I was watching Paul Henry and John Campbell huff and puff last night about boy racers. I heard the exact same questions from both of them, the exact same sentiment that all boy racers are a social plague and that Police either needed extraordinary powers of shoot to kill or a massive kick up the bum to get them to police the boy racers. A terrified Transport Safety Minister, Harry Duynhoven, blinked a lot trying to excuse the Police and every other sin in the country, he explained that the cops had chased lots of boy racers, impounded 2000 cars and had pushed the separation of powers to their liberal democratic breaking point by giving the Police totalitarian discretion of immediate judge, jury and executioner.
All of which was about as enlightening as talkback radio opinion on the treaty gravy train, solo mothers having children just for the benefit and how hard done by white men are. It was just all so clear last night, Boy racers are irresponsible and dangerous and harsh punitive measures are demanded to deal with them.
Glad we got that sorted.
See I think that young men and speed have always been a problem, whether it was cars, horses, competitive hot air balloon racing – see there is a little risk taking circuit inbuilt within us all that forces us as a species to take risks, that’s why we are at the top of the evolutionary tree, it is within our nature to take risks, and we take the most amount of risks when we are young, because that’s what we do as human beings, we make mistakes as teenagers – THAT’S HOW WE LEARN. Now that is in no way a defense for young men to smash up public space or crash or kill people, but it is an explanation of the problem we face, and if we are determined to change the problem we have to understand why it happens. It’s all so painfully simple, and this is where the debate needs to start – with that understanding, not the usual ‘bloody boy racers’ nonsense. Exacerbating this truth of human teenage nature are 5 things:
1: Cheap Cars
Young men can get finance at the drop of a hat, they are sucked into the credit culture right from the beginning, probably following mum and dad into credit card debt. With 80% of the population earning less than $30 000, we are an incredibly low wage society with first world consumer addictions. This culture of debt brings with it loan sharks and things can get real ugly at that level of the debt chain. We want to start turning the issue around, crack down on easy cheap money with inanely high interest rates for teenagers.
2: Access to pop culture
We live in a 24/7 digital world, 8 year old kids can watch the fast and the furious, play computer games and generally desensitize reality. We have to accept the massive influences that can swamp young people, I’m not suggesting we attempt to ban the internet or force censorship, with an on line world, Pandora is well and truly out of the box and has moved down the road, happily married with 12 children. What we need to recognize is that parents have to from a very early age explain the clear difference between reality and fiction, which slides nicely into the third exacerbating factor…
3: Father and Son
Dads need to talk to their sons. They have to talk about how to handle those sudden surges and desires and anger and show their sons through their own behaviour. Fathers have to show their sons how to be men by preparing them for those moments where the brain switches off and the hormones take over.
Another exacerbating factor is our insanely accessible booze culture, the problem isn’t lowering the drinking age to 18, it’s that we now sell booze at every dairy corner and supermarket in the country and we don’t police those venders whatsoever. Every year community groups catch out over half the local venders not asking for age ID when a young person buys booze! We have turned on all the taps of accessibility by liberalizing our alcohol laws to a country with an obvious drinking problem and then can’t understand why our teenagers are drink driving.
Which brings me to the final exacerbating factor, Police powers. Clayton Cosgrove, that Labour party Union thug who should be in the National Party (they have Police looking thugs) passed a knee jerk bullshit ‘boy racer’ law giving cops extraordinary powers of judge, jury and executioner. Generally speaking liberal western democracies steer clear of letting the separation of powers merge into one, and the resulting immediate roadside impoundment based on the non-challengeable discretion of the police has nothing whatsoever to do with police chases that end miraculously seconds prior to crashes from spooked teenagers attempting to out run an impoundment, and anyone who says otherwise is a communist.
But all that debate didn’t surface at all from John or Paul last night, they seemed much happier to whip the boy racer debate until it became frothy, neither wanted to understand why boy racers raced, they both wanted to be the voice of angry suburban NZ who are awoken at night to the alpha male muffler mating call of the late night neighborhood tom cats, partly worried it is their daughters they are prowling for, partly worried at what that sound might mean to their property valuations.
Meanwhile, the parents of the teenager killed this week buried their dead son.