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Name: Loon Dog

Bio: A mental health researcher motivated by self-self-defense; has likely dedicated too much of his life trying to define lunacy. Presently travelling through the USA seeking out mental diversity activists to help trace the threads between brilliance and madness.

Photos: Mad America's photo libraries

Hate in the Heart of People's Park ( 22nd Oct, 2010 )
Mad America: The Great Alternatives Conference: Intro ( 15th Jan, 2010 )
The Beat Gen, 90s Hip Hop legends and Oriental Zen Lunacy ( 17th Dec, 2009 )
Australian Shame ( 1st Dec, 2009 )
Entering the Great American Fruit and Nut Bowl: War Diaries, Inherited Madness and Other Things ( 16th Nov, 2009 )
Stuff in America you don't see on the TV ( 9th Nov, 2009 )
Sierra Nevadas: Clarity, purity, PBJ's ( 4th Nov, 2009 )
Road to Cedar Valley ( 3rd Nov, 2009 )
California Dreaming ( 3rd Nov, 2009 )
Library of Dust ( 23rd Oct, 2009 )
Consumers, Survivors and Mad-Pride: Burrito's and Bears. ( 23rd Oct, 2009 )
Begginings. ( 19th Oct, 2009 )

Australian Shame
[ file under: Home ]

Things that have made me ashamed of the Australian nation:

Australian Shame #1.

Moving into a large co-op (communal sharehouse) in Berkeley I was happy to find out that one of my housies had a ridiculously large record collection (+ hip hop, soul, funk, rnb) and played synth and other electronic doohickies in the Bay Area electro hiphop outfit, the Crown City Rockers. I was less happy to hear how Crown City Rocker attempted to tour Australia in 2003 only to be detained at Sydney Airport and thrown arse over tit into a refugee detention centre (+ prison). They languished for a few days in the dry summer heat with a misery of refugees from the middle east, southeast and south Asia, and watched bad American television on Australian tv's. They were promptly deported and later billed for the privilege.

Australian Shame #2.
(I'm gonna get nerdy on this one so bear with me) My work on the historic United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has taken me to this wild country so I might connect to activists and scholars who are trying to wield this little known piece of global legal weaponry so they might end the forced drugging, electroshock, imprisonment, and brutal restraint, etc. of persons in extreme emotional crisis. The convention is remarkable for promoting the social, economic and cultural rights, as well as the more traditional civil and political rights of persons with disability. Its importance is also marked by its shifting the paradigm of disability policy from one of welfare and 'care', to a paradigm of empowerment and self-determination. (Gasp) One particularly juicy section of the Convention upholds that persons w/ disability are entitled to full legal capacity and (breath) this arguably means that present laws of forced 'treatment' are illegal.

To give you an idea of how significant this is, consider that presently, in Victoria, there are more people on outpatient treatment orders (people who can be legally forcibly drugged) than there are people in jail. This might explain why so many psychiatric survivors and advocates for mental health human rights and choice describe mind-altering neuroleptics as 'chemical prisons'. Unfortunately, as I moved up the West Coast toward my mentorship with a legendary activist I learned that the Australian Gov. has made what's known as, a 'Declaration and Reservation' about the Convention. It stipulates the government's interpretation of the Convention as "allow(ing) for compulsory assistance or treatment of persons, including measures taken for the treatment of mental disability, where such treatment is necessary." We are currently the only nation to include such a reservation.

My two overwhelming experiences of shame for our melanoma'd country are clearly connected by that long historical thread, perhaps better imagined as an ankle chain, that courses through Australian history and flogs up remnants of our penal heritage and flint-eyed compulsion to institutional constraint and duress.

Australian Shame #3
Another less notable flush of shame had to do with the re-naming of a certain famous (American-owned) Australian spread. But I am so sure the whole furore, which scraped its salty smear onto American Newspapers with journalists reporting in a tone of incredulous pity, was engineered by clever advertising graduates. And regardless of these marketeers rather impressive though cunning, I am loathe to even consider it here. But I figured, sadly, you all know what I'm talking about; so ubiquitous and inescapable is that brewery effluent in a jar. But then again, Australia is a compelling argument for teetotallism, and just maybe the urge to drink-to-forget stems from the severe violence we have done against/ do to each other. And seriously, vegemite (damn, I wrote it) WAS brewery effluent and first conceived as a profitable solution to the waste being spewed out of Melbourne breweries daily in the 30s. It was originally marketed in a neat, sneaky one-two PR exercise that assured anti-grog wives and mothers that Vegemite was the vitamin-rich spread essential for all responsible Aussie families and as such it was advertised in direct opposition to the seedy, vomit-stench beer baron trade from whose backside the great brown spread was born.

I am amazed and appalled that I just used a poo pun to draw links between vegemite and Australia's conditional ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

More Australian shame to come...

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