Monday, May 24, 2010

Life's rich tapestry continues apace.

On Sunday The boy and I visited the local supermarket to pick up needed supplies (and beer).

A woman lay comatose inside the store while a man wearing an Essendon jumper* prowled the grocery items shouting about “white cunts”.

The woman ahead of me at the check-out was making polite chit-chat to the check-out chick.

“Goodness, seems to be a busy day,” she observed.

“Oh no” replied the chick, “it’s pretty usual. We always seem to have something going on around here.”

The process of gentrification seems to have someway to go in my neck of the woods.

*Happily The Boy didn’t notice the Essendon jumper, as he may have asked for an autograph.

50 comments:

Alex said...

Thank you for this post, Ramon. It allows me to pose some questions that I have been tossing up all night, but decided were far too off topic to ask here. Since they are now only mildly off topic, I shall ask away.

On my way back from the shops, yesterday afternoon, I came across a group of young men harassing two Asian women and shouting racist abuse at them. My first impulse was to drop my bags and start laying into the bastards, but my inner rationale told me that solving problems with violence was the way of the now greatly despised younger Alex, and that I should find a better, more mature, solution to the problem. Unfortunately, apart from shouting "Oi, fuck off you pack of cunts!" (a fruitless gesture), I couldn't come up with anything. I felt angry and frustrated. What should a civilised person do at a time like that?

Also, I haven't seen that level of overtly racist behaviour in years. Is it becoming fashionable again or is it still pretty rare?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Alex, I'd like to think I'd have the courage to say something calming like "settle down chaps, there's no need for that sort of language" but I have a suspicion they may not be amenable to the voice of cool reason.

So, what happened?

Alex said...

Nothing, Ramon. I shouted at them, they shouted at me, and then they turned their attention back to the two women who eventually made it to the safety of the shops - while I stood and watched like a useless lump. The young men wandered off in a different direction and I went home feeling ineffectual and wondering what more I could have done.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Alex, I don't think anybody could have done much more.

And I have to say, younger Alex sounds freackin' awesome.

Alex said...

And I have to say, younger Alex sounds freackin' awesome.

You think maybe I should have gotten physical? I don't think I would have been in any danger, since none of them looked like they'd ever lifted anything heavier than a bong, but I thought it would be wrong* to be the one to turn the situation violent. On the other hand, not doing so has left me feeling like a piss-weak, hand-wringing ideologist. I imagine that without any sort of consequences, those pricks will just go and do the same thing over and over again.

*A lack of concern about whether things were 'wrong' was one of the things that made younger Alex not so awesome.

RandomGit said...

Last time I was faced with such a situation I approached the victim (an old woman) and said "Would you like me to walk you to the shops, would you feel a bit safer?" and proceeded to do so and make polite cheerful chat to put her at ease.

The perpetrator was a weedy fellow and ranting somewhat. He followed us on and kept it up. I said things to her like "Awfully noisy at the shops today eh?" and such.

He didn't follow into the shops, he eyed me ruefully as I continued on my way then I imagine he stood there in all the glory of his impotence for a while.

I do have the benefit of being rather large so it was easy for me to come between him and her without too much of a worry over violence.

Don't feel bad Alex. I'd say you did as much against words as need be for that situation. Voice opposite words. In the assurance of their non-acceptance, you provided an assurance that they were accepted.

Cath said...

Tools are everywhere. I was at a BBQ on Saturday night and had the misfortune to overhear the beginning of a conversation that started with "I am not racist, but....".

That was perhaps also the highpoint of conversation for the evening.

Oi vay.

Puss In Boots said...

I don't know what I would have done in that situation. I'm not sure I would have even said anything. I am a coward, and couldn't fight my way out of a brown paper bag, and likely would have been wearing heels and unable to run fast had they come after me. I feel truly impotent when I witness events like this, so good on you for at least doing something, Alex. I sometimes wish I knew karate or something, just in case I ever did have to defend myself after yelling at some racist knobheads.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I wonder if anybody has started a conversation with "I am racist, but....".

Alex said...

I think your approach was much better than mine, RandomGit. I'm terrible at thinking on my feet and in all my blind and unavailing fury, doing something as simple as that didn't even cross my mind.

And yes Ramon, I do know people who occasionally make statements like "I know I'm a little bit (always a little bit) racist, but...". I can at least deal with that kind of lower level rubbish, while harassing someone on the street is simply too much for me to ignore.

RandomGit said...

Alex, you did exactly what I did and what I think is appropriate. You put the value back into that persons existence in the face of ignorance.

If the person I helped wasn't a frail old woman, I wouldn't have felt the need to act like a shield. I would have just mouthed off back at the numpty instead. Much like in your situation.

GiggleWorthy said...

