The politicians who drain the blood out the hearts of the citizens.

Second, from the ignorant who wonder what all this has to do with nail-tech or Big Brother (more than they realise).

From the comfort of our sofas we see on our plasma (or, for the supremely self-congratulatory, LED-LCD) screens the people of other countries, newly democratic after pitched battles, blood, pain, terror and ultimately victory – like the people of Timor-Leste, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt – dancing on Election Day in the streets with joy, and music, and riots of colour, celebrating their right to choose their representatives and their own futures and the future of their countries.

It is wonderful and as we look up from the tv dinners on our knees, tinnie in hand, we beam indulgently and complacently at these innocents who have joined the “right” side, our side, with, unlike us, their shed blood, ruined families and ransacked economies, still dancing for joy the way we never have.

We drag ourselves and our prejudices resentfully and reluctantly to the polling booth, sometimes with our children in tow to teach them how to despise, as we do, our astonishing freedoms and democratic rights for which, and for 300 years, millions fought and died.

So the third and biggest threat is our own complacency and, worse, our boredom and apathy.

celebration2

We can’t imagine it being taken away. We think it is here forever. We think it is obvious. We think it is safe. We are wrong. A decade ago we nonchalantly handed over basic rights in the interests of “security”. Habeas corpus, the ancient cornerstone of our legal system and therefore our democracy, was slipped away without shame and without a murmur.

Our democracy is under threat right now from the most powerful multinational-conglomerate opinion manipulators the world has ever seen. It is under threat from those, of not just one religion, who see theocracies as the future of their world. And these are not the only threats.

If we take our eyes off this still very young child, democracy, if we will not remember to dance for joy in the streets for the brilliant gift from our forbears that democracy is, it can turn to dust in the blink of a bored and apathetic eye.

 

 

 

 

 

A Moron in a Hurry – Part 4 (Final)

GOTHPLINTHDrawing by the extraordinary Doctor King

Men and Whitlam of Australia, not to forget the moron in a hurry, it’s time to bid farewell to old plinth-bound, red-taped Goth the Whittler, his soul, his vision and his legacy chained and frozen in stone within the walls of the Wiblam Edifice, protected by the Hooded Brethren of the Whitlam Industry, with this final chapter of Sir Roger’s dictated response to  Helen the Madam Intimidatrix and her office girl Allison. 

 

Current violations

I think you ought to know that in the last few days in the context of an election campaign at least one person (Christine Milne, Leader of the Greens) and one organisation (the Guardian) have infringed your trademark(s) under TM 1414012 Class 9 and Class 38. Ms Milne has also infringed TM 985583 Class 35 in relation to Advertising and promotion of services, organisations and issues related to politics, political issues etc.

Christine Milne, 4 August 2013

It’s time that we treated refugees in a compassionate way

It’s time that we supported the poorest in our own community and dealt with issues such as homelessness and poverty.”

Ms Milne has clearly used the phrase in a way (twice is surely “branding”) that would appear to provide a prima facie case of infringement. I look forward to hearing the news of your fearless action against this perpetrator.

 ittony

This case may not be so clear-cut but probably worth a try? High profile defendant, the Guardian; famous case to lift the Institute’s profile and strike fear into the hearts of mom and dad transgressors?

I will in any case make sure, in the near term, that both Ms Milne and the Guardian are made aware of and understand their transgressions and I will inform them that it is possible you may be in contact with them in the near future. I also feel it my duty to warn all other news outlets and politicians of the danger that they may be facing  if they are not vigilant.  

  

Conclusion

If this response is insufficient for the might of the Gruff Wiblam Foundation well then you might ask yourself, as Sir Roger so frequently asks,

“How would this look on the front page of the Herald?”

The might of the Whitlam edifice versus a poor old pensioner whose heart (what is left of it) is in the right place, whose career has been in furthering the rights of man, standing up for the underdog, entertaining the masses, educating and mentoring the unemployed, the broken and the dismayed.

The frail old thing, who can’t afford to defend himself, is being bullied by the ruthless, taxpayer-funded guardians of a fading myth of the socialist left, that no-one under 40 has ever heard of.

Sir Roger wouldn’t know about the front page of the Herald. He has only been in the Stay In Touch page of the Herald and his website, while it has a strong and consistent following, has only been number 1 on Google, Yahoo, and Bing and for about five [six] years.

Sir Roger does, however, know what it means to be immortalised – as is Sir Gough through the Institute – his website being archived in the Pandora Archive of the National Library, and one or two of the website’s t-shirts being included in museum collections – T-shirts such as this one which has, one can’t help thinking, an apropos message here:

av1

Or, to put it momentarily back in the courtroom, confusion is more difficult to establish when the Values Australia logo has fairly strong recognition of its own.

 

On an even more personal note

  1. Sir Roger has noted in publicly available documentary sources that you find academic legal work ‘thrilling’ – Really? Sir Roger cannot find in your presentation the merest whiff of evidence evinced that you are thrilled, no paragraphs or PPT slides addressing this burning issue at all.
  2. Sir Roger thinks you have answered your own question re: gatekeeper or transaction facilitator. Yes, just an enforcer – “do as I say”.
  3. By the way, “different from”, not “different to”.
  4. And please do for goodness’ sake get someone who knows what they’re doing to design your PPT slides. Or, better, just learn how to speak without them. Some might think that yours perpetrate a worse sin against humanity than anything Values Australiahas ever done.
  5. You may think Sir Roger has been unfair and you might say that you are quite a nice and caring person after all and how could one be so mean and cruel to you and make judgments about your character and personality when one had never met you.
  6. And one would reply, one is oneself quite a nice and caring person also, and deeply moral, who loves his children and works and campaigns for the betterment of real people in the real world. And yet you did not ask or care but coldly made assertions, accusations and judgments about one’s character and personality when you had never met one. Your ground rules, not one’s.
  7. Sir Roger requested I ask one last question:

 

“Just because it’s legal, is it the right thing to do?”  

 Appendix

 A certain person is passing himself off as ex-Opposition Leader and ex-Gillard Minister Simon Crean.  He is clearly an impostor who is calling himself “Simon Cream”.

 creamer

 

Sir Roger has not heard from Helen, Madam Intimidatrix of the Hooded Brethren of the Whitlam Industry since e-penning this polite response. He does not know whether she is mollified, stupefied, unutterably bored, or in a fury of retribution to punish naughty Sir Roger in any way possible. We shall see.

