Saturday, 9 May 2009

I don't have a drinking problem ...

It surprised me to read a newspaper article about how Aussies accept we have a binge drinking problem. For I've read so much about how any time someone wants to do something about drinking (alcohol that is) and drinking problems, a huge number of people start screaming about how this is a nanny state, drinking is part of the Australian culture, stop spoiling their fun party pooper and they are perfectly responsible people and why don't police go out and punish real criminals like jaywalkers and illegal billboard posters?

By the way, DRINKING somehow always means 'drinking alcohol'. If you drink too much water, you haven't drunk anything at all, even if you have urinated a whole tankful. It's a tricky thing, the English language. I don't know what it is about Orange Juice, but I ain't drinking it, technically. Apparently. Newspaperly.

Anyhow, I do think we have a drinking problem, we don't drink enough of the good stuff, and also the yummy drinks often cost a packet (It's $9 for a milkshake at Guylian's, what the?)

Also, someone warned me not to drink tap water in Adelaide. Fortunately I'm not from Adelaide and don't plan to go there soon. But what are your options then, someone gets the grand idea to bottle STILL water and sell it back to you at some exorbitant price. Makes you sick.

As for alcohol drinking, I'm no connoisseur, but I do get rather sick of the constant excuses for alcohol-induced behaviour not curbed or controlled, and any ideas put forth to control it all screamed down by some groups, because certain people enjoy drinking and consider it an integral part of their lifestyle.

Sure, everyone likes certain thing, but this shouldn't mean that we turn a blind eye to dangerous behaviour or social problems if they occur and think up solutions, and sometimes this does mean that some individuals have to submit to controls on their lifestyle to make things 'nicer' for everyone else.

For instance, other people enjoy the ownership of guns or a smoke, but they are considered not to be great for everyone else, so these people no matter how responsible they are individually submit to basic controls over their hobbies.

But then when someone suggests perhaps about limiting drinks sold at certain times or the power to remove extremely drunken-acting people off the street at night time, you get complaints of 'nanny state'.

Seems silly - I wouldn't want to run into someone waving a gun at me at night - but i've met drunken yobbos at night and they're quite menacing too. All power to those who can remove them. If people think they are the more responsible, drinking types then they don't have anything to worry about. We're not talking about zapping these people from existence, just getting them out of harm's way so they don't hurt themselves or intimidate or hurt others (or property).

I think a sensible talk about drinking without all the passion connected to it via the 'I've got a right to drink, I'm an Aussie it's what I DO!' parade would be very helpful.


TimT said...

The good thing about alcohol is it incapacitates yobbos at the same time as exciting them. Take cheap and available drinks away from them and it might turn them to a substance that is more... stimulating. Like the chromers in some Melbourne trains.

I agree with the 'nanny state' tag because the government is basically treating every drinking Australian as if they were a yobbo. Some Australians drink too much of a certain type of alcohol? We'll penalise the whole lot o' them by raising taxes. Some Australians drink too much and get into fights? We'll penalise all of them by banning drinking after a certain hour.

This approach is the antithesis of personal responsibility. The rules are made and enforced by other people; there's no 'choice' involved for drinkers, no effort made, and therefore, no lessons learned and very little gained for individual drinkers. And that really gets my goat.

Maria said...

I don't think all of us should have to stop drinking (or have to have certain amounts to drink) because of yobbos. On the other hand I do think there need to be checks and balances and the safety of the public does have to come before individual freedoms in certain cases.

There are many cases in which this is true, and people find it sensible.

You have to be licensed to own a gun in Australia, although many people who own guns aren't maniacs. They're perfectly responsible people but registration and training and so on keeps checks on them.

No matter how responsible you are or how tame you say your pet is, people have gone on about how they think all dogs in public should be on leashes. It's another 'sensible rule'.

For me it is an issue of what's more important when it comes to drinking; what works. People will go on about a nanny state, but maybe some people do need nannying, and what actually are the options we have?

We can wait for the brawls and put up with them, or some people can put up with the inconvenience of having to finish up their drinks a little earlier.

What really needs to be calibrated is whether the closing of pubs earlier stops enough fights that it's worth the curtailing of personal freedoms. I don't know if it is, or what 'enough fights' counts as, but perhaps if it were effective, would it be worth it to stop drinking a little earlier so ten or so groups didn't smash each other up and end up in hospital?

It is true that sometimes this means rules are enforced by other people. You don't get to choose and learn a lesson the hard way - except by breaking the rules.

But isn't this just the same as having law and order in society, and I am actually in favour of that.

I wouldn't like a rule passed for instance that murder or theft or rape was not against the law because instead we were going to makeit a case of personal responsibility and let the yobbos learn their lesson later on about how 'bad' the consequences could be for them if they performed the actions.

You could say that with drinking unlike murder or theft or rape that the drinking rules are there to protect the drinker but the murder etc rules are there to protect other people. In fact, because of drunken behaviour, now the rules are also aimed at protecting other people from the actions of drunkens - brawls, glassings, etc.

I have no problem if a yobbo wants to drink him/herself silly at home and smash up his/her own place. It's if s/he's wandering around the place at night ready to clobber someone, aggressive, etc.

I have met a few like that and I was not happy and if a police officer had turned up and removed them I would have felt a lot safer than if they were roaming around on the train harassing people and thinking it hilariously funny.

By the way I had a friend who was drunk and she did a few things stupid when she was drunk and I don't think she learned a darn thing-probably because she couldn't remember a moment of it the next day. She just repeats the same behaviour. Fortunately she is a small girl and mainly gets silly and stupid rather than aggressive and menacing when drunk but it's unpleasant.

Maria said...

Note: I am amazingly biased on this topic because i don't drink alcohol so any curtailing of freedoms on drinkers wouldn't affect me. My only personal interest would be to get horrible drunks off the street.

But I acknowledge that not all people who drink are irresponisible or even get drunk and not all drunkards are horrible. It's the unpleasant and frightening ones that really need to be dealt with. There has to be some way of doing it.

Friendless said...

I always wonder WTF the police do. When the streets are full of drunken yobbos, where are the police? What happened to the good old days of people behaving badly then getting thrown in the lock-up for the night? Now we're all punished because the police couldn't be bothered protecting the public.

At my previous house there were a couple of yobbos who liked to roar around the streets in their load cars. You could tell there were very few of them because the car noises were always the same. Instead of trying to catch them, the council filled the street with speed bumps and chicanes. Again, everyone was punished rather than trying to catch someone.

Maria said...

Friendless, the police are probably having a few beers. that's what they're doing.