My deepest sympathies go to the family and loved ones of those who lost their lives in the shooting last Friday 15th of March 2019 Christchurch, New Zealand. Fifty men, women, fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters and children lost their lives at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre from 1:40–1:55pm, and a further 50 were injured.
Personally, I cannot recall a time when so many people have openly discussed their sadness and tears at hearing the reports, and watching the news and how Christchurch and wider community has responded. Footage of the tributes of sadness and strength such as the haka have been widely shared.
Mass murder linked to white supremacism is truly devastating. A gunman streaming the devastation to Facebook Live via an attached camera in search of notoriety. As noted by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, “He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety. And that is why you will never hear me mention his name. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist. But he will, when I speak, be nameless.” (More >)
This has been a week reflecting what it means to be human, good and bad. None of the 200 people watching the live-stream via Facebook reported it (according to Facebook). It took a further half an hour for anyone to report it via Facebook’s reporting tools. The video was viewed 4,000 times prior being removed from Facebook. A video link was shared to an anonymous message board and posted to Facebook. While Facebook then removed the video and ‘hashed’ it to prevent being uploaded again, some users manipulated the video to allow it to be uploaded without detection.
“In the first 24 hours after the shooting, Facebook removed about 1.5 million versions of the attack video.” Chris Sonderby Vice President Facebook (More >)
Subsequently Facebook and Google have been attached for allowing the video to go live, and while valid, doesn’t it say more about some members of humanity, that they can be so numb and apathetic to such videos? I would like to think that a moral human would immediately report, and certainly not intentionally watch such content. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be so. People need to take personal responsibility for their actions, ethics and behaviors.
On the same day as the shootings, an Australian Senator released a widely condemned statement blaming the shootings on “increasing Muslim presence.” Likely the Senator was seeking his own notoriety (More >). The following day at a press conference, the Senator was whacked in the head from behind by a 17 year old (now gaining his own notoriety as ‘Egg Boy!’).
Politicians being egged is nothing new, the likes of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger both reacted far more calmly to being egged. Arnie joked about it and what he loved about America and its freedom of speech. The digital savvy Egg Boy couldn’t have planned it better, with the much taller and fight savvy Senator reacting with full blazing fists pumping retaliation, continued on by his bogan bodyguards.
“Don’t egg politicians, you get tackled by thirty bogans at the same time, I learnt the hard way.” Egg Boy (More >)
Will Connolly aka #EggBoy made a bold statement and has been generally proclaimed a hero. He immediately and subsequently obtained hero status on social media such as Twitter, with bands from Hilltop Hoods to The Living End offering ‘free tickets for life’ for the brave and bold statement (More >).
Not all agreed such a response was appropriate.
Likely there was a bold statement made by Egg Boy, but the risk is losing sight of 50 men, women and children losing their lives less than 24 hours prior. A devastating event potentially lost in humor.
This has certainly been an emotional week. With even our most conservative politicians showing compassion rarely seen (and at times conflicting with their previous public positions). There has been much discussion that freedom of speech does not include hate speech.
The thing is that hate speech normalises hate.
While Australia is a very lucky and wonderful place, it is critical that we realise that we are not all good minded and there is bad and even evil among us. The gunman in Christchurch is Australian. We have a history of racism, that for some groups of our society is firmly entrenched. It was only in 1962 in Australia that all Indigenous Australians were able to enrol to vote in Australian federal elections (More >). Remnants of Australia’s White Australia policy still existed until 1973 (More >). We continue to have clumsy conversations around immigration and refugees.
Australians are increasingly anti-religion, and even proudly atheist. Yet, it is critical we embrace the cultural and religious diversity that has shaped the world. Such diversity is likely even more important for small countries like Australia and New Zealand.
In Australia, according to the 2016 Australia Bureau of Statistics Census figures, 30% of Australians identified themselves as having ‘no religion’ and a further 10% did not provide a response. This level is increasingly. However, to counter this, there is a clear changing cultural and religious fabric of Australia, with people identifying as Islam (+27% 2011–2016), Buddhism (+7%), Hinduism (+60%), Sikhism (+74%) and Taoism (+29%) all growing significantly, while our major religion Christianty in decline (-7% 2011–2016). We are becoming increasingly culturally diverse.
With change can come fear, and politicians such as Donald Trump, Pauline Hanson and Fraser Anning leverage such fear to gain voter support.
“Politicians such as Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson proclaim their divisive attitudes and behaviours as normal and acceptable. They absorb and share fake news, aligning with vulnerabilities of segments of the population, that supporters adopt, and propel to their friends, family and others. Creating growing circles of social proof and norms, that are more fear than fact.
Mass suicide cults, and toxic corporate, political and sporting club cultures all come from drinking social proof warping group think, making socially unacceptable attitudes and behaviour acceptable to those who wish to believe what the leaders proclaim.” From my previous article ‘Please STOP drinking the Kool-Aid’
Observing the good and bad signs of humanity over the past week, hopefully promotes a more positive conversation moving forward. Rather than using the psychological insecurities of people to create fear and hate, it is important we clearly articulate positive social and cultural norms, and fight negative. To create positive information cascades that flow through the internet and beyond, and turn off the air and notoriety of the negative and destructive. Do not give bad and evil the platform and notoriety it seeks. We are all responsible.
Hopefully the heightened sadness of the week just gone is the start of a more peaceful New Zealand, Australia and wider world.