Prison justice – Fair and reasonable?

The other day, I was listening to a podcast on Case True Crime, the Anita Cobby murder. This episode focussed on the rape and murder of Anita Cobby by 5 men in 1986.

I’m old enough to remember this crime. It gained a large amount of media coverage due to the severity of the crime and probably due to the fact that Anita was a beautiful young woman.

Further to that, Anita was a former beauty pageant winner and a nurse, which a vibrant and caring nature. The murder was horrific, Anita was abducted while walking home at night and beaten, dragged through barbed wire, raped (by 4 of the 5 men) and then had her throat slit, almost to the point of decapitation. In some ways, perhaps death was a blessing rather than living after that ordeal.

The response from the public was unheard of in Australia. Huge crowds were seen at the courtroom hearings and abuse and death threats were yelled at the murderers. I recommend you listen to the podcast for more information.

My post relates to a story of prison justice that occurred to one of the convicted prisoners. One of the murderers had a plastic tube inserted in his anus, to which a length of barbed wire was inserted. The plastic tube was then removed, leaving the barbed wire inside. At following court hearings, he was unable to sit.

My view is that the punishment is fair and reasonable. It provides some justice for the crime. I’m sure that some will contend that wishing pain and suffering on another person makes me no better than the murderers themselves. I respond that the difference is that Anita was an innocent person. Her only ‘crime’ was walking home alone from the train station at night.

However, the murderers were serial offenders with long criminal histories. Amongst them, they had raped and burgled, one was an escapee from prison at the time of crime and were abusers of alcohol and drugs. In short, they served no purpose to society and never would.

The family and friends of Anita will suffer with the memory of her death for life. The husband of Anita in fact, turned to drugs and alcohol following her death and had a very long road to recovery.

I say, let the animals suffer. Prison justice is sometimes the only fair justice.

Tall poppy syndrome – The curse of the insecure

I was prompted to blog by a comment made during a podcast episode I listened to recently. On the Tim Ferris show, Phil Keoghan – The Magic of Bucket Lists and Amazing Races was interviewed. Phil is the host of the Amazing Race and originates from New Zealand.

Amongst topics discussed, Phil mentions the phrase Tall Poppy Syndrome in relation to the mindset of a lot of people from New Zealand. The term relates to maintaining conformity and not standing out from the crowd, such as in a field of poppies with one taller than the others. To keep things equal, the taller poppy will be cut down to size.

Phil uses the example of the NZ All Blacks, the champion national Rugby Union team. The All Blacks are arguably the highest achieving team ever in world Rugby Union, however, in line with the NZ mentality, they will understate their greatness.

This reminded me of Greg Norman’s win at the 1993 British Open with a final round of 64. Following the round, Norman quipped that “I’m in awe of myself” as he didn’t miss hit a shot. I recall that this comment was discussed in Australia almost more than his win. It was considered discourteous to the other players and arrogant. I could argue though that he was actually understating his normal ability and he just had a great day.

In Australia, anyone who has achieved celebrity through their success is in constant danger of being cut down at the slightest perceived indiscretion. Any comment is taken out of context, their personal life is massively scrutinised, they are lambasted for not contributing their great wealth to charity….the list goes on.

Paul Hogan was considered a national treasure until he achieved worldwide fame with Crocodile Dundee. Initially, he was the still the regular Aussie bloke that made good. But then, his relationship to his co-star was made public. He was then a cheater that let a bit of fame make him forget family values. He wasn’t quite disowned but his public image was massively diminished.

Why can’t we celebrate the success of others instead of trying to bring them down to our level? Instead of looking for fault, why aren’t we looking to learn from them instead? Is their public life really any of our business? Being a tall poppy in Australia is a terrible burden. Be a nobody and fail miserably and constantly and no one cares.

However, it seems that in the US, being a tall poppy is something to be proud of. Sure, the failures of the high-flyers make the press, such as Tiger Wood’s infidelity and Donald Trump’s misguided comments. But it seems that this is more of identifying that everyone can make mistakes rather than wanting them to fail (though maybe with Trump I could be wrong). I doubt I would be wrong in saying that the US would love it if Tiger was the best again.

Maybe Australia could learn some lessons from the pride that American’s have in themselves and country. Pride is considered a character fault in Australia. Why should it be though? Australia is a great place to live, with an envious quality of living but we are happy to hide in the shadows.

To steal a quote from the movie Troy when a messenger boy comments to Achilles, ‘The Thesselonian you’re fighting…he’s the biggest man I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t want to fight him’. Achilles responds ‘That’s why no-one will remember your name’. Come on Australia, strive for greatness and be a tall poppy! If you are too insecure to admire the success of others, keep your undermining comments to yourself and live in obscurity. No one will remember you anyway.