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Alex 4.o

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FML? FMT. [Jul. 17th, 2009|02:51 am]
Alex 4.o
Fuck my town.

I've been involved in two assaults in Melbourne now in the past ten years, neither of them my idea. (...)

If they'd happened five or so years later than they did, I could be dead, or worse, and that's just how it goes, right?

~ ~ ~

I stopped for a moment there because I was about to type 'fault', and, well, fault and blame and cause and effect are all interesting things to talk about aren't they. The first one, at Camberwell Station, a staffed, 'Premium' station, resulted in me filing a nice wordy police statement with the Plods, nothing. Anything on the station cameras? Dunno. Did he have any priors? Next please. More paperwork.

So this CUB is staggering around the platform, mouthing off, with a mate a few paces behind, his minder perhaps, his social conscience? Ready to hold him up if he falls towards the platform, or to hold off anyone this cretin might fire up seriously enough to overcome him. I interject verbally when he starts to get stuck in to two Gothy kids, who are, it seems, moments away from a couple of fast fives.

So, I pipe up, pick on someone your own size, and pick on someone else he certainly did. I recall the cops saying well you should have stood up before he came over and punched you in the face, well, stand up, that's body language for come on then ya cunt isn't it, not exactly the Adamsian I don't suppose you want to talk about it a little more first I'm looking for, but then again, no, he doesn't want to talk about it actually, he just wants some smart-arsed, four-eyed dickhead, who doesn't know when to shut up and mind his own business, to show who's boss, and well, shit, I'll do just fine.

After his first dusting of jabs, which send the glasses flying and damage my septum, I have the 'presence of mind' to grab the trouser around his knee and yank it up to throw him off guard, and eventually have him pinned on the platform just as a Flinders Street train accidentally, awkwardly rolls up. He's choking me, his mate's trying to drag me off, my blood's filling my nose and mouth, and I spray it all over his face, and that fucking stupid polo shirt. Hope you have a good night with the ladies now, you oaf. They run to the end of the platform, jump off, and clamber up to Burke Rd like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz. The goth kids shrug and step onto their train. I ask the driver to radio the cops, No radio the reply.

What is this shit.

What do you think this is, a prank?

~ ~ ~

Is this meltdown some kind of subconscious, semi-literate, systematic eradication and decimation of people who don't want to see their suburbs, and city, turn into something like a cross between Stone and Mad Max? Push me, push you. Oh yeah, says who? Says me, that's who. Who steps in when they're all shot, choked, or run over?

Who are the players in this? The media, the cops, the judiciary (currently deluged by a tide of nitwits and thugs through their chambers), the local councils, the state government, the federal government (whoops, bashed one too many Indian student, but it's okay, that expat says they have it coming), 'real' crims fuelling the whole shebang with e, ice, coke and speed, bikies helping them with their drops ... ? Pop that tinfoil hat on for a moment and ask yourself who is in bed with whom.

I watched 'The Signal' the other night. A signal, beamed into peoples' minds via TV, radio and mobile phone, gradually sends people insane, through varying degrees of psychosis, delusion and jealousy. Imagine a zombie flick where you can't instantly tell who's 'infected', whether or not they're about to kill you, whether or not you should kill them. It redefined a real mindfuck of a film and had eerie parallels to this sorry state of affairs. Is it Sherriff Root's 'martian niggers' doing this, like I first presumed? Whom the gods (must be crazy) (chariots of) would destroy, they first make mad. Or is it ... Kalle Lasn's consumerist dystopia, only with a Shaun of the Dead twist?

What are some anticipated outcomes for this predicament? More power to the cops, more toys, more tasers, more pepper spray, firearms, more fries with that? 'Tougher' laws, 24/7 blanket surveillance (didn't do much for that guy in the HJ now did it), (easily compromised) RFID drivers' licences or other 'mandatory' ID? Moar power to the police union? O HAI MULLET. 'Law-abiding' and 'peaceful' citizens begging to the State for more shackles, more punishments, longer sentences, more jails? A street 'arms race', with tonfa and homemade firearms making an appearance? 

