Much is being made of an incident where some ticket inspectors in Melbourne were trying to apprehend and detain two teenage girls on the verge of fare evading. The result is that one of the girls spat at and hit a ticket inspector before being lifted up and dropped to the ground whilst struggling in vain. Her very supportive friend was then grabbed in a headlock after she too spat in an inspector’s face. Oh, and there’s a bit of screaming and swearing included in the mix.

Look, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of ticket inspectors, but they are there to do a job and a hard job it is. They are part public service officers, part deterrent to antisocial behaviour (of which there is a lot of on public transport in Melbourne) and, in cases where it is required, enforcers of the regulations. I also agree with the concept of reasonable force and duty of care to the public, however, just as the public expects patience, respect and discretion from ticket inspectors, ticket inspectors should get that in return.

I’m still young enough to remember what it was like being a rebellious teenager; the arguments with parents, knowing everything I did was right and everyone else was wrong, et al. But, where your parents at least understand and can predict your actions and reactions because they raised you and know your psyche, a stranger isn’t going to do that and sure as hell can’t be expected to do that. The reactions to the footage from the public are polarised, some completely supporting the girls because they believed it was excessive force, even going so far as to start a petition, while others thought it was justified and a lesson learned for the future.

Clearly, in the story and the footage, it shows the ticket inspectors first making a reasonable attempt at stopping the teenagers from fare evading. But then to get punched in the face is probably not what you’d expect and the first girl gets upended as a result. Well, tough luck to her. I mean, sure, you want to game the system and break the rules, that’s your prerogative. But don’t make it seem like your right to do the wrong thing (actually more than one wrong thing) without consequences. Obviously, these girls thought that they didn’t need to abide by the rules and were entirely justified in their actions. This is probably a highly humiliating experience that will hopefully teach her the boundaries of behaviour.

There has to be a point where people can’t simultaneously complain about the crime rate in Melbourne, especially assaults, but then assert that someone who physically hits a ticket inspector because they want to get away with fare evading should not be restrained quickly and thoroughly just because they’re a teenager and female. I want to know just what alternative there was for the inspectors to bring them in to line? Perhaps some jam donuts and a promise to never fare evade again? Pull the other one. Teenagers are on their way to becoming adults and they need to learn that they need to obey the rules society sets for mutual benefit or face the consequences, just like adults do.

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One thought on “Much ado about nothing

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