It is thoroughly sickening to behold the tragedy unfolding before us in Indonesia. Our entire nation is standing around befuddled, letting another nation commit atrocities against our citizens. And not just our citizens, but dozens of individuals from all around the world who have been caught by violent, murderous extremists in various banana republics and quasi-democratic totalitarian regimes. It is hard to find words to describe the horror and indeed terror of these atrocious human rights violation being committed by authoritarian governments with tacit support from the international community. So sickening is the impending cold blooded murder of the Australians and others in Bali that I am unable to function properly. I am sick to the stomach because I am absolutely right about these acts being absolutely wrong. The impending tragedy is a multi-faceted one, implicating most national governments as well as news and media organizations and our treasured democracy itself over a one hundred year period.
THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR WITHOUT END
We've been persistently told a whole lot of lies on the issue of drugs from a whole lot of sources over several decades and through many generations, all of which go together to form in our minds a seemingly coherent perception of drugs that is now unquestioned at almost every level of society. But there are questions, many questions, about drugs, about prohibition of drugs, questions without satisfactory answers.
Lets start with the question of where prohibition came from, shall we?
On the surface and to the casual observer it looks as though at some point in history our governments noticed a swathe of negative effects from certain types of drugs, that these nations conducted and shared research about which drugs were harmful, and then moved to introduce prohibition of the most dangerous drugs while regulating the less dangerous ones. Without actually bothering to look into it, most people would assume that this seems a likely explanation of what probably happened. It isn't! It is simply not at all what happened, not how events unfolded, not the truth in any way shape or form. The war on drugs was initially not a response to death rates amongst drug users at all. The war on drugs is about control over our minds, preventing us from experiencing altered states of consciousness even in circumstances where there are no adverse health effects. Drug prohibition is ideologically driven totalitarian control.
THE HISTORY OF PROHIBITION
The truth about the history of prohibition and the arbitrary classification of drugs lies buried at the core of the scandalous worldwide deception known as "the war on drugs", which remains one of the biggest human rights abuses outside of armed conflict the world has ever seen. We should all be aware of the ludicrous failure of the USA's attempts to ban alcohol in the late twenty's, the rise of the American mafia and all that goes with it. The subject of countless films and references in popular culture, you'd think we would be able to recognize not merely that alcohol prohibition represents an analogy to the current war on drugs, but that it is in fact identical in every way, a product of exactly the same mindset. The war on drugs is in reality no different, no less absurd.
America has always been a predominantly Christian nation, it's roots in slavery and McCarthyism, lynchings and the like. Alcohol was basically seen as a bad influence, drunkenness was a bad look and was tarnishing the puritan Christian image many held dear to their nation's identity. Alcohol wasn't causing mass deaths before it was prohibited for a period of almost fourteen years. And so, far from justifications of saving lives the "dry law" was essentially a manifestation of evangelical religious fanaticism. The Ku Klux Klan took it upon themselves to be proactive in enforcing the law. Prohibition wasn't uniquely American, several other nations dabbled in this area of oppression around the same time as well, including Iceland Finland Norway and Russia.
After its inevitable demise, alcohol prohibition was replaced not with a consistent overall approach to all drugs, but with the blame for society's woes focusing on other drugs, such as opiates and marijuana. In the case of opium its prohibition in the US is considered more likely to have been a manifestation of anti-Chinese sentiment, as mainly women started to adopt the Chinese immigrants habits of smoking opium. Opium prohibition attempts actually pre-date alcohol prohibition, with china banning its use in the 1800's with hand-wavy notions of virtue. After two opium wars China became the primary source of opium worldwide. In the 1900's opium prohibition was initially spearheaded by British protestant evangelists concerned not with public health, but with the immorality they irrationally associated with it. A royal commission into the UK's opium export trade from India shut their motion down. Not satisfied with any outcome other than dominance of their own ideological dogma, these fanatical Christians formed the Anti-Opium League to try to manipulate scientific facts and garner support of western doctors to support their cause. They succeeded, and by 1912 the first international drug control treaty came into effect. In the US an initial attempt to regulate opiates led to an outright ban. Further moral panic ensued, and public opinion continued to associate drug use with low moral fiber. It was never about risk of death or physical health concerns. Whether a drug was seriously harmful or not had nothing to do with it.
Then there was the infamous 1936 "Reefer Madness" film, a sensationalist misrepresentation of the effects of marijuana smoking which was being decried, as alcohol was in the previous decade, as a menace to society. The lack of quality journalism combined with the reactionary nature of politics to kick start a persistent anti-drug hysteria which thrives to this day. Heroin which was readily available in various forms from doctors as remedial remedies were not causing deaths in Australia when they were banned in the 1950's. And every year since more and more drugs were added to the list of controlled substances with proper scientific studies on these drugs only occurring many years after they were outlawed, if at all. In the 1960's, while the British initially looked toward regulation to the counter the adverse effects of drugs on public health, The USA instead stepped up its intolerance of recreational drug use with propaganda campaigns and criminal prosecution to snowball hence forth. In the 1980's mdma was prescribed as dangerous with little or no evidence of any adverse effects. In 2007 professor David Nutt's opinion on the harmfulness of mdma was ignored by the UK's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and was a classic example of a government having trouble retrospectively justifying its drug policies with scientific evidence. He was sacked for suggesting mdma was not even close to a class A drug, i.e. not dangerous, and found that alcohol is more harmful to society than both heroin and crack cocaine.
Although the west's crusade against drugs stems from evangelical Christians without a single bible reference, Muslim nations have also outlawed non-prescribed drugs including alcohol because of references in their holy book, the Qur'an. Again, nothing to do with death or specific health concerns, but a religious edict, a matter of faith.
UNCLE SAM SAY'S NO TO DRUGS, EACH TO THEIR OWN?
Since the 1970's the USA administration coined the phrase "war on drugs" and took drug prohibition to a whole new level. And they weren't satisfied with wrecking only their own nation by imprisoning millions of mainly poor African Americans, facilitating an unprecedented rise of organized crime, and increasing death rates among drug users. Successive US governments have launched and maintained a massive global campaign against drug use, using their economic, diplomatic, and even military influence over almost every nation on the planet. Most nations taking part in the war on drugs did not come up with the policy themselves, did not conduct their own research and continue to this day to take cues from the US and other US dominated bodies on drug policy.
WHAT IS IT ALL REALLY ABOUT THEN, AND CAN YOU PASS ME THE BONG?
And so while the war on drugs may appear on the surface as a necessity to curb fatalities, it is really a kind of puritan, fascist ideology. We're not allowed to take drugs essentially because religious bigots don't want us to. They initiated and then won a propaganda war in the opening battle. For some reason it aggravates these fascist ideologues that people want to experience altered states of consciousness, when really it ought to be none of their business. No matter how much literature you read on the war on drugs its hard to find comprehensible answers to the why of the matter. It is undoubtedly true that drugs of addiction can have adverse health effects, however before the war on drugs these effects were the business of doctors and subject to doctor-patient confidentiality. Ostensibly nobody involved in the introduction of these laws felt compelled to offer any justification for prohibition other than some vague notion of "moral decay". Research all you like, there is little evidence that drug prohibition stemmed from anything other than religious zealots and their irrational hatred or perhaps jealousy of drug users. Although drug prohibition is sometimes referred to as a "moralist" position, on Wikipedia's "arguments for and against drug prohibition" page, the "Moral arguments for prohibitive drug laws" section is entirely empty.
The war on drugs is based on 2% facts and 98% hype and hysteria. We need to move from "zero tolerance" to "zero intolerance".
THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY
Throughout history, luminaries, thinkers, philosophers, scientists, futurists whom we retrospectively consider to have been ahead of their time have been persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, excommunicated and murdered for going against the grain of entrenched cultural norms. And likewise with the war on drugs and its inevitable decline, at some point in the future we will look back in amazement at how completely insane our government policies were. We won't consider those pushing for drug law reform as visionaries who were ahead of their time. We will instead see a political and cultural dark age where the global majority were straggling behind the times. We are on the wrong side of history.
