The blog “Woolly Days”, written by Derek Barry, has just published an article about the way the media and police have stirred up hatred against the people accused of arson in relation to the recent Victorian bushfires, saying that “the presumption of innocence is a sick joke. Within hours of being charged, he [Brendan Sokaluk, the most well-known of the accused] was viciously attacked in the media and in social network sites to the point where some have questioned whether he is capable of getting a fair trial.
In response to a comment asking what the approach should have been, I responded:
I’d go deeper than Duncan, and ask “what long-term strategy could people who oppose this sort of lynch-mobbing adopt to make that behaviour less rewarding for the media and police?”
Which is a mouthful, I know, but it’s the only possible way IMO to come up with a strategy that doesn’t just mean we want people in the media to act against the interests of their employers, which is unlikely.
The only way this sort of behaviour would stop, or become less prevalent, is if it appealed to fewer people. Is it possible, for instance, to somehow confront school students, in a systematic way, with the effects of this mob mentality, perhaps in a similar way to Jane Elliot’s “Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes” exercise?
I think that even if every arsonist is guilty as hell, there are plenty of fires that had no arson involved, and getting people worked up lets them identify “evil” people and have a good old hate, but avoids the hard questions about what bushfire policy should be, as was debated here in the article “Australia’s Bushfires – both trees and people suffer from green policies”.
Anyone who’d like to see a revolution survive has a vested interest in asking how reactionary propaganda aimed at encouraging people to boil over with anger might be stopped, I think.