The utilitarian case for stolen generations compensation

Photo by Pierre Pouliquin on Flickr

Demands for compensation for the “stolen generations” seem to be reliable generators of fear and loathing on the part of many Australians, particularly (but not only) those of a conservative persuasion.  RWDB QC and blogger Peter Faris is an extreme example.  He seems to be spiralling into increasing paroxysms of lunatic outrage in the wake of yesterday’s Ruddian apology.

Back in the rational universe, Noel Pearson enunciates a nuanced but nevertheless equivocal response both to Rudd’s apology and the prospect of a rush of new common law damages claims in its wake.  He points to the danger that the apology may further entrench a culture of passive victimhood among indigenous people, and raises some of the legal and practical issues that such claims inevitably face:

The truth is the removal of Aboriginal children and the breaking up of Aboriginal families is a history of complexity and great variety. People were stolen, people were rescued; people were brought in chains, people were brought by their parents; mixed-blood children were in danger from their tribal stepfathers, while others were loved and treated as their own; people were in danger from whites, and people were protected by whites. The motivations and actions of those whites involved in this history — governments and missions — ranged from cruel to caring, malign to loving, well-intentioned to evil.

Pearson also ponders the political implications of compensation demands:

If compensation had been part of the deal, electoral support for the gesture would have unravelled. For this reason there is no conceivable way Rudd will revisit the issue of compensation, no matter what the hopes of indigenous leaders.

He’s no doubt correct, just as Nicholas Gruen is correct that Joshua Gans’ suggestion of temporary increases to GST have Buckley’s chance of ever being entertained, whatever the idea’s intrinsic merit. 

However, leaving aside the realpolitik of the situation, would it make sense to implement a statutory compensation scheme for the “stolen generations”?  In my view a strong case can be made, at least on purely financial grounds (leaving aside also the question of fostering victimhood, in respect of which I share Pearson’s concerns).

The Bringing Them Home report found that up to 100,000 indigenous children were removed from their families over the period of about a century of large-scale removals up to around 1970.  Given the spectacular lack of forensic rigour of that process, one would suspect that the real figure is significantly lower; other estimates suggest 50,000.  However, even if we take the 100,000 figure as accurate, the vast majority of these people are long dead and therefore not potential compensation claimants.

Moreover, as Pearson points out, although undeniably quite a few of the survivors were in fact stolen i.e. removed against their parents’ will despite not being subject to abuse or neglect, many others were surrendered or removed for good cause.  Still others have no real idea why they were  removed and no prospect of ever establishing the reasons even on a relaxed standard of proof in a specially constituted statutory tribunal. 

Around 1,000 indigenous people gave oral or written evidence to the Bringing Them Home inquiry, but quite a few of them did not themselves claim to have been stolen. I suggest a realistic maximum number of potential living claimants would be around 3,000 (and probably substantially less).

Thus a tribunal could be established with a cap on benefits of $100,000, in the confident expectation that the maximum total outlay would be $300 million, with another couple of hundred million or so for legal and tribunal costs to process and assess claims.   Moreover, not only would quite a few of those claimants probably be unable to establish that they had been stolen on any reasonable standard of proof (e.g. with hearsay and non-expert opinion evidence allowed given the difficulty of establishing the facts so long after the events), but many of the successful claimants would be entitled to much less than $100,000 on ordinary common law principles of damages assessment. 

Bruce Trevorrow, the only successful “stolen generations” litigant to date, was able to establish serious and ongoing psychiatric illness and loss of earning capacity as a result of his experiences as a child, and was therefore awarded $500,000 in damages.  However, many members of the “stolen generations” (without in any sense minimising the dreadful nature of what was done) have lived fairly normal and productive lives without experiencing either serious psychiatric illness or loss of earning capacity.  Those are the “big ticket” items in any tortious damages award.  Without those elements, claimants would be likely to receive (say) $50-60,000 on ordinary common law principles.

Nevertheless, even if we make a relatively pessimistic estimate (from a government budgetary standpoint) of $400 million as the possible cost of a statutory compensation scheme of the sort I’ve outlined, that stacks up fairly favourably against the present “plan” of doing nothing and letting claimants litigate through the common law courts.  In the wake of yesterday’s apology and the successful Trevorrow litigation, we can be sure that many more members of the “stolen generations” will embark on litigation.  Slater and Gordon and others are undoubtedly already ramping up class actions.  The costs of such litigation will be enormous.  To give some idea of the scale, it is estimated that the total cost of the unsuccessful Cubillo and Gunner litigation some years ago was around $20 million.  The earlier Kruger case no doubt also ran into many millions of dollars in legal costs and court time, because it went all the way to the High Court.  The costs to all parties of the Trevorrow litigation plus the damages award would also amount to several million dollars, and the Tasmanian government is about to implement a scheme costing $5 million for 106 claimants (around $50,000 per person).

