Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Drunk Town

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  • Chris Waugh, in reply to chris,

    I feel it is a little too easy to ignore the ever pervasive “家丑不可外扬”: “home ugliness can not be scattered"- “what happens in the home stays in the home” mentality.

    Absolutely no argument from me there. Just saying the lack of public drunken aggro is nice. But yes, I've heard stories from the Chinese half of my family I'd prefer not to be true.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2073 posts Report Reply

  • chris,

    lack of public drunken aggro is nice

    it really is aye. In urban areas the madness of the day complemented by the tranquility of the evenings seems almost diametrically opposed to the goings on in NZ. I recall you making a sound point last year that a lot of drinking is done fairly convivially with a meal, it got me wondering why the tribal NZer/westerner has this strange tendency not simply to get drunk but to ‘act out/ up’, there is a degree of self discipline or social responsibility that remains intact here despite intoxication levels (if only to be unleashed behind closed doors), perhaps it’s just a ghost of the June 4 demon, I don’t know, European comparisons come to mind. and yes Sanlitun… <grumble>.

    some sobering stats (scroll down for NZ)
    https://www.anzpaa.org.au/current-initiatives/operation-unite/alcohol-misuse-statistics

    中国 • Since Jan 2010 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    …it got me wondering why the tribal NZer/westerner has this strange tendency not simply to get drunk but to ‘act out/ up’, there is a degree of self discipline or social responsibility that remains intact…

    I am not sure what point you are trying to make here. Are you suggesting we need a totalitarian government that happily butchers it own people and lets gangs of xenophobic goons beat up women in the street for being out with a foreigner?

    Because that is SOOO the society I want to live in.

    We have occasional public order problems because in this country we don’t live under the repressive weight of Confucianist social control and a harsh totalitarian dictatorship that cares nothing for due process or human rights. Our young people “act out/up” because they can do so in the knowledge that if they are arrested due process will be followed and they are completely without fear of arbitrary and savage extra-judicial state brutality.

    To that extent I suppose our angsting over the drinking laws and public order informs us that we are concerned for human liberty and freedoms just that little bit more than the Chinese communist party, who I doubt have much to teach us on that score.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1805 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    These things do not have to be a simple binary choice.
    Drunkenness is also common in Japan, without resulting in public violence, and in the absence of totalitarian government.
    Which seems to weaken the causal connection you are trying to make.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to linger,

    I agree with you, I just don't think lauding the sort of public order that a repressive regime like China's can achieve is in any way useful when discussing the problems of a free society.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1805 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I just don't think lauding the sort of public order that a repressive regime like China's can achieve is in any way useful when discussing the problems of a free society.

    I think it's useful, it's a point of comparison. Not perfect, but I don't think you can really put it all down to the system of government. It's also about the culture, which Chris and Chris both live in, observe on a daily basis, and it's extremely interesting to hear their perspective. It's very simplistic to just characterize China as a repressive regime. If they say people are less aggressive when drunk in China, I think that it's worth hearing what that's about. Because being threatened in the street by drunks, and not feeling safe to socialize is also a form of repression (and more so, the less capable of violence you are, so disproportionately repressive of women and children), quite possibly an even more serious one because it comes from within, an internalization of the methods of control that are used in "free" societies. We may have a due process, but that doesn't mean that due process hasn't banged a shitload more people in prison proportionally than they have in China.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8500 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Sacha,

    name and shame weak judges?

    Probably won’t help. The established precedents are so strongly in favour of a right to make a living from selling alcohol that only an explicit alteration to statute will usefully change how these decisions are made. An appeal to the High Court would not support a sudden change of direction by the District Courts, no matter how strongly pressure was applied to judges. I also have to say that I’m rather glad that that is the case on a macro level even if it does lead to situations such as this being a bit harder to rectify.

    As Chris said, licences are easy to get and incredibly hard to lose. That needs to be reversed before casual attitudes on the part of licensees will change. Right now they’re banking on a low likelihood of getting caught (very limited resources for authorities to conduct sting operations), weak penalties (a 48-hour suspension and low-rent fine isn’t terribly scary), and effectively zero chance of losing their licence. The financial incentives to look the other way when taking money from minors are enormous.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3908 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Probably won’t help.

