Sunday, August 18, 2013

Let's hail ALL Vietnam vets who beat their wives

Alcohol, perhaps too much of it, if that is possible, figured somewhat in Saturday night’s early recreations, which took on a foggier complexion when Young Master Bunyip arrived at the Billabong with some companions to reclaim from the attic sundry items of furniture and clothing. When one member of the party proved incapable of walking a wide desk through a narrow door – not that difficult if you go about it the right way and aren't prone to fits of giggles – the suspicion that marijuana might be to blame came to the fore, as did a subsequent offer to share what young people call “a number”. The Professor was warned not to draw too deeply, as those inexperienced in these things can “flip out” and make fools of themselves. Like, for example, not being able to fit a desk through a door.

When today dawned clean and Sunday sober, it seemed at first that an evening of drug and alcohol abuse had bequeathed no lingering ill effects. The world certainly seemed normal. The latest edition of The Age, for example, was a representatively wretched example of what arrogant morons can produce if given free rein, and on Insiders it was more of the same. Was Ol’ Scrotumface  just a tad down in the mouth? He certainly seemed that way, as did David Marr, whose customary lament that the rest of humanity is not so smart as he seemed freighted with a poignant resignation. Perhaps it was word of the latest polls, poor fellow.

But then came coffee and a closer look at The Age, and with it the suspicion that there might just be a little, lingering bit of that reefer madness clouding perceptions. This story about an Aboriginal who served in Vietnam and has suffered more for the experience than his paler comrades is a real head-scratcher. The point seems to be that former Lance-Corporal David Cook was hard done by, something the headline asserted: “War does not discriminate, nor should we”. Yet there was no evidence in the article that Cook has suffered, or did suffer, while serving under the emblem of the Rising Sun or later as a direct consequence of that period in his life. Indeed, the author, academic Noah Riseman, actually says khaki was the only colour which mattered during Cook’s two tours, skin tones being irrelevant to the business of keeping himself and his mates alive. Yet somehow the impression is left that Aborigines who served in Vietnam have been denied their special recognition.

Baffled by the story as published, a bit of Googling turned up some quite interesting information on Cook’s activities subsequent to his honourable discharge. Like the Age article it also was written by Riseman, and its details paint a rather different picture.

First, it turns out Cook won’t talk about his early life or memories of having been “stolen”, quite possibly because he finds it unpleasant to recall childhood neglect. And then things get even more interesting.

An admitted wife-beater who acknowledges his truculent attitude toward police brought grief upon his head, the further details of Cook's life, as summarised by Riseman, include his subject’s former propensity to whack people with iron bars. This habit earned him six years in jail. It appears that Cook is now a reformed citizen and doing good works protecting Cambodians from land mines, for which he should be praised. A column describing how a troubled man straightened himself might have had a point to it, albeit with less opportunity to pluck those ever-reliable victim strings.

The pastiche of inference Riseman assembles to suggest the Army was somehow to blame for Cook’s troubles can only be viewed as deeply, and perhaps intentionally, misleading. Cook was, by his own admission, a nasty piece of work, yet Sunday Age editors appear not to have been up for the due diligence of checking facts against comfortable and comforting preconceptions.

The Professor knows what he was smoking last night but whatever they hand out at The Age must stronger by an order of magnitude. Don’t bogart that joint, comrades. Save some for the receivers.


  1. I watched Insiders for the first time this year, for the obvious reasons, and was not disappointed. Enjoyment.

  2. So I took a look at the first footnote, and the author thanked those who supported the work, including David Cook and the generosity of his family.

    tl;dr but the introduction, even though he was treated well, spcifically blames the Army for NOT helping him deal with the "damage" of being "Stolen" (with a capital S).

    Sounds like his Army career went as well as could be expected, and only afterwards did whatever happened to him, happen to him. Perhaps they could also blame the corner convenience store for not assuaging the hidden damage he suffered as well.