Press council revisionists.
The huge influx of boat people arriving upon our northern land points has prompted the Australian Press Council (APC) to provide journalists and writers with protocol on how such people should be described.
Advocacy groups and the usual spate of hankie-wringers have joined forces to bombard the APC with frivolous complaints about the media’s description of these interlopers. They don’t like the term, illegal immigrants; they say it smacks of criminality. Oh really? Their preferred term is, asylum seekers—a little sugar makes the medicine go down.
To placate the PC brigade, the linguistic vivisectionists at the press council seem to be rewriting the English dictionary to suit. Similar stuff, it seems, to Justice Bromberg’s Andrew Bolt decision.
Languages, however, are in perpetual evolution and those that resist fall from favour, even use. Latin, Sanscrit, Coptic and Biblical Hebrew are some examples of tongues lost, although parts of those languages are still used in matters of church, legal and scientific. But that is for lexicologists, not the APC.
On March 12 the APC instructed its members about what to call “illegal immigrants.”
The APC states; ‘Technically in Commonwealth immigration legislation they are referred to as “unlawful non-citizens”. However, they are often referred to as “illegal immigrants”, or even “illegals”.’
Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor of the Australian used a rogue descriptor twice in September 2011 and the vigilant APC word-cops pounced, just as it has several times on the Telegraph. I suppose naughty writers are sent to re-eduction camps.
Examine the APC’s determinations.
March update: lead paragraph. ‘The legal status of people who have entered Australia by boat without a visa is complex and potentially confusing. Their entry is not legally authorised but is not a criminal offence. The Australian Government usually refers to such entrants as “unauthorised boat arrivals” or “irregular maritime arrivals” but they are also “unlawful non-citizens” under the Migration Act.’ Got that?
The APC adds: ‘…terms such as “illegal immigrants” or “illegals” may constitute a breach of the Council’s Standards of Practice on these grounds.’
The Collins English Dictionary says: illegal—‘unauthorized or prohibited by a code of official or accepted rules.’ And, illegal—‘unlawful contrary to or prohibited by or defiant of law.’ Both unlawful and unauthorised mean illegal.
Furthermore, nearly every word in the English language has an antonym, an opposite meaning, and so does the Legal Thesaurus: “legal”. Antonym: “Illegal”, “illegitimate”, “illicit”, “unlawful”, “wrong.” Other dictionaries describe the antonym of “legal” similarly: “banned, prohibited bootleg, black-market, contraband, smuggled criminal, felonious.”
Obviously, the APC chooses word pejoration (Latin, meaning “make worse”).
“A Just Australia” advises: ‘a refugee’s claim for asylum has nothing to do with how they arrive in a country, but everything to do with the persecution that they are escaping.’ And there lies another “legal” point on “escaping.” With so many silks on their patron list one might have thought they would know the following.
Those from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and now the Maldives are not fleeing persecution. Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in 2009. Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently called for Afghans to return home and help build the nation. And, none of those countries appear on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as having troubles. Most “illegal immigrants”, particularly those arriving by boat are economic migrants. Macmillan Dictionary on “economic migrant”: ‘someone who goes to a new country because living conditions or opportunities for jobs are not good in their own country.’ Seems clear enough?
Nevertheless, we shall hear much about “asylum seekers” during the coming weeks as Sri Lanka’s Controller-General of Immigration will deport about 600 of what he calls “economic refugees” who are expected to set sail for Hotel Australia. That’s in addition to the 400 already given notice to leave and a further 400 in the coming days. The Tamil Tiger people-smuggling rings will to do very well, according to one Sri Lankan lawyer.
The Tamil departures from southern India are just the beginning for a new wave of people smugglers who send hopefuls off to their deaths on rotting hulks long considered useless as fishing craft. Nobody knows, or cares how many people now rest in Davey Jones’s locker. I wonder what the APC wants us to call “people smugglers”—“voyage facilitators”, perhaps?
The arrival of boat people is an irksome matter for most Australians who view them, regardless of legality, as queue-jumpers that should be stopped.
While the APC quibbles over what illegal immigrants should be called, that doesn’t solve the problem that they keep coming in ever increasing numbers, unidentifiable, via the smugglers’ route and that is illegal.
Perhaps a more fitting descriptor might be sea-urchins. What the APC will think about that?
Thought for the week: ‘The federal government has defended a program that gives asylum seekers living in community free accommodation and household goods packages worth up to $10,000.’