Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dear Iceland

Dear Iceland:

Mostly, you are awesome. I love all your geysers and your glaciers, and I don’t mind that your volcanoes are occasionally irritating.

Historically, you’re amazing. Your democratic parliamantary arrangement is one of the very oldest in the whole world, going back to the times when you guys were better known for wearing cowhorns on your helmets and singing about Spam.

Your ancient myths and stories are fantastic, and continue to influence modern culture. (Can you believe they got Kenneth Branagh to direct the ‘Thor’ movie? That just has to rock!) Your contemporary musicians are creative, quirky and interesting, even if Bjork occasionally does sound like she learned to sing by hanging out at the dolphin pond at SeaWorld.

Lately, you’ve been really super-amazing. The bit where you decided years ago to use all that geothermal energy and transit to a hydrogen economy: that was inspired. Sure, it’s a bit of a no-brainer since you’ve got no oil, and you’ve got plenty of lava and water, and you’re a long way from everybody else... but you’d think it would be a no-brainer for a country like Australia too, wouldn’t you? And you’d be wrong. So you’re excellent, Iceland.

And I love the fact that you got fed up with your governance after last year’s banking debacle, so you simply elected a professional comedian as mayor of your capital city. That is totally cool. Here we just elect total dickheads and then laugh bitterly when they turn out to be both amateurish comedians, and deeply, stupidly amateurish political leaders. If we had the brains to elect comedians first up, we wouldn’t be looking at a choice between Tony Dicktogs and Mister Apologia right now. But we’re not as awesome as you, Iceland.

But your brilliance doesn’t end there. I was delighted and overjoyed by the bit where your government passed a law recognising gay marriage. Oh, sure — you’ve got an openly gay head of government (and how fucking awesome is that, anyway?) so some people might argue it was always going to happen... but you didn’t just pass that motherhumping law, did you? No: any two-bit cheap-ass tinpot pretender to democracy can pass a big-hearted, liberal-minded, intelligent law (sometimes, anyway. Maybe.) You actually passed it unanimously. Unanimously! As in: not only did none of your elected representatives vote against it, but they didn’t even do the pathetic limpdick cop-out routine of ‘abstaining’. Forty-nine to zero. That is just beyond awesome right there. You win, Iceland.

But that’s not enough for you, is it Iceland? Nope. You’ve gone ahead, forging a path into a mythically delicious 21st century of progress and enlightenment that we here in the rest of the world can only gape at, and envy. Your move to create a true, protected space for modern journalism, thus providing a haven for heroes like Julian Assange and Wikileaks is nothing short of brain-shatteringly tremendous. A country where open dialogue is supported and protected? A nation that stands up for the rights of its people to be informed and to undertake meaningful debate? A state which is prepared to welcome and protect whistleblowers and advocates of truth and openness?

I’m running out of superlatives here, Iceland. I stand — nay, I kneel — in awestruck supplication before your astonishing foresightedness. I would move to Iceland tomorrow if I could convince my wife and children it was warmer than Tasmania... or I would, except for one little thing.

Just one thing.

One question.

What the fuck do you have against whales, Iceland?

What did whales ever do to you? Did a whale kill both your parents in Crime Alley when you were just a little island? Did a giant radioactive whale destroy your home planet, so that your parents had to put you in a rocket-ship and send you to Earth? Did a whale steal your girlfriend, break your truck, take your job and kill your dog? Did a whale give you up, let you down, and run you 'round?

Whatever it was those whales did, it must have been truly terrible. Because I cannot for the life of me understand why else the single most progressive, thoughtful, open-minded and otherwise excellent nation that has ever existed would insist on hunting down a bunch of big, harmless, friendly, ecologically vital animals and blowing them up with exploding harpoons.

You are incredibly awesome, Iceland. But whales are pretty awesome too.

The world is big enough for both of you, I promise. Please stop killing whales. There are plenty of other things you can shoot exploding harpoons at. Why not start with our Prime Minister? That way, we can have a go at electing a comedian too!