Let me preface this by noting that I love Australia. I've been here about 20 times and as I sit in my Sydney hotel room today, I'm looking out at bright blue skies, beautiful women passing by and anticipating a night of lively beer drinking with some of my Aussie "mates".
As much as I enjoy this country - so much so that I once applied to move here - I don't always understand it. Case in point: one of the daily newspapers - the tabloid Daily Telegraph - has begun an absurd campaign against Canada because some yahoo Canadian who owns what's known as a "roadside" zoo in London, Ontario has had the audacity to keep a kangaroo penned up. The headline of the story: Tyson jailer's cruel silence" subtitled, "pity it's not her caged big cat that's got her tongue".
Nevermind the Canadian government has pledged action on this "zoo" and others, which had existed in a murky legal area between being businesses and private pet ownerships. Nevermind that the "zoo" in question has now been closed, as they all should be. Nevermind that the kangaroo most probably arrived in Canada from Australia since the animal is far from native to our northern climes. Nevermind, for that matter, that Australians eat kangaroo and you can buy it at many local butcheries (for the record, I've tried it and as a meat choice, I wouldn't recommend it).
That's not enough for the Tely. When its reporters trespassed on the owner's property, she called the police. The police questioned the reporters and cleared them of any wrongdoing, even agreeing the woman who ran the "zoo" was a known pain in the ass but explaining when police are called, they are obliged to respond. That was worth yet another story from the Tely, despite the fact the cops were just doing their job.
Over the last two days, I have counted four stories in the Telegraph about this as well as an editorial. All of a sudden, Canadians are just slightly above al-Qaida as a threat to the Australian way of life.
What is particularly amusing, in a sordid, twisted way, is that the Tely now has posted, on its Web site, a "collection of Dumb Canadian video clips" that they invite their readers to "laugh at". In the same issue where I read this there are stories about:
- new cashless poker machines (pokies in Australia) that will allow ever-increasing numbers of obviously highly intelligent Australians to blow their weekly wages without needing actual cash,
- a genius Sydneysider who invented and is circulating a video game modelled on the killings at Virginia Tech,
- an Einstein of a family whose six small children were found living in a drug den,
- a Mensa-quality decision that allows a doctor charged with raping a patient to continue his practise
- some super smart guys who flimed themselves sexually assaulting two schoolgirls. (Gang rapes are an ongoing problem in Australia, usually perpetrated by people the Tely will only describe as "olive complexioned"...you can figure out the rest.)
All of which might lead some people to believe that when it comes to dumb, Canadians don't exactly stand alone in the western world. The kangaroo story, by the way, took up most of Page 7 of the particular issue. The pokie story got one column on page 5, the VT video game rated about three inches on page 9, the drug den got half of page 15 and the doctor accused of rape and the filmed sexual assault by a bunch of young males were so lacking in newsworthiness, compared to the kangaroo, that they appeared on pages 18 and 19, respectively.
Not sure why the Tely has decided to take on Canada and label us "dumb" - perhaps it ran out of George W. Bush jokes - but surely it could put its resources to better use, particularly since the Canadians have already moved to address the problem they're complaining about in the first place and the Aussies seem to have a few problems of their own to work on.