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How Quickly Our Freedoms Were Taken Away


Spoiler Alert: We made it back to the US. 

Regular readers will recall that, this time last week, your editor was hurtling through the air, 36,000ft above the Atlantic Ocean, unsure as to whether he would be granted entry to the Land of the Free upon arrival. 

Our visa, we were informed, had been “lost.”

Would we be turned around and sent back whence we came (Greece)? Banished to our country of residence (Argentina)? Or deported to the once and present penal colony of our birth nation (Australia)?

As we discovered during “secondary processing” in the nation’s capital, the visa oversight that had caused the confusion is not uncommon nowadays. Chalk it up to yet another Covid-19-related inconvenience. 

Travel restrictions… vaccine passports… mask mandates… school closures… disrupted lives… bankrupted businesses… curfews… never-ending lockdowns and, now we rage to discover, lock outs.

It seems the Great Plague of 2020-21 – through which a “mere” 99.98% of us are expected to survive (including, statistically speaking, practically everyone under 65 without serious underlying health conditions) is here to stay… or at least, the insidious and largely unscientific regulations that grew up around it are…

In perhaps no place on the planet has the incessant mission creep of the petty bureaucrat brigade been more astonishing than in aforementioned Australia. 

Stories out of the so-called “Lucky Country” daily trespass on the absurd…

Had you told your average Aussie back in March of last year that he would not be heading on his annual football retreat to his beloved Bali… indeed, that he would not be permitted to leave his island home – indefinitely – he’d have laughed you out of the pub. 

“That’s the kind of carry-on they play at in commie nations,” he’d have replied. “This ain’t North Korea, mate!”

Today, there’s a better than average chance that same scoffing larikan is under house arrest… unable to leave his home but for one paltry hour of exercise per day (during which he must carry his “papers” and may reasonably expect to be monitored by police helicopter. No joke.)

If he is a single bloke, living alone and in need of some company, he must register his proposed partner with his state government before requesting permission for an “adult sleepover.” (See rules outlined in the so-called bonk bubble for details.)

If one of his out-of-state relatives happens to be sick, or even dying, he must request special dispensation to visit them… and even then, chances are high – very high – that his request will be denied. 

If he wishes to rescue a dog from the local pound, but lives more than a couple of miles drive away, he can expect the authorities to shoot the pup dead before he arrives. 

If he so much as dares to drink a coffee outside, alone, without a mask, in the middle of the sparsely populated Northern Territory, he can expect to be wrestled to the ground by overzealous cops, thrown in the police wagon, taken down town for “processing” and slapped with a $5,000 fine.

If he has been caught in the quarantine dragnet in the state of South Australia, he must download a government app on his phone, (called the “most Orwellian app in the free world) where he will be texted at random intervals during the day and thereafter given 15 minutes to take a picture of his face, in the location he is permitted to be in. If he does not respond in time or is found not to be where he is “supposed to be,” the police will be dispatched to deal with him “in person.”

Such a dramatic capitulation from a free and liberal developed democracy to a full blown police state happened almost overnight. So much so that, many of the confounded captives seem scarcely to have noticed the pot is boiling…and that they’re in it!

“We’re just lucky we’re not like New South Wales,” say Queenslanders we know… echoing precisely what New South Welshmen said last year of their neighboring, locked down Victorians. 

And so, one by one, the dominoes fall. What’s more, they fall like trees in the empty woods, with nobody there to hear them. Such is the bland, unquestioned homogeneity of the local media, and the invertebrate sycophants parroting the daily dose of fear and hate on the evening news, that any opinion even remotely deviating from the accepted narrative is liabled, slandered and, in some cases, even criminalized. 

In a land where “freedom of the press” is but a quaint and esoteric concept occasionally mentioned in Hollywood films, free and open dialogue suffers from a relentless kind of intellectual habitat destruction. In a ruling just this past week, the High Court of Australia determined that media companies posting content to third party platforms – think Facebook and the like – are henceforth to be held responsible for the content of the comments sections following each article. 

Ostensibly a safeguard against so-called “fake news” and the perennially hurt feelings of the emotional hemophiliac platoon, what this law really achieves is a chilling effect, a crowding out of smaller, independent publishers, the kind that cannot afford the onerous burden of moderating/policing/censoring comments in real time and/or the army of lawyers needed to fend off the relentless tide of liable claims. Big Media, of course, will be only too happy to comply… right as their smaller competition dies the death of a million comments. Classic regulatory capture. 

End result: further narrowing of the already limited diversity of opinion and news coverage, right when the country bleeds for an alternative to the One Party, One State narrative pushed by the technocratic, #LockDownUnder establishment. 

A year ago, we called Australia the Canary in the COVID-19 Coal Mine, a harbinger for what might come should power-hungry megalomaniacs be allowed to ride roughshod over their constituents’ rights and freedoms. 

Twelve months on, amidst a cloud of tear gas and the rain of rubber bullets, that canary is swooning. Free people of the world are duly warned: embark on this path at your own risk. What you take for granted today may well be gone for good tomorrow. 

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  • Joel Bowman

    Joel Bowman is a novelist and independent essayist, originally from Australia but living now in many parts of the world.

    View all posts

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