Life & Arts

Vale Brock Turner: Geezlouise! The hero of Ashbygate is gone

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Feeling very sad. My good friend Brock Turner died this week, on Thursday.

It was unexpected. I still don't know all the details. It appears it was a tragic accident. He was hale and hearty last time I spoke to him, not long ago.

You may know of Brock through his stories on IA, or because he was the brains behind IA's Ashbygate Trust, or from mainstream media news stories like this.

Or, more likely, you may not know him at all.

I know Brock because he was one of the most valiant, principled, funny and, overall, good people I have ever met. And he also was my good friend.

He became a quadraplegic when he was 25 — I understand, through a near fatal diving/swimming accident.

But I met him long after that. I met him when he was a guy in a wheelchair in his mid-30s, with a gripping passion to right wrongs. Like a wheelchair-bound version of myself, maybe, but with a lot less uncertainty and diffidence, and much more courage.

The world is a bit darker place without Brock. His tweets as @turlow1 – ironically calling himself "Geezlouise", which made many people think he was a female, especially since he mischievously chose as his avatar a Vermeer's Girl with Pearl Earring sitting at a computer – were consumed avidly by a great many fans.

His story about why he helped set up Ashbygate gives a great picture of the man: 

Here is an excerpt:

I would much rather spend my days in ignorant bliss sitting in the sunshine on my back verandah watching mother nature quietly ply her humble trade, but at some point in everyone’s life you come to that moment when you realise your choice is to become part of the problem or part of the solution. With a weary and cynical heart I found myself unable to continue sitting idly by....

What is really at stake is the nation’s right to be able to rely on the most fundamental tenet of any democracy, that being the right to something that at least approximates a free and honest press. If the population of this democracy is being deliberately deceived then it can only be to our detriment.

Certain of my own ordinariness I had to assume there were others out there who were equally concerned with what can only be described as an existential threat to our democracy.....

There must be other people who were equally fed up with justice and equity being afterthoughts that get squeezed into the nooks and crannies left over after the serious business of building structure and fortification around the coordinating principles of greed and power is completed to the satisfaction of the maniacally insatiable.

There must be other people who believe that we simply cannot let those currently in charge continue to be responsible for the lifeblood of our democracy – Information.

From here it was a straightforward proposition. With naive arrogance and an anxious hope in the existence of community-minded citizens I believed this was an issue of such importance to our rights to a fair go society that all I need do was let people know I was taking a stand and support would come.

And come it did, Brock. VALE Brock Turner. May you rest in peace, for all your good works on this earth. Condolences to his family, especially his wonderful partner Eileen.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

Find out more about Ashbygate here.

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