THE WAR ON DRUGS IS STUPID
You see it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the war on drugs is destined for the dustbin of history. It only takes honesty and a genuine commitment to rational thinking, to personal freedom and to justice. People are having trouble getting their head around the issue because the issue is deliberately being clouded by those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. There's the prohibitionists, anti-drug crusaders who don't want people to have the freedom to use drugs even if the negative effects were properly mitigated. There's the criminal underworld whose lucrative business model depends on prohibition. There's the politicians who use fear mongering and scapegoating to get elected even though they probably know the truth. And then there's the news media which also thrives and profits on sensationalism and hysteria. There is no room in this spectrum for common sense, genuine research or progressive policies of decriminalization or harm reduction let alone legalization. And so it goes that we find ourselves in the middle of another part of human history where the sensible voices have been silenced. The scientific, medical and libertarian views are simply not welcome, not required thank you very much. They say that truth is the first casualty of war and this is also true for metaphorical wars whose bloodthirsty generals don't want pacifists or pesky human rights considerations to interfere with their pointless yet harmful conquests.
THE TRUTH ABOUT "THE DRUG PROBLEM"
The truth is often too hard to accept for those who have invested so much of their energy in a lie. And so it goes that a watertight argument is like water off a duck's back. Just try to convince an aging racist or homophobe of the error of their ways. You know what I'm talking about. Their skewed world view is set in stone. Although they have had plenty of time to think, they will not listen to reason. And neither will the several generations of supposedly freedom loving citizens who have been heavily brainwashed with scaremongering and misinformation about drug use.
When Joko Widodo says "every day we have 50 people die because of narcotics", his ignorance is apparent. His assertion that narcotics caused the deaths is simplistic and without context. The truth is not that simple and this claim makes no more sense than to say "every day we have 50 people die because of cars". Should we ban cars to prevent the car related deaths? These narcotics are not cyanide for crying out loud! How many people are using these same drugs every day and yet aren't dying? If deaths are occurring because of overdoses then that is the problem to be addressed. If the problem is HIV transmission from shared needles, it is still not the drugs in and of themselves which defines "the drug problem".
Were a journalists to investigate this claim and consider the coroners report in each case, the truth about the specifics of each death would point to a root cause which is not simply the drug itself. It is often the circumstances in which the drugs are acquired and used which causes overdoses, the fluctuations in purity, the cutting with other substance to increase profits for the drug lords, the lack of medical oversight: all effects of prohibition! Undoubtedly a significant percentage of these deaths are HIV related. And what caused Indonesia's HIV epidemic? Shared needles of intravenous drug users.
So again prohibition and the lack of harm reduction approaches are at the source of the problem.
Ultimately the war on drugs is causing the deaths. Joko Widodo is causing the deaths.
Here's the question journalists should be asking the Indonesian President in relation to the 50 deaths per day claim: "If it weren't for prohibition, i.e. if these drug users were sourcing their drugs from a government regulated source, through their medical practitioner, and utilizing injecting rooms, how many deaths per day would there be?" The Indonesian president, like most people on the drug war bandwagon, has clearly never considered this question and would probably get a headache just trying to understand it. But this one question is the key to the whole sorry issue. If the honest answer is anywhere close to "approximately zero" then it ought to be clear to us all the the real "drug problem" is in fact prohibition itself! We need politicians with the guts and integrity to seek an honest answer to this question. Joko Widodo is no such leader. He is a reactionary, not a visionary. He is a gullible follower on this issue, not a courageous leader.
If Indonesia's president and ruling party really wants to reduce drug related deaths, legalization and regulation is the only way to do it.
It has been a long time coming, but even some war on drug nations now have medically supervised injecting centres and needle exchanges where free needles and syringes are provided for drug users as well as safe disposal options. It's an approach that recognizes the reality that drug dependent addicts will still manage to find drugs but with supervision and a safe environment the worst kind of harm that can eventuate from drug use, overdosing causing death and HIV infections will be reduced. Unfortunately though, thanks to prohibition these facilities cannot regulate the drug supply and so the issues of purity and quality remain and can only really be addressed by regulating the supply. i.e ending prohibition and letting drug addicts supply their addiction via their local, family doctor, without shame, without judgement. Since 2001, the Sydney centre has handled thousands of overdoses without fatality and reduced ambulance call outs to kings cross significantly. Indonesia's recent approach to harm reduction, pushed upon them by the World Health Organization, focuses on the spread of HIV without conceding that it is prohibition itself which has and continues to contribute to the epidemic.
And so it goes that we have governments reluctantly adopting harm reduction measures to reduce the harm, not of the drugs themselves, but of their drug prohibition policies. We have governments waging a war on the effects of the war they are waging. We have governments waging a war on their own people.
A sensible, intelligent, calculated and humane response to drug use is what is needed, not ignorance, hysteria, hatred and lynchings. The laws prohibiting the sale and use of certain drugs whilst allowing the widespread use and advertising of more dangerous drugs are unjust laws. Drug users and drug traffickers are not the only people who do not respect these laws. In the case of drugs, we may appear to obeying a law we do not agree with out of fear of imprisonment, but for most people it is not actually the illegality which prevents them from trying illicit drugs.
NEWS-MEDIA: BIG BROTHER'S MOUTHPIECE?
The war on drugs would have ended by now if journalists would only do their job. But no, year in, year out our news media appears on the surface to be full of ignorant "straight" people who have themselves swallowed hook line and sinker the notion that certain drugs are dangerous and that the only solution is to wage a metaphorical war against them, to try and stamp out illicit drug use while pretending not to notice that most of the negative consequences of drug use actually stem from prohibition itself. Instead of reporting objectively on the issue, our news media takes sides and gives updates on how the war is going. They may as well move the segment to the sports section.
READ ALL ABOUT ONE SIDE OF IT!
What is it I ask that prevents journalists from looking at the drug issue from the perspective of a user whose human rights must surely include the right to use whatever drugs they damn well please? And what prevents journalists from noticing and reporting that drug overdoses are actually caused more than anything by prohibition itself which forces the drug market underground and leaves addicts with impurity variations and dodgy products from unregulated sources and backyard labs? What prevents a journalist from noting the hypocrisy of alcohol and tobacco being legal but causing the most harm? Or mdma and marijuana being classed as dangerous by governments but not by experts in the fields of medicine and pharmacology? Anyone? And how could any journalist worth their weight in salt fail to notice that almost the entire drug related organized crime underworld, a half a trillion dollar global industry is the direct consequence of prohibition? Not worth reporting? Irrelevant?
The critical fact that prohibition contributes significantly to the very problems it is supposed to alleviate is absolutely newsworthy, but never reported, never discussed, never teased out or investigated, swept under the rug. Such sensible notions, as widespread as they are in un-influential circles, are unofficially banned from mainstream media representation. It's as if the media thinks its core job is to echo government propaganda right or wrong, keep the nation united with a common enemy, a common fallacy. Once presented to them, anyone with an half an ounce of integrity would find many arguments against prohibition difficult to ignore. But somehow, journalists and politicians can and do ignore them, consistently and repeatedly. It is not a journalist's role to take sides in the war on drugs. It is a journalist's role to disperse myths and counter deceptive propaganda.
