Australia... What the f**k is going on over there mate?

Cover Img Source: AlbinoBlackSheep

I am Australian and I love Australia. I eat vegemite and tim tams (not together) and all that other stuff. I am privileged to have grown up with free speech and an education and all the amazing things the developed world has to offer. But there is a huge, huge problem in Australia (and the world, but let's focus on Australia for a second). And it's not until you step outside of that world and come back in to read the papers and watch the news, that you realise the general ignorance is bad. Ignorance is one of those words that as soon as you read it you think "Oh man this guy is a snooty wanker hipster" but the definition helps iron that out. There are real definitions available but as we learnt in high school, you CAN use wikipedia to help form your ideas about a concept.

So how is this relevant? Well it's easy to throw stones and harder to catch them, but we all do it. I am not an expert on a whole lot, on anything actually, and so I have learnt (through trial and error ;) that if you don't know a lot about something or the whole story, you can make poor assumptions and act considerably 'unwise', as Wikipedia calls it. This particular rant is focused on Media and viewing anything that you read on the internet with a critical eye, including this very article! You don't need to be correct to be a critic, you just need to play the devil's advocate. Think of other sides or perspectives and then make a choice. At least then you can say you are an informed racist, or a knowledgable bigot, rather than just blurting out beliefs like unintelligent swearing.

Article

I am not linking to this article, as it will be supporting the Racist Clickbait world that we inevitably live in now, but I will show you below and have made it into a PDF. Cheeky cheap shots at Islam are littered throughout the article. Subtle leaps slowly changing the identity from extremist crazy man, to the same as any muslim. See if you can spot them all?

This event is no doubt a positive outcome for whoever these crazy dudes were targeting. Two people who were mindscrewed by an evil inside were prevented from doing something horrible. That's amazing. Police should be commended on their quick work where two knives were purchased around 3pm, a Video was filmed in their apartment at 4:00pm explaining what they were about to do, and police went in at 4:30pm.

There are a bunch of problems with this article and the way its written though. Pretty big problems. 

Problem # 1

This article is a literary bag of sh*t. The journalist's job is to collect facts and tell the story, with which it looks like he has done an OK job at collecting useful facts from Police and neighbours and helped share them with the public. But he has put a spin on the villains. He has changed it from a factual account to a hate-filled slurry where every opportunity they have, they slander Islam in general rather than ISIS or extremism. 

"Just hours away from terror" 
"The new faces of Islamic terror in Australia"
"Inside the lair, amid the post-raid mess was a red-checked Arab scraf, and a prayer mat devoted to the name of Allah."
"Neighbours said he often spoke of bringing his mother and his brother over to Australia from Iraq."
"One neighbour had a Christian cross and a picture of Jesus on her front door. One day recently, the cross vanished, while Jesus was dumped in the bin. For her it is a mystery solved."
"Their fellow tenant says the pair were devoted Muslims, prayed five times a day"
The token image of the only picture they could find showing the guy in full religious dress holding a religious book. Seriously?

You may pick sides in the religious rat race, I don't but you are welcome to follow whatever one you like. However, using Islam and extremist Islamists (ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc) interchangeably is incorrect. It's unintelligent. Here is a simplified list of all the stupid leaps of logic that it can be equated to:

Dogs are so dangerous, have you seen that video of the dog biting a kid? they are all the same!
- I don't eat raspberries because my friend once had one that was mouldy and it made her sick.
- Have you heard of sinkholes? Why the hell would you build your house on land, you just never know man!
- A blonde girl broke up with me, all women are evil, especially blonde ones!
- Don't ever buy a TV, they suck! I bought a PanaSomyShiba from craigslist and it broke in 2 days.

If you have an opinion, form it and criticise it before you communicate it. Look at what you are saying and try figure out if that is really a fair call to think or maybe it is taking a bit of a leap. Are all raspberries going to make me sick? No. Are all blonde girls evil? No....well maybe there are....No they just aren't. You just can't make a statement like Islam is Evil. I don't mean on academic or philosphical grounds because maybe you are a Scholar and have done in depth studies of Islam and have concluded something through knowledge and analysis. I just mean looking at these facts presented in this article. You cannot possibly reliably and intelligently look at this and other articles the same as this and say that you know Islam is evil. There is a common element, extremism, not the fact that someone believes in Allah rather than Buddha or Jesus or Ray White or Steve the Courtesy Bus Driver's moustache.

