Last night’s Insight on SBS was an emotional, thought provoking and heartbreaking episode. 5 minutes in and I was already teary.
For those who haven’t seen Insight, it’s a discussion show which centers around a certain theme. Past discussions have included Body Building, Bikies and polygamous relationships and more.
Last night’s episode was called “Punch Drunk” focusing on the increasing number of violent attack. Every week there’s talk of someone being hit, completely unprovoked or something so trivial and sustaining life threatening injuries or even death. And for what? What is causing this behaviour? Is alcohol to blame? Are clubs/pubs to blame? Is the responsibility solely on the people serving drinks or is the responsibility on the individual?
I’m a firm believer in that the individual is solely responsible for their actions, which can be influenced by external stimuli. I hate hearing the excuse that “Oh but I was drunk,” or “I was affected by drugs” or anything similar to that. As a one off incident I can understand but if it’s on-going then why aren’t these people doing something about it? If you know that you are violent when you drink, ever thought about not drinking so much?
Society needs to change it’s attitude to drinking. I think it definitely has its positives in a social setting, when done responsibly. And that doesn’t mean that you can’t get completely trashed. But what it means is being responsible about it and it means that if your friend is getting completely trashed, to take care of them. And if it’s you getting trashed, to be around people who you know will take care of you and stop you front doing stupid things. I’m usually the designated driver so that responsibility often falls in my hands but honestly, I’d prefer to be the peace keeper than feel guilty for the rest of my life if someone I knew did something that I could have potentially prevented.
What also gets to me is that sentencing always seems so low. And it’s understandable when it’s explained. Andrew Macready-Bryan, whose son was viciously attacked on a night out for his 20th Birthday now has no quality of life. He is confined to his wheelchair, has no control over his own body, is blind and cannot communicate. But Andrew is alot more understanding than I am. Andrew explained that when the judges sentenced his son’s attackers, he explained his reasoning for the sentence: that you don’t want to sentence someone to too few years because it won’t act as a deterrent but you also don’t want to go to the extreme and sentence too many years because that completely crushes the attacker and they sometimes come out worse than when they started. It’s difficult because Australia, when it can, uses rehabilitation rather than punishment but it doesn’t always work. And I’m sure it doesn’t feel fair to the victims families. Why should someone who has killed another be given a second change?
Another story on Insight was of Amee Meredith who’s husband Brett was killed from injuries sustained when he hit his head after being king hit. Amee is now working on a new law to be introduced in the Northern Territory called “one-punch homicide” which would essentially mean that regardless of whether it was intended or not, if you hit someone, and they sustain injuries from that hit and end up dying, the attacker is responsible. I’m in support of this law and I hope it’s introduced in Victoria as it already is in Western Australia. At this stage in Victoria, most offenders are charged with assault, or aggravated assault as the police have to find a direct causal link between the hit and the death. Being hit, then hitting your head and dying from those injuries is not a direct causal link. Because I’m sure it happens all the time that people just, you know, fall over randomly, smack their head on a gutter and gain life threatening injuries.
So what is the answer? Do we need tougher laws? Do we need to change laws? Does our society need to change the culture of drinking to excess? Is entertainment to blame? I mean, you can’t glorify violence with all these Underbelly series and not expect a minority to follow in those footsteps and think that sort of behaviour where you only look out for yourself is ok. Do we need more education? Prevention? Is the break up of the family unit to blame? Are schools responsible or parents?
What is the answer?
It’s such a difficult situation to overcome because it relies on so many different factors. All I can say is that something needs to change. It’s not fair that I no longer go out in the city because I don’t feel safe. It’s not fair that so many lives can change with such a thoughtless action, which proves what? How much of a thug you are? How tough and macho you are? Proves how cool you are because you can throw a punch to some unsuspecting person who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Or is it a matter of just a simple lack of respect for human life, as one member of the audience on Insight suggests?
Whatever it is, something needs to change. And quickly. This behaviour is disgusting and not necessary.
(I must say, that the biggest gripe I have with the last night’s episode is that the people who *need* to see it, probably never will. This should be must-see viewing for all school aged kids.)
If you’d like to watch the episode, click here.