During a visit to Wellington by John Howard in 2003, two antiwar protesters – teacher Paul Hopkinson and Overland’s own Dougal McNeill – burned a New Zealand and an Australian flag in protest. The case ended up in court as it was a crime at the time to destroy or damage the New Zealand flag ‘with the intention of dishonouring it’, and Hopkinson was sentenced to pay a fine of more than $700. The conviction was overturned a year later in the High Court, leading subsequent flag-burners to being charged with disorderly conduct instead of the more contentious crime of desecration.
It’s easy to become despondent about the ‘worst humanitarian crisis of our time’. You become numb to the brutality, to the various daily atrocities, to the enormous figures dead, internally displaced or made into refugees. And that’s just in Syria. In Yemen, Iraq, Sudan and Afghanistan, the trauma of millions continues, unrelenting, day in and day out. It often feels like some kind of Kafkaesque dream: our own government seemingly gleeful in constructing and reinforcing a twisted narrative of ‘death cults’ and ‘unlawful entry, championing the use of hard power as a way to bring peace and stability to countries in turmoil.
Cartoon winner, Fair Australia Prize.
In the grey light, the only noise was the hum of the console as it worked through the day’s roster. Elizabeth waited, stretched out on the mattress, not wanting to get up if there wasn’t a reason to. The console whirred, the low-level purr of a sleeping cat, for a few more beats, and then announced the outcome with a sharp bleat.
A notice flashed on the screen.
It appears we’ve had a coup. Lulz. But not a joke, apparently.
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
Around 1000 people dressed in blue and yellow skivvies have occupied federal parliament. No-one has been allowed in or out. The *revolutionaries* (terrorists?) have said we’ll be held hostage until ‘real democracy’ has been established. Great.