Silly Newtown Kiddie-Socialists

Yesterday the Snarky Platypus and I passed the usual gaggle of socialists set up outside the Dendy Cinema on King Street, Newtown. “Sign the petition. Release Dr Haneef,” they cried.

Oh dear. Silly, silly people…

Now you must understand that I’m not playing that right-wing commentators’ game of always prefacing “left” or “socialist” with “loony” or “silly”. That’s just name-calling and a very old propaganda technique indeed. That’s why I think Christian Kerr should grow up and stop using it in Crikey — calling his publication’s commentors shrubhuggers and Stalinists really is childish. After all, would we take a left-wing commentator seriously if they always referred to people anywhere to the right of themselves as Nazis or Fascists?

No, I’m calling these people “silly” because collecting signatures on a petition to release Dr Haneef is politically stupid and a waste of time.

  • What happens to petitions to Parliament? Nothing, really. A functionary announces that a petition on [insert title] has been received with [insert number] of signatures. And then it’s filed away. In nearly every case, that’s the end of the story.
  • The next sitting of federal parliament doesn’t even start until 7 August. It’ll be at least 10 days until your petition is tabled. If you really cared about Dr Haneef being in a cell, how about trying something quicker?
  • The government really doesn’t care what people in Newtown think, because it’s the left-wing heartland. “Good heavens,” John Howard quakes, “folks in Newtown don’t like what we’re doing! We’d better change tack immediately!” Erm, no. Now if you collected signatures in Penrith or Ryde or Parramatta or some other marginal Liberal electorate then maybe they’d care — but I’m guessing that doesn’t have the same appeal as spending a sunny afternoon with your mates on King Street, eh?

But my fourth point is the crunch…

  • Dr Haneef had already been released the previous night, charges dropped! While the Newtown socialists were collecting signatures calling for his release, Dr Haneef was already at home watching TV with family and friends.

Gawd, people! If you’re going to play politics, at least try to stay in touch. Perhaps even use that Internet thing!

5 Replies to “Silly Newtown Kiddie-Socialists”

  1. I thought I ought to comment as I was one of those socialists outside Dendy yesterday.

    Petitions themselves don’t do anything. And yes, politicians care little for any petition, marginal seat or not. But the point is it’s a starting point for conversation and meeting others that may be willing to get involved.

    Besides, we were calling for Justice for Haneef, not free Haneef. We’ve gotten a victory out of the government and they look like idiots but this man’s life is still ruined.

  2. “We’ve gotten a victory”

    What exactly have you done to achieve this “victory”? The government and other agencies involved did a very good job of sabotaging their own case – I’m not sure what you had to do with that.

    On a related note, Mick Keelty’s interview in the SMH is hilarious. Please Mick, commit career hara-kiri in order to retain whatever miserly shreds of dignity you have left.

  3. We doesn’t mean me or anyone as an individual. The mass outrage at what’s been happening to Haneef has really made it hard for Howard to use him as a scape goat to steal another election.

    They had to back down and the media had to shift quickly to avoid looking out of touch. The front page of the Telegraph is a good indication of that. It just shows that the mass of people are so much better than the assholes who rule us.

  4. @Benjamin Solah: Thanks for commenting, and welcome.

    I “know” I heard “Free Dr Haneef” being proclaimed on Saturday, but I accept it could have been someone’s slip of the tongue or my slip of the ear.

    You need a conversation-starter, sure — but given your explanation it seems, well, even more perverse to spend time collecting signatures when you know that petitions don’t work. For me there’s also a smack of the Scientologist about it — you know, when they accost people in the street saying they’re “conducting a survey” when in fact they’re recruiting. But no, I can’t think of a better political pick-up line.

    For me, the bigger issue here is that in Newtown you’re still preaching to the choir. The energy would be better spent out in Howard’s Battlerland, changing the minds of those who equate “foreign” with “terrorist”, no?

    @Snarky Platypus: Keelty’s fight-to-the-end is now just embarrassing, IMHO. He chose to turn his job into a political position, and how he reaps what he sows. Agreed, we should be seeing his resignation today — though early poll results suggest that Kevin Andrews is the one facing the axe.

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