Is it just me, or are the government going out of their way to be such extreme bastards on such a wide array of issues, that it seems a plot to just wear us all out?
Because once you've screamed “AAAAAAAAARRGGHH” for the 17th time in the first half hour after waking up, you've got no voice left with which to register a protest about the 18th insane injustice — inevitably some proposal to force disabled pensioners to sell at least two still-functioning organs or face being put to work as indentured servants for Gina Rinehart.
For instance, you might have thought it impossible to make our asylum seeker system any more insanely, mind-blowingly cruel, when we let them be bashed to death in our camps with no consequences, or die when we, in violation of international law, chuck them in un-seaworthy boats and force them back to Indonesia.
You'd think the point at which we insist we are just going to dump them all in Cambodia is the point at which we just cannot do anything worse ... but then immigration minister Scott Morrison announces new legislation to allow the government to return asylum seekers to their country of origin if there is a better than 50% chance they won't be harmed.
Under the proposed law, if the immigration department finds the odds of someone not coming to harm are just 50.1%, they can be returned to the country they fled.
Well, congratulations Scott Morrison, you've created a policy to make seeking asylum in Australia that is actually more dangerous, odds-wise, than playing Russian roulette.
The existing policy is bad enough. It allows the government to send back asylum seekers if a risk assessment gives them no more than a 10% chance of being hurt. You would not get in a plane with a 10% chance of crashing.
And really, if we are going to send people back to such danger, the immigration department should at least offer a few tips to help returned asylum seekers improve their odds. Maybe something like: “If you are usually clean shaven, try growing a beard. And be sure to wear a beanie at all times, it might get hot in the Iraqi sun when you are running from ISIS militias who'd shoot you dead on the spot, but pulled over your eyes it can help obscure your true identity.”
At the very least, we shouldn't be such cheapskates as to fail to send them home with a fake moustache or a wig or two. It is really the very least we could do.
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In the process of denying that East Jerusalem is occupied by Israel, a fact so blatant not even the US government denies it, federal Attorney-General George Brandis offered a master class in the use of the surrealist non-sequitur to dodge the obvious.
In parliament, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon asked Brandis to explain why his government does not “use the term 'occupied'” for East Jerusalem, “even though it is a United Nations term used widely by a number of international agencies like the European Union?”
Brandis replied: “It is used by a lot of people. It is used by a lot of communists too. Weren’t you a member of the Communist Party once?”
That is not a very illuminating answer. He might as well have said, “We don't use the term because fish” or “a lot of dwarfs also say East Jerusalem is occupied and didn't you once shake hands with a little person?”
But maybe we could all find ways to apply the George Brandis method for not answering a question we don't want to answer.
So if the police say to you: “We just caught you stealing that car. Everyone saw you steal that car. Do you really deny you stole that car?” You can answer: “Well, a lot of people use the phrase 'stealing'. It is used by a lot of communists too, who claim property is theft. Were you ever a member of the Communist Party, officer?”
Or if your partner catches you cheating, just say: “Well, a lot of people talk about 'cheating' and a lot of communists also use the phrase 'cheating' to describe the exploitation of workers by capitalists and really, look where that got Russia, so let's not have a repeat of Stalin's show trials, darling, not here, in public.”
[Carlo Sands is performing with others at the "Abbottalypse Now" Green Left Weekly comedy fundraiser in Sydney on August 21. See the Facebook event for full details.]