The Federal Government has followed through on its threat to block US R 'n' B singer Chris Brown from entering the country because of his history of domestic violence.
In 2009, Brown was convicted of assault and threatening to kill his then girlfriend, singer Rihanna.
He was sentenced to five years' probation.
- ABC News, 27th Sep 2015
I have no real idea of who Chris Brown is exactly and I'm pretty sure that R 'n' B is not the same Rhythm and Blues that Fats Domino, Johnny Otis and Bo Diddly might have played. In short, I have no idea of who this person is and I'm pretty sure that I probably wouldn't like the sort of music that this person plays. I do know that if the Federal Government has denied Chris Brown a visa, on the grounds that he has a history of domestic violence which includes assault and death threats, then I'm in agreement with the Federal Government. That sort of thing is unacceptable. Story. End of.
I have never tried to apply for a visa into Australia for obvious reasons but I have gone to the United States under their Visa Waiver Program. On the I-94W document, which people wanting to visit the United States must fill in under the program, it asks the question:
Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude or a violation related to a controlled substance; or been arrested or convicted for two or more offenses for which the aggregate sentence to confinement was five years or more; or been controlled substance trafficker; or are you seeking entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities?
'Moral turpitude' is one of those really daft sounding things at law which just leaves you scratching your head. This probably explains why so many people look dazed as they enter passport control upon entry into the United States (or that they've just spent 14 hours on a plane).
Helpfully the US State Department has this to say about 'moral turpitude':
9 FAM 40.21(a) N2.2 Defining “Moral Turpitude”
A conviction for a statutory offense will involve moral turpitude if one or more of the elements of that offense have been determined to involve moral turpitude. The most common elements involving moral turpitude are:
(2) Larceny; and
(3) Intent to harm persons or things.
- U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 9, 22nd Aug 2014
Crimes of moral turpitude have been defined by US law as those crimes which are committed against someone's person, family relationship, and crimes relating to sexual morality.
According to Black's Law Dictionary, assault is a crime of moral turpitude and is defined thusly:
Assault (this crime is broken down into several categories, which involve moral turpitude):
- Assault with intent to kill, commit rape, commit robbery or commit serious bodily harm
- Assault with a dangerous or deadly weapon
Assault (simple) (any assault, which does not require an evil intent or depraved motive, although it may involve the use of a weapon, which is neither dangerous nor deadly)- Black's Law Dictionary 9th Ed. (2009)
Whilst it's very easy to get bogged down in legal definitions, this makes it pretty clear I think. This Chris Brown person, would most likely have not been allowed to enter the United States under the I-94W Visa Waiver Program and I suspect also would not have been given a Visa to enter the United States without the waiver. If he would not be allowed to enter the United States, why are people surprised that he isn't allowed to enter Australia?
It was the new Minister for Women Michaelia Cash who stated quite clearly why she thought that the Minister for Immigration would deny a visa, all the way back on Thursday of last week:
"People need to understand, if you are going to commit domestic violence and then you want to travel around the world there are going to be countries that say to you, 'You cannot come in because you are not of the character that we expect in Australia'."
- Minister for Women Michaelia Cash, as quoted ABC News 27th Sep 2015
I must admit though, then we get comments from Miranda Devine in today's Sunday Telegraph, which I'm sure are deliberately designed to rile people up.
Demonising men, and pouring taxpayer money into permanent meddling bureaucracies, will do nothing to alleviate domestic tragedy.
It just increases government’s role in our lives, and further disempowers vulnerable men.
Worse, the underlying narrative is about disrespecting men.
Turnbull claimed: “one in four young men think it’s OK to slap a girl when you’ve been drinking”.
- Miranda Devine, The Sunday Telegraph, 27th Sep 2009
In the time that I spent as a court recorder which did involve going to Bourke, Bathurst and (shock horror) Parramatta, I saw plenty of cases in various courts in which domestic violence had occurred. Let's get this absolutely clear - the number of women that I saw who were on trial for perpetrating domestic violence was nil. Zero.
I really do not know which so called "vulnerable" men are being disempowered here. Granted that domestic tragedy occurs within the four walls of a household, where the reach of government should for the most part stay outside of but common consensus says that the first duty of government is the protection of its citizenry; if that means calling for active protection of half its citizenry then that's a good thing.
Let's bring back shame. Shame is one of those concepts which seems to have fallen out of favour because society feels uncomfortable about it but in this case, that's all the more reason to being back shame. Shame is the voice of the conscious of either an individual or all of us collectively, expressing regret for wrongs we have done. A little bit of shame before an event, just might temper society and hopefully prevent domestic violence from happening in the first place. Actions should have consequences.
Say what you like about Malcolm Turnbull politically but less than a fortnight into the job as Prime Minister, he's already said something which is important and should be obvious to all:
Let me say this to you: disrespecting women does not always result in violence against women. But all violence against women begins with disrespecting women. We, as leaders, as a government, must make it and we will make it a clear national objective of ours to ensure that Australia is more respecting of women. Women must be respected. Disrespecting women is unacceptable. It is unacceptable at every level. At home, at the workplace, wherever. And I'd say that as parents, one of the most important things we must do is ensure that our sons respect their mothers and their sisters.
Because that is where this begins. It begins - violence against women begins with disrespecting women. And so this is a big cultural shift.
- PM Malcolm Turnbull, 24th Sep 2015
Maybe the apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians said it in even more economical terms:
Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
- Colossians 3:19
How do you love someone if you're assaulting and threatening to kill them? Okay, so maybe Chris Brown isn't being judged by the standards of scripture but it seems that he is being judged by the standards of several nation's law (Oz, NZ and the UK):
In June 2010 Brown was refused permission to enter the UK on the grounds of being guilty of a serious criminal offence.
Yesterday, Immigration New Zealand confirmed Brown's rejection from the UK meant he could not enter New Zealand.
- New Zealand Herald, 18th Sep 2015.
I for one like the fact that we're being shown some leadership from the top. Even if denying Chris Brown a visa doesn't of itself achieve a lot, it does start the national dialogue on what we as a nation are prepared to accept. What Mr Turnbull said is worth repeating:
Women must be respected. Disrespecting women is unacceptable. It is unacceptable at every level.