Ramon - a KKK member filling in a dating profile, perhaps?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

a KKK member filling in a dating profile, perhaps?

Seeking: hot Aryan chicks.

Interests: killing blacks and Jews.

GiggleWorthy said...

Short, (not so) sweet and to the point.

catlick said...

Interests: killing blacks and Jews

And homosexuals Ramon, don't forget "flaming" homosexuals.

Perseus said...

I am racist, but have you ever noticed immigration has resulted in much posperity for our nation and all that inhabit it?

Perseus said...

Who inhabit it.

Whom inhabit it?

That?

Which?

Brain fade.

eat my shorts said...

Also, I haven't seen that level of overtly racist behaviour in years. Is it becoming fashionable again or is it still pretty rare?

It's the norm here in London.

I'd actually never witnessed overt racism until I came over here. And I was brought up in a proper hick town.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Again, good point - well made Catlick.

They're not that fond of Catholics, either.

Jamie said...

Alex et al, it ain't easy. There are many times I've stepped into situations like that. They almost never turn physical because I'm six feet tall, I don't mind a fight and I tend to look angry enough that most thugs think twice.

I ran across a kid of about 18 shoving his girlfriend around a railway station carpark one evening after work, years ago now.

I asked the girl if she was OK. Then I asked the young chap how he'd like it if I did the same to him.

He screamed in my face and yelled about fucking my shit up or some such nonsense, waving his arms about in a gesture popular with the young folk that I like to call "whack hands", something you might see a black American rapper perform.

I leaned over and very quietly invited him to throw the first one but warned him that it better be a good one because I'd then be very angry and what would follow would land him in hospital.

As all this happened commuters filed all around us pretending the girl was not under threat, then that I was being threatened by the same thug.

Within a minute or so, the kid was weeping on my shoulder because his girlfriend didn't want him any more. She ran off and order was restored.

Now, you might think this makes me sound pretty tough, but the fact is I'm well into my 30s and not at all fit. While I like a fight I've won very few. I rely on bluff and bluster and physical presence to assert dominance and, so far, I've been able to pick the right targets and come out unscathed.

Caz knows the truth and she watched that exchange in horror, waiting for me to be beaten or knifed or something.

These confrontations, when they happen, are as much about my aggressive side having its fun as satisfying my sense if justice - and that's not healthy.

So Alex, I tend to act (in part for tge wrong reasons, sometimes) and not think about the consequences

One day (probably soon) I'll be the one heading to hospital. The two women you saw weren't physically unharmed and you were on hand to phone the cops if it got any worse. Be content with that.

Now to the big issue, Ramon. The boy wants autographs from Essendon players? What kind of a household are you running, good sir?

Jamie said...

PS: Soz for the novel.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Jamie, for reasons that remain hazy to me, The Boy has become a fanatical Essendon supporter.

Jamie said...

Jesus. Tough luck, old bean...

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Could be worse.

Could be Richmond.

squib said...

In the face of racism, I go the cowardly lion, Letter to the Editor, looks that kill, lecture but when it comes to thugs in the street I'd be too afraid of seeing my brains spill out on the pavement. Alex, Random, Jamie, I have to praise you like I should

Perseus said...

I was at a party, mostly locals from down my way. Must've been about 60 there. Anyway, one guy, who wasn't a local, got out of control. Couldn't hold his liquor. He became agressive and was randomly threatening to hit people that looked at him, then he punched a girl in the face who was trying to calm him down.

The local guy who knew him (and brought him along) was instructed to remove his friend immediately, as his safety could not be guaranteed. When you punch a local girl in the face, ALL locals are prepared to kill the out of towner.

You know what saved him though? He was Indian. And it was in the week that there was all this publicity about Aussies attacking Indians. All us locals gathered together and agreed that it would be best to simply get him removed from the party rather than beat him up, so as to avoid adverse publicity.

His mate removed him... but not well enough. About an hour after he had left, he came back, as agro as ever, and wanting revenge.

It was decided that the person best suited to calming a situation should approach the mad Indian and try to get him to relax. That was me, unfortunately.

It was 2am, and I was buzzing on a pill.

I approached the crazy Indian and tried to engage him in a calming conversation. I was prepared to listen to his grievances and attempt to find compromise.

But when I asked what his concerns were, his answer was: "You're all fucking cunts and I'm going to fuck you all up. I'll kill someone tonight, I don't care... you Aussies think you can beat up Indians, well fuck you all, I'll show you that we can fight back."

As it turned out, the reason he was so fired up was because of the Indian attacks, even though none of us there were responsible for themn. He just wanted random revenge. He then tried to hit me, but he was very drunk and he fell over before he got within a metre of me.

I returned to my gang of locals and said, "He cannot be reasoned with."

