Thursday, May 11, 2006

Books as evidence

From law school in the 80s, I remember a case about whether certain evidence could be introduced by the prosecution, re a man facing drug offences. The evidence in question was one book (out of his library of several thousand) that was a how-to grow marijuana guide.

While I now can’t remember what that case decided, a much more recent case seems to suggest that a single book, in any size library, will automatically be cogent evidence of possible criminal purpose. I’m referring to John Howard Amundsen, an Xer school-teacher (amongst other things) recently arrested in Brisbane.

While it’s early days in the case, I’m shocked at the media attention so far given to his apparent possession of the book Bin Laden: Behind the Mask of a Terrorist. If the title isn’t clear enough for you (/the cops), a bit of Googling confirms that this book is not remotely a Jihad manual, or somesuch. Indeed, it seems to paint Osama Bin Laden in the same way I have always done (without ever reading, much less owning (Phew!) Behind the Mask). In brief, Bin Laden is a (typical) spoilt boomer and armchair terrorist, who gets brainwashed Xers to do the real work.

It’s going to be interesting to see whether Behind the Mask gets “opened” or not in Amundsen’s trial. If judged solely by its cover, and the plain connotations of its title are ignored also, then I suppose its simple possession might be capable of suggesting some Islamist link (even without Amundsen's being a Muslim, AFAICT). A fucked interpretation, yes, but still a possible one.

More fucked still, however, would be the book getting duly “opened”, and a radical new spin then introduced. This new spin: Far from being a mere Islamist Xer lackey answerable to Bin Laden, Amundsen has learnt the lessons of recent history (from the book) so as to become mastermind boss of his own evil empire; making him so resourceful that he doesn’t need Bin Laden’s or Saudi’s billions, much less any religious-mission ideology to inspire him. And an vengeful Xer in this position can only have one natural, secular target: the boom-ocracy

Yep. Or maybe he’s just a loopy middle-aged man. Or maybe he’s even innocent.

That's a great story. Waiting for more. » » »
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