Yesterday, I read a news report that announced the Australian government’s new plan to outlaw the sale of alcohol and pornography to Aboriginals in the Northern Territories.Â The decision came on the heels of a report that suggested child sexual abuse among Aboriginals was caused by rampant alcoholism and pornography; the law will now tie Aboriginal welfare payments to drinking, a fact that angered at least one Aboriginal leader who said, “If they’re going to do that, they’re going to have to do that with every single person in Australia, not just black people.” While the law is currently only being considered for the Northern Territories, and will be reviewed after six months for effectiveness, politicians are considering whether the law should apply to Aboriginals across the country.
Â ItÂ may beÂ true that we are not all created equal when it comes to alcohol. For example, I had a friend in El Paso who was half Chinese and half Mexican; he wouldÂ get staggering drunk after two beers and still be drunk the next day when we met for lunch. He said he clearly had the Asian gene that did not allow him to metabolize alcohol. I’ve discovered in recent months that alcohol is a trigger for my migraine. BUT, it is equally true that a law like this that discriminates based on race, that is applied wholesale to peoples of one racial background and is not applied wholesale to peoples ofÂ other racial backgrounds,Â is obviously unjust and, well, racist. Besides, if the law is extended across the country, howÂ willÂ the courtsÂ decideÂ the definition of “Aboriginal”? Will only full-blooded Aboriginals Â be subject to the law? Will people with 1/8 blood be subject? And what about all those mixed-race children that, for years,Â were taken from their Aboriginal mothers and placed for adoption with white families because of the governmental policy to “breed out” the Aboriginal in them? (Many of those children, now adults,Â don’t have any knowledge of their background.) Will the government now seek them out to ban them from alcohol use, too?
It seems like this law may create a lot of problems–and for sure, it will make the situation between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals more tense than it already is.