THE FREE PRESS AND DEMOCRACY - THE YIN AND YANG OF TYRANNY
Journalists and politicians are of the same ilk, eager to win a popularity contest at any cost. Right and wrong doesn't factor into the equation. Given a choice between doing the right thing and doing the popular thing, they know which side their bread is buttered on. Just show me one politician who will stand on a platform of ending the war on drugs. Don't think it's because they don't know its all bullshit, many of them undoubtedly do. It's because it would be political suicide thanks to the hysteria and stigma surrounding the drug issue cultivated by their adversaries in the mainstream media. And show me where Australian journalists have covered the war on drugs in any way other than the same way they cover a sporting event: An update to let us know how the war is going, how "we" are doing. They will crucify any politician leaning even towards decriminalization, let alone legalization, without mercy. But in a so called “free press”, where are the arguments against prohibition? I have seen nothing on the TV, beat-ups in the papers, static on the radio. Where is the background, the fact checking, the context? Even at this important time not one of these lazy cynical bastards will bother to find out whether the 8 kg of heroin was likely to have caused death as is being repeatedly claimed in the opinion columns and "electronic graffiti" realm of our society. Our democracy depends on the media to keep voters informed, but with very few exceptions our politicians and journalists are like two sides of the same worthless coin. They have duped us all.
VOTE 1 FALSE HOPE!
We have to stop believing in simplistic ideologies, believing that representative democracy is going to bring us anything but power hungry con-artists or that the free press is doing its job of keeping us informed when there is no imperative for it to do so. When we run a popularity contest to elect leaders, what type of person do we expect is going to run for office? Who is going to push their way to the front saying "Me, me. Me first!" The answer is invariably power hungry control freaks who will do anything to gain power even if they don't have a clue about what they are going to do or possess a single comprehensible policy. And what tactics do we expect them to use? What is the likelihood that they will be overtly authoritarian? We elect the most convincing liar, the best propagandist, while honest politicians with progressive policies finish last if they even bother to contest at all.
In most other aspects of society our "best and brightest" can climb to the top and we have qualified and experienced experts in every field. But in politics there are no qualifications. So why do we treat our elected representatives as if they are qualified at running a country, heading a ministry, engaging diplomatically "at the highest levels"? All around the world, political leaders are clueless clowns. Our prime minister is a classic case in point. We elected the village idiot, an egotist with no clue about anything and out of touch with most voters. We did this because we can't tell the difference between empty rhetoric and good public policy. We are given a choice between two versions of the same conservative policies, and vote against the politicians we despise instead of for the politicians we like. Representative democracy is a proxy vote. We give away our right to participate in decision making for years at a time to essentially one of two parties even though we might only agree with some of one party's policies and none of the other's. Many of the decisions they are using our vote for have not yet arisen and so the politicians we voted for can do the most atrocious things in our name. When John Howard took us to war in Afghanistan and Iraq it mattered not that most of Australia clearly did not want to go to war. We can't vote against war and we can't vote to end the war on drugs. Only the most naive amongst us can take representative democracy seriously, oh hang on a minute, that's almost all of us! Whether our democratic model is representative or more direct, it still depends on quality news-media and active participation on the part of voters. We have neither of these things. Our weak democracy stifles progress and enables human rights abuses to continue.
THE POWER OF PROPAGANDA, IT'S MAGIC!
Consider a magician. Their stock in trade is deception. Nine out of ten people who see their show can't figure out how the tricks were done, and a good magician of course never reveals their trick. Well propaganda, more commonly known as public relations or advertising, is also a kind of trick, the most prevalent kind. It is the art of tricking the human mind into adopting a certain viewpoint which one would not otherwise have adopted if left to their own devices, if they had to work it out for themselves. The magician uses sleight of hand, the propagandist selective statistics. The magician uses fakery and rigged props, the propagandist has fear and hysteria, their own tools of the trade. But the main difference between the two is that at least with a magic trick, you know you are being fooled. The whole point of propaganda though is you are not being told from the outset that it is a form of trickery. And so just as nine out of ten will fall for the magicians trick and walk away wondering how the tricks were done, nine out of ten will also fall for the trickery of propaganda except they will walk away believing the illusion was real.
And so we find our societies dominated in politics and commerce by what essentially amounts to constant lies, manipulation, misinformation, misrepresentation, figure fudging, cooked books, empty rhetoric and big lies. We can't notice the elephant in the room because we aren't looking for it. And when we are fooled but don't know it, when we believe a whole bunch of seemingly coherent lies, we echo those lies and inadvertently become agents for the spread of misinformation ourselves. We swallow a whole lot of bullshit and become hysterical, then we regurgitate that same bullshit and variations of it until our whole society is full to the brim with parrots who don't actually know what they're talking about. We buy dodgy ideologies and sell them on.
This is what's going on with the war on drugs. Should we bother to look, we would find experts in the fields of medicine, pharmacology, sociology, psychology, libertarianism, human rights and law speaking out against drug prohibition. But we don't want to hear it. Our minds are made up. We've been fighting this war for too long to have a crisis of faith. And so we stick our fingers in our ears and continue to shout simplistic slogans unprepared for the genuinely arduous task of dismantling the whole stupid approach and going back to square one. But there are many amongst us who are ready and waiting back there, at square one, to rethink the entire drug issue without political or economic or peer pressure or threats of violence. Everyone needs to drop the unconvincing charade and go back to the drawing board.
HYPOCRISY, INCONSISTENCY, DOUBLE STANDARDS
Somebody smokes a joint in Bali and Indonesia is in a panic: "We must deal with this evil, we must jail those responsible. we must control this dangerous drug! We must keep our treasured holiday destination free from drugs!" Except for the drugs that we like and are used to of course, and which cause the most harm? Never mind the problems these drugs cause the society, we'll just leave them out of the definition of drugs altogether. We'll tell ourselves whatever we need to hear to clear our cognitive dissonance. We want everyone to get drunk, kill their brain cells and get into fights. We want to smoke tobacco and die from lung related diseases. We want to dose ourselves up on caffeine and race around making sure no-one is on speed. We'll keep doing what we've been doing because it's what we have always done. We have no process for exiting from our cycle of ignorance, our perpetual, self propagating stupidity. We can see no alternative to following our leaders, and our leaders' leaders. We obey our masters when we should be challenging them. We behave like children.
STIGMA, HYSTERIA, TABOO, SHAME
Another significant barrier to common sense prevailing is the stigma public hysteria attaches to the drug issue and prevents even those who see the absurdity of the situation from speaking out. We are self censoring, one of the first signs of creeping fascism. Saying that drug use is ok is taboo, and so even at the time when those being persecuted and in this case taken out and shot, at a time when a chorus of dissenting voices are most urgently needed, the fear our totalitarian masters instill in us keeps us as silent as lambs. We could even be the majority and yet who will stick their head out, who will stand up and be counted in the "drug war is the real crime" poll? We cower and hide lest our family and friends and work colleagues ridicule us. Although we know they are wrong, we prefer to be socially accepted. But by hiding our true thoughts we do a disservice to the victims of the tyranny which befalls them. How did Martin Niemöller put it, "When they came for the drug traffickers, I did not speak out, because I was not a drug trafficker "? The time to speak out is now.
DRUG USE AS A HUMAN RIGHT
People want to use recreational drugs, and if doing so does not cause harm to others, how on earth can it be argued that one's decision to use drugs is somehow wrong? The state might like to give warnings about negative health effects as it does with cigarettes and alcohol, but when people are being taken out and shot is it not time to perhaps inject a whole bunch of sanity back into the void where we were supposed to have a public debate on the issue? It is human nature, we will always want to use drugs and will not stand for authoritarian governments telling us how to live our lives and what substances we may or may not put into our own bodies. No amount of intimidation and bullying, arrests and prison terms is going to change that. Give up already! Executing a small number of suppliers to intimidate and frighten others isn't going to achieve anything other than eternal condemnation for committing a much more hideous crime than drug trafficking.
Drug use will always be a personal choice, and drug abuse, a medical issue. There is no place whatsoever for the involvement of law enforcement in recreational drug use, period. It is inevitably that the right to use drugs will eventually trump the arguments for prohibition. Regulation is the way to lessen the negative effects of potentially dangerous drugs, not prohibition, totalitarianism and state murder.
