Crowd-Funded Hero Jailed For Child Porn

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Crowdfunding, by Rocio Lara

Last week was an extraordinary week in politics.

Duncan Storrar, a man on a disability support pension stood up and asked a reasonable question on QandA to Kelly O’Dwyer – Australia’s finance minister.  Storrar asked why were upper-middle class getting a tax cut when people like him were barely making it by.

Storrar pointed out that the $6 a week tax cut wouldn’t be noticed by people earning over $80,000 each year – but that a little extra money would help Australia’s forgotten people buy food, or do simple things like take their kids to the movies.  The Twitterverse pronounced Storrar a genuine every day Aussie hero.  A crowd funding campaign raised over $60,000 for Storrar as a gift.

Incensed by this obnoxious bloke getting ideas above his station, right-wing media outlets started to dig into Storrar’s past.  They found his estranged son and interviewed him.  Needless to say, the son had few good things to say.  The newspapers then dug up and published Storrar’s criminal record.

It was a week of saturation coverage in social media and a hatchet job in traditional media.  Let’s be clear – Storrar asked a reasonable political question and it got him money and attention that he simply didn’t want.  And now, reportedly Storrar is on suicide watch.

But there was a second story last week; an Australian man was sentenced to six-and-half years in a New York prison for child-porn offenses.

Matthew Hynd, 40, formerly of Nundah on Brisbane’s north side is by all accounts a brilliant neuroscientist.  However in 2010 he left his job at the prestigious SUNY Albany Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering without giving notice.  Three days earlier the FBI had executed a search warrant of Dr Hynd’s home and seized two laptops – which contained 900 images of child-pornography.

During this time, Dr Hynd was having a long-distance relationship with Ali Choudhry.  Choudhry, now 28 – Pakistani by heritage, raised in America was studying Zoology and working as a photographer in Australia.  Eventually Choudhry met Dr Hynd in person when Hynd returned to Australia.

They fell and love and eventually registered a civil union in March 2012.  Choudhry had entered Australia as a student and since he was now “married”, had lodged an application for a partnership visa. And, this is where he ran into issues with the immigration Authorities.

Because Choudhry and Hynd were not legally married (thanks to Australia’s gay marriage ban), immigration authorities cynically concluded that Choudhry and Hynd did not have a legitimate relationship.  Choudhry and Hynd’s relationship became a cause celebre.  The internet-outrage machine furnished the couple with a petition signed by over 143,000 people and a successful Pozible campaign (raising $6186 for an immigration lawyer).  Eventually Choudhry was granted an appropriate visa.

These incidents raise a stark question: when we’re following the outraged mob– how can we be sure we’re on the right side of the story?

Our politics have become so obnoxious and so divisive that we’re destroying people by holding them up as poster boys, while the other side tears them down.  We need to move away from the anecdotes and start talking about policy.  We’ve all become reactionaries and we need to stop anointing people as saints and condemning people as monsters.

We need to end the drumhead in our discourse.

Sources:
• https://www.gofundme.com/23hcwd8
• http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-12/duncan-storrar-freaked-out-by-toaster-campaign/7410266
• https://www.pedestrian.tv/news/arts-and-culture/duncan-from-qa-allegedly-on-suicide-watch-after-me/88e7d1e5-7f6c-412b-a370-81b7b6842d14.htm
• http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/federal-budget/how-duncan-storrars-question-set-in-motion-a-public-grilling-and-more-than-50000-in-donations/news-story/c1474639eceab6c3b779b2aa66155ad9
• http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/federal-budget/struggling-duncan-storrars-crowdfunding-campaign-halted-as-criminal-past-exposed/news-story/6688a4a2b91e2c12e8152355c8bdbbdd
• http://www.news.com.au/national/queensland/australian-scientist-dr-matthew-hynd-sentenced-for-child-porn-offences/news-story/104181d838e0abee54da659479b375ad
• http://cbs6albany.com/news/local/australian-man-sentenced-on-child-porn-charges
• http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/4/australian-man-sentenced-to-us-prison-term-for-chi/
• http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-07/petition-opposing-gay-mans-deportation-garners-120000-signatures/5188784
• http://www.starobserver.com.au/opinion/soapbox-opinion/ali-choudhry-why-we-should-care-petition-creator/115432
• http://www.starobserver.com.au/news/equality-for-ali-choudhry-130000-disagree/115592
• http://www.starobserver.com.au/news/ali-choudhrys-deportation-put-on-hold/115338
• https://www.communityrun.org/petitions/don-t-deport-ali-choudhry
• https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/55925
• http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/timblair/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/cup/
• https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/61259
• http://www.samesame.com.au/features/10425/A-couples-fight-to-stay-together
• https://pozible.com/project/176789
• http://www.starobserver.com.au/news/inaccuracies-in-immigration-dept-claims-choudhry/115854

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About the author

James Newburrie is a cyber-security specialist, the man who organised a marriage equality demo outside Mt Isa MP Bob Katters office, and runs the Facebook Equal Marriage page 32001names. Never without his unrelenting sense of logic or his trusty iPad he tweets as @Difficultnerd