LETTERS

Inciting violence demeans us all

Inciting violence demeans us all

THE tragic death of Jill Meagher has shaken many Melburnians and, indeed, Australians. As a young woman of a similar age I feel deeply saddened and scared. However, I am sickened by the public's response to the man who has been arrested for her rape and murder.

I respect the right to free speech, and value social media as a platform to express opinions, but I cannot see how Facebook pages that suggest this man should be publicly put to death have any value.

We should be sympathising with the family and remembering a woman who, by all accounts, was kind and loving, rather than resorting to hate and savagery. What is the difference between inciting violence as many of the gruesome posts do and performing violent acts? The fact that people may have abandoned their humanity in committing violent acts doesn't mean that we as a society should lose ours, too.

Georgia Doyle, Richmond

Jury system flawed

IT IS one thing to worry about social media's effect on jury decisions, but there is a less publicised and equally fundamental flaw in the way the jury system operates. Jurors are paid just $40 per day for the first six days and $80 thereafter without the superannuation, holiday or travel allowances that would be obligatory by law for any other employer.

Most of the people who serve on juries, therefore, are those not clever enough to find an excuse. This is a poor way to select a panel of "12 good men and true" representative of the community at large.

Employers have to make up the pay of any employee selected for jury duty regardless of the length of trial. Some professions are excused, but not, for example, a self-employed person with a mortgage and a family to support, even if their business may be bankrupted and family circumstances ruined by attending to this random and mandatory public duty.

John Allison, Kew

Diana-like response

MY SYMPATHY for the friends and family of Jill Meagher cannot suppress a disturbing thought. That the Diana-like media and public response to the death of this attractive, professional woman featuring a trendy street in her suburb is very different from what would result had the victim been a less-photogenic woman from a down-at-heel northern suburb returning from buying cigarettes at the local milk bar.

Philip Shehan, Brunswick

Playing with lives

HOW serious is the Baillieu government about keeping vulnerable people safe? In the wake of Ms Meagher's death, Ted Baillieu has proposed more CCTV cameras, which do nothing to eradicate the causes of homicidal and sexual violence, albeit they may assist in arrests.

But in 2011, the government refused to put up $125,000 to continue the highly successful B-Safe program, which gave 70 female and 140 child victims of domestic violence emergency alarms in case of the abuser's approach. The government played politics, abandoning B-Safe because it had been trialled by the Commonwealth.

Recently, the Baillieu government has made public housing less secure, heightening the fears and risk of homelessness for Victoria's most disadvantaged. Already 46,058 women and 58,619 men are homeless in Australia, according to the 2006 census, and they are at perpetual, disproportionate risk of all forms of violence and early death. This government has yet to prove it cares at all about those who daily suffer violence out of the media spotlight.

Barbara Chapman, Hawthorn

Piddling penalty

THE government will, admirably, install more CCTV cameras. But how about tackling the dangers posed by taxi drivers who habitually refuse fares when the destination does not satisfy their expectations?

My daughter works a second job in the city, finishing at 4am. In the early hours of last Saturday morning, she was twice refused a trip home to Thornbury. This happens regularly.

The Taxi Directorate website indicates that a fare refusal will merely result in an infringement notice. Surely such indifference to the safety of our vulnerable young women ought to result in licence disqualification?

Pam Felton Dennis, Murchison

Turnbull on money

IT HAS been interesting to see the various responses to recent comments made by Senator Cory Bernardi and Alan Jones.

Tony Abbott called Senator Bernardi's statement linking same-sex marriage with bestiality "ill-disciplined" but made by "a decent bloke with strong opinions". Malcolm Turnbull said the comments were "extreme and hysterical".

Mr Abbott reportedly said Jones' comments about Julia Gillard's late father were "completely out of line" Mr Turnbull called them "cruel and offensive". The Opposition Leader seems unable to condemn outright either the senator or Jones but is saying the minimum necessary to distance himself from the outrageous comments. Mr Turnbull, meanwhile, is putting in words what most right-thinking people believe.

Tony Healy, North Balwyn

Erosion of diversity

HARRIET Alexander only tells part of the story about Catalans' increasing desire for independence ("Debt crisis fuels Spanish separatist push", The Age, 1/10). Although recent economic factors are important, the number of Catalans wanting to separate from Spain has doubled due, in recent years, to conservative, Alan Jones-type shock jocks who regularly insult Catalans on the airwaves, and a lack of central government investment in infrastructure in the region.

Perhaps the most important factor, however, is the repeated attempts by the central government to limit Spain's multilingual and multicultural diversity in favour of a single Spanish national identity in which Catalans feel invisible. Recognition for this diversity is being eroded, as the conservative ruling party uses the financial crisis to claw back regional autonomy. The call for independence from Spain has been brewing for a long time.

Dr Stewart King, senior lecturer in Spanish and Catalan studies, Monash University

Pokies not sole issue

ANTHONY Ball is correct up to a point regarding critics of pokie machines (Comment, 1/10). I agree that pokies are being singled out. However, my concern is that all other types of gambling, such as betting on the footy, the horses or any number of sporting games, is somehow not as frowned upon. In fact, the latest TAB advertisements glamorise betting and encourage Melburnians to place a bet.

Gambling takes many shapes and forms, and can become problematic at any stage. It is then that people namely, the direct person involved and family and friends are affected.

Spending money excessively at shopping centres can be viewed as equally problematic, but yet again, we are encouraged to go out and spend to keep the economy thriving. It's high time the pokies stopped being singled out as the greater of several evils.

Stephanie Omizzolo, Reservoir

Get real

STEPHEN Alomes says Australian rules football is superior but admits that since its 1859 inception this so-called "rock'n'roll" has not caught on in any other nation ("Take a punt on the future of the greatest game of all", Forum, 29/9).

By contrast, after its codification in England in the 1860s, real football (aka "soccer") was successfully exported to European, South American and African nations within 50 years. All this without modern telecommunications, sophisticated marketing techniques or corporate sponsorship.

Real football has been for years the world's most popular football code in terms of participation and crowd/television spectator numbers. Even in Australia, the code boasts a superior player registration rate compared with AFL.

If Australian rules were the greatest game of all, it should have caught on internationally by now. The prospects of nations playing Australian rules football against each other seem as remote as ever.

Peter Davidson, Glen Iris

Cut robotic hype

THANKS, Martin Flanagan, for pointing out the "slowly boiled frog approach" the AFL is inflicting upon us regarding the Americanisation of our great game ("Cut out the hype and maintain the atmosphere", Sport, 1/10).

Every year there is a little more robotic hype and removal of spectator involvement. Even as a Collingwood supporter of many decades' standing, my limited brain does not need to be told when the game has started, when a goal has been kicked, when to cheer and what to say.

Man the barricades, Martin Flanagan, I'm right beside you, as no doubt will be Bluey, Snake, Big Molly and Sticko.

Rob Willis, Wheelers Hill

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