Monday, 13 December 2010

If you belong to a club or a group,

society or organisation it is usually assumed that you hold the same beliefs or values or interests as the other members.
That is almost certainly the reasoning behind our state government's attempts to bring in legislation to "outlaw bikie gangs". They are trying to tell us that being the member of a bikie gang is a bad thing. If you belong to one you must be a bad person - or you will become a bad person. If, they are trying to tell us, you make bikie gangs illegal and do not allow members of those groups to associate with one another then you will cut down on crime. The government has tried to get one lot of legislation up and failed. In a rare show of cooperation the bikie gangs got together and went to the High Court to oppose the legislation. They won.
I am glad they won because the legislation went far beyond bikie gangs. It was written in such a way that it potentially affected any club or group from Rotary to Rose Growing and Robotics and everything in between.
I belong to a knitting guild. The members do have one thing in common, an interest in knitting. Some of them are beginners. Others might be called expert. Knitting is a wide ranging and diverse craft. There are different ways of knitting and many different types of knitting. Some people do it just for pleasure. Others do it to earn a little money on the side. Some do it because it presents a challenge and they want to try new ideas. Some enjoy creating. For a few it "just something to do while I watch the telly". There are some for whom the group is a support group. Within the group there are smaller groups. There are long standing friendships. People meet outside meeting times. A few have even been away on holidays together. Their political interests range from actual membership of a far left political group to "I don't know anything about politics". Their religious affiliation is from fundamentalist Christian to atheist via Judaism, Islam and Hindu.
Politics and religion rarely get mentioned. Everyone gets along with everyone else most of the time. If someone is ill or in other need then someone in the group or a group within the group will do something to help. It is just part of belonging to the group.
The legislation the government proposed had the potential to prevent all that. It even had the potential to stop the group from meeting or the members from associating with one another. It was no good the government saying "That is not what we intended. That is not the sort of group we were targetting." The potential was there. It could have been used. I have no doubt in fact that, given the right set of circumstances, it would have been used.
What would then have happened? Yes, the group would have gone underground. People would still have associated but they would have done so furtively and secretly.
I also know other people who belong to motorcycle clubs. They are not "bikie gangs" at all, just groups of people who have an interest in a particular type of motor bike. They ride together occasionally. One group includes a former headmaster, an engineer and a surgeon. To call them members of a "criminal organisation" would be ridiculous and probably slanderous.
Most people need support groups. They may think they can manage alone but, when things go wrong, support can be vital. Take yesterday on Twitter. Someone I have never physically met but "follow", whose on-line company I enjoy and who also "follows" me was anxiously waiting at a hospital because her partner had been taken in with a "TIA" (trans-ischaemic attack). She had "tweeted" someone about this and soon we all knew. She could get information and, most important of all, she knew that other people were thinking of her. We could send messages of support even if we could not physically be there. Her appreciation of that, via more "tweeting" was obvious.
Now, what if the government tried to shut down something like "Twitter"? Support when she needed it most would not have been there.
Trying to close down any social network is probably almost impossible. It may also be a very bad idea.


jeanfromcornwall said...

This was a classic example of the urge to overgovern that is rife in many places nowadays. It always strikes me as rather juvenile: as though the legislators are still in Senior Prefect mode, and want to tell us what we should do down to the last baked bean so that we can be wonderful people like what they are.
There are enough laws already to deal with genuine crimes: for the rest, can we not be trusted to be the keepers of our individual consciences?

catdownunder said...

Agree - but according to our government we are not to be trusted in even the smallest matter! (And, of course, I am a terrible person because I write letters to the editor. Worse still, I do not always agree with the government...almost never in fact. Oh dear.)

Holly said...

I also love how we name things - and that name has implications - it is a Biker GANG, but a knitting GUILD.

Gangs are defined as bad and guilds as good.

Words do reflect our attitudes with the tendency to sway others with the vocabulary we choose.

catdownunder said...

The power to name things is immense!