Brendan O’Connell is a dangerous criminal.
His irrational behaviour in court shows that he has no respect for justice (or the jurisdiction of the court), no remorse, and no concept of Jewish ethnicity, cuture and religion. He has avowed to continue with his crusade, and remains a threat to society as a whole. He has also continued to load anti-Semitic videos to the internet even during the course of the trial, not that this was noticed.
Although O’Connell attempted to put Judaism on trial, he failed to comprehend that it was he, not the Jewish religion that had been charged. It is pleasing that the court stuck to its topic, and did not give O’Connell the brief moment of infamy that he was seeking to spew forth quotations from selective anti-Semitic literature.
It is obviously that O’Connell truely believes his own rhetoric, and that he honestly thinks that he is the victim of a Jewish-Fremasonry conspiracy of global domination. It is sad that he harbors such pathelogical hatred on the basis of so much misinformation. He feels the whole world is against him because he cannot see that sharing the sentiments of his own world view is nothing more than hate-speech.
I feel no remorse. It will be a matter for the judge to sentance O’Connell, and take into account just how much of a physical danger he is to society. I can only imagine that for the Judiciary, Jury, and observers of the trial that it has been an emotionally draining week.
There were some interesting elements to the trial, including important and well focussed evidence from Perth’s most prominent Rabbi that directed the attention of the court towards Shulchan Aruch as the culminating work that gathers and provides the interpretive advice of halacha. The Rabbi demonstrated the pluralistic nature of Jewish religious source texts. The prosecuting Barrister demonstrated very responsible and articulate skill in understanding that so much Jewish literature is open to interpretation, and misinterpretation, and can easily be skewed out of context by the uninformed. But I found it even more fascinating that the case touched on issues such as defining Jewish identity in ethnic and racial terms due to the “fact” that not all Jews are religiously observant. Although true, in my view it is not a complimentary secular view of the strength of Jewish identity, and not an ideal way for the outside world to relate to the integrated identity of Judaism as a religious, cultural, ethnic and national state of being.
Even more interesting was that the court missed defining Jewish religious law as a legal system within its own right. Of course, one of the principles of this system is dinai malchut dinai, that the law of the land must apply, be honoured, respected and observed. Therefore, unlike Brendan O’Connell, the Jewish people do recognise the authority and the jurisprudence of State and Federal Law. However the texts that O’Connell finds so threatening to the freedom of humanity are ironically both a behavioural regulator of conduct and the moral legal base of the justice system that protects our freedom and saftey. Both his and mine.
I can only say that as a Jewish resident of Perth, my confidence in our system of law and justice remains fully intact as a result of this regrettable affair. I’m not sure that there is any remedy for an anti-Semite who is so aggressively misinformed and arrogant as Brendan O’Connell, but I would feel a lot safer knowing that he is not roaming the streets. No member of the Jewish community should have to be subjected to the racial abuse that O’Connell has consistently spewed, videoed, published, and reiterated in court. Maybe, if he is sentanced to time in prison, he could take the time to read some books about what Judaism is actually about.
Update 31 January
A packed court room witnessed the judge sentance O’Connell to a total of three years imprisonment with a declaration of parole eligibility at lunchtime today. O’Connell was subdued by his own standards, but still managed to incite as he was led out of the courtroom. The verdict was legalistic, focussed more towards the specific charges and with minimal social commentary on the impact of this case, the first prosecution under the new WA racial vilification laws. In passing judgement, Judge Wisbey noted that he was satisfied that O’Connell was an intelligent person (i.e. not mentally incapable of being rational) and that he had demonstrated a complete lack of remorse.
I am happy for my taxpayer dollars to contribute to keeping O’Connell off the street. One only hopes that he can learn from this experience and refrain from harassing people when he reenters the community.