Table of Contents | Article doi: 10.17742/IMAGE.MM.12.2.6 | PDF

Making Sense of Noise Mary-Rose McLaren

Making Sense of Noise – A Symphony for Voices

Mary-Rose McLaren

This paper uses original and found poetry to shape the soundscape of 2020 into meaning. A critical auto-ethnographic study, it uses poetic strategies of arts-based methodology to weave stories, experiences and impressions together, to create a literary fabric of the year. So doing, it creates a choral piece for the spoken voice, which explores ideas of conspiracy, community, racism, oppression and justice, drawing on the author’s experience in Australia, and connection with the wider world via the internet. Its focus on listening as meaning is formed from competing and contesting voices.

Cet article utilise une poésie originale et trouvée pour façonner le paysage sonore de 2020. Une étude auto-ethnographique critique, il utilise des stratégies poétiques de méthodologie basée sur les arts pour tisser des histoires, des expériences et des impressions ensemble, pour créer un tissu littéraire de l’année. Ce faisant, il crée une pièce de chorale pour la voix parlée, qui explore les idées de complot, de communauté, de racisme, d’oppression et de justice, en s’appuyant sur l’expérience de l’auteur en Australie et sur la connexion avec le monde entier via Internet. Son accent est mis sur l’écoute car le sens se forme à partir de voix concurrentes et contestataires.


The year 2020 began in Australia (where I live) with what Professor John Shine, President of the Australian Academy of Science, called “unprecedented” bush fires.2 From fires, Australia lurched into pandemic (not quite unprecedented, because humanity had experienced the Spanish flu of 1918-20). From there, many Australians protested in support of Black Lives Matter—precipitated by the murder of George Floyd, but in response to generations of racism, oppression, and brutality the world over. Severe economic downturn, the emboldening of white supremacy, and more “unprecedented” wild fires in California (this time identified as such by Frank Lake, a U.S. Forest Service research ecologist3), bring me to September 2020, when this paper is written. This year taught me to listen differently. Previously, I would have filtered out so much of this information and opinion; I would have dismissed it as the noise of daily life. But in 2020 this ‘noise’ connected me across the ether with family and friends around the world through a shared sense of trauma and anxiety, and shared fixations on numbers and daily reports. In amongst the bombardment of news, when listening differently, I heard things I had previously ignored. The slowing and stilling of my daily life was counter-balanced by my increasing engagement with the world via the internet. The following is my attempt to make sense of the cacophony of sound, the competing voices and ideas that are the noisescape of 2020. This critical autoethnographic study uses poetic strategies of arts-based methodology to weave stories, experiences, and impressions together to create a literary fabric of the year. Poetry as research method, and as qualitative analysis and representation, is explored by Sandra L Faulkner (2017). She observes that poetry “shows, rather than tells, our human mysteries, triumphs, and foibles” (209). In choosing this form, I have sought to give the reader an embodied experience, taking them inside the moment of expression through the physical formation of sounds, the articulating of the words of others. This is consistent with William Faulkner’s understanding that:

“Poetry can help us see a relationship bleeding out, haemorrhaging from the inside, spilling outside the neat axioms of theory. Poetry can have us experience the social structures and ruptures in situ as we read, as we listen, as we hold our breath waiting for the next line.” (222)

Consequently, poetry as inquiry and research can offer transformative experiences to the reader (and writer), “by providing new insight, giving perspective, and/or advocating for social change” (227). Consistent with this viewpoint, Hodge (2017) suggests that the nature of the critical reflection made possible through poetry offers “space to voice-silenced traumas” (11), that through poetry, one might enter vicariously into the lived experience of another person.

The following poetry is constructed in two different forms. The first is free verse, in my own words, appearing in the left-hand column. The second is found poetry, appearing in the right-hand column. Found poetry is constructed by selecting words and phrases from longer, often prose texts, such as interview transcripts or narrative accounts. Lisa D. Patrick (2016) distinguishes between these two forms of poetry in her own research poem about poetry as methodology:

“Research poets

refashion and reorder data,

presenting it as a poem . . .

crafting original poetry

in the voice of the researcher,

crafting found poetry
in the voice of the participant.” (Patrick 386)

