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Giving a damn still matters

Yesterday, in the Melbourne CBD, James “Jimmy” Gargasoulas, 26, used a car to mow down dozens of pedestrians. He killed four people, left a baby fighting for life, and seriously injured more than twenty others. He was on bail from offences allegedly committed last weekend, including family violence, of which he has a long history. He is well-known to police.

Independent Senator David Leyonhjelm, gun lobbyist who threatened “difficult relationships” with the government if the ban on the rapid-fire Adler shotgun wasn’t lifted and whose favoured slogan is “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” tweeted the following in response to the Melbourne news. One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts responded in a tweet he later deleted:


There were the predictable efforts by One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson to immediately frame the unfolding tragedy as the work of Muslim terrorists. Victoria Police acted quickly to douse such inflammatory assumptions by confirming that the events bore no resemblance to political terrorism.

The New York Times initially reported the situation couched in the narrative of terrorism, until tweeted protests from many Australians led to a rewrite.

Things worth thinking about

  1. Mass murderers are highly likely to have a history of domestic violence, terrorising their families before taking it to the streets. Therefore, it would make very good sense for us to make urgent and ongoing investment in addressing the crime of intimate terrorism as a first step towards protecting communities. As nothing else has thus far persuaded governments to consistently invest in curtailing the endemic plague of intimate terrorism in this country, perhaps recognition of the wider implications might.
  2. David Leyonhjelm and Malcolm Roberts ought not to be in public office. However, they are,and we have to deal with that reality, just as we have to deal with the reality of President Donald Trump, who also should not be in public office. There’s a view that people such as this ought not to be given oxygen. I disagree, not least because this is completely unrealistic: of course they will be given oxygen, and in view of that, to remain silent is to enable. It’s my intention to continue to call attention to Leyonhjelm and Roberts. Swamp them with your contempt. This is no time for silence.
  3. It’s time to reclaim the word “terrorism.” It has been appropriated by the likes of Hanson, other politicians and media to the degree that it is now a thinly veiled substitute for “Muslim.” There is political terrorism, state-sponsored terrorism, non state actor terrorism, domestic terrorism, intimate terrorism: these are all valid descriptors of the act of terrorism, depending on its context. “Muslim” terrorism is not. Domestic violence is an act of terrorism in the private sphere. If we use this term it might be easier to see the connection between the intimate terrorist, and the public terrorist who is not acting from political, ideological or religious motives.

Leyonhjelm, Roberts, Hanson and their supporters have no interest in the suffering of those affected by Gargasoulas’s murderous acts. There really is something deeply awry in their psychology. There will be thousands of people, beyond those immediately affected, who will struggle to deal with the aftermath of this intimate terrorist’s crimes. The witnesses. The police who gave CPR when they could, and drove a critically injured child to hospital, not daring to wait for an ambulance. The paramedics, nurses, and doctors who treat the injured. The relatives, friends, and workmates of the dead and injured. Whole communities will have to deal with shock and grief but none of this is of the least interest to Hanson, Leyonhjelm and Roberts, who see only an opportunity in all this grief and this death and this injury and all this gut-wrenching sorrow, to further their own vile interests.

They are despicable individuals. Tell them this. Don’t be silent. Let them and their followers know that in this country, giving a damn still matters.


This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.


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  1. Keitha Granville

    Yes, very good idea. I posted on David Leyonhjelm’s FB page immediately calling out his appalling comment, I will follow up on Roberts’ page.
    These creatures seemed to have risen from a swamp somewhere and those who voted for them should be hanging their heads in shame at the total lack of decency and basic humanity demonstrated, let alone the bigotry and the uneducated manner in which they perform in the Senate.
    We can only hope that continued dismissal of their idiotic behaviour results in a wipeout once again for One Nation in the parliament.

  2. Ricardo29

    Well said Jennifer Wilson and to the utterly despicable Hanson, Roberts and Leyonjhelm I would add the Australian Patriots and other fascistic groups. They are gutless cowards. Those who attempt to make political capital out of such sad events are beneath contempt.

  3. Trish Corry

    I really enjoyed this article. I have linked this article to my blog post on AIMN and my article on my own blog The Red Window to your own blog NP4S. It is well worth sharing.

  4. Ella Miller

    YES, YES.
    David L. Roberts , Pauline Hanson what a self serving , opportunistic lot they are.
    I wonder if their comment would have been the same if their family was involved.
    Pauline you are not fit to serve the animals in the zoo, theuy have more compassion than you.

  5. Kaye Lee

    A visit to Hanson’s facebook page…..

