My oath!


William Street mosque, complete with traditional Islamic bullnose verandah

Bloody Muslims, coming over here with their history of centuries of trading with Western Australia before Europeans arrived, having been an accepted part of local society since the birth of the colony, and demanding to be treated with the respect the law has always shown them.

Wait, that last one can’t be right can it? Well, yes it can.

The earliest reference to someone swearing on the Quran is from 1833 when Sumud Alli did so to testify against his racist attacker, the appalling John Velvick. The newspaper report didn’t make anything of this oath, other than to mention it in the same way it noticed anyone else who was sworn in, so the journalist didn’t think this was very unusual. By the way, Velvick got his comeuppance at the hands of the law and later met his death at the hands of Yagan.

By the early 20th century, the Supreme Court respected Islamic tradition by ensuring its copy of the Quran was first wrapped in canvas and then covered in colourful silk handkerchiefs. This way, it could be handled by court officials and still be considered acceptable to Muslim witnesses taking the oath.

And in 1918 the Supreme Court was even willing to allow a case between two Muslims to be adjourned so it could be settled using customary processes. A dispute over who owed what for a sale of camels was resolved when the defendant went to the William Street Mosque, washed himself in the presence of his Imam, put on clean clothes and then swore on a certain passage of the Quran. The judge accepted this and was happy with the outcome.

What’s with these people demanding the respect we used to accord them all the time?

Leader of the plaque


This won’t hurt a bit

Yesterday one of the Dodgy Perth team had to undergo dental surgery. Being somewhat of a nervous disposition, they had successfully put this off for a number of weeks by inventing various unmissable meetings. But finally, the coward submitted to the chair.

Which made us wonder who Perth’s worst ever dentist was. The answer is Harry Derepas. Actually Harry wasn’t a dentist, just a dental assistant employed at Massey Crosse’s dental surgery on William Street. But small details like that weren’t going to stop him.

In November 1923 Lily Edwards, who worked at the Savoy Hotel, visited Harry for a regular check-up. He informed her she needed three gold fillings along with a scale and clean. He then proceeded to drill out a nerve and injected something into her gums.

In immense pain, Lily got back home to discover her gums had turned black and the pain was getting worse and worse. So she went back to Harry who took two swabs and told her the tooth would need to come out, which she agreed to.

This was not a success and poor Lily’s mouth became so septic a vile stench was given off.

Now the story takes a turn towards the weird. In the course of duty a policeman may sometimes be required to do more than just arrest drunks. But how many have been asked to sacrifice a tooth to an unregistered dentist in order to gather evidence?

This is precisely what an unfortunate probationary constable was ordered to do. He was given five shillings and sent to the William Street surgery to ask for a tooth out. The fee was paid and the tooth duly extracted by Harry.

Waiting outside the building was Constable Baumgarten who then entered and arrested Harry for practicing without a license.

We hope the probationer got some kind of medal for going above and beyond the call of duty.

There’s no cure for stupidity

child_vaccinationHarold Martin, of 315 William Street, was very very angry. He had just sat down to breakfast and opened the newspaper.

There, in June 1906, Harold read Dr Harvey Astles sneering at opponents of vaccination as being misinformed at best and positively dangerous at worst.

Well, Harold was one of those opponents of vaccination. He believed it was a “pernicious, disgusting foolery”. Oh, it was also a “cruel, filthy, unnatural heathenish operation”.

He wasn’t a doctor like Harvey, but Harold knew that vaccination was dangerous. All he needed was a proper diet, good habits, pure air, and abstinence from all kinds of medicine.

Warming to his theme, Harold warned that vaccination did not stop smallpox, it was actually the cause of that disease. Dr Astles was responsible for spreading disease, and he was the one who called himself a medical man.

Further, Harold wanted a law passed making vaccination a criminal offence. He called on the society for the prevention of cruelty to children to save the poor helpless little mites, who will all suffer and die if doctors are allowed to inoculate them.

In conclusion, we would all be better off if every physician, surgeon, midwife, chemist, and drug were wiped from the face of the Earth.

So what does this story teach us? That vaccination sceptics have been around since inoculation was invented. And they were no less stupid then than now.

h/t Museum of Perth