Sir Roger would deem it not unkind of his army of supporter to feel that it’s time to share with its friend and influential acquaintance, this saga, or to share the complete e-letter which can be found and downloaded here.

And now to Gough the farter, Gough the sun and Gough the gruff old goat. Gough be with you. 

 

 

A Moron in a Hurry – Part 3

.

isttime

. ..

Previously on Moron in a Hurry

Sir Roger, strapped to the rack by the Madam Intimidatrix of the Hooded Brethren of the Gruff Wiblam Edifice, shouted that “Freedom is a state of mind”, wondering where he’d heard it before, whereupon his bonds evaporated and the spirit of Wiblam was upon him and possessed his tongue. His eyes flashed and his balls grew large. He spoke of his astonishment. He spoke of facts and moral truths, of the Law and its unhappy servants, of, dog warmers, mouse mats and g-strings.

Sir Roger now invoked the enchanted phrase “It’s Time” and the wizards who possess it. And he e-spake these words unto the Hooded Brethren: 

[Can't wait for the full, breathless Not Even a Moron in a Hurry?]

 .

Ownership of the phrase

Gough Whitlam did not own the phrase in the commercial sense. At the time that the phrase gained popularity he did not personally pay for the slogan, nor the campaign as far as one is aware. Intellectual property typically belongs to the person who creates it, or to the legal entity who commissions the work.

The campaign was created in 1972 by McCann Erickson who were commissioned by the Labor Party.

Ironically(?) enough “It’s Time” might be seen by a sharp-eyed lawyer on the make as an appropriation of Menzies’ 1949 slogan, “It’s Time for a Change”. Would the Liberal Party have had a case for trademark infringement or for passing off? I suppose Menzies ought to have had greater foresight and trademarked the phrase.

Despite the slogan having a certain association with Whitlam and with images of Whitlam during the 1972 campaign (as it does also with numerous now-faded TV personalities) – again, it was The Australian Labor Party that campaigned under the slogan, not just Gough. It was the Labor slogan, not the Whitlam slogan.

More than this, a majority of Australian electors adopted the slogan as their own, voted Labor in 1972 and won. We won. It was a time of excitement and hope and anticipation. The Labor victory changed Australia overnight and so Australians who voted Labor then felt “it’s time” was their time, and they still do.

Gough was Sir Roger’s hero too, as he told David Attenborough one day (or was it the other way around?) and he even managed to touch the hem of Gough’s garment once before Gough imperiously brushed him off.

Yes, the Institute may have a legal right to the term but it cannot honestly assert moral ownership of the phrase which belongs to the Australian people, or at least those who are ancient enough to remember those heady days 41 years ago.

The appropriation (or acquisition) of the phrase by the Whitlam Institute seems in Sir Roger’s personal view opportunistic and merely commercial and any assertion of moral ownership groundless.

You have expressed a view that universities have not been “politicised”. Are you serious? Where have you been? And even if you were right what is not debatable is that they have certainly become highly commercialised, which is perhaps worse, especially from the point of view of the values which Gough always represented. Which is why we are having this conversation.

“We want to give a new life and a new meaning in this new nation to the touchstone of modern democracy — to liberty, equality, fraternity.”

-          Gough Whitlam, ALP Policy Speech, 13 November 1972

Sir Roger is in his way a student of the Enlightenment which led directly to liberté, egalité, fraternité and la Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen. And it would in Sir Roger’s view be a travesty and an insult to Whitlam’s legacy if lawyers on his behalf were to trample all over what he actually stood for, what he held so dear, what he really meant to us and which he so successfully shared as his vision for this country, for its people and their democracy – just because it was the law.

.

Genericisation

One is clear that the Institute is in proud possession of carefully guarded forms saying that it owns a Trade Mark. Those pieces of paper give the Institute a legal stick. People, however, use these two words together in all sorts of contexts all the time. People have appropriated the term as their own ever since 1972. It is used everywhere by all sorts of people.

One could understand if the whole purpose of this exercise by The Magnificent Whitlam Institute may be to run a campaign to avoid genericisation by asserting its trademark. And such a campaign might focus on the easier targets. But it was probably already too late for that as early as 1972.

Your pieces of legal paper if taken literally would mean people may conceivably inadvertently infringe your trademark privately or in public using those words.

The idea that the Institute has a right to be the only “legal person” to use those words together in all the Classes you have trademarked is a nonsense, a mockery, an impossibility. Any attempt the Institute might make to assert its trademark on a large scale would be in danger of discovery that it is a generic term and you might risk losing the trademark protection in any case.

To be clear, your trademarks do not discriminate or allow discretion. They make it an infringement to use the two words together in any of the contexts which are covered.  You are honour bound to pursue all perceived infringements as you have Values Australia. Anything else would be unethical. A newspaper headline, for example, or a recorded political speech could be construed to fall under the trademark jurisdiction. You could conceivably pull a teacher out of a classroom for writing those words on the whiteboard at the start of a class, “branding” the lesson. You could conceivably take IBM (for argument’s sake) to court because the office girl created signs for a change management seminar she had decided to call “IT’S TIME”. You would be entitled to make a claim if you felt like it. In fact, since you have done it here, you are bound to do it there, and to seek out every possible instance where it might occur.

You can see the total absurdity. (Or perhaps you can’t. That would be sad.)    

And yet you were not satisfied with one set of absurdities in 2004. You went out and bought four more in 2011.

.

Freedom of speech

What is worse is that the right of a person to freedom of speech in a political context was derived from Sections 7 and 24 of the Australian Constitution by the High Court in 1992 and 1994 and in particular in Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1997).

Even the Immigration Department on its website assures potential citizens that there are “five fundamental freedoms”.

Number one on their list is “freedom of speech”.

“Australians are free, within the bounds of the law, to say or write what we think privately or publicly, about the government, or about any topic. We do not censor the media and may criticise the government without fear of arrest.”

One doesn’t wish to make too much of this but after all it is the website of an Australian Government department. It has been there for many years. It must have legal, if not legislative, standing because a person would be entitled to rely on this advice to inform his actions. If it does not have force then it is misrepresentation and a person could claim damages.

A case might be made that restricting the use of “it’s time” in the political context, trademark notwithstanding, is a restriction on or infringement of  that implied right.

I don’t suppose you want to test that and Sir Roger does not have the means.

.

On a more personal note.

