Culture

A Daily Telegraph Journalist Really Wants Australia To Declare War On Sharks For Some Bizarre Reason

The Great Shark/Human War of 2015 is upon us. We must act.

Much like a murderous deathfish waiting in the ocean’s unknowable blackness to eat you and everyone you care about, shark attacks have been lurking at the back of people’s minds recently. Specifically, that footage of a giant fin appearing behind Mick Fanning as he waited for a wave a few weeks ago is going to haunt your nights forever goodbye.

BUUUUUUUUUURGH.

But that fear of getting eaten if you go for a swim hasn’t translated into a hatred of sharks themselves; most people seem to accept that if you’re out in the ocean, you’re in a shark’s territory, and you take that still-miniscule risk in that knowledge. As the hostility to the WA government’s abortive shark cull last year demonstrated, hating on sharks isn’t the crowd-pleaser WA Premier Colin Barnett thought it would be.

That’s a lesson that Daily Telegraph journalist Laura Banks is learning the hard way today, after her opinion column, titled: ‘When sharks are eating people, it’s time to cull‘, went up this morning. It’s getting a heap of derision online, and not just because it calls for shark culling: Banks is so over-the-top about sharks and the “threat” they pose, she makes it sound like we’re at war with the fishy bastards.

“Human cullers. Leg maulers. Life destroyers,” it begins in suitably dramatic fashion. Banks notes that NSW’s north coast has had six shark attacks this year including one death, which is fair enough — but follows that up with this bizarre statement:

“These surfers were doing nothing more than enjoying the beauty and tranquillity (sic) of the ocean. Why should they be punished for that? These men did not enter the water with spears, nor did they paddle out with the intention of harming marine life. They wanted to enjoy the peacefulness of the ocean but instead they were given a life sentence.”

Which, like, okay. No one’s being “punished’ for anything; getting attacked by a shark isn’t “punishment” for surfing, the same way getting struck by lightning isn’t “punishment” for being outside. And talking up the ocean’s “peacefulness” kind of ignores the fact that is has big old carnivorous fish in it.

Things get weirder:

“What if you were at the beach with your son or daughter, your partner or your mother, and one of these sharks thought your loved one looked a tasty morsel and took them down in a murderous attack? Would that be OK? How would you feel then?

“Would you still be keen to cuddle up to a great white at night?”

Who is cuddling up to sharks at night? Is this one of the horrible consequences of marriage equality the Marriage Alliance have been trying to warn us about? Are wedding planners going to be forced to cater to perverted shark/people unions by making wedding cakes out of human meat? Has Cory Bernardi been right all along?

IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT, AUSTRALIA.

But the threat of these black-eyed monsters is even greater than that. They’re waging a slow-burn war on our eastern seaboard, a guerrilla campaign that will eventually force us to retreat from the coastline, abandoning all of our grand human designs and giving the shark menace the perfect launchpad from which to stage a full-scale land invasion. According to Banks, it’s happening already as whole towns teeter on the edge of abandonment:

“The ocean is our domain and sharks have no place destroying lives and livelihoods; these predators are lurking out there ready to cull humans and we as a community must find a permanent solution.

“Tourism is slowing. The people are not coming. Surfers are not surfing. If this continues into summer, the seaside towns of Lennox Head and Evans Head, even Ballina, will be no more.

“We won’t have to worry about sharks because there will be no one living on the coast. The shark will have won.”

Hear that, lefties? Sharks pose the greatest danger to our “lives and livelihoods” since that other great plague upon decent Australians, the carbon tax. If we keep appeasing these aqua-fascists, they’ll exploit our weakness to expand their toothy domain to hitherto unthinkable extents. The shark knows not the meaning of mercy. It only speaks one language: the language of force. We must respond in kind.

And that shark-sympathising traitor Katy Perry must be banished. BANISHED.

It’s time to act,” Banks concludes. “Great whites should no longer be a protective (sic) species; sharks do not treat humans as a protected species. We must legalise the killing of the sharks that kill us.”

We will fight them on the beaches! We will fight them in the shallow water directly off the beaches! We will fight them in the deeper water past that bit! Probably in boats! TO WAR, BROTHERS. TO WAAAAAR.

Let’s go to the beach, beach!

In fairness to Banks, her experience of shark attacks is more extensive than the average person’s. Before turning this op-ed in, Banks did a stack of reporting on shark attacks, including interviewing shark attack survivor Craig Ison who only recently came out of a coma last week after being mauled by a great white.

Obviously, people dying or being severely injured in shark attacks is tragic and horrible, and most people don’t come into close contact with the lived effects of those attacks in the way Banks has. Reporting on the suffering of real people can be a very upsetting and affecting thing, in a way that people who’ve never done it might not necessarily understand — journalists don’t have the luxury of distance that underpins the flippancy and humour often seen in reaction to tragic yet unusual events like shark attacks.

But car crashes don’t make journalists call for cars to be banned. People dying in floods don’t trigger campaigns to ban rain. Doing the same about sharks is ridiculous, and ought to be regarded as such.

Unless, of course, Scott Morrison has been a secret double agent for the sharks this whole time. His hostility to boats; “On-water matters”; his seeming lack of a soul. It’d explain a bit.