A DRUG DEALER IS A PERSON IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
We need to get things in perspective. Drug dealers are not the worst people in society, they are far from it. Drug dealers are selling a substance which makes people happy. They are business people who attempt to build and maintain a customer base. Because of the nature of physical addiction however, they have an unfair advantage over the customer as addicts need rather than want the product. Human greed needs more markets and even a product which sells itself becomes "pushed" onto the consumer. Not all drug dealers are pushers though, many are happy with a limited customer base, lower risks, an honest living. It's fair to say that drug dealers probably don't want to hear about or look too closely at some of the adverse effects of drug addiction, but neither does Big Pharma. Honestly, are we expected to believe that pharmaceutical companies don't want a world where everybody believes they are sick all the time and always on some sort of medication? They too are drug pushers. They do not care about the adverse effects. They are marketing psychotropic drugs through psychiatrists to the world's children for crying out loud! Business is as business does. We are quick to blame society's woes on illicit drug traffickers while we buy shares in multinational pharmaceutical companies. We don't get to find out how many deaths or how much harm in Indonesia is caused by legal and prescribed drugs.
AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT MURDER
The truth is that the AFP attempted to murder the Bali nine. They could have waited and made the arrests in Australia, but chose to tip off the Indonesians knowing that these Australians would face death by firing squad. They did this not because of operational necessity but because of an irrational, hysterical hatred of drugs which is being supported globally by politicians and the news media in spite of common sense, mounting evidence and changing attitudes. The drug mules were Australian, the drugs were headed for Australia, and Australians would have been the alleged victims. Australian law should have prevailed over Indonesian law. For countries which have abolished the death penalty a UN rights protocol to which we are a signatory obliges us not to expose a person to the risk of its application. The AFP's actions are clearly criminal. So far they have gotten away with it.
Not only would an attempted murder charge against AFP officers serve justice here, it would make it hard for Indonesia to execute the Australians, for upon execution, the charge(s) would be upgraded to murder, which is no way for Indonesia to repay the favour to the AFP. By executing, they condemn their informant.
Mick Keeley and/or whoever gave the information should confess. They ought to seek atonement. They are already in big trouble with themselves. There will be no justice until these individuals are tried and jailed.
THE DEATH PENALTY VS PUNISHMENT
What's the point of judicial sentencing, remind me again? Is it to protect society from the criminal by means of segregation? Is it to punish the criminal, to teach them a lesson which will prevent them from reoffending lest they be punished again? I should like to have thought so. However across the entire world there is apparently no consensus on what the actual point of judicial sentencing is, and acts which would ordinarily be considered grave human rights violations are being adopted by nation states in the name of justice as methods of mass control, to instill fear. In the case of capital punishment, one would like to assume that the judiciary must think the convicted criminal will never redeem themselves. Not true. Or that a decades long prison sentence is still not punishment enough to deter the criminal from committing the same dastardly deed. Also false. The truth is no secret and no conspiracy. The sentence of death has nothing whatsoever to do with punishment, natural justice or protecting society from the convict, and those enacting this most extreme of all possible sentences don't care a brass razoo whether the guilty might genuinely be remorseful or redeemed.
This is the travesty of "deterrence", the sacrificing of a perpetrator's freedom beyond the scope of punishment to serve as a warning to others. The sentence of death has nothing whatsoever to do with justice for the convict, has no interest in redemption, need not be in proportion to the crime, and technically can not be described as punishment as the effect on the prisoner is rendered entirely irrelevant. It is using the prisoner as a pawn to achieve domestic political objectives. Like an insect caught in a web, the nation state thinks it has the right to forfeit any human life it captures within its legal system with the excuse "we warned you" or "it was on the schedule". It's like putting a "trespasser will be shot on sight" sign on your property and thinking the warning sign gives you the right to kill. It does not.
PUNISHMENT WITHOUT FORGIVENESS
Where on earth did the idea come from that a convict can be held for a longer period of time than an amount of time deemed to be an appropriate punishment? And whose idea was it that once caught, a criminal has no rights whatsoever and can be killed by the state? Aren't we supposed to be locking people up for a period of time proportional to the severity of their crime? And doesn't the term of imprisonment function both as a punishment for the perpetrator as well as a deterrent for other prospective criminals?
Judicial sentencing in many jurisdictions now goes beyond punishment and into the realm of behaviours we normally associate with the worst kinds of criminals: murder, deprivation of liberty and torture. We bemoan humankind's history of lynchings and the actions of murderers and terrorists, only to adopt precisely the same methods in our judiciaries: control through fear and threats of extreme violence. We consider it normal that governments control their populations by threatening to kill them. Just like the ISIL beheadings, the imminent executions of Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran and the other death row prisoners in Indonesia has nothing to do with punishment or justice. They are being murdered to "deter", to "send a message" as ISIL puts it. If the Indonesian government wants to send a message they should run a public awareness campaign like everyone else.
Justice is supposed to be about careful consideration when sentencing based on the impact of crime on the community but also on mitigation and context. As soon as the sentence becomes more about deterrence of others and less about punishment of the individual, justice has left the room.
DRUGS ARE BAD BECAUSE WE SAID SO - OBEY OR WE WILL KILL YOU
Threatening to kill someone because they won't do what you want is a criminal offense, and following through with the threat is surely amongst the very worst kind of crimes. But when a state actor does it, somehow we are supposed to accept both the threat as well as the carrying out of cold blooded killings of unarmed human beings as the polar opposite of crime? I don't think so! “Black is white, war is peace, two plus two equals WHATEVER WE TELL YOU OR WE'LL KILL YOU! Drugs are bad because we said so.” No other opinions, scientific or otherwise will be tolerated. "Don't use or sell drugs, except for our traditional favourites, OR WE WILL KILL YOU!" This is not a duty of care, this is tyranny!
In what other contexts do we consider the threat of extreme violence to be acceptable as long as the subject of the threats has an opportunity to comply? It's a crude ultimatum, "do as we say or we will kill you". Are we really expected to accept this method of totalitarian control as legitimate? Lawful? Necessary?
There is no separation of power between government and the judiciary when it is the government which writes the laws and dictates the mandatory life and death sentences. And there is no separation of church and state when laws and punishments are derived from holy books.
The irony of outlawing violence and murder only to adopt violence and murder into the legal system's response to lesser crimes would be laughable if it weren't so utterly abhorrent. The concept of capital punishment draws into focus the very important issue of the limits of state power.
THE LIMITS OF SOVEREIGNTY
Regardless of whether Indonesia or any other nation, including Australia, likes to think of itself as a democracy, the limits of state power ought to be obvious and universally agreed upon. We don't want to live in a world where murder, lynchings and genocide is done in the name of democracy, sovereignty or justice, and yet it is. We need to understand that sovereignty is not absolute, and that peace will never prevail for as long as injustice prevails, even if the injustice prevails on the other side of a border. As Samuel Johnson put it, “An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere”. National borders and the notion of sovereignty are merely philosophical constructs, but concepts such as human rights and issues of nuclear armament and global warming affect all of us and are not constrained by national borders. There are international issues for which a national border has no meaning. Human rights is one such issue.
A BORDER IS AN IMAGINARY LINE
The border creates in the feeble minded a non transgressable barrier to human rights and justice. But a border is just an imaginary line, whilst the concept of human rights has no border, none at all. Objectively, and from the perspective of the victim, it is no more right that a killing occurs on one side of an imaginary line or another. We must stop tricking ourselves into thinking that right and wrong has something to do with imaginary lines and hand-wavy notions of sovereignty. At the end of the day all the justifications for killing rely on abstract philosophical constructs whereas the desperation for life in the minds of the victims of these impending murders is tangible and real.
