Monday, September 28, 2009

Indian taxi driver bashed by star footballer

One of the rising stars of the AFL, Essendon forward Michael Hurley, was arrested early on Friday morning for the assault of a taxi driver. The 19-year-old rookie had been in the news for all the right reasons a few weeks earlier, when he had kicked the goal that sent his team into the finals, but his behaviour after a drunken night out could threaten a promising career.

Driver Onkar Singh Bains picked up Hurley outside the Seven Nightclub in South Melbourne, and then stopped outside Hungry Jacks restaurant in the CBD. Hurley left the cab without paying and walked into the restaurant, Bains pursued him asking that he pay the fare, and in the altercation that followed, Hurley punched the driver's face and kicked him in the groin. Police were called to the scene and the footballer was arrested, and will likely be charged on summons.

This incident has unfortunate timing for Victorian Premier John Brumby, currently in India attempting to soothe fears after a spate of assaults on Indians in Melbourne. His comment about the matter has scarcely helped. "I understand that Hurley is a good kid. He is deeply remorseful. It is not typical of his behaviour...but he had too much to drink."

I understand what Brumby is trying to say, but it was a clumsy comment when you think about the message he is sending. He will appear to Indians to be excusing the behaviour. And at a time when alcohol-fuelled violence is a hot-button issue in Melbourne, Brumby sounds like he thinks being drunk is a valid excuse for violent behaviour. Sure, the incident probably wouldn't have happened without the alcohol, but it also wouldn't have happened if Hurley was not a young macho dickhead either. Brumby should remember that a great many people, particularly women, frequently drink alcohol yet somehow restrain themselves from committing violent assaults.

While details on the incident are still not completely clear, what likely happened is this: Hurley, heading home, asked the driver to stop while he grabbed something to eat. It is quite likely that he was not attempting to evade the fare, perhaps intending to return to the cab to continue home after buying food. In any case, Bains pursued him, wanting to be paid, which led to the incident. I have heard it suggested that Bains should have known Hurley was coming back, but this is unrealistic. Taxi drivers lose a lot of money from fare evaders, and it is perfectly reasonable that Bains would not want to run the risk of waiting for a customer who had "done a runner". It has been suggested that Bains may have been aggressive in the manner that he approached Hurley; this is possible, but this would certainly not excuse Hurley's response. And I wonder how aggressive the driver would really get towards a 193cm, 92kg footballer.

The question that the Indian media have already jumped to conclusions for is: "Is this yet another racist attack?" I think it unwise to jump to conclusions here - he may well have acted the same way towards a non-Indian. But I certainly wouldn't rule it out either. And I'll tell you why in a minute.

Reading the comments on this story around the blogs, forums and newsites, and its alarming how some people are so keen to find a reason to blame the Indian for this.

Take this blogger:

"...a cabbie who was stupid enough to leave his cab and create an altercation... Michael Hurley was a fool, that's a no brainer. But his once bright future is potentially ruined while the aggressive cabbie is treated as a genuine victim."

Gee, poor guy. Hurley that is. What an outrage that a lowly immigrant cab driver had the audacity to be punched and kicked by the true-blue Aussie sporting star.

Or try this douche:

"It would have been pretty obvious Michael Hurley was going to return from Hungry Jacks. He explained this to the idiot. If you can't understand us then go back to your own country. Or at least don't drive a taxi. This had nothing to do with racism of course but the stupid idiots in the Indian media won't see the facts. And this promising young AFL star has had his career ruined by the stupidity of the taxi driver."

Although if he's going to call someone else stupid, he shouldn't entitle his post "Stupid curry muncer [sic] attacked by AFL player".

Here are some comments from the Herald-Sun website's article on the case:

Blinded by the beauty:
Thanks a lot Hurley, you fool. Now all the Indian cabbies will protest naked in the city again. I'm still seeing a shrink from the last protest.

Sean R of South Morang:
Did we really need to know if the cabbie was indian? Here we go racism and everything else with riots and such. Cab drivers need to back off and stop harassing passengers especially with the ludicrous prices they charge and 1star service.

Matt of Williamstown:
There's two sides to every story. Melbourne's knowledge of cabbies is that they are rude, arrogant and inconsiderate to customers. I would assume that Michael Hurley was going into Hungry Jack's to get food before continuing on his cab journey home. The cab driver then became rude and demanding of the fare and Michael overreacted by kicking him. I don't by any means condone Michael's actions but ensure the media has the whole story before attempting to bring another footballer down like you have through the week with Fevola who did nothing more than have a few too many friendly drinks with the boys.

Feedup of Indian sqaure..woops fed sqaure:
Good on Hurls, you have just done what everybody else wants to do to cab drives in Melbourne. How about writing an article on the state of the taxi system and the drivers, its a disgrace, they are agressive, smell and insulting. Bring back a government that gets the job done and makes decisions...instead of spending money on scoping projects and further studies...Action required or its going to get worse. Stop stuffing about with the India government, how about looking after Australian's

nick of crazyburn:
the taxi driver deserved it.

Sally of Melbourne:
If it was like the cabbie I got the other night demanding $40.00 from Crown to Essendon I don't blame him

Glenn of melbourne:
At 5.30am , I take it he was on his way home, he stopped for a bite to eat and then presume he was going to get back into the cab to go home and get some sleep, when an arrogant little man pestered him for the fare which was yet to be completed. He kicked him in the groin, cmon what is he a girl

Shaun of Richmond:
Given the generally appalling service by Melbourne taxi drivers, I would not jump to the conclusion that Hurley was completely in the wrong.

Just to remind you again - Hurley punched and kicked the taxi driver. Not the other way round. Fortunately, those comments are a minority. The best comment has to go to this guy:

chris allchin of docklands:
Michael Hurley should be allowed to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. how dare the cab driver approach him!

Nice work son.

So even though such repugnant and racist comments as the above are not reflecting the majority, they are common enough that we should be worried. Does Michael Hurley share the same disdain for brown people? If he does, then perhaps race did have something to do with it. Or perhaps he is just another young man with more muscles than brains, more ego than morals - our city is crammed with them.

More about racism and footy culture here and here.

More about attacks on Indians here and here.


  1. Australia is most welcome to continue to leave the on going attacks on Indians.

    It will only drive the Indian students away from their country. Either students would go to other countries, if they can afford or just stay in India. In either case, they are saving money or sleepless nights of the parents.

    These incidents will also be an eye opener for those planning to immigrate through General Skilled Migration programme.

    Finally, I think we Indians have a lot of work to do. I think it's high time people start thinking about improving lives in their own country rather than trying to find shelter under foreign roof.

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