I am deeply saddened, as many are, by the tragic death of Jill Meagher. She is, by association, someone to whom I would have been close. I left 774 at the beginning of 2010 and Jill started about then. She is a friend and colleague of many people still at the ABC who I call friends and I share their grief and loss.
I am saddened that this happened in Melbourne, that there are men preying on women in my town. This is not something that happened to Jill but an act of gross violence that was perpetrated by the accused. These things don’t just happen.
There are people calling now for the death penalty and I am saddened by that. We have not had the death penalty in Australia since Ronald Ryan was hanged in 1967. I hope as a civilisation, we have moved on. It has been proven time and again that the death penalty does not deter. It does not stop people acting when they are not in a reasonable state of mind. Anyone who would consider an act as heinous as this cannot be of reasonable mind. It is an act that is violent, that is disgusting and repugnant.
But what would be achieved if we put this man to death? Where would we be as a society if we condone the killing of another human being and to whom would we give that power? Who would be the person that would have the power to flick the switch or make that decision?
I hope that as we collectively grieve in our own ways about this series of events, that we remain calm. Baying for blood or the death of the assailant will not bring Jill back, will not stop other acts of violence being perpetrated against others and will not in any way make up for what has happened. I don’t believe that it was just one person responsible for this and I don’t think yet that the whole story has been told. (just my opinion, nothing more). We may never know entirely what happened because Jill is not here to tell us.
Honour Jill and her death in your own way, whether that is a march in the street or lighting a candle and reflecting quietly. Jon Faine, a workmate and friend of Jill’s had to do his job on radio this morning on Melbourne’s 774 ABC Melbourne and ABC Victoria. I am reflecting on what Jon had to say:
“Jill’s death must not come to define us. That’s not what it’s like to live in the Melbourne that we know. This is an exceptionally rare event. Its randomness is part of what is so incomprehensible about it… That is not life in the Melbourne that all of us know and we don’t want it to become in any way a definition of life in Melbourne today. ” – Jon Faine
I hope that as we allow our judicial system to do what it has to do, that we don’t