Tag: Terror

Carry on, cartoonists, urges Tony Abbott after Charlie Hebdo attack.

abbott and microphones

Australia’s PM with his supportive media.


Australia’s army of parodists, satirists and professional piss-takers, the nation’s cartoonists, have been told to carry on. Terrified and shocked by events overseas, on the point of drawing the line at any more funny business and laying down their pencils, en masse, the nation’s lampooning doodlers have bucked up to hear words of encouragement from the top. And in such a good cause or two: our way of life is at stake. We are as nothing without corrective irony, parody or self-ridicule. Freedom of speech, moreover, is something we hold dear; central to the way we carry on. Or so we are told, from most unexpected quarter, or cartouche.

Oddly, the satirists’ rallying cry is being made by Australia’s PM, Tony, Abbott, a caricaturist’s dream, a political figure easily mistaken for a parody of a PM, or a parody of himself, or both. Not renowned for enjoying or appreciating criticism and fronting a LNP government which is at best economical with freedom of expression and truth, to say nothing of justice, tolerance and compassion, qualities informing every satirist’s bite, the PM has leapt into the fray.

Yesterday, the PM, a talented contortionist and ever-obliging target himself, the butt of a thousand gibes was urging us to give ’em hell with bells on. Loony Toons Abbott morphed into the mouse that roared: a mouse exhorting all the neighbourhood cats to sharpen their claws.

In yet another unexpected twist to his contorted career, the PM burst on to Channel 9 to the amazement of jaded, hung-over morning television viewers and cracked up the nation with a message straight to camera. Cartoonists carry on! The terrorists will win if you stop. And there was more. With the injunction came insight; he knew, he confided, all too well, what it is like to be a member of a persecuted minority, the object of satire: people are always making fun of Catholics in Australia.

Abbott’s babblings were prompted by the tragic events at Charlie Hebdo, the satirical Paris newspaper in which two gunmen brutally executed ten staff members and injured eleven others, some of them critically on Thursday morning in apparent retaliation for the paper’s pungently satirical comments on Islam. Curiously, they echoed David Cameron’s despite their religious differences, differences on climate change and other matters. Doubtless, similar sentiments could be traced in the addresses of a group of national leaders whose talking points are lovingly hand-prepared in Washington.

Whatever his intention, or the true origin of his inspiration, Tony Abbott captured every satirist’s imagination with his latest hypocritical posturing, beginning with his TV appearance itself.

Others in his cabinet may wait weeks, or even longer, to talk to the media but the PM gets his head on the box any time he feels like it. One of his first initiatives in government and, yes, the word is to be used cautiously, was to control communications. His own ministers and hapless members of his government have to line up like the scene in Oliver to get permission to exercise any freedom of expression that might involve talking to the people. All media requests must be approved by a member of the Prime Minister’s staff, aka Peta Credlin.

Yet the same PM can air his thought bubbles and spray his talking points at us with barely a moment’s notice, as he did on national television yesterday. Indeed, he is able to over-share, as his wont; the reason he needs a minder on every occasion and doubtless the reason the party dominatrix Peta Credlin must accompany him everywhere.

Other ironies abound. Whilst the office of the prime minister has divided the media into friends and enemies and whilst Abbott himself is openly critical of criticism of the government by the ABC, an outfit he would love to privatise, he rushed to pose as a defender of free speech stating:

‘…it’s important there be no self-censorship by Australian media in the wake of yesterday’s terrorist attack in Paris.’ No doubt this thought vastly relieved Australian cartoonists who are by nature an unctuous and dependent breed, constantly seeking approval and instruction from the top. Whom did the PM think he was trying to kid?  He may be able to tie himself in knots but cartoonists, satirists are not about to follow.

Losing no time either in gleefully cranking up popular fear and anxiety, Abbott warned that ‘the world should be braced for more terrorist attacks.’

