Snowball’s chance in hell

First, poor Mrs Gibbons is imprisoned for letting the children in her class choose an inappropriate name for a teddy bear and now this. An Australian citizen — also living overseas in a violent and primitive society — now finds himself facing injustice meted out at the end of a gravel.

An Australian student on trial for throwing a snowball at a co-worker was simply being playful and was not guilty of assault, his lawyer told a US court today.

Authorities in the state of Colorado say Andrew Thistleton, 21, hit Michelle Oehlert with the snowball at the Copper Mountain ski resort on February 4, where they had worked together at ski hire shop.

To borrow from Boris Johnson:

No, the voices we need to hear now belong to Australia’s vast, sensible American majority. If Australian Americans speak up decisively and loudly against this lunacy, then they can achieve two good things at once. Their arguments will be heard with respect in Colorado, since they cannot be said to be founded on any kind of cultural imperialism, or to be actuated by anti-American sentiment.

More importantly, a strong protest by Americans living in Australia against the treatment of Mr Thistleton would help to contradict the growing ranks of pessimists and leftists – the people who say that the real problem is America, the country itself.

There is a body of commentators who say that we are deceiving ourselves about the scale of the problem. America, they claim, is not the fault of a few extremists.

These people claim that difficulties we are experiencing are intrinsic to the country itself – because it is in essence a country of war, unreformable, medieval. I think they are completely wrong, and they can be proved wrong.


#1 GMan on 12.08.07 at 10:52 am

Hm, I dunno about the satire in this case. Perhaps if there were a blood thirsty mob and a local priest insisting he must die, the analogy would hold. But given that they are absent and the most likely outcome is a fine at most, I don’t think you really make the point you’re striving for.

#2 FB on 12.08.07 at 12:29 pm

I think it does make the point, the crowd in Sudan was quite clearly secondary to the insane application of law, the same as in this case.

What makes it difficult for you Gman is that the country involved is western and perceived as rational, as opposed to the in inherently irrational Muslims. Therefore in your mind this case must be exceptional rather than emblematic.

#3 Antish on 12.08.07 at 3:39 pm

Erm, given that the snowball was (according to the plaintiff) mainly ice, then it’s a pretty clear-cut case of assault. It would be like being hit by a stone.

#4 Antish on 12.08.07 at 3:43 pm

Pardonez moi – more – the analogy would be that the victim thought it was fine (c/f the kids and their parents) but a passing janitor thought it offended all that he held most dear; that the government took up the cry; that mobs of others were so pathetic as human beings that they became enraged.

Remember the teacher torn to death by her pupils in Nigeria because she unwittingly threw a bag containing a Koran? If Mrs Gibbons didn’t happen to be a national of a country with muscle, she might at least have been lashed and possibly killed by a mob.

#5 GMan on 12.08.07 at 4:52 pm

I’ve heard of reading between the lines, FB, but I think you’re taking it to extremes. Nowhere did I accuse Muslims in general of being irrational, although I tend to think of all religious belief as somewhat irrational I suppose. The teacher said she loved Sudan and the Sudanese people, and certainly untold millions of Sudanese were not rioting in the streets calling for her blood. Just as with the ridiculous but nasty cartoon riots, it was a tiny percentage of irrational fanatics. I don’t think all Muslims should have been apologising for the Sudan incident any more than I think all Christians should apologise for nitwits like Pastor Danny. The police obviously considered the snowball incident to be a case of assault. You might be able to make a comparison if he’d named the snowball Jesus before throwing it.

#6 Michel Trudeau on 12.08.07 at 8:10 pm

Again more racism.

If the victim of the snowball was a lady in a veil, you would not have posted this.

Very disappointing, people. Very indeed.


#7 Sam Ward on 12.09.07 at 9:38 pm

This is a ridiculous post Amir, it really makes you look like you’re clutching at straws.

