Violence and Alcohol: Are increased sentences the answer?

I have been reading about the new legislation proposed by Barry O’Farrell, the New South Wales Premier, in an effort to combat the presently alleged “epidemic” of alcohol fuelled violence sweeping through Sydney and its suburbs.  Let me start with this: my thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost loved ones as a result of current “epidemic”.  Equally, those same thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who has lost a loved one to a violent act. There can be no excuse for unprovoked or excessive violence.

The focus on alcohol fuelled violence of late and the legislative enhancements that have been proposed to sentences for crimes arising whilst under the influence has bothered me because the focus, in my view, on the alcohol element seems to miss the point that any violence, unprovoked, excessive or otherwise, is, or ought be considered to be, abhorrent.  I am bothered by the perception that seems to arise that there are different levels of criminality there arises from an assault depending on whether one is under the influence of alcohol or not.

This is a chicken and egg scenario isn’t it? On the one hand it is suggested, or appears to be suggested, that by reducing the opportunities of some to drink will thereby reduce violence.  On the other hand the perception that arises from the legislation and the press would appear to be that only drunk people commit acts of unprovoked or excessive violence.

The latter statement must fundamentally be incorrect: simply put once does not need to be exclusively drunk (or otherwise under the influence) to act in a violent way.  I guess what I am saying is that violence is not the exclusive province of those who are drunk.

The former statement, again, is flawed.  For a start, some of the recent incidents of alcohol fuelled violence have occurred between 9pm and midnight being a time at which the proposed new lock out laws would have had the possibility of reducing the level of imbibement of alcohol of the individuals acting in a violent way.  Further, am I alone in thinking that locking people out of premises is counter intuitive to protecting the public from violent acts? A lock out after a certain period only adds to the number of people, intoxicated, walking around trying to find transportation home.  Surely then a lock out increases the risks of an incident happening.

Maybe I am being too simplistic here but to me increasing the sentences available for alcohol induced violence whilst increasing the opportunities for said violence to occur completely misses the point.  Stopping the violence surely must be the best means of stopping alcohol fuelled violence not the other way around.  Afterall, how many drunks are going to stop themselves from acting in a violent way whilst drunk because they fear incarceration? Dealing with the violence and not the alcohol element of the violence must be the better way.

For me it comes back to something that I tweeted a while ago: regardless of the sentences available the prosecution of offenders and the sentencing of same to custodial sentences for all types of assaults is a great place to start deterring likely future offenders.  The perception that offenders are going to get away with acting in a violent way seems to have been begat by the phalanx of good behaviour bonds and suspended sentences we have seen in the past.

In addition, we, as a society, must get back to condemning violence of any kind for being exactly what it is: an abhorrent act of cowardice rather than celebrating same.   This is everyone’s responsibility and traverses education of kids and young adults, the punishment of those who commit violent acts and, frankly, the shaming of repeat offenders rather than their celebration.

I repeat what I said in the preamble: my thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who has lost a loved one to a violent act.  This post is not in any way designed to denigrate their collective memories.  I just do not think that what appears to be the current suggested “answer” (blaming alcohol) honours those memories and a broader approach needs to be taken to tackling the problem of violence of all types.

Exercise and the Black Dog: an epiphany

Some of you may have had a look at my new “challenge” blog this year run211.com.  Here is a link to a post just published there: http://run211.com/2014/01/23/im-sore-so-i-must-exist/ .  Whilst it is bizarre that it has taken a quote from Jane Fonda to make me realize the good that is being done for my mental state by virtue of undertaking this process of training for a half marathon, the message that leads from said quote has resounded with me since I read it.  Now: where are my shoes … it is time for another run!

Shumpty’s Punt: Wednesday Wager

Here is my tip for a sports multi for today’s American sport:

Leg 1: L.A. Kings to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets in the NHL.

Leg 2: Ottawa Senators to cover the line (+1.5 goals) against the Washington Capitols in the NHL.

Leg 3: Brooklyn Nets to cover the line (-9.0 points) against the Orlando Magic in the NBA.

Leg 4: New Orleans Pelicans to cover the line (+1.5 points) against the Sacramento Kings in the NBA.

Leg 5: Oklahoma City Thunder to cover the line (-6.5 points) against the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA.

This multi should pay in the range of $17 for each dollar invested.

As always: good luck and good punting!

Australia names it squad for South Africa and Sheffield Shield form counted for nothing!

I wrote this morning about the selection of the Australian Squad to travel to South Africa for the test series commencing on 12 February 2014.

George Bailey has been dropped from the squad.  The new batsmen selected are Shaun Marsh and Alex Doolan.  The reserve bowlers selected are James Pattinson and Jackson Bird.

