Thursday, May 11, 2006

A tale of two citizens

Australians, like many in the Important Hemisphere who have heard of this minor continent, are still rejoicing about the rescue of the two miners who were trapped a kilometre underground in Beaconsfield, Tasmania. We covered the mining story on Tuesday.

(Note to our American readers: Tasmania is the fictional African nation home of the Warner Bros 'Devil' character -- it doesn't really exist, as you know.)

The scramble is on. According to some, about $6 million could be chucked around for the rights to this story -- for TV, press, radio, streaming vid, mobile phone news services, and blah blah blah. The book. The movie. The sequel. The product endorsements.

How much will go to the two miners and their families, and to the widow and family of the miner who didn't make it, and how much to the untold numbers of unsung people who risked their lives to perform the rescue, remains to be seen. That depends a lot on how much is left over after the TV execs, PR agents and "talent management" suits empty out their pockets.

Meanwhile, in darkie country: "Call off the rescue, there ain't no TV crews here"

What most Australians, and people in the Important Hemisphere, don't realise is that while we had a 14-day in-your-face TV drama from the goldmine of Beaconsfield, there was a 22-day tragedy, also involving three men in dire circumstances, unfolding at the other end of the continent.

Three men were lost at sea in the waters off the north of Australia. Did the nation, and the important part of the world, fix its gaze on Torres Strait? Did hundreds of reporters and camerapersons fly in and book out every available hotel room and Winnebago for OBs (outside broadcasts)? Over their corn flakes each morning, did Australians discuss in hushed tones the plight of the three missing men?

Did a nation pull out all the stops to rescue these three family men? Are there even any photographs of the emaciated three? Where are the $6 million?

Hell no, we never even heard of them till they got stranded, nearly dead, on an island a couple of days ago, though everyone on Murray Island, where they came from, have certainly known for more than three heart-rending weeks.

And here's the rub: the authorities called off the search after the first week, and for another 15 days the three guys drifted around and around like corks on the sea and nearly died of dehydration and starvation.




"Three Torres Strait islanders lost at sea for 22 days switched their mobile phones off to conserve the batteries before finally getting enough of a signal to text message for help.

"In another amazing story of survival, John Tabo 38, his son John Jr, 20 and 16-year-old nephew Tom Tabo were on Tuesday found drifting in a five metre boat south of Murray Island - more than two weeks after the search for them was called off."
Source

The rescue was an Act of God -- because it certainly wasn't an act of fellow human beings.

Tabo, huh? What sort of a surname is Tabo? It's not a good, solid Aussie name like Russell, Webb or Knight, the names of the three brave, lucky miners of Beaconsfield.

No way. It sort of sounds like ... like ... like a blackfella name to me.

Oh, now I get it. Sure, Torres Strait Islanders are Australian citizens, but it's ... well, as our American friends know, it's like New Orleans: you have citizens, and then you have Citizens.

Saved by a text message after 22 days adrift at sea
Australians lost at sea live off squid
Men survive three weeks at sea
The Age :: Mainichi Daily News :: all 127 related »

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2 Comments:

Blogger doctorj2u said...

I am sorry if I am misinterpretting this blog. I do not understand the context. I am a native New Orleanian and googled New Orleans. The media is the one that set up the difference in New Orleans citizens. What did you mean by your New Orleans statement? I don't get it. I was without electricity and national news for 3 weeks after the storm, so I did not see the national news coverage. I am interested in your viewpoint and would love to respond Let me know.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Pip said...

Doctorj2u, I think it was pretty much the consensus of the world media and Internet commentary that the greatest victims of Hurricane Katrina were the poor, and in particular poor people "of colour". That was the only point I was trying to make, that there seems to be an Australian corollary.

3:56 PM  

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