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At the Royal Easter Show in 1997, and again in 1998, several men and women dressed as babies, were arrested while distributing a publication entitled The Baby Book near the front gate of the show. They said that they had dressed as they did for the occasion, in an attempt to draw people's attention to the concept of becoming like little children, in childlike faith, and in total dependence on God. They also added that their unusual garb was an attempt to maintain a light-hearted approach, in keeping with the overall spirit of the Easter Show.

BABIESPolice evidence showed that the group did not obstruct pedestrian traffic. The defendants handed the booklets freely to anyone who reached out to take one.

There was nothing obscene about their dress, although one policeman called for a paddy wagon to take them away on the grounds that he personally found them offensive. His mates refused to go along with such a scheme, knowing that the case would make a laughing-stock of them all; and so that plan was abandoned.

The "nappy chappies" (as the men were later dubbed by the media) did not venture onto the actual showgrounds. Instead, they stayed on a public street in a public park, in front of the showgrounds. Nevertheless, police who had been hired and paid for by the Royal Agricultural Society (i.e. the Easter Show organisers), finally arrested them for not having permission from the Moore Park Trust to distribute their material.

One of the arresting officers, Sergeant R. Allen, from the Georges River anti-theft squad, said at the time, that he did not see anything wrong with what they were doing, but that he was obliged to follow the orders of those who were paying his salary. He repeated these same sentiments under oath in court.

The Moore Park Trust is empowered to regulate (not prohibit) the distribution of literature of a commercial or political nature on its property. However, nothing is said in its charter about it regulating the distribution of religious literature.

In the 1997 court case, the magistrate ruled that the nappy chappies had not broken any law, and they were acquitted. A copy of the judgment was shown to police making the 1998 arrests, but they said they were not interested in it. They had orders to make an arrest, and they were going to act on them irregardless of what the court had ruled earlier.

When the 1998 nappy chappy hearing came up, the defendants argued that the by-law regulating distribution of commercial and political material could not possibly be interpreted to include the prohibition of freely distributed religious material. Both the police prosecutor and the magistrate admitted that they were at a loss as to how they could argue against the truth of the defence. The magistrate called for a recess, and retired to his chambers for a few minutes before returning to deliver his verdict.

While he was out, the police prosecutor more or less congratulated the nappy chappies for having presented such a convincing case in their own defence.

However, when the magistrate returned, he dropped a bombshell on the courtroom. He said (with an obvious show of agitation) that he had had a change of heart during the recess. While he appreciated that the nappy chappies had good intentions, he now felt that Sydney needed to be able to protect itself against certain people who may, in the name of religion, distribute material that the authorities considered to be "undesirable".

In other words, regardless of what the law said or didn't say, the magistrate was obligated to take action against someone whom he or some other invisible party in Sydney regarded as "undesirable". Can people see a similarity here between the magistrate's reasoning and the kind of reasoning that prevailed in Germany during the time of the Holocaust? Everyone just did their job without question, and they justified it all because someone (Hitler) was ridding the country of "undesirables".

When the law is used in one way for "desirable" social elements, and used in an entirely different way for "undesirable" social elements, then justice ceases to exist. The universal symbol for "justice" is a woman with a blindfold on. She weighs up the evidence with-out any knowledge of the defendant's appearance. She does not allow herself to be guided by such things as race, religion, sex, or "desirability". All that matters is (1) What does the law say? and (2) Has the defendant broken it?

With the Sydney Olympics looming, a number of draconian measures are being taken to rid the streets of Sydney of all "undesirable" elements, especially anyone who may wish to distribute literature which seeks to do more than advertise local merchandise. Surely, if Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir had possessed such a compliant legal system as what Sydney has, Anwar Ibrahim would never have been able to become such a source of embarrassment to him during the Commonwealth Games. Anwar would have been labelled "undesirable" and marched off to jail before the games even began (as Australia did with Aboriginal protestors during the Brisbane Commonwealth Games). The totally unjust ruling against the nappy chappies could, because it was done through a court, be challenged at a higher court. However, the legal expense precludes ordinary citizens from making such an appeal.

Instructions by the magistrate to the police were that, in future, such people should simply have their literature taken away from them, without them being brought before the court! In other words, police were given carte blanche to take matters into their own hands, without recourse to the courts.

When asked by the defendants whether there was such a thing as free speech anywhere in Sydney, the magistrate said that free speech only existed where no one owned the property. He added that he knew of no such place in Sydney!
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