February 16, 2005

Who needs enemies…

2 min read

Posted 17 years ago
by Téa Smith

…when your fellow citizens feel the need to lock you up because you speak funny?

I’ve been wanting to write about the Cornelia Rau fiasco for a little while, but being blogless, well, yeah…I couldn’t. So sorry if my post seems a tad out of date, or lacks it usual cutting-edge observation (snigger).

I was, of course, horrified, when I found out how Cornelia had been treated. But I also have to admit that I felt a tad amused at the scale of the bungle, if only over a simple misrepresentation. I watched pollies fall over themselves, over each other, and all over the press. Which sort of makes me imagine Amanda Vanstone jelly wrestling. Don’t know why.

Anyway, as I watched the bureacratic excuse-making, the explaining, the “calls-for-an-urgent-inquiry-but-not-in-a-way-that-incriminates-anyone”, something really bugged me. There was something very important being missed in the way that this issue had been represented in the media.

First, there was outrage. Why? Because a mentally ill woman had wandered off and got herself put in a detention centre for not having any documentation an accent. The outrage was most certainly justified — how horrible! How HORRIFIC! Why? Because sheturned out to be an Australian citizen.

And the pollies tried to explain it away. How? They didn’t realise she was Australian, and thought that she was an “illegal” immigrant. Now, this is what has perplexed me since the news first broke. A mentally ill woman was treated horribly in a detention centre, but the only time people are outraged is when they are in there by mistake? What about the women who are in there because they are “illegal”? Where is the outrage then? Are our citizens more deserving of justice and treatment?

The answer appears, if you ask the mainstream media, to be “Yes”.

Look, I am outraged, but not in the same way that others seem to be. I am outraged that people think this is EVER acceptable for ANY human being, regardless of their status. If anything, I hope this event brings to light the so-far-shielded detention centres and holds them accountable for the way in which they treat fellow human beings.

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