By contrast, a Commonwealth-sponsored stolen generations statutory scheme even with a generous cap of $100,000 per claim looks cheap, especially if the quid pro quo is that common law damages entitlements are abolished (as was done in several states and territories in relation to workplace injuries on implementation of statutory compensation schemes).  Moreover, the scheme could reasonably be jointly funded by the Commonwealth and States, because most of the removals were carried out under the auspices of the latter.  And the churches, which are also potentially liable for common law claims as the operators of most of the missions and orphanages where removed children were housed, might be asked to contribute to the cost of such a scheme as well.

I agree with Noel Pearson that the political realities make it highly unlikely that Kevin Rudd will touch a compensation scheme even with a very long barge pole.  But that doesn’t negate the possibility that it would actually be an idea worth considering. 

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Niall
13 years ago

I can’t agree. Even a scheme of compensatory health care, along the lines of returned servicemen’s gold card entitlements would be next to impossible to administer. Who’s to say who is and who is not of the “stolen generations”? The very idea of compensation is unworkable.

The saying of ‘sorry’ was never going to be sufficient for many. Evidence Michael Mansell’s radical stance and that also of Mick Dodson. Sure, they accept the apology, but just how highly did it rate over the pure symbolism of the act? I’d suggest not very highly at all, in the final wash-up.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Ken:

The courts are perfectly adequate in dealing with loss for claims, so why not just let the courts handle it?

And Jacques why cap the compensation as there are well established personal injury matrix. Capping claims is very unjust in this case.

The claimant should have his day in court and the evidence ought be treated in the same way as any other personal injury case.

Going the legislative route would be a case of where the legislature is stretching in ambit of responsibility.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

So much was, in effect, (part of) the reasoning behind the various State transport accident and victims of crime compensation schemes.

But it seems pretty contentious here where there are fair grounds for thinking that money as such may be anything but the cure. Wouldn’t a sophisticated utilitarian case consider the utility of various solutions to the victims as well?

Which also raises a point implicit in your post – that the scheme would require distinction between ‘stolen’ and ‘not-stolen’, and all the grievances this is likely to entail.

I suspect that there is a better case here for socialised compensation. Particularly since the real damage is not the ‘stealing’ of any number of people but the cumulative effect of policies and attitudes over decades producing the present misery.

Those points aside, a very good and well-reasoned post – I think you should offer it around as an op-ed, starting maybe with the AFR/Australian.

James Farrell
James Farrell
13 years ago

Moreover, not only would quite a few of those claimants probably be unable to establish that they had been stolen on any reasonable standard of proof (e.g. with hearsay and non-expert opinion evidence allowed given the difficulty of establishing the facts so long after the events)…

But there’s the rub. isn’t it? Is it possible to close off all avenues of appeal to civil courts? If not, how do you contain the costs that will arise when people use those avenues.

Whatever the answers to these questions might be, this is a very useful exercise, Ken. And you are spot on in emphasising the utilitarian nature of the argument.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

My issue was not with the precedents but the specifics – notably:

1) the exclusion of ineligible claimants and associated potential trauma,
2) the potential inutility of the money, and
3) the fact that this is not really the problem.

James Farrell
James Farrell
13 years ago

Thanks for the detail on appeals, Ken. As for the politics, could your scheme not be sold to the public as a way to prevent an army of litigation lawyers from reaping millions from the public purse?

saint
13 years ago

Thanks for a sane post Ken. I think one of the problems with the compensation issue and goes to concerns about vexacious claims, what’s this all about etc. is that the ‘stolen generation’ question has been intertwined with a much larger narrative that includes, (1) the very fact that Europeans have settled here is somehow a cause for ongoing blackfella victimhood/white man guilt (can we undo history? and if so, how far back do we even Pearson has elements of this in his article – “history stole… – although I appreciated how he grappled with the complex and at times contradictory positions) and (2) the children were removed because of a policy based purely on ‘race’ and/or with the explicit reason of eliminating Aboriginals/Aboriginality

I am not sure that is entirely the case (why for example did we have ‘Protectorates’ and evidence of concern that various Aboriginal groups were dying out?) at all times in all cases everywhere around Australia. That is not to say racism etc did not exist/doesn’t exist now.

