Stan Grant can be an annoying prat sometimes. Why is there an instinct among journalists to sensationalise? Aren’t the simple facts enough? Do they really sit behind their Macbooks fuming because they haven’t had a morning mocha-latte with smashed avo on artisanal buckwheat toastie for weeks, and suddenly think: Stupid virus! Hey! Let’s bash the apparatus of the authoritarian regime! That always makes me feel better! What got me overheated this morning was a mistruth Stan Grant used in support of his latest theory that democracy is under threat by our domestic response to the coronavirus: Among other ‘draconian’ measures, “Police have patrolled the streets, people sitting in parks or swimming at the beach were ordered to leave or worse, fined or threatened with jail.” OMG! That’s right, the ole jackboot trope rears its ugle head again. Shame on you, Stanley!
Speaking only for New South Wales, aka the epicentre of the Australian CV19 situation, our Commissioner of Police has repeatedly urged people to do the right thing. He has cajoled and exhorted, pressed and persuaded. Is is threatening to remind people that the price for reckless behaviour during a pandemic is no different to the fine you’d receive for breaching any other law at any other time? It’s been illegal to exceed the speed limit for a hundred years; why doesn’t Stan Grant rail against that? You could be fined for jaywalking today — does this signify the long arm of the oppressive authoritarian regime has hyperextended itself? I think not. Parroting the naive, liberal rubbish you were imprinted with by your beardy undergraduate lecturer says more about you than it does ‘the system’ Stan. Grow up.
The reality is that police here in virus central approach the Public Health Act 2010 (here, if you’re interested) as a public education exercise. Here’s how it goes: Officer Smith os on patrol. He spots a group of (let’s say) ‘persons of African appearance’ congregating in a park. Clearly not there for an exempted purpose (ie exercise), the officer approaches them, introduce himself, and advises the group they need to disperse. Details are taken and a ‘warning’ is created on the computerised operational policing system (COPS) so that if the same individuals are found congregating in public again, a fine may issue. Only that’s not what happens. When Jamir and his buddies flout the Ministerial Direction again the next day, they get another warning. Two days later, when J-dogz and his homies are detected a third time, are they fined? Hell yes. But only if the Commissioner of Police himself authorises it. That’s right, the officer on the ground needs the explicit permission of the Police Operations Centre, Sydney, to issue a fine! WTF? Talk about draconian, Stan. How’s a cop supposed to do his job with all this bureaucratic interference?
Yes, fines have been issued. Yes, individuals have been served court attendance notices (CANs) for breaching COVID-19 orders. But only in the most blatant cases of gross non-compliance. What is the role of the police if not to enforce the law? That’s how legal stuff works in a Western democracy: Police enforce it, courts interpret it, Parliament enacts it. Instead of seeing COVID-19 fines as the indicia of a democratic system on its knees, this is evidence of a democracy at work. BTW, who do you think calls the cops in the first place, Stan? That’s right, other law-abiding citizens. I am sick of ‘Stans’ — whiny educated bitches who use their media leverage to bash the cops when they ought to be bashing Jamir and his crew for thinking they are exempt from the law, just because daddy was eaten by a lion in the 1960’s and they grew up with a goat-fornicating step-father who was a bit mean to them.
Worse, and picture me now rubbing my crystal balls, when the whiny educated bitches recover their equilibrium and resume their bi-weekly hair-plaiting sessions at some leafy Eastern Suburbs cafe, how long before one suggests they audit the infringement notices issued by the police to see if the disenfranchised minority youth were being targeted? We live in a world where it’s okay — in fact, preferrable — to issue a fine to a middle-class white boy over a working-class black/brown/yellow boy for the same offence. Now THAT, Stanley Grant, is where deomcracy begins to fray. When rights trump responsibilities. When we become apolgists from criminal groups, we divide and conquer ourselves. There is only one law; otherwise Orwell was correct.