    Definitely won't help - we separate the legislature and the judiciary for perfectly good reasons. One unintentional consequence is that the latter unfairly get the stick for the former's shoddy work.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11933 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    weak penalties (a 48-hour suspension and low-rent fine isn’t terribly scary), and effectively zero chance of losing their licence

    so those are in the legislation, not case law? Interesting

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16614 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    The financial incentives to look the other way when taking money from minors are enormous.

    Sure – which is a vivid contrast with Germany, or at least Potsdam where we were staying. Germany broadly speaking has very liberal laws around the sale of liquor, but I had an interesting chat with the waitress at a suburban restaurant-bar where we had dinner one night after being intrigued by the young chap having a beer at the next table (legally, with his parents BTW). Yes, folks might get pissy about bring carded or refused service. But the marginal profit from selling a beer to an underage punter, versus the real risk of a five thousand Euro fine (near $NZ 8K) for each count and immediate – and permanent – revocation of your license? Just not worth the risk.

    Sounds like the balance is about right to me. There's nothing more destructive to the rule of law than those laws not being enforced.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11933 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Because being threatened in the street by drunks, and not feeling safe to socialize is also a form of repression

    Somehow, I think I prefer drunks to secret policemen. Let alone drunk secret policemen.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4447 posts Report Reply

  • Rob S,

    I gave up drinking mid week and only drink on the weekend nowadays.I looked at how much I was drinking ie 2-4 glasses of wine per night and then on the piss on a friday or saturday with the subsequent hangover.
    What really got to me was the availability especially after the super markets got in on the act,I understand that it's their most profitable line and they had no problem making shelf space available..I can't think of anywhere that's less than half a kilometre from a booze shop around the city.The stuff is everywhere and is very normalised.
    A lot of alcohol is being heavily pushed on to the public with what seems like very few controls. It is very toxic, socially, mentally and physically and the people making the money from and presenting the product to our community are not paying the price for what they are doing.
    Yet any other feel good drug is treated as if western society will come to a crashing halt if it's allowed. We need to have a sensible conversation in this country over these problems but I doubt that with Peter Dunne style thinking with it's knee jerk attitude to these matters that much progress will be made.
    Perhaps a referendum with various broad options as to what sort of controls around these substances might be of some use in getting the publics attention in this regard.

    Since Apr 2010 • 76 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    The established precedents are so strongly in favour of a right to make a living from selling alcohol that only an explicit alteration to statute will usefully change how these decisions are made.

    And let's be clear, this is a really legitimate thing. If you start up a business, the state shouldn't be able to just shut it down on whim. And while yes it may be too far one way, and maybe things should be rebalanced, the consequences of taking people's jobs off them are very hard, and do need to be taken seriously.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1347 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Bell,

    Here's a nice little resource for licence holders, made by ALAC:
    "Do you know when your customers have gone too far? Do you recognise the signs in your customers that tell you it's time to intervene and give them a break?"
    www.wherestheline.org.nz

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Any idea how many of the yobbos and yobettes actually live in central Auckland, as opposed to being "bridge & tunnel" types?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4261 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    And let’s be clear, this is a really legitimate thing. If you start up a business, the state shouldn’t be able to just shut it down on whim.

    I don’t think anyone is saying that. I’m certainly not.

    But I’m the kind of bear of little brain who thinks if you start up a business – whether it be a bank or a local watering hole – you actually have to play by the rules. All of them, and not just the ones that are convenient or easily profitable.

    There’s the other side of the equation as well: If regulators can’t – or won’t – enforce those rules, perhaps it’s better to just come out of the deregulated closet and stop deluding ourselves. Or to be fair, if current regulations are genuinely unworkable (and I’d take a LOT of convincing on that score but, as Joan Armatrading sez, I'm open to persuasion) then rip ’em up and start again.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11933 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Sounds like the balance is about right to me. There’s nothing more destructive to the rule of law than those laws not being enforced.

