Finishing up

So here we are, at the end of what was meant to be eleven weeks of regular posts.

Through exploring the more humorous side to the law I’ve realised that it’s probably something we should all take seriously, even if it is just to avoid a needless fine. We’ve found laws that we never knew existed, some that shouldn’t, and others that our society would struggle without.

My final wish is to share with you a quote from my year 9 woodwork teacher, “it’s not illegal if you don’t get caught.” Make what you want of it. Keep in mind that he also told us that the Woomera detention centre was named as such because a woomera is a device used by Aboriginal Australians to secure a spear (refugee) before throwing it (deportation). The idiot was certain the origin of the name was purely metaphoric, paying no attention to the geographic location of the facility (Woomera, South Australia).

Don’t believe everything you hear and read, and definitely don’t take the advice of any halfwit trade teachers.

Behave yourselves,

-Daniel

Red, White and Blue… Oh, and green.

Week 3: Hypocrisy
By Daniel Browne

No less than forty American politicians have admitted to having smoked marijuana sometime in their lives. The list includes notable names such as Clinton, Bush Jr., Gore and Schwarzenegger. More importantly, Barack Obama, who has made no attempt to decriminalise drugs, writes openly in his book ‘Dreams from My Father’ that “Pot had helped… maybe a little blow when you could afford it.” For now we’ll disregard his oh-so-casually referred to cocaine usage and focus on his little green ‘helper’.

The state of Connecticut provides a perfect example of the harsh sentences that Obama defends; Possession of less than four ounces of marijuana could see you spending up to a year in prison, being fined a thousand dollars, or, if you’re really unfortunate, both. If you find yourself getting arrested for possession in front of a school or day-care centre you’ll have your punishment mandatorily extended by two years. Let’s for a second imagine that Barack had been caught with his helpful herb in his home state of Hawaii, where terms of incarceration for possession of less than an ounce can be up to 30 days with a familiar thousand dollar fine possibly added; America would not have seen its first black president and our dear Obama would have become one of the 40 odd per cent of prison inmates who share his skin colour… nothing more than a statistic who’s most likely to reoffend in a more serious manner once released.

My advice to Barack Obama: leave the stoners alone, you’re permitting a social and economic cancer that can easily be removed with a quick incision. And my advice to you: don’t say no to drugs, you might end up president one day.

Keylogging blogging

Week 10: Surveillance Laws
By Daniel Browne

As part of the changes made to global security measures in the wake of the September 11 attacks the Surveillance Devices Bill was passed through the Federal Parliament of Australia. The purpose of the bill was to broaden the “circumstances in which Federal law enforcement agencies… can covertly use data, optical, listening and tracking surveillance devices”.

The bill also allows Federal Police to acquire data surveillance warrants which would grant them the ability to secretly install key logging software in suspect’s computers. We’ll just have to hope the purpose of such a change in legislation is actually for ‘data surveillance’ purposes and isn’t just a ploy to access material that would otherwise require a search warrant, i.e. my banking info, or god forbid, my Facebook account.

It may seem a bit dodgy at first, but before you start questioning just where your rights went let’s remember that in order to obtain a warrant authorities would have to prove probable cause. If you, through your internet or day-to-day activity, have given anyone enough of a reason to deem you a likely risk then there’s no denying that you probably need a hell of a lot more than just your internet conversations monitored. One cavity search coming right up!

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Don’t look so grumpy Mr inverted eyebrows, we all know you’re probably a paedophile

Bang goes the stapler

Week 9: Accidental Illegality
By Daniel Browne

With the majority of my schooling spent figuring out ways to cure my boredom, I never expected that I’d eventually come across a way to kill more than time (in hindsight I realise that it was inevitable). It turned out that a few cleverly placed elastic bands–used to keep the firing medium secure–turned the mechanism of a humble desk stapler into a deadly weapon. I can’t say I ever managed a ‘confirmed kill’ with my improvised device, but we did end up drawing blood on more than one occasion–mostly my own. It’s obvious now that my efforts were highly illegal, I’m just glad nobody lost an eye.

An example of a home-made firearm much better than mine (which for some reason wouldn’t upload)

I have since put away my pen launching device, but I’m afraid I’ve still continued to flout the law without knowing it. Up until today I’d also mistakenly been breaching motoring laws almost every time I hopped in my car. Did you know it’s illegal to toot your horn or wave out your window to bid someone goodbye? The offences carry a fine of $141… each. An elbow out the window also counts, which is a shame, because everybody knows that resting your arm on your windowsill brings with it that element of cool you won’t ever get with your hands at 10 to 2. I’ll still continue to do it, I just can’t call it an accident anymore.