Just what form this bracing should take was not specified, although the term is used frequently in press releases and talking points constructed by his office. Nor would the PM elaborate on the reasons for our national bracing and whether he meant he expected more terrorist attacks in Australia. Yet even as the lion of truth he was forthcoming in constructing falsehood. He proceeded to link Paris and Martin Place:

The attack in Paris was relatively sophisticated. The attacks in Australia have been relatively unsophisticated. But whether these are, if you like, grass roots terrorism or whether they’re organisational terrorism, the fact is it is still a terrorist attack on us, on our way of life.

The PM began to sound like a veteran commentator and we, his people, veterans of terrorist attacks who would all the more clearly see that our way of life was threatened, conveniently feeding the pernicious myth of conformity and clouding our sense of our rich and vital diversity. This is a consistent line of Abbott’s which, it seems, he shares with other western leaders who, television ‘world news’ clearly showed, subscribed to the same script service and were taking similar liberties with their own peoples amounts to a dangerous myth-making which helps to divide our society and to promote the ignorance, the intolerance, hysteria and fear which enable terrorism in the first place.  It is also, of course, a most useful proposition in the construction of Abbott as our public defender and a generic nostrum for conservative leaders the world over. It times of crisis, moreover, it is hoped we will unite behind the strong leader.

Of course, the intolerance and ignorance is just a fact of modern life, according to the PM but with a twist. There may well be a contortionist’s prize for holding a view in which we are seen to welcome all sorts of minorities and the roots of our current immigration policy, for example. Or the cognitive dissonance in the hardened certainty of the phrase ‘absolutely hate’ and the cosy inner self-deluded glow of undifferentiated multicultural acceptance; our pluralism.

And the sad truth of the modern era is that there are people who hate us, not because of anything that we’ve done but because of who we are and the way we live. They hate our tolerance, our pluralism, the welcome that we provide to all sorts of minorities. It’s an essential part of Western civilisation and it’s the thing about us that these people absolutely hate.

Interrupting if not arresting the PM’s drift towards a hard-edged soft focused generality, a servile Channel 9 interviewer offered his neck, begging correction, asking the already contorted Abbott how much freedom the press should give up to make us all safer:

TIM MCMILLAN: how far should Australian media outlets go when satirising religions or minority groups?

Abbott invoked his own experiences as a member of a persecuted minority, perhaps knowing of the value of bogus identification in propaganda:

Australian media organisations don’t normally hold back when for argument’s sake they’re criticising Christianity. Catholicism comes in for a particular dose of scorn.

We will take that as encouragement that we are not to hold back. Wittering scorn, however, was invited on this occasion, if not earned by his concluding paradoxical homily:

It’s very important, two things here: first of all that we don’t engage in self-censorship as a result of this kind of attack. Second and even more important, we should not stop being ourselves because of this kind of attack.

If we do engage in self-censorship, if we do change the way we live and the way we think, that gives terrorists a victory and the last thing that we should do is give these evil fanatics any kind of victory.

Abbott has once again used the news to inflict his own agenda upon us. He peddles his own bigoted post-modern mythos of Manichean struggle between good and evil. He would have us in a straitjacket of fear and beholden to the leader as protector, yielding freely up our metadata, our privacy, our right to know the truth and other democratic rights, yet carrying on as normal as his far right government strengthens the role of the state in a desperate attempt to shore up its shaky foundations. Endless conflicted and compromised, he cranks the hurdy-gurdy of the rhetoric of freedom and freedom of speech while his government systematically goes about undermining its very foundations.

Sydney Siege Gunman killed by police mentally disturbed and acting alone not a terrorist.

 mons


Sydney siege gunman, Man Haron Monis, said to be aged either 49 or 50, a mentally disturbed Iranian-born Sydney resident was shot dead by police when they stormed the Lindt café St Martin Place in central Sydney, where he was holding patrons hostage.

It seems clear from all available evidence that Monis, known to NSW police and judiciary for his letters to deceased soldiers’ families and released on bail on a charge of being an accessory to the murder of his wife and mother of his two children, acted alone and for personal motives. There is no reason, at this stage, to link him with ISIS or any other terrorist organisation, despite such speculation in some sections of the media.

