Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Adelaide: City of Conspiracy Theories

The latest gay-related strange goings-on in my former home city already have that unique Adelaide feel of cover-up and underground intrigue. In a nutshell:

Speaker Peter Lewis, ex-Lib turned "Independent", is alleging that a certain current SA MP is known to be a regular visitor to Veale Gardens, Adelaide's biggest beat, and specifically that he engages in regular sexual activities with underage boys there. Lewis claims to have videotape evidence of this, and is also implying that the recent deaths of two gay men - one found bashed in the gardens last year, the other found dead in his home last month in "suspicious circumstances" - are connected as (he claims) both men accused the MP of paedophilia before they were killed, ie the MP has murdered both men to cover his tracks.

Already, cracks are starting to appear in Lewis and his allegations. Police have not been provided with any new evidence that would justify reopening an investigation and Assistant Commissioner (Crime) Madeleine Glynn has said the allegations were fully investigated in 2003 and could not be substantiated. Furthermore, "Wayne", the man who made the original allegations, is now saying, in direct contradiction of Lewis, that his computer hard drive does not in fact contain any of the incriminating pictures.

It's all got that Bill Heffernan/Michael Kirby vibe all over again - wild unsubstantiated allegations from a rabid homophobe, backed up with flimsy or non-existent evidence. Not surprisingly, the media are sensationalising the issue, with The Oz being particularly stereotypical and offensive in its automatic linking of homophobia to paedophilia. To quote Rodney Croome:

Its headline, "The gay scene's 'dark underside'" is straight out of the 50s (or is that the 80s in Britain?), and is followed by a salacious, mish-mash of beat sex, drugs, child abuse, betrayal and murder this is about maligning gay men and nothing more.

There is no doubt Adelaide has a bad reputation for bizarre murders - from The Family to Snowtown. There's also no doubt that cover-ups happen. People seem to be under the false impression, however, that the cover-ups protect only high-profile gays and/or paedophiles. The murder of Dr George Duncan, for instance, which was the catalyst for SA's pioneering gay law reform in the 70s, was in fact covered up to protect the two members of the police vice squad who were most likely responsible for the murder.

Lewis himself also needs to be put into perspective. He's a freak. A self-serving, self-aggrandising (even for a politician!) freak who only got the position of Speaker by selling out his politics long enough for the ALP to give him the role in exchange for his casting vote in a virtually dead-even parliament, thereby giving them power. SA will be a much better place after the next election when Labor likely wins government with a majority, making him totally redundant and useless, so that he can stop damaging the position of Speaker and SA politics in general.

I do think that here, however, he is only 1/3 full of shit. That is:
a/ the MP visiting Veale - probably true;
b/ the MP having sex with underage boys - probably true;
c/ the MP killing two people to cover his tracks - far-fetched and unlikely.

I say this because I know (of) the MP in question and I'm pretty sure that, for his obvious faults, he doesn't have people killed. But maybe I'm naive - I guess the leap from fucking 10 year olds to killing people who know about it is not so big, even in Adelaide.

I just take the police labelling the second death as "suspicious" with a big grain of salt, and without that or the other evidence, we are left with what I believe is the more likely scenario that the first gay guy was bashed to death because this is (unfortunately) what goes on at Veale, the second guy's death is unrelated, and Lewis, knowing or convinced that a/ and b/ are true, is using the media to confuse one appalling act with something even worse for the sake of sensationalism that sells newspapers. I'm not saying this should be forgotten or not investigated further, I'm just saying that given how similar this case is to Kirby/Heffernan, as well as the sort of person Lewis is, we shouldn't get too hysterical with the pitch forks and nooses just yet.

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