I couldn’t resist republishing this short editorial from today’s Crikey newsletter. If you have any interest at all in Australian politics, business and media you should subscribe. As a small way of atoning for my plucking this item, here’s the link to the Crikey website.
Dear Sole Subscriber,
Another sole subscriber, Crikey reader Ben Pearson, has been musing on APEC.
The ongoing campaign by police and pollies warning against ‘violent’ protests at APEC — dutifully reported by the fourth estate -– masks the fact that all three of these actors actually benefit from a bit of public argy bargy and thus exaggerate both the threat and occasional occurrence of it.
Premier Iemma rails against ‘vandals’ and ‘violence’ to show that he is tough on law n order. Prime Minister John Howard, on the other hand, is hoping that a couple of university proto-anarchists will distract attention from the fact that APEC is nothing more than the mother of all inconveniences for Sydneyites. As for the media, they are hoping for the kind of dramatic stories and photos that sell papers. As the industry says – “if it bleeds, it leads”.
For the cops, APEC is a vision of the world as it should be. Expanded powers, new equipment, media support, and maybe a chance to try out new toys like the water cannon.
The warnings and hype about ‘violent’ protests mask another agenda in which politicians and certain elements in the media stigmatise the very notion of protest, and by creating and reinforcing an association between mass protests and violence, they seek to de-legitimise the former. Public protest is the right of all Australians. Pollies may not like it, and it may not sell many papers, but it’s part of what democracy is all about.
And we think Ben has a point.