Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Charles Wooley

Mincing my words …

*Pic: Dave Ingram Flickr. Peter Dutton at protest

The alleged plot to bring down an aircraft in Australian airspace failed because the hand luggage carrying a meat grinder packed with explosives was deemed too heavy for cabin baggage.

It had all the clumsy and incompetent elements of one of those Hollywood high-flying farces but inept terror is still frightening and it has ongoing consequences for travellers.

Flying is about to get a whole lot more unpleasant. I bet I am not alone in thinking about giving it up completely. The truth is I cannot travel without my mincer. But I fear thanks to the alleged plot of the Khayat brothers, the mincer is now prohibited. Not only will I now have to get to the airport days before I fly but I will risk irradiation and probably cancer from multiple scans and x-rays and other indignities including no mincer.

“Sir, there appears to be a meat-mincer here.”

“Oh bugger. I couldn’t find it this morning. I wondered where it was.”

“Sir, can you tell me the purpose of this meat mincer?”

“I’m a journalist. I’m lost without it.”

“But what is its purpose?”

“In these times of extreme political correctness I need it to mince my words.”

Without my trusty word mincer I couldn’t write how it is perfectly reasonable that an old blue-eyed white Anglo-Celtic Australian journalist (‘male, pale and stale’ the mincer tells me) should be a possible terrorist suspect in the eyes of the bloke who just frisked me and who looks a lot like Osama Bin Laden’s cousin.

Or what about the nice old granny from Huonville who repeatedly sends off the scan alarm and requires a good frisking. It seems absurd until you apply the grinder and mince the words. Then it becomes perfectly reasonable travellers with names like Charles and Edith might be every bit as likely to blow up a plane as a man called Hahmoud or Khaled.

“It would be outrageously racist,” the mincer spits out, “to single out those men as any more suspicious than anyone else.” Listening to the ABC you might also notice the indispensible word-mincer seems to have quite correctly removed the words ‘of middle-eastern appearance’ from the journalistic language. Rightly so, because it is presumptive and racist and we should always remember, Martin Bryant was blue-eyed, blonde and not Islamic. Those lapsed Anglicans need to be much more thoroughly screened.

See how easy it is to write this stuff using the word-mincer. The awkward gristle and the bits otherwise too tough to swallow just disappear. No wonder I never leave home without it.

The word-mincer doesn’t like the words ‘racial profiling’, which makes the appalling and totally irrational supposition that a man from Syria might be just a tiny bit more likely to blow up a plane than a granny from Huonville. Only people without word-mincers would suggest racial profiling be applied at airports. But the mincer so far does allow the terms “biometric ID check” and “facial recognition” with which Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton is now threatening to protect us.

At LA airport my biometric facial and eye scan reveals that I am the same guy who came and went last month causing no trouble. But if the US border security guys miss it, biometrics would still reveal within its computer system my likely racial origins. Americans love their freedom even more than we do. They fought a revolution for it and two hundred and fifty years later still refuse to give up their guns.

Yet, when travelling, Americans meekly submit to being herded, poked, prodded and x-rayed. And now so it seems must we. But if the word-mincer can grind this thought: the government says thirteen terror attacks have been so far thwarted but I’m not sure Australians have an infinite well of patience. If the attacks keep coming then what happens when the well runs dry? And what happens if or when an attack succeeds?

What happens when people start to say what they really think?

The terrorists now in question, the brothers Khayat hail from another country, with a different culture and a different religious faith.

Through the word-mincer these differences present as immaterial and completely unrelated to the alleged offence. Which is why at Australian airports we must all now be equally treated as prospective terrorists.

The men in question are of course still only the subjects of allegations but at the same time they have provided justification for the government making our travelling lives even more miserable. It might all be for our own good but I don’t much like the Orwellian and scary sounding nature of ‘biometric and facial recognition scans’. Perhaps Mr Dutton could make it all sound so much nicer if he got himself one of those mincers.

“Do you have anything sharp in your hand luggage, Sir?”

“Only my sense of irony.”

“Sir, please step back from the line!”