The found poetry in the work below is drawn from transcripts of interviews, newspaper articles, opinion pieces, speeches by public figures and by activists at rallies, websites, songs, banners, and advertising material. The references for these, and where necessary the explanations, can be found in the endnotes. Although at times these words have been repeated or constructed into poetic form, they have not been altered from the original. Patrick goes on to discuss the “transaction” (387) between reader and text, and the ways in which found poetry facilitates this. One of the significant impacts of using found poetry in a project such as this one is the explicit way it identifies my interpretative role in the process of inquiry. By placing my own poetry alongside found poetry, each reflects on, and informs, the other. At times these two forms intersect and become interwoven. In order to keep the distinction between my own words and the found poetry clear, my own words always appear in italics. Occasionally there are italicised words in amongst the found poetry in the right-hand column. These are my words, added in order to move the found poetry along, make connections, or develop the aesthetics.

A significant challenge in writing this piece has been identifying my own standpoint. My aim in the found poetry has been to amplify voices, not to take them or control them. I am a white, middle-aged woman. While I can feel shocked, diminished, and enraged by the stories of marginalised, silenced, and oppressed people, I can never know their lived experiences. I hope this work honours those voices and adds to the calls for justice in our world. Amongst the found poetry you will also find the competing voices of the privileged. I place them there to contextualise the voices they silence, and to implicitly offer critique of them. Doing so creates contested space on the page, and is a reminder of the clash of values being played out in the choices people make. You may wonder how I selected the voices I did. I used the open architecture of the internet to guide me: I started with word searches on Google and You Tube and simply followed links. I found myself delving further and further into sites I would never normally have accessed, and hearing the ideas and opinions of people whose world perceptions are very different from my own. Following links on YouTube takes the viewer to varied places, where words shift meaning according to context. At the time this poem was written, “flattening the curve” took me from coronavirus to body image, which reminded me, in turn, of Donald Trump’s perceptions of, and desire to control, the female body. Some months later, as I review this paper, “flattening the curve” takes the viewer straight to conspiracy theories. I also followed links through newspaper sites; sometimes I saw images or heard or read words that resonated, and which I then specifically sought out. George Floyd’s last words—“I can’t breathe”—are an example of this. I knew they were also the last words of Aboriginal Australian David Dungay Jr, who died in police custody in 2015. The intersection of breath across the experience of COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the experience of Indigenous peoples in Australia, was one route through my 2020.

One last point about the writing: the success of any work lies in its reader or listener being able to move in, out, and through it; to engage in emotional intensity and pull back and view objectively. For this reason, not all elements of the work are deeply serious. However, all reflect on the bombardment by social and political noise that has occurred during lockdown and pandemic; and on my personal growing awareness of the pain that some of us inflict, wittingly or not, on others. The Melbourne lockdown was one of the strictest and longest in the world.4 Initial restrictions were introduced on March 16. Stage four restrictions, which included an 8:00 pm curfew, masks, and limiting time outside the house to one hour a day, commenced on August 2 and continued into late October. During this time the noise of aeroplanes overhead, and cars on the road, almost disappeared. But the noise of the internet, the main communication outside the home, became louder and louder. I have tried to capture that sense of loud, competing, noise outside of my own experience. In this work it is my intention to amplify the voices of oppressed people, never to trivialise them. I sincerely hope this work is read in that way.

The creation of this piece has been an exercise in embodied writing. I selected words because they generated a visceral response. I have sought to communicate this viscerality in the use of rhythms and repetition. Because music is meaning made from noise, I have taken a musical motif—the symphony—and redesigned it for the spoken word. It is designed to be read aloud by numerous voices—sometimes in unison, sometimes overlapping or echoing each other, at other times challenging each other. There are several ways you can read this work: down one column and then the other; across the page; or moving between columns by stanza or movement. Each of these ways will give a different sense to the work. I encourage you to read it aloud and to experiment with the process of reading that speaks best to you. My own preference is to read across the page.

First Movement
Sonata: Exposition

I am making sense

Made sense sense made

Sense in the Making

I am trying

To make Sense.


To Sense:

To feel, touch, hold, smell

to breathe in the rancid

and the scented

to taste in the air

and on the tongue

to know the passage of Time

to hear the cries of abandonment

to listen for Hope

to be deaf.


To see

to envisage, imagine, dream,

to make art

to find

the current that tumbles tidelike

into and out of the Mind.