~ ~ ~

the next one, perhaps, when it's not nearly four in the morning.

From: (Anonymous)
2009-07-16 09:17 pm (UTC)
Because the police do not act on violence the violence has become worse. There was a bar in Puckle Street Moonee Ponds. Every week there were fights. The Moonee Ponds Police Station is 50 metres from the bar. The police were always called but never bothered to arrive. Until they were told that a young man was set upon and could be dying. Only then did they get to the club. Several cars of police too.

Now, if they had responded on the earlier occasions this might have not happened. The blame is on Christine Nixon and the Government. Hope and wish the police do a better job under Mr Overland.
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From: bignose.whitetree.org
2009-07-25 02:17 am (UTC)

Escalated response

> Because the police do not act on violence the violence has become worse.

This isn't so clear-cut.

Have a look at the initial linked article. On the one hand:

> Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe told The Age: "I think that it is clear that young people from 16 to 25 seem to have a diminished respect for authority, not just police.

But on the other hand, from the same article:

> Chief Commissioner Simon Overland says it is simplistic and naive to believe police can be the penicillin for society's disease: "We are not the answer."

Increasing the police response can't be expected to fix the problem; if it gets to the point of police being called in, it's *already* too late. The problem is recent and needs to be addressed to *prevent* such behaviour:

> At a recent squad reunion in Melbourne, a group of police with more than 200 years of street work between them agree that they have never known Melbourne to be so violent — and they don't know why it has changed so quickly.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-07-16 10:34 pm (UTC)

fighting? pathetic and deadly

My elementary school friend was just murdered in melbourne..the yarraville district I think it's called. Such a senseless act. 25 years old, had the world at his fingertips. Never wanted any trouble-one of the friendliest people I've ever met. Leaves the pub one night and gets attacked. Are people really that high and bored there? What is the purpose of fighting until somebody dies? I understand that it probably isn't ever intended to kill, but it does happen. Often there I understand. Now because somebody was bored, high, or drunk (these are all assumptions as we don't know exactly what happened) a great person had to die? What a disgraceful thing. I hope those 3 men charged in his death get what they deserve. Do you have the death penalty in Australia? I sure as hell hope so.
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[User Picture]From: b0rken
2009-08-10 08:59 am (UTC)

Re: fighting? pathetic and deadly

No, we don't. Should we?

In the US, the costs of keeping people on death row and all its associated appeals are orders of magnitude higher than if the same people were serving life imprisonment. The last death sentence passed in Australia was more than forty years ago, and there are still questions about it.

It's worth mentioning The Thin Blue Line, in regard to how in one case in the US, the opportunity to use the death sentence allegedly influenced the prosecutors' decision on who to pin the crime on. In Australia, capital punishment was officially abolished in 1985. Abolishing it in the US would save money - money that would likely be better spent elsewhere actually reducing crime by providing better social services. But what do you do when high violent crime rates are good for business? (A review of Canada's experience abolishing the death penalty, was written by Amnesty recently.)

The question, from the perspective of someone who still has to/chooses to live in Melbourne, is: How do we reduce or eliminate the chance of this happening to anyone else, resident and visitor alike? In two and half days, nearly three hundred responses were posted, in The Age's Your Say, in response to a similar assault in the CBD. These comments included:

More cops
Reintroduce the death penalty
Mandatory army service for the young
More CCTV cameras
Urban patrols by private security companies
and so on.

But what motivates people to perform violent crimes like this? Drugs? Alcohol? Boredom?

If it's boredom, or 'reduced threshold of stimulation by mainstream entertainment', one can hardly expect more cameras to fix the problem. My guess is that if it's celebrity, notoriety, 'thug life' or gangsta fame these people want, more cameras will only make the problem worse, and facilitate the mission-creep of the surveillance state.

Each of these 'solutions' is a can of worms.

There are recent statistics on crime in Australia available at the Australian Bureau of Statistics website. Compared to Canada, our homicide rates are roughly the same.

