Bad Bad Boys

Today, I put a link on Facebook to the Violence Reduction Unit.
Living in the Highlands of Scotland, one does not encounter the same level of violence that the VRU is dealing with in Edinburgh and certainly in Glasgow, although that is stated in full ignorance of the number of cases in Domestic Violence in the Highlands, but whatever those figures are , they will be totally unacceptable.
Knife carrying in the Highlands, for the use as a weapon, is on the increase though.
There is much accessible information out there about the violent knife/alcohol culture, in Scotland, especially, in West Central Scotland, and the Domestic Abuse/Violence problem, primarily against women, is massive too.

It’s the Alpha-male that interests me. I have been called a typical alpha-male in the past, and recently, and proud of it I was too, or am I?
The status of the alpha is often achieved by means of superior physical prowess. The individual in the alpha position usually changes when another challenges it to a fight (in some cases to the death) and wins. Consequently, alphas may have to fight individuals in their own group several times to maintain their position throughout their lifetimes. In species where the fight is to the death, alphas rarely reach old age. In some species, a nomadic individual may approach the alpha, successfully beat him, and thus become the new alpha.
A statistic that I often throw into the debate, goes something like this. In West Central Scotland, if a male between the age of 16 years and 29 years old was to die, the highest likelihood is that he will have been killed as a result of a stabbing. He will almost certainly know his assailant, who will probably live less that two miles from the victim and in numerous cases the victim and the assailant set out together, and consumed quantities of alcohol together.
Now, I am prepared to stand corrected on that, but I am confident that I am not far wrong.
The criteria above was certainly in place in the following case.

In 1987, a week before Christmas, my young brother was stabbed to death outside his home, where he stayed with my mother. He died in his mothers arms after she had attempted to give him the kiss of life. His father had given chase to the three and he too was attacked and struck with a bit of 4 x 2 about his head and body.
There were 3 charged with murder, and on the day of the trial conclusion, two walked and the perpetrator had his charge reduced to Culpable Homicide and served 18 months.
The defendants had top Glasgow lawyers in place, paid for by the state, and one of them was heard to say at the second day of the trial to the prosecuting team, ‘Lets get this one done for the (Easter) holidays as I am going away for a few days’. Well, let’s face it, these scheemie murder trials are good earners, but not that sexy really.

Let it be said, though, it is only right that all individuals have the right to legal counsel in this country and whatever the final verdict is , it has to be accepted, no matter how emotionally we are involved. So it is not about the Law being an Ass, it is not about what the sentence is going to be. God knows, in my young brothers case, the family was obviously devastated, but I know families, who since then have suffered equal loss and had absolutely no justice dealt out at all.

This is about what happens before that, before it gets into a Law court, long before that.

As a native of WCS, my own experience of violence to me, was statistically as follows;

Attacks on me by moving vehicles where I required medical attention = 1
Attacks on me by two or more, by putting the boot in, where I required medical attention = 2
Attacks on me, with knifes or glass objects, where I required stitches = 4
Attacks on me where firearms were produced causing me to shit myself = 1

Violent attacks that I have carried out are statistically as follows;

Attacks by me from moving vehicles, where others required medical attention =1
Attacks by me and one other or more on others by putting the boot in where they required medical attention =1
Attacks by me and others where knifes or glass objects were produced, requiring others to get stitches= 1
Attacks by me where firearms were produced causing others to shit them-self = 2 stuckies ( a stuckie being a thrush)

In all of the cases above, the consumption of alcohol was inclusive.
Another statistic, in 99% of all violent crime , the perpetrators have taken alcohol or drugs.
Medics Against Violence is another source of depressing reading but the facts are the facts are the facts.

In todays Sunday Mail, there may be a two page spread article about some celebrity gangster from the WCS, going on about whatever his latest scam is, and the alpha male readers of that rag, will all be so chuffed that they may know of, or know some one who knows of, or drinks in the same bar as the heroic celeb in question. There may also be a little paragraph or two informing of another insignificant street stabbing or more, in whatever location, that took place over the weekend.

Of course, I threw in a wee funny bit back there for comedy effect, just to lighten the tone, you see that’s a cultural thing too, have a wee joke about it. It’s not that bad, but when it gets closer to home, the joke wears thin.

Dealing with the alcohol issue has to be addressed, and the politicians have that job, but that violence that is inherent, in the blood, in the genes of so many of those families has to be met face to face.

