Monday, January 30, 2006

Really gross words like Hot & Wet

Sydney reportage of the Cronulla pogrom aftermath and its build-up (31/1/06) (the pogrom itself is given almost zero attention) continues to scrape the bottom of the barrel.

In Saturday’s Australian, Natalie O’Brien – who I had previously thought to be a credible reporter – and two co-authors served up this. The first two-thirds is just straight barrow-pushing, a la Peter Debnam, flimsily disguised as news rather than Op Ed: the police going soft on the "Lebs", rah rah rah.

The last third of the article, however, does contain some actual reportage. It focuses on an event that happened at Cronulla on 7 December, particularly as seen through the eyes of witness “Jane Tozen”, and then abruptly ends, after a second informant makes a jaw-dropping revelation.

The “mad as hell” Tozen is presumably intended by O’Brien et al to come across as a sympathetic and reliable witness. Personally, I think she comes across as a racist and prudish (or if not, hypocritical) bint. She speaks of a number-plate that reads “Hot & Wet” – actually HTN WET – as “really gross words”. So only Anglo boys (and Anglo girls, too, of course) are allowed to engage in mild sexual suggestiveness in public? Alternatively, perhaps the NSW RTA is also corruptly beholden to the “Lebs”, and so has registered a prima-facie offensive number-plate that a Whitey would have been refused?

What a crock. And so on cue today (same URL) came the second incarnation of “Jane Tozen”, via Sydney’s all-time King Of Crock, Paul Sheehan. While I’m not *sure* that Sheehan’s unnamed informant is the same person – in O’Brien’s version, her only identity is as a surf-club member, while in Sheehan’s case she is a local high-school teacher (things that are hardly mutually exclusive) – it is clear that the informant in the Sheehan story saw the same 7 December event from the same perspective, and carries the same prejudices.

Anyway, back to the actual “money shot” of 7 December. Clearly, at least one man was seriously bashed by “Lebs” at Cronulla on that day. Sheehan’s version has this bashing as completely cowardly and unprovoked, although his witness/informant does mention that the primary victim “said something” to his attackers just before the bashing. Remarkably – or maybe not – neither the witness nor Sheehan is curious as to what might have been said.

The answer, as it happens, is in the last two paras of Saturday’s Australian (the bit that seems just tacked on after Jane Tozen’s ground-breaking insights into young male “Leb” sexual suggestiveness). It quotes the primary victim (again, unnamed) of the 7 December bashing as proud of having deliberately provoked it:

I walked off and saw four Lebanese sitting on the park bench, they were being interviewed by a TV camera. As I walked past them I said 'f---ing Lebs' real loud, trying to get my voice on camera

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