Smuggle Struggle

Week 7: Smuggling
By Daniel Browne

As the war on drugs heightens, criminalistics entrepreneurs all across the globe have resorted to other ways of continuing to fund their exploits. The best, it seems, have step-by-step guides found at your local Blockbuster video.

Tunnelling has, for centuries, been the ultimate way of getting things from point A to point B without raising alarm. Following the same logic as internal body smuggling, you either find or make a hole big enough and fill it with whatever you like. Firearms, cigarettes, animals… you name it! If only Steve McQueen’s character ‘Hilts’ had figured that one out, he and his POW buddies could have had themselves one hell of a party, and made a mint in the process.

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A calf being smuggled across the Egyptian-Gaza border

The film Contraband also features a pretty nifty way of stashing prohibited goods while on open waters. I’ll try not to give away too much in saying that it’s a clever adaptation of a technique originally used by the Brits who would dump their gear overboard attached to floating markers to allow for convenient recollection. Hmm, I wonder if it’d work with people…

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A list that could go on forever…

Week 6: Things that were once illegal
By Daniel Browne

No matter how far you look back through history, there will always be practices that were not only once considered legal, but were also widely accepted and even encouraged. Here are just a few:

Beating one’s wife

Those of you who have seen The Boondock Saints (1999) will have heard that “in the 1900’s it was legal for men to beat their wives, as long as they used a stick no wider than their thumb”, hence the expression ‘rule of thumb’. The term is at least three centuries older than that, but my point remains that giving your wife a flogging was perfectly legal less than a hundred years ago. All that said, the character who I’ve quoted gets her lights knocked out by a bloke anyway.

Beating one’s child

Child abuse was only made illegal towards the end of the 1800’s. I’m not too sure why though; the threat of a good beating would have prevented much of the lawlessness that seemed to take over my life as an adolescent. When it comes to guitarists, however, it’s still perfectly legal for them to ‘finger A-minor’.

Certain motoring offences

Astonishingly enough, up until mid-December 2011 it was legal to consume alcohol whilst operating a motor vehicle in Victoria. Using a mobile phone while driving is also a no-no, but masturbating while behind the wheel isn’t–as long as it doesn’t serve as a distraction and you’re not indecently exposing yourself to anyone. Note: car-jacking is a completely different offence.

Lobotomies

Found yourself suffering from tension, apprehension, anxiety, depression, insomnia, suicidal ideas, delusions, hallucinations, crying spells, melancholia, obsessions, panic states, disorientation, psychalgesia, nervous indigestion or hysterical paralysis? Perhaps all of the above?  Then 50 odd years ago you’d have been up for a good ol’ fashioned frontal lobotomy, and most likely not by choice either. Don’t worry though, these days there are hundreds of prescription meds that’ll put you into a perfectly vegetative state without having to result to taking an ice-pick to the brain.

Bongs

The sale of water pipes (bongs) was a completely legal practice in Australia until last year. When I asked a retailer–while looking for a gift for a friend, of course–why they were still selling brass and glass pipes the best answer they could come up with was, ‘they’re for tobacco’.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen someone smoke ‘baccy’ through a hand-crafted colour-changing glass pipe emblazoned with marijuana leaves, but there are plenty of videos on YouTube of people smoking cigarettes through water pipes (for what reason I have no idea). Regardless of the hypocrisy, I know I’ve been saving my Gatorade bottles, have you?

Not the most humorous subject

Week 4: Why is it illegal?
By Daniel Browne

So, the aim of this blog was to take light-hearted jabs at the ins and outs of the law. But when it comes to the issue of euthanasia, I’m afraid the joke’s already in the debate surrounding the subject. Actually, the debate is fine… it’s the lack of effect that it’s having that isn’t.

The Age reports the percentage of Australians that support euthanasia is 75%, the ABC says it’s “more than 70 per cent” and The Australian has it at a whopping 85%. Whoever you believe, it seems that euthanasia has a bigger support group in Australia than it did in the Netherlands (63%) at around the same time that they implemented their assisted suicide laws. So why isn’t anything being done about it here?

Last year my dearest grandmother lost her battle with cancer. She spent her final three months in palliative care, with most of her stay there being for pain management purposes. The war-hardened Polak never once asked to be put out of her misery. Now, I know that as far as anecdotal evidence goes there doesn’t seem to be any point in me sharing that, but by witnessing the agony in her face every single time she adjusted herself in bed I knew that hers was a fate that I will never want for myself.