How and why did we come to believe that our political leaders should be in charge of absolutely everything, including the right to life of every citizen? We could require permission to breathe under this system. We go looking for a more inclusive form of government and the best idea we can come up with is a process to elect our own dictators to whom we cede absolute power? What on this earth is preventing us from considering the limits of governance? Are we so used to being hierarchically dominated that we cannot even comprehend an alternative to absolute executive control of every aspect of our lives down to the very breaths we take? A group of people draws an imaginary line around themselves and presto, human rights inside this area is whatever the group says they are? It doesn't make sense. Human rights are by their very nature not bound by borders, are not owned by nation states and cannot be traded away.
Governance must have its limits. Human rights are that limit. You want "sovereignty"? Go, have sovereignty over all aspects of your society, your land, your institutions, your economy, your utilities, your infrastructure. But whether it is in the name of law enforcement or national security or some other conflated justification, governments can never have sovereignty over the individuals they govern. It is a grave misunderstanding to think that they do.
Look at the local level. We wouldn't take too kindly to our local council rounding up scapegoats for public executions. But on a state or federal level, what exactly is the difference? Government is nothing more than a committee. We elect the members to build infrastructure and organize civil society. Politicians can do whatever they want on almost any issue and we can bicker and argue about their decisions, but when it comes to law enforcement and its foray into the deprivation of human rights, things start to get less straightforward.
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Take incarceration. If a person abducts another person that's a serious crime. If that "deprivation of liberty" lasts months or years that's an atrocious crime. So for a judicial process to recommend incarceration for months or years it had better have a very, very good reason, otherwise its actions are comparable to that of a criminal. The punishment is not automatically “just” simply because it was handed down by the state. The term of the sentence must be carefully considered to fit the crime, and cannot be excessive lest the punishment is seen as unjust. Now take the crime of murder. When one person takes another person's life, that is surely one of the worst kinds of crime possible, utterly deplorable, and for the victim's family, unforgivable. So atrocious is the crime that it beggars belief that the same kind of behaviour is too often adopted by the state in the name of justice. For the judiciary to decide to hand out death and not appear to the public to be of the same ilk as a murderer the crime must surely be of the very worst type, you would think at the very least mass murder. But the uncomfortable truth here is that the death penalty is being handed down in cases which do not involve murder or even violence, and it ought to be obvious that this is happening because the lawmakers behind the judiciary and the politicians refusing clemency simply are of the same ilk as a murderer. The crime of premeditated murder is clearly much worse than the crime of drug trafficking. Prison is where Joko Widodo and his gang belongs. The Bali nine should go free.
WHY DETERRENCE DOESN'T WORK
The only people who know what it is like to serve a certain prison term are those who have served a comparable prison term. One consequence of this is that our judicial system has a tendency to give lengthy jail terms because our lawmakers and magistrates haven't been to jail and can't accurately imagine the punishment. Our community's anger at the criminal results in a kind of "throw away the key" mentality where constituents, who mostly haven't been to jail either, are always pushing for tougher sentences and politicians stand to gain popularity by obliging them. But the other consequence is that prospective criminals who are supposed to rethink their criminal endeavors because of these lengthy jail terms can't accurately imagine how bad the punishment is, and are not as deterred as they would be if they knew first hand how bad the punishment is. This is where the mandatory death sentence is supposed to come into play, as criminals should understand this most extreme "punishment" and ideally should do anything to avoid it(or not do anything which would risk exposure to it). "They knew the laws" we hear the capital punishment apologists simplistic version of logic. But what brings this whole notion unstuck apart from the extreme notion of taking a human beings life in the name of justice, is that criminals tend not to factor getting caught into their risk management strategies. Most criminals are not really very smart, and do you think any of the prisoners filling our jails are there because they made a conscious decision that the jail time was worth the crime? Of course not! They simply didn't think they would get caught. And so it follows that it matters not what dastardly punishment our legal system has in store for guilty perpetrators, be it lengthy jail terms, death or even prolonged torture, many prospective criminals will not get the message and ultimately their criminal activity must be curbed in other ways. i.e ordinary, good old fashioned law enforcement. You can't deter all prospective criminals no matter how you threaten them, and threatening them by abusing an individual's, criminal or otherwise, human rights is particularly odious and morally unjustifiable.
DEATH CULT JUSTICE
It has always fascinated me how easily and readily human being will talk about and carry out the taking of life from another human being. What on this earth I wonder makes them think they possess this right? Was it written in a book perhaps? Is the propensity to commit murder genetic? How many members of our societies possess this urge and what percentage are capable of following through and carrying out a premeditated or spontaneous killing? Certainly our leaders have not set a very good example given the long list of wars and killings in human civilization's bloodthirsty history. Turn on the TV, look at a newspaper. Our nations' leaders advocate killing as a means of problem solving almost on a daily basis. It's not matter of last resort, and nor is it entirely a matter of war and murder being inevitable due to the interests of big business. It is human nature to get angry, declare enemies and try to kill them. It is just obscenely disturbing that in the year 2015, humanity as a whole has made approximately zero progress in several thousand years toward a world without war, murder and executions or with some sort of internationally recognized human rights. These rights must surely come eventually, and when they do let there be no doubt they will include the right not to be executed by the state and absolutely they will include the right to use drugs.
"NOTHING AUSTRALIA CAN DO"?
We've all heard how The Australian government is doing "all it can" diplomatically, making “the strongest possible representations" to save the lives of its citizens facing a firing squad in Indonesia. But is it? We've all heard how Tony Abbott has left "no stone unturned", but can anyone identify a single stone which he has turned? Threatening ZERO consequences and offering ZERO incentives to the Indonesians does not qualify as having even tried.
The very first statement Tony Abbott made since the recent executions carried out by Indonesia was one of reassurance to the Indonesians that he won't let the executions upset our bilateral relations. So he basically rubber stamped the killings from the get go, just as john Howard did with Singapore, more worried about the "strategic relationship", whatever that means, than grotesque human rights violations. Well what I'd like to know is what behaviour does Indonesia or any other nation have to be engaged in before our government will let the issue upset bilateral relations? Why are we cosying up to Indonesia without even mentioning at any of these bilateral meetings that we find their use of the death penalty abhorrent?
Australia has an autonomous sanctions program, why on earth would we not use sanctions to pressure Indonesia and others over the death penalty? Just as our tolerance must have limits in our personal relationships, i.e. we cannot remain friends when a person's behaviour becomes too immoral, so too our national conscience ought to be expressed in our sanctions programs, with limits on our bilateral relations. "We are against the death penalty at home and abroad", we have all heard the mantra, so why not walk the walk instead of just talking the talk? Why do we miss every opportunity to lead on this issue? I cannot find evidence that any Australian government has ever offered incentives or threatened any consequences to hasten the demise of this most barbaric practice. We are not making a "principled stand" at all. As a nation we don't seem to even understand what a principle is.
Brazil and the Netherlands at least had the sense to recall their ambassadors to the retarded regime, but only when it was too late. Australia could do more, much more to help these men, but is limited by nonsensical ideological barriers. Full support instead of absolute condemnation has been offered to the Indonesians on a platter.
Across the Australian political corporate and media spectrum, nobody knows what to do. Tony Abbott and Julia bishop are predictable entirely clueless on the issue. We are all dumbstruck, impotent, constrained by our own weak ideological dogma. We have painted ourselves into a corner. But there is something we could do, and there is plenty our government and corporate sector can do, in spite of what they might say. There are many ways to exert pressure on Indonesia. We are utilising none of them. Tony Abbott was going to shirt-front Putin over the deaths of Australians in the Ukraine, but wants no confrontation with our northern neighbors even over an equally important human rights issue. Abbott shouldn't be asking the Indonesians whether "gosh, possibly, if it's not too much trouble, pretty please would you change your mind?" We should be thoroughly outraged and be doing the diplomatic equivalent of shirt-fronting the Indonesians. We should be visibly and noticeably angry. We absolutely should be threatening consequences. We shouldn't be tip-toeing around worrying about causing offense when it is clear that Indonesia's actions are not deserving of respect. We need to take charge of the situation by threatening serious consequences if our demands are not met. Whatever the cost and terms, if a deal can be reached Australia should pay the price. The lives of our citizens and the many others on death row there are worth it.