Sir Roger was offended that “you”, or whoever actually wrote the letter, employed that formal and threatening presumption-of-guilt language which seems to the clean-living and unwary to accuse one of all manner of the vilest of premeditated and vicious crimes and to suggest that the recipient is the lowest bastard in the world if not a baby-eater – or worse, a catholic priest – when you could as easily have written,

“Dear Sir, you may not have realised that [blah blah etc. etc.] and though your intentions may have been honourable, we would like you to not do that any more, please. We’d rather not, for both our sakes, have to ask you again if you don’t mind. Let’s know if you object. Kind regards Helen (via Allison).”

Sir Roger finds that writing to decent, good, generous Australians in the arrogant way you have is offensive and frankly obscene. Not everyone (thank god) is a lawyer and understands that legalese is “just the bullying way we do things around here” and that you were “just doing your job; nothing personal”.

He does, though, feel for you. Much as you might have desperately wished you could write an understanding and thoughtful letter, you simply cannot. Your hands and pens and mind are chained to the formula, and the form guides you learnt while articled, and the form letter in which you or your office girl customised the fill-in-the-blank spaces. For you there is only one way to write such a letter and you have no choice but to do it that way.

In this most free of countries lawyers, of all people, have no professional freedom. In your heart you might wish you could change the world for the better the way you dreamed in the idealistic glow of youth, when you watched Boston Legal - or perhaps Perry Mason?

But the law as you know, and perhaps discovered to your dismay (or delight, who knows?) is not about truth or justice; it is only about the law.

For all one knows you may have strong morals yourself but in your profession morality is irrelevant, except for morality which is legislated. And in that you have no say, whether you agree with it or not. And so instead of doing what is right you must do what is legal, perhaps sitting in a room lined with soul-sucking books doing unutterably tedious, endlessly repetitive and eye-wateringly trivial things like pumping out form letters to the wicked.

Sir Roger is full of regret for any existential struggle you might have, any desire you might have to fashion meaningfulness amongst the professional restraints.

Meanwhile, Sir Roger is unfettered by such constraints. Every day is a new excitement and a new challenge and a creative opportunity to influence his world for the better and to make it a better, more loving and more humane place – much the way Gough inspired us to do and be. And one has the constitutional right and freedom to do so.

.

.

In our next and final instalment, Sir Roger: 

  • makes shocking revelations of high-profile naughtiness,
  • gets up-close-and-personal
  • and even more up-close-and-personal with the, after all, non-intimidating one, 
  • asks the question he often asks himself, and knows she does (“How would this look on the front page of the herald?”)
  • and drops a political bombshell! 

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    .
    .
    .
    .

A Moron in a Hurry – Part 2

 

 

Goth The Whittler

 GOTH THE WHITTLER EDIFICE
Legal traps and electronic security  are secreted everywhere.
Instructions for grovelling are necessary for the uninitiated and unimpressed 

 

So as you know Sir Roger has been stood over by the rozzers of the Whitlam Industry, accused of the most nefarious crimes in the most aggressive tones. Almost as terrifying as the big boys threatening him for his lunch money.

To help the dear reader understand the response which follows, here, first, are excerpts from that letter from the Whitlam Institute which was rushed by email, with a copy by snail, under the hand of one “Helen” but actually from the desk of an “Allison” (who knows?). All one really knows about “Helen” is that she appears to be a ‘torturer’ or (to put it another way) ‘abominable power point presenter’:

 

flemingletter

 

Therefore in the spirit of that letter Sir Roger’s amanuensis replied as follows (Part 1 today):

 

Gosh! Comrade!

This is exciting, isn’t it? To be accused of “procuring”! Sir Roger feels he has at last achieved the heady heights of infamous celebrity enjoyed by Berlusconi and Strauss-Kahn!  

Who even for a moment suspected that a t-shirt splashed with the ValuesAustralia.com logo could ever be suspected of being sanctioned by the arrogant old codger? Only those who knew that The Great Man’s now immortally corporatised self is also now legally wagon-encircled.

Ought one to turn oneself into the police tonight? Might one wait till tomorrow? Will one need to pack one’s pyjamas? What sort of a sentence do you think one might get (were you to win)?

One says, “were you to win” because who knows for sure if a judge would find that the (now ex-) t-shirt was “passing off”?

One knows you can’t. Not till the judge puts the black cap on.

Since your concern is to protect the income of the Mighty Whitlam Edifice one can inform you that the Institute has lost no income in this matter. One finds no historic record of a sale of the allegedly offensive t-shirt and it is no longer offered for sale on the Values Australia website or at cafepress.

One hopes you will forgive any language which is not cringingly fearful under the onslaught of your strident, harshly worded and school-marmish threats but, you know, this blog post (series) if it lacked some frisson, some controversy, would be terribly dull and there would be nothing to tweet about. Sir Roger’s loyal fans would be disappointed and it would damage his reputation for robustness. One hopes indeed that you will understand that this response may contain occasionally non-legal terminology because, as Sir Roger puts it, “IANAL”. And if you are offended, well, you know, you have as much right to be offended as Sir Roger was offended that the letter purporting to be sent by you was in fact sent for you, a task you delegated to someone else, perhaps the office girl. Who is to know?

I am the nominee of Sir Roger Migently who commissions and is senior adviser to the website ValuesAustralia (hosted in and published from the United States of America with all the implications and complications that entails).

Sir Roger has therefore directed that I endorse the enclosure on his behalf. (You may need to look carefully for the signature towards the end.)

He was shocked to hear that, what with his pension and his gold ticket and all, old Gruff is so short of cash these days that he needs every cent you can get him.

Sir Roger (benighted before Gough changed the honours system) informs me that he had quite forgotten that he had created the sparkling opportunity to ignore the … er … opportunity to which you refer and which apparently no-one saw or – certainly on the evidence and to Sir Roger’s memory – not one person wanted. Sir Roger frankly couldn’t have given a stuff about it, as he says, after the 2007 election. Its time (oops, sorry!) had passed.

So he was shocked when the rozzers from Whittling Inc sent to his amanuensis the terrifying threats of, well, who knows what dire consequences by email! To Sir Roger it felt a bit like being dumped by text (which strangely chuffed him, being down with the kids and terribly contemporary and all).

Sir Roger demands that the forensic team at UWS Legal, should they locate any remaining instances of the offending item, immediately inform Sir Roger who will forthwith speak to his people to have them deleted.

