A major incongruity, otherwise known as the law is indeed an ass. A magistrate has fined Robert Lui $2000 and placed him on a two-year good-behaviour after Lui pleaded guilty to assaulting his then-girlfriend.
Burwood court was told a drunken Lui headbutted Taleah Rae Backo and kicked her in the head after Wests Tigers’ mad-Monday celebrations on September 99.
His new club, the North Queensland Cowboys, has suspended Lui indefinitely and he has been attending counselling sessions.
Meanwhile, Swansea University biology student Liam Stacey has been jailed for 56 days for sending an offensive, racist twitter comment about Fabrice Muamba.
The Bolton Wanderers soccer player collapsed and his heart stopped beating during an FA Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur.
A drunken Stacey twittered he was glad Muamba was dead. Muamba was later revived, the match abandoned and he is recovering in hospital, where his condition has been downgraded from critical to serious.
Had Lui have been jailed, it’s fair to say there would have been support for the judgment, given the nature of the offence.
And however vile the Stacey comment, and subsequent interchange with other twitter users, it’s fair to say his tirades don’t approach the seriousness of Lui’s offence.
Britain has an array of anti-vilification legislation, plenty of examples of political correctness gone mad, yet has inter-cultural and inter-racial problems that dwarf Australia’s.
That’s notwithstanding the continuing problem of improving the lives of our original inhabitants — the great stain on the national psyche.
To the layman, the Lui-Stacey cases are straightforward.
It’s a dangerous precedent when a Stacey is jailed for something they’ve said, verbally or electronically, unless they’re hatching a criminal plot.
It’s difficult to understand how Britain, which gave us our justice system, could have reached the point where a Stacey is jailed.
What good will it do?
Stacey is a now-expelled biology student who wanted to be a forensic scientist.
He should be familiar with the phrase ‘‘we’re all the same underneath the skin’’ and know its truth through his specific education. A life in ruins. Rehabilitation v vengeance.
Hard to see how jail beats a stern dressing down and a later chance for Stacey to atone, through making the valuable contribution his specific intellectual gifts potentially allow.
Lui isn’t educated, but it aint as simple as ‘‘throw away the key and his rugby-league career.’’
Should they look into the dark parts of their souls, most men might admit they are capable of the domestic violence they read about, might reach a snapping point if stressed or provoked enough.
But few men could imagine head-butting or kicking a pregant women in the head, drunk or sober. That’s beyond most imaginings.
Lui has been given one talent in life, one way of creatively expressing himself, one way of earning a substantial income.
Domestic violence is a major societal issue (in western Sydney the biggest crime issue, police say).
The risk is that ostracising Lui will achieve nothing, that he could subside into more drunken violence should the chance of rehabilitation and more football be denied.
The snag is that other footballers might feel uncomfortable about playing with him, or even refuse to. Might.. Might in the form of money and ratings are usually right in TV-radio land.
Interesting that Stacey-Lui happened simultaneously with the Matthew Newton-Kyle Sandilands cases. Actor Newton is charged with assaulting a taxi-driver and has been ordered to face a criminal court. His lawyer Chris Murphy has argued Newton needs treatment for ongoing mental illness rather than a criminal penalty, if found guilty.
Sandilands was slapped with a wet lettuce for his on-air rant against a Daily Telegraph journalist. It wasn’t as vicious as the Stacey comment; Sandilands’ were the ravings of an infantile egomaniac.
They were of such gold-medal winning puerility, that any reader of his comments and unaware of Sandilands would surely ask: ‘‘what is this idiot doing on the radio?’’
He’s on the radio because he and his sidekick Jackie O have an audience.
No-one would suggest Sandilands should spent 56 days in jail for being a joke. The rant was the least of his trangressions, but freedom of speech carries responsibilities.
The point at which Sandilands should have been held responsible was when he brought a young woman out from America under the impression she would be reunited with a family member, only for Sandilands to feign that the reunion would be witheld. This made him a sadist too.
It was the point at which he should not have been jailed for 56 days, but banned from the airwaves forever, demented audience or not.
Lui may or may not still make something of his life; Stacey may not get the chance. Sandilands has had and still has chances, though he appears beyond saving.