Violence is everybody’s problem, according to the Editorial page in Saturday’s Age. Violence might be “everybody’s problem”, but the bigger problem is that the government is currently spinning “everybody’s problem” to mean “everybody’s responsibility” and, in doing so, is avoiding taking any steps to counter it.
The full article is here; below are some items of particular interest to me.
“Street violence is not a new phenomenon here, but neither is it one that most, or even many, people risk encountering every day.” Actually, street violence is something people risk encountering everyday. Yesterday morning there was a brawl in the street outside. Injury was only avoided because the combatants’ efforts to trade blows were thwarted by their extreme drunkedness.
“Two acts of senseless violence in a short space of time do not make a trend, but for those who want statistical evidence the trend is there.” Of course two acts of senseless violence don’t make a trend; many, many other acts of violence were perpetrated over the past week and went unreported.
“The binge drinking once thought to be a product of restrictive licensing has continued, and the availability of other drugs that increase aggression as alcohol lowers inhibitions, has fuelled much of the rising street violence.” Good to see that there is acknowledgement of the role of factors other than alcohol, but wouldn’t it be more helpful to undertake some real analysis of what’s changed, rather than just knee-jerk reference to the Nieuwenhuysen report? Maybe factor in the increased number of sex clubs in high traffic nightlife areas?
“The Premier has urged parents, friends and workmates to send a message to young men that violence is “anti-Victorian”.” Exactly when was I meant to convey my belief that violence is “anti-Victorian” to the young man who assaulted my partner? Given that I didn’t even see him until he’d knocked my partner to the ground, was I supposed to overcome my shock and fear that the other three would start in and make my statement then? I would have thought that going about our lives in non-aggressive, law-abiding ways might have been enough to keep us from being victims of violent thugs. Perhaps Mr Brumby is going to provide Victorians with colourful wrist bands with anti-violence slogans to wear as a talisman against random attacks.
“If the perpetrators of the violence are susceptible young men, however, long prison terms in the company of hardened criminals are unlikely to influence their conduct for the better. Insofar as the courts can address the problem, community-based orders that force offenders to reflect on the consequences of their actions would be a wiser course.” Okay, for a start, why characterise violent men as “susceptible young men”? This is nonsense. As for the suggested solution, how would a community-based order “force” offenders to “reflect on the consequences of their actions” when the consequences of their actions are… a community-based order to reflect on the consequences of their actions. Surely even the most blunted intelligence would conclude from their reflections that their actions have no consequences and further conclude that there is no reason, therefore, to modify their behaviour.
“It is a problem generated by all of us, because it is, as Mr Overland says, the result of a deterioration of public standards. “ No, it most emphatically is not a problem generated by all of us. There is no point in trying to spread the responsibility to all when it is not a responsibility shared by all. Put the responsibility with the perpetrators. Street violence has become my problem, but it is not my fault and I will not accept responsibility for it.