If their teenage child couldn't spell "cat", most Australian parents would be howling for the blood of politicians, teachers and just about anyone else in striking distance.
But this scandalous illiteracy is exactly what some indigenous communities are supposed to tolerate.
In Tiwi Islands near Darwin, for example, a former school head estimates 80 to 90 per cent of early teenagers are "functionally illiterate – can’t spell cat is the example I use". A current principal laments trying to teach 13-year-olds with reading ages of less than six.
Put it down to any number of things: chronic absenteeism and lack of motivation springing from family dysfunction, violence, substance abuse, sit-down money, too few role models, no jobs, not enough teaching in English, paltry government investment in schools and teachers.
ABC1 Monday night, 8:30pm.
And speaking of the problems in aboriginal communities, currently there's a piece (Part 1) on Message Stick about the aboriginal tent embassy set up on the grounds of Parliament House in Canberra, 1972.
From the transcript:
DENNIS WALKER: Land rights isn't a word, it's a living. It's people. To black people, it's a living. To white people, it's money. And they're gonna kill black people, one way or another, to get that money. That's what land rights means. That means a lot of money and a lot of people... * ..that are getting rich off your blood and guts. How much is that building worth? Millions! Anything I've said here, is it untrue?
CROWD: No! No! You pink bastards! Black power!
NEWSREADER: Public demonstrations in Australia's southern capitals are almost commonplace, but when 200 people marched through the streets of Darwin recently demanding Aboriginal rights, it made some of the more complacent members of the community sit up and take notice.
BOB RANDALL: We are hoping to achieve spiritual recognition of the valuable culture the Aborigines may lose if they accept the European values of materialism. We feel that they too will become selfish, greedy and start robbing each other without realising why. And we believe the importance of the Aborigine people hanging onto the values they have built up through thousands of years of living in this land and through practice, through experience and through truths have gained the spiritual value, which is so high today in the Aboriginal society.
INTERVIEWER: You see the situation here being the same as the situation for blacks in America.
MAN: Yes, because they're both being oppressed by a fascist system, of which we believe that America is the centre and, you know, Australia is more or less a puppet to the American fascist regime.
(* There appears to be quite a bit of this statement missing. It was making me quite cranky listening to the drivel about how wealthy Australia is and how it can afford to support aborigines and give them what they want... That's how we've all got into the current disastrous situation.)
Which would all be hysterically funny if it wasn't so tragic. It's not about money. It's a spiritual thing. White people are going to kill aboriginal people... er, no. Aboriginal people through neglect and sitting down and doing nothing except pissing and moaning about how badly off they are, with "activists" and "advocates" and riders on the gravy train of The Aboriginal Industry, will kill themselves.... although, judging from the numbers of aboriginal people appearing in the census the gravy train will continue to be fully loaded forever.
MAN: All I'm trying... all I'm trying to basically... All I'm trying to say is that the time of white domination of the black movement is over. It's time for black people to do things for themselves and get things for themselves, 'cause it's the only way you'll get anything. Go away, will you? We're doing something. We're talking about you.
Yeah, but to do that you have to get up off your arse and stop blaming everyone else for your societal/community failure. If whitey stepped out of the aboriginal communities and left them go, with the money that they want, many of the dysfunctional ones would kill themselves off quite quickly. But that would be whitey's fault, too.
Should be interesting.
Note: I am for assistance to any Australians who need it. However, that assistance is useless if the people being assisted prefer or continue to wallow in victimhood and blame everyone else for their problems.