(On a side note, there are on the cafepress website very many other instances of the phrase being used on possibly tens or hundreds of

  • g-strings
  • shirts
  • mugs
  • cups
  • caps
  • dog warmers and
  • mouse mats,

so if you wanted to pursue them – perhaps claiming piracy under extraterritoriality? – the office girl will have plenty of work to do for the next few years.)

  

Discovery and Observations

You assert that the Whitlam Institute has a “substantial reputation”. Who knew? Sir Roger would be one of the more aware people in the community, both generally and politically. He had no idea! A Whitlam Institute? Doing great and worthy works? A t-shirt? I must say, the UWS marketing unit needs to get off its arse about this one and let the world know that Gough’s spirit lives! If Sir Roger has never heard of it, few others have.

Looking at the Whitlam Industry website now one might suspect it is less the throbbing engine of social justice and democratic advancement one might imagine than a back-slapping nostalgia club for the ex-famous and forgotten, a few academics writing impenetrable scholarly works with obtusely academic titles and a fresh-faced legal team jumping out of the legal bushes to surprise the disobedient.

 

 So, trademarks and passing off.

“A cause of action for passing off is a form of intellectual property enforcement … particularly where an action for trademark infringement based on a registered trade mark is unlikely to be successful.”

So, trademarks and passing off.

“Passing off … does not confer monopoly rights to any names, marks, get-up or other indicia. It does not recognize them as property in its own right.

“Instead, the law of passing off is designed to prevent misrepresentation in the course of trade to the public, for example, that there is some sort of association between the business of defendant and that of the claimant.”

There are three elements which must be fulfilled:

•             Goodwill owned by a trader

•             Misrepresentation

•             damage to goodwill.

In Reckitt & Colman Ltd v Borden Inc [1990], Lord Oliver stated that a plaintiff must establish all of the following:

1.            a goodwill or reputation attached to the goods or services

2.            a misrepresentation leading or likely to lead the public to believe that the goods or services offered by him are goods or services of the plaintiff

3.            that he suffers loss or damage as a consequence of the erroneous belief that the goods or services of the defendant are the goods or services of the plaintiff.

_______________________

1.           A case may be made that goodwill attaches to items for sale by the Whitlam Institute.

However:

2.            As for misrepresentation, not even “a moron in a hurry” (which as you know is NOT the test) would imagine that the shirt prominently displaying the ValuesAustralia logo was an offering of the Whitlam Institute. [see below]

                The website never and nowhere represents (or represented) or if you like misrepresents or misrepresented in any way, or could have, that ValuesAustralia.com was in any way affiliated with the Whitlam Institute or that the shirt was in any way approved by the Whitlam Institute. It would not have been possible to make such a claim because ValuesAustralia.com in 2007 had no knowledge (was, as it now seems blissfully unaware) of the Institute’s existence at all or of its commercial offerings.

ValuesAustralia.com never knew, or in its wildest dreams could ever have imagined, that the two words “it’s” and “time” placed side by side, in dictionary order, were or ever would be, or for goodness’ sake ever could be trademarked by anyone.

3.            It is as impossible to demonstrate as it is silly to suggest that the Whitlam Institute has suffered or could have suffered loss or damage as a result of any confusion over the shirt’s provenance. As far as the writer knows no shirt was sold except for the one bought by Values Australia itself as a proof copy in 2007 and the person who bought that shirt (oneself) was, absolutely certainly, under no misapprehension whatever that the shirt was represented as a product of the Whitlam Institute. No person has ever contacted Values Australia with any question concerning the shirt’s provenance. Until now.

                There never was any intent to deceive nor any intention to obtain a gain or cause a loss at the expense of the Whitlam Institute.

                There never was any misrepresentation made and nor there was ever any intention in the course of trade calculated to injure the business or goodwill of the Whitlam Institute. No damage could be imagined probably to be caused, none was caused, and now certainly none can be caused in the future.

To make this point clear,  I wonder if you would take a moment to view these two images and decide whether you can tell them apart, remembering that the test is not “a moron in a hurry”. (They have been placed side by side for ease of comparison). Can you tell which is which? Are you sure that the shirt on the right is not an offering, or representing itself as an offering, of the Whitlam Institute? How can you tell?

compare

Images considered fair use for this document as exhibits in a legal context

 

If you are having trouble spotting the difference, a guide can be seen overleaf follows.

compared

 

 

 … End of Part 1

_______________

[The "moron in a hurry" is a term in case law:

It appears to have been used first by Mr Justice Foster in the 1978 English legal case of Morning Star Cooperative Society v Express Newspapers Limited [1979] FSR 113. In this case, the publishers of the Morning Star, a British Communist party publication, sought an injunction to prevent Express Newspapers from launching their new tabloid, which was to be called the Daily Star. The judge was unsympathetic. He asked whether the plaintiffs could show:

a misrepresentation express or implied that the newspaper to be published by the defendants is connected with the plaintiffs’ business and that as a consequence damage is likely to result to the plaintiffs

 

and stated that:

if one puts the two papers side by side I for myself would find that the two papers are so different in every way that only a moron in a hurry would be misled.

So any possible confusion by a “moron in a hurry” is insufficient to find for the plaintiff. ]

 

In our next instalment we ask,

  • Who really owns the phrase “it’s time”?  
  • Is the phrase already generic? 
  • What about freedom of political speech? 
  • And we share a personal moment with “Helen”. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Moron in a Hurry – Part 1

WARNING: POLITICAL DISCUSSION PROTECTED  BY SECTIONS 7 AND 24 OF THE AUSTRALIAN CONSTITUTION.

Sir Roger (or at least his amanuensis) was harried recently by the legal department of a minor university which happens to accommodate a “controlled entity” bearing the name of a once terrifying but now sadly faded and largely ignored (for those who lived in his time) or unknown (for those born after his time)  mythical hero of long ago. His name was “Goth”.

His time, comrade, was a time of social earthquake, of cultural lightning and political tempest whose like we shall not see again.

Heralded by fiery comets, bare-chested and thumping did he unchain the creativity of the nation’s sleeping beast.

With the life-giving elixir of  freedom did he quench the crumbling leaves of its dreams.

And “Liberté, Egalité! Fraternité!” was his (okay, pretentious) battle cry. To those who awoke it was as if St Crispin himself were there amongst them.

And the beast was roused! It shook off the dust of the dead, Mingisian years and romped and played for joy.

