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“If someone’s abused on this train, let them know you’re on their side.” – Train ads address racism on PT

I assume this Anti-Hate advertising campaign from the Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission is a response to some well-publicised incidents recently:

Anti-Hate advertisement on a train

The small print says: The only thing more painful than racism is the silence that follows. If someone’s abused on this train, let them know you’re on their side. Help stop the hurt.

So are they encouraging people to give the racists a spray? Kind of… as the web site notes:

If you don’t act you might later feel guilty that you didn’t! But, more importantly, research shows that when people watching don’t do anything, it increases the impact of the incident. That is, by everyone staying quiet while someone is yelling hateful things, it makes it seem like they all agree with what’s going on. This can be far more hurtful than the abuse itself.

So by making an effort to let the target know you don’t support the hate, you can make a huge difference to how someone feels about themselves and the community.

It goes on to say that:

would never recommend that you put yourself in physical danger, for instance if the hater is drunk, on drugs or appears violent. Of course, if violence or a crime occurs, call the Police on 000 immediately.

I don’t know whether the kind of racism seen recently is on the increase or if it’s just being brought to attention via the proliferation of phone cameras, but it’s good to see an attempt to address it. Hopefully it helps.

View the full Anti-Hate web site:

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

10 replies on ““If someone’s abused on this train, let them know you’re on their side.” – Train ads address racism on PT”

I often stay silent, not because I agree with what’s going on, but because I’m trying to stay safe. Usually people who are going to engage in openly hostile behaviour, including racism, are aggressive and it’s best to stay away. Would it be different if I was a man. I wonder?
The bigger picture is to note how sad it is that we’re at the point where such a campaign is necessary.

” if the hater is drunk, on drugs or appears violent.”
Pretty difficult to tell if someone is on drugs or “drunk” even. Also, verbal abuse itself is a form of violence.
I think I’d be one of those hiding behind my newspaper rather than step in to help for fear of having the sh1t beaten out of me.
I agree with divacultura.
Also agree it has got more coverage because of phone cameras (where only parts of the incident are shown, never what has led to the abuse)

What a great initiative.

I feel really bad when I see incidents like this (actually only witness one or two in real life. the rest on TV) but being a young and small framed female I would be scared to intervene, because I would probably start crying!

A few years ago, I was on the tram in the city with my ex, who is Muslim. I am Asian. A random man on the tram started firing off racist comments about Asians and Muslims.. at first we didn’t realise that the comments were directed at us/about us… then it clicked when he approached my ex and said “Do you eat pork?”

My ex responded and said “No I don’t, what’s it to you?”

The rando-racist continued being offensive, saying all sorts of things about Muslims, but my ex didn’t sit quietly (he’s not afraid of confrontation, very brave dude!) so everytime the random made a smart ass remark, my ex would respond back politely.

No one intervened, they actually appeared to be entertained by the whole thing. Eventually I had to get my ex off the tram cos if that random had got smart and tried to throw a punch, I think my ex would have knocked him out!

I totally and utterly disagree with this.

I have been in numerous similar situations on public transport.

In situations where everyone remains quiet, everyone is afraid of agrivating the situation.

In situations where people have spoken up th situation has suddenly exploded into sucha disaster people end up flooding off the train at the next stop.

Sorry but when someone is angrily and aggressively attacking a random person for some random stupid drugged or alcoholic or simply stupid reason you only agrivating the situation more by participating.

For heavens sake a neighbour across the road from me did that to a street party that appeared out of nowhere. We have no idea who they were or why our street randomly inherited that party, but there were craploads f kids out there having a party on the road and eventually someone was driving home and got stopped and abused. Said neighbour across the street tried to do the right thing and went out there and asked them to stop – guess what happened? He was utterly screamed at, bottles went through his windows, and they all started getting in their cars and doing donuts on his lawn. I was watching the whole thing from inside my home while doing the RIGHT thing – on the phone to the cops – and was telling and predicting to them precisely what would and did take place.

Sorry but as much as we all want to be heros, unless you are a black belt in karate you are risking making things a whole lot worse for everyone and yourself by getting involved. Sad reality of life… If you know any cops they themselves feel that way as well but have no choice obviously.

Wow, I understand your story, Chris, but sometimes people need to try harder at taking control of the situation. Common sense may work at some stages, but not always. Everyone is afraid of getting hurt but if they want to stop the situation, they need to grow some balls and do something even if it it will aggravate things a little.

Your pride will never justify your cowardice.

The choice to stay silent, to not even move into the area and show support is of course an individual thing, but the flip side is, would you want support if YOU were on the receiving end of some abuse, comments or anything overtly anti social? The simple act of just going and sitting or standing next to someone being targeted can give them a huge boost to at least be comforted they are not alone. That pays more dividends than people saying something after the fact. For me personally I have grown more and more intolerant of the haters and would not hesitate to stand up, say something support the victim and yes, even make the abuser switch targets onto me, they would would get a nasty surprise if they escalated things, and that is as much as I am prepared to say on the matter, suffice to say doing nothing or backing down is not an option for me.

The point is if MANY people spoke up in the circumstances the hater wouldn’t be ABLE to attack any particular individual..THEY would be scared…we need to address some way to get MANY people to speak up at once…this is in some way a start to that

@Chris – You need to be sensible and judge each situation accordingly, but never intervening is an approach that will always allow violent agressive people to win.

Much better to have a train load of people telling one agressive person to calm down than have that one person terrorise a train load of silent people.

Trying to legislate moral choice rarely works, seems a bit finger-pointing. Was mentioned on RRR’s Breakfasters the other day.

The people who say stuff on the tram I am on are pinging off their heads, I would rather get off the tram than say anything. Some drunk Ukranian kneed each other in the face one time for laughs.

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