TURN UP THE HEAT
If Australia's political leaders really want to save the Australians from being brutally murdered in Indonesia, they should start by threatening serious consequences instead of threatening nothing. They could put the "strategic relationship" on the line. They could offer incentives instead of offering no incentives whatsoever. They could express anger and use harsh language instead of arse kissing and asking nicely. We should express outrage, make stern demands, cut them off mid-sentence, refuse to take no for an answer, stop pretending we respect their death cult justice for crying out loud.
CARROTS AND STICKS
If Indonesia benefits from a strong bilateral relationship with Australia, then it is this bilateral relationship which needs to be threatened in the case of executions continuing, and enhanced in the case of capital punishment being abandoned. This is not rocket science. When we enter into any sort of cooperative agreement with another nation an opportunity exists to press for change in the area of human rights by making preconditions to the agreement. Australian politicians however keep pushing ahead with these agreements with precisely zero consideration for anything other than trade and intelligence sharing. We like Indonesia's money, blood soaked or otherwise, so we turn a blind eye to their human rights abuses. We have sold our principled stand against the death penalty down the river.
We could start with the military co-operation agreements. Gone! Intelligence sharing? Not anymore unless the barbarity ceases! The "comprehensive partnership", the Lombok Treaty? It's all on the table right in front of us. Indonesia needs us more than we need them. We can and should attempt to coerce them into submission. The situation demands more than strong words, we have to issue direct threats of real and sour consequences if Indonesia proceeds with the executions, otherwise why would they stop? We should be doing this anyway with all countries which continue to use the death penalty. We should of course treat them differently. We should have a different set of rules for how we engage with nations which engage in overt human rights violations. We should always have sanctions of some sort in place, barriers to trade and cooperation. And incentives, huge incentives for death penalty states to abolish the practice. We should always have on the table, right in front of them, a massively lucrative package waiting for them to do one simple thing, stop the executions, for good. At the moment we have nothing, nothing at all.
Yes they're our "trading partner". We have "strong economic ties". We're "close neighbors and friends" according to Department of foreign affairs and trade. Whoopee do they buy our stuff and we holiday there, and Australian companies can set up shop there without the slightest concern for Indonesia's human rights record. Lovely. Well I'm not setting up business there because I have ethics and understand that treating this country like a friend who is doing nothing wrong is wrong. They are doing something wrong, something very wrong. Anyone with ethics and a conscience should be able to understand that "business as usual" enables business as usual in their legal system as well, the business of executing prisoners. Prisoners who are not even guilty of violence, let alone murder. If we don't protest their atrocious behaviour, the behaviour will continue. Apart from the many methods our government could but won't use to influence Indonesia, corporate Australia holds a different kind of power which could be used to make the Indonesians reconsider the death penalty. If Australian companies operating in Indonesia were to make noises about getting out over this issue, the fallout would be significant. But alas we should all know by now that capitalism prefers to have nothing to do with ethics, and successful business people and corporations resemble psychopaths, concerned only with their bottom line. A corporate boycott of Indonesia would help to bring change. I won't hold my breath.
TURNING OUR BACKS ON TYRANNY
When a nation state behaves as Indonesia does, we should turn our backs on them until they respect human rights, even if we have to suffer a hit to our standard of living. It needn't take long. We stand up to the them until they pull their head in, then it's back to business as usual. By doing and saying nothing we give legitimacy to their crimes against humanity. If all the anti death penalty states made life hard and ostracized the death penalty states, it wouldn't take long for most of them to come around. There is so much money in the world, so many rich people, huge companies and corporations, all of them entrenched in an economic system which has no goal other than to make more money. There is so much potential for pressuring fascist regimes with economic sanctions and incentives, and yet who is doing anything? What if Google decided to block Indonesia and other countries over their human rights abuses? Although only a tech company, once a population depends on their services, they hold real power. What about the big banks or the finance sector? Multinationals? There is much potential for leaning on these archaic regimes. What would Indonesia and indeed other death penalty nations do if a significant number of corporations and governments started turning their backs on them? Their choices would be limited to continuing as a pariah state and suffering economic hardship and diplomatic isolation, or avoiding catastrophe by changing just one aspect of their judicial sentencing.
A NATIONAL PRESIDENT, A CONVICTED DRUG DEALER: WHO IS THE BETTER MAN
Well one of them is a mass murderer, I know that. One of them propagandized a large population and scapegoats drug traffickers. I'm sure that one of them doesn't deserve to be killed by the other. One need not feel ashamed. One is damned. Who would I rather have tea and scones with? Correspond with? Become friends with? Words cannot describe how harshly I judge this President not for his ignorance and arrogance but his murderous intent. Taking life in this way and for this reason is wholly unacceptable. These executions must not continue! It's supposed to be a metaphorical war, not a killing field. Joko Widodo needs to Google the phrase "war on drugs" and spice up his search a bit with words like "lunacy" "futile", "hypocrisy", "hysteria", and "end".
"TAKE 'EM OUT AND SHOOT 'EM"
I grew up hearing this phrase from a very young age, along with drunkenness, constant swearing, shouting, violence and relentless psychological and emotional abuse. This phrase represents for me the epitome of ignorance, an angry knee-jerk reaction to issues the armchair philosopher lacks the intelligence or genuine commitment to understand. To this day I still hear the same phrase, the same response to mainstream media beat-ups on channel nine or seven, in front of young children. It wasn't until well into my adult life that I realised my family's breadwinner was essentially a kind of egotistical, sociopathic narcissistic. He didn't know it all.
GOOD PEOPLE DOING BAD THINGS
We know of nothing more precious in this world than human life. And yet with what ease do the murderous amongst us seek to extinguish it. No hesitation, no second thoughts. "Shoot to kill!" "String 'em up!" "bomb them back to the stone age!". Its the call cry of the bloodthirsty and deranged, the ignorant and the mentally ill, the religious extremist, the fascist dictator. It's not justice that they really want. It's a lynching. They want blood and an excuse. Justice is their excuse. Lethal violence is about power. It makes a man a man. It's about being macho. It's about dominance. It's about being seen as heroic, while in reality being a coward. These killers we see waging war and conducting executions around the world, at pains to try and point the finger at the evil ones, they are the evil ones. Almost every murderer is of course a do-gooder in their own mind, their own hopelessly subjective delusional reality. And Every lynch mob is of course nothing more that a bunch of good people doing very bad things.
We have been stirred up, and we are angry. We have pitchforks. We have scapegoats. We have lynch mobs cloaked in the thinnest possible veil of legitimacy. We have wolves in sheep's clothing telling us we have to kill to be good. We obey. We believe. We let them kill and we tell ourselves it's alright. But it isn't. There are cold blooded murderers at the highest levels of our societies. They have brainwashed us. We buy their excuses. We have accepted them. For as long as we tolerate them, collectively we are as bad as them. We are humanity. We are killers.
We as a society need to understand that these people who want to kill all the time really are definitively fascist. They might wear a nice suit, seem jolly lovely most of the time and even climb to the top of business and political hierarchies, but if they are calling for death, they are still fascists. Terrorist or president, their rationale for killing is the same: "send a message" with human sacrifice. They have absolutely no qualms about killing another human being, none. They could point a gun to your head and blow your brains out and not lose a wink of sleep over it, as long as the paperwork was in order. Common criminal thug or national leader they are vile, murderous, fascists. They are bad people. We cannot delude ourselves about who we are dealing with here, and in our own society. If it true that half of Australia wants these executions to go ahead, that represents an appalling portrait of Australia's national identity and we have a huge problem on our hands. Fascism is on the rise in Australia, and it is no laughing matter. As unpalatable as it might be for us to do so, we need to acknowledge that fascism naturally rises to the top in representative democracies as well as dictatorships. We buy their lies, we hug their empty rhetoric. We think the phrase "tough on crime" sounds reasonable. We cede power to people who don't really care if we live or die. We are defenceless against this menace because we have no proper understanding of what fascism is and are not looking out for it until it's too late. We need to know how to recognize a rising tide of fascism, like when a national poll find half the country is perfectly comfortable with two of its citizens being shot dead. Sound the alarm bells now!
