Saturday, 14 July 2007

Too bad they didn't bring their capsicum spray

There's an old fella living upstairs. Every so often he cranks up his muzak to maximum volume, and under cover of "Que Sera, Sera" emits a maniacal cackle and a volley of passionate expletives. I haven't been game to make a diagnosis, and I haven't been game to pop up and offer my counselling services, but I've accepted that he's none too well, and if 50s pop music, very loud, every couple of weeks, is what it takes to make his life bearable, well, so be it.

Couple of nights ago, round about 8 p.m., he was working his way through the Flower Duet from Lakmé, shouting angrily at his invisible friend, when two members of the Victorian constabulary arrived and demanded that he open his door. Then I heard "If I have to come back here again, I'm going to put my foot in your face and my knee in your groin and I'm going to smash every piece of sound producing equipment you've got." Bloody effective. My neighbour was suddenly so subdued I couldn't hear his reply. But - I'm no mental illness management expert here, though it seems sort of obvious - bloody irresponsible. Nothing like a bit of good old fashioned bullying and intimidation to cure a chap of his psychoses, or his alcoholism, or his Tourette's syndrome, or whatever it is my neighbour's got going on.

Sure, the good people of Thornbury shouldn't have to listen to scratchy French opera on a Thursday night. Whoever phoned the police was well within their rights. But the threat of physical violence was totally disproportionate - maybe even illegally disproportionate (I don't know) - to my neighbour's offence. Legalities aside, what I heard sounded terrifying; I'm pretty certain my neighbour was terrified, and a bit of real-life terror's the last thing this guy needs.

This is sinister enough in its own right, but it happens just as, on a different scale, federal security powers are doing their bit for the police state. If upstairs is what happens when there are laws to protect people's civil liberties, I'm pessimistic as can be about what's up in the Brisbane Watchhouse.

5 comments:

Pat said...

:-( And I thought Oz was an idyllic place free from the creeping tendrils of fascism. *Sigh* I'm going to go mope now.

alexis said...

It hasn't been a good decade, Pat: asylum seekers thrown FOR YEARS into detention centres in the desert, new industrial relations laws that mean anyone who reveals that an employee's had their conditions cut can be jailed for up to six months, a whole stable of "anti-terror" legislation. I don't think "fascism" overstates the situation. But Canada seems nice?

St John Nottlesby said...

By God! Your missive sent a tremble through the Nottlesby frame! Not only do the myths about the Victorian Gendarmerie seem to be entirely true (and not the stuff of the overactive imagination of our cousins south of the border) but I now wait in fear that one day that will be MY fate. Perhaps not raving lunacy (or, God forbid, Tourettes) but being threatened by the Constabulary for indulging my passion for 19th Century German Romantic Opera. "Dich teue Halle" could well become "Dich teue Lockup Cell" if I'm not careful. Cripes!

TimT said...

Not much one can say, really, apart from noting the irony that the ranting old chap seems to be in reality entirely harmless, and I hope he's alright. The same can't be said for the nameless correspondents who found it necessary to call the police...

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