Advertisement

Violent Drunks – Bars not to Blame

By 4 September 2014 8

restaurant-bar-stock-020914

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.

Please login to post your comments
8 Responses to Violent Drunks – Bars not to Blame
#1
missjb12:50 pm, 04 Sep 14

Hi Steven,

Great article and I agree with most of your assertions about licensing laws and preloading (and good on you for standing up for the poor woman at Kingo!). Having said that, I strongly disagree with your comments about Canberra’s security guards, particularly that they cause violence more than they prevent it.

I work in a licensed venue, and enjoy the occassional night out on the town. I have never seen a Canberra security guard deny entry to males while allowing their female friends into a club on the basis of gender alone. What I have seen though, is bouncers spat on and assualted while removing unruly patrons due to intoxication or lewd behavour. I have seen men throw bottles at bouncers after they have been refused entry. Death threats are a standard part of every single weekend. A couple of times I have gone on to see these same patrons assualt police and paramedics.

You mentioned an awful, and well publicised incident that occurred outside Academy last month. I think it is worth noting that this man was refused entry to the nightclub before he attacked a bystander. It was horrific, but I don’t believe security could have prevented this. They are responsible for the safety of staff and patrons inside their venue. We can’t ask them to police the streets as well. I’m sure you will agree with me that the security made the right call in denying entry to this man, and I hope he serves his time in full.

I don’t know the answer to ending drug and alcohol fuelled violence in Canberra, but given that most of these assualts occur outside the venue or in carparks I think the onus is on the police.

#2
Ghettosmurf8712:57 pm, 04 Sep 14

Hi Steven,

It’s all well and good to say that it is not the fault of the bar/club/venue for the actions of its patrons. On this point I can agree. There should certainly be a responsibility on each individual for their own actions.

And I also wouldn’t advocate for shorter opening hours, higher taxes/licence fees or “lock-outs” that just move problems from venues to the street all at the same time.

However, I would call on venues to actually take their own responsibilities in regards to the responsible sale of alcohol far more seriously. I could count on 1 hand the number of times in the past decade that a venue has actually refused me service at the bar when I was clearly very intoxicated. Now, I don’t cause trouble in venues, so I can understand and am quite happy that those venues don’t cut me off or kick me out, but that is not to say that they are actually abiding by the law and what it requires of them. Venues need to understand that when they keep indiscriminately serving drinks to people who they legally shouldn’t, then they have increased the likelihood of alcohol related issues occurring within their venue and they need to shoulder some of the responsibility for what occurs once they have allowed this.

If venues actually applied RSA properly, then the issue of pre-loading would shift from one of excess intoxication of patrons to one of income for the venue, because they wouldn’t be letting people drink to excess anymore, nor letting in those who have excessively pre-loaded. Could perhaps encourage them to lower prices so that people don’t pre-drink?

#3
ausbradr1:11 pm, 04 Sep 14

Great article, and a breath of fresh air far from the BS that’s been happening in Kings Cross with the knee-jerk legislators at the helm.

In my experience, I’ve seen more abuse happen out in the street, than in the venues themselves. As someone who regularly attends the alternative clubs Vamp / Chrome, we always have to watch where we go and travel in groups, lest we attract the attention of the (presumably mooseheads regular) violent bogans that seem to be around the city.

Cutting off the booze isn’t an option, as we’ve seen with pre-loading, where there’s a will, there’s a way. We can legislate as much as we want, but we’ll probably end up legislating to the point where bogans will be making moonshine, and running riot off that. We’ve seen with those silly laws passed in NSW recently that violence is still occurring. Who’d have thought?? :p

A strong police presence is a good option. There have been a couple of good Saturday nights where I’ve seen plenty of police on the beat, walking down Bunda Street and surrounds. It’s great because those of us obeying the law can feel safe, and those who are out to cause trouble can have the worry that they might actually get caught red handed, and arrested.

I really hope that the ACT government has the common sense to do what’s right.

#4
John Moulis2:41 pm, 04 Sep 14

The telling thing about that mad summer of “coward punches” and knee-jerk legislation pushed by the Daily Telegraph is how the penalty for steroid possession in NSW was increased from five years to 25 years when it wasn’t steroids which caused one of the incidents but the use of “Ice” (crystal meth). If steroids caused “coward punches” there would be fights breaking out in gyms all the time. Even during the late 1970s through to the early ’90s when steroids were legal and available on the PBS gyms were non-violent, and I was a member of the gym in south Phillip which was one of the most notorious steroid dens in Australia.

#5
chewy142:48 pm, 04 Sep 14

Ghettosmurf87 said :

Hi Steven,

It’s all well and good to say that it is not the fault of the bar/club/venue for the actions of its patrons. On this point I can agree. There should certainly be a responsibility on each individual for their own actions.

And I also wouldn’t advocate for shorter opening hours, higher taxes/licence fees or “lock-outs” that just move problems from venues to the street all at the same time.

