Bushfires and lynch mobs – Woolly Days article

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.

2 Responses to “Bushfires and lynch mobs – Woolly Days article”

  1. 1 Arthur

    Its interest ing that the comprehensive wikipedia page linked above has only the briefest possible mention of the prescribed burning issue and significantly more on global warming as a cause.The discussion page sheds some light on this as sections on Causes and Global Warming indicate strong push to inappropriately highlight Global Warming by some with other editors successfully resisting and keeping it to reasonably straight report of relevant public statements.As far as I can make out they simply haven’t noticed the extensive public concern about inadequate prescribed burning.There is also a separate page on Bushfire which could do with a more detailed explanation of prescribed burning.BTW browsing through wikipedia discussion pages provides a fascinating glimpse of the problems that arise and solutions found to collective management of complex large scale projects composed of numerous smaller subprojects with conflicting interests etc.Thoroughly understanding how wikipedia works (and doesn’t work) is useful for both contributing there and for insight into how transforming the whole economy to collective management could be approached.

  2. 2 jim sharp

    it looks as if my post was moderated again
    so i try again
    dalec has been saying this for years, but it wud seem folk here are so isolated in their belfries & twitters, that they hear nowt but thmsleves
    dalec told an audience of 1000 in the green tent at the woodfor folk fetival a few years ago. “that the Eucalypt is a fire weed that shud be exterminated!”
    they screamed blue murder, but then he’s a tough owd bastard & it rolled of him like water off a ducks back!

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