    And Oktoberfest isn't exactly a hotbed of sobriety, yet still seems not to become something out of a Millwall FC match on a good day.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4261 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Rob S,

    Symptom addict...

    Yet any other feel good drug is treated as if western society will come to a crashing halt if it’s allowed. We need to have a sensible conversation in this country over these problems...

    I understand that good governance can have a soporific effect on the populace, you know that all-suffusing golden glow that comes from having trust in a caring, thinking Government, that has the people's best interests at heart and has thought through all consequences...
    - with these words the Soma Party foundations
    push up through the grassroots...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4879 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to DeepRed,

    The Melissa Lee Memorial Off Ramp...

    ”bridge & tunnel” types

    You can blame Steven Joyce and his insistence on having off ramps, otherwise they would all have to carry on to South Auckland (or Takapuna)...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4879 posts Report Reply

  • Rob S, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Where's my all-suffusing golden glow, will John Key come around and deliver it personally or does one have to pick it up from an authorised body?

    Since Apr 2010 • 76 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Sacha,

    so those are in the legislation, not case law? Interesting

    No, case law, but a decade of case law carries its own weight. An authority that suddenly slapped a heavily punitive punishment on an offender would have the decision appealed to the courts and the courts would soften the penalty to something in keeping with those handed out in similar cases.
    The case law is that you need to have offended multiple times for your licence to be at risk, and it seems that even a third offence including a second incident of staff being caught hiding intoxicated patrons is insufficient to cancel a licence.

    The only way to achieve the necessary abrupt reversal (as opposed to a gradual shift) is statute. It's also only statute that can mandate against a presumption of a right to make a living from a particular activity.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3908 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    If you start up a business, the state shouldn’t be able to just shut it down on whim. And while yes it may be too far one way, and maybe things should be rebalanced, the consequences of taking people’s jobs off them are very hard, and do need to be taken seriously.

    Of course. But when you are selling something with potential for significant social harm and you fail to adequately discharge your not-terribly-onerous obligations, you have failed to hold up your end of the bargain. You have a right to make a living, but that doesn't extend to being a right to make a living by selling controlled substances. A liquor licence is a privilege, not a right, just like a driver's licence.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3908 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Rob S,

    Bat urine...

    ...will John Key come around and deliver it personally or does one have to pick it up from an authorised body?

    Unfortunately current Government is not of the Golden Glow variety, more of the Toxic Shock variety.
    Key is concentrating on Beta Blocking at the moment to quell the Fight-or-Flight response triggered by any brush with his ongoing Snake Oil peddling...
    Many members of Cabinet may be used as an emetic in an emergency....

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4879 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    You have a right to make a living, but that doesn’t extend to being a right to make a living by selling controlled substances. A liquor licence is a privilege, not a right, just like a driver’s licence.

    Eh. I disagree. Ruining people's livelihoods is a horrible thing to do, and has to be bound up with legal safeguards. You don't have the right to sell liquor, but you do have the right to be treated fairly by government. And the less legal safeguards you have, the more you have to accept the risks of a situation like that of the Jains in the UK.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1347 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Ruining people’s livelihoods is a horrible thing to do, and has to be bound up with legal safeguards.

    And what of the potential consequences of failing to follow the law around sale of liquor to minors? Let's not delude ourselves, Keir, the harm is not a one-way street: alcohol is a controlled substance with great potential for causing harm. The laws exist for a reason, and if you've been granted the opportunity to play within the controlled area it's contingent on you to follow the rules. It's not hard to follow the rules. If you can't do that, you should have no expectation that the state will show you any great degree of leniency. Revocation for a first offence would be a bit steep, but the penalty should make you absolutely aware that you have transgressed, broken the social contract.

    If you don't like the rules, don't play. There are many, many other ways to make a living, even other ways to make a living by retailing things. Having your liquor licence revoked doesn't terminate your capacity/capability to carry stock, gain credit, sign a lease, or sell things. It merely terminates society's acceptance of you as a proper person to be peddling a poison.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3908 posts Report Reply

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