Tragically two hostages were also killed. They were Sydney lawyer and mother of three Katrina Dawson, 38, and the day manager of the Lindt cafe Tori Johnson aged 34. It is yet to be determined whether they were executed by Monis, as he had threatened, or tragically caught in police cross-fire when police stormed the building shortly after 2:00am after hearing gunfire from within.

It is not known what motivated Monis, despite his communication with police negotiators during the sixteen hour siege which began around 9:00am in the café in the heart of Sydney’s business centre. Subsequent comments from his lawyer suggest that his motives were typically confused and contradictory, although there is evidence he was angry with the judiciary over failing an appeal over a court sentence.

Monis took 15 café staff and patrons hostage on the day after courts refused his appeal against his community work sentence for his conviction for writing bizarre letters to the families of soldiers who had served in Afghanistan.

Monis, aka Sheikh Haron and Mohammad Hassan Manteghi, and known to some Sydney residents as ‘The Fake Sheik’ was a self-proclaimed cleric, with a history of mental illness, and convictions for sexual assault who came to Australia in 1996 as a refugee from political persecution in Iran.

Most recently, he was charged with over 50 allegations of indecent and sexual assault relating to time allegedly spent as a self-proclaimed “spiritual healer” at a premises in western Sydney over ten years ago.

During the patron’s sixteen hour ordeal, Monis, an Iranian Shiite Muslim forced them to contact media with requests which included an ISIS flag. It is clear from Monis’ lawyer interviewed on ABC radio today that the hostage-taker was not a member of ISIS and that the request for the flag represented yet another attempt to gain publicity by the mentally ill man whose previous attention-seeking behaviour includes a series of online tirades directed at various Australian politicians and chaining himself outside Sydney courts.

It is important to note that there is no evidence whatsoever to link this disturbed individual to any organised terror group. His bizarre and pathetic, Walter Mitty style request that police procure an ISIS flag for him because he had the wrong flag is enough to sound a note of caution to those commentators who seek to speculate about his links with terror; a warning to those who would embellish or dignify the manifest symptoms of insanity with more organised thinking and motivation.

The would-be terrorist’s flag was an innocuous Shahada, or profession of faith in Islam, which asserts: “There is no god but Allah; Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah.” To a population already sensitised to terrorist threats and to a media saturated with reports of ISIS beheadings, however, it was at first sight evidence of something sinister, a visual cue to link a mentally ill individual to ISIS, a movement which PM Tony Abbott has chosen to describe to the nation as the ISIS death cult. To members of the Muslim community, it was a distressing type of betrayal, an ambiguous and potentially provocative signal to those non-Muslims fuelled by anti-terror propaganda keen to link Islam and terror. It was also a clear indication of the gunman’s confusion and mental disorder.

What went right during the siege was the way the police appeared to manage the situation, in particular their control of information. It seems that radio stations, TV and other media were able to co-operate with the police in restricting speculation and in limiting their coverage to a few simple facts. Whilst this may have made for boring TV, it doubtless saved lives.

Radio stations were contacted by terrified hostages, yet all were able to refuse Monis’ demands, including the nature of those demands. Monis, however, was able to force his hostages to post videos on social media. Standing in front of the black and white Shahada flag they talk of bombs and Islamic State. They are made to call Monis “the brother”.

“We’re held here hostage and the brother has three requests. One is to get an IS flag and he will release one hostage.

“The second is for the media to inform the other brothers not to explode the other two bombs which are also in the city. There are four bombs altogether here.

“The third is for Tony Abbott to contact the brother via live web, somehow, and he will release five hostages.

The skill with which these demands were parried is a tribute to all those involved in the handling of the disturbing incident. Monis was, thus, effectively deprived of a forum. Whether his frustrations ultimately led him to shoot two of his hostages will not be known until police conclude their inquiry into what is termed a ‘critical incident.’

