were bright skies and dry, nervous westerly winds last week. The light
glinted cruelly through my darkest sunglasses, bouncing off the leaves
thrashing in the trees and the stray papers blowing through the streets.
are winds that possums hate. There is too much movement, too much stimulus.
Our senses are finely-tuned and acute and we are notoriously prone to
edgy kind of fatalism blew in with the wind -- a feeling that everything
had been done that could be done and now all was in the lap of the gods.
it was just the last days before the Olympic madness but the feeling
seemed to sum up the mood of the times. It was a bad week for civilisation.
A militia gang killed twenty people in West Timor under the benevolent
gaze of the Indonesian army; Megawati Sukanoputri appointed the murderous
militia leader Eurico Guterres to head up her party's youth wing and
assault rifles flooded into the New Guinea highlands to fuel tribal
marijuana wars. The Arctic ice cap all but vanished and the stockmarkets
were sprinting in the air, like one of those cartoon figures that run
off the edge of a cliff and keep going until they look down and realise
where they are.
holed up in the office and closed the blinds, but I couldn't escape
-- the office bell rang a couple of hours later. It turned out to be
Dave, the legal aid solicitor. I opened a couple of ciders and he told
me he was pissed off about the John Laws sentence.
bad enough that the bastard was thrashed with a feather but what worries
me most is these jerks in the media attacking the law he broke ... which
forbids anyone from soliciting information from a juror", he remarked.
a whole bunch of pundits who keep asserting it's a bad law -- Paddy
McGuinness, Mike Carlton, Richard Ackland, even Adele Horin -- but none
of them have really tried to prove it's a bad law.
can you imagine what will happen if there isn't something to discourage
the media from making a circus of every decision they don't like? First
it'll be the ambulance chasers and law and order freaks from the Telegraph,
2UE, Channel 9, but after a while everybody else will be forced into
can see it now", I said. "Potentially, a cheap detective like
me could make a motza out of it. They'd keep us on a retainer to hunt
out the names and addresses of jurors. Then they'd rush around to see
them after the trial, stick their foot in the door and start asking
them why they found the scumbag innocent.
every juror will know this before the trial. At the back of their mind
will be the thought that they might have to answer to Alan Jones afterwards."
it isn't just the media -- it's nazis and convicted crims too",
I said. "A few journalists should ask themselves if they aren't
keeping pretty dubious company on this issue. Look at this: here's Jim
Saleam writing to the Herald saying he thinks John Laws should be thanked
for highlighting a bad law. Do you remember him?"
head of National Action, the ultra-right group. In 1987 he was convicted
and jailed for insurance fraud. He lost an appeal in '89. In '91 he
was jailed again for his part in a bungled shotgun attack on the home
of a bloke called Eddie Funde, who was the African National Congress
representative in Australia. Here he is writing that in 1996 he contacted
nine of the twelve jurors from his trial.
listen to this, he says: 'Juries are not sacrosanct, despite what judges
say. They are ordinary people with ordinary emotions. It is time they
were accountable, too' ... boy, that chills my blood. Goodbye to decisions
made without fear or favour.Who'd be a juror?"