Moral outrage: Sharks! But what about the asylum seekers?

I’ve always been astounded people care so much about endangered animals.  Walking into the State Library of Victoria this morning I was confronted by a large crowd of loud people, many holding blow up sharks. I’ll admit it, I was scared. I pondered on this for about enough time to write a tweet…

… before burying myself in the newspapers. I wondered, whats the big deal? Maybe it was because there was no cricket on today. Anyway, I didn’t care. Their cult-like chanting, softly heard throughout the library was kind of soothing. In hindsight, thinking about it for more than 3 seconds, its good to have communities spring up around political issues like this. You won’t find me at a “Save the <insert animal>” rally in the near future but good on those people who get out there.

But perhaps I didn’t think about this enough. These protests seemingly pissed off a bunch of people – and not the type of people you’d expect. I’m sure a few fascists will use this as another example of greenies overrunning Australia. But I’m not talking about them.

I’m talking about dyed in the wool progressives. Only, these people have a different policy issue they care about:

[Edit: Another tweet was included here originally however that was a mistake by me as it was out of context from related tweets]

Call me naive, but wtf? Are we at the point in Australian society where community activism has become a zero-sum game? In a world where you can only devout your life to one progressive issue, the social conservative is king.

Also, apart from the snark, these opinions are simply wrong. Because I love imagining venn diagrams, I’d venture at least half the people at the shark rally do care passionately about asylum seekers, a distinctly higher percentage than the general population. That is because they are full of people spurred into action by the Greens and GetUp (note: this is anecdotal evidence).

What this really shows is how successful environmental community activism is in Australia. People may mock the trend of the Green’s vote but even at 7-10 per cent, that is a massive chunk of the electorate who vote for a party whose reason for being is the environment.

Instead of scorning this success, why not acknowledge it? Instead of tut-tutting the moral compass of shark rally participants, this should be a wake up call. There is a large group of people in this country who will turn up and be noticed. Co-opt them. Organise them. If it didn’t work last year, perhaps it will work this year.

This is a hard time in Australia if you support a different set of policies for asylum seekers. Unfortunately, the public is strongly against a different set of policies at this period. I’m sure the authors of those tweets have contributed much to community activism on behalf of a different set of asylum policies. But that doesn’t grant you a licence to be a dick. That doesn’t advance alternative asylum policies. It only pisses people off.

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