IN ANOTHER run of the Australian version of The Twilight Zone, our television screens and newspapers open us up to familiar episodes of the cultural cringe, with the buttocks of yobbos on the other end of the world putting a national flag into disrepute.

And they were Australians. Again. Cross out another line on your white male privilege bingo cards.

On the rare occasion that I have to defend a scrap of cloth being treated as the butt of all jokes (literally), the nine tourists arrested in Malaysia over the underpants skirmish have done another disservice to the nation.

With our tourism industry taking a blow from societal racism and reinforced prejudice against anyone with a slightly browner shade than white, the last thing we need are middle-aged dropkicks prancing around overseas trying to make a mockery of the Malaysian government and paint Australia in a bad light. Cue the #notallaussies movement.

What do you make of the "Budgie Nine" ?

This poll ended on 07 October 2016.

Current Results

Relax - they're just young blokes having a laugh

35%

Give them a slap on the wrist and move on

45%

A national disgrace - they should be dealt with harshly

20%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Do I think they deserve to be jailed? Absolutely not. Malaysia's record of human rights abuses, like the deplorable treatment of LGBT people and curtailing of free speech, don't paint it as a leader in terms of democracy, and their jailing is nothing more than encroaching nanny-statism because the government is 'offended' by underwear.

But where do we excuse their behaviour, practically being ambassadors to another country (a Pyne staffer is among the nine arrested), who completely disregard all forms of decency for their own amusement, and deal another blow to the tourism industry that keeps our economy ticking along?

And with breakfast television hot on their heels, breathlessly anticipating the next move for the 'political prisoners' and how the foreign affairs department will help dig them out, all we have is another example of how to make a storm in a teacup.

A lot of people will bemoan the outcome of the 'slap on the wrist' approach they may get. But I say that's fine. Let's let the Malaysian government dish out the hardest wrist-slap they can muster, then let their employers, clients, academic advisors and the like advise on whatever suitable social punishment they may deem necessary.



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