Aboriginal culture has been under particularly heavy fire from white Australia for the past few years, but ironically, one of the worst cultures on earth has nothing to with race. I’ll return to that in a minute.

Most readers would be aware by now of a video on YouTube from the Northern Territory, in which a police officer films a drunken Aboriginal man (reportedly near Katherine). The video starts with the man lying in the dirt. It shows one cop helping the man to his feet, while his partner (the cop behind the camera) urges the man — whose name is apparently “Chappy” — to sing and dance.

The Aboriginal man complies, and starts stumbling around in the dirt singing By the Rivers of Babylon, while the two police look on, laughing.

The original video was removed from YouTube on Tuesday night, although you can still see versions of it — some users have taken the clip, cut it down and reposted it without the footage showing the police involvement.

Most people who’ve seen an Aboriginal man or woman in this state would find nothing funny in the video. Aboriginal people like “Chappy” (and for the purposes of debate, we’re making some big assumptions here) live lives of abject misery.

It is a tragic existence, and only a very “special” class of Australian would think it was appropriate to film it. A very special class of Australian who, on this occasion, also happens to belong to one of the worst, most troubled cultures on earth: police culture.

In the Northern Territory and around Australia, thousands of police have thousands of interactions with Aboriginal people every day, and very few of them end with a cop video-taping someone’s misery and then posting it on the Internet for light entertainment.

And if that were all there was to the argument — that most of the time, most of the cops do the right thing — then you might think this story was a storm in a teacup.

But that’s not all she wrote. The fact is, if a cop isn’t actively mistreating an Aboriginal person in the course of his or her duties, then sure as eggs he’ll be actively supporting and defending a colleague who has.

Just look at Palm Island. Just look at Redfern. Just at look at what happened in Wadeye when a cop “mistakenly” shot an Aboriginal man in the back, killing him, but somehow escaped charges.

The sad reality is that cops mistreat Aboriginal people all the time, and when it happens their colleagues back them, almost no matter what.

The Northern Territory police have refused to elaborate any further than: “We’ve counselled the officer”. They won’t even say if a second officer depicted in the video laughing at the scene has also been “counselled”.

There are many people calling for this cop’s head on the grounds that his conduct was unprofessional, not to mention racist. I agree, although there are more simple grounds on which to dismiss him.

Having stripped a man of his dignity, the video is then posted on the internet, even though at the end of the sequence the cop turns the camera around and films his own face — in close-up! Anyone that stupid should not be allowed to carry a firearm.

Although he should seriously consider a career in Territory politics. The ABC reports that the NT Opposition (the Country Liberal Party) said while it doesn’t support the video, Territory police often have to encourage drunk Aboriginal people to sing or dance to defuse aggression and get them to cooperate.

On second thoughts, let’s give the copper his gun back … and have him guard the next CLP annual conference.

The inference from the CLP is that the video is sort of racist, but not really all that racist because (takes out dog whistle, gives it a toot) … all black people are drunk and aggressive.

Ever the populists, the CLP knows that the average punter — particularly in the Territory — think the humiliation of one of society’s most vulnerable citizens is all a bit of a lark.

Some of the comments attached to the YouTube video tell the story. SmokingJoethedrunk writes:

Its (sic) just good clean fun. The sooner we get all these politically correct wankers out of this great country, this country will be much greater.

His comment is typical of much of the chat on YouTube.

Of course, the video is outrageously racist. For a start, point to a video where an NT cop has filmed himself directing a drunk white man to dance, then posted it on the Internet. The fact is, you can’t and that’s because this video made the light of day precisely because the victim was black and the perpetrator was white. It would never have been filmed if the drunk was white. It was on the internet for the same reasons.

But if you still think the video is not racist, then just check out some of the other comments on the video, and while you’re doing it, have a think about the sort of people this clip appeals to:

Adrian23199 writes:

Well … it has often been said Australia is home to some of the stranges (sic) Fauna on the planet…

Magumbo84 writes:

Hey he looks like anthony mundine. Dance N-gger Dance.


Hahaha, f-ck the black Abo c-nts … I aint chucking a sook over this sh-t. On the contrary, I think this is hilarious.

mfd069 writes:

He dances better than those f-gs on “so you think you can dance” or as I like to call it “so you think you’re a f-g”.

Nice stuff, and a lesson for us all: if you lay down with dogs, you wake up with … white Australians.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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