Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/16/drinking_terror/

Aussie-Irish boozer ejects 'terrorist' drinker

Judging a person by a book's cover

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Bootnotes, 16th November 2007 12:28 GMT

In a story replete with irony, a man has been booted out of an Irish pub in Cairns after his fellow drinkers, disturbed by his choice of reading material, reported him to the pub management.

He was reading The Unknown Terrorist, a fictional thriller that tells the story of a ballet dancer who has a dodgy one-night stand with someone who is suspected of plotting to explode a bomb. The dancer then falls under suspicion because of the association, and is subject to a "paranoid witch-hunt" (according to News.com.au).

The man reading this clearly dangerous material was 40-year-old Melbourne teacher Michael Chalk. He says he was "flabbergasted" by his ejection from the pub, and blames his olive skin, dark hair and eyes for the response.

He told reporters: "It was my last night in Cairns so after dinner I walked into Shenannigans [the bar] and decided to have a bit of a dance," he said.

"I put the book face up on a ledge near the dance floor. Shortly after, a security guard came over to me and said ‘move to the front please sir’. I hadn’t even bought a drink yet so I asked why, and he said he’d explain outside. We were on the footpath and he said several customers had complained about the literature I was reading, and I’d have to move on."

Author Richard Flannagan told the news site that he is "appalled" by the actions of the pub, and said it demonstrated that the level of society's paranoia has reached "idiocy". ®