To use senses to make Sense.

My sense

Our sense

Common sense





We must remember to protect ourselves

from people

who choose to not engage

in the critical act of









I don’t like how my chances of


are linked to

the common sense of


And yet….

The fire the smoke

the blast of taser

the car horns

the missiles, rocks

the calling of names

the hiding in bunkers

the blaming and cursing

the crying out

the penting up

the years of sin that lie on the land

the blood seeping into soil

and bitumen

lying in red coagulating puddles

under our feet



Breaking things, breaking down

Cracking crashing crushing


Is this breaking or building?




Breaking capitalism?

Building fairness?

Breaking wealth?

Building Justice?

Breaking privilege?

Building solidarity?

Who controls the paradigm of


This is how people are actually feeling.

This is temporary shit.

This is our future we stand up for

We will cause a scene7

Donald Trump spent

only a “tiny” amount of time

only a tiny amount

tiny, tiny amount

in a reinforced bunker –

while protesters rage

Donald inspects

(but not for his safety)


to inspect8

We tried peaceful protesting

and this was our last resort

actions speak louder than words

actions speak louder

It sucks to see our city

burning burning burning

but they’re finally listening to us.

We will be heard.






Fuck those media outlets

They’re going to

portray us in a bad light

Only showing what’s going

on over here

at the end of the day9A bad light


Shit got out of control.



Out of control10

the failure to listen

the failure to hear

the failure to see

the failure to touch lives

the failure to taste the bitterness

the failure to smell dissent


the failure.




The nonSense

the SenseLess

Fuck all that talking11

I need you to see me

You don’t see colour?

You don’t see me.12


Some people can’t walk round without

being scared

that some cop

is going to come to them

with a

Death sentence.13


Sonata: Development


When no cents doesn’t mean

No Sense




You are on mute




we’re all on mute

silenced by Capitalism

by politicians with agendas

that don’t include me

or you

or us

but someone else.


It is the great silence

and the great silencing

put on a mask,

muffle the voice

set the incomers to mute

who has the controls?



We want the person with no cents to their

name to have enough word

in this world

to change it14

We’re out here

living through hundreds of years

of discrimination and a bunch of stigma

that we face every single day.

This is the only way we are heard15

It really doesn’t make sense to me, to be



It begins

with an act of recognition17Australia is not innocent.18 De-colonise this place.19There’s a right way to protest

and that’s peacefully

We saw that many times with Martin Luther King20

They still assassinated him….21

Australia is a fucking crime scene22America is a crime scene23Every colonised country is a crime scene

They tell us to flatten the curve

they’ve been telling women that for years:

have you ever been cat-called


body shamed

body framed

body blamed?

lose weight

girdle the rolls of fat

make the curves that men want

flatten the natural curve

through denial and sacrifice.

This is no different then

women know how to do this

young teenage girls

who bind their breasts in the hope of

controlling menstruation

of never becoming women

because who would want to be?

Who would actively choose to

be oppressed simply by being who they are

to be muted, flattened

held on the ground by the knee of


Who would choose to be black

to be yellow

to be anything other than male and white

with a private school education

And an inheritance as big as a mountain?

Who would choose anything else?



You’re so fat

Boys call me fat all the time24The thigh gap


slim and thick

thick and slim

everything has to be

proportional25Put a gap here

put a lump there

a plump

little lump

right there

where I can grab it26I wear black leggings

because they make me look

small27I just

don’t look in the mirror28Honestly – I just


I just

don’t feel comfortable

in my own skin29

I like my skin colour because

it’s different30I am pretty

I am empowered

I am who I am31


Sonata: Recapitulation



Is stupidity a choice?

or a curse?

Perhaps a blessing to live

the unexamined life32when everything is conspiracy because

that is easier

than responsibility.

And when stupid and nasty stand

hand in hand

stupid and racist

stupid and misogynistic

how much power do the stupid have?




How is there sense in that?



The power to think.

You have given away that power

to people who will use it

to manipulate you,

to control how you live,

whether it be in poverty

or subjugation.

When you fail to consider

the messages your world sends to you,

you have made a choice,

conscious or not,

to be


Stop 5G; Look up event 201;

Newsom Gates Soros Global Psychopaths

The W.H.O. is Poo!

