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16 July, 2021

Sorry mate, but I’m a dobber

I FEEL despondent every time I hear a politician or a person in authority urging people to “dob in” someone they see, especially someone they know, for doing something against the ever-changing COVID-19 rules and regulations. It doesn’t seem to matter how trivial, or how intentional the infringement was, the expectation is, apparently, sirens should sound, tasers should be drawn and the evil violators of our COVID laws should be thrown into a paddy wagon and locked away from the rest of us law-abiding citizens.


I FEEL despondent every time I hear a politician or a person in authority urging people to “dob in” someone they see, especially someone they know, for doing something against the ever-changing COVID-19 rules and regulations.

It doesn’t seem to matter how trivial, or how intentional the infringement was, the expectation is, apparently, sirens should sound, tasers should be drawn and the evil violators of our COVID laws should be thrown into a paddy wagon and locked away from the rest of us law-abiding citizens.

I’m all for the public assisting with serious law breakers being caught. I believe police need all the help they can get. But dobbing in someone for not wearing a mask?

The other day I was in a newsagency on the Sunshine Coast. I was told to keep my mask on at all times because “the cops are on the prowl” because council workers were alerting the police to any group or individual wandering around sans masks. Can you believe that?

My despondency is magnified at the moment because I am constantly being reminded of what happened almost 80 years ago — the Holocaust.

I am doing some minor editing work on a book written by an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor. Several times a week I do a bit of work on it. I can only take it in small doses. It’s sickening, heart-breaking reading.

And while I am in no way comparing anything happening today with what occurred during those horrible war years, some things from the book make me think about the way some people are behaving during this pandemic and about human behaviour in general.

Controlling people by subjecting them to constant fear is recognised as a tried-and-true technique. There is no comparison between the fear experienced by millions during the war and what we are experiencing now, but the thinking is scarily similar.

The telling point I have noticed in this book is how people turned against each other during the war and the Holocaust. Neighbours turned on neighbours, workmates on workmates, friends on friends, and of course ethnic groups on ethnic groups.

In those horrific times the results were deadly. Millions died and millions more suffered terribly. In fact, most people today have absolutely no idea how those people suffered and died.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not comparing those times with today’s events. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am simply seeing a pattern in human behaviour — a disturbing pattern that shouldn’t make us proud. In the past 18 months, since the pandemic was declared, we have seen Australians turn against Australians, States against States, and even community against community.

Sadly, a lot of this has been at the instigation, urging, encouragement, direction (?) of some politicians, some senior bureaucrats, and other small-minded individuals and groups with a particular axe to grind.

If we wanted to, we could report people for doing the wrong thing every hour of every day. Whether knowingly or inadvertently, people are constantly breaking the law, breaching COVID restrictions, or simply doing something now deemed to be the wrong thing.

Normally we would simply laugh, grumble to ourselves, or have a whinge session with someone else. In more serious cases we might draw the miscreant’s attention to the breach. And in really serious times, police might be notified.

But now that we are under pressure, when routines are disrupted and our comfortable way of life is turned upside down at times, we seem to have no qualms about dobbing people in.

Some authorities are even encouraging it. We have seen and heard them enticing neighbours to turn on neighbours and friends on friends.

Why? Because believing you are constantly being watch and could get into trouble for minor breaches creates an atmosphere of fear and that’s the aim when someone wants to exercise maximum levels of control over the population.

One of the quotes from the holocaust book I am reading/editing says: “I never agreed with the treatment we have received from our guards but I have put it down to them being our enemies. However, I never understood why inmates would be aggressive or brutal to each other and display no solidarity at all. Without a fellow inmate’s humanity, suffering was even more painful. The Nazis … enjoyed watching the prisoners beat each other up.”

Again, I must stress I am not comparing the Holocaust with the pandemic. But human behaviour? Human reactions to stress? Human nature?

Yes, I feel sad and despondent.  


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