Turning the Tide of
Meating eating Militarism
Benny Zable protesting his trespass charge outside Lismore courthouse, 26 May 2010.
Forgive us our trespasses
When Nimbin based national and international protesting icon, Benny Zable, turned up at the City of Lismore Australia Day celebration at Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre on 26 January last, he was wearing his slogan suit and gas mask and he wanted to object to the carnivore flavour of the official, national Australia Day poster which advocated, "BBQ as you never BBQ-ed before."
The event organiser, a Council employee, would neither let him in nor hear his beef. Nor would they tolerate him standing near. Instead the cops were called and when the cops arrived and Benny refused to move (he claimed his citizen's right to be on public land causing no obstruction or harm), they handled him roughly, arrested him, fingerprinted him, charged him with trespass and held him in custody for 3 hours.
Some Australia Day celebration! Some Australia!
"It was not just that i object to Australian national identity being promoted as meat eaters with strong jaws and Aryan faces, but also because meat production, and in particular beef production, is a major contributor to climate change and loss of native forest and habitat," Benny Zable said.
Undeterred by his treatment by the cops Benny used the charge and the court hearing to further his Beyond Beef cause. Meat means murder to Benny.
Come the hearing in the Lismore court on 26 May, some 20 friends gathered by the Nimbin Environment Centre and including Graeme Dunstan with Peacebus.com were there to support him with a Speak Out outside the Lismore Court.
Peacebus.com SpeakOut in support. Top, Adriana paints, Jack sings, Graeme Dunstan spruiks and Benny Zable likewise.
The cops however turned contrite and withdrew the trespass charge; what's more lawyer Steve Bolt was able to screw the prosecution $1000 for costs.
Victory to the people. We love you Benny.
Forgive us our Trespasses
"Retro" was the word used to describe the style of the official 2010 Australia Day poster which provoked Benny Zable to such vehement protest.
"Fascist" is a more appropriate label. But then how many people know what the word "fascism" means these days? It's gone from popular memory and maybe history too.
"BBQ like you never BBQd before" urged the poster and it depicted three Caucasian faces in profile, eyes on the far horizon, cling wrapped trays of meat clutched to chests in the Social Realism style so dear Trotsky, Goebbels and Mao Tse Tung. For Australia Day it appeared as taxpayer funded, full page ads in newspapers across the land.
The best one can say of it is that, in the poor taste which is born of ignorance, it was a clever visual joke and eye catching. But it is this very ignorance, the very unconsciousness of the image and the messages implicit, which is the worst of it.
Here was another sign of how deep and pervasive is the success of the Liberal-Labor conservative project to militarise Australian culture and history.
Australian troops have been in Afghanistan 8 years now; which makes it our longest foreign war ever and probably, in actual tax dollars, the most expensive. Yet it's a hidden war; in part due to Government intent (secrecy, embedded journalism and the like) but mainly due to widespread apathy and uninterest.
War without end - and most people are simply too distracted or too deceived to care. As in George Orwell's 1984, war has become normalised and the peace movement has all but evaporated from public place and public imagination.
Last Anzac Day it was my pleasure to join a small group of faith based peace activists at the Australian Quaker Centre at Silver Wattle, near Bungendore, in a retreat called Putting an End to War. For three days my heart sang just to be there and plotting for peace amongst such uplifting company. I came away inspired.
Our meditations suggested a number of directions for future action and i will talk of just two.
First is the importance of ongoing resistance to Talisman Sabre, the biennial US-Oz war games at Shoalwater Bay, near Rockhampton, Qld.
At present the tide is out on the peace movement but in the way of changes it will certainly return again. Now is the time to be working to rebuild it and resisting Talisman Sabre is a means.
These war games make the cost and consequence of the US Alliance highly visible and targetable. Protesting them brings attention to peace and gives us peace activists an opportunity to come together, meet and act in common cause. In this resistance, new generations of peace activists will be inspired and initiated into direct action.
To this end faith-based activists such as Bryan Law and Margaret Pestorius of Cairns Peace by Peace, expanding on the success of the trespass walks at TS09, are promoting 'Wilderness Pilgrimages' into the Shoalwater test facility during Talisman Sabre 2011. These will combine guided wilderness walks with deep Christian witness.
The second theme for Putting an End to War action came from reflections on the recently published What's wrong with Anzac? The Militarisation of Australian History by Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds.
The book documents how history has been bent and the militarist agenda of the RSL, whose membership never attracted more than 10% of WW1 veterans, has become government funded cultural policy.
Christians are challenging the tightly controlled secular liturgy that the RSL has created. The core critique is that the liturgy honors unquestioning blood sacrifice to the gods of war. It twists Jesus' teaching about 'greater love" from meaning a sacrifice made out of love for love, to a sacrifice made out of hatred for war.
Citizens generally ought be concerned about the fabrication of Australian national identity as something forged in war and dependent on war. In this is the means by which perpetual war is validated and normalised.
The project for peacemakers is to reclaim the Anzac Day for peacemaking. Big challenge and while at Silver Wattle i had a vision of how that might happen: lantern lit peacemaker vigils on Anzac Day eve in which the veteran voices of peace are heard.
Starting in Canberra next Anzac Day and spreading nationally like a lantern virus, 10,000 lanterns by the 2015, the centenary of the Anzac landing. Be my witness!
As Taoists know, every tide has gotta turn. LetĠs speed the day when peace is normalised again.
28 May 2010
Media Release 25 May 2010
Speak out! Benny Zable in court.
National and international protesting icon, Benny Zable, will be supported by a public Speak Out when he appears in the Lismore court tomorrow, Wednesday 26 May 2010.
Benny was arrested and charged with trespass when he turned up in his slogan suit and gas mask at LismoreĠs Australia Day ceremonies at Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre on 26 January.
Vegan Benny had taken exception to the official Australia Day, retro social realist poster and its slogan, ÔBBQ like youĠve never BBQĠd beforeĠ.
"It's not just that i object to Australian national identity being defined as meat eaters with strong jawed Aryan faces, but also because meat production, and in particular beef production, is a major contributor to climate change and loss of native forest and habitat," Benny Zable said.
"I went to the Australia Day ceremony as an Australian citizen with a beef against beef and for my troubles was arrested and held in custody for 3 hours," he said.
"Some Australia Day, some Australia," said Speak Out organiser Graeme Dunstan of Peacebus.com.
Friends of Benny Zable will be gathering outside the courthouse to give Benny the hearing the Australia Day organisers would not.
"Benny is an active member of the Nimbin Environment Centre, master of murals in Nimbin, flagman to the national Green movement and a fellow Aquarian," said Mr Dunstan. "I will be there supporting a mate, a truly great spirit."
Assembling outside the Lismore Courthouse in Zadoc Street Lismore from noon. Media call 12.30 pm. Court appearance scheduled for 2 pm.
Graeme Dunstan, Peacebus.com 0407 951 688
Lisa Costello, Nimbin Environment Centre 0439 261 055/ 6689 1441