Impeach Bill Gates34Every conspiracy you ever heard

was pretty much true35We’re looking at a seasonal flu

and a bunch of fake death numbers36 Fake death

fake news fake bombs37 Lockdown is slavery38

You can be stupid in any number of ways:

You can be blinded by your religion.

You can be blinded by your dependence

on social media.

You can be stupidly partisan

and unable to listen

to people who don’t share

your ways of life.

You can be stupidly biased

against minorities or

against a social group or

culture you haven’t made an effort

to understand.39


What if I had my knee in their neck.

for 11 minutes…40If you can talk you can breathe.41

Is it the fear of fear

that propels us

like circus clowns from the cannon?

The fear of looking weak,

feeling weak, being weakened?

Weak to accept difference

Weak to take precautions

Weak to be female

or black

Weak to wear a mask

Weak to seek justice

Weak to share power

Weak to share wealth

Weak to be Human





We are all Less

all without Sense

when we fail to sense

the fall of Humanity.


The fall

The first sin

the absence of Love


Make sense of this then

Make sense of change

Make sense.



We are teaching fear, not courage42

Strength is

hatred of weakness.43Fear strengthens tribalistic instincts,

tribalistic instincts amplify fear.

Nothing bonds a group more tightly

than a common enemy

a mortal threat44a mortal threat:

It’s nothing more than a common cold45Sadistic



and that’s what proves they’re strong,

their passionate hatred for weakness.46

If you can talk you can breathe


A Fair Australia47Make America Great Again48

Failed in their duty of care49


We took the traditional lands and

smashed the traditional way of life.

We brought the diseases. The alcohol.

We committed the murders.

We took the children from their mothers.

We practised discrimination and exclusion

It was our ignorance and our prejudice.

And our failure

to imagine these things being done to us.50

I can’t do anything to help.51

I can’t breathe.52
I can’t.


Second Movement

The whole only exists as the replication

trillions and zillions of times,

of the microscopic.

Made as we are of billions of cells;

each cell made of atoms.

There is stardust in each of us

– and dinosaur wee.

The replication of the world

over and over and over again:

walnuts that look like brains;

flowers that look like vaginas;

birds that mimic human industry

(or human industry that mimics birds)

leaves that show in their tracings

the shape of the tree.

All around us

microscopic images of the massive,

and each of them,

built one on another,

shapes the whole.


Pieces topple, people crumble, systems fail,

voices call into the chaos, despair dwells,

destruction ensues.

We are all intimately interwoven.

And yet there are those who would tear

the fabric to make cloths of gold

For themselves.

The problem starts with us – the non

Aboriginal Australians53

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice




White silence

Equals white violence55

Rest in peace George Floyd.56Justice Now for David Dungay Jr.57

If you can talk you can breathe



I don’t support the looting

and the fires. I’m just

supporting the cause58I just

think what people are doing here

is just

ruining the whole point of this59

It is Just

our mere existence

bothering them60Stolen lives on stolen land61

The centre cannot hold62

Rest in peace Joyce Clarke, Rebecca Maher, DK, Tanya Louise Day, SDC and Mr Ward63 Rest in Peace.
Rest in peace, you more than 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have died in custody since the end of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody in 1991.64Rest in peace Rayshard Brooks and Daniel Prude, Breonna Taylor and Atatiana Jefferson, and the many many, many more Black people killed by police in the US65Rest in peace all those who have been silenced, who could not breathe, all those held down and shot up, the oppressed killed by the oppressor.
Remember their names.66

What next?

We struggle on.

Can change happen?

Is this the


of the end?

Is this the end we need in order to have a


Is it a pandemic that brings us to our knees,

cursing and wielding knives?

Or does it open our eyes

to the flaws,

the crevasses,

the failings?

Is COVID the critical friend we have longed


It is always hard to embrace the devil’s

advocate. And yet….



what next?

what next?

what next?


Everything’s inevitable.67


I want to give back to you the ownership of this land68






Where do we go from here?69

We shouldn’t be importing things that are

happening overseas

We don’t need to draw

equivalence here70



What message are we sending

by destroying what is ours?71

Third Movement

Stay home

shut the doors

close the curtains

turn on Netflix

sit it out.


28 weeks in lockdown

196 days

4,704 hours

282,240 seconds

and counting….


















