Assume for a moment that Peter Dutton, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, is not a cruel and heartless man who derives pleasure from persecuting the unfortunate. Assume also that the Turnbull government is not so morally debased that its cabinet would sit around discussing what new torture it might inflict on boat people purely as a tactic of distraction, a morsel of red meat for the Murdoch press and shock jocks to noisily chew.

If that’s right -- if Dutton is actually human and there’s something going on in the prime ministerial brain beyond his minute-to-minute survival -- then why has the government chosen now to introduce its latest weapon of dehumanisation against a tiny group of people it has already reduced to non-person status in the country’s consciousness? What’s the deal with the “final departure bridging E visa”?