June 09, 2004


To protest abuses inside Abu Ghraib, the Australian Prisoners Union is calling for a strike:

This is a proposal from the Australian Prisoners Union that there be a call for a strike by prisoners in Australia and their supporters. We would call for parallel actions around the world. It is time to assert ourselves as human beings with a common issue. We know the comradeship of the prison experience.

So, how is this strike going to work?

Prisoners and their communities could decide on a crime strike, and tell the public what would make that possible. To make a conscious decision to not break the law for a day. The police could be asked to show goodwill and tolerance at the same time. If we can show that we can make a difference that would lead to greater possibilities in the future. Worldwide the effect would be enormous.

As the Gweilo writes:

How utterly diabolical. In retaliation for the abuse of Iraqi detainees, criminals worldwide are threatening to deprive us of ... crime.

What would the striking criminals do if strike-breaking scab criminals defied the no-crime order? Beating them up is against the law.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 9, 2004 02:13 AM


You're making this one up, yes?

Posted by: c at June 9, 2004 at 02:19 AM

Australia has a Prisoner's Union??? Tell me this is a satire. PLEASE!

Posted by: The Real JeffS at June 9, 2004 at 02:20 AM

You know the scary part is that I've met people who actually think this way.

Posted by: Bruce Rheinstein at June 9, 2004 at 02:37 AM

No one knows if its true or not but its funny.

Posted by: Jonny at June 9, 2004 at 02:37 AM

My initial reaction was exactly the same as JeffS's...this has to be satire; otherwise I shudder at the thought that there's actually a group of people who are unionized in Australia, but not here in Germany. I thought we (along with the French and Italians) were world leaders in that department!

I wonder what the benefits of being in a prisoner's union would be?

Posted by: PW at June 9, 2004 at 02:48 AM

Oh no no no!
This just cannot be true.
Would the prisoners union consider a pre-emptive strike? Maybe even a unilateral strike?
It's just not cricket.

Posted by: Tony at June 9, 2004 at 02:54 AM

What would the striking criminals do if strike-breaking scab criminals defied the no-crime order? Beating them up is against the law.

Are you sure? Here in the US, strike-related violence committed by union members is legal. At least, it's never prosecuted.

Posted by: Robert Crawford at June 9, 2004 at 03:21 AM

This is so far out that it must be a joke. Or an Alternative Universe is seeping into ours through a wormhole or something...

Posted by: Katherine at June 9, 2004 at 03:35 AM

I took a few minutes with Google:

Australian Prisoners' Union formed, from the "Green Left Weekly".

It's a real organization. This story is not satire.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at June 9, 2004 at 03:42 AM

I would guess that this union's members go on an extended "crime strike" when they get thrown in prison in the first place. And when they're freed, are they still eligible to be in the "prisoner's union," or does their membership just transfer right over to the Teamsters?

Posted by: Matt in Denver at June 9, 2004 at 04:16 AM

I read it and read it, and then I followed the link provided by JeffS and read that. This is what I come up with:

The prisoners' union wants free citizens to not commit the crime of oppressing prisoners for one day. Reading their list of goals, that means, apparently, not making them pay for their crimes by locking them up, because that's violating their basic rights (it's the only reading I can give to "free association for prisoners"). Therefore, the crime not to be committed on this strike day is ours, not theirs.

And all I can say is: I've died and gone to hell, and didn't notice until now.

Posted by: Rebecca at June 9, 2004 at 04:27 AM

Why do I think of the Hall of Doom slowly emerging from a swamp somewhere deep in the Australian Outback.


Posted by: Black Oak at June 9, 2004 at 04:32 AM

Prompted by JeffS's linked article (and its curious statement "prisoners' rights activists launched a new organisation, the Australian Prisoners' Union"), I've done some more googling, and damned if I can find any mention of this "Union" without a simultaneous mention of "Justice Action", which appears to be said group of activists. Also, they don't seem to have any spokespeople of their own.

Sure looks to me like the "Union" is just a front for this Justica Action group. (I guess it sounds better for the press releases to say that you have a "union" on your side.) I doubt any actual prisoners are members of the APU, assuming the organization has any members in the strict sense at all.

Posted by: PW at June 9, 2004 at 04:35 AM

All together now:

"Ariiiiiise, you prisoners of starvaaaaaation..."

Posted by: mojo at June 9, 2004 at 04:43 AM

PW, I noticed the same thing about this "Justica Action" group. I had misgivings about it when I noticed the publication "Green Left".

I also saw a "California Prisoner's Union". The link is to an announcement for a rather exclusive meeting in San Francisco. Perhaps this is an international organization? Argh!

Posted by: The Real JeffS at June 9, 2004 at 05:05 AM

Another masterstroke for GWB -- invading Iraq has reduced crime in the Coalition countries.

Posted by: Tibor at June 9, 2004 at 05:25 AM

So, the message they want to send, is... what?

Police should regularly sodomize criminals with flashlights, that way they'll stop committing crimes forever?

Posted by: Aaron at June 9, 2004 at 05:36 AM

Some day in the all-too-near future, every story in the news will imitate either "The Simpsons" or The Onion.

At that point, the servers at Best of the Web and News of the Weird will simultaneously explode with an Earth-destroying chain reaction.

I call it the Simpson/Onion Theory of Armageddon. I should be able to pinpoint the date with massive government grants and private contributions. Please make checks payable to David Schipani.

Posted by: Dave S. at June 9, 2004 at 05:40 AM

So those dirty scabs would undermine the striking criminals by stealing only half of our money and the oldest cars?

"...At that point, the servers at Best of the Web and News of the Weird will simultaneously explode with an Earth-destroying chain reaction."

Sounds like the premise of a movie starring Bruce Willis as the guy who tries to save the world by...making the world sensible again? Hmmm, there's a blockbuster in there somewhere, the plot just needs work...

Posted by: Raging Bee at June 9, 2004 at 06:25 AM

Who is John Galt?

Posted by: RonG at June 9, 2004 at 07:34 AM

I agree with the union. A day when people who are in jail and don't like to be f..ed in the ass can have a rest, i am all for it.

Posted by: chileau at June 9, 2004 at 09:16 AM

Stupidest union _EVER_

So go on strike you bunch of f#ckwits, like people will line the streets calling on crims to get back to it.

Is there a genetic disposition to be so stupid and criminal? They do seem related.

Go on strike your little crooked hearts out.

Posted by: JakeD at June 9, 2004 at 02:17 PM

(What happens if a prisoner refuses to join the union? Do they refuse to allow him/her in the prison?)

I agree with PW about the 'union' being for the benefit of the Justica Action group. I wonder how many Australian prisoners even realize they *have* a union? I'd be willing to bet it's not many.

It's a very strange world.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at June 9, 2004 at 02:39 PM

With great sadness and a heavy heart do I tell you that I knew this wasn't satire on the first read.

Posted by: Sortelli at June 9, 2004 at 07:17 PM

So if someone breaks the ranks, Scabs, and they rob my house or steal my car, will the insurance pay up. Maybe the Union will claim scab labor isn't covered by insurance. Now there's a conundrum.

But it would seem that it is us and not the crims this day is aimed at. Meaning we naughty and bad citiznes should'nt incarcerate the poor crim just for raping or murdering..

Hell, 1 bullet to the brain and no prisoner problems.

Posted by: scott at June 9, 2004 at 08:46 PM