The Spanish flu was

36,500 days ago.

876,000 hours

52 million 560,000 seconds

and counting….


Time immemorial


before my time

your time

our time.



No Zoom

no Netflix

no washing machine

no dishwasher

no phone

no television

no laptop

no iTunes

no podcast





When one falls

We all fall

It is hard to breathe when you’re hanging

it is hard to breathe with a knee in your neck

Burning burning burning

it is hard to breath with liquified lungs

Hard to speak

When the powerful and ignorant

have their knees on the necks

of all the Lost

And Losing


Did they even have ventilators then?

Stay home

Keep our Hospitals safe

1.5 metres

Wash your hands

Don’t touch your face

Wear a mask

Stay home.

Staying apart

staying apart

staying apart

keeps us together72

34.1 million COVID 19 cases worldwide

1,015,815 deaths

7,245,228 cases in the US

6,312,584 in India

4,810,935 in Brazil

1,179,634 in Russia73In Colombia, Iran, the Philippines,


In Romania, Morocco,

Ghana and Nigeria,

In Iceland, Yemen, West Bank and Gaza,

In China, in Japan,

In Ethiopia, Madagascar, Myanmar and


In Fiji, Cambodia, Oman, and Sweden74.

500 million people infected

50 million deaths



How long?

Not long,

because the arc of the moral universe is


but it bends toward justice.76


The tools to deal

with the global emergency

were limited77Despite improvements since 1918,

governments and health care systems

remain inadequately prepared for

the impact of a 1918-like

severe influenza




27 July, 1919.

Homes and buildings

burned to the ground.

White mobs lynched

forty-three African Americans,

sixteen hanged, others shot,

eight men burned at the stake.79



walking the footpaths

of a fantasy land

chalked rainbows

teddy bears in windows

cities of spoons80Every day the same:

walk the dog, pad, pad, pad,

sniff, meander, wee,

whoosh whoosh goes the tail,

pant, pant;

home again

computer on,

ding, ding, ding,

zoooooooom innnn zooooom innnnn


long slow notes of movement as the day progresses.

the long sonorous sounds of silent disruption.



Sleepless nights

are dark tunnels to the future


bat in the tree

cars intermittently……

night fades to day……..






He’s a real nowhere man

making all his nowhere plans

for nobody81



We’ve had people

trying to groom their own dogs

cutting and gashes –

It’s just

Going on and on82

Going on and on


Going on and on




Going on and on

I’ll give ya a dose
but it’ll never come close
to the rage built up inside of me
fist in the air, in the land of hypocrisy83



Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!84

We all just

Need to wake up


Fourth Movement

The body is the site of our being.

Despite the intellectual pursuit

the existential desire,

we live and die in the body.

We are the body

destroyed by virus or violence.

Violence enforced on our bodies since invasion

built on the genocide of my people85

The rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state86

Say it aloud, and slowly:



These lead to destruction,

the entanglements, of virus and violence.

their intricate inter-relations.

Does virus make us more


Does violence make us more prone to


How do we measure decay –

can we distinguish between the decay of the body

and the decay of the soul,

of the moral core?

My body is a temple.

That’s what They say,

those who would control my use of it,

my life within it,

my agency to act.

My body is more a tent or a decaying


That’s what I say,

where illnesses come to rave.

It is the site of virus and is vulnerable to


Let us ‘fight’ an illness

let us ‘kick cancer’s butt’;

let vaccinations be our ‘weapon’

let us internalise the violence

normalise the violence

make the violence part of us












Kick cancer’s butt

Etsy, Pinterest, Zazzle, facebook




We use the body

to shape the world.

There is a sickness in our minds that takes us to violence,

infects us with Violence.

Racism is a pandemic too87

Virus and violence:

one feeds the other;

one informs the other. We are

Please make it right88


We failed to ask –

to both.

How would I feel

if this

were done to


Let’s be Just


be Just.

I appreciate you listening.90

The only sense

is Justice.

Now, we transform.91

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Sommers, Suzette. facebook page, Accessed 15 Oct 2020.

Stafford, Indigo. “The Red Summer of 1919 and How Race Riots Broke Out During a Global Flu Pandemic.” Edinburghlive, June 8, 2020, Accessed 28 Nov 2021.