But it grew and grew and its liberator, though mighty, was no match for the beast which became a monster and destroyed him.

The largest stars shine brightest and briefest and explode with shocking spectacle. And are gone. Their supernova remnants linger for a time but fade and are forgotten.

As Oscar Wilde almost wrote of the Star Child, “Yet ruled he not long, so great had been his suffering, and so bitter the fire of his testing, for after the space of three years he was destroyed. And those who came after him ruled evilly.” And they still do and today they promise to rule more evilly than ever before.

And so the fabulous beast was drugged by the Hooded Brethren and encased in a concrete bunker called The Institute. Emblazoned above the portal was the name of our hero, “Goth the Whittler”.

The Hooded Brethren, in fear that the monster may reawaken, administer to the beast, in its concrete bunker, their witches’ brew of soporific drugs while chanting  incantations from the pages of The Magic Laws and remember the long gone, real gone stompy wompy songs of yesteryear.

So it was that one day the beast groaned in its sleep. The Executive Hooded One was summoned. The runes were cast. The skies did she interrogate for signs. And she turned with dark and flashing eyes and said, “Send out the Pages!”

At the old witch’s word were unleashed the snarling, barking, pissing hounds with eyes as big as saucers and mill wheels and towers. To their backs were bound the sacred pages of The Magic Laws and away like Dapto Champions they rushed to an unfortunate person’s humble abode to deliver the dreadful Laws and threats.

 

And that ‘s how Sir Roger got them really. More or less.

His amanuensis was more shaken than Sir Roger, having had to answer the door and face the slavering beasts in person.

The Laws were brimstone hot to the touch and covered in slimy slaverings and piss but one’s amanuensis unbound them and read them and considered them and laughed and laughed and eventually got out the quill, brewed up some ink and fashioned a response on finest e-parchment which he attached to the still-waiting canines. Sir Roger has seen it.

If there are two thing Sir Roger hates above other things they are bullying and self-important posturing. If there is one group of people he despises it is people who are so far up themselves they can look themselves in their own eye sockets and who then insist that everyone else take them seriously. It is those attitudes and this type of person that Sir Roger believes his amanuensis was forced to address.

Sir Roger thinks it is a nice piece of nasty work, and if not his best then perhaps quite close.

Why is this story titled, “A Moron in a Hurry”?

He will share the answer to this and other mysteries with you.

In our next.

 

 

Becoming a Lawyer

become a lawyer

 

Sir Roger’s not sure. What do you think?

It seems to make sense.

Is there a t-shirt in this?

Sir Roger does say he apologises to all his friend and reader who is a lawyer. (He doesn’t mean them.)

What is Arpa Narpa Narp?

A guide to Federal Electioneering

Q: What is “Arpa Narpa Narp“?

A: Where everyone’s bills are going, according to folksy, down with the biddies Tony Abbott today.

Strangely enough Sir Roger don’t recall his bills ever going anywhere else over all his long years. Except at Col’s, where they’re going Darndarn (Proiza Sadarn). Or not.

So why did Abbott, sitting among the cooing old ladies, make such an obvious claim?

He said it because the biddies (and the viewers) would find, oddly enough, that they agreed with him. And they would nod, and frown at the awful bills (Goa Narp). And people watching would not only agree but see that Abbott was someone people agreed with. “It seems it is all right to agree with Abbott,” they might think, “and what he said makes sense, doesn’t it?”

The problem, of course, is that Arpa Narpa Narp is where bills always go. And despite suggesting otherwise, and despite his royal telephone, or the dimwitted cardinal, there is absolutely nothing he can do about it. And he knows it.

If you think about it you can work that out. Average incomes have doubled in less than a decade. Inflation isn’t going below zero, nor are interest rates.

Abbott and/or his advisers knew exactly what he was doing. (Actually on balance, probably just his advisers…)

The technique is to make a statement which provokes an instant, automatic response in what Daniel Kahneman calls our “System 1″ thinking. System 1 is fast, impulsive, automatic, uses stereotypes, is often inaccurate and can only make good judgments on simple tasks. System 1 thinking doesn’t take much energy at all.

Bread and …….?
2 + 2 = ….?
Quickly: A bat and ball cost $1.10. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much is the ball? Quick! What’s your immediate answer?
17 x 13 = ……?

So politicians (and their advisers) attempt to speak directly to System 1, to manipulate a desired response and not to give people time to rouse System 2 into action.

System 2 is the thinking that works things out and considers complex problems. It takes attention. Filling out forms, deciding which phone or soap powder represents the best value, working out what to say to that girl or boy, writing your thesis. System 2 is much better at working things out but it gets tired really quickly because it uses so much energy.

That’s why politicians and the Murdoch tabloids don’t like to give people a chance to actually think too hard. They might work out the scam.

So Sir Roger recommends not letting them get away with it. Listen to their simplistic nonsense so that you know when they’re lying (as Stuart Wagstaff used to say, “and isn’t that…all the time?”). Tell your friends.

By the way, in our quick test did you get that the ball was 10c?

Sadly, no. If the ball is 10c the bat, a dollar more than the ball, would be $1.10 and the bat and ball would be $1.20, not $1.10 as stated. The ball is actually 5c.

Oh, and 17 x 13 is obviously a System 2 exercise … can you do it in your head? Well done! And now you feel like taking a nap.

17 x 13 = 221

Daniel Kahneman’s book is called Thinking, Fast and Slow. Sir Roger HIGHLY recommends it. Available on Kindle, too.

Not 2007 – But the Excitement Lingers Like a Well-Fermented Fart

Strangely enough this title could be, but isn’t, about the next election. It’s about Labor Icon Gruff Wiblam and his pale irritation Steel Rod.

As you may be aware it is no longer 2007 and John Howard is not a Prime Minister any longer, merely still a silly irrelevant old shit.

Sir Roger, overwhelmed at the time (2007) by the urgent need to remove the irrelevant but malignant old cunt, launched a wildly unsuccessful campaign to bring back an emblem of the dizzy dreams of hope from the early 70s – the “It’s Thyme” t-shirt.

Sir Roger had quite forgotten that he had created a sparkling opportunity to ignore this … er … opportunity which apparently no-one saw or, certainly, wanted.

Well, the UWS rozzer for the Whittling Institute has been onto Sir Roger by email (a bit like being dumped by text) with an order to cease and desist.