So, the biggest and meanest local went over to the crazy Indian, belted him in the face, and three others joined in, carried him away and left him in an orchard to lick his wounds.

He apparently fell asleep, awoke the next morning bruised and battered, left town and was advised to never return again.

Jamie said...

Good thing you didn't have a pack of us descending on your burgh in a lather of confected outrage. There was no doubt there was a problem with attacks on Indians but the rabid coverafe didn't take into account that some people - black and white - are just arseholes that get tangled up in fights because they've overstepped the mark somehow.

Alex said...

These confrontations, when they happen, are as much about my aggressive side having its fun as satisfying my sense if justice - and that's not healthy.

So Alex, I tend to act (in part for tge wrong reasons, sometimes) and not think about the consequences


Thanks Jamie. That's something I need to think about, and it goes straight to the heart of the issue, for me. The other day wasn't about being brave or afraid of anything like that. I know what it's like to be on the business end of an arse-kicking and I take my chances*. No, the other day was about rage, self-control, confusion over where to draw the line on appropriate behaviour and ignorance on how to act once violence has been ruled out as an option.

*Not that I would've been taking much of a chance, really. The most formidably of the bunch made Perseus look like a serious contender for a Mr. Universe title. (Sorry Perseus, but I know that everyone here knows what you look like).

Actually, that reminds me Perseus; I remember you once arguing along the lines that racism against white people was way more acceptable than racism by white people. Has your experience with the enraged Indian gone any way towards changing your mind on that?

patchouligirl said...

When the publicity about Indians was at it's peak I remember that poor little Indian kid who went missing and was found dead. It would have been easy for Indians to assume it was a racial killing although most Australians were probably waiting to find out what really happened. Then it turned out it was an Indian flatmate who had killed the child as I recall. There was another story about an Indian taxi driver who was attacked and I can't quite remember the story but don't think that was a racially motivated attack either.

My sister in law is Indian and our family never had a problem with that. She is also a Jehovas Witness and that has been a problem. Anyway, I had to laugh when my nephew, a half Indian Jehovas Witness, told me that at school they tease him for being an "Arab". I'm not sure he cares much what he gets persecuted for being anymore - he is just busy punching his way through school.

Jamie said...

I covered the out-of-sessions hearings for the man charged over the boy's death. Despite the obvious flight risk of a nan with a passport, and the callousness of the alleged crime and attempted cover-up, the bail justice came within a whisker of granting that bastard bail.

Those of us that regularly cover such hearings were stunned at the lengths the bail justice went to considering bail for this man - including briefly adjourning the hearing so that he, and then a senior hpmicide squad detective, could phone a friend of the accused to see if he was willing to put the man up for a bit.

I covered a similar hearing for the man who initially claimed a street gang had torched him and his car in a racially motivated attack. The cops now say he was trying to torch his car for the insurance.

In the case of a serious crime, the accused is asked to show cause why they should be granted bail. Most are refused, because you have to satisfy the bail justice that there are extraordinary circumstances in your case.

When asked, the accused - stll wrapped in pressure bandages for his burbs - didn't even blink when he told the bail justice he wanted bail so he and his wife could take a holiday in India a few weeks hence. Can't blame a bloke for trying...

The Indian media were incredibly biased over this - very quick to report the street gang allegations but comparatively little reported about the charges that followed. I lnow this because I was the only reporter at the man's out-of-sessions hearing, and our stuff goes everywhere.

Perseus said...

Perseus; I remember you once arguing along the lines that racism against white people was way more acceptable than racism by white people. Has your experience with the enraged Indian gone any way towards changing your mind on that?

No. Though I doubt I'd say "way more acceptable"... I'd put it as "unacceptable, but not as unacceptable, in that it is more understandable".

PG: Do you ever get the urge to start chanting "Jeohovah! Jehovah!" (a la Life Of Brian)?

Jamie: So, Indian media runs pretty much just like our tabloids?

'Somali Gangs!' always makes me smirk. If it was the same amount of white boys walking in a cluster, they'd be known as 'a group of friends'.

Jamie said...

They make the Tele and the Tiser look quite ethical and rational.

Alex said...

'Somali Gangs!' always makes me smirk.

This one gets me, too. I remember when I was younger, if we were in a group, we would refer to it as a gang; but it was more in the Scooby Doo sense of the word. Nowadays there seems to be a much more selective and sinister use of the word, particularly when it comes to young people and those of darker complexion or foreign background.

Also, I wonder if that girl who got punched in the face or anyone else that bloke might have 'fucked up' thought that it was particularly understandable

Perseus said...

Alex: I said racism had degrees, not violence. A punch in the face is a ounch in the face.