However, I would call on venues to actually take their own responsibilities in regards to the responsible sale of alcohol far more seriously. I could count on 1 hand the number of times in the past decade that a venue has actually refused me service at the bar when I was clearly very intoxicated. Now, I don’t cause trouble in venues, so I can understand and am quite happy that those venues don’t cut me off or kick me out, but that is not to say that they are actually abiding by the law and what it requires of them. Venues need to understand that when they keep indiscriminately serving drinks to people who they legally shouldn’t, then they have increased the likelihood of alcohol related issues occurring within their venue and they need to shoulder some of the responsibility for what occurs once they have allowed this.

If venues actually applied RSA properly, then the issue of pre-loading would shift from one of excess intoxication of patrons to one of income for the venue, because they wouldn’t be letting people drink to excess anymore, nor letting in those who have excessively pre-loaded. Could perhaps encourage them to lower prices so that people don’t pre-drink?

RSA laws are also a problem, as long as you’re not causing trouble or being dangerous to yourself/others (passing out drunk level), what exactly is wrong with getting intoxicated? Isn’t that part of the point of going to a pub/club and drinking alcohol?

#6
Steven Bailey8:50 pm, 04 Sep 14

missjb said :

Hi Steven,

Great article and I agree with most of your assertions about licensing laws and preloading (and good on you for standing up for the poor woman at Kingo!). Having said that, I strongly disagree with your comments about Canberra’s security guards, particularly that they cause violence more than they prevent it.

I work in a licensed venue, and enjoy the occassional night out on the town. I have never seen a Canberra security guard deny entry to males while allowing their female friends into a club on the basis of gender alone. What I have seen though, is bouncers spat on and assualted while removing unruly patrons due to intoxication or lewd behavour. I have seen men throw bottles at bouncers after they have been refused entry. Death threats are a standard part of every single weekend. A couple of times I have gone on to see these same patrons assualt police and paramedics.

You mentioned an awful, and well publicised incident that occurred outside Academy last month. I think it is worth noting that this man was refused entry to the nightclub before he attacked a bystander. It was horrific, but I don’t believe security could have prevented this. They are responsible for the safety of staff and patrons inside their venue. We can’t ask them to police the streets as well. I’m sure you will agree with me that the security made the right call in denying entry to this man, and I hope he serves his time in full.

I don’t know the answer to ending drug and alcohol fuelled violence in Canberra, but given that most of these assualts occur outside the venue or in carparks I think the onus is on the police.

Yeah, fair enough. I do agree with you that bouncers do have a hard job – sometimes a very hard job. I suppose I’m just making the point that they make mistakes too – just like me… in fact I probably make more mistakes than anyone!! Thanks for your insightful comment. Cheers, ?

#7
Steven Bailey8:52 pm, 04 Sep 14

Steven Bailey said :

missjb said :

Hi Steven,

Great article and I agree with most of your assertions about licensing laws and preloading (and good on you for standing up for the poor woman at Kingo!). Having said that, I strongly disagree with your comments about Canberra’s security guards, particularly that they cause violence more than they prevent it.

I work in a licensed venue, and enjoy the occassional night out on the town. I have never seen a Canberra security guard deny entry to males while allowing their female friends into a club on the basis of gender alone. What I have seen though, is bouncers spat on and assualted while removing unruly patrons due to intoxication or lewd behavour. I have seen men throw bottles at bouncers after they have been refused entry. Death threats are a standard part of every single weekend. A couple of times I have gone on to see these same patrons assualt police and paramedics.

You mentioned an awful, and well publicised incident that occurred outside Academy last month. I think it is worth noting that this man was refused entry to the nightclub before he attacked a bystander. It was horrific, but I don’t believe security could have prevented this. They are responsible for the safety of staff and patrons inside their venue. We can’t ask them to police the streets as well. I’m sure you will agree with me that the security made the right call in denying entry to this man, and I hope he serves his time in full.

I don’t know the answer to ending drug and alcohol fuelled violence in Canberra, but given that most of these assualts occur outside the venue or in carparks I think the onus is on the police.

Yeah, fair enough. I do agree with you that bouncers do have a hard job – sometimes a very hard job. I suppose I’m just making the point that they make mistakes too – just like me… in fact I probably make more mistakes than anyone!! Thanks for your insightful comment. Cheers, ?

I don’t know why a question mark just popped up. It was supposed to be a smiley face.

#8
mr_wowtrousers12:26 pm, 06 Sep 14

Maybe Australians should take responsibility and look at their general attitudes and in particular their attitude to alcohol? Why are so many people (and not just young people and not just young male) of the culture that getting absolutely hammered is a normal thing to do? I can semi-understand the stupidity of youth, but when 40-50 year olds are bragging about how maggoted they got on the weekend, then there is a problem.

Why are so many people keyed up and ready to fight? Australians like to see themselves as chilled but they are anything but.

Sponsors
RiotACT Proudly Supports
Advertisement
Copyright © 2014 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.