Bruce Trevorrow for example, I think had a valid case but not on the basis thought by many ‘stolen generation’ activists (who are not necessarily ‘stolen’ or even Aboriginal themselves) but his case has been coopted to feed these narratives creating a sort of prison (I likened it to the ‘right of return’ arguments of Palestinian activiists on my blog; and there is also an element of judging the past on the basis of present conventions etc.)

I think therefore your idea of a utilatarian approach is potentially fruitful but it would need to have the issues clearly sorted out. We want to compensate those of you who were…mistreated or neglected in the instutions/families you were placed, removed forcibly or otherwise from your families without just cause etc. (I’m not lawyer so don’t know how it should be framed).

Even so, until we manage to disentangle the garbled narratives a bit, the grievances will continue and be passed down from generation to generation on the basis of something that cannot be undone.

Not sure if I made sense here. I’m about as conflicted as Pearson on some issues around this.

Gaby
Gaby(@gaby)
13 years ago

I’m not completely sure that victimhood is a good argument, although it’s admirable rhetoric.

There’s a growing (if unadmitted) religion that if you think a thing it will happen, famously described of a queue outside Canadian Idoll where every single person interviewed ‘knew’ what would fix their fate was the level of their personal belief they’d Canadian Idol.

Pearson’s victimhood discourse is in many ways just a mirror image of ‘Hello, I’m special’ that argues economic disadvantage is strengthened if you think of yourself as a victim. Perhaps ‘Hello, I’m not special’.

There was a wrong. We deal with wrongs by granting compensation. It’s a weird position to argue that compensating a wrong disadvantages the person who suffered the wrong by interfering with their capacity for magical thinking..

Rudd may say that compensation is not an issue. He may even believe it. But lines in the sand have a way of eroding over time.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Ken

Relaxing principles of evidence creates a precedent for next time round and a serious moral hazard issue if it strays too far from the acceptable norms of evidence etc. Don’t you think?

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

Ken Parish

I am a HUGE supporter of a multi-BILLION dollar compensation payout, but as soon as you start quoting Bringing Them Home as an authority on anything, you instantly lose all credibility. If you wish to start thinking about credible sources of evidence and analysis vaguely within the realm of what we know as “social science,” Bringing Them Home is a shockingly unprofessional, mendacious, misrepresenting piece of propaganda.

I am surprised you too have been so easily conned.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

Oops. In which case, 1,000 apologies and you may me whip me accordingly!

Benjamin Linus
Benjamin Linus
13 years ago

Weird argument you have going Ken. You note Bringing Them Home for its “spectacular lack of forensic rigour” yet you then use it as a “worst case scenario”. Why use it at all?

My own report produced just now found that up to 100,000,000,000 indigenous children were removed from their families over the period of about a century of large-scale removals up to around 1970. Please, feel free to use this as your worst case scenario and extrapolate backwards from that.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

but you arent similarly worried by any of the scores of tribunals around Australia with similarly relaxed rules of evidence, many of which deal with issues every bit as complex, important and delicate and involving the awarding of amounts of compensation just as great as under discussion here? Its hard to avoid the conclusion that you think there should be tougher rules applied against indigenous Australians than against others. Why?

`

Not at all. I’m not a lawyer or know enough it about the law to be aware there can be different levels of evidence required in different areas.. As a non-lawyer all I know is that if you have personal injury case for example it goes to court or if you have building code dispute you end up in a tribunal. As this stuff resembles personal injury type of claims I thought it would go to a regular court

Are there relaxed laws of evidence in various areas? Really. Ummmm.

Not kidding, here. Some of us have very little to do with lawyers except in contract origination which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Just to emphasize the point I am in full agreement in compensating people if the state has wronged them.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
13 years ago

Thx for the post Ken.

I must say that I’m surprised that compensation for the stolen generation is likened to increasing the GST as a measure of its electoral impossibility. I think that’s just an indication of how much people have been cowed by the previous government into accepting some things as normal.

How about these for some bottom lines?

1) There will be a sizeable portion of Australians who will hate it – the ones who voted for One Nation. 20% of the population max. There are at least an equal number, but probably closer to 40% who would strongly support it. The remaining 40% don’t care that much. They want tax cuts and stuff and they don’t want favouritism of any group rubbed in their noses. If the politics of it went bad, if we had pictures of aborigines trashing government supplied four wheel drives, then it could become a symbol around which disaffection could grow – as it did under Whitlam. But failing that, I can’t see it as anywhere near as hard to bring about as a rise in GST (Joshua was talking about a 5% increase – albeit temporary).

