81 year old John Gilbert Gordon of Brisbane was sentenced to two-and-a-half years behind bars last week. Mr Gordon inserted 0.22 calibre bullets into live detonators and sent them via the postal service with threatening letters to a number of public officials and political leaders such as Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens, Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott, Westpac Bank CEO Gail Kelly and then Brisbane Catholic Archbishop John Battersby.
Gordon’s campaign of terror was aimed at venting his anger over a number of topical social and political issues which included the asylum seeker debate. One of the threatening letters Mr Gordon sent was sent to the Virginia Palms Motel in Brisbane which, at the time, was housing foreigners seeking asylum. The letter read ‘Any motel in Australia who houses (asylum seekers), will bear the bombs and as a result pieces of your motels will land in Canberra’.
The Australian Federal Police identified Mr Gordon as a suspect after an indentation from a letter he had sent to Mr Abbott in which he identified himself matched up to the other threatening letters.
By every definition of the word, Mr Gordon is a terrorist. He made himself one when he endangered the lives of postal workers, parliamentary staff and many others by sending explosives through the postal service. Yet, in their headline, the Courier Mail doesn’t call him what he is, a terrorist, but instead, labels him a cranky old man. If Mr Gordon was an Arab Muslim around the age of 40, I really do wonder how different the title would be. I also question if the same man would get only two-and-a-half years in jail for committing the same acts of terrorism. I am sick of reading articles in the newspaper that stink of racial profiling and age stereotyping.
Mr Gordon was given a slap on the wrist for a crime that terrorised and could have killed members of our community. Regardless of how you feel about the policies of our politicians, the viewpoints of Catholic Archbishops, the business tactics of the CEO of a large bank and the rights of foreigners seeking asylum, we live in Australia and everyone should be free to have their own views (to an extent and within the law of course). The law has failed to pass down a judgement which will deter future explosives and threats from being sent to public figures. Mr Gordon is expected to serve less than a year of his two-and-a-half year term in jail.
Do you think the judgement was too lenient?