Australia is no stranger to political activism. In 1970, 200,000 people marched the streets of Melbourne and Sydney to demonstrate in Australia’s first Moratorium. It was the largest protest in Australia’s history, which eventually led to the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam.
In 2003, a similar protest was held to fight against John Howard’s decision to deploy troops to Iraq. Although 600,000 people showed up, the protest fell on deaf ears, and Australia’s involvement continued for five years until the election of Kevin Rudd.
In only the first three months of 2019 we’ve seen a vigil for Aiia Maasarwe, Invasion Day protests, the Pulwama attacks demonstration, Sydney’s Don’t Kill Live Music rally, and a second School Strike 4 Climate Change.
Maybe it’s the fact that I’m older, wiser and surrounded by people with different worldviews than the ones I grew up with. Maybe it’s the sheer pervasiveness of social media and the 24/7 news cycle. But it seems that as a millennial in 2019, activism is everywhere. And for every peaceful protest, there is an onslaught of conservatives to tear down its cause and remind us that we are entitled brats or snowflakes.
So, how do you get your point across when even the smell of a marker on a placard could send the elite into a fit of moral panic at the thought that young people have a mind of their own?
Enter: Egg Boy. The 17-year-old kid from Melbourne has the support from crowds of people both nationally and around the world – all for slapping an egg on the back of Fraser Anning’s head.
Australian musos have offered him free tickets for life, a Turkish philosophy lecturer invited him on an all-expenses paid trip to Turkey, and of course, being a Melbournian, a mural was painted in Hosier Lane to honour his actions.
He’s also been the hero subject of a Betoota Advocate article, the highest honour one can hope for in this country.
But apparently cracking an egg on the guy who literally made us pay for him to attend a Neo-Nazi rally is where some right-wingers draw the line on what is deemed morally acceptable. On 3AW Mornings, Neil Mitchell said that while he is no supporter of Fraser Anning, Egg Boy’s actions were unjustifiable, and violence is never okay.
But is it really an act of violence to crack an egg on someone? Unless Anning has an undiagnosed egg allergy, it’s unlikely it would’ve brought any physical harm to him. After all, it’s not like it would get stuck in his hair. It’s the classic philosophical dilemma: is it okay to punch a Nazi? Is it okay to crack an egg on the head of an extreme racist? And I can confirm he is an extreme racist because even Pauline Hanson thinks he’s a bit too how ya goin’, even for One Nation.
The sentiments that Anning constantly spits out (how Australia needs a “final solution” for immigration) could cause much more harm than an egg ever will. While people defend Anning’s right to free speech, they ignore the fact that freedom of speech does not equal freedom from consequences. If “violence is never okay” then the two punches laid on a seventeen-year-old followed by a crowd of full-grown men tackling him should also be condemned.
If Anning’s punches and the crowd’s tackle and subsequent choking of Egg Boy are him “being taught a lesson” than the egging should also serve as a lesson to Anning.
In a time of Facebook events, Change.org petitions, political memes and the live streaming of protests, it’s evident that a simple march down the street with a well-articulated sign is no longer making the cut. Fifty years ago, it only took a few hundred people sitting in to cause political shift and bring down an entire war, but it’s clear that no longer works.
Sometimes all you need is an idea, an egg and a smartphone to film the entire thing on, even while being sat on and choked by a bunch of strangers. I personally don’t care if you think Egg Boy is in the wrong. The online support raised $25,000 for his legal fees, which he instead has committed to donating the families of the Christchurch victims, so in every way, the ends justify the means.
Whether you support or condemn the actions of Will ‘Egg Boy’ Connolly: we’re all still talking about him.