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Fuck Politeness

This is a revolution, not a public relations movement

So Hugh Mackay is in the SMH today banging on about forgiveness and how forgiveness is the only authentic signal of acceptance of an apology.

Yes, he *is* talking about the apology to Indigenous Australians regarding the Stolen Generations.

He counsels that the remarkable Amish have unconditionally forgiven a guy who killed five little Amish girls – so what’s doing Indigenous Australia? Hugh tells us we’ve all been wronged, so buck up emo kids! I mean it’s not like it was systematic, institutionalised, routine and racist, it’s not like you were left powerless when the government decided to swoop in ‘for your own good’, it’s not like we all know that it was far more than five little girls, and it’s not like the apology changed nothing, left racism oppression and violence in place and the government refuses to consider the compensation we KNOW would be demanded if it had happened to white kids…oh…wait. It is.

Essentially Hugh Mackay’s article boils down to ‘I once had a pen stolen from this guy at work, and I was SO angry with him, but he apologised to me, and I forgave him…yes, after my pen was returned undamaged. How’s that relevant?’

I have no beef with forgiveness – you know, there are times when it can be liberating. But an apology is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card, it’s not something that means you don’t have to make amends properly, it’s not something that means what you did wrong never gets discussed again, or gets forgotten. I’m a little tired of this happy clappy christian take on forgiveness – you just *do* it, because it’s right, because it’s freeing, because it’s What Jesus Would Do. I think we all remember that before God decided that his son could mystically take on the sin of the world, get the shit beaten out of him and get nailed to a tree as the cost of His Unconditional Forgiveness, that God’s ‘justice’ demanded plagues and the slaughter of innocent babies in reparation/retribution for the enslavement of His People right? No one is advocating the slaughter of babies in retribution here, but let’s all stop and remember what God’s justice looked like, and how the newer form came about before we get all giddy on the joy horse of pushing unconditional God-like forgiveness shall we?

So I have no problem with forgiveness of itself, except that it leaves no place, if you dig your heels in and insist on this forgiveness as a right concomitant with a delivered apology, for real respect for other beings and their hurt, for justice, for reparation, for ensuring history doesn’t repeat itself. It’s not something you can petulantly demand. You’re only really in a position to ask for it when you’ve done everything in your power to make things right.

Hugh Mackay’s little missive might have come off a little better if the current government had halted the intervention and made real inroads into support for Indigenous communities, if Aboriginal deaths in custody were taken seriously, if magistrates weren’t referring to Indigenous women as having ‘faces like squashed tomatoes’.

It might have come off a lot better if it weren’t in the same edition of the SMH as a story about how an Indigenous kid is in court facing charges for having recieved a stolen fucking Freddo frog.

You think we’re past it Hugh Mackay? When the days where a whitey could go to jail for stealing a loaf of bread are over, but an Aboriginal kid steals a packet of Tim Tams and the mandatory sentencing laws kick in? And someone who EATS a fucking Freddo that someone else flogged (hands up who HASN’T eaten a stolen chocolate bar before? I have, I also flogged a small bottle of perfume and $20 from a collection plate as a teenager…summon the police!) gets hauled away to languish at a cop shop for hours on a school morning?

Hugh Mackay? You’re definitely a strong contendor for the Friday Fuckwit.

[More on the ‘It’s all about me and my experience of forgiveness’: Steve Fielding says he was sexually abused as a child and:

“I was sexually abused as a child by a scoutmaster for years,” he told reporters in Canberra today, adding his heart went out to anyone with a similar experience.

“I have very strong emotions and feelings on this issue.”

But providing victims with compensation was a separate issue to the apology, he said.

Firstly, I’m sorry that happened Mr Fielding, really I am. However, it’s not the same – it’s not the government systematically tearing children away from their families after condoning massacres etc. Second, compensation to sexual assault victims *is* in fact possible through the courts. Third, you seem to be implying it would be morally ‘wrong’ of you to pursue compensation via the Scouts. Fuck that shit. They’re responsible for the actions of their organisation and its agents, and if they didn’t take enough care to ensure this didn’t happen, I’m a-ok with them being required to provide compensation. Them and the church. Fourth, if compensation and apologies are so different, why did you decide to raise them together (though admittedly it’s probably a bit of a hot topic today)? Fifth, newsflash hairdo, not all about you. I was beaten by a man – does that mean that I can stand in the shoes of Indigenous Australians who were stolen from their families by government actions aimed at eradicating aboriginality? That I can ‘know their pain’? That I can say ‘Well I don’t want compensation therefore you shouldn’t get it/that I ‘forgive’ so you should too? No. The fact that you were sexually abused has got NOTHING to do with systemic and institutionalised governmental wrongdoings – when the government fucks it up they should fix it up. Also, fuck it, I don’t forgive the guy. He didn’t make amends, he can get fucked. I’ve released it, it has nothing to do with my life now, but fucked if I should extend forgiveness to a self involved partner-beater even if he says the ‘magic word’]

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