Plasma Studii on Mon, 10 Jun 2002 18:21:21 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Children Placed in Punishment Compound


>I'm surprised that my writings have leapt as far away as New York 
>City.  I'm curious about how it got to you.

I got it from an international list-serve, I assume you sent it to 
net-time.  But for you to be able to post, I'm sure you have also 
received plenty of mail from New York.  I'm a little surprised you'd 
be at all surprised but it really doesn't matter.

But I assume this is a serious issue with you or you would have 
nothing to say on the matter.  I feel the same, hence my reply.  I 
would like to continue this conversation on the net-time list as I 
think we can both benefit from a wider audience.  (send to both my 
e-address and

>We are talking about people who are fleeing from our enemies in 
>Afghanistan and Iran.

Oh yes.  But appealing to sympathy with a title like "Children Placed 
in Punishment Camps" works against itself.  The main problem is that 
some power shows no sympathy in the first place, so this will have 
little significance to them.  It comes off as wishy washy to the 
folks who are only going to respond to cold hard facts.

My question is not a moral one, rather a practical one.  The 
Australian Government (Or whoever is ultimately overseeing this) is 
obviously doing an awful job.  Whereas many aspects of the 
mistreatment there are just plain bureaucratic sadism (there's a 
psychological reason why prison guards (for example) become cruel and 
abuse inmates, happens with most municipal jobs to varying degrees, 
when there is no check on sadistic impulses they cultivate), things 
like barbed wire around the compound are easily explained away by the 
organizers.  So easily that it detracts from the argument at hand.

There was another post to this list recently about a woman who wanted 
to visit people in Woomera who had a question.  She was answered 
rudely.  This documented, specific instances where the agency had 
purposefully and necessarily intimidating.  One may ask: Why are they 
spending $$$ on surveillance cameras?  Because there are specifics to 
this description, rather than just leave it that they were rude.

Why is the person allowed to respond over an speaker, rather than 
face to face?  Realistically, there is no conspiracy.  Far more 
likely, because they hired some lazy rep who never thought anything 
of it by simply answering the intercom with a series of blunt answers 
and not getting up from their chair to answer her face to face.

"Can I visit friends/relatives there?"

"No" (Thinking "No. and stop bothering me while I am sitting here 
bored")  That's just how an amazing number of people behave.  At one 
scale, you can try to change laziness but that's a pretty enormous 

But simply saying "the dreaded Oscar(sp?) Compound" is too easily 
dismissed.  What exactly happens there that is detrimental?  Putting 
up barbed wire even is not in and of itself an evil.  They might as 
well say it's just to keep out wandering herds of cows!  But give 
concrete examples where this wire has done more harm than good.

I agree with your general concern, that the situation with refugees 
in Woomera is being handled awfully.  But too many easily 
dismiss-able points lead folks to think the issue is really not all 
that serious.  No one (especially the guilty parties) is forced to 
confront any obvious malicious behavior when it is only generally 
alluded to.

Then they must either blatantly pretend to be oblivious of the facts 
or (hopefully) see (and how) to change things.

>What do you do to your wife, mother, sister, daughter (I don't know 
>your age or marital status) if she "misbehaves"?  Do you isolate her 
>from the rest of society?

If she had committed a crime that was dangerous to others, a logical 
solution is simply to isolate her (though arguably, this doesn't end 
up to be THE solution).  I am not in a position to do it myself. 
However, wether I thought the ruling of her case was fair, it makes 
no difference how we are related.  This is apparently not what you 
meant though...

>Remember, we are not talking about CRIMINAL misbehaviour here.

I was basing what I said on the words you chose.  Possibly, we have 
different definitions or possibly it was just inaccurate vocabulary, 
but I would contend that being a refugee is in no way "criminal" or 
"misbehaving", however it is certainly possible for a refugee to 
commit a crime and hence become a criminal.  Which appeared to be 
what you were referring to by bring up the word.  But maybe you just 
had something else in mind.

>Jesus Christ said that we should treat other people the way that we 
>ourselves would like to be treated.

And look where he is now.

This little rule makes no sense any way.  Just because I like 
peanuts, it's not helpful to give them to a friend who will die of 
convulsions if he has one.

But back to Woomera, these refugees aren't faced with the same 
situation we are.  And have very different needs.  I assume there are 
very limited resources (money, can Australia support a large influx 
of population who will need jobs, housing, etc) Ideally it would be 
nice to treat them all hospitably but we can't simply ignore the very 
real obstacles.  By facing them and possibly finding solutions, we 
can help our adversaries to attain our goals, rather than fighting 
against them.  Honestly, they are the big status quo and we are puny 
fleas.  We can annoy them, but they can easily go on just the same 
wether we do or don't.  Or we can give them concrete reasons to 
question themselves, decide to change their own behavior (where they 
become their OWN enemies, a much more formidable opponent than we 



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