An Unpopular Opinion, Personal Responsibility and the Demise of Society

Allow me to throw two links at you, give you a couple of minutes to read them then come back here:

Parks not safe for women, says homicide squad boss

Homicide detective Mick Hughes unfairly maligned over ‘women in parks’ comment

A young girl was killed. It’s a sad day; her life scrubbed out before she’d had a chance to do anything by someone who deserves absolutely no respect.

It’s a sad day.

A senior police officer, tasked with looking after the community he works in, asks that community to take a few simple actions to protect themselves.

And he got attacked on social media.

The problem is that he dared to single out women as potential targets of a predator, and then to suggest that those women take steps to protect themselves. How very dare he! My indignation knows no bounds.

I damn well should be able to walk through my local park at whatever time I feel like it without risking life, limb, and my dignity. I damn well shouldn’t have to only go out in daylight hours. I damn well should be able to have headphones in and not worry about who’s creeping up behind me. I damn well shouldn’t have to live in fear.

Oh wait, that’s pretty much what Hughes said in his statement:

“I think it’s a travesty that we have to do that, we should be able to walk anywhere at any time, but reality says that we can’t”

Was he victim blaming? Of course he wasn’t – it’s no one’s fault except the monster who did it. He was simply asking people to consider ways in which they could reduce their risks, while the police work to protect the community and remove the predators.

Should we be readjusting society and “teaching” men (I hate to single out men, but let’s face it, the stats back it up) that it is absolutely unacceptable to attack, murder, rape and bully women? Of course. That’s tackling the root of the problem. That’s treating the disease.

But whilst we’re treating the disease, shouldn’t we also be limiting the pain it causes by doing everything we can to reduce risks?

Rehabilitating and healing our society to the point that I can go out for a walk at 1am and feel safe is going to take time. A lion isn’t domesticated overnight, just as the predators that walk our streets aren’t going to go away just by wishing it so – it will take work.

I get that there’s a degree of unfair treatment when you look at how quickly new laws can be enacted to punish men who king hit other men and then when you look at how slowly things move when talking about domestic violence, (the vast majority of those victims being women), or rape or other attacks where women are the victims. Yes, there’s unfairness, but this doesn’t mean we lose all personal responsibility just because the law and the government can’t be bothered stepping up to the plate.

I pray for the day where death’s like Masa Vukotic’s don’t happen. And I can only put my faith in the police, the government of the day (god help us) and society as a whole to get us to that idyllic point.

But until then, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to take some responsibility for our own safety, to not be naive about the world in which we live, and to not attack a member of the police force for giving advice on how we can protect ourselves.

Addendum:

There’s been a couple of other blog posts written by friends of mine on this subject. You can read them here and here.

Leah’s post did make me think that maybe I had been missing the point of the, sometimes highly passive aggressive, retweets and FaceBook statuses that have been going around this week. Maybe the point has been “look at all the things that get said about the victim’s actions, behaviour, habits rather than anything being said about the actions of the perpetrator.”

Maybe the condemnation of the predator should be more vocal, more forceful.

But there may be legal ramifications with that in the case on someone caught for the crime.

Surely the condemnation of such a person, such an act, by society as a whole goes without saying. Or do we come back to the whole “if you’re not acting or speaking against it, then you’re implicitly condoning it” argument?

I don’t know. It’s late, but I wanted to link to those other blog posts and add a few thoughts, and a recognition that maybe I had misunderstood the motivation behind some of the posts that had somewhat erked me this week.

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