Monday, 3 October 2011

My grammar was wrong but I still meant what I said.

Yesterday I had my grammar corrected. In case you're wondering, it wasn't because I was the author of the GASP email response to a customer complaint. (I know the correct use of the word "whom".)  It was in one of my tweets.

My Sunday morning started with political fix watching The Insiders on ABC television.  I often tweet during the show as I enjoy engaging with other viewers.  Brendan O'Connor was the political guest.  He's Minister for Home Affairs and Justice and Minister for Privacy and Freedom of Information so the vexed subject of asylum seekers inevitably came up.

I'm very puzzled by the current Government position to change legislation to enable off shore processing of asylum seekers.  As long as it isn't on Nauru, because that's where Opposition Leader Tony Abbott wants it done.  Of course Abbott is unable to say anything other than "no" in response to anything the Government says.  Bizarrely this means that the Liberal Party and The Greens are holding the same position and will force a situation where asylum seekers are processed on shore.  This is one occasion where you will hear me saying hurrah for Tony.

I tweeted: 

"What's wrong with processing #asylumseekers on shore? How strange that Tony Abbott is likely to deliver on shore processing. #insiders"

Given that Australia shoulders a tiny burden of the world's refugee population and that we have been at war in some of the places from where these people originate, I don't understand the paranoia and insistence that anyone arriving in a boat must be held at bay.  At all costs.  Especially given that most of the asylum claims are actually accepted!

Anyway, this is the response I received from a fellow tweeter whose name I won't publish here:

"Symbolic -a psuedonym to repell Muslim invasion. Greece is building a 15km flooded trench to stop Turk muslims #asylumseekers".

Now most of this didn't even make sense to me, especially the use of the word "psuedonym" (sic).  To me, this tweet represented the worst kind of bigotry and I decided to respond with a bit of humour:

"So they're creating the conditions to have boat people?! #asylumseekers".

I thought this would probably end the discussion, but should have known better.

This response arrived:

"R U aware of Eur/UK problems? Islamic refugees dont leave their facism at the border + future gens freedom is at stake. #auspol".

Wow.  This was the first time I've heard the accusation that all Islamic refugees are fascists.  If the people fleeing are fascists what are the people they are leaving behind?

I responded:

"Of course I'm aware. Refugees are a problem everywhere in the world. I hope someone would grant me #asylum if I needed it."

But I was wrong.  Apparently.  As my correspondent was quick to point out:

"Wrong. Refugees arent a problem, Islamic refugees are a problem. Others integrate-not dominate. NO to facist women hating Islam."

Why is it only fascist women who aren't allowed to hate Islam, I wonder?  I'm fairly certain that this guy wouldn't grant me asylum if I needed it.  I think the grammar in his final tweet rubbed off because my response came out like this:

"I say no to people hating bigots."

And here is where my friends stepped in to save me.  Of course I should have added a hyphen so that I was saying no to people-hating bigots, in other words, bigots who hate people.  

But even with my omission I still like my statement.  I wish there was less hate in the world.  And that arguments made sense.  How does processing asylum seekers off shore deal with this guy's issue?  The only thing that does make sense is to put hate aside and reach out to help.


  1. good for you! This debate is so skewed and misrepresented of the facts i'ts incredible how much political and media airtime that is devoted to it - and as a result fuels hateful and ignorant public debate. A work colleague informed me that there is actually a much higher number of people who skip vias etc and became "illegal immigrants" who arrive by planes than boats...

  2. I agree completely with you Danielle. I have heard the numbers comparing the tiny number of people arriving by boat, compared to the larger numbers of people overstaying their visas. As with most things, prejudice is driven by fear and lack of understanding. Makes me sad.