The photo is crap, but this entry's about the story rather than the photo. The story is crap as well, just in a different way. This is Martin Place station, one of our busier city stations. You will not normally see an empty platform at this time of day. Why now? The station was closed.
Earlier that morning a creature with a shotgun entered the Lindt Chocolate Café in Martin Place and held a couple of dozen people hostage. I shall not mention the name of this creature (for it does not deserve to be remembered) save that it had changed its first name to "Man". The only way the contradiction could be greater is if it had changed its name to "Hero".
Here's what we know about the creature (hereafter referred to as "it"):
- It claimed to be an Islamic cleric from Iran and sought (and was given) political asylum in Australia in 2001. Thank you Australia, this is how I repay you.
- It had been unemployed for 10 years, leeching off the Australian taxpayer (ditto).
- It had been convicted of sending abusive letters to the families of Australian servicemen killed in the Middle East. This one went all the way to the High Court, where its appeals were rejected just recently.
- It faced a string of sexual assault charges from its time as a self-proclaimed "spiritual healer".
- It was charged with being an accessory to the murder of its first wife, who was stabbed and set alight. The perpetrator of this is alleged to have been its current partner.
It claimed to be conducting the siege as a terrorist act by the Islamic State and brandished a black flag to that effect. Just one thing; the flag was not in fact an IS flag. It was essentially an Islamic prayer flag but since most Australians can't read Arabic and he colours were the same, it punched the appropriate buttons.
When this broke out I said to some friends that this wasn't really a terrorist attack but rather one pathetic loser in life with a black flag. Had this really been IS the place would have been blown up and it would have actually had an IS flag with it. (Indeed, one of its demands was for an IS flag to be delivered to it. What, IS couldn't make one for its brave warrior?) So it turned out to be.
About 2 in the morning it apparently started to doze off (the circumstances are not completely clear yet) and some of the hostages tried to make a break for it. The café manager tried to wrestle the gun from it and was shot. Police then stormed the café and shot it dead. Unfortunately this death would have been instantaneous rather than long and suffering as it deserved. Two hostages also died. But things could have been far, far worse.
Why the Lindt café? My best guess is that it was across the street from the Channel 7 studio. Channel 7 then obliged by giving it about 18 hours of uninterrupted coverage to squeeze in about 30 minutes worth of content. And that certainly won't encourage the next loser who wants to do something similar, oh my no. Yes, people need to know (a big chunk of the CBD had to be closed down for one thing), but hourly updates with the basic facts are all that are needed and more importantly that approach will starve it of the attention that it wants. And, more importantly, make similar losers think "hey, maybe I won't get all that attention that I want after all".
Then just to make the media coverage worse, the day after a reporter from one paper (who really should know better) wrote this drivel:
"Self-evidently, if the object of NSW Police was a peaceful end to the siege via negotiation, that strategy failed. A primary tool in that plan is time – being prepared to wait it out and hope that the fatigue factor eventually persuades the hostage taker to give up. Yet time introduces its own new variables to a situation which is already extremely dangerous and inherently unpredictable."
Enlighten us how you would have dealt with it, oh great armchair General. Or better still, since a "chief political correspondent's" knowledge of hostage negotiation and counter-terrorism is probably equivalent to that of the work experience kid's at McDonalds, could you kindly shut the f*** up instead and give us news and facts rather than your damned opinion. Of COURSE the police had to try to negotiate a resolution, because if this besuited desk jockey had actual experience of gunfire exchanges, he'd know that they rarely end as neatly or predictably as either side would like and are (almost) never the way they appear on TV or in the movies. If the police snipers had tried to take him out and missed (and that can happen even to the best marksman, by the way), or if the police had tried to storm the building right at the outset, you'd have the same journalists calling them "cowboys". There is ALWAYS a risk that these things will end badly, and only someone who has no responsibility for other lives will call an attempt to resolve the matter without bloodshed (whether successful or not) a "failure". Idiot.
Sorry, that's more profane than I usually get here but I expect better from that newspaper. Far better.
These events captivated the nation's airwaves for about 48 hours, but I doubt that they made much of a ripple beyond these shores. To put it into perspective, only a couple of days later some true heroes of Allah killed 152 people including 133 children (such tough guys) in a school in Peshawar. Doubtless the virgins will be awaiting them in Paradise. And hopefully the virgins will have a full complement of rusty razor blades to spend eternity showing them what they think of the murder of school children.