Now that I mention it though, I can’t imagine how we would have received her pleas if she had in fact wanted to head off early, bypassing the horrific pain she endured. Maybe it would’ve sat well, knowing that she was free of pain and in a much more peaceful place; that she loved us enough to release us from having to see the constant anguish she was in. But maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe we’d have hated her for it; for not having the courage to see it through to the end or for being selfish enough to rob us of what was left of her. And that’s what’s stopping anything from being done about the law; nobody wants to step up and have the assisted deaths of anyone on their shoulders. Because we all know that sooner or later there’ll be a family of a deceased who won’t accept the decisions of their loved one and take it out, either through legal or illegal means, on the person ultimately responsible.

I guess my only suggestion is that if you think assisted suicide would ever be for you then take measures to ensure you’d be able to pull a DIY job on it if the need ever arose–the only thing selfish about assisted suicide is in the fact that it is, in fact, assisted.

This ‘taking things seriously’ business is making my brain hurt, so let’s finish up on a lighter note by taking a quick moment to poke fun at rapist-looking Brendan O’Neill (against campaigns for the legalisation of euthanasia) and his movie screen sized forehead.

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Oops, someone seems to have beaten me to it…

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Stay out of trouble!

Written by Sally Naylor-Hampson
Signing off…

The whacky, the strange, the funny, the serious, the personal, the outdated, the offensive, the hypocritical. We’ve covered it all here at Illegally Blog.

So to sign off here are a few reminders to keep you out of jail:

– If you’re planning on buying a pig in France, don’t call it Napoleon

– Find a spouse before your holiday in Florida, unless you want to be jailed for parachuting on a Sunday

– Don’t chew gum in Singapore

– If you’re a toothless woman moving to Vermont, make sure your husband gives you written permission to wear those fake teeth

– Shave off that mustache when travelling to Eureka, Nevada, USA, or you won’t be kissing any women

– Take that ice-cream cone out of your pocket whilst in Kentucky, USA

… Thanks for reading!

A law to protect our feathered friends

Written by Zoe Blain
Week 11: Signing off 

What a wacky eleven weeks of illegality it has been!  Here at Illegally Blog we have well and truly wrung our brains dry of topics. For my final post I have been inspired by Brian Cox. Brian Cox the cockatiel that is, who is perched on my chest and making it very difficult to type.

Exactly six years and two days ago I got my first cockatiel Oliver. The breeder was an Indian man and let many of his birds live un-caged indoors. Earlier this year my boyfriend and I bought a breeding pair (Brian Cox and Carl/a Sagan) and one female  (Taco) from a man in Mornington, Victoria. He kept his parrots in two shed-like aviaries outside. He claimed he had been breeding for over twenty years. Whilst Oliver is an expert flyer, Taco, Brian and Carl are slow, have difficultly landing, frequently hit walls and tire very quickly. Brian has lost half a toe and broken several blood feathers in these sorts of accidents.

 

Carl Sagan and Brian Cox… What a couple

PETA and campaigns such as Oscar’s Law are attempting to ban the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores. Whilst my local pet store has responded by reducing crowding and increasing enclosure space for mammals, the birds are still kept in a poorly lit, windowless room. Although the cages are quite large, they are vertical, which makes flight difficult for parrots. Most disturbingly, many of the cockatiels are covered in bald patches (they are known to pull out their own feathers when stressed) and have mattered crests due to dust build up, which can result in fatal respiratory illnesses. Unfortunately, I have come across much worse conditions.

My birds in one of their outdoor cages 

Although state governments offer a code of practice detailing how birds should be kept in captivity, there is no indication that breaching these guidelines is illegal, or will suffer any consequences. Cockatiel websites often encourage people to purchase directly from breeders to help combat mistreatment. However, my experience earlier this year has caused me to distrust the industry. Not only did I discover that Taco was actually a male, but that Brian and Carl suffer health and behavioral problems due to the practice of selective breeding  to create rare colour mutations.

Due to the ethical debate of caging birds it’s unlikely that concrete laws will ever be properly enforced concerning captivity.  However, I believe that every parrot owner can make a difference. After being given full reign of the house my three newest cockatiels have slowly improved their flying skills. Brian just crash landed into the couch, but at least it wasn’t a door. Although Oliver poos all over my bedroom I prefer him sleeping there than in a tiny cage.

A glamour pic of Taco and me

Thanks for reading my posts everybody! I hope you’ve enjoyed the puns, alliterations and Photoshop phenomena.
Ciao for now!
-Zoe