We have to screen fascists from our electoral systems, or become culturally immune to their charms. There are many litmus tests for fascism, canaries for the mine. Favouring capital punishment is the most obvious. We need to understand that as soon as somebody proclaims their support for the death penalty, we know they must not lead, they must not take control. Fascists don't understand libertarian arguments, don't value privacy and decisively problem solve by making hit lists and signing death warrants. It's how they think. They posses a simple and predictable reactionary mindset. We must not tolerate fascists in our political systems. We must stop electing them. We should not allow people who ought to be in jail run our countries.
TRIPLE JERK RADIO POLL
The crux of the issue here is what exactly? Is it whether drug dealers deserve to be executed? Or whether national sovereignty must be respected absolutely? Well it ought to have been obvious which poll would be more sensational, and that was of course Triple J's objective, to cause a stir, a spike in ratings, a promo. The same sly technique was used when Van Nguyen was about to be hanged in Singapore. Instead of simply asking the Australian public whether it is right that drug dealers are being hung, the wording was deliberately crafted to make the question about Singapore's right to conduct executions. At least half of our country believes other nations laws are none of our business even when it comes to capital punishment, which is a shame, but the overwhelming majority of our citizens do not think drug dealers should be sentenced to death here or anywhere. So far from showing popular support for Indonesia's killing spree, these pollsters misrepresent the opinion that drug dealers should not be executed as the exact opposite. Shame on them.
MODERN TIMES OR DARK AGE?
We have always considered ourselves to be modern, and only ever notice retrospectively how silly and often immoral some of our past practices were. When we look around and see all this amazing technology, all the progress in engineering and science, we feel civilized, we feel clever, we feel superior. But who amongst us actually knows how any of this stuff works? Not many. But we feel and look civilized and so we tend not to notice the less civilized aspects of our societies. It's hard to believe that a modern democracy could continue to conduct executions, such a juxtaposition, and while I am amazed at the innovations which have allowed me to write on this computer, I still don't feel that processor cycles per second or any other technical achievement is a good benchmark for how civilized a society is. For as long as we propose violence to solve conflicts we are still barbarians. We just happen to be barbarians with smart phones and computers, TV's and machinery.
EXECUTION=MURDER, DIDN'T YOU GET THE MEMO?
We daren't call what Indonesia is doing "murder" in case it's politically incorrect. You know, sovereignty and all that. And we daren't suggest the drug war is itself wrong, even though we know it is. We beg the Indonesians to give life sentences instead of death sentences when we know the life sentences are obscenely unjust as well. Indonesia is trying to put Australia in it's place when on this important issue it ought to be the other way around. When our diplomats and foreign minister are smiling and talking up the close relationship with the Indonesians at one of these inter-governmental meetings, they are of course saying one thing and thinking another. I suppose deceit is the norm with diplomacy. Honesty, integrity and trust has no place at the table. The current predicament resembles a siege and hostage situation, where the police negotiators trained in psychology try to make the assailant believe they are not in that much trouble, that no-one is saying bad things about them, and that we care about them. In reality it's all a ruse to get the hostage taker to let their guard down so a sniper can shoot them. Well our diplomats prime and foreign ministers have tried talking these psychopaths down. They have failed. Where now I ask is the sniper equivalent? Where is our plan B? How are we going to save these men? Perhaps instead of calling for mercy, we should be calling them murderers. Because that's what we think, and that is the truth. That is what they are. Perhaps instead of feigning respect we should express absolute outrage. Perhaps it is time to tell the Indonesians what we really think and to demand, not politely ask, for and end to the executions. When you have the higher moral ground you can't pretend that your opponent has an equally valid argument. You have to tell it like it is. And if that doesn't work, its time to play hardball. The art of diplomacy begins with a delicate approach to sensitive issues, but must eventually progress toward resolution of the point of contention, even if the negotiations turn ugly.
INDONESIA IS NOT OUR FRIEND
Indonesian police did not uncover the Bali Nine drug plot, the Australian Federal Police did. They handed the Bali nine to the Indonesians on a platter, and did so erroneously via a loophole in Australian Law. The drugs were headed for Australia, and so Australians and not Indonesians would have been the alleged victims. We helped Indonesia plenty after the 2004 tsunami and have valuable bilateral relations. So how does our good friend and neighbor respond to our request for clemency? Well they are not responding like a good neighbor and friend at all. They are treating us disrespectfully, ignoring these factual circumstances and refusing to concede a single argument against execution. In Australian English their decision to proceed with the executions in these circumstances could be described as "a real cunt act".
STOP THE EXECUTIONS!
In the name of all that is good in this world is there any act further from justice, any opinion more offensive, any attitude more sickening than that of a cold blooded killer? Is there any process more degrading to humanity than the premeditated slaying of an unarmed fellow human being? I say NO! I tell you there is not. And I tell you there is no excuse!
HALT the executions! Halt the retribution! Halt the retaliations! Halt the sacrifices! Halt the revenge killings, the honour killings, the pre-emptive strikes, the drones wars, the terrorism, the assassinations, the shootings, the bombings, the hangings, the stonings, the beheadings, the lethal injections. The death penalty in any form will always be the succinct opposite of justice. HALT!
And HALT the apologists! Halt with the excuses! Halt with the extreme authoritarianism, the totalitarianism, the fascism. Halt the hijacking of justice to accommodate our primal desire for bloodletting. No-one possess the right to extinguish human life. No individual, no county, no town, no state, no nation, no united nations. If it's not self defense, there is no defense. Just because we have our silly little popularity contests and place the winners in charge of governing does not mean that we give these fools the right to kill any one of us for any reason. We are not subjects of a divine ruler. We should not consider ourselves to be the private property of our head of state. We can't hand governments the right to our own lives! The state does not own us!
WHO WILL SAVE THEM?
Andrew and Myuran need our help, and we are letting them down. They don't need any more words of support, they need action. They don't need our indecisiveness, they need to be rescued. They don't need a lawyer anymore, they need a guns-blazing-hero. And you know what? We have some of those. We have highly trained and well resourced special forces who could actually go in and rescue these people. They could probably do it without causing fatalities. It should never have come to this, but it has. Otherwise the only hope is for somebody to employ black market private operators to save these young men. I know if it were my brother or friend I wouldn't wait around for our political leaders to figure something out or for the Indonesian courts to even accept let alone see reason in our human rights lawyers' impeccable logic. We can't all just stand around shrugging our shoulders. We can't just sit on our hands when our hands could be writing, giving the finger, raising our fists or grasping bolt cutters. At the very least we all need to speak out, and speak up, loudly, right now!
Andrew, Myuran and the other death row inmates are being sacrificed in the name of sovereignty and the war on drugs. We have abandoned these men to a dreadful fate, to be brutally murdered by our "good friends" the very lovely Indonesians. All these guys have left is a principle of self defense where to survive they must now somehow overcome their captors while being chained, gagged and blindfolded. Imagine trying to cling to the hope of escape in these dreadful circumstances. They have no human rights whatsoever and have their home country Australia to thank almost as much as the Indonesians. The AFP got them into this mess and are silent. The Australian government still will not challenge the Indonesians on their use of the death penalty. There will blood on our hands as well as Indonesia's if the executions go ahead.
