Shouting ‘fire!’ in a crowded theatre is frowned upon in most societies and thought an example of a limit on freedom of speech we can all agree on. Tony Abbott did something far, far worse yesterday. He told an entire nation they could be randomly beheaded at any moment.
He then told us to calm down, and behave as if he hadn’t said it.
He added to the usual terrors female shift-workers endure on late night buses, late night trains and the long walk from a railway station home at 1.30 a.m. — the ultimate horror of having your head cut off.
He did it by adding the word ‘random’: by not even implying, but saying straight out that you didn’t have to be famous, or politically connected to a particular cause, or a prominent member of a particular faith. You could be an ‘innocent bystander’, beheaded.
He then said it was very easy to do. All one needs, he said, is a knife and cell-phone, and an accomplice with a car.
Is this responsible? Is it the act of a nation’s leader, or a cyberbully? It seems to encourage terrorists, implying they can’t be easily detected and it doesn’t matter who they kill.
Forty-six people ‒ Australian people ‒ died from cigarettes yesterday, none from decapitation.
Three or four motorists will die this weekend, in car accidents.
Before Christmas, two young men will die in pub brawls.
‘Domestic’ terrorism will occur — a father kidnapping and threatening his estranged wife or children once or twice this fiscal year.
I will bet a lot of money no-one will be beheaded here in Australia.
It is because it is not a very Australian thing to do. People who live here don’t do that sort of thing and thereby imperil their families, and the livelihood of their parents, brothers and sisters. It is a long way from the battlegrounds of Baghdad, Mosul, Gaza, Donetsk, where such ‘terrorist’ things do happen lately — incidents in war.
And this is why it hasn’t happened in ninety-nine years and nine months here, since the Battle of Broken Hill in January 1915. It is not a particularly Australian thing to do.
And frightening old women with it is, I think, unbecoming for a prime minister. And possibly illegal, as it ‘encourages the terrorists’.
The Age: Though beheading was never mentioned in the call “it is assumed” this would have been the method of killing. pic.twitter.com/TWhko6s9Fl
— Dave Donovan (@davrosz) September 19, 2014
If the Prime Minister were serious about it, the two big football games this weekend in Sydney would have been cancelled, along with the opening night of The King And I. If he were serious, there would be random body searches of Middle Eastern women entering the Sydney Art Gallery. Most art galleries, given ISIL’s hatred of art, would be closed for six months.
But he isn’t serious, he’s making mischief.
He’s lost most of the policy battles of his first year and he’s thought a joke by many people, by many others a disgrace, and he’s embarked on the biggest ‘scare campaign’ since the Yellow Peril.
He’s become what I call the Chicken-Little-in-Chief. And he shouldn’t, any more, be given the time of day.
He’s blown it. May the sky come falling down.