2) So the cost estimates of Ken’s suggest that it’s no big deal.

I don’t think it’s easy for Rudd to do. I’m not going to moan and prate about how he’s sold the aborigines down the river. But give it a while for people to forget about Howard (It’s already almost as if he was a kind of dream – so little did he get done in terms of institution building), a few nasty and very expensive high court cases and a bit of clear leadership and things could be brought around. When those things happen, they have a habit of sneaking up on us. It might be just a few years when it suddenly goes from being taboo to being inevitable.

It would be the just thing to do of course – so I’m in favour of it.

But I also don’t think it’s that important in the scheme of things compared with the broader wellbeing of those in aboriginal communities. What’s important is to stop the bashing and the rapes and the hopelessness and the lawlessness and horror of social breakdown. Not an easy thing.

Bill Cushing
Bill Cushing
13 years ago

Trevorrow appears to have been a clear-cut case of a failure of duty of care.

No doubt other ‘stolen’ individuals could bring forward similar, provable, claims.

As could many of the ‘white’ children who were institutionalised and ill-treated in those places.

So, let the law take its course.

But, I don’t think that is the point here.

Equitable ‘compensation’ to individual Aboriginal Australians claiming to have been unwarrantedly separated from parents/guardians is most probably impractical.

But some kind of amends seem necessary for what is now seen as past (and present-day) policy and service-delivery failure.

Perhaps this is best done by looking to the future for Aboriginal families in general. ‘Compensation’ might then take the form of funds dedicated specifically to (say) more intensive support of Aboriginal family life (eg infant health & advice services, parental counselling), and specific measures to accelerate the betterment of educational opportunities of Aboriginal youth (boarding school facilities, access to ‘School of the Air’, more classroom support for learning difficulties, etc). Another managed ‘set-aside’ out of the ‘Future Fund’ could do the trick — making sure this was clearly ‘on top’ of the regular budgetary allocations. How to distribute such funds to the appropriate service entities without creating another ATSIC-type mess I leave to others to figure out.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

But I also dont think its that important in the scheme of things compared with the broader wellbeing of those in aboriginal communities. Whats important is to stop the bashing and the rapes and the hopelessness and the lawlessness and horror of social breakdown. Not an easy thing.

Equitable compensation to individual Aboriginal Australians claiming to have been unwarrantedly separated from parents/guardians is most probably impractical.

But some kind of amends seem necessary for what is now seen as past (and present-day) policy and service-delivery failure.

That was what I meant by number 3 above and by the reference to ‘socialised’ compensation further above – ie something that distinguishes this from transport and ordinary crime compensation is that what we are compensating for is not really the problem we are worried about.

Mark Bahnisch
13 years ago

The remaining 40% dont care that much.

I’m not sure that’s right, Nicholas.

I’ve chatted to a couple of friends over the last couple of days both of whom work in the public service. They both told me that a lot of their workmates, who’d been in support of the apology, were grumbling about compensation “demands”. And the sort of comments made were along the lines of “will it ever end?”, “won’t it wreck the economy?” (that $50 billion figure conjured up by Windschuttle is doing its vicious work), “isn’t an apology enough?”, etc. Now from what I’m told these are intelligent people, not without good will, and largely Labor voters. Public sector workplaces, remember.

It’s always useful when discussing public opinion to stop and remember that very few of our fellow citizens follow politics in any where as much detail as we do.

Now, I’m not sure how much such people actually care absent of a stimulus from the media and events. But it does seem to me Rudd has done the politically realistic thing – and I also think he has quite a talent for persuading and educating. We have to also remember that most views on this matter have been formed over the last ten years.

It seems to me that the first thing proponents of compensation should turn their mind to is the work of public education and persuasion. A key part of that might be pointing to the fact that a compensation scheme, along the lines that Ken suggests, is hardly likely to bring the walls crashing down. I think I heard on SBS the other night that there’s a similar proposal out there which has been around for a long time from the Public Advocacy Centre or some similar name?

Basically I agree with this:

But give it a while for people to forget about Howard (Its already almost as if he was a kind of dream – so little did he get done in terms of institution building), a few nasty and very expensive high court cases and a bit of clear leadership and things could be brought around. When those things happen, they have a habit of sneaking up on us. It might be just a few years when it suddenly goes from being taboo to being inevitable.