Anyway, you can’t get the shirt. It doesn’t exist. The opportunity is dead as Marley’s doornail.

The commercial ex-premises have been boarded up like an outback dunny in a sandstorm and bulldozed into the silage pit.

Sir Roger apologises profusely if you, dear reader, ever for a moment suspected that a t-shirt splashed with the ValuesAustralia.com logo was in any way sanctioned either by Teh Great Man himself, or indeed by his now legally wagon-encircled, immortally corporate self.

Sir Roger was slightly miffed that the letter-writer, who he suspects was in fact the junior office girl, wrote in that formal and threatening language which seems to the clean-living and unwary to accuse one of all manner of the vilest of premeditated and vicious crimes and to suggest that the recipient is the lowest bastard in the world if not a baby-eater – or worse, a catholic priest – when they could as easily have written, “Dear Sir, you may not have realised that [blah blah] and your intentions may have been honourable, but we would like you to not do that any more, please. We’d rather not, for both our sakes, have to ask you again if you don’t mind. Let’s know if you object. Love and kisses, Helen (via Allison)”

Sir Roger’s response, since he had no evil intent – quite the opposite – would have been the same, to help them out with their problem.

Except.

Except for the excitement Sir Roger feels in anticipation of his now sanctioned like-minded retaliation (which you can be certain he will share with you). He hasn’t anticipated so much fun since the Department of Something or Other threw the book at Values Australia and dropped it on their foot.

He does, though, feel for the poor lawyers. Much as they might have desperately wished they could write an understanding and thoughtful letter, they simply cannot. Their hands and pens and minds are chained to the formula and the form guides they learnt while articled. There is only one way to write such a letter and they must do it.

In this most free of countries lawyers, of all people, have no professional freedom. In their hearts they wish they could change the world for the better the way they dreamed, in the idealistic glow of youth, when they watched Boston Legal – or perhaps in Helen’s case, Perry Mason – but instead they sit in rooms lined with boring books doing unutterably boring, endlessly repetitive and eye-wateringly trivial things like conveyancing, or sending form letters to the wicked. And on Friday nights some of the lawyers Sir Roger has known blow up and get pissed to the eyeballs and shame themselves.

Sir Roger is so sad for so many lawyers’ existential struggle to mean anything. Meanwhile, he is unfettered by any such constraints. Every day is a new excitement and a new challenge and an opportunity to influence his world and he has the freedom to write whatever he wishes.

Sir Roger will now seek legal advice whether:

1) he is permitted to use the phrase “Its Thyme” in daily personal conversation about political matters, or whether he would need a tip jar to send off royalties on a monthly(?) basis to the corporate rozzers and

2) whether he will now be required to return to himself the price he paid for the item [actually, is it okay to use the word "item" as it is strikingly similar to the word "time" and in any case may itself be trademarked? In fact how can we be sure that any word or phrase we use in certain contexts is not trademarked or otherwise proscribed? Be careful people, or the University of Western Sydney will be down on you like a tontonne of pricks!].

Going Atomic, the Final Solution: MAD Abbott Ups the Ante on Boat People

In a stunningly breathtaking move to protect us from the cunning boat people’s terrorist plot to pollute Australians’ precious bodily fluids, Tony Abbott has just upped the ante in the desperate arms race against evil refugees.

The man who would be Prime Minister has embraced the Cold War MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) policy, announcing that he will deploy nuclear missiles against the evil boat people and anyone who supports them, wherever they live, with Operation Turkey Slap.

The new coalition policy is the brainchild of retired Army Chaplain Dr Jimbo (the Mole) Strangelove, who stood proudly erect beside Abbott at the press release carnival.

The policy’s slogan was chosen in a competition held in the western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne as well as the whole of Queensland and Western Australia. Third place was won by “Better Over-done than Over-run”. Second place went to “Better Cooked than Gooked”.

And the winner was “Better Immolated than Immigrated”.

(All the other entries were “Fuck off you fuckin commie cunts”.)

Prime Minister Rudd immediately abandoned his recently announced Operation “Machine That Goes PNG” and hastily responded with the earth-shattering release of The Alderaan Project, with images of work already in progress on a deterrent guaranteed to destroy the entire planet, which should, he says, put an end to the problem of the malevolent boat people once and for all.

 


project alderaan

 

Abbott is reported to be seeking an audience with God to discuss the possibility of God deploying his almighty powers to destroy the entire universe. “I’ll show that bastard Rudd,” he is quoted as muttering.

God, however, is believed to be against the idea on the basis that, without a universe to control, his omnipotence would effectively become impotence and, even more worryingly, there would be no-one left to give him any money.

Because, you know, a few hundred desperate people seeking refuge in a peaceful country is the very worst problem that could conceivably be facing that country and the number one problem that needs to be solved; far greater than health, education, unemployment, global warming and broadband speeds.

 

STOP PRESS!!
ABBOTT IN STUNNING BACKFLIP TURNAROUND CHANGE OF VIEW!

My instinct is to extend to as many people as possible the freedom and benefits of life in Australia. Immigration to Australia has been a success almost unparalleled in history. Why, then, does it regularly feature on the list of issues people are concerned about? Why wouldn’t people who might otherwise wait in camps for years try to short-circuit the process, especially if they’re plausibly told that getting to Australia means the beginning of a new life?
At worst, boat people are guilty of choosing hope over fear.

OH, NO, WAIT … THAT WAS WHAT HE SAID IN 2010 …

Life in Australia

comments

Robert – a self-styled “foreigner” to our shores – is most upset to have been hoaxed by the false promise and dashed hopes of life in Australia. A few days ago Robert commented on an ancient post here at Values Australia and his comment was upsetting. Sir Roger cannot bear the thought of another’s pain and Robert surely is in pain. So is Sir Roger. He had no idea how unhappy he himself must be, given Robert’s assessment of the Oz he had until then thought so wonderful. So following is Sir Roger’s response to Robert.

Sir Roger has asked his manservantesteemed assistant to pen a response to Robert. He would have liked to have been able to respond personally but is unable as he is packing his belongings in preparation to leave this dreadful hell of a country.

He is astonished that he had been so blind in his comforts, his pleasures, his friendships, his safety and his freedoms not to realise how utterly miserable he must obviously be. And indeed he is at this very moment beset by a grotesque problem. That is, where he should move away to and how should he get there? By plane? Or by boat?

