Saturday, December 11, 2010

"My brother's coming home one day."

When you live in one of the world's most advanced countries with one of the highest standards of living, it is reasonable to expect that your fellow citizens uphold a basic level of civilisation. Yet clearly some people's mentalities remain mired in barbarity.
Now it's not uncommon for people to get stabbed and beaten in Melbourne, unfortunately. But once in a while a case emerges that exposes the culture of macho insanity that lies behind it.

This from a year ago:

A brawl in which a man was fatally stabbed at a suburban football oval was payback for a party fight among teenagers, a Melbourne court has heard. Nathan Roberts-Nunan, 20, died after being stabbed at Diggers Rest in February this year, and his mate Stephen Thorneycroft was critically injured.
Six men are facing committal proceedings charged with murder and attempted murder.
 Those charged are: Ante Vucak, 18, of Cairnlea, Jovan Ogrizovic, 18, of Caroline Springs, Mladen Mrnjaus (Mladen Mrnjaus), 21, of St Albans, Tomislav Panic, 18, of Hillside, Tomislav Stevanja, 19, of Sunbury, Nikola Andreevski, 21, of Avondale Heights.
Nathan Smith, 18, of St Albans, pleaded guilty to murder on Monday.
Ryan Downes, 15, told the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday that he had punched three youths at a birthday party the month before the stabbing after they took an interest in his sister.
Subsequently, Mr Downes' 16-year-old mate Kyle Nunan received a message on the MSN website asking him to take part in a fist fight the following Sunday at the Diggers Rest skate park in Melbourne's outer north.
Mr Nunan told the court the person messaging him said he was 16 years old and they agreed no weapons would be used. The person said he had heard about Mr Nunan picking on his mates.
In a statement to the court, Mr Nunan said he had heard rumours at school on the Friday before the fight that there would be baseball bats and knives at the fight. Under cross-examination, he said he took a knife to the fight because he did not know what to expect, but he did not use it. In his witness statement, Mr Downes said he saw a group of about 15 people walking across the oval. "They had their wog hair cuts, and I could see that they were carrying machetes and poles," he said. As they got near, the group started to sprint towards them, he said. One of the men yelled "St Albans", before the attack began, Mr Downes said.
"Then Nathan goes: `No trouble, no trouble," he said. "By this he meant that he didn't want to fight. Nathan didn't get a chance to run."


And this week:
The family of a man killed in a gang brawl at a suburban Melbourne football oval has clashed with supporters of three people jailed for their role in his death.

Nathan Roberts-Nunan's family said the jail terms handed out to the three - the last of a dozen people sentenced over his death - were disgusting and a joke.
Mr Roberts-Nunan, 20, was struck with a baseball bat and then stabbed during the brawl at Diggers Rest in Melbourne's northwestern outskirts in February 2009 and died in hospital a few hours later.
He had gone to the skate park at the Diggers Rest Recreational Reserve with a friend - who was stabbed but survived - to support his younger brother who had been challenged to a fight.
On Thursday, Nikola Andreevski, 22, John Ray Garcia, 22, and a 17-year-old youth were jailed for a total of between five and six years for charges including manslaughter and affray.
Andreevski will serve at least three years before being eligible for parole, Garcia three years and nine months and the youth was given a non-parole period of three-and-a-half years.
The sentences angered both the accused's supporters and the victim's family, with many from both sides storming out of the Victorian Supreme Court.
One of the victim's sisters had to be restrained by a relative as she reached for the accused as they were led past. The confrontation continued outside the court, with both sides yelling abuse and the sister labelling the sentencing as disgusting.
"My brother's coming home one day. My brother's coming home," a brother of one of the accused yelled to Mr Roberts-Nunan's family.
Mr Roberts-Nunan's aunt Carmel Nunan hit out at the sentencing of all those involved and the behaviour of their supporters.
"What do I say here, 18 years of age, sob story, yet again, we're so sick of it," she told reporters.
"The thing is kids of this age, young men of this age, are over fighting wars in Afghanistan and are considered brave young men. But in courts like this they're considered immature and therefore their sentences are reduced. It's just double standards, and it's an absolute joke when you consider the severity of the crime and the brutality of the crime."
Justice Paul Coghlan said while the three did not inflict injury or cause death, everyone in the group was responsible at least to some degree for what happened.
He said the incident and the crime of affray involved an "unremitting senselessness and cowardly display of mob violence at its most extreme".
"I reiterate that this event at Diggers Rest was one of the worst examples of an affray which could be imagined," Justice Coghlan said. "I emphasise that you all chose to be part of it."
The court heard that Andreevski, of Avondale Heights in Melbourne's northwest, was towards the rear of the group that went across the oval and stopped when the attack began. Garcia, of nearby St Albans, was close to the victim's car during the attack but was unarmed, while the youth, 15 at the time, was one of those who attacked the vehicle.
In April, Nathan Smith, 19, of St Albans, was jailed for 22 years after pleading guilty to charges including murder and affray. He is appealing the severity of the sentence.

So it starts with the typical piece of young male stupidity that happens pretty regularly all over Melbourne. Teenagers throw a few punches in a dispute relating to a girl. That's dumb, but common. And it could have ended there.
It didn't. A subsequent challenge went out, a fight organised. Again, that's not all that uncommon these days. That said, there once was a time when people punched each other's lights out and then that was it.

What I find remarkable about this case is that it appears that most of the machete-wielding thugs did not even know the person they were attacking, or barely at all. The initial beef was between Kyle Nunan and Ante Vucak. Andreevski, Smith, Garcia, Mrjnaus and the others came armed to the teeth with molotov cocktails, poles, knives and machetes, to murder someone they had apparently never met. Just because their friend asked them to. 
Is this what they call "backing up your mates"?
Having your friend's back is an essential part of the male code. Yet at some point it has become warped beyond recognition. You'd think that a true friend would have the sense to dissuade these people he allegedly cares about from committing an act that would land them in prison for a long time. But no. For a certain class of people, friendship is seemingly about willingness to commit murder of a complete stranger, just over some macho bullshit that is entirely someone else's business.

And the incident outside court this week - a brother of one of the sentenced men taunting the grieving family - shows that little has been learned from this horrible mistake. It's a throwback to the most primitive form of tribalism; murder is not instrinsically wrong, it's only wrong when it happens to one of my group. The way of thinking that propagates this cycle of violence lives on.

There's video of the incident outside court here.
The other bewildering aspect of this kind of behaviour is that undoubtedly the convicted men believed that what they were doing was the manly thing to do. Yes, the courageous, masculine course of action was to get a large mob of people armed with deadly weapons to attack a smaller group of people who had believed it was only going to be a fist fight, and who were trying to avoid the fight once they realised what they had got themselves into. Guys in their early 20s taking on guys in their mid-teens.
 
If this is what manliness has turned into, the world has officially turned upside down.

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