    Nicole Graham: “Thank you for your honesty yesterday and telling everybody what happened in Melbourne is a terrorist act, and not lying like the media and other politicians do, well ?the way to the ? Job, Australia needs an honest leader”

  6. Deanna Jones

    Leyonhjelm’s office number is (02) 6277 3054. Maybe leave him a voicemail.

    Great post, Jennifer. Language is so important is shaping attitudes and prejudices.

    Hanson is beyond cringeworthy. She doesn’t know that journalists are supposed to be a link between us the people and her, our employee. Even if they aren’t doing that job very well she should still know what the purpose of it is. She doesn’t.

  7. Catherine

    Perhaps we should turn the senator’s logic back on him, and ask whether gun ownership rules (and background checks) should also be applied to vehicle ownership and driver’s licenses. Given the number of people who have used cars and/or trucks to harm others over the last few years, I think it’s been clearly demonstrated that vehicles can be used as deadly weapons.

  8. ruth grischy

    Me thinks if this perpetrator was a muslim he would have been immediately locked up and not bailed

  9. ozibody

    Thank you for this short and to the point article Jennifer Wilson!

    Kaye Lee.. The P. Hanson’s F/book quote you posted above – which ended ” … Australia needs an honest leader ” …… with ‘endorsements ‘along these lines it’s no wonder to me that she may even envisage the Queensland Premiership ! ? …

    . Her missing out on’ standard ‘ teenage years might be the loss for which she would wish to be compensated in later life !

  10. Roswell

    Kaye, the sad thing is, comments like that will only urge Hanson on to keep lying. She surely believes that that praise (crap) is an endorsement of her.

  11. Miriam English

    Thank you Jennifer. Excellent and very important post. I’ve commented on Leyonhjelm’s page and two of Hanson’s pages. I can’t seem to find Malcolm Roberts’ page. Those weasels make me sick. I also posted to my facebook page about these examples of human garbage.

  12. Miriam English

    ruth grischy, he was bailed??? OMG!

  13. kerri

    I feel so for the cops in this case! They clearly had an eye on him but were unable to pursue due to radical behaviour and public safety and no one knew he would mow down pedestrians the way he did. For politicians to make a meal of this act is grossly disingenuous. Even Dan Andrews and of course Turnbull were falling over themselves trying to make the most compassionate response.
    Late last year an event happened in Melbourne and the police response was highly professional, tactical and surgical in its execution. Yesterdays horror should by no means reflect on the cops.
    And Yes Jennifer the courts have so much to answer for in allowing so many out on bail as does the government for failing to support mental health adequately.

  14. silkworm

    Many acts of mass murder and other violent crimes have been carried out by young men on legal psychiatric drugs – anti-depressants and anti-psychotics being the most prevalent, and this has been underreported in the media. I look forward to finding out if Mr Gargasoulas was on any such “medication.”

  15. Kyran

    “They are despicable individuals. Tell them this. Don’t be silent. Let them and their followers know that in this country, giving a damn still matters.”
    Having usually found myself in agreement with your articles, on this occasion I disagree with the sentiment.
    Whilst I agree they are despicable, it has long since been apparent that ‘telling them’ anything is a waste of time and breath. There are none so blind as those who will not see.
    In support of your premise that terrorism is not an Islamic concept;
    “Terrorism” comes from the French word terrorisme.”
    Weren’t the French government the one’s who blew the Rainbow Warrior up? Did all of the French get branded as terrorists because of the actions of their government?
    That’s cause for a separate post.
    There have been many face book comments that epitomise the human response to what is, inevitably, a human problem. A face book site I had been oblivious to until a few moments ago, ‘Humans in Melbourne’, posted;

    “As I write this I am sitting on the steps of GPO with tears in my eyes and I feel a lot of things… afraid is not one of them.
    I feel beyond sad for those who lost loved ones yesterday. I can feel our collective hearts are broken and it fills me with sorrow.
    I feel pride for those Melburnians who yesterday came to the aid of complete strangers in there time of need and put themselves in harms way to try and save their lives. And for the two boys who tried to stop the driver outside of Flinders street with baseball bats… you’re heroes in my book.
    I am so thankful to the paramedics and ambos and doctors and nurses who worked to save people’s lives for hours on end.
    I feel thankful to the police who day after day put themselves in harms way. They are always faced with tough choices and I could never do there job and yesterday must of been amongst their toughest…
    Most of all I feel heartbroken for four gorgeous Humans who were taken far, far too early… absolutely heartbroken.
    At a time like now it is easy to be angry and look for someone to blame, but really, there is only one person to blame. I hope we can all remember that.
    So I sit here as people start to drop flowers off with tears flowing freely down their face and I refuse to let this define our city and I certainly refuse to be afraid.
    We are not defined by the actions of one man but by the actions of the many Humans who showed our city’s true colours yesterday. We don’t get to choose when tragedy comes into our lives, we only get to choose how we react when it does.
    So let’s care for those who need it so much right now and look after one another. If you see someone struggling today give them a hug and let them know it’s going to be ok.
    We will be ok.”