#8 Abdullah on 12.09.07 at 10:11 pm

The post is making fun of Boris Johnson’s argument that British Muslims had to say something about what was happening in Sudan.

If British Muslims have a responsibility to condemn the weirdness and excesses of Sudanese legal system then the Americans in Australia have the same responsibility.

Personally, I think charging someone with assault for throwing a snowball is ridiculous and silly but at the same time this sort of litigious hypersensitivity is just what we expect from the Americans.

#9 Cinna on 12.10.07 at 3:28 am

” injustice meted out at the end of a gravel.”

Is this a milder form of stoning?

#10 James on 12.10.07 at 6:09 am

Very technically this was a case of assault and battery. Now lets break it down. The victim called the police and pressed charges. As this is a legitimate charge the officers of the law have no choice but to charge the “assailant.” As this case is being tried in court in a criminal case, the prosecutor thought that this case was worth spending resources on. More to the point so too did the judge who could at any point tossed out the case and given the prosecutor a stern dressing down for waisting his or her time. Back to the incident at had, the snowball did actual harm to a living breathing human being. Change the physics a little and a nose could have been broken or an eye damaged.

Now look at what happened in Sudan. The whole ‘harm’ of that case is an “insult to the prophet” The charge lies on incredibly shaky ground. There are millions of living breathing Muslim males with the name Muhammad or derivation there of; are they insulting god’s last messenger? Is the government of Sudan proposing that doors be busted down to find other inappropriately named Teddy Bears? The whole kerfufel reeks of tin-foil hattery and the loss of common sense.

This is were the need for informing the uninitiated, unwashed masses comes from. It is PR thing. Like it or not, it needs pointing out that the Sudanese government has left the Islamic reservation in this case. Like it or not, from a PR stance, Muslims from other lands need to distance themselves from what is going on in Sudan. Like it or not, Sudan has been a big, black eye for the Islam- it is a bloody rag being waived by the Islamophobes.

Were British, Australian, Malaysian, Canadian or other Muslims absolutely required to speak out? No, they were not. The Code Pink protester who confronted Condoleezza Rice with blood stained hands was not compelled by any other thing than need to speak the truth to power. But what a brave and visually powerful thing she did. She spoke for millions of people in the U.S.A who oppose the Iraq misadventure, who want peace and reconciliation. She stood up to a woman who’s history in government slanders the good name of the USA. That Code Pinker showed the world that there are people in the USA who still give a damn about law, order and morality. She didn’t HAVE to do any of it, she could have just as easily joined a bridge club. (But oddly enough, even bridge players feel compelled to disown Bush.)

The question before us all is how far we a willing to defend our side, are we willing to turn a blind eye to cruelty, anger and lawlessness masquerading as the defense of a Noble cause? I can only answer for myself, and to my own conviction. I will not justify lawlessness from any source, I will stand up to cruelty, injustice and abuse wherever I find it. I will support the widow, the orphan and the downtrodden. I will hold the powerful to account for their evil deeds. I will oppose any base fool who tries to tell me that an evil is justified or tries to trivialize that evil. And yes, that goes double for the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and his evil Ventriloquist of a Vice President.

#11 Eudaemonion on 12.10.07 at 6:34 am

Much ado about nothing really. It all seems lost on some.

#12 G-man on 12.10.07 at 4:27 pm

Abdullah, that’s just nonsense as James very eloquently explained. As for British Muslims, of course there’s no obligation for them to be commenting on events in another nation just because it happens to be a Muslim country. But look at it this way – they had no problem coming out in their thousands to protest against the invasion of Iraq or the comic book fiasco (some carrying charming placards calling for people to be beheaded) even though most of them are neither Iraqis nor Danes. Yet they can’t support their fellow British citizen threatened with prison and lashing over naming a teddy bear? That pretty much spells out where their loyalty lies. Fair enough, it’s their right and their decision, but you’ll forgive the British if they then wonder aloud what sort of viper they’ve invited into their nest.

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