Let’s transport Mike Buchanan and Elizabeth Hobson to Sydney, Australia

An Australian organizer of the forthcoming sixth International Conference on Men’s Issues, to be held in Sydney over 31 July – 2 August, 2020, recently reminded me of a joke I first heard many years ago.

A British man has flown from the UK to Sydney, and has the following exchange at the airport:

Immigration official: Good afternoon, sir. I see you’ve flown from the UK. I need to ask you a few questions. Firstly, do you have a criminal record?

British man: Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you still needed one to enter your country.

The organizers of the conference have offered speaking slots to Elizabeth Hobson and myself, and we’re keen to attend. I suggested to the organizer a title for our crowdfunder, and he suggested a better one, “Let’s transport Mike Buchanan and Elizabeth Hobson to Australia”. Unfortunately GoFundMe, the crowdfunder we’re using to raise money for our trip to Australia, doesn’t allow that many characters, so we ask you to support us by donating at Let’s send Mike and Elizabeth to ICMI20, Australia.

From the Wikipedia entry on transportation:

Great Britain and the British Empire

Initially based on the royal prerogative of mercy, and later under English Law, transportation was an alternative sentence imposed for a felony. It was typically imposed for offences for which death was deemed too severe. By 1670, as new felonies were defined, the option of being sentenced to transportation was allowed. Forgery of a document, for example, was a capital crime until the 1820s, when the penalty was reduced to transportation. Depending on the crime, the sentence was imposed for life or for a set period of years. If imposed for a period of years, the offender was permitted to return home after serving his time, but had to make his own way back. Many offenders thus stayed in the colony as free persons, and might obtain employment as jailers or other servants of the penal colony.

England transported its convicts and political prisoners, as well as prisoners of war from Scotland and Ireland, to its overseas colonies in the Americas from the 1610s until early in the American Revolution in 1776, when transportation to America was temporarily suspended by the Criminal Law Act 1776 (16 Geo. 3 c.43). The practice was mandated in Scotland by an act of 1785, but was less used there than in England. Transportation on a large scale resumed with the departure of the First Fleet to Australia in 1787, and continued there until 1868.

Transportation was not used by Scotland before the Act of Union 1707; following union, the Transportation Act 1717 specifically excluded its use in Scotland. Under the Transportation, etc. Act 1785 (25 Geo. 3 c. 46) the Parliament of Great Britain specifically extended the usage of transportation to Scotland. It remained little used under Scots Law until the early 19th century.

In Australia, a convict who had served part of his time might apply for a ticket of leave, permitting some prescribed freedoms. This enabled some convicts to resume a more normal life, to marry and raise a family, and to contribute to the development of the colony.

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