It would be the just thing to do of course – so Im in favour of it.

And Ken, I’m not so sure Rudd isn’t a risk taker. He’s certainly capable of acting boldly. The apology itself, and the way it was done and presented, was a bold stroke. I’m starting to think he just has a very good sense of timeing and knows how to prepare the ground and when to act boldly – a useful contrast to Keating.

Mark Bahnisch
13 years ago

that in some ways there is nothing to distinguish the hurt of the stolen generations survivors from (say) the hurt of single mothers from the 50s and early 60s

Yes, there is.

What distinguishes it is that what they suffered was very often racially motivated and if not explicitly so, far more likely to occur to them because of their race. That’s the nub of this whole issue.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

Mark

that $50 billion figure conjured up by Windschuttle is doing its vicious work

How? By simply applying the formula in the very government document upon which Rudd made the Apology? You, yourself have been an incessant champion of Bringing Them Home and laying explicit legal and moral culpability on the officials and state of the time.

Rudd could not have been clearer in endorsing Bringing Them Home as fact. Indigenous groups and leaders across the nation are demanding compensation.

If you are not prepared/brave enough and lack the integrity to attack these Aboriginals as “vicious” and “shameful” then your whole campaign over the past few years has been a fraud and you a hypocrite. It is time either to step up or to apologise to Windschuttle and shut up.

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

Ken Parish

Having re-read your OP, my original criticism is closer to the mark. You say

The Bringing Them Home report found that up to 100,000 indigenous children were removed from their families over the period of about a century of large-scale removals up to around 1970. Given the spectacular lack of forensic rigour of that process, one would suspect that the real figure is significantly lower; other estimates suggest 50,000. However, even if we take the 100,000 figure as accurate, the vast majority of these people are long dead and therefore not potential compensation claimants.

How much lower than 100,000? You do not hint at any disagreement with even the 50,000 made by unidentified “others.” What about “others” such as Andrew Bolt who claim only 2 or 3 digit numbers? Given there has been significant dialogue between Andrew Bolt and The Luvvies’ Numero Uno Australian public intellectual and Stolen Generations expert, the absence of the Bolt/Manne deabte from your post makes your claim that “In other words, Im making essentially the same point as you just did” disingenuous.

It is yet another example of cowardly refusal to call Aboriginals out who make claims, while hiding behind the politically-correct apron of loud denunciations of “RWDB, Windschuttle” and so on.

The REAL damaging racism in this debate comes from the Luvvie Left not the “rednecks”

saint
13 years ago

I can see even in this thread, the evidence of people who are keener to make a political point/promote an ideology then to redress the wrongs that may have been done.

I think what you said here Ken is spot on

…not only because its probably impossible to know but because, whether through the courts or a statutory tribunal as Im suggesting, no-one is going to get compensation unless they can prove on satisfactory probative evidence that they were in fact stolen (and not surrendered or removed for neglect or abuse).

Two other things (and I admit to being a bit coloured here by the only person I know who could conceivably fall into the class of ‘stolen’ except he doesn’t think he was) is
* not every survivor wants compensation, although even there, as is the most human and understandable desire of many (all?) to want to know about their blood families – something that can be hampered by surviving members of their families and clans because of “culture” and
* even if you posited a worst case scenario in terms of numbers of those still alive, and even if you offerred a generous compensation, it would not drive Australia broke and/or should not be used as a reason not to consider compensation for those with valid claims (i.e removed without good reason). To do so would create what I call another Palestinian style “right of return” mantra which just keeps people imprisoned in this endless cycle of recrimination without reconciliation or recompense.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
13 years ago

Saint – regarding your comment – In the 1980s some time my father was offered compensation by the Government of Germany for the Holocaust. His mother was deported to Theresienstadt in the early 1940s and thence (we believe) to Auschwitz after which she was seen no more.

He declined. Odd for an economist who might have onpaid it to to some charity. But that’s what he did. I think my Dad was a consequentialist – but not on that it seems!

saint
13 years ago

I’m not surprised to hear that Nicholas for reasons that are too long and complex to go into now.

Mark Bahnisch
13 years ago

Ken, I see that point. I haven’t looked at Broinoiski’s piece yet.

I also wouldn’t bother responding to JG at 27 because you’ve made the point eloquently at 30, but I suppose I must having been called a “fraud” and a “hypocrite”.

John, I usually try to be patient with you because you occasionally show signs of some intelligence and in any case I believe except under a lot of provocation in treating others civilly, but in view of your puerile propensity to hurl unjustified insults, I’m hardly surprised that others show less restraint.

