I have watched the tape released by the NSW Police Association featuring central Wollongong and it had the desired effect. I was appalled, horrified, and disgusted. Nonetheless I can imagine that even those who were caught on camera would feel pretty similar. No-one looks good, and no-one is going to feel good about what the camera saw.
That said I think there are enough police in NSW and more police won’t make the slightest bit of difference. Neither will fewer pubs, or fewer pub hours. But I imagine something will happen: a proposal made, countered, finalised, funded, and then kinda done. It doesn’t really matter too much; there aren’t many civil liberties at stake at 2.45am. And if the police prefer violence at 12.45am then so be it.
I couldn’t help but notice most of the people on the police tape were young and most of those were men. It is hard to believe really, when you see the long lines of teenagers catching the bus to school on a weekday morning they all look so well within norms. They look like the next generation of consultants and bankers and plumbers and beauticians and terribly useful, well-behaved grownups. Most of us prove to be, during the course of our lives, exactly that.
But for a few moments there we might let ourselves go, ashamed, and do harm. Sometimes there is a price to be paid for that harm and sometimes we get away with it but whichever way it pans out we do the harm and we know it.
I wonder though if the endless safety of suburban childhoods, the helicoptered hours of parental control and censorship mean that harm, to self and to other, is never experienced. I think the thing that worries me (as a parent, as a citizen) is that if our children are excluded from the grown up complexities of the harm we might do (with alcohol, with violence, with words) then we end up with grownups who react like children to those very complexities.
This is, of course, dangerously close to the “toughen’ ‘em up” school of parenting and god knows there’s plenty of harm down that road. So I pose the question, how do you build that kind of muscle without letting them feel too much of that kind of weight?