It could well have been a podcast from a rest home sunroom conversation. However, it happened to be Tuesday's Panel on boyracers. Dick Griffin qualified himself being a curmudgeon on the subject. Dick would like the term 'boyracer' dropped for something more objective like 'Hoons on Wheels'. He could always take a page from Ron Mark's book and call them 'Vehicular Terrorists'. Of course, the Silver Fox was a bit of a hoon in his day. Oh, but the cars these days are much more powerful. Liz Bowen-Clewley wanted to sympthasise with the boyracers, but the ones on the TV weren't very nice. "Grubby and defiant." In other words, teenagers. Well, there's a surprise.
Superintendent Dave Cliff explained that the old charges of reckless driving, careless use of a motor vehicle, etc. weren't working as the threshold of proving an "objective level of danger" was too difficult to bring to court. Now, certain behaviours have been deemed illegal. Merely an unnecessary exhibition of speed or acceleration is verboten. Danger is irrelevant. This is legislative creep in action. Bit by bit, laws are moving away from reasons and becoming independent bubbles of unpopular behaviour. It cannot last.
SI Cliff asks why we have high-powered vehicles capable of reaching speeds of 200 kph when the speed limit is 100? The simple answer is this; to outrun tsunami and volcanic eruptions. If it's OK for Wellington City Council to spend $100,000 for a tsunami warning system, it's good enough for car owners to be able to take advantage of this warning. Besides, the real reason is unlikely to make it to select committee. It involves high speed on the Desert Road north of Waiouru and a girlfriend keen on giving head. It's called fun.
In fairness to Dave, he did say some sensible things. The monkey see, monkey do thing for example. He admits that the boyracer thing is insignificant compared to where most of the meat comes from. Boyracers are loud and suitable for news zombies to consume and feel morally outraged about. Burnouts look good on the telly, as opposed to incisive interviews of the newsmakers.
It's funny, cause at work Michael the Storyteller was saying what it was like in his day. Back in the 60's, everyone with half a brain stayed off the roads between 6:30 and 8:30. That's when all the drunks poured out of the pubs and drove home. If they wanted to risk it, let them wrap themselves around a power pole. Darwin at work.
An email arrived at The Panel saying, give us something to do then! Smug teacher Liz scoffed at this comment. This listener had hit it on the head. Provincial NZ is a goddamned boring place for teenagers. Think of all the places that boyracers thrive. Christchurch. Palmy. Utterly devoid of teenage amusements. In my day, the choices of social interaction were youth group, Blue Light discos, hanging out at the Spacies parlour, or drinking.
Not much has changed. Teens make their own fun, and as far as the boyracer thing goes, it's fairly tame stuff. Yeah, some will die occasionally. That will always happen, irregardless of the trivial pursuit. Perhaps it is something that Western Civilisation could learn from the old cultures. The animist old cultures had ritualistic tests that children had to pass in order to claim adulthood. Is NCEA and learning to drive the best things we can think of to test the wits and wisdom of yoof?