…..was probably sometime around May 13th 1787.
But according to an ex-pat American journalist it was December 15th 2014.
That’s right, Australia, this was the defining moment for your history, the day after which nothing would ever be the same.
The day a lone nutter with a shotgun and a flag practically shut down a city in the middle of a business day.
No, hang on… I meant to say, the day a series of highly-planned and coordinated attacks devasted the freedom and lives of hundreds of innocent people.
Or at least sent them home 4 hours early from work with a smug hashtag.
The entire point of terrorism is to force a compromise to another group’s way of life. Continuing that way of life with very little change is the best response.
At various points during the day much of Sydney seemed to be on a war footing. Trains were stopped on the Bondy ™/Central line and buses as far away as Mosman (about 10km from Martin Square) were taken out of service. Planes were diverted and bank branches were shutdown. The staff in the North Sydney office I was in at the time were sent home at 3pm…..from North Sydney! There’s a kilometre and half of shark-infested water between North Sydney and Martin Square, in case nobody noticed.
Speaking of shark-jumping, Premiers of other states fed the interminable churn of the rolling news cycle with self-serving press conferences describing the precautions being taken in cities that are a nine hour drive from the nutter with the shotgun and the flag (“I call on the police to keep Queen’slanders safe“, Campbell Newman). Why? In case he escaped and effected a long distance car chase to BrisBogan with cops behind him, Blues Brothers style?
Some discussion might be worth having following this event about appropriate and proportional responses to emergencies. Sydney is a global city in a global economy. If the reaction to a lone nutter with a shotgun and a flag is to give everyone an unscheduled half day holiday, imagine what a competently planned series of attacks would do to the place?
If the IRA mainland bombing campaign had achieved a fraction of the disruption to London or Manchester that Sydney willingly embraced this week, the bogtrotters would still be blowing up rubbish bins outside Selfridges every other week and the peace process would be a distant hope.
So, appropriate and proportional response? The facts are still emerging but it looks likely that this was a lone attacker with severe mental issues.
How do we know he had severe mental issues?
He was religious; they are all fucking fruitloops, particularly the ones who believe their prophet was surgically cut open from the throat to the abdomen and then rode to heaven and back on a white flying donkey. As one does…
Unlike the modus operandi and demographic of practically every Islamic terrorist attack in the West, this didn’t start with fatal violence and was perpetrated by a late middle-aged idiot, rather than post-pubescent disaffected idiots.…..with the wrong flag.
Having pointed out that Sydneysiders, encouraged by an irresponsible media (unusually coherent piece on that by John Birmingham here), overreacted somewhat, let’s challenge the current received wisdom on the heroism theme we are being fed.
If you ever, heaven help you, find yourself in a hostage situation and are sharing the experience with one of my loved ones AND the wild-eyed nutter hasn’t actually fired his weapon or set off a bomb after 12 hours, please DO NOT try to intervene. I very much beg you to let the negotiator keep talking to him while an SAS marksman in a balaclava plans for the alternate option. As it happens, it turns out that the only death the hero might be responsible for triggering is his own as the other hostage fatality was due to a heart attack, which suggests a pre-existing condition (obviously not helped by the highly traumatic experience).
Ultimately, this shouldn’t ever have happened, of course. I somehow doubt that if you or I had a string of 40 convictions for a range of crimes including those involving violence and sexual assaults and were being prosecuted as an accessory to an ex-spouse’s murder and a sex attack less than 9 months ago we would still be walking the streets. But this nutter was.
Think also about this; Australia now has some of the widest-ranging anti-privacy legislation in the western world, the intelligence agencies can read your mail, tap your phone and bug your house with barely a “because we say so” as justification.
Yet they didn’t seem to have any regular surveillance on a nutter whose Twitter feed is there for the world to see;
“Flowers of advice” was his explanation of letters sent to grieving relatives of dead servicemen cheering their deaths.
A publicly-visible radical religious nutter with 40 criminal convictions and he’s out on bail awaiting prosecution for a murder? Really?
Ponder that during the subsequent minute’s silences that will occur at various sporting and other events this weekend.
People of Australia should keep voting, I reckon; it is really going to change everything for the better one day.
And I’m going to ride a flying white donkey to heaven and back in the meantime.
UPDATE. The shooter had a gun licence. Un-fucking-believable.