Faces of Australia: Stealing candy from babies

Below is a picture I’ve lifted from news.com.au taken by Robert McKelland. It shows 43 year old Chris Tonkin holding his six year old daughter Lucy. You might notice he has a few interesting facial features, most notably a severely bruised eye. Seems two days ago little Lucy was toddling around some 50 metres from home, in Newcastle, carrying a letter to Santa she’d written on which she’d stuck 5 x $1 coins.

She dropped the letter and it was picked up by three guys who took the money and swore at her. She came home in tears and Chris went out to find out what had happened. He confronted the men aged between 18 – 20 years old asking them where Lucy’s money was. They responded by attacking him, blind-siding him by punching him in the ear. Once he was down they continued punching and kicking him until a passing motorist and his mate came to his aid. The attackers ran away, boarded a bus and disappeared.

Chris Tonking - bashed for $5Whilst they were beating up Chris, 6 year old Lucy was screaming “Don’t hurt daddy, don’t hurt daddy” before she ran off being later found hiding in a cupboard trembling and crying.

Chris was taken to hospital where he received treatment for his injuries, none of which proved permanent – probably only due to the attack being interrupted. Police are now looking for the three men who are also suspected of an earlier attack on a teenage boy. The only description they have to go on is that they were aged between 18 – 20, were of ‘Aboriginal appearance’ and that one had a small beard. Not a lot to go on really.

I suppose I didn’t really need to reproduce the story entirely, you could have read it *here* but it really needs driving home how suddenly a simple ‘domestic’ situation can explode into violent confrontation. Here is another example of how fragile is our grip on ‘civilised’ behaviour. Society depends on individuals accepting certain common rules of behaviour that allow is to live together in relative harmony. When two cultures with differing values meet you can never be sure what is going to result.

In this case I don’t think the fact these guys were reportedly ‘Aboriginal’ has much bearing on the issue. We’re seeing a sub-culture developing in which the immediate response to any perceived ‘problem’ is violence. It isn’t just males either, as witnessed by the attack on fifteen year old Angela Stanovic we discussed a few days ago.

Having said that, I have to question whether my perceptions are actually ‘real’. I’ve not experienced any violence in my day to day life, nor as far as I’m aware have any of my family of friends… here or in the UK. Of course we’re all somewhat sheltered behind the veneer of our cotton-wool insulated middle-class lifestyle, but even so if this violence was an endemic as the media would have us believe, we’d either all be cowering in our beds or out on the streets in vigilante groups!

Nevertheless the story *does* demonstrate how easily that veneer can be shattered and how, sadly, the old expression ‘constant vigilance’ still resonates today.

2 thoughts on “Faces of Australia: Stealing candy from babies

  1. I think you’re absolutely right Chris and maybe it’s me but I believe peoples’ expectations of what life “owes” them by some divine right or other keeps spiralling ever upwards and out of control – fed by the media, governemnts etc. God I sound like a conspiracy theorist now but life is not complete unless you have Sky TV or a dishwasher or the latest trainers or you’re a member of the best club ….

    I’m not saying we’d be better off living in some mythical world of blissful simplicity but our apparently insatiable appetite contributes to an ever widening gap between the haves and have nots. Those who are less fortunate (if that’s the right word) seem to take a far less indulgent view of those of us who do have more and equally see it as a right to own what we have by fair means or foul.

    Some might say ’twas ever thus but the lack of connectedness between action and consequences seems to be increasingly stark. The guiding principle is that people only appear to be sorry when they’re caught – not while they are in the act of committing wrong of some kind.

    I think I’m going to go off and renew my membership of the grumpy old mans club …..

  2. From what I’ve seen and heard many of these alienated people seem not to realise that the people they ‘envy’ have come from exactly the same stock as them and that in the majority of cases could have achieved the same level of perceived affluence had they followed the same path through life.

    Using the wife as a prime example she came from nothing! Her origins are those of a poor valley girl. When we met she had almost literally nothing but the clothes she stood up in… and now she owes millions! 🙂

    That someone should think they have a right to help themselves to anything she owns without the courtesy of a please… or thank… you amazes me.

    Seems to me some people seem feel that their circumstances makes them entitled to treat other people with a complete lack of respect and their possessions with ‘light fingered contempt’.

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