What would you be doing right now if an Australian was murdered in one of your capital cities?

One issue I see is that performing assaults, starting fights, is now considered part of a 'good night out' by more and more by previously 'respectable' people. We could cope, as a society, when it was only 'hoodlums' as my Grandmother might have called them, or 'gangsters', that engaged in violent crime. I'd rather the cops were out nabbing 'real crims' and not mopping up after bored nitwits indulging in a bit of street fighting. The guy that got stuck into me was probably a builder's labourer or apprentice, judging from his footwear. I hope the people who stand up in court and say 'You can't lock him up, m'lud, I need him on the site', get a chance to see what these ... recidivists ... are capable of. But it doesn't help the dead.

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[User Picture]From: matcha_pocky
2009-07-17 02:42 pm (UTC)
I know a guy who was waiting for a train late on a friday on platform ten at Flinders street when a drunk businessman picked a fight. (My friend had blue hair at the time; clearly asking for it.) The businessman shoved him onto the train tracks.

My friend was really more WTF than injured, so he got back up onto the platform, picked up the guy's briefcase and then threw it over the fence into the river.

Beautiful moment.
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From: bignose.whitetree.org
2009-07-25 02:10 am (UTC)

A recent change

When I used to use public transport, up to a few years ago (rather than being more house-bound and using the pushbike to get around), I've had a number of encounters with louts, behaving much the same as you describe to a stranger. I have often (FSVO “often”) done exactly the same: interjected to hopefully stop something before it starts.

I've never been attacked for my trouble. So either my luck is different to yours, or this is indeed a recent change.

You cover the angles well and ask some tough questions. If we don't stand up, why should we expect it to improve? On the other hand, who am I to ask you to get beaten up (when I never have) for the benefit of a stranger?
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[User Picture]From: b0rken
2009-07-26 08:52 am (UTC)

Re: A recent change


On a practical level you've a larger frame than me, and I think this is a key factor (alongside testosterone, level of intoxication, level of drug-induced/'naturally occurring' psychosis, level of response to traditional stimuli (doing it for kicks because they're bored) &c.) in which course of action the attacker/lout/focus chooses:

a) ignore interjection, continue bullying ("No effect.")
b) 'ignore' interjection, but cease bullying ("Success.")
c) respond to interjection with verbal abuse at interjector, bullying ceases ("Success.")
d) respond to interjection with continued or raised bullying of original victim ("You made it worse for them.")
d) respond to interjection with threat of violence to interjector ("You brought it on yourself.")
d) respond to interjection with violence to interjector ("You shouldn't start what you can't finish.")

... or combinations of the above. They're usually so pissed (intoxicated), flush with adrenalin in anticipation of the pasting they're either about to dish out, or receive, that they will occasionally pick conflicting reactions.

"... or this is indeed a recent change."

I had forgotten some fatherly advice, to look at your motivation and choose your response carefully, when presented with a damsel-in-distress scenario. Of course, the damsel doesn't have to be a damsel, and it doesn't always involve a dragon, but it usually involves putting on the "Internet White Knight" suit of armor, the one emblazoned with 'This is the right thing to do', 'Moral Majority', and 'This is going to hurt me more than it's goint to hurt you' stickers on it.

Was I in it for the opportunity to pop someone in the nose? A 'justifiable' bashing of my own?
They don't have any of those reaction-time-sapping moral qualms interfering with their goal to get their kicks on Route 96. Perhaps I was in it for the grateful damsel - no wonder then that the goth kids were 'embarrassed' by my 'pass' at them. Am I in it for the 'uniform'? ADF recruiting is that way. *points*

I wonder if the incidence of this kind of violence is any higher than in decades past (1920s - 1980s). In one of the self-published histories of Brunswick, (forget which, available from the Moreland Council in the Brunswick Town Hall) Bunswick was once the scene of Catholic/Protestant gang warfare, and Melbourne has gone through phases of 'Mod / Rocker' and race-related gang warfare, a-la Romper Stomper, and as far as I know, still exist with crews like '3174' (named after the postcode for Noble Park! 3174! Aroo!), the 'Carlton Boys', and if the graf on the side of the house on Glenlyon Rd is a reliable source, the 'Brunswick Warriors' (The Ultimate!). It's kind of fitting that the 'infamous bikie pub', the Sarah Sands Hotel in Brunswick, gentrified into a 'Plastic Paddy' Irish theme pub a few years ago, is again the scene of street brawls on a Friday or Saturday night. I saw a rolling brawl there with about ten participants spill out onto the street, one night as I rode past.

