Thursday, January 31, 2013

“Sorry son, don’t like the haircut”

DAMN I was going to sleep.

This from Malcolm Turnbull:

“NYTimes: Prison Population Can Shrink When Police Crowd Streets”

Oh thank you Malcolm. Another pass-on from America, where someone can get shot for entering the wrong driveway, can get mass-beaten by police, but where the relentless propaganda is that the best way to protect freedom is to curtail the individual and empower the instutution. Let someone carry a gun, but put RFIDs on students; let the gun makers thrive, and use drones to spy on citizens.

Back here in Australia, I am old enough to remember a darker era of policing, exemplified by what was a catch-phrase in the 1970s and 1980s:

“Sorry, son, don’t like your haircut.”

So here’s a story I’ve related before: that I knew someone who was arrested – not gently – on a charge of “resist arrest”. That’s sufficiently recursive to boggle the mind, but the most salient detail – the one that got a 1980s magistrate laughing out loud at an uncomfortable police prosecutor, is this.

At the time of the arrest, and at the court appearance, the individual in question was immobilised by a leg cast (plaster, not one of those plastic scaffolds we use now) that started at the pelvis and ended at the ankle.

The entire thing was a joke: merely a probationary constable getting a dose of the red mist at a cricket match, grabbing someone from behind at random, and taking exception when they tried to brush off the hand. The individual in question is and always was one of the most harmless people imaginable. Not harmless as in “wouldn’t harm a fly”, more “harmless as in Bernie Fraser would need four pounds of dope, a fifth of scotch and a hammer-blow to the head to be so laid back.”

To be more personal. I’ve been spread-eagled by a country cop for the crime of being the first to arrive at a car accident. I wasn’t in the accident, I was just the next car down the road, and someone else called the ambulance, and the ambos called the cops, and my teenage nemesis saw red when he saw me. The ambos talked him down.

Or there’s the friend of mine who didn’t even have to break the speed limit to get hassled: merely driving a 1970s V8 Ford Falcon Cobra (in imitation of the Moffat car that won Bathurst) was enough.

And personally? I’ve never even managed an arrest – which is probably an admission of failure as a journalist – let alone a conviction. I’m boring and somewhat conventional.

No, I won’t feel safer with an infestation of street police to take offence at my haircut or face.

And if I had one wish, it would be for the Liberals to stop telling Australia is should copy America in all things. I vowed long ago never to return to the USA, and I don’t wish it to be imported to Australia.

1 comment:

Sandbags said...

never forget the "Summary Offenses Act". Put in place to help with demonstrations it allowed police to declare a group of three or more people an illegal parade and thus arrest them.

Three mates, standing on a city street corner, bang! straight in the paddy wagon.