Schwartz, Stephen L. “Dancing Through Life.” Wicked, 2003, Accessed 28 Nov 2021.

“The Australian Bushfires—Why They Are Unprecedented.” Australian Academy of Science, 3 Feb. 2020,,unprecedented%20anywhere%20in%20the%20world‘. Accessed 26 Nov 2021.

The Guardian. “Deaths Inside. Indigenous Australian Deaths in Custody 2020.” The Guardian, Aug. 28 2018, Accessed 26 Nov 2021.

The Hill. “President Trump holds a Make America Great Again Rally in Middletown, PA | FULL, 9/26/2020.” YouTube, Sept. 26, 2020, Accessed 28 Nov 2021.

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The Project. “Indigenous Speeches from History | Black Lives Matter | The Project.” YouTube, June 2 2020, Accessed 28 Nov 2021.

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“Thousands Attend Black Lives Matter Rally in Melbourne.” Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo!, Accessed 26 Nov 2021.

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Wehner, Peter. “Why Trump Supporters Can’t Admit Who He really Is.” The Atlantic, Sept. 4 2020, Accessed 28 Nov 2021.

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  1. I wish the thank the following people who read this work in draft, and offered valuable feedback: Prof. James McLaren, Dr. Scott Welsh, Ms. Shiona Long, Mr. Anthony Balla, Dr. Rebecca Carlson, Ms. Georgina McLaren.



  4. Details of the Melbourne lockdown and how it compared to lockdowns in other countries can be found here:

  5. Thaddeus Howze, 2017, The Four Ds – Surviving the Social Media Apocalypse

  6. L.S.Pig, as a comment on All Gas No Brakes (independent media) video reporting of anti-lockdown demonstrations, 2020.

  7. The preceding four lines are quotes from black men present at the Minneapolis riots following the death of George Floyd (May, 2020). They are recorded by All Gas No Brakes and can be found at:


  9. Quotes from Black men present at the Minneapolis riots following the death of George Floyd (May, 2020). They are recorded by All Gas No Brakes and can be found at:

  10. Quote from Black man present at the Minneapolis riots following the death of George Floyd (May, 2020). It is recorded by All Gas No Brakes and can be found at:

  11. Quote from Black man present at the Minneapolis riots following the death of George Floyd (May, 2020). It is recorded by All Gas No Brakes and can be found at:

  12. Makan, Vidya, September 24, 2020, In this original song, a number of BIPoC people come together to challenge the idea of colour blindness, demanding that their identities be acknowledged as other than white.

  13. Brady Bussman, white man, interviewed during protests in Minneapolis, 2020.

  14. Man during Minneapolis riots, recorded by All Gas No Brakes and found at:

  15. Black man during Minneapolis riots, recorded by All Gas No Brakes and found at:

  16. White woman during Minneapolis riots, recorded by All Gas No Brakes and found at:

  17. Paul Keating, then Prime Minister of Australia, Redfern Speech (Year for the World’s Indigenous People) delivered December 10, 1992. The transcript can be found here: The authorship of the speech is disputed. Keating’s speech writer, Don Watson, and Keating both lay claim to its core ideas. See Tom Clark’s article for The Conversation here:

  18. Banner at Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne.

  19. Banner at Black Lives Matter rally, Melbourne, June 2 2020, as reported by The Project on Channel 10 Melbourne, . The call to ‘decolonise this place’ as a catchphrase to open conversations and actions about the oppression of colonization originates in the USA (

  20. White man at Minneapolis riots, recorded by All Gas No Brakes and found at:

  21. Black man, interviewed separately from the white man quoted above, at the Minneapolis riots, recorded by All Gas No Brakes and found at: Both the white man in the previous quote, and this Black man, referenced Martin Luther King, though with different understandings of his impact and the consequences of his actions. Martin Luther King was also referenced by Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, when he commented on the Black Lives Matter rallies in Australia and the rioting in the USA, recorded by the Australian Broadcasting Commission

  22. Tameeka Tighe at the Black Lives Matter ally in Newcastle, Australia, on July 5, 2020. Tighe contextualized her assertion by stating, “In 1831 Lachlan Macquarie declared martial law on our people and we became prisoners of war in our own country.”