    Ms Corry and Mr Brisbane have posted articles on this same subject. Whether we reference the deplorable standards of our alleged leaders, the appalling standards of their standards or the appalling acts of a deranged individual, there is one undeniable fact. Humans acted out of an inherent humanity. Trying to explain or justify such a notion to our ‘leaders’ is a waste of time and breath, IMO.
    I’m posting this in disagreement, not disrespect. Thank you, Ms Wilson (and Ms Corry, and Mr Brisbane, and commenters). Take care

  16. Leep

    Tony abbot is past history, its Malcolm turn bull u have to worry about, yes Abbott was a very bad PM but he’s no longer in charge, it’s the do nothing PM, turn bull is the real worry, get over this need to talk about Abbott it’s not helping.

  17. SGB

    The blame os squarely on the neoliberal agenda.

    It created, over the last 40 years, this level of inequity, leading to the frustration and prevelance of poorly educated and poverty stricken prople, families and now generations of families.

    Domestic violence, crime and gratutous comes from a feelings of hopelessness at their situation.

    The fix is easy and can be put into place by the federal government, if they realy wanted to, but they dont, they follow the needs of meoliberalism where poverty, unemployment and underemployment suits the corporatisation of democracy.

    Yes both Left and Right

  18. paulwalter

    I’m glad others have shot down Leyonhjelm also, I was appalled at its crass opportunism and insensitivity.

  19. Michael Taylor

    Paul, I saw the headline of an article today where he defended his tweet. How could he?

  20. paulwalter

    When you think about it, Leyonhjelm is Right (or property)- Libertarian, very much of the ilk that want social infrastructure cut because this represents a thievery of imposed upon wealthy people. This is much the same ideology that drives Trumpist politicians in the USA.

    It has its clearest expression yet as to implications if applied in actuality in the Centrelink,debacle; not a mistake but a clear application of the IPA/Murdoch line, which is to say the same thing.

    These people believe ANY welfare represents misappropriation from those with property.

    They believe in the old doctrines that they are a biological elite obliged to to exploit lower classes and races for their own benefit and that life red in tooth and claw determines who takes and who is destroyed, after a sort of really bad reading from Ayn Rand derived of an incorrect reading of Nietzsche.

    Hansonists would be basically the same, if they had the brains to separate their prejudices from their ideas, if they had any. They don’t have ideas, just gut instinct, so they haven’t the cognitive equipment or the inclination to dream up Rightist Libertarian, neo liberal or fascist lies or need to justify their subjectivity…they are more latter-day brownshirts, if you like.

    Which reminds me, a little known factoid.

    Apparently Murdoch is in the country visiting Turnbull at the Lodge. Would any other person just be allowed to stroll into the Lodge?

    Where has been the reportage as to what he is up to and hat he wants. Never mind, if it comes from Murdoch it can only mean ill for the rest of us.

  21. Deanna Jones

    SGB: “Domestic violence, crime and gratutous comes from a feelings of hopelessness at their situation.”

    Rubbish. Then how do you explain white collar crime and family violence perpetrated by rich ‘successful’ men? Look at the trump, self-confessed perpetrator of sexual assault. Does his offending come from ‘feelings of hopelessness’?

  22. king1394

    SGB and Deanna Jones: While the total explosion of random violence perpetrated by this individual cannot be excused, I agree with SGB, and I am sure that the roots of this act lie in the torture of struggling individuals and families which are suffering from terrible stresses while the supportive organisations that might help them have been defunded and disbanded.

    Poverty causes tremendous anger and frustration, but also, the lack of a future which many people feel due to the loss of meaningful work and positive opportunities. We are growing a crop of angry and frustrated individuals whose hopelessness will translate to hatred for society.

  23. Deanna Jones

    king1394, but women also experience these feelings of hopelessness.

  24. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well said, Jennifer Wilson.

    I have already rung Leyonhjelm’s office and left a message with the young man to pass onto the lunatic. I let him know that he had no right to be an MP, his words were reprehensible and I am disgusted.

    I agree Jennifer. We should all swamp Leyonhjelm’s, Roberts’ and Hanson’s offices with our outrage.

    I also agree that we should swamp Malcolm Muck’s office with our outrage that domestic violence services have been under-funded, and demand that intimate and domestic terrorism is combated instead of the ferocity given to border protection.

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