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A Tale of Two Parks

On 1 December 1955 in Montgomery Alabama USA, Rosa Parks, a seamstress in a department store, decided she had enough of drinking from the black-only water fountain, using black-only elevators and siting in the black-only back of the bus. She decided to sit in the front four rows reserved for whites and was convicted of violating a city ordinance and behaving in a disorderly manner. This instigated the US civil rights movement and influence of people such as Martin Luther-King. Blacks boycotted the buses for a year and Rosa Parks' case went to the Supreme Court which ruled that bus segregation was illegal. Reflection on this is due to the death of Rosa Parks aged 92 in October. These reflections courtesy of an obituary in the Economist. We have marked the occasion by adding a Song on 'assimilation' to Resources.

In Australia, recent focus on government anti-terrorism actions has brought to light the laws against 'sedition'. (Read background at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_sedition_law ). This type of law, which has little use to go by, is getting into tricky territory, particularly if State and Federal governments disagree on their use and the discretion of the Attorney General for 'summary prosecution' is misused. When you read the definition of 'seditious intention', the cynicism of what passes for Australian comedy and the ravings of talk-back radio hosts would be hard to distinguish from statements linked to terrorist intent.

The other Parkes referred to in the title is Henry Parkes, father of Australian federation. As premier of New South Wales he was a strong supporter of free trade, immigration programmes and education reforms. He introduced laws that gave the Government the power to employ teachers and create public schools, abolished government funding to religious schools and improved prisons. Seems some of his work has been undone.

Posted Sunday, 13 November 2005


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