Having read the books, I knew it was coming, but even so, found myself somewhat perplexed at the amount of consternation this engendered.
Particularly, in comparison to say, the harsh and real treatment of asylum seekers the Australian government locks up in squalid conditions overseas to satisfy the xenophobic demands of swing voters.
How is it that people can empathise so much with the lives of fictional characters – to the point of genuinely grieving over their deaths, when detainees – children, mothers and fathers – are going insane from monotonous, soul-destroying detention having not committed any crime can be blithely ignored?
Sadly, this is because there’s no media coverage. There’s no documentaries being produced by the ABC following the lives of a family in detention; there’s no reality TV show, “Who wants an Australian Visa?” broadcast on one of the commercial channels, SBS doesn’t broadcast a quirky alternative dramatisation of asylum seeker treatment called “Game of Moans”, and there’s no shock jock providing excruciating detail of the misery these people are living in.
So little information is commonly known about the state of the camps and the mental health of the people interred because the government is so tightly controlling the information flow. Even the type of information allowed out is controlled. Where is the unrestricted video footage of the internment camp in Nauru, or on Christmas Island?
If it were humane and everyone was happy, wouldn’t the government to be eager to show it?
There isn’t, because the government has interdicted that information. They’ve censored it. This isn’t information that’s critical to national security – it’s information that’s critical to political security. And I don’t just mean the current government – it applies to the government in general; the one before was just as guilty, and the one to follow will be equally as guilty.
People don’t complain because people don’t get to see and hear for themselves what is going on.
Show a cow shipped overseas as part of the live-beef export programme being tortured to death in an Indonesian abattoir, and the public whips itself into a frenzy. Show fictional characters being murdered in a TV show and people tear their hair out in despair.
Hide the misery and squalor of innocents … and the public blithely downloads the latest Game of Thrones episode to watch. We deserve better – we deserve to know what is being done on behalf of us in the name of our country.
They certainly deserve better.