Friday, March 27, 2009

Easy Rider Is A Fairy Tale

There is something terribly attractive about the whole bikie mythology. It starts with the motorcycles themselves; big powerful machines, often customized to the point of being impressive and even beautiful examples of craftsmanship and artistry. The power and the freedom they both provide and represent have all the appeal of a Hollywood movie. Then there’s the outlaw image, the lifestyle of living free and bowing down to no man. This is especially appealing to our seemingly endemic Australian distrust of authority, and it’s one of the reasons why Ned Kelly remains a popular hero long after his time. They are fiercely independent, relying on no one to settle their scores on their behalf. Finally, there is the camaraderie. Bikies are brothers and are bound together in a way that is perhaps similar to soldiers, or others who have shared common adversity. Altogether, it is a powerful package which provides tremendous allure. The trouble is it’s all hogwash.

What we are seeing now in Sydney is so far removed from the “Easy Rider” fairytale that it should finally alert us all to the reality that if such a fairytale ever did exist it has long ago been supplanted by the thugs and hoods who are in it for the money that comes from drugs and prostitution. Apparently these so called outlaws are nowadays investing in property, wearing jewelry and fancy clothes, and getting about town as if they are rap stars. Well, some of them anyway. If there is anyone left these days who genuinely lives to ride and rides to live, they have been left in the shade by the gangsters.

Even if we were to be tempted to believe in the merits of rough justice and bikies dealing with their own disputes in their own way it should now be clear that such a state of affairs inevitably leads to chaos. Any use of force in a dispute inevitably leads to retaliation, and retaliation leads to escalation, until critical mass is reached and we see the kind of explosion of violence which took place last weekend at Sydney Airport. It’s not an isolated incident, and it won’t be the last until the fundamental problem is dealt with.

There are many issues arising out of this week’s events which need to be examined thoroughly. Airport security is one. Police powers and legislation is another. But the fundamental problem is that too many people fall for the false allure of the outlaw image, and too many believe that fear is the same thing as respect. The fundamental problem is that it is too easy to accept the existence of so called outlaws so long as they leave us alone, while in reality that only encourages them to flourish.

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