It is very clear that Windschuttle did his little political calculus mischievously in order to magnify the likely consequences of compensation. I’ve said I regard this as a specious and blatantly political act, and I’m hardly inclined to either resile from that view or apologise to Windschuttle at your instance. Nor have I ever said that Bringing Them Back Home is sacred writ, and my view of it is identical to Ken’s. I defy you to find – with your well known googling skills – any evidence that I’ve ever discussed it much at all. Just because Sir Ronald Wilson and his colleagues recommended a certain figure doesn’t bind me, or anyone else, to it even if we agree there should be compensation. I’ve already stated on this thread my support for the sort of scheme Ken recommends.

It must also be clear to everyone that many of the 100 000 (if that is indeed the number, and I don’t assert that it is) are deceased, and therefore multiplying that number by 500k is an absurdity. Windschuttle is not a fool, so he must be being disingenuous. I don’t know whether or not you are a fool, but if not (and I hope that’s the case), you should be able to admit that it’s a specious demand.

Nor has anything like that ever been mentioned in the context of the current debate by any Indigenous leaders.

I find it difficult to understand, given the tack you take on these issues, why you went to so much trouble to go to Martin Place in the rain on Wednesday morning, as you were very loudly trumpeting. Like Ken, I’d have thought that you’d feel more at home with Andrew Bolt and his epigones.

However, that’s your affair. Let me just close by saying that your rudeness and hyperbole do little to enhance this discussion, as with many of your other interventions.

John Locke
John Locke
13 years ago

Ken, you’ve got me perplexed.

My first Australian ancestor was brought here in chains for the Irish uprising of 1798 at the age of 14, worked his way on the Great Western Highway to gain his Ticket of Leave to settle down in 1822 at Mt Druitt and adopt, so it would seem, my real ancestor from a widower. For all I know I am the bastard son of no one. Am I owed an apology? Can you give me the numbers of like cases?

My wife’s ancestor was a pig thief brought here for his crimes. Should she apologise for that?

For what crime should my children apologise? What are the exact numbers that we should countenance at night to include in our contrite prayers?

What are the names of the children we should include in our remittances, we children of the Australian scourge? People like you leave me impressed by your nobility, with your magic hands that wave away all hurt and know the truth of all matters. Who are the right and who are the wrong, please tell us oh mighty one.

It seems that you have reached an almost God like omniscience in your righting of wrongs. It’s just that I’m confused as to who are wronged and who are righted. What with all these Anglo-Scots-Irish-Aboriginal names registered in the book of Sorry days I can’t tell who has the claim to victimhood. Please, just list their names, oh powerful, oh compensatory one.

Just name them here and now so that I may personally deliver my apologies.

The Man
The Man
13 years ago

Hello Ken, my name is Anthony Mundine and I am seeking guidance from a mind as brilliant as yours.

I am told that my ‘Christian’ name derives from the Etruscan, Antony, and is one of the oldest known Christian names in ‘the West’. It would seem that my name is even associated with ‘St’ Anthony the 3rd Century monk who founded the Christian monastic order. It sickens me to know of such things.

My surname is derived from the English Munden being a compound of “protected” “Valley”.

To whom do I give or receive an apology from? Do I apologise to myself and pay requisite compensation for the disaster that I have brought upon myself or do I seek an apology from the ancestors of the Irish whom my ancestors brought here in bondage? It’s confusing, but I am sure a mind as wise as yours, Solomon like, can divide the truth and bring justice to the matter.

Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday
13 years ago

Dearest Ken, it may seem odd that I write from beyond the grave but I’m sure that a mind as all time encompassing as yours will countenance such a happenstance.

I am seeking compensation for my theorums resulting in the present day micro-wave oven. As you are, no doubt, aware, my theory of the electrostatic charge always remaining on the exterior of a charged conductor has resulted in many wonderful inventions like the mobile telephone, not to mention protection for unionised workers in the field of electrical supply.

However, unfortunately my heirs are now subsisting on a diet of vampire finches, galapagos turtles and rodents with rice.

I know you have your abacus out calculating important things like who carries the greater sin but I am hoping that you might include at some juncture the small matter of my heirs and what is their due. I am not sure they are owed anything, they are white after all, but please do consider their welfare in your current calculus.

Yours electrically,

Michael Faraday.

saint
13 years ago

Blood oath John, you should just apologize to yourself (I know, with my heritage I have, and some of you lot need to too)