I recently started working in City West so im taking the Red Line Luas in and out and living north side. My god have I seen my share of nackers (not the ethnic type – the word has two meanings agreed) in the past month. So far ive witnessed:
• 1 x One rampage down Talbot street by a bunch of nacks that included smashing goods at an Asian shop, punching a young Asian boy walking with his mother, grabbing another Asian woman’s handbag.
• 2 x groups of drunk feral youth abusing Asians on the Luas
• Multiple incidents of underage drinking
I got involved in a couple of these to a great or lesser degree to try stop it or alert the authorities, and almost got bottled for my trouble.
I don’t want to run over the same tired points you've all heard before - so let me throw a few ideas out there:
Idea 1: Men are neutered
What I noticed in all these incidents the inability of people to act. Grown men standing gaping or with their heads down while these pantomimes ensue. What’s happening here? Well a couple of things. First, violence/fighting is a language in itself - and these days no one speak that language. Very few guys under 30 have thrown more than a couple of punches. Secondly, the law does not support a person in taking action. Who throws the first punch etc? So men are neutered more or less.
But that’s fine right, because we have a social contract with the state where by the police have a monopoly on violence. Call the police! But in practice this doesn’t work as we all know. The police don’t come. The guys walk away. Law is about conflict resolution not justice. I’d say a very small minority of attacks reach the courts.
Solution to idea 1: Allow some degree of citizen policing and citizen arrests. Create an environment where these thugs understand they are answerable to everyone around them, not just police. Build a citizen generated database where people can feed in information about these tugs via mobile. Etc.
Idea 2: These kids act rationally
These kids generally grow up in disadvantaged surroundings. They are clever and rational creatures, and soon figure out that they have been given a raw deal in life compared to the liberal democratic **** they are fed. So they rage against it. They know the playing field is not even, so why play the game.
What im stating here is a very contrary idea to the perceived wisdom. We like to say these kids are gone astray, are lacking education – and essentially “don’t get” something the rest of us do. I think they get it alight.
I noticed two mannerly upright boys on the Luas yesterday. Neatly dressed, tall and tanned - I imagined them just back from a snowboarding holiday with their parents. Why don’t they run wild like the nacks? Because they have something at stake... a social contract that they know its not in their interest to break.
Solutions to idea 2: Give kids from disadvantaged areas the same opportunities. And I’m not talking about fudging leaving cert points to reflect geography. I’m talking about the exposure to good people, interesting places and ideas, avenues out of their current situation beyond school, and appreciation for the benefits of their position in life (see Thoreau). We show these kids a ladder and push them to climb. They say "**** the ladder" and I kind of agree with them. We need to remove the ladders called: “Status matters, job A is better than job B, academic results determine your worth, family determine your worth” etc .
A good action item I think for all of us is to start appreciating rational of youth thugary and our own role in creating it by building a meritocracy where were already one step up the ladder. Shame on us. Second, stop ignoring what’s going on around us and get our hands dirty dealing with it – in a compassionate but strong way (maybe take some boxing classes first). I’m looking forward to 2012 of confronting and befriending these youth and I think well make each other the better for it.