Idiots are the problem, not alcohol
If you read the headlines, late-night violence in Melbourne is out of control.
To a degree this is true, but we have little chance of curbing the problem with illogical solutions.
Take some of the measures proposed in the past fortnight, for example. Firstly, there was the party promoter who banned “metrosexuals” from the Ding Dong Lounge.
“We are really trying to push a party night that is a safe place to go and have a good time without worrying about safety,” the promoter, Scott Mellor, said.
Then, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland called for a price-hike on all booze- including wine and beer.
In his opinion, this will help limit the carnage.
So, on one hand, we are blaming the booze for all the violence, while on the other, we are excluding people due to the way they dress.
Violent offenders come in all different shapes and sizes. They are from different backgrounds and - surprise, surprise - they all don’t dress in the same way.
By banning a section of society from a public venue, due to the way they dress, is condoning violent behaviour.
Countless innocent people, not wearing tight jeans, have been attacked.
If this becomes the new approach of clubs and bars in Melbourne, then we are in serious trouble. Luckily, at this stage, the Ding Dong Lounge is on its own.
Alcohol-fuelled violence is a well-worn phrase these days, but I have avoided using it deliberately so far.
Simon Overland’s proposal to hit drinkers harder punishes those of us who drink responsibly. Having a drink is not illegal if you are over 18 years of age, and neither is drinking too much.
But, knocking out the guy standing next to you for looking at you is an offence.
Consuming half-a-dozen beers does not turn a model citizen into a mindless thug. So why are we blaming the booze at every chance?
Those who want to get intoxicated will still find a way. But we are concerned about what happens after that.
Adopting a zero-tolerance approach, similar to New York’s in the 1990s, would be beneficial. We just need to look at the history books.
It would make people think twice about their actions. Today, if you are a first-time offender, you are likely to get off lightly for a late-night hit.
New York’s zero-tolerance approach to its soaring murder rate, in the early 90s, is the perfect point of reference for our law enforcers.
For the record, 2605 murders were committed in New York in 1990 - the highest in its history - compared with 801 two years ago. Numbers don’t lie.
During this time, anyone found with a weapon was locked up immediately. Ditto other crimes. There were no questions.
In Melbourne, idiots are the problem, not alcohol. We must deal with offenders properly in the court of law - and avoid a soft-hand.
Times will change, prices will rise, new venues will open up and others will close, but we won’t idiot-proof this state.
Sadly, some of us simply have no regard for the well-being of others.
This will always be the case. That’s reality. But those in positions of power can be influential in driving change.
Blaming alcohol, solely, for a violent offence is a cop-out. It means offenders avoid accountability for their actions.
A minimum jail term must be established for offenders who inflict serious injury on another (perhaps a sentence between three and five years would be appropriate).
Those who use weapons should also face more jail time, and be made to pay all of their victim’s hospital bills.
All nightclubs and bars need to be equipped with screening devices as you enter. This will cost money, but it will ensure venues are free of weapons.
We should also dispose of home detentions for violent thugs. One of the main aims of sentencing is to deter others from committing similar acts. If people know they will face a definite jail sentence, their thinking will change.
If we hit violent criminals in the hip-pocket and with time in the cells, we will make some ground. There is no room for complacency.
Police are like speed cameras - they can’t be on every street corner all day, every day.
But, our justice system must come down hard on offenders. It has a big role to play as we seek to take back Melbourne’s streets and make them safe again.
If we choose to adopt an endless list of illogical remedies, the bleeding will continue - and it will only get worse.
I have not, personally, been involved in a violent encounter on a weekend. Call it luck, but I believe it is good management.
It emphasises the role parents play in this issue. Educating your child is crucial. There will always be a “hot-head” among the crowd, and there is no shame in walking away.
Stick with your mates, and you shouldn’t have a problem. Sadly, the less of you there are, the more chance there is you will be attacked.
Gangs still exist, of course, and some people, simply, regard a fight as a hobby.
And if it continues, most of us will stay home while the thugs have the city to themselves.
Is that what we really want?
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