Problem # 2

This story is from Seven news, one of five major national news corporations. So if theres only 5 major places to get your info that you have been brought up to trust. And one of them twists info down this strange, subliminal, cheap shot rabbit hole:

"How hAve ThE artIcleS been LAtely Mate?!"

Then the outcome is going to be that people don't look at it critically, they slowly form biases, they become accustomed to the language and the interchangeability of Islam and extremism, and they honestly believe that Terror is here, and that that Islam is to blame.

Problem # 3

We all did high school English. Remember Discourses? Remember analysing sources and emotive writing. Surely you must, it was rammed so hard into our brains it seems a shame that 9 out of 10 comments on the article are just full of hatred and ignorance and agreeing with the article having been sucked in by the way it was written. Be critical of the way writing makes you think. This is why Australia continues to be for the most part, an ignorant country. And in case you didn't know, "get outta me country" and deportation remarks are again ignorant responses to join the conversation with.

Problem # 4

News used to make money by selling papers. Newsboys used to shout on the street. Remember the old "extra extra read all about it, war on the doorstep, good times are over". That got people to buy the paper didn't it?

The internet news age is the same. But they earn money by getting your attention and you looking at their page. When you share it on social media, Facebook and Twitter algorithms go to work and the more that people interact with a story, the higher Facebook/Twitter will put the post in its ranking, which means it will show up in more people's news feed, more often. Which means more people will read it, and more people will start to think like this.

Internet News has an incentive to write something crazy as the headline. Because you will click it. I click it, I give in to it nearly every time. And the reason why they have to do that is because writing the facts doesn't get you hits. If the Seven News story above was just "Two mentally disturbed men stopped before harm done", an emotionless page of facts, you would be educated, but you would not be engaged. You would know a lot more about the situation, but you wouldn't really care about it, and you likely wouldn't share it unless you thought somebody else would care about it. So Yahoo doesn't make money, so Yahoo doesn't publish Seven News stories anymore, so Seven News doesn't get heard anymore, so less advertisers pay for slots on their TV and on their website, so they lose money, so they then close down. It's a business model that does not survive unless you make sh*t exciting and controversial and you throw it in someone's face.

The byproduct of this is controversial thinking, and uneducated opinions. Super polarised schools of thought on everything controversial like religion and politics and the economy and everything else.

Conclusion

I'm glad these people didn't have a chance to hurt anybody, and I think that extremist religion of any kind (Boko Haram, Westboro Baptist Church, ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc) is a serious problem, and one that I don't have a solution for. But the article that needs to be written is not "holy f**k look at these f**ked up Muslims who are all trying to kill us and pretty much almost did kill all of us!"

And the Article that is written needs to present facts without distorting views on Islam.
And we need to start critically looking at what we read.
And we need to start critically looking at how we think and speak.
And we need to change the business model for news, which is in the end just a company that provides a service and is paid for through advertising.
And everybody just needs to get along and be friends ok?!

Cool? Alright cool. 

This article is written with emotive language, it is paid for through advertising. I made a clickbaity, snarky headline and posted it on facebook where people read it and agreed or got hella angry because they disagreed. I did the thing I criticise in this article. but the difference is a big one. I am a dude of which maybe 6 people will read this whole thing and maybe one of which will possibly come out of it with a different way of thinking and being more beneficial to conversations about polarizing issues.  I tell you I am doing it, and that you are welcome to disagree. 

If you want to hear the other side of the story about extremism and mental health issues and the fact that Islam isn't the only religion with issues. Check out Huffington Posts's Religious extremism section as a start.

Also while you are reading, have a look at the latest article on the 3 Muslims who were killed in the US by an extremist Atheist. Then ask yourself, what is the difference between the foibled Sydney "terrorists" and this guy. Why is this murder not called Terrorism too?

Dylan is my personal blog which just happens to live on a website I created called A Whistle & A Light. Dylan is a blog about my work, my interests, the world and my life. A Whistle & A Light is a collection of stories about people who have made a conscious decision to follow their dreams and do the things they want to do. They are both currently being developed with a tonne of very exciting content on the way and interviews/stories to come over the next few weeks. Thanks for reading. Have a nice day.