For the past few months I’ve been viewing Gabor Mate, Alfie Kohn and Ben McLeish, among others, so my reaction to this news was pretty much one of utter horror. Not only for the woman who was hit by the car and remains in hospital. Not only for the teenager driving the car or the cop who pulled the gun… But also for the outrageous, incredible, predictability of these occurrences and that this is absolutely unnecessary. We have a society that is pretty much designed to cause things like this to happen. Repeatedly. Constantly. Predictably.
While the media will get on with castigating the young men involved, blaming them for their behaviour and the injury of the pedestrian, we’ll have reinforced the idea that people choose to do these things in a vacuum. Individuals are to be blamed and punished for violence, theft, drug use etc. In the meta-narrative rhetoric, the individual is ultimately responsible for these negative outcomes in isolation. This will appear repeatedly in television news, internet media and newspapers for the next couple of weeks in relation to this particular incident. It is reiterated so much in so many cases that to a large extent we no longer even question it nor are we surprised by it, this venting of anger at a human who dares act out so badly and harms another.
It’s not surprising at all, but it is in fact a lie and a gross misrepresentation of human development and inter-personal neurology. It is the abuse of an individual human being for the purposes of enforcing a corrupt power paradigm and shouting down any questioning of the appropriateness of these values.
For at least as long as these young men have been alive, Australia has been governed by politicians who are perfectly well aware that crime and violence can be reduced enormously by public housing, adequate welfare, education, health care, mental health care and early intervention. Rather than implementing any of those programs however, we’ve seen cut back after cut back to public spending at the same time as an increase in frequency and pitch of “tough on crime” hysteria and the introduction of private prisons. And now after the politicians and corporations have benefited from these ridiculous and counter-productive policies, it is likely that this victim of a preventable and foreseeable crime will be used as a scape goat to implement further “tough on crime” measures which will be equally retrograde and counter-productive.
The focus on monetary value and implementation of free market social darwinism directly result in increased inequality and therefore increased crime. Community leaders and politicians are rewarded for implementing and expanding policies that result in more people becoming victims of crime and more young people being sentenced to incarceration that will only worsen their prospects. As a society, we are electing politicians who benefit, by being re-elected, from policies that cause us harm because the corporate media continue to repeat support for “tough on crime” measures and publish articles that reduce discussion of crime and incarceration to some kind of crime voyeurism or violent pornography.
This is why so many doctors, law enforcement officials and others are now calling for addiction to be treated as a health issue and not an incarceration issue. This is why so many people are beginning to engage in constructive citizens’ movements, from organic veggies and downshifting to Zeitgeist, Transition and the Greens. Continuing to do the same stupid things and expecting a different outcome is not an intelligent move. It is not helping reduce the numbers of people harmed by crime and it is not sensible use of the finite resources we have available on this planet.