The end of WWII left a generation of lost, young men with no place to go except for the dusty highways where they would ride on two wheel metal beasts, through endless days and nights trying to find someplace to belong. They had names like Hells Angels, The Finks and The Mongols. But there was no place in society for these broken men so they embraced being outlaws in both spirit and law. Two decades later the Vietnam war began and as the years passed, more and more veterans returned to a country that didn’t recognise or want them. And more young men hit the road in search of meaning and freedom. Those days have passed and now thirty years later biker gangs have clubhouses, run charities, guns, drugs, legal businesses and not so legal businesses. At times, violence has spilled out into the streets, and the innocent have become a permanent fixture in the landscape of collateral damage.
To combat this in Queensland, Premier Campbell Newman is introducing ‘biker specific’ laws that brand 26 bikers gangs as criminal organisations. They apply to anyone on two wheels, wearing a patch and who congregate in groups of more than three.
Here is what they are facing:
- Jail terms of between two and five years for members of outlawed gangs who are caught associating with each other
- The Supreme Court would be responsible for determining which gangs are outlawed, based on evidence provided by the Police
- The gang members would be given no warnings before charges are applied
The laws are being introduced into Queensland as I type, and are highly likely to be replicated within Victoria and NSW. I endorse the dismantling of criminal organizations. Arrest those who have murdered, throw the book at those who deal in drugs, and jail the swine who pop off automatic gunfire into suburban streets.
But wait? Hold on a minute?
Don’t we already have laws for criminality such as that?
So what the hell is going on now?
If these laws are to be passed within Victoria, it would make it legal for authorities to arrest biker members who fraternise with one another, wear the same colors, and congregate in certain prescribed areas. Sounds okay if you don’t think too hard about it. But if you do think hard about it, who else could these laws be applied to? If we are to brand organisations criminal because they are a bunch of people who all wear the same colors, hoon around on motorcycles and fraternise together then what about the Australia Post Service? They’re the biggest bloody biker gang in the entire country… AND THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!
And who decides what defines a criminal organization? These laws could easily be applied to activist organisations, unions or any group the Government decides to dislike for whatever reason. These new laws are so vague, they don’t even need to specify a reason for such damaging branding. If that’s the case, what happens if by some horrible accident we, the Australian people, accidently elect some crazy bigot, then who’s the next target? Religious groups, book clubs, girl scouts, football teams, people still wearing Ed Hardy tee shirts? These laws can be applied to any group any Government sees fit to dislike at that given point in time. If this was sixty years ago, these laws could have been applied to Women’s Liberation or Civil Rights Groups. In our current climate could they be applied to Same Sex Marriage advocates and let’s not forget about the big one… Religion. Because people of any religion never fraternise with one another, wear similar outfits, and congregate in certain prescribed areas. And now more than ever, Australia has a diversity when it comes to religion and culture.
Arrest criminals. Arrest killers. Arrest drug dealers. But once you start arresting people based on the associations they belong to, the weak and fearful will begin doing so toward anything and absolutely everything they don’t understand. And when that happens we lose who we are as a society and the promise of who we can be.
If you want to create an outlaw, create a law that excludes people from society, and you’ll have more than enough of them than you can handle.
First published at Murder is Everywhere