What is perhaps less skilled has been the appearance of media experts who seem fascinated with ‘lone wolf’ terminology.  This has led to an unhelpful circularity of thought, a type of Catch 22, in which it is held that Mons acted alone therefore he is a lone wolf but given that ISIS encourages lone wolves, then he could still be part of the ISIS pack.

His social media statements are similarly adduced as evidence of his wider influence, his further connectedness in the web of terror. Let’s just say at this stage that he posted his delusional thoughts on social media. It is not in itself evidence of anything more sinister. Did he have a following? Again, on the evidence, it seems most unlikely.

Clear heads have prevailed so far. Clear thinking needs to continue. On all the evidence, so far the gunman was motivated by the delusional thinking and false logic symptomatic of a profound mental disturbance or disorder. His aberrant behaviour clearly included the capacity to inflict his pathological violence on others, and possibly on himself. Calls for strengthening terror laws, speculation on links with ISIS are less than rational and are unhelpful to our understanding and our capacity to deal effectively with what has been a shocking and frightening incident. Let us proceed cautiously by objectively and dispassionately adhering to established fact, with all due compassion for those who have suffered and are suffering as a result of the actions of this madman. Only then will we be best placed to understand and to support, to heal and secure a community which is grieving and in shock.

Terror Alert

Australia’s least popular and most incompetent Prime Minister of all time, ‘Mad Monk’ Tony Abbott has once again alarmed the entire nation today with a bizarre outburst of rabid ranting and incoherent, irrational paranoid drivel. Indeed, so lacking in reason, decorum and any other apparent foundation, was his behaviour that many took his appearance to be an early Liberal Party sponsored election advertisement. Others believed they detected the effects of too much time in the company of attack dog Morrison given the Minister’s propensity for speaking in tongues and his notorious random outbursts of mindless fury. Fox and other purveyors of overpriced cable and satellite TV were swamped with calls from new subscribers determined to switch off their free to air TV for good. I don’t care if it’s the Discovery Channel 24/7 one woman explained, as long as I never have to look at that lunatic again.

Interrupting daytime television news broadcasts, Abbott’s grotesquely distorted face and hysterical gibbering terrified women and children forced to stay at home alone clustered together for protection in front of their plasma or LCD TV whilst their menfolk suddenly headed for local parks to commence Tai Chi, origami, Feng Shui and other martial arts training.

The Prime Minister’s broadcast is reported to have also caused dole bludgers in Balmain and other home grown radical Islamists to rush chemists, supermarkets and convenience stores to buy heavy duty shaving gear and exfoliation equipment and to burn their brothers’ passports lest they be apprehended trying to leave the country.

Looking grave with a capital G and no Abu, Abbott babbled insanely and volubly warning as behoves his new role as Napoleon Cockatoo. We must share with everyone of you today, the high, huge, and extreme risk facing every Australian citizen from evil, sinful Jihadist terrorists abroad whose wanton depravity knows no boundaries. They hate our way of life he added, twitching. Our values. They love falafel.

Looking ever more like Dicky Knee, Dick the dentist’s son, Tony was supported on camera by retiring ASIO Chief, David Irvine who looked to be playing Daryl Somers judging by the hand up Abbott’s back. Irvine, aka Colonel Codswallop, who was played by Barry Humphries with a bad hangover slowly mumbled the same paranoid fantasies that got him the ASIO job in the first place and waved an elderly service revolver off camera for rhetorical emphasis. Codswallop who looks as if he could smother a tactical nuclear device simply by covering it with his vast, rumpled doughy face was holding Abbott’s hand and other parts of his anatomy as they came into his camera shot.

Regrettably the broadcast was abruptly terminated when an explosion off screen appeared to deprive the studio of electricity. A clearly terrified Abbott was witnessed leaping across the studio into Irvine’s arms and calling for his mother. Both men appeared to be in a state of mutual terror or on the verge of a complete breakdown.