Prisons and Power

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‘The prison has become a black hole into which the detritus of contemporary capitalism is deposited’ – Angela Davis

In the long-awaited return of Bensplaining podcast, I interview activist and academic Marlee Raible about the prison-industrial complex. We chat about:

  • the racist history and present of the Australian and US prison systems
  • why being ‘tough’ on crime perpetuates it
  • the links between profit, poverty and prisons
  • alternatives to incarceration, like restorative justice
  • Marlee’s experience with the Zapatista movement in southern Mexico.

Reading List

  • Marlee’s phenomenal podcast Carceral Complex dives deep into these issues.
  • Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis. A powerful case for prison abolition that changed my mind on the issue.
  • The 13th, available on Netflix. An exceptional documentary on the history, horror, and corruption of the American prison-industrial complex.
  • The Tall Man, by Chloe Hooper. A devastating exploration of the cover up of a white police officer’s killing of an Aboriginal man on Palm Island in 2004.
  • Discipline and Punish, by Michel Foucault. A seminal analysis of crime, justice and state power.
  • The moving story of Hector Black, told through Radiolab.

If you enjoy the podcast, let someone know or chuck us a share on social media. And remember to subscribe on iTunes!

 

The best a brand can get

The Gillette ad moved me. When the father runs from his barbecue to stop the boy getting bullied, I thought of my dad, who always greets me with a hug and says he loves me at the end of every call. The ad effectively illustrates the link between everyday sexism and systemic abuse. It shows ways cisgender men like me can make the world a little better for people who don’t have the unjust advantages I do. Above all, it’s a welcome sign that particular modes of toxic masculinity are becoming less socially acceptable.

But as progressive as the ad may be, it also poses questions. For instance, will the company that made this commercial do anything to address the pay gap between its boy child wage slaves and girl child wage slaves?

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The Disrupted

This essay about automation was written and published for Melbourne Knowledge Week 2017.

THE DISRPUTED

“Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.”

– Genesis 17:26, KJV

The weavers are coming to break the machines. They charge through streets that smell of kerosene and dung as the planets – still undimmed by smog – circle above the English midlands. The weavers carry lit torches and sledgehammers and cry the name of their leader, King Ludd. Ludd is a legend and an in-joke, a hero who doesn’t exist. A couple of the bearded weavers wears dresses and call themselves “Ludd’s Wives”. When the Luddites reach the mill they storm the door and swarm the floor to break the things that took their jobs. The guards have fled and the looms do not fight back.

The mechanised loom is an exciting advance for England’s economy and for humanity as a whole, but for the artisans it usurps it is a violent innovation. The Luddites fight for oldest reason: so their kids can eat. Tendons pull, elbows pivot, human cogs and levers break their iron competition. Cheers and splinters fill the mill. A dog howls in the distance.

Thick thread tumbles from a broken frame. It unspools through history, weaves through the red coats of the soldiers marching up from London and coalesces into ropes that loop around the throats of the weavers, then tighten as they fall. Ludd’s wives dangle in the breeze.

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I, Latham

‘What does the martyrdom of Christians in the Roman Empire between the reign of the Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus and Emperor Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus have to do with a defamation action commenced in Australia in 2017?’

Justice Michael Wigney on Mark Latham’s ‘extraordinary’ 76-page defence of his claim that journalist Osman Faruqi’s joke tweets were ‘anti-white racism’ that would incite terrorism.

latham

I, Marcus Williamus Externus Lathamus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles), who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my infinite enemies as ‘A Racist’, or ‘Bonecrusher’ or ‘What the Hell Mark, Are You Okay?’ or at best as ‘The Increasingly Erratic Former Leader of the Labor Party’ am now about to write this strange history of my post-political life; starting from when I was treacherously deposed by colleagues to this fateful point some thirteen years later, when, at the age of fifty-seven, I find myself persecuted by the Islamo-Femo-Eco-Homo-ABC-Communist New World Order.

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Their Melbourne

From Southbank to Carlton, the city of Melbourne is littered with sky-blue posters. They carry the slogan Our Melbourne and the beaming face of Lord Mayoral candidate Sally Capp. Capp is the frontrunner for the by-election that follows by the resignation of Lord Mayor Robert Doyle after an independent investigation found that he sexually harassed two women.

For interstate readers not familiar with outgoing mayor, imagine if Mr Toad of Toad Hall was a sexual predator. Some of the highlights of Doyle’s decade in the robes include using riot police to brutalise peaceful protesters and plotting to purge the city of homeless people, which advocates say would have probably killed some of them.

So Capp, if she wins, will surely be a breath of fresh air. The major parties certainly seem to think so. Both the Liberal Party – which Capp forgot she used to be a member of until a journalist helpfully reminded her – and “key local Labor figures” support the Lord Mayor for our Melbourne. But who does the “our” refer to?

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The Cake Baker’s Tale

The same-sex marriage postal survey is almost upon us. For some, the consequences of this vote will be life-changing. It’s obviously despicable that our government has outsourced responsibility for its people’s of civil liberties to an opinion poll. But since they have, decent Australians must do everything we can to fight for the human rights of some of our most vulnerable citizens: evangelical Christians who work in the wedding industry.

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The Minister for Home Affairs

Content note: This piece includes graphic discussion of suicide and reference to abuse

Just as I said I wouldn’t, I forgot them, and their stories got tangled up with all the other distant horrors. In May, last year, two young refugees under Australian care set themselves on fire. Omid Masoumali, an 23 year old held in indefinite detention on Nauru, doused his body in petrol and burnt himself alive. Three days later Hodan Yasin, a 21 year old Somali woman, also set herself alight. Unlike Masoumali, she survived; with burns covering seventy per cent of her body. She lost several fingers in the blaze.

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