Sensible people avoid St Kilda as much as possible. Restaurants are expensive, the parking difficult and there is a good chance the visitor will return to find his or her car pillaged by one of the junkies who make their homes in the suburb’s flophouses and on its streets. Add that any visit will require a drive home, with the associated obligation to divide body weight by standard drinks and, as far as the Professor is concerned, there is every reason to dine much closer to the Billabong, where local knowledge of discrete back streets makes it a much safer proposition to motor home when infused with good cheer.*
Some people are immune to common sense and delight in what they fondly see as St Kilda’s raffish charm. Hey, look at cool ol’ me, perfectly at ease with the prostitutes and their bludgers! Just to demonstrate how cool, they will sometimes crow about buying coffee for the hookers or letting them pat their little dogs, or insist that heroin-addicted street whores have every right to raise their children, just like middle-class folks. Along with its supreme faith in the wisdom and competence of public servants, one of the left’s most bizarre traits is the habitual inclination to admire certain elements within the criminal-Australian community. This is an indulgence best explained by mental-health professionals, although a cheaper diagnosis may well be that life in safe, thoroughly bourgeois enclaves of the like-minded – your Yarravilles, Northcotes and Fitzroys – speaks of a distance from locales where crime and violence is no rejection of patriarchy and propertarianism but a daily reality. One wonders if the same sentiment would prevail if much of academia, along with those who populate the Age and ABC editorial departments, were relocated to Dandenong, where street crime and violence is rather more than an abstraction.
St Kilda has lately seen just such a concrete example of violence: a prostitute, Tracy Connelly, was murdered in the van where she did business, the first “sex worker”, as the luvvies prefer to call them, to be slain on the job in nine years. The ABC’s Kerri Ritchie, is shocked, stunned even, not least because the unfortunate Connelly, a heroin addict, was killed just metres from an establishment known as The Gatehouse, where prostitutes can cook their meals, park their kids, shower (in some cases shave), apply a fresh coat of make-up and get back to work on the streets. It should come as no surprise to learn that a senior Age journalist thinks this is a noble cause, as do many other organisations and donors apparently untroubled by the thought that The Gatehouse, while it purports to be an outreach program, is actually a centre of logistic support for law breakers.
The unfortunate Ms Connelly, for example, had been popping in for a decade, so the services and support available to wean hookers off the streets would not seem to have been terribly effective. But not to worry. All at The Gatehouse who do not hawk themselves on the streets get to feel really great about what wonderful people they are, all the while aiding and abetting public nuisances and criminals, including the heroin dealers the prostitutes patronise and enrich. No doubt, given the left’s typical sympathies, many Gatehouse advocates also support efforts to reduce the spread of AIDS. Cognitive dissonance, what?
Street prostitution is against the law, although you would never know as much from the coverage of Connelly’s murder. So is living off the earnings of prostitution, which appears to have been what Connelly’s partner had been doing for a decade. Legal brothels were introduced to Victoria more than 30 years ago, in part to end this sordid commerce and reduce the crime rate by banishing gutter crawlers’ need to prowl the streets of places like St Kilda. Now that an unfortunate woman has been slain and a killer roams free, the hankies are out and tears flow.
What we are yet to see, nor are likely to, is any examination of the progressive conscience – you know, along the lines of, “If we had only pressured the police to arrest this woman, she would be alive and maybe even off the smack by the stage.”
Instead, Connelly is dead. But not to worry, there are plenty more prostitutes and pimps to be found in St Kilda, plenty more opportunities to patronise the unfortunate while tacitly encouraging them to stick to business as usual. If these people had the decency God gave chooks they would die of shame.
UPDATE: As might be expected, The Guardian (Australia) has come out in support of Connelly’s absolute and unfettered right to be murdered. What the author neglects to mention is that the victim could have plied her trade in safety if she had chosen to work in a legal brothel.
(*The Professor never drives when thoroughly pissed, no matter how short the distance home. A .05 blood alcohol level is too low and should be elevated to .08, as it is in the United States. It is in that borderline area where most arrests and licence suspensions occur. If police weren't waylaying the responsibly cheerful, they might be in St Kilda arresting car-breakers and public nuisances. We could all drink to that.)