Saturday 20 March 2010

More thoughts on Aboriginal law

Don't get me wrong - Aboriginal law exists. No man can live without laws. Every society and social grouping creates laws to live by. Some are written and some are unwritten - but all societies are societies of laws.

And lawyers.

Here are some quick thoughts about the law as it applies to you and me. We have criminal law, commercial law, tax law, industrial relations law, human rights law and environmental law and religious law. We probably have 50 other types of law that I haven't mentioned. Laws are created by the Commonwealth government, the various state governments and the myriad local governments - or councils. Laws are also made up all the time by activist soft headed judges.

So we have lots of law, with lots of different jurisdictions and get this - all that law is evolving all the time. 50 years ago, we used to hang people for murder. Now we don't. Laws are altered, rewritten, replaced every year.

That's white mans law.

What about blackfella law?

I'd expect a similar dynamic to be in play. That is, they'd have different laws in different jurisdictions (tribal areas) with different routes for appeal, and different court systems (although both probably involved a group of middle aged blokes sitting around arguing the rights and wrongs of the case). Different punishment systems would also be in play - and none involved jail, as jails are not something that hunters and gatherers tend to build. Being speared in the leg and then left behind when the tribe moved on was probably a pretty effective way at removing criminals from society. If gangrene didn't remove them first.

The soft heads seem to have this idea that aboriginal law is thousands of years old, and somehow more "worthy" than our laws as a result. Well, given that none of their laws were written down, we have no idea how old any of them are. We know what Hammurabi thought back in 1700 BC about traffic violators and such, but stuff all about what the legal system of the Darug people say 100 years ago. My guess is that regardless of what the Darug legal system looking like in 1910, it was completely different to what it was in 1810 - because their laws would have evolved with changing circumstances. Just like ours. Aboriginals are no different to white fellas - and I fail to see why their legal system should be treated as "ancient" and "noble" and all that crap. It's just a couple of shysters having a fine argument in the end, regardless of their skin colour.

So back to my earlier post about the Darug people and the mob up in the Kimberly and the fuss over a Wanjina. There are something like 500 councils in Australia - as in town councils. As we know, every council has different regulations in regard to parking, development approvals, heritage orders, dog walking, rubbish removal, landscaping and so on. I have no idea what the rules governing dog ownership are in Fitzroy Crossing, which is in the Kimberly.

Let's imagine for a moment that there were 500 tribes in 1788. They all have their own laws regarding marriage, trading with other groups, spear production, fire setting, food consumption, hygiene, humpy construction, kangaroo cooking, religious ceremonies, art funding, tribal elections and so on. As some areas have rock art and others don't, it's clear that some subsidised artistes and others, who were descended from the Philistines, didn't.

That aside, why are a gallery owner and a park ranger in Sydney suddenly experts on the religious laws governing a tribe 4335km away? (I looked the route up on Google Maps). Have they spent 5 years getting a B.Laws (Kimberly) and sat the bar exams and been admitted to the Bar in the Kimberly blackfella courts system? Are they trained and qualified to comment?

Or are they just shooting their mouth's off, and don't have a frickin' clue?


bruce said...

Dumb of them to even mention the Kimberleys, shows they are halfway through thinking this all out.

I am a bit on their side on this though BoB. Aboriginal Art and culture are nice little earners for Aus and their 'patent' ought to be preserved, especially from these passive-agressive New Agers.

But agree with you that bringing religion into it just confuses everyone.

Boy on a bike said...

I don't agree with you on the "patent" rights - art is art. However, I can't stand it when white fellas paint something and call it aboriginal art. It's aboriginal inspired art, or themed art, painted by a white fella, and it should be classed as such.

Karl Mayerhofer said...

Or are they just shooting their mouth's off, and don't have a frickin' clue?

Ha ha ha ha ha. Now THAT'S the pot calling the kettle black. You ask too many stupid questions to even pretend to have a clue. Think before you blog.

Boy on a bike said...

What's wrong with asking questions? How are you supposed to learn about anything without asking questions?

No, the stupid thing is to act all wise and keep your mouth shut.

Karl Mayerhofer said...

Ha ha ha ha. I wonder how you learn at all!

So what you're saying is it is ok to shoot your mouth off without having a frickin' clue???

You're all over the place. I'm trying to point out how hypocritical you are, and not only can you not see it, but you go ahead and confirm it.

Again, think before you blog.