Saturday, 8 July 2017

Shot during sex

The further I drift from my life as a university graduate and lawyer into a life of hi-vis and manual work, the more I find myself seeing the world through the lens of rounded edges and sharp edges.  That is, it's remarkably easy to be relaxed about parole laws if you live in (say) low-crime Toorak.  It's much harder if you live in Noble Park (which is basically a war zone with a postcode).    It's easy to encourage drug decriminalization if you live a safe middle class life and you're not likely to encounter a nutter in an ice-fuelled rage.

In both cases, one group of people live in a life of rounded edges, where few actions have truly serious consequences.  Even truly anti-social acts are more a cause for therapy than punishment.  The other group lives in a life of sharp edges.  That is, where misfortune fuelled by crime or economics occurs essentially arbitrarily.  Where cruelty is esentially casual.  And where bad decisions tend to have long-lasting potential impacts.  In general, the people I have met in the State Emergency Service and other emergency service organizations tend to live in a world of sharp edges.  Pain and loss, in our world, is as easily caused as a moment of distracted driving and as arbitrary as a summer storm.

This is on my mind this evening particularly following the account of a police shooting last night in Melbourne.  According to The Age (which is basically the journal of record for the world of rounded corners) -
Superintendent Hardeman ... said police received "a number of phone calls in relation to the male with the firearm, including from the venue ... People observed the firearm down the front of his pants."
The police "shot the man after he aimed a gun at police"  The man and a female partner -
... were attending the erotic Saints & Sinners Ball, which is described as "Australia's raunchiest party" for "broadminded adults".   It is believed the couple were engaged in a sexual act in front of other party-goers when about 40 police from the heavily-armed Critical Incident Response Team stormed into the club.
The venue operator's comments are revealing -

I'm struck by the casual statement that the man was "in a compromising position with his female partner, which is a normal activity with the nature of this event".  To a police officer (indeed, to anyone in the world of hard edges) a man apparently with a weapon in a 'compromising position' sounds remarkably like a man committing a serious crime.  And while the people may well have been "enjoying each other’s company", one cannot descibe it as 'innocent' in anything but a legal sense.

Image from here
On the information to hand, I'm struck by the different world views on display.  On one hand, people who appear to have believed they could behave as they wished, in any circumstances, without consequence.  On the other, people who must deal with the hard edges of the world, and where everything has consequences for themselves and for others.  Kipling's bitter observation on the divide is as true as it was a century ago -
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
    Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
    But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
I don't know if the world is becoming more anarchic and less self-restrained.  I certainly don't think peoples' desire for order and safety is any less.  But I think it will be ever more the job of people in the world of sharp edges to provide that security.