Something I haven't thought about until now is the question "How has lowest-common-denominator "troll" internet culture affected real-world social interaction?". Maybe that's too specific a question and not quite relevant here.

Perhaps to put it another way, "What effect has 'technologically-accelerated social interaction' had on society?". One example in Australia is Myspace and SMS 'distended' turnouts to traditionally quiet suburban events, and the give-a-shit notoriety of Corey Worthington. I think advertising, television, and perhaps even videogaming (extremely hard for me to admit this last part) as part of 'instant gratification' culture all have something to answer for here.

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From: bignose.whitetree.org
2009-08-13 06:11 am (UTC)

Re: A recent change

> > I have often (FSVO “often”) done exactly the same
> (FSVO?)

“often (FSVO “often”)” → “often (for some value of “often”)”.

Mathematical reference; “A is B for some value of A”.

> On a practical level you've a larger frame than me

Yeah, I meant to acknowledge that in the original comment but forgot. You're right, that does seem to have been a significant factor in many encounters; the feeling of being “sized up” is an uncomfortable one.

> Was I in it for the opportunity to pop someone in the nose? A 'justifiable' bashing of my own?

I very much doubt that.

My explanation of this behaviour is that there is a clearly *rational* idea, that unprovoked threats of violence can only get worse in future if it goes unchallenged in the moment, which is internalised to a greater or lesser degree. But that rational idea is not enough to provoke us to action, unless it makes a connection with an emotional impulse, like outrage.

In some people there is a lower threshold beyond which such a situation will trigger our emotional response to action. Others have not made that emotional connection to the same extent.

> I wonder if the incidence of this kind of violence is any higher than in decades past (1920s - 1980s).

As we get older it may be inevitable to consider modern times to be worse than when we were 25, or 20, or 15 years old. But the article to which you linked did have police reporting that indeed it *has* got markedly worse, in a span of a few years, and they're struggling to explain why.

Without seeing the data its hard to know more soundly, but since they're not pushing a particular solution I'm inclined to believe they're simply reporting what they see as fact.

> "What effect has 'technologically-accelerated social interaction' had on society?". […] I think advertising, television, and perhaps even videogaming (extremely hard for me to admit this last part) as part of 'instant gratification' culture all have something to answer for here.

There is a lot to be said for the argument that we are increasingly separated from each other, and it's well-established that in order to do casual violence to another person first we must consider that person to be somehow less than human — or less than our own “in group”, which may be psychologically the same thing.

One countervailing force against such dehumanisation of others is to come into frequent contact with people different from one's “in group”, to reinforce their normality and therefore equality with “our people”.

The paradox of these technologies is that they can allow people from diverse backgrounds to come into frequent contact so much more easily, yet our insular tendencies are reinforced in their in-group vs out-group mentality by these same technologies that maintain group cohesion despite geographical separation.
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[User Picture]From: b0rken
2009-08-11 11:25 am (UTC)

Re: A recent change

(conversation bumped amongst earlier comments fyi)
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[User Picture]From: b0rken
2009-08-16 11:50 pm (UTC)
Corporations are mindless shibboleths that have to expand to live. Think 'the blob' or the amoeba in BoulderDash (C64) if you can remember back that far ;)


All that's missing from this piece, to be relevant to urban violence, is

"...and then when they're 18, we give them the car keys and open the pub/club doors, and the liquor industry either makes up for lost time, or capitalises on the seeds sewn in sexualised billboards.
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[User Picture]From: b0rken
2009-08-16 11:55 pm (UTC)
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