  23. In 2014 Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz published An Indigenous People’s History of the United States (Boston: Beacon Press) in which she states, “North America is a crime scene.” An extract can be found at:

  24. Ella, aged 13, at This video was made by Allure. Allure describe their YouTube channel as “focused on bringing beauty to life with unparalleled expertise, smart storytelling, and racial inclusivity.” (

  25. Claudia, aged 15 at

  26. This is a purposeful allusion to Donald Trump’s “Grab ’em by the pussy” comment, made in 2005 and published by the New York Times on October 8, 2016.

  27. Izzi, aged 10, at

  28. Mia, aged 11, at

  29. Mia, aged 11, at

  30. Megan, aged 11, at

  31. Mia, aged 11, at

  32. Plato attributes these words to Socrates in Apology, set in the year 339BCE (the date of writing is unknown), section 38a. The idea is critiqued in “Dancing Through Life”, a song from Wicked by Stephen Lawrence Schwartz, 2003.

  33. Thaddeus Howze, 2017, The Four Ds – Surviving the Social Media Apocalypse

  34. Banners at the anti-lockdown rally, California, 26 April, 2020. Recorded by All Gas No Brakes, at Event 201 was a table top exercise undertaken on October 18, 2019, by the Centre for Health Security. It simulated global responses to a zoonotic novel coronavirus pandemic in order to build readiness for such an event. As conspiracy theories link Event 201 with COVID-19, the Centre for Health Security made the following statement: “Although our tabletop exercise included a mock novel coronavirus, the inputs we used for modeling the potential impact of that fictional virus are not similar to nCoV-2019.” More information can be found here:

  35. White male protester, at the anti-lockdown rally, California,26 April, 2020. Recorded by All Gas No Brakes, at

  36. White male protestor at the anti-lockdown rally, California, 26 April, 2020. Recorded by All Gas No Brakes, at

  37. Banner at anti-lockdown rally, California,26 April, 2020. Recorded by All Gas No Brakes, at

  38. White female protestor at the anti-lockdown rally, California, 26 April, 2020. Recorded by All Gas No Brakes, at

  39. Thaddeus Howze, 2017, The Four Ds – Surviving the Social Media Apocalypse

  40. Black man in Minneapolis, recorded by all Gas No Brakes, His reference to George Floyd’s death (“my knee in his neck. For 11 minutes”) is powerful but inaccurate. According the Coroner’s report, cited by Graeme Wood, it was “five minutes and 53 seconds of kneeling before officers declared that Floyd was unresponsive, followed by two minutes and 53 seconds of continued pressure. That totals just less than nine minutes.”

  41. Police officer to David Dungay Jr, prior to his death in police custody. Video footage can be seen on The Project, A similar thing was said to George Floyd prior to his death: “It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.”

  42. White man at anti -lockdown rally, California, 26 April, 2020. Recorded by All Gas No Brakes, at

  43. Bev, cited on Suzette Sommers’s facebook page:

  44. Peter Wehner, “Why Trump Supporters Can’t Admit Who He Really Is.” The Atlantic, Sept. 4, 2020:

  45. Anti-lockdown protestor, California, 26 April, 2020. Recorded by All Gas No Brakes, at

  46. Bev, cited on Suzette Sommers’s facebook page:

  47. Prime Minister Scott Morrison claims Australia is “fair” and “wonderful”. A critique of the language he uses when talking about the Black Live Matter rallies, and the deaths of Indigenous Australians in custody, can be found here:

  48. President Trump’s campaign slogan, currently in use:

  49. This coroner’s comment appears over and over again in investigations into Indigenous deaths in custody in Australia. See The Guardian database:

  50. Paul Keating, the Prime Minister of Australia, in the Redfern speech, December 10, 1992.

  51. White woman at Minneapolis riots, recorded by All Gas No Brakes.

  52. “I can’t breathe.” The last words of George Floyd, who died in police custody, Minneapolis, 2020; and of David Dungay Jr, who died in police custody, Long Bay jail, November 2015; and the dying thought of 986,000 people worldwide… and counting.