The United States may seem a much better option except for the constant shootings, the fundamentalist christians and the Tea Party.

The UK? Very civilised, at least on the surface, and the world’s funniest comedians, but, oh, the endlessly whining whingers! And the weather!

Somewhere in Africa, perhaps? Central African Republic? Chad, Nigeria, South Sudan? There are plenty of spaces becoming available there since so many of them are choosing to come to Australia. But the job opportunities are not so good and someone like Sir Roger is sure to be kidnapped. And he questions why, if it is so wonderful there, so many of them are choosing to leave, that so many could even find Australia preferable. Big question mark on that one.

Asia? He fears the death penalty for minor crimes in China. He values his internal organs (and his external ones for that matter) and doesn’t want them shared with a transplant tourist before his time.

Japan fails to offer the wide open spaces that he craves.

Malaysia? He just doesn’t like their appalling racism. You know? Of course as a white man he could live behind a tall fence in a white compound with fierce dogs but where is the interest in a bunch of self-absorbed, arrogantly superior, self-congratulatory western businessmen and their bored wives and nasty children?

Thailand? One word. Durian.

Indonesia beckons…but trips at all the hurdles of entrenched – and world famous – political, judicial, law-enforcement and corporate corruption, not to mention brutality to animals, religious intolerance, terrorism, death by firing squad and plain ignorance. Pretty country, though, and lovely people if you get to know the ones who aren’t trying to rip you off.

India? Well, you know, of course it’s worth a visit but … Sir Roger doesn’t consider rape a worthwhile or even enjoyable pastime. One of his friends is moving to Bhutan. Would he have to convert to Buddhism, though? He’s not all that religious. AT ALL.

And South America is the most dangerous continent on earth.

There’s always western Europe, of course, and Sir Roger does love to spend large amounts of time there, especially in their restaurants and in the cheese and wine aisles of their supermarkets, but they can be cold to strangers who don’t speak their languages perfectly, don’t you think? And it’s all so old and the skies are so murky. There’s very little that’s fresh blue.

As for Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Syria … hmmm … you know, Sir Roger’s not much of a one for car bombs, Talibans, shooting young girl students, hatred, bigotry, religious intolerance, violence, bloodshed of any kind, actually – not even Rugby League – or cranky old narrow-minded farts in funny turbans and beards a pelican could nest in, doling out fatwahs like Easter eggs at Christmas.

So Sir Roger is struggling to find a country either
a) that would accept him or
b) that he would accept.

Perhaps he will have to remain for a little longer amongst the awfulness of:
religious tolerance (despite the fact Sir Roger is a little intolerant of religious beliefs in general),
freedom of speech
a more or less free press
freedom to congregate
personal safety
world standard education, free to secondary level
a social safety net
free medical treatment
stable democracy (with no shootings at election time)
astoundingly pleasant weather
mostly generous people
a thriving triple-A economy (no matter what they say)
a rich cultural life (very well, yes, much of it imported)
comparatively high incomes
comparatively low unemployment
electronic access to the fascinating rest of the world (while keeping it at a safe physical distance)
and many other such depressing qualities.

Perhaps he will stay for a bit longer. He has just phoned your writer now to explain that he is beginning to understand that when a person comes to another country of course they will come to that country with preconceptions. Those preconceptions, when they come in hope, will often be that the new country will be just like the country they escaped but somehow better. Their home country but without the bits they don’t like. And this will not work. For example, Australia is Australia. It is not Sri Lanka, or Britain, or India, or Germany or wherever, with bells on. It is Australia. That is it. Anyone who comes here will find strangeness and things that confuse and they don’t understand, social conventions they are not used to and grate with how things used to be in the old country. When they come here their task is not to compare it to the world they know and the expectations they had. That leads inevitably to disappointment.

Their task is to discover Australia for what it is and to interact with that. And love that. Or leave. If they don’t want to be here we have no wish to force them to love it or to stay. They have the choice. In Australia we allow people to come and go as they please. Unlike North Korea or China or so very many other countries.

At least that is what Sir Roger told your writer to say.

Just a note or two to Robert from Sir Roger’s own Montblanc:

This is Australia. And this blog is Sir Roger’s home. Here you do not have to be mealy-mouthed or pretend to be genteel, or try to swear without swearing. If you write “fkcng” you are intending that people will think “fucking” and so you are swearing anyway. So writing “fkcing” is, you see, slimy. You said “fuck” and pretended not to. And it’s true that many Australians don’t like this sort of deceitfulness in anyone, not just what you call “foreigners”. You can write “fuck” here. And “fucking”.

And even ‘FUCK YOU, CUNT”.

Also, Australia is not a “convict island”, at least not for 150 years. We are a big grown-up country now. We have cars and houses and the internet and everything, just like a proper country. The only social-cultural vestiges of those origins are the remains of a belief in equality and fairness, and a healthy disrespect for authority, both sadly on the wane.

And when you talk about ‘the way foreigners see Australia’ this is blatant intellectual dishonesty. Certainly some “foreigners” don’t like Australia. Of course some don’t. It would be a miracle beyond all miracles if it were otherwise. So, a few “foreigners”, then? The ones who agree with you and are as stirred up about their disappointment as you are? Robert, we are not required to create the country you wanted in your dreams in order to satisfy you, although we would very much like you to enjoy this country – very much. But we simply cannot create that country just for you.

So the use of the “convict” epithet and the lumping of all foreigners into your basket of betrayed hopes reveals both emotional desperation and intellectual dishonesty. Sir Roger really feels your pain that caused this outburst. He went to Sumatra once, hoping to experience a tropical paradise with generous, friendly people, only to discover it (Medan, anyway) was the absolute arsehole of the earth, even worse than Tehran, although the Batak people of Samosir Island were indeed very lovely.

But when he wants his own arguments to be taken seriously Sir Roger personally finds it is best to refrain from corny, shouted insults and sloppy arguments.

Welcome to Australia, Robert!

The Next Big “Sorry”

sorryhouse

Want a long-range heads-up? The question we should be asking Abbott and Gillard and all of their various immigration spokespeople right now is this:

How do you feel about the inevitability that – possibly in your lifetime – a future Prime Minister of Australia will stand up in Parliament to make a heartfelt apology on behalf of the Australian people; an apology for you, for what you did, for who you were and for what you stood for?

Possibly in your lifetime. Certainly in the lifetimes of your children and grandchildren, your nieces and nephews and their children, so that they can share your shame and hate you for the shame you spill on them.