Every authoritarian regime needs unquestioning obedience from their subordinates, their security forces, police, army and bureaucrats. There is an hierarchical chain of command at the end of which the political orders are enacted. Should one or more of these links fail, the will of the despot cannot be realized. Conscientious objection is what we do when we cannot in good conscience follow certain orders. In the case of executions, many people play a role, the police, prosecutors, judges, the attorney general, the president: none of them seem interested in refusing to take part in the lynching process. The sickest thing is, some or even most of these people could quite easily maintain a personal opposition to the very injustice they are carrying out. At the end of this chain are the executioners and the final result depends upon whether these individuals can go through with it, whether state employees can commit multiple cold-blooded murders of unarmed men and women.
We are not terribly familiar with the notion of conscientious objection anymore, as the power elites have always told us to obey. We are told that we have no right to refuse to follow orders and we tend to believe the nonsensical argument that our actions are innocent and in the case of injustice those issuing the orders are guilty. The concept of conscientious objection has been eradicated from our collective psyche when it ought to be cherished and universally celebrated. We seem to think the "I'm just doing my job" retort excuses us from any responsibility for the consequences of our actions. The good old Nuremberg defence, never getting old. We have been convinced that our morality and our employer's morality are unrelated, and will do immoral things for money as long as it is not illegal and we have plausible deniability for our wrongdoing. Armed services personnel are particularly easily confused over the issue, are trained not to question authority and swear allegiance to the state. They are taught to be proud of the ability to ignore their conscience. Even at the point of launching nuclear missiles, I have personally heard one such navy sailor explain how not being burdened with decisions of right from wrong is part of the appeal of the armed services. Another man I met was thinking about joining the military so he could enjoy killing without losing sleep, even if he disagreed with the government's justifications for the use of violence.
Surely following orders is something that anyone can only do up to a point? We must all hold onto our inalienable right to refuse to follow unjust orders. If it was my job to execute somebody, I am not interested if the process is legal, who stamped which forms, I wouldn't do it, it is that simple. And I urge these people who have found themselves members of Indonesia's firing squad to wake up to the human rights abuses of their state including the abuses against them, of ordering them to commit murder. Nobody can ask another person to do this. Everyone has the right to refuse to take part in injustice. Don't shoot!
DON'T SHOOT THE MESSENGER, EITHER
I have a harsh opinion of Indonesia for one important reason, and that reason is death squads. Yes Indonesia is hysterical and irrational about drugs and its lengthy jail terms are also human rights violations. But by having the death penalty a nation instantly earns zero respect. I don't want to know about Indonesia anymore, I don't want to go there, I cannot take interest in their traditions or customs because the death penalty is too abhorrent to ignore. I can't look at Indonesia or any other death penalty or war mongering nation without feeling physically sick. I turn my back on them because it is the strongest way to send a message. It is the right thing to do. As soon as the death penalty is abolished, I will turn around, I will acknowledge their existence, I will go there, do business there. Until that time, their governments are basketcase regimes. Indonesia's reputation is marred by its attitude to human rights.
DON'T GO TO BALI / BALI=DEATH
If we don't like the thought of a dozens people at a time being tied to poles and shot maybe we should stop buying tickets to go there. If these executions go ahead I will actively campaign to destroy Bali as a tourist destination. Doing so could be as simple as associating the word "Bali" with the word "death". A skull and crossbones "A" in the word Bali on t-shirts, posters, billboards. Images of people partying alongside people being blindfolded and shot: these images are powerful and will be more powerful than the holiday destination propaganda. It is right that people everywhere should see the truth about Indonesia, not just their tourism brochures. We need to express the horror of what Indonesia is doing graphically and artistically. We need to show Indonesia now that it is not going to get away with these murders, that we will not allow it.
ENDING THE WAR WITHOUT END
Why does humanity so lust for open ended, unwinnable wars? Why the brutality, the violence, the inhumanity? Why the killing and why the excuses? The time to end the war on drugs is now, not next century. Now we all know the truth. There are enough of us now to put a stop to this abomination, this perpetual crime against humanity. We must unite and refuse to tolerate fascism or totalitarian oppression in all its guises. We must condemn the justifications for killing in all it's guises. We must stop the drug war not because it has failed, but because it is wrong. We must stop the executions not because deterrence doesn't work, but because it is wrong to take human life in this way.
THE GLOBAL SUMMIT ON ENDING THE WAR ON DRUGS
It has been a long time coming and almost a hundred years late, but the up and coming Global Summit On Ending Drug Prohibition is the first concrete effort world leaders will have made toward sane public policy approaches to drug use and its associated issues. No I don't mean a summit to discuss law enforcement co-operation in escalating the war on drugs. That approach has always and will always fail. I'm talking about a meeting of world leaders who facing facts and reality need to finally concede that their drug policies are going nowhere and will never go anywhere. The approach needs to be united and global because regulated legalization cannot easily be implemented gradually, one state at a time. If a small number of states begin to treat drug use as a human right and drug abuse as a medical issue, those states will become supply targets of the criminal underworld. A united synchronized global winding down of the drug war will spell an end once and for all to the massive harm and havoc the ill-conceived crusade has wreaked on its countless victims. The number of non-violent, otherwise law abiding citizens currently serving prison time around the world for drug offences is staggering, with mandatory sentencing laws trampling over the judiciary's right to consider mitigation, context and circumstances. The war on drugs is supposed to be metaphorical and yet hundreds of non-violent drug offenders are executed each year in its name. Add to this the many thousands killed each year in underworld drug related crime and apprehension attempts and an image emerges of the war on drugs itself being the real and more serious crime.
I am calling this summit, here and now. I call on all the world’s leaders to wake up to reality and at least agree to talk about how an end to prohibition might benefit their respective societies, how the exact opposite approach to drugs could make more sense in terms of reducing the harmful effects of drugs on our societies.
END THE WAR ON DRUGS - FOR THE SAKE OF FREEDOM AND JUSTICE
As a global community we need to stop assuming that drug usage is lessened by prohibition and accept that the illegal drug trade actually increases drug use. The black market profit motive prohibition creates is the cause of drugs of addiction being "pushed" into our communities where a substantial percentage of drug addicts might otherwise have not even bothered trying them. We need to accept that drug usage is not likely to increase if drug use was legalized and regulated. We need to discuss the devastating effect the drug war has had on the very people it is supposed to be trying to protect, the drug users themselves, their families and their communities. We need to wake up to the fact that drug prohibition is the lifeblood of a massive criminal underworld which would dissolve if prohibition ended. We need to accept that the massive incarceration rate and life and death sentences for nonviolent drug related crime are themselves crimes against humanity. We need to admit that prohibition increases rather than decreases the risk of death from overdose. The war on drugs is the real crime here.
We need to ask ourselves what "the drug problem" actually is, what the real reasons are for not wanting to tolerate drug use in our societies. We must stop making circular arguments or citing negative effects of drug use which are actually caused by prohibition. We need to notice that many of our smartest people oppose this drug war and only those at various extremes support it relentlessly. We need to educate ourselves and start backpedaling furiously. We have chosen the wrong path, it is time to turn around.
At best the war on drugs is a perfect example of sickeningly unjust, ideologically driven totalitarian control. At worst the totalitarianism simultaneously takes the inverted form, where the illicit drug market itself is also pro-actively interested in continued drug prohibition. Either way the negative effects of this juggernaut of injustice are wholly unacceptable and must cease.
WORLDWIDE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY
Waiting for world leaders to lead on important issues is as agonizing as having teeth pulled. In the absence of strong leadership by world leaders and the United Nations on the issue of capital punishment and glacial progress towards global abolishment of the practice, it falls upon us the people to demand that nation states cease all executions and remove capital punishment from their law statutes.
I implore all death penalty nations to halt all executions, immediately! I insist that killing is not your nation’s right and state sanctioned murder cannot be tolerated. I call for an immediate cessation of these deplorable acts of state violence. I call on all nation states to acknowledge the limits of government power and to respect the sanctity of all human life. This must end now!