Sunday, February 06, 2005

What a mug

I'm generally pretty optimistic about my fellow human beings. I believe most people are fundamentally good, in that they generally wish others well, and would rather behave rightly than wrongly, all else being equal. I'd like to think I live in a fairly harmonious society, where strangers treat each other with respect, and trust in the civility of one's fellow citizens is not entirely misplaced. Am I hopelessly naive? I'm beginning to wonder...

Yesterday I was mugged. Thankfully I wasn't hurt at all, but it was still an unsettling experience. I was just walking down the street to a friend's birthday party, gift-wrapped bottle of tequila in hand, when some young punks in a car noticed my luggage and decided that they'd rather it be theirs. Two young men got out of the car and advanced towards me, demanding I give them the bottle. I couldn't believe they were serious, but they evidently were, for they grabbed the present right out of my hands. Then they walked back to their mates in the car, as I just stood there, dumbstruck. When the others saw my expression of puzzlement and loss, they laughed.

I just don't get it. For a starving man to steal a loaf of bread, sure, that makes sense. For a greedy man to rob a bank, that too is something I can comprehend. But to threaten a random pedestrian, in broad daylight, for something so trivial as a bottle of alcohol? And to do so when your car has license plates in full view? What idiocy is this? And then to laugh, as if the autonomy and rights of one's fellow citizens were some kind of joke... Who could live with such vicious character? Are they not ashamed?

At least I recorded the number plate. It didn't take the police long to track them down. I was told later that night (by which stage I was slightly less sober) that they were in custody, and monetary damages would be sought against them. So that's something. I'm thankful to the police for acting so promptly - they get a lot of bad press, but it's hard to think of them as the bad guys when you come up against the real thing.

As Jonathan noted after experiencing a hit-and-run, this sort of thing can really shake one's "trust[ in] my fellow man-on-the-streets". That's the worst thing, for me. The offence itself was nothing serious - I wasn't physically hurt, and the stolen property was not valuable. But I've never faced such disrespect and maliciousness before. (A sheltered life, I know, but I rather liked it that way!)

Such scum have no place in my society. Of course, the world does not shape itself to fit my desires, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised when it turns out that the society in which I live is not my society after all. Even so, I'm sure my optimism will return. There is work to be done, to build the society that ought to be.

Update [March 3]: One asshole (I don't know what happened to the rest of them) was fined $500, $130 court costs and ordered to pay me $45 reparations. I'm very happy with this result. Pity they didn't cut off his hands though... ;)


  1. the ppl who mugged u ought to be shot. and u aren't naive. there are many things in this world to appreciate, and the obstacles help us appreciate them more than ever.  

    Posted by lix

  2. okay this is out of the topic a little, but i think it is only human nature for people to laugh at the expense of others....i mean...just look at funniest home videos....! But as funny as it is not really it wasn't nice for someone to laugh at you just as you have been mugged.... 

    Posted by Banana

  3. Tough break dude. Bizarre situation, I think you got out of it lightly all things considered, although it's surprising how much that kind of thing can shake you up. What doesn't kill you, right?


    Posted by Tennessee Leeuwenburg

  4. Glad no physical harm was done.  

    Posted by Chris

  5. On the plus side, you did get a story to tell out of the experience.  

    Posted by Dan

  6. Let us know how it turns out.

    There won't be any real punishment but you might get to attend a family group conference where you can tell them you were hurt and offended and they can show fake contrition.

    If they do the 'restorative justice' thing where you get to suggest an appropriate punishment or compensation, be sure to have something ready that is as embarrassing as possible for them. Be creative. 

    Posted by Nigel Kearney

  7. Yeah, I think I'd rather just be done with it, though I hope they'll at least be punished with a few hours of community service or something along those lines... 

    Posted by Richard

  8. At the very least you will have wasted more of their time than they did of yours. And hopefully you'll get $20 towards another bottle of whatever it was...


    Posted by Tennessee Leeuwenburg

  9. Yeah my friends and I were attacked a while ago. my friend got some nasty bruises, but the idiot who attacked us stayed around until the police showed up. He got taken away.
    But I'm still iffy being in town by myself at night.

    (the place where we got attacked now has cameras there, so some good has come of it) 

    Posted by Greg Stephens

  10. Wow, that's horrible, man. I'm sorry. 

    Posted by Jonathan

  11. I would have been stupefied as well, it's ridiculous how they can laugh their actions off. They ought to sit in jail for a couple of days to reflect on themselves and their stupidity. 

    Posted by Knight of The Rose

  12. People who are lead doing wrong out of need, I can understand (but not forgive). Those who do wrong and then regret, I can understand (and perhaps forgive). Those wo do wrong without knowing it's wrong, I can forgive most of the time. But those who knowingly do it and then laugh, really piss me off. I wish you had had a gun with you at the time, a real big gun. :-) 

    Posted by Kermit

  13. Sounds like it turned out ok - as long as you did not get hurt. What they did was breach a understanding in society that one can own things and ownership can change only via various acceptable methods. They decided that your physical safety ws somthing they could trade for acquiring goods.
    It is a "cultural difference" if you like.
    Of course we are lucky that the ultimate power in NZ is the police and army and thus we can in most cases retain property ownership. 

    Posted by geniusNZ

  14. Glad you were not hurt. In the US many people would have been told that, since it is a minor offense, nothing would really be done because it is not a "high" priority.


    Posted by Blue

  15. Thanks for all the supportive comments (though I'm pretty much over it now).

    "I wish you had had a gun with you at the time"

    Ha, well, I'm even more relieved that they didn't have guns. That's a nice thing about New Zealand - everyone is less well-armed. Makes for a much safer society, I reckon. 

    Posted by Richard


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