*Charles Wooley is a legend of Australian journalism, partly through his history with Sixty Minutes. His columns on Tasmanian Times are HERE

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  1. Leonard Colquhoun

    August 24, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Re Comment 7’s “As for racial profiling”: aren’t most of the examples of this sorting, together with almost all the objections to it (especially those with most highly confected level of ‘outrage’), actually ‘cultural’ profiling? The sort summed up in that old saying about lying down with dogs?

  2. Barney Rubble

    August 22, 2017 at 10:25 am

    The time has come to ban onboard bags of any kind. If you have something to take with you from point A to point B then check it. It costs $10-$20 to check baggage. Handbags, full of crap items all which could look innocent but are potential hazards. You want to use it from point B, check it.

    Imagine how much quicker it would be for everyone if people boarded the plane, took their seat then upon arrival got out of seat and got off. People are arrogant and don’t mind struggling to secure and/or access baggages during flight and upon entry and exit. There is no baggage lockers on a train or bus, why is a plane any different.

    If it can’t fit into your pocket or hand then it should be checked.

    As for racial profiling, it exists and there is justification for this, accept it and move on. I visited Vietnam some years back and was pulled aside because I was white. I accepted that and still do today. If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear.

  3. Chris

    August 19, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    Was Billson at the Liberal Party lie fest in Launceston and has he paid any of his corrupt earnings back?

  4. Simon Warriner

    August 19, 2017 at 3:26 am

    re #4, Perhaps if the liberal party actually got on with representing the concerns of the electorate instead of brushing them under the carpet (and one member for Braddon knows exactly what I mean, don’t they, Roger), they might find they had a bloody sight more volunteers prepared to help them.

    The awful reality of party politics is demonstrated in the parlous membership rolls of the various parties. People have been deserting them in droves for years, to the point where they are now mere echo chambers run by narcissists and sociopaths for their own benefit, and that of their ideological playmates.

  5. Chris

    August 18, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    Lieberal update.-minced.
    Sam McQuestin (Choc Top Kid) admitting the party had been “massively outgunned” by union campaigns and left-wing lobby group GetUp, which targeted the northern seat of Bass.
    He warned they would need a heavy volunteer effort at the state poll, due in March.
    “The Liberal party does not have the ability to match such spends,” he said.
    “We do not have union thugs to support us … we do not have 80 professional staff to put in one key seat.
    “Instead we rely on the volunteers who are sitting in this room today.”

    Get Up and help them destroy our forests, steal our water, parrots and Freshwater Crayfish and voluntarily contribute to the campaign to rid us of Potato Blight in a Qld. seat existing on only 1.6% margin.

  6. Geoffrey Swan

    August 18, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    Another wonderfully classic Charles Wooley piece. Thank you Charles… and I reckon I know the woman in Huonville who always gets a frisk…

  7. Chris

    August 18, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Then I saw the Fizza stating a non truth (mincing) yesterday in Launceston where he was praising the destruction of forests, what was worse was the Grinner standing behind him -nodding in unison with the Handflapping PM, but failing to mention Axiom a Clear Fell operator in the Solomons who raped the forests there in a clear-fell manner and profited to the tune of many millions at the expense of the communities there.

    Will they gain FSC. I doubt it and will the markets buy the environmentally destructive products, or do their Free Trade Agreements TPP like allow the Governments to sue us unless we behave?

    “Investment banking provided Turnbull with fantastic riches, as did his role as chairman in what was then Australia’s biggest internet service provider, OzEmail. His original $1 million stake was worth $60 million when he quit in 1999. In the early 1990s, Turnbull also served as chairman of Axiom Forest Resources, which clear-felled forests in the Solomon Islands, turning a profit of $25 million in less than two years from environmental devastation.”

    This environmental vandal was minister for the Environment ??? and supported a pulp mill ???
    What more can be said – We will so find.


  8. philll Parsons

    August 18, 2017 at 11:34 am

    In the queue ahead was the blond looker and the woman in the hijab.

    A woman of Asian ethnic origin was on the bomb detector. They pass and a man with a goatee is pulled for the test.

    In China I was the subject of photographs with young women by young women. Is it the goatee effect, the look of the scholar?.

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