“So, in the interests of survival, they trained themselves to be agreeing machines instead of thinking machines. All their minds had to do was to discover what other people were thinking, and then they thought that, too.” - Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
This week children attending the two large Islamic schools in Perth, schools I visited regularly as a bookseller, were advised not to wear their uniforms on public transport. The reason? – They were being emotionally and physically intimidated by members of the public. Got to remember these kids probably also carry backpacks – that’s some scary shit right there. They say they’re just carrying homework and a cut lunch but we don’t want to take any chances.
During the same week, a man entered an Islamic school in Sydney swinging a machete and asking if this was indeed an Islamic school. Kids hid under their desks, got all upset – bit alarmist really. I mean, this bloke was clearly terrified. He has a right to protect himself from little Johnny.
And then there’s the young New Zealander who was bailed up at traffic lights on the Gold Coast by a car full of patriots who threatened to behead him. In their defense, the young man had a beard. I’m sure Mr. Abbott is currently looking into some facial hair legislation to ensure we are at least threatening the right people. Because we just can’t have bearded people with darker skin driving willy-nilly around the neighbourhood. We have a right to feel safe.
Mr. Abbott’s War on Terror. This is some of the best goddamn marketing I have ever seen. The whole idea of marketing a weak product (and you are far more likely to die of Ebola right now than succumb to a terrorist wielding a cutlass) is to artificially inflate the need this product will satisfy. Like the War on Mould in my shower: clearly the mould will kill me so I must buy ridiculously expensive industrial strength toxic products that burn my eyes and irritate my skin unless I’m wearing a full body condom while applying them. Marketing convinces me that filling my house with poison will keep me safe.
These poisons are a great distraction too. There’s lots of tiny, tiny print on the bottles, and websites you can visit that describe what Mould does to your respiratory tract. I don’t want any of that microscopic shit controlling my life, except all of a sudden it is. And I lose track of the fact that if I rescue one more cat I’m more likely to trip over one on the way to the toilet in the middle of the night, crack my head open, and bleed to death before morning. And the Mould will end up living longer than I do.
It’s the same principle as showing something shiny to a screaming baby.
So climate change, the cost of education, the insidious threat to our personal freedoms, pensioner poverty, homelessness, welfare hysteria, our violation of human rights, the depersonalization of people who look and sound different to us, and every other nasty little right wing agenda-laden product peddled to us during the last 12 months will slip into the back of our consciousness because all of a sudden there’s something much bigger to worry about. But Uncle Tony will protect us.
Fear. No matter how contradictory or boilerplate the origin, fear remains the one great controller and captivator of both individuals and entire populations. And we’re all suckling now...