Multiculturalist Micromanagement?

Via Pajamas Media, I read about a scary new trend in Australia -- selective race-based legislation which would prohibit alcohol and pornography, but only to Aborigines:

Australia's prime minister announced plans Thursday to ban pornography and alcohol for Aborigines in northern areas and tighten control over their welfare benefits to fight child sex abuse among them.

Some Aboriginal leaders rejected the plan as paternalistic and said the measures were discriminatory and would violate the civil rights of the country's original inhabitants. But others applauded the initiative and recommended extending the welfare restrictions to Aborigines in other parts of the country.

Prime Minister John Howard was responding to a report last week that found sexual abuse of children to be rampant in indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. The report said the abuse was fueled by endemic alcohol abuse, unemployment, poverty and other factors causing a breakdown in traditional society.

"This is a national emergency," Howard told Parliament. "We're dealing with a group of young Australians for whom the concept of childhood innocence has never been present."

Howard announced the measures for the Northern Territory, an Outback region where the federal government retains powers it doesn't have over Australia's six states. He urged state leaders to apply similar tough rules in their jurisdictions.

Some Aboriginal leaders have spoken out against the plan, and they point out that the problems result from government behavior:
The plan angered some Aboriginal leaders, who said it was the kind of government behavior that has disenfranchised Aborigines and created the problems in the first place. They also complained they had not been consulted; the government had not previously indicated it was considering such action.

"I'm absolutely disgusted by this patronizing government control," said Mitch, a member of a government board helping Aborigines who were taken from their parents under past assimilation laws who uses one name. "And tying drinking with welfare payments is just disgusting."

"If they're going to do that, they're going to have to do that with every single person in Australia, not just black people," she said.

Howard said the sale, possession and transportation of alcohol would be banned for six months on the Aboriginal-owned land, after which the policy would be reviewed. The child abuse report found drinking was a key factor in the collapse of Aboriginal culture, contributing to neglect of children and creating opportunities for pedophiles.

Hardcore pornography also would be banned, and publicly funded computers would be audited to ensure that they had not downloaded such images. The report said pornography was rife in Aboriginal communities and that children often were exposed to it.

Under Howard's plan, new restrictions would be placed on welfare payments for Aborigines living on the land to prevent the money from being spent on alcohol and gambling. Parents would be required to spend at least half their welfare on essentials such as food, and payments also would be linked to a child's school attendance.

Two things stand out. One is that Australia obviously doesn't have the equivalent of a 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection for all citizens. The other is that social engineering invites further social engineering. Once the government undertakes to turn human beings into wards of the state (which they have in Australia), it becomes very easy to rationalize treating them like children and micromanage every detail of their lives.

I certainly hope nothing of the sort ever happens here, but I worry about the people who want to do things like impose selective gun control on urban areas -- especially those who see opposition to gun control as "racist."

If we applied similar logic to alcohol, liquor stores would only be allowed in affluent suburbs. In Seattle, they're moving in that direction:

Sales of "fortified" beer and wine will be banned in certain Seattle neighborhoods as part of a plan to cut homelessness and chronic alcoholism, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reported Aug. 31.

The ban applies to 29 specific brands, including Thunderbird, Richard's Wild Irish Rose, and Night Train Express wines, and Colt 45 Ice, Olde English 800, and Red Dog beers.

While these aren't my favorite brands, I'm reminded of a similar mindset to ban my favorite breed of dogs.

I realize some people think discrimination intended to "help" people is fine. I think it's incredibly condescending (as well as unconstitutional) and deserves to be called "nanny racism."

posted by Eric on 06.22.07 at 12:13 PM


It already has happened here. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is into it's third big century of the micromanaging-for-their-own-good business.

Hucklebuck   ·  June 22, 2007 4:31 PM

14th Amendment equal protection? Like how my concealed carry permit works in all states. Like my drivers license? Oh, right, it doesn't. Never mind.

Crash the Nanny State!

anonymous   ·  June 23, 2007 1:34 AM

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