Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The change Australians saw in the public perception of Schapelle Corby was nothing short of miraculous.

When we first learned that Schapelle was accused of taking 4.1Kg of marijuana from Australia to Bali the Australian people replied with a resounding, “You gotta be kidding” – (see “The Truth about Aussie Gold”). All this changed when Matthew Moore wrote his ‘Bali is flooded with Australian marijuana’ article.

But what happened to change public opinion so dramatically? A fair sampling of the internet tells us that the biggest objection to Schapelle’s innocence is that she should have noticed the weight of the boogie-board bag and it’s 4kg increase.

Apart from the fact that a large percentage of those making this observation call her ‘Chapelle’ they seem to have missed the fact that Schapelle didn’t take the boogie board bag from the carousel to the customs desk. It was her brother James who dragged the boogie-board bag to the counter along with his own luggage because Schapelle was already overloaded. And, since no one moved the boogie-board bag by itself until they had reached the customs counter, no one noticed the additional weight.

In addition, her detractors failed to hear how Schapelle noticed something odd about her boogie-board bag moments before it was to be inspected. She put it onto the counter and unzipped it slightly only to see a green-filled bag and to smell the pungent aroma of marijuana. She closed the bag in a panic. Had Schapelle been guilty, she would not have opened the bag to begin with.

For those who say that Schapelle tried to prevent the customs officer from opening the bag, Schapelle denies this but unfortunately, like the CCTV footage from the other airports, the Bali airport camera footage also disappeared which takes coincidence to new levels. If Schapelle had done this however, it was because she had just opened the bag, had seen the marijuana and was in a panic. Surely, wouldn't concealing the marijuana be more realistic than trying to forcefully stop the man from opening the bag?

It is clear that these are not the reasons why so many people suddenly believed Schapelle to be guilty but rather the justifications for a belief they already have. It is true that many people out there tend to follow whatever the majority believes but after we sift through the superficiality we are left with the overpowering fact that a massive change occurred without any apparent reason.

Never before had the Australian public responded so unanimously to any one viewpoint and in this instance, it was Schapelle’s innocence. She made no attempt to conceal the marijuana. She had no criminal record. She worked in a fish and chip shop to save for her holiday. She had no money and no way of acquiring the marijuana but most of all, no one takes marijuana from Australia to Bali.

In fact, Schapelle didn’t just appear innocent, she appeared to be remarkably innocent and any reasonable person would expect our government to do something.

With radio DJs spewing racism and people suggesting that we should send in the troops to rescue Schapelle, we were on the brink of a political and diplomatic crisis. We expected our government to take action and many believed that they were working their magic behind closed doors while they urged the Australian public to maintain their calm.

However, what they did was quite unexpected and extremely clever. They did nothing.

Once Matthew Moore had written his lies Schapelle’s guilt became possible. At the same time both the internet and corporate/government intranets were flooded with pictures of Schapelle drunk at a party and rumours of her selling drugs in Queensland.

When the government did nothing people began to reason that perhaps our federal police knew something that they didn’t. Since our government did not respond to Schapelle’s appearance of innocence as much as we did perhaps Schapelle was really guilty.

By doing nothing our government changed public opinion because most people still believed that they put the Australian people above their own agendas and would never abandon an innocent citizen to a life in an Indonesian prison.

The more supporters spoke of how innocent she appeared the more people thought she just had to be guilty.

Your comments are welcome.


Desert Rat said...

This objection always amazes me, as no one who believes it ever seems to ask themselves, "What was she supposed to do at that moment if she DID notice the weight - discreetly tear off the tag with her name on it while loudly saying, "Oops - I forgot - I didn't bring a bag this time" and stroll through customs with a big smile saying "nothing to declare." ?? In one of the world's most corrupt countries it was hardly safe to wave to an officer and say, "Um, I think there's something strange in my bag which I just noticed." By the time she was walking to the counter it was far too late. You are of course correct in saying no real drug runner would carry the drugs unconcealed - but I do fairly often hear the theory among her detractors that Schapelle or her family had "done this before," that they must have had some kind of deal with corrupt customs agents which failed to work this time because the wrong agent was on duty... I KNOW this is idiotic, and I know that smuggling mj INTO Bali simply doesn't happen as per your other blog, but you have to meet people where they are and answer Homer Simpson on his own ground. Do you get this "the Corby drug ring usually ran mj into Bali with the help of a local Sideshow Bob, but he stepped on a rake this time and was unavailable...?" How do you answer?

DJ Wolf said...

Desert Rat, what none of them consider is what would have happened had Schapelle actually been guilty as they imagine. The "local sideshow Bob" would not have been implicated, of course, but the duality that has gripped this nation and the spectre of government criticism would not have been allowed. Schapelle's family would have been prosecuted for their part, their hydroponic equipment would have been displayed in full colour across the front pages of our newspapers and we wouldn't be having this discussion. Our government made no secret about their involvement with the Bali 9's arrest. Why would they not prosecute someone who was guilty?

Why wasn't the marijuana tested? If Schapelle was guilty, her hair would be in the sticky resin and we could all go back to doing something else. I understand how the average person agrees with whatever he or she thinks the majority believes but how did the shift occur where nearly everyone believed she was innocent and this swung to guilty without any new information coming to light.

It is my belief that the average 'Joe' can't accept that our government would deliberately abandon a tourist who they knew was innocent. The only logical answer is that it depends on who actually planted the drugs.

Jacqui said...

I love this article!

"Chapelle shoulda felt the weight!" LOL!

"Suddenly, everyone heard of someone who knew the Corby's. They were the biggest drug dealers in Australia!"

So true, so true - where were all those people in the early days when the nation believed she was innocent?

Big Ramifications said...

Who put the fun in spaghetti?