  53. Paul Keating in 1993, cited by The Project, 2020,

  54. Banner at Minneapolis protests, in video, “We’re sick and tired”. The New York Times, 31 May 2020.

  55. Banner at Black Lives Matter rally, Perth, Australia, 13 June 2020:

  56. ABC7 eyewitness news, tweet, “Rest in Peace George Floyd.” May 28 2020:

  57. Slogan on Tee shirts worn by Christine Dungay and Raymond Quinlan:

  58. White woman, Minneapolis riots, June 8 2020, interviewed by All Gas No Brakes:

  59. White man, Minneapolis riots, June 8 2020, interviewed by All Gas No Brakes:

  60. Leia Schenk, Black activist, posted by Sacramento Bee, “See Black Lives Matter Protestors Clash with Trump Supporters at Defund Police Rally.” Sept. 7 2020,

  61. Protestors’ banner outside the Queensland Police headquarters, after the death of an Indigenous women in custody, 11 September 2020:

  62. William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming, 1919:

  63. The Guardian has established a database of Indigenous Australians who have died in custody since the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody in 1991. It can be found at:

  64. Almost none of the recommendations from the Royal Commission have been enacted. See The Project at

  65. The names and stories of some of these people can be found here:

  66. Apryl Day asks us to “Remember her name: Tanya Louise Day”:

  67. Black man, during Minneapolis riots, interviewed by All Gas No Brakes.

  68. Gough Whitlam, then Prime Minister of Australia, in 1975, from Channel 10’s The Project, June 2 2020.

  69. Dionne Smith-Downs, a Black activist, when at a Black Lives Matter de-fund the police rally on September 5 2020. The video shows the BLM protesters being confronted and challenged by Trump supporters.

  70. Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Black Lives Matter Protests, reported by Daniel Hurst, June 4 2020.

  71. Tanis Beiris, Minneapolis, interviewed by The New York Times, May 31 2020.

  72. Advice given on posters, traffic signs, in shops, and in the print and digital media by the Victorian State Government, Australia. An example of the “staying apart keeps us together” campaign by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Victoria, can be found here:

  73. These are the figures for infections and deaths, according to John Hopkins University, on 2 October 2020 at 3.23am EST Australia :

  74. A selection of countries for which figures of infections and deaths are available on the John Hopkins University website:

  75. Figures for the Spanish flu of 1918 are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:

  76. Martin Luther King, “How Long; Not Long” speech, delivered March 25 1965. The transcript can be found here:

  77. Barbara Jester, Timothy Uyek, and Daniel Jernigan, 2018, in the abstract for “Readiness for Responding to a Severe Pandemic 100 Years After 1918.” American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 187, No. 12, Dec. 2018, pp.2596-2602, Online at:

  78. Barbara Jester, Timothy Uyek, and Daniel Jernigan, 2018, in the conclusion of “Readiness for Responding to a Severe Pandemic 100 Years After 1918.” American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 187, No. 12, Dec. 2018, pp.2596-2602, Online at:

  79. This story of race riots during the 1919 pandemic is told here:

  80. Looking for teddy bears in gardens and windows, chalk rainbows on pavements, and the creation of mini towns of spoons, called Spoonville, were all community-initiated actions to brighten the lives children (and their parents) in lockdown. Rachel Clayton, “Socially distant bear hunts”, 25 March 2020:; Yara Murray-Atfield, “Chalk Messages and Drawings on the Street”, 2 Apr. 2020:; Spoonville International website:

  81. John Lennon, “Nowhere Man,” 1965. Performed by the The Beatles. Lyrics at:

  82. Jack Zaks on Radio 3AW (Melbourne), pleading for pet grooming to be allowed under stage 4 restrictions. The recording of the interview and the transcript can be found here:,to%20groom%20them%20at%20home

  83. Rage Against the Machine, “Wake Up,” 1992. Lyrics at:

  84. Rage Against the Machine, “Wake Up,” 1992. Lyrics at:

  85. Apryl Day, Tanya Day’s daughter, on Channel 10’s The Project.

  86. The Black Lives Matter statement is quoted and expanded upon by the University of Newcastle:

  87. Banner at Black Lives Matter protest, Queensland,

  88. Galarrwuy Yunupingu, indigenous activist, 1988, from Channel 10’s The Project, June 2 2020.

  89. Paul Keating, then Prime minister of Australia, in the Redfern speech, Dec. 10 1992:

  90. Black man, Minneapolis riots, to independent media interviewer from All Gas No Brakes.

  91. Black Lives Matter website: