The Sydney Siege victims lived through a life changing, horrific event that we could never imagine. Maybe they need to tell their stories. And if it gives them a bit of extra money for counselling or to take time off work, that’s OK.
I have a theory.
It dawned on me last night why we’re all exhausted all the time. We keep blaming email. And social media. And smart phones. But they’re not the culprits. We’re bone-tired these days because many of us have taken on a rather taxing and emotionally gruelling second job: Moral Guardian to the Masses.
I sound glib. But I’m not joking.
Yesterday was a prime example.
After a week of speculation and gossip, it was finally confirmed that six of the 16 surviving victims of the Sydney Siege would be paid by the Seven and Nine networks to share their stories for competing TV specials.
And leading the “How dare they…” charge is former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett.
Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett took to twitter to voice his apparent disappointment in the Siege victims, as well as to the media outlets buying the stories of the event which led to two tragic deaths.
“Two innocent hostages lost their lives. I do not think it is morally right that the media pay, and any of those who were saved should profit from the attack. Just plain grubby. Sorry if I offend a few, but there should be a law against this exploitation,” he wrote.
“One survivor is alleged to being paid $400,000. What for, being in the wrong spot at the wrong time. To be rescued by others who put their lives on the line. Give me a break!”
I have a lot of respect for Mr Kennett in particular the important work he does with Beyond Blue but I can’t agree with him on this. Not even a little.
I see nothing grubby here. I see no exploitation.
What I do see is an increasing inability for us to allow other people to live their own lives as they see fit; to make choices and decisions that are right for them.
It is not our job –nor our MORAL RESPONSIBILITY– to tell innocent victims how to (legally) behave in the aftermath of a horrific crime. And selling your story when you are the victim of a crime or trauma is perfectly legal.
From where I sit this is tall poppy syndrome at its worst. It seems to me that these hostages have our utmost love and support so long as they continue to behave in a way we see appropriate. So long as they follow the script. We like our victims of crime to be shattered but hopeful. Humble but brave. We’re not quite ready for you guys to be ‘okay’ yet. Is that what we’re saying?
I would ask Mr Kennett (and anyone else who is ‘disappointed’ that someone who had a gun pointed at them should be paid to talk about their experiences) to remember that we don’t know what the hell happened in that café during that 16-hour siege last December. Oh we may think we know the broad-brush strokes. Basic movements. Things that were uttered. Demands that were made. But that tells us nothing.