About eight years ago, I punched a man in the face at the Kingston Pub. I’m not proud of it, but I’m not exactly sorry about it either.
Occasionally, after a bit of liquid courage, it wasn’t uncommon for me to throw down a bit of cash on the pool table. But one night, things turned ugly. To cut a long story short, the stakes got pretty high. We were playing doubles and there was $600 on the table. My opponents were boyfriend and girlfriend, and I can’t quite remember who my partner was – maybe you’re reading this article right now!
As I looked down the barrel of the pool cue and potted the black, I saw the rage and dismay in one of my opponent’s eyes. The man started insulting his girlfriend, humiliating her for not playing well enough. She began to cry, and then it became physical. He grabbed his girlfriend around the neck and pushed her to the ground. A few ladies came to her aid and helped her back to her feet. I was so incensed and revolted by the man’s behaviour that I punched him in the face, hard. He fell to the ground and quickly left the pub. Luckily for him, it was just a biff from me because there were some far bigger fellas who would have packed a far meaner punch than I could have – I just happen to be closer to him.
My only regret from that night was that I couldn’t stop the girl from following her abusive partner home; I wish I could have, and still to this day, I think about her and hope she’s now with a loving partner.
I chose to drink, I chose to gamble, and I chose to fight. The venue was not morally culpable; I was.
Canberra, especially Civic, can be a disgusting cesspool of violence, big buffed and brainless brutes and girls who don’t know how to walk in high heels. On a more serious note, there have been a number of gut-wrenchingly violent assaults in Canberra this year – most notably, a ‘one-punch’ assault on a young man in front of the popular nightclub Academy.
The hearts of all decent Canberrans go out to the victims, and their families, who suffer these abhorrent attacks. And, as a libertarian, I accept that society must work together to prevent such grievous violence. There are d*ckheads out there, and we need to stop them from harming and killing innocent young people. But we need to know the facts, and we need to respect the rights and liberties of the overwhelmingly vast majority.
Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research statistics reveal that the rate of alcohol fuelled violence in New South Wales and the ACT has been declining since 2008, and is the lowest since 2002, with 184.8 assaults per 100,000 people per year. Furthermore, for the history buffs, A NSW Royal Commission in the mid 1850’s reported that in the previous year, 3552 arrests were made for public drunkenness. Today a similar statistic would equate to half a million arrests!
What we don’t need is conga line of knee jerking wimps and wowsers trying to cushion society further into the nanny state. Every time a notably violent incident occurs we hear the chorus calls for lazy and unsophisticated prohibitions on legitimate businesses and their clientele – the law-abiding public.
Following recent violent incidents in Canberra this year, the ACT Government is considering further prohibitions on the trading hours of Canberra’s bars, and Victims of Crime Commissioner John Hinchey has been calling for police to have greater powers and that provisions should be made for a public list or ranking system that lists the most notorious venues in order to name and shame them.
Police have enough powers as it is. If a police officer wants to move you along, arrest you for no reason whilst grinding your head into the concrete, they can. But, the police are members of the community just like us – they make mistakes, and they have a difficult job to do. Likewise, bouncers have a difficult job to do – and they often get it wrong. Often bouncers cause violence more so than they prevent it. Big buffed and brainless brutes standing outside of nightclubs letting girls into pubs but not the males accompanying them are magnates for violence – not deterrents. From personal experience, Knightsbridge and Transit Bar, however, have excellent bouncers who prevent violence at all costs.
The ACT Liquor Act is extremely prohibitive as it is. My suggestion is that instead of fining and continuously restricting legitimate businesses that offer a service to the public, the ACT Government could bear more of the burden of protecting its citizens. Bouncers could be employed by the Government, yet at the cost to the venues that need them. Bouncers could be rotated and performance managed. The bad ones would go, and the good ones would stay. Bouncers would have financial security, and when they act improperly the Government would be responsible for their actions, not the venue.
Additionally, some Government policies incentivise violence. ‘Preloading’ is a problem because young people can’t afford to buy drinks from bars. If you want to stop people from preloading, simply lower the taxes on beverages sold from venues.
We elect Governments and pay taxes not for them to dictate when and where we can drink. We elect Governments to protect the innocent whilst also protecting their right to be free, and if that means drinking, gambling, and having a jolly old time until the wee hours of the morning, so be it.
The era of prohibition is not the answer to crime, and if you think it is… read a history book.