Why Schapelle Corby doesn’t deserve our sympathy

In the lead up to and throughout her return to Australia, Schapelle Corby and her family have pleaded for privacy and criticised the media circus surrounding her.

Someone needs to contact Oxford University Press to insert a photo of Schapelle and her family under the definition of “hypocrisy”.

When Schapelle was arrested she, her family and official supporters repeatedly pleaded for the Australian public’s help. This did not just extend to requests for information or support that may have asssiated her, but encouraged criticism of Australian government authorities; the Indonesians – everyone from the customs officials who apprehended her to the judge presiding over her case; and private companies.

When things reached fever pitch and supporters were (almost literally) baying for the blood of various individuals involved in the case, Schapelle and her family stayed quiet, except to express appreciation for the support they were being given. The Corbys did not ask people to respect the Indonesian court process, and acknowledge the credentials of the presiding judge. They repeatedly made abusive and slanderous statements about witnesses testifying against Schapelle, and those they felt weren’t doing enough to help (most notably the AFP’s Mick Keelty and airport officials).

But most significantly of all, they actively courted the media right from the beginning. They did not just release statements as relevant and freely to all press, but sought publicity and looked to secure lucrative deals for exclusives. There was the 60 Minutes interview conducted undercover while Schapelle was still in the police holding cell, in defiance of and showing contempt for the Indonesian authorities. There were numerous interviews with current affairs shows and magazines, perhaps most notably Mercedes Corby enjoying her own celebrity status on the cover of Ralph Magazine.

Even Schapelle’s supposed mental health issues were an opportunity for publicity, if not financial gain, with the details of a psychiatrist’s visit to her published in New Idea at the family’s behest. This was meant to be an attempt to get Schapelle released on humanitarian grounds, but an Australian tabloid magazine is not the proper channel and can, in fact, contribute to claims lacking credibility. Why do it if not to create a narrative for the public and potentially profit?

And let’s not forget that the Corbys have always complained when the tables are turned, when criticism is leveled at them, and unflattering stories are published.

One could argue naivety at the beginning, that they were thrust into a confusing and frantic circus and were desperately seeking control. But that is no longer an excuse, and their continuation of this pattern only serves to suggest that their actions were never that naive in the beginning.

When Schapelle was released on parole in February 2014, her family had arranged a media deal on her release, with the TV network actually picking her up from Kerobokan and providing the vehicle in which she was transported to a holiday villa where they were allowed access. They attempted for more than a week to allow this interview to go ahead, despite it already being understood that to do so would breach both Schapelle’s parole conditions and (potentially) Proceeds of Crime legislation. They never let it go; eventually Mercedes gave an interview.

Of course there was going to be extensive media coverage when Schapelle finally came home. This is what she and her family have encouraged and sought for the decade plus of her incarceration and parole period. I can barely recall a moment where they offered a “no comment”.

And it all ended exactly as it began,

In the final days, indications are that media deals have been attempted, the only concern being how payment can be made given Schapelle cannot profit from her crime.

The extensive circus around her departure came about in part because Schapelle, once again showing disrespect for the Indonesian process, refused to attend her final parole check-in, and it had to be rescheduled as part of the process of her deportation, which required complex arrangements by the Indonesians. There was no consideration for the enormous amount of resources the Indonesians had to deploy to manage all this.

Schapelle herself is seeking attention and notoriety, starting an Instagram account, specifically documenting her departure from Indonesia in the midst of this circus.

These are not the actions of people who want privacy and peace, but of people who want control of the narrative and to exploit it for their own gain. This circus and Schapelle becoming a public figure is one of her and her family’s own making.

Unless they genuinely attempt to shut up and disappear into anonymity, they cannot expect it to go away and they don’t deserve any sympathy.

Why Schapelle Corby doesn’t deserve our sympathy

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