Last time I checked, it was OK to protest in Australia. It's actually supposed to be one of the reasons why living in a 'great democracy' like ours is so cool. If we don't like something, we have the right to grab some like minded friends, hit the streets and make some noise about it.
A bunch of people did this last Thursday and now there's all kinds of criticism for it, and a bunch of stuff floating around the inter-ether from people who support their motives but not their methods, saying that they 'fell for the trap' or 'the bait was set' or they 'walked into it'.
Walked into what exactly?
There was shouting and some banging on the windows, but other than that... I may have missed it, but no sign of weapons or explosions or threats of violence. What I saw was a Prime Minister who had every chance to address a small but energetic crowd and say something like 'I support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their efforts to achieve equality with non-Aboriginal people in terms of life expectancy, job opportunity and criminal justice issues. I recognise the important symbolic nature of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in working towards this outcome.'
40 or so words, nasally delivered or otherwise, but nothing particularly special. A crowd mollified, perhaps proud that its justifiable social justice concerns had been recognised. Reconcilliation in action, live and broadcast around the world. The only person needing to rush from the building would be an embarrassed Tony Abbott.
No hoo haa, no over-excited police officers shoving people in the chest, no missing shoes and no photos of Prime Ministers in extremis. And no ongoing outrage, either from the flag burners or, and let's be honest here now schools back, the idiots on breakfast radio who will be attempting to bolster their rating points with yet more jingoistic populism disguised as impartial opinion.
Instead of the issues that need to be addressed, the protest - and the official over-reaction to the protest - has become the issue. I remember when thousands marched, when slogans were chanted and banners were unfurled. It was part of our democratic right to do it then, and it's part of our democratic right to do it now. Let's stop having hissy fits and selling newspapers because of one small fracas. I'd be less cynical if some, just some, of those news headlines dealt with a few of the issues the protesters were - so rightly - concerned about.