Some of these things are not like the other ones: a quiz

Six of these sentences appeared in the Australian mainstream media this week. Eight didn’t; they have been doctored by me. Can you tell which is which? Click each number for the original story.

1. Three young white people, one of them a police officer, have pleaded guilty to raping a male friend during a night of heavy drinking in Adelaide.

2. An Aboriginal preacher who pleaded guilty to child sex abuse will hear from his victims in court today.

3. Jessica was randomly abducted from her workplace in Ballarat on February 6 last year and raped repeatedly by a white man during a 29-hour, cross country ordeal.

4. Three men charged over the gang rapes of a 12-year-old boy in the remote Aboriginal community of Maningrida in the Northern Territory between April and August last year have been ordered to stand trial.

5. White man Martin, who claimed he was armed with a knife, then took his victim on a terrifying drive to Bacchus Marsh, west of Melbourne, during which time he threatened to rape her.

6. More than 30 Aboriginal men have been implicated in sex attacks on girls as young as 11 from one community after authorities uncovered a second child abuse scandal in a remote West Australian indigenous township.

7. John Nicholous Xydias, a 43-year-old chef living in white suburb Glen Iris with his parents, will appear in the Melbourne Magistrates court on Monday after police alleged he had drugged, raped and filmed 16 women between 1998 and 2004.

8. White serial rapist Robert Fardon is in police custody after being caught in the company of another sex offender who had breached his curfew. Fardon, 58, was arrested yesterday in Brisbane’s west along with fellow multiple rapist Trevor Toms, also white, when an electronic monitoring device worn by Toms alerted authorities to a curfew breach.

9. A man accused of taking a sleeping 10-year-old girl from her bed and sexually assaulting her at a remote Aboriginal community will remain in police custody.

10. A white aged-care worker digitally raped elderly women with dementia under his care, a jury has been told.

11. Police have rescued an Australian child at potential risk from a global internet paedophile ring that used a chat room to stream live videos of children being raped. Four Australian men have been arrested, with more arrests expected. […] Investigators made the case public after the sentencing of white ringleader Timothy David Martyn Cox yesterday.

12. Three teenagers accused of raping a 12-year-old boy over five months at a remote Aboriginal community will stand trial.

13. In 1972, he was twice anally raped by an older Aboriginal man.

14. The panel appointed by the Government says there’s sexual abuse of children in almost every white suburb in Australia, possibly in all of them.


Edited to add:

Yes, it wasn’t a very difficult quiz, was it? Which says something in itself. These “white” designations are completely absent in Australia’s media – a universal journalistic whiteout. The “white” designations leap off the page, stand out like sore thumbs, because we’ve never seen them before. In the past couple of weeks, since the government has decided we have a Sudden! Unexpected! Black! Crime! Crisis!, specific reporting on crime perpetrated by Aboriginal people has leapt dramatically. However, the “Aboriginal felon” descriptions are nothing new, they’ve just increased in numbers. They’re still completely familiar to us from previous reporting.

I don’t know whether the journalists have suddenly all independently decided that Aboriginal-rapist stories sell papers; it’s almost as though there’s been a decree to focus on, and specifically identify, crime perpetrated by Aboriginal people.

Either way, the list also illustrates the way in which whiteness is invisible, considered “neutral” or “default”. People of colour have “race”, while white people are just folks. If a criminal is Aboriginal, they’re seen to represent Aboriginal people as a whole – their criminality is related back to their race, in many people’s eyes. If a person is white, their criminality is attributed to some other factor. White felons are not considered to be examples of how dreadful, dangerous, and animalistic white people are.

Categories: social justice

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12 replies

  1. I haven’t clicked any links yet. I’m betting the undoctored ones are: 13; 12; 9; 6; 4; 2. How’d I do? (BTW I’m Merkin not Strine, so if I completely blew it, I won’t be stunned. 🙂

  2. You’ve added “white” where appropriate? Good Point Tigtog.

  3. Lauredhel’s post actually, Su, but yeah, I think that’s it.

  4. Sorry, Lauredhel!

  5. Yes, it wasn’t a very difficult quiz, was it! Which says something in itself. I’ve edited the post to add my further comments.

  6. This is brilliant Lauredhel.

  7. Didn’t click, but when “the rapist” doesn’t have a racial qualifier in front, he’s white.
    This reminds me of media coverage of the Cronulla riots, when women’s rights languges was abused to justify racist stereotyping in an either/or racism/sexism media meltdown.
    It’s really indicative of how unreconcilled whiteness in Australia is that so many whites have the cultural capital to always say the “right” thing about both rape and race when in our comfort zones, but any unexpected conflict and the old slander comes right out.
    I’m extremely cautious discussing certain aspects of immigration, sex work and domestic violence even with feminists for this reason; the capacity of central white voice to appropriate sexual material to it’s own ends is so prevalent.

  8. all independently decided that Aboriginal-rapist stories sell papers

    Well, cynically there’s headline potential in combining the voyerism around race, sex and violence.
    Then add tthat child abuse is common enough to attract a large audience, and emphasising the bodies of the Othered as a proxy for the repressed issues of the larger market readership let’s an editor capitalise on that.
    Ok, taking my jaded mind away now.

  9. Re Story number 8 – Just because Trevor Toms skin is fair he along with his family are TO’s of the Innisfail FNQLD area his mother is the eldest elder of that country, so yes he is Aboriginal, you mob need to check your facts!!!!
    His Confused Sister

  10. Apologies to Jen (we’ve sorted it out off-blog); I’ve put a strikethrough on the relevant bit. As I mentioned when asked on my personal blog, I did the research I could, by looking for photographs and made “best guesses” based on names and media reporting, and I recognise that these are, at best, guesses.
    The central point of my post is not the actual race of the people mentioned, but rather the media’s selective choices about which races are to be made visible and which are not.

  11. Well, cynically there’s headline potential in combining the voyerism around race, sex and violence.
    Then add that child abuse is common enough to attract a large audience, and emphasising the bodies of the Othered as a proxy for the repressed issues of the larger market readership let’s an editor capitalise on that.
    Ok, taking my jaded mind away now.

    Outfox – sadly, I think your jaded mind is spot on to the reality here.


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