Evidently, there are a lot of problems with random acts of violence in Australia and MMA is to blame, if you ask The Sydney Morning Herald and NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione (h/t C.J. Tuttle at mmamania.com for recognizing the piece).
In a piece entitled "Smash, Grapple and Choke: The Unstoppable Force of MMA,” by Matt Buchanan of The Sydney Morning Herald, at first glance the sport seems to be treated fairly, with testimonials from men and women who actually train in MMA. But then there is the introduction of the case of Shaun McNeil, 25 years old, who claimed “I’m an MMA fighter” before putting Daniel Christie into a coma on New Year’s Eve.
From there, the piece just seems to be an excuse to passively link a sport regulated with rules to the actions of thugs who live a life of violence with no rules—or laws, as the case should be—that are enforced with any kind of true gravity equal to the crimes.
But the line they use to link MMA to the case of McNeil paints the kind of picture that is bias to only one end—passing the buck to someone (or something) else: “And, increasingly, MMA and UFC have coalesced in the public's mind as a source of infamy and disgust.”
They even give police commissioner Scipione some time to blame the random acts of violence on MMA, if by no other means than sloppy association; he likened the pictures of bloody fighters to “crime scene photos of victims of assaults on footpaths waiting to be treated by paramedics.”
He also went on to say: “[It is] the fastest growing sport in the world for men and women. You can watch it in your lounge room, they are bloody messes, both men and women with blood streaming from their noses. But if this happened in the street, people would react with shock and horror.”
In the case of McNeil’s “king-hit” assault on Christie, it was not an isolated incident, per a report by Janet Fife-Yeomans and Alicia Wood of The Daily Telegraph. McNeil has spent no small number of years taking advantage of toothless judges; before the Christie attack, McNeil had the following incidents on his record:
Assault in 2006/Sentence: 12-month good-behaviour bond
Assault in 2009/Sentence: six-month jail sentence suspended for six months on condition of six-month good-behaviour bond
Assault in 2011 (which involved excessive consumption of alcohol)/Sentence: six-month good-behaviour bond
Drug possession in 2011/Sentence: fined $300
Assault in 2012/Sentence: 12-month good-behaviour bond
And lastly, there's his assault on Daniel Christie, which is listed as “cause grievous bodily harm with intent.” Of course, that’s not all; he also assaulted three other people that night.
But this wasn’t because he was an MMA fighter, because he’s not—true MMA fighters have the courage to face their opponents, not ambush them.
No, this was because he is a habitual offender who enjoys a system of justice so timid that he has yet to get anything stiffer than a 12-month good-behavior bond. If there is no true penalty for his actions, to expect him to stop is to put a faith in him that was never rightly earned.
McNeil is a dangerous man who has been turned loose upon society several times. MMA is not to blame for his being the cruel, violent man he is, just as MMA is not to blame for the fact that Christie is in a coma, hanging on for dear life.
McNeil is to blame, as are the judges who showed nothing short of gross negligence in their blatant disregard for the welfare of citizens who depend upon their judgment when it comes to enforcing laws that are supposed to be for the good of the people.
And while we haven’t seen these judges acting for the good of the people, thus far, they’ve sure been good to McNeil.
Eighteen months earlier, Kieran Loveridge (who has been tagged as an “MMA devotee”) spent an evening striking unaware passers-by before ambushing Thomas Kelly with a king-hit, killing him.
Now, with a death involved, one would hope that the sentence would fit the crime and be reflective of the worth of human life. Of course, once again, we might as well be wishing on a star.
Loveridge is serving a six-year jail sentence, but he will be eligible for parole in November 2017. His sentence was not even the maximum for the crime, which might be shocking when you consider Loveridge was already on one of those stunning “good-behaviour” bonds when he murdered Thomas Kelly.
You might be wondering how a judge could justify such a weak sentence.
Well, Justice Stephen Campbell was evidently moved when Loveridge began crying in court when Kelly’s family read their victim-impact statements to the court, because, you know, those tears didn’t have anything to do with being afraid of what might happen to him in prison. They had to be because he was sincere in his remorse.
Of course, to honestly believe that, you have to throw out Loveridge’s statement to his friends before the incident: “I swear I’m gonna bash someone tonight,” per The Northern Daily Leader. Clearly that’s what Justice Campbell did, although it is baffling why a judge would disregard what appears to be clear proof of premeditation.
“In my judgment the offender is very unlikely to re-offend,” Said Justice Campbell. “I have a very distinct impression that from the tragic consequences his offending has brought about, he has well and truly learnt his lesson.”
He went on: “I find that the combination of the offender's youth, remorse, prospects of rehabilitation and the need to structure sentences for multiple offences constitute special circumstances.”
Someone needs to remind Justice Campbell that using passive language does not bring back the dead. At 19 years old, Loveridge isn’t an “offender,” he’s a grown man and now a murderer, not some innocent youth. From Campbell’s statement, he spent more time considering the well-being of the criminal than he did the rights of the victim.
So, what’s a life worth these days? Well, if you kill someone and end up in Justice Campbell’s court, it’s worth four to six years, even if you tell everyone you intend to do random violence beforehand.
And as for the judges who have been passing McNeil around like a hot potato since 2006, should Christie pass away, they’ll probably put him on a 36-month good-behaviour bond or a 12-month suspended sentence for good behaviour or some mild combination of the two.
Of course, both McNeil and Loveridge were linked to alcohol at the time of the incidents, but that’s something that isn’t even a consideration to the powers-that-be (Premier Barry O’Farrell) if you ask NSW Labor Liquor Regulation spokesman Andrew MacDonald.
In addressing proposed legislation that could see liquor sales curbed via 1 a.m. lockouts and 3 a.m. “last drinks,” MacDonald said of Premier O’Farrell, per Jared Owens of The Australian (subscription required): “If he weren’t in bed with big alcohol, he would have passed this legislation by now.”
So, round we come back to MMA, the most convenient scapegoat to be had.
It’s ironic, though: Daniel Christie would honestly have been better off if McNeil had actually been an MMA fighter (and Thomas Kelly for that matter); the rules of the sport—especially in the UFC—would have kept them both much safer than the judges of their country, who have little concern with true justice.