On breaking rules and deposing fools
This Casey kid, this accidental hero, slamdunked that bully as though he’d been watching his fair share of WWF.
(Warning: Completely unrealistic portrayal of what actually happened)
What Australians - and worldwide audiences, apparently - warmed to, though, was not the violence itself but the good guy vs. bad guy dynamics of the situation. The underdog trumping the leader of the pack.
Casey Heynes, 16, told A Current Affair he just snapped under pressure. He broke the rules, and became a champion of the downtrodden.
UPDATE: The kid who apparently provoked Casey now claims that he was himself the victim of bullying - and that Casey started the fracas. It remains unclear whether public opinion will now swing behind the little guy…
Sometimes breaking the rules is the best thing you can do.
We’ve seen a lot of people under pressure - extraordinary, fatal, catastrophic pressure - lately. In a disaster zone, those in charge want, need, total obedience. Otherwise the system breaks down.
But those in charge don’t always know what’s best.
There was another striking example of the benefits of civil disobedience reported over the weekend.
An Australian man, Wade Phillpott, was in a Tokyo theatre when the earthquake hit. Officials told everyone to stay in their seats. Dubious, he left.
Others followed. Moments later, the entire, massive, concrete ceiling collapsed. ``It was a big, decorated concave ceiling that dislodged and fell in one big chunk. It completely flattened the seats where 60 people were sitting,’’ he told The Australian.
He, and those who left with him, survived to tell the tale because they assessed the situation independently and ignored authorities. They broke the rules.
Civil disobedience has a long and illustrious history. Gandhi was one for standing up to the system when the system was wrong - although he wouldn’t have approved of Casey’s body slam. And he would have abhorred the civil wars breaking out across North Africa.
Gandhi used the term originally coined by Henry David Thoreau, who became something of a poster boy for anarchy although his aim really was for better government, not for no government.
According to the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, Thoreau simply refused to recognise the authority of a government that no longer represented its people.
``There will never be a really free and enlightened State ... until the State comes to recognise the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly,’’ he said.
It is this individualism that is lost when Casey is suspended for fighting back, when governments prize obedience over outcomes.
In North Africa we are seeing what happens when people rise up against corrupt governments; civil disobedience on a grand and violent scale that will result in more deaths before there is a possibility of liberation.
It makes you grateful for democracy.
Back on home turf, the Australian Government - make that Australian governments, past and present - naturally detest the idea of civil disobedience.
To stage a protest now on Australian streets, people get permission from the very government they are protesting against, who then close the streets for them, organise a police escort for their safety, and so encapsulate them within the system.
Political language is eternally blandly calming. They want us to feel relaxed and comfortable. Alert but not alarmed.
They want us to keep taking the little hits, the jabs of dishonesty, the contempt. They fear our ability to slamdunk them and watch as they limp away.
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