As I noted in the post this morning and reaffirm in the title to this post: form in Australia’s first class competition, the Sheffield Shield, has counted for nothing at the selection table. The top run getters in the domestic game in this country have not been selected. Rather, this series of scores has seen Shaun Marsh return to the test squad:

  • 6 and 47
  • 4 and 13
  • 127 not out
  • 42 and 4
  • 1 and 4

How does one regain a place in the national team when scoring only 248 runs in 5 matches at an average of 31.00? Is scoring two half centuries against a mediocre English bowling attack at the end of a shattering season really enough? That is all that Shaun Marsh has done this season.

On the side of the bowlers: am I alone in being completely lost by the strategy of the NSP here? Jackson Bird has not played in a first class game, test matches included, since he played for Australia in August at Chester-le-Street.  His season thus far has consisted of T20 games and one List A fixture for Australia A.  James Pattinson has not played the longest form of the game since he was injured at Lords in July.  He too has played some T20 games and has now appeared for Australia in an ODI.  How can either player be match fit and, more importantly, match hardened if they are called on in South Africa?  With Ryan Harris’ knee a match by match proposition, isn’t it too much to expect the replacement fast bowlers to step in and bowl, potentially 25 overs a day, with only very limited limited overs cricket under their belts?  I just don’t get the thinking!

Cricket Australia needs to have a significant look at the Sheffield Shield competition in this country if the best that is coming from it is a player who averages 31.00 and no one with the ball.  That is really what the NSP is saying with this team isn’t it: no bowler in first class cricket is good enough to be in the squad so we will select two players who have not played in the long form for over six months instead.  Or am I missing something?

NSP to name touring party to South Africa: will first class form count for anything?

Cricket Australia’s National Selection Panel will name its touring squad to South Africa.  A squad of fifteen is expected to be named by John Inverarity and, largely, the squad selects itself.  These names will be read out today without fail: Clarke (c), Haddin (vc), Rogers, Warner, Watson, Smith, Bailey, Johnson, Siddle, Harris, Lyon, Faulkner.  There has been much talk about George Bailey’s place in the Australian test team but, as any follower of the test team will attest, historically Cricket Australia like to keep winning teams together regardless of poor form so Bailey will tour.

That leaves three spots open for selection.  I have regularly written here about the need for selections to be based on first class (Sheffield Shield) rm and if that was the case those three spots (assuming that one batsman and two bowlers go as cover) should be filled by some of the following players:

  • Batsmen: Marcus North (593 runs, 98.33 average, 3 hundreds), Phil Hughes (549 runs, 61.00 average, 3 hundreds), Callum Ferguson (3 games, 289 runs, 72..25 average, 1 hundred).
  • Bowlers: Chadd Sayers (22 wickets, 28.04 average,), Luke Feldman (17 wickets, 24.58 average), Steve O’Keefe (24 wickets, 22.25 average), Michael Hogan (21 wickets, 23.66 average).

I am prepared to guarantee though that none of these names will appear in the squad of fifteen named today.  Alex Doolan will be the reserve batsman and the reserve bowlers will be Nathan Coulter-Nile and James Pattinson. I have written before on this blog about the need for players who are injured to be eased back into the game via first class cricket.  The NSP does not appear to agree with that approach given the manner in which they have managed the injuries of other first bowlers returning.  So that means that Pattinson, an excellent bowler I concede, will go on tour with out T20 and ODI cricket as preparation.  Alex Doolan appears to be the flavour of the month with the willow despite averaging 39.10 in first class cricket this summer and an overall average of 37.52.  I have no major cavil with Coulter-Nile’s selection.

Ordinarly I would be waiting with bated breath for the announcement of a squad for such an important tour.  Bizarrely, I am ambivalent this time around because of that feeling that we all know who the NSP will be selecting.  I hope I am wrong but know I am right.

Shumpty’s Punt: NFL Championship Week

The NFL season is nearing its end and this week presents two excellent games in the battle for the NFC and AFC championships. I have been following the season closely and, despite the New York Jets not make the finals, have been very impressed with the games so far in finals month.

In the AFC the Manning led Denver Broncos host the Belichick coached New England Patriots. In the NFC last year’s a Super Bowl losing San Francisco 49ers travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks and their metaphorical 12th man.

Here are my tips for each game (commencing Monday morning Australia time):

AFC: New England Patriots to cover the line (+5.0 points) against the Denver Broncos

NFC: Seattle Seahawks to cover the line (-3.5 points) against the San Francisco 49ers

Both games will be willing encounters which, particularly the game in Seattle, could well be low scoring and dominated by defence which, for me, gets the Patriots and the Seahawks over the line.

Put both of those tips together in a multi and it will pay just short of $4. Can’t wait for the first game to start!