Henry Rollins says he was reported to the Australian government’s National Security hotline for reading a book about jihad. Is this for real?
On Thursday the Daily Telegraph reported that "US rocker and writer Henry Rollins was reported to the National Security hotline during his recent Australian tour because of a book he was reading on flight to Brisbane." By Monday the New York Post‘s Page Six had the story along with some new quotes:
"Days later I received an e-mail from a woman who I guess figured out who I was and found me," Rollins told PAGE SIX after his spoken- word show at Town Hall the other night. "I had been named a person of interest. Basically, they get calls like this every five minutes, and I’m probably on the who cares list, in that they’ll probably let me into the country again.
Punk rocker, pontificator and IFC TV star Henry Rollins is being investigated in Australia for his choice of reading material.
Rollins told Monday’s New York Post a passenger seated near him on a flight to Brisbane, Australia, was disturbed because he was reading Ahmed Rashid’s best seller, "Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia."
The passenger notified the Australian government, which in turn notified Rollins that he was now considered "a person of interest," Rollins said.
On his own web site (Thursday 16) Rollins reported that:
Apparently my whining about getting called in on the airplane in Australia made news here and there and now MSNBC wants me to do something with them next week. I am champing at the bit with anticipation. No I’m not. I am excited about doing my radio show live this coming Tuesday night. That’s going to be great.
As I said in an earlier post the big news in this story isn’t that some nervous flyer would ring the National Security Hotline to report a passenger reading about militant Islam — the world is full of not very bright people who get anxious around big men with tattoos. No, what’s much more interesting is the idea that someone working on the government’s hotline has been passing on confidential information. Last month Rollins reported that he received a letter which said:
The person who sat next to you on the flight from New Zealand does not agree with your politics or choice of reading and so nominated you as a possible threat. As they were too cowardly or stupid to leave their details I can’t call them to discuss their idiocy with them.
Even cowardly stupid people have a legitimate expectation of privacy when they call a government hotline. It shouldn’t matter whether their worries are bizarre or ridiculous.
It seems to me that it’s still too early to tell what’s really going on here. It’s possible the letter is some kind of joke. I’m waiting for the story to blow back to Australia.
Update: MTV has some new material from Rollins — "The next time I get out to Australia — that is, if they let me in — I am going to talk about that guy in every interview I do. And it will get to him. It’s a small country, in that there aren’t a lot of people there and most of the country’s just sand and flies. So it will get to him."