Alcohol-fuelled violence: the poison and the antidote

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Boundary Street markets on opening day
Kurilpa Peninsula is home to many events combining alcohol and a community spirit

While our leaders shake their heads in despair at what everybody now calls ‘alcohol-fuelled violence’, the rest of us can shake our heads over their cluelessness. At least they could consider something other than more law enforcement that is already not working.
People are far less likely to behave badly when they know those they might offend. We are far more likely to wish punishments on people we haven’t met or drop bombs on people we can’t see. We might occasionally behave badly at a family barbeque or the school fete, but we are far looser at a venue where we know no one other than those with whom we arrived.
In addition, mass consumerism encourages us to want more, bigger and better excitement instantly.
These days, licensed premises are like lap dances. All the elements of a bar room brawl are there except the brawl itself; that’s heavily controlled. Women are encouraged to hold themselves out as objects of desire, but to be very selective in parting with their most valued commodity – their affections. They’re sprayed and plucked and crammed into the expensive but hardly expensive outfits they are told to wear. The men aren’t much different, forged by sports science in the gyms of the would-be rich and fatuous, primed with “male cosmetics” and sporting all the designer labels.
These people have over-powered engines, but don’t have the suspension and braking systems to pull them up when conditions become hazardous. Nevertheless, we cram them in together and sell them as much alcohol and chicken wings as we can.
We blame the punter for the violence, when in a sense they are doing nothing more than being a good targets for our the marketing and great consumers consumption of our products. Faced with the annihilation of the spirit, it’s little wonder some of us prove our super powers through sucker punches and impromptu kerbside tree pruning on our way home.
In Kurilpa, we now see both the poison and the antidote. We are not untouched by “alcohol- fuelled violence”, but we also enjoy festivities that are remarkably free of it. The Kurilpa Derby is a local alcohol-free event, although drinking is possible in a number of Sunday trading licensed premises. In its six year history, there has not been one incident of aggro but there have been continuous incidents of fun and camaraderie. Our The Block Parties of in 2012 and 2013 were licensed events and they even hosted hosting significant numbers of out-of-towners. Not only were they These lively festivals they were totally peaceful as well; no problems despite thousands of partying people. Reports from the Boundary Hotel suggest that after the 2012 Block Party they had one of their biggest yet happiest and most peaceful crowds ever.
The reason for alcohol-fuelled violence in our society is the promotion of pre-packaged fun, over-hyped and sold to us by faceless big business rather than self-organised authentic human contact between people that is organised by ourselves. The answer to alcohol-fuelled violence is to foster communities where we know and interact with each other.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to occasionally hold or attend the Greatest Show on Earth, but if that’s what every event and venue tries to be, then alcohol-fuelled violence is the likely outcome.
Here are some suggestions for fostering local communities based on our experience in Kurilpa:
Make it possible for everyone to become involved in a real way in the planning and management of their local areas.
Support social and entertainment activities in suburban centres in small venues.
Support festivals and markets based on their local content rather than income and attendance figures.
Make it possible for people to meet and get to know their local politicians, police and emergency services personnel (e.g., hold a “Meet The Coppers” day)
Get local people involved in organising, not just attending, local events.
Have owners/ proprietors present, visible and accessible in their venues instead of hiding behind security firm staff.
Give patrons something active to be involved in; rather than using something other than a high blood-alcohol level to help mixing with other.
We now have conservative governments at all levels. This is my appeal to them:
“You have two close friends; family and community values on the one hand and big business-based consumerism on the other. Unfortunately they aren’t getting along, and the big guy is beating the crap out of our communities. It is no longer acceptable for you to beat your chest and offer more of the same. They’re your friends; either you get them to sort it out or you choose between them.

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