Many others, and their children and grandchildren, will share the stain of complicity, or of not speaking up against you and your hideous policies.

74 years ago another terrible, vile event occurred. A boat full of refugees left the country they grew up in, fleeing from the persecution and horrors of their homeland and seeking refuge in a safe and welcoming country. They were Jews – 937 of them – escaping from Germany. The ship was the MS St. Louis. The year was 1939.

They tried to land in Cuba, Canada and the United States. Each of these countries refused them entry by various means including creating retroactive laws, tightening existing ones, or bureaucratically reinterpreting existing ones, requiring unpayable financial bonds, or invalidating valid entry permits and denying the right to seek political asylum. All of this might have a familiar stench to you.

The United States Coast Guard, the ship’s non-Jewish German Captain Gustav Schröder said, forced him to turn the ship back when he tried to land in Florida. Perhaps this rings a bell for you.

Hypocrisy runs deep in all societies but no deeper than the United States in this case.

Inside the Statue of Liberty since 1903 there has been a bronze plaque, a poem written by Emma Lazarus in 1883.

“From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome” it says.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Of course there was much breast-beating understanding and public displays of sympathy on the part of all the countries, who met to find a solution that could see the 937 refugees settled safely. Just not in the USA, Canada or Cuba thank you. But anywhere else.

Eventually the ship was forced to return to Europe. Many were accepted by the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. As you know, Europe was at war and only the UK was not overrun and occupied by the Germans. It is estimated that 254 of the 937 were slain, mostly in Auschwitz and Sobibór and that of the 620 refugees who returned to the Continent only 365 survived the war.

So apart from the human legacy what is the political legacy of this “harsh, pragmatic, no advantage”, hypocritical, boat-discouraging immigration policy 74 years ago towards desperate people fleeing the horrors of their home countries?

After the war, Captain Gustav Schröder was awarded the Order of Merit by the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1993, Schröder was posthumously named as one of the Righteous among the Nations at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel.

A display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum tells the story of the voyage of the MS St. Louis.

In 2009, a special exhibit at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia explored the Canadian connection to the tragic voyage. The display is now a traveling exhibit in Canada.

wheel

In 2011, a memorial monument called the Wheel of Conscience, was unveiled at Pier 21, Canada’s national immigration museum in Halifax. It was designed by Daniel Libeskind. The memorial is of a polished stainless steel wheel. Symbolizing the policies that turned away more than 900 Jewish refugees, the wheel incorporates four inter-meshing gears each bearing a word: antisemitism, xenophobia, racism and hatred. The back of the memorial is inscribed with the names of the 937 passengers.

On 24 September last year US Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns made a speech.

We who did not live it can never understand the experience of those 937 Jews who boarded the M.S. Saint Louis in the spring of 1939. Behind them, shattered windows and lives, loved ones in danger, crimes already underway and those crimes to come. Ahead, the hope of a new life in this country.

We all know how this journey ends. The ship was turned away. Its passengers returned to a Europe that fell, country by country, to the cruelty they set sail to escape. Having made it so close to the safety of our shores, nearly one-third of the men, women and children of the M.S. Saint Louis perished, half a world away, in Auschwitz and other camps.

[T]he dangers were visible to those clear-eyed enough to see them. The warnings were already clear for those who cared to listen … And yet the United States did not welcome these tired, poor and huddled passengers as we had so many before and would so many since. Our government did not live up to its ideals. We were wrong. And so we made a commitment that the next time the world confronts us with another M.S. Saint Louis — whether the warning signs are refugees in flight or ancient hatreds resurfacing — we will have learned the lessons of the M.S. Saint Louis and be ready to rise to the occasion.

[A]nti-Semitism, genocide and mass displacement are – sadly – all-too-alive in 2012 … there are other M.S. Saint Louises setting sail right now … there is always more we can and must do.

Or in other words, “Sorry”.

So Sir Roger offers these notes for the future Prime Minister who will – inevitably – say “Sorry” to all those who have sought to come to Australia seeking asylum in boats – legally – as refugees and discovered that the story that we were a warm and welcoming people was a cruel hoax.

Many years ago our country was called upon to stand for the values we cherished as Australians.

When people who had lost everything, their homes, their livelihoods, their hopes and their futures came to us;

when people full of terror who had seen, and often experienced, unimaginable horrors, or torture, came to us;

when people who were so desperate that they risked death in leaky boats and violent seas came to asking for our help ..

we were called upon as never before to show that we were indeed, and in our deeds, truly the people our story told about us; a people of humanity, hospitality and generosity, an understanding and tolerant people immensely proud of our multicultural triumph.

We failed. We proved that the story was a lie.

Our leaders failed us. Our institutions failed us. Our hearts failed us.

Instead, when we saw fellow human beings who so sincerely and transparently needed our help, people who had fled for their lives from wars, religious and tribal violence, and brutal tyrannical regimes, we told ourselves that those people were in fact queue-jumping, disease-ridden, child murdering terrorists and criminals who wanted to rape our women and steal the mineral wealth beneath our feet and the coins from our purse.

So to all those refugees we heartlessly turned away, or who we inhumanely imprisoned to the point where many of you went mad – and to those who never reached our shores but perished in the attempt – we say:

Sorry.

What we did as a people was based on greed, fear, narrow-mindedness, xenophobia, racism, hatred and ignorance.

As a people we say:

Sorry.

What our leaders did was not based on any of these things. It was based on the desire for power, on the desire to defeat an internal opponent in our own country. You were merely the tool that they used. To achieve their narrow partisan goals they broke international laws and our own laws. They ignored international conventions and treaties.

What those leaders did, along with those in our bureaucracies and agencies who conspired with them and abetted them, was unforgivable, unconscionable and inhumane and it disgraced and dishonoured our country. Their punishment is that their names and their reputations will be stained forever in the history of our country.

As we allowed them the opportunity to do what they did we say:

Sorry.

As you know, today’s Australia is not that Australia. We have learnt from that dark time. Our laws now ensure that it will not happen again. Our country truly is today, and thanks to so many of you, a people of humanity, hospitality and generosity, an understanding and tolerant people immensely proud of our multicultural triumph. We are once again true to our story and our values.

Thank you again.

I am so proud to be the Prime Minister of such a country, especially in the knowledge that we will never see such malignant, repugnant people assume leadership again.

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