My original debate was based around the footy story. A white player called an aboriginal player "petrol sniffing black cunt" and got suspended for 8 weeks.

Two weeks later, an aborigine called a white player "stupid white cunt" and only got suspended for 2 weeks.

I agreed with the suspensions, but many were in uproar, saying they both should have got equal suspensions.

Alex said...

So, physical abuse has no degrees but verbal abuse has degrees that are based on the colour of the abuser? Like, if you saw a group of Asian blokes menacing and shouting racist abuse at some white sheilas, you'd think that was sort of understandable?

Perseus said...

Sigh.

Like Melba on the Israel issue, I really couldn't be bothered arguing about it Alex.

I don't think in black and white when it comes to social or emotional issues. You and Boogeyman do.

"Eye for an eye" is an out-dated notion.

Alex said...

Okay, Perseus. I guess I'll just accept that you like having your emotionally based double standards and leave it at that.

patchouligirl said...

Thanks Jamie, it was the insurance story I was remembering. It is unfortunate that these stories were presented as racial attacks when it didn't turn out to be the case at all.

No Perseus, after 15 years of no birthdays, Christmas etc with my brother we don't joke about it. He went to a lawyer and signed a document so that if he is ever in an accident and incapacitated, we can't get him a transfusion and we've experienced all the other bullshit that goes with this cult. He calls his fellow cult victims 'brothers' and 'sisters' although none of them would really help him out in a fix. It is the loss of trust that is the most destructive thing - in the end the family has no choice but to give up on them and move on. If I had my time again, as soon as this started, as soon as I knew about it, I should have been his shadow. I should have gone to every kingdom hall meeting and made such a nuisance of myself that they decided he wasn't worth it. That is the only weapon you can use against a cult trying to isolate a victim but it has to be the whole family rallying around 24/7 for it to work and mine is far too dysfunctional for that. Anyway we've moved on, we have a superficial relationship now.

patchouligirl said...

Oh - but I do give my nephew a bit of a stir - being 16 all he thinks about is sex and of course he intends to stay a virgin until he marries. One time when he was going on about girls I looked at my 3 yr old son and said "you know, he's probably going to get laid before you do".

Perseus said...

I'm fine with that too. Double... nay, triple... nay, multiple standards implies flexibility on every issue.

Boogeyman said...

I don't think in black and white when it comes to social or emotional issues. You and Boogeyman do.

Ho, that's rich, coming from you.

Do we now need to add 'hypocrite' and 'complete lack of self-awareness' to your profile, Perseus Q Kneejerk?

You might think you speak with the voice of a thoughtful, open-minded liberal, but inside beats the soul of a reactionary, narrow-minded old conservatory.

All of our arguments, such as on religion or social issues, have come about because you stubbornly denounce any viewpoint that doesn't fit into your rigid, constricted, absolutist world-view; if I (or anyone else,for that matter) argue for their consideration, you place me totally in the enemy camp, unable to appreciate any middle ground.

If anything loudly advertises a rigid, black-and-white mindset, it's your online voice and your arguing style.

Perhaps you would like to re-visit your fantasy rainbow mindset, because you won't find many shades of anything there.

Perseus said...

Is that a prawn to eat? Yes! Oh hang, it has a hook.

Perseus said...

Oh fuck you Boogeyman, I'll bite.

MUNCH.

When it comes to religion, philosophy and politics, yeah, fair enough, I'm hard to budge.

But when it comes to social and emotional issues, I reckon I'm more flexible than you.

I'm pretty sure you also argued for the "racism is racism no matter which side it comes from", which I am open to bending on, and your advice to me generally when it comes to romance, whilst it may be good advice, is inflexible advice.

As such, I stand by my comment.

Caroline said...

Perseus and Boogeyman, I am hoping that you'll have a pillow fight and make out. That would be SO HOT! Or as they say in the classics, "Moist!"

Caroline said...

Oooh silence. This site has really gone down hill since I posted a comment for the first time in two years.

Boogeyman said...

Oh fuck you Boogeyman, I'll bite.

My work here is done.


Is that a prawn to eat?...MUNCH.

I thought you were Jewish? Aren't shellfish verboten?


Caroline - all pillow fights are on hold as I'd have to queue behind a long conga line of South Lorne's finest haviana-clad femmes with a taste for Perseus's picnic basket.

Also - welcome back.

Perseus said...

Caroline - this site went downhill when Stubbadub mis-spelt the URL.

I echo the welcome back.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Yay, Caroline's back.

All we need is W.J. Sear, SC(pending) and my happiness would be complete.

Jamie said...

Be careful what you wish for, Ramon. Wal could be back being almost defamed and almost suing in no time.

Caroline said...

Don't get used to it. I'm far too busy being all zen and shit these days. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got yoga or some shit to do.