Monday, September 13, 2010

The Alcohol Isn’t Helping

737 arrests across New South Wales, three shots fired in Kings Cross, one man dead after an alleged assault near Wollongong. Those are the figures after the much publicised Operation Unite over the weekend, intended as a coordinated crackdown on alcohol related violence across the nation. It seems odd that so many people would get themselves into so much trouble after all of the publicity that police would be out in force at the weekend, rather than making an effort to be better behaved. Or is this just a normal Saturday night, and the big numbers of arrests merely a reflection of the increased police numbers? Or is it possible that an increased police presence actually incites some people?

These are questions which are not easily answered, but one thing is certain and that is we do have a problem with alcohol and its link to violence. I have always maintained that the alcohol itself is not the sole factor contributing to the problem. It is possible for many people to have a big night out, possibly drink a little more than is good for the health, but still not become rude, obnoxious, anti-social or violent. But for some people, especially some who may be predisposed to brutish behaviour in the first place, too much to drink obviously brings out their worst. Whether that means that everybody who enjoys a drink should be denied the opportunity just so that the trouble makers are prevented from making asses of themselves is a difficult question, but some would suggest that the sacrifice would be worth it.

Over the same weekend, there was also a report in the press about some establishments enforcing a policy to refuse entry to people with particular styles of haircut. The reasoning had nothing to do with fashion sense, but to do with attitude. It seems that antisocial attitudes have been associated with certain hairstyles which are then used as criteria to determine if you are a desirable patron or not. It might be a flimsy basis upon which to make such a judgement, but it does identify the real problem behind any kind of violence whether alcohol related or not. That is attitude. Violence is always driven by an attitude of entitlement, whther the entitlement to enforce one’s own will, the entitlement to seek retribution for a perceived insult, or just the entitlement to derive some sort of sick satisfaction from inflicting harm upon others.

It’s not the alcohol that’s the problem, it’s the attitude. But the bottom line is that in almost every case, the alcohol is not helping.

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