Michael Usher: It’s up to all of us to keep evil in the upside-down world

Michael Usher
The Nightly
Supplied Credit: Supplied/supplied Supplied

Sunday before last at about the same time, the absolute best and worst of us was unfolding, in two very different Australian households.

In one home, positively giddy young girls were high on life. Weaving names and kind messages in friendship bracelets. Sharing silly, viral TikToks of their idol. Belting out her anthems and bursting out of their skin to be seeing her live and in person. The phenomenon of Taylor Swift’s legion of loyal, happy, friendly fans in full force.

In the other home, someone was plotting bloody murder. Someone motivated to kill, stealing the souls of two happy, vibrant young men. Murders, simultaneously ruining the lives their dearest family and friends. And why? There’ll be a reason that we’ll all condemn as making no sense, but police are working overtime on that.

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Good versus bad.

The best versus the worst.

Lies versus the truth.

It’s the very thin divide of our society. On the heavier side of that social curtain, most of us who do the right thing. The good. On the other, the bad plotting to poke a hole in that fabric and tear a hole in our lives.

Michael Usher.
Michael Usher. Credit: Supplied

I see it every day. An occupational hazard — chosen mind you — of news reporting.

A few nights a week, I sit behind a news desk under bright lights, in a soundproofed studio.

Over an hour in this clean, controlled place, I present the sometimes messy, loud and curious happenings of life — the best and worst of people.

Crafting that hour of TV news, is often a battle and balance of good and bad. Sometimes the good wins, too often the bad beats the good and snatches away the main interest of the day.

More than often these days — let’s kindly call it age and experience — I get a bit lost during that bulletin. Not professionally, just personally. Let’s call it reflective. Small moments to consider why people treat others so hideously and think they can get away with it.

The good I can understand. Those glorious, great big hits of dopamine in completely unscripted moments that sweep us up and create mass happiness. Those memory-making events that we’ve loved recently — thank you Taylor Swift and the Matildas!

But take away religious wars and other historical aggressions, and my reckoning for the badness lurking around our corners comes down to an absolute, criminal hatred of the truth. It’s just not scary for some. The consequences of being caught trashing the truth or being dishonest, just don’t matter for these people in the shadows. Even if it means getting away with murder.

There are two stories I’ve covered over time that speak to this. They’re both murders. And to this moment, there is no justice for the victims and their families.

Stacey Thorne was pregnant when she staggered from her home, bleeding profusely from 20 frenzied stab wounds during a night-time attack in Boddington, WA. The poor woman tried to reach neighbours for help, after desperately staying on her feet after her attack. She was not only fighting for her own life, but also fighting to save her unborn child.

Thorne family speak out against the appeal of Scott Austic. Family photo of Stacey Thorne.  Copy photo - The West Australian - 15th August 2013 - OUT
Stacey Thorne. Credit: Supplied

Leanne Holland was just 12 years old and loved Kylie Minogue when someone set upon her in the family home, almost certainly in the bathroom. She was struck at least 10 times in the head. There’s evidence Leanne was dyeing her hair at the time. Her brutally attacked body was later found in bushland outside her hometown of Goodna in Queensland.

In both cases, the bad people cut a hole in that thin fabric of ours, crossed over, and stole a life. In both cases, there has been no justice for Stacey or Leanne.

Their killers walk free to this day.

It’s not for want of many people trying to find the bad people who killed Leanne and Stacey. It’s just that the truth to those killers isn’t feared. They got away with it. No conscience, no consequences.

Leanne Holland.
Leanne Holland. Credit: supplied

I should add, two men were arrested in respect to each murder. Both men served time and were eventually released on appeal.

One had the conviction quashed, but remains a suspect, according to a judicial review. The other was acquitted and compensated for wrongful imprisonment.

The fine details of the legal cases around both these men don’t serve this piece now, but the point is the victims don’t rest in peace. The people who know the truth could remedy that.

But they don’t because they don’t believe the truth will catch up with them, and if it does, it can be argued and bent in all sorts of directions.

They live in the upside-down world. It’s where bad lives and mostly stays but sometimes breaks through.

I’ve borrowed this term from a TV show called Stranger Things that my kids and I are hooked on and keep watching on repeat because season five is taking forever, although that topic is for another article. Yes, it’s fictional and mythical, but it just dramatises what actually happens in our daily life.

It’s up to all of us I guess to keep the bad in the upside-down world. To strengthen that moral curtain that separates us.

Good always triumphs it’s said. We just better get Taylor Swift to swiftly release that hotly anticipated new album, and the Matildas to shine in Paris.


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