Some are trying to do just that, and I would like to also

For me, I gave the booze up long ago, or I may have been writing this from a jail, or not at all. I try to take on the teachings of Buddhism and other spiritual sources and have a pretty good life, but there is still bad boys out there who like me want to do better.


3 thoughts on “Bad Bad Boys

  1. John, between this and your last few posts there is so much to comment on! I really wish I could sit down and have coffee with you. It’s a bit of a hike from Maine, though.

    In grad school I took a Peacemaking class. Yeah, I know, pretty airy fairy, but it was worth the time. And I took non-violence training in Las Vegas prior to getting arrested in civil disobedience actions at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site (twice). Admittedly, those were academic and more focused on institutional/global violence, but it’s a subject that I think needs more discussion in the world at large.

    Violence between individuals is a complicated and messy thing (as it is between countries, too, I guess). And you’re right; alcohol is a major factor in person-to-person violence. But I don’t need to tell you that – you know firsthand. And I’m terribly sorry about your brother. What a sad, sad thing! But do you really think there is a genetic component to the violence in western Scotland? I’d like to hope it’s mainly cultural which would allow for the possibility of a shift of attitude in a shorter amount of time…if it were addressed, that is.

    In the last 30 years here in the US (I don’t know if the same is true in Scotland), with progressive laws, media focus & law suits, we have gone from a country where the you could smoke cigarettes just about everywhere; in movie theatres and hospitals to seeing a very few poor souls smoking, huddled together at least 100 feet from the nearest building lest smoke drift into the nostrils of a non-smoker. Am I just too optimistic to that with the same kind of attention violence will someday be reduced to the very, very few?

    I volunteered on a battered women’s hotline at one time until I burned out from the feeling of futility. There were so many women I talked to over and over because they stayed or kept going back. That may not have been the case if these women had economic social programs to rely on. Also now in some states, stats are being kept on perpetrators of violence on animals as an early indicator of violence against humans. We are making small strides here, but too many people are dying.

    I look toward our human future with hope, though – and stories like yours help foster that. It’s not easy, but we can change.

  2. Thanks John for these heartfelt blogs – as Michelle says you address a lot of issues and have the experience to know what you are talking about. I am lucky in that I can and do often sit and have coffee with you and I look forward to discussing the above. It is sad to hear from Michelle about futility and I think social workers must often feel like that too. However, as you have often said, if we don’t do anything ourselves, apathy is the result. I know the West of Scotland and have seen the hardship, poverty and religious intolerance – violence and jokes to deal with it, rather than seriously addressing things.

    As a positive example of good change, you know Gordon is a social worker – he had an adult man contact him last year saying that Gordon’s intervention when he was a 14 year old boy in trouble for violent crime and Gordon taught him guitar and gave him a guitar, changed his life. It’s all about small changes like that. I too feel a lot of hope from the massive change in my lifetime in attitudes to smoking among other things. Hope you’re well. Great to see you writing. Kay

  3. Michelle, the genetic angle is not based on any scientific basis that I am aware of, I say this merely as an indication of how deeply ingrained in the psyche it is, especially in males, or at the least the ones I ran with. Another thing to consider is, that the aggression in question in many cases, I would say is based on fear. In other words, in a lot of these situations, the violence carried out is as a result of peer pressure, or to do damage to the other before it is done unto you, or they are gonna get me, so I better show them. Notwithstanding the fact that there are of course random acts of violence simply carried out, due to the perpetrator being psychotic and/or paranoid as a result of whatever drug of choice he has consumed. There are others of course, who can carry out such acts of violence, without imbibing in anything.
    Domestic Violence, I deliberately mentioned, but did not go into too much detail in the Bad Bad Boys blog, as I believe that the dynamics of that type of violence and the behaviors involved would be for a seperate blog, which I may write about.
    Kay, the hardship, poverty and religious intolerance you refer to, I agree, is a major factor, but as you know, these are not identified as a means of uniting the natives, but as a means of turning many against each other. The treachery of the warrior clansman remains as apparent today, but just as unspoken of as it was back in those days, but somehow perceived as honourable and courageous.
    I agree though, that in the case of your brother, acts of kindness, love and tolerance must be the way forward, no matter how soft that is perceived to be. Soft is what I want. Hard is bad.
    Thank you both for your great encouragement.

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