I just Googled “alcohol-fuelled violence” and got 1.5 million results.
I’ve been truly gobsmacked as much by the barbaric acts that have been perpetrated in Sydney as the hysteria and poor nomenclature that has been wheeled out to describe them.
Because, unless I am out of my head on some sort of weird psychedelic myself, these acts are not merely alcohol fuelled.
They are fuelled by the epidemic in Sydney of amphetamines, uppers and steroids — as well as too much alcohol.
In many circumstances, the former simply enables the latter.
Virtually no one can go on a 10-hour drinking binge and be capable of throwing much of a punch. They are more at risk of falling in front of a cab, spewing in the very same vehicle or walking into a wall.
The sheer intensity of the recent violence is proof enough there is a lot more than bourbon and beer fuelling the fights.
I am not making light of anything — fights fuelled exclusively by booze tend to be as comedic as they are consequential. Punches fly and rarely hit a target with anything near deadly force.
When they do — as in the cases of Daniel Christie and Thomas Kelly — of course it’s a tragedy.
But I just don’t reckon that’s what’s happening right now.
It may be crystal meth or ice, and if you think this insidious drug is strictly the domain of bikies and “westies” you’d be wrong — it is all over the city.
Then throw in a few energy drinks, a couple of lines of coke, maybe a key of speed, anything to keep you at the bar feeling good. These drugs are everywhere. Ask your kids.
If you are a body builder, the chances are you’re already on some form of steroid and that can make you pretty angry with a little bit of weekend help from your recreational drug of choice.
Look where the trouble is happening. Kings Cross. Where bars and pubs have been for the history of the city, but today where drug dealers and crooks reign supreme.
Of course, I am compromised. I make wine and gin, I promote beer and, just like every other purveyor of booze, I want people to consume my drinks as they always have, with some sense of personal responsibility.
Most publicans, club and bar operators feel exactly the same.
We aren’t drinking more booze than we did two decades ago, and we drink a hell of a lot less than we did in the 1970s and ’80s when most of today’s lawmakers were getting drunk at college parties and stealing antler horns from the dorms. More people today, in fact, are drinking less but better.
That’s a good thing, at least for those of us who think a moderate drink, and maybe occasional semi-binge, is OK for us and society.
Most of us adore the idea of a civilised drinking culture. But Sydney’s centre is not a civilised place to take a drink late at night any more. It’s not Seville or Rome. It’s a city riddled with a really dreadful drug subculture.
The police know this, the politicians know this and it’s no surprise that the recent spate of gun crime, which is nearly always related to the drug trade, is happening at exactly the same time as this epidemic of drug and alcohol-fuelled violence.
Licensees who allow drugs to be dealt on or about their premises should be stripped of their licence and thrown in jail with their dealer mates. Those who don’t control the consumption on their premises should likewise face punishment.
Rogue licensees love amphetamine around the pub — it means punters stay longer and drink more. Then they go out and belt someone. It’s a tragedy. But it’s not all the fault of booze.
Stuart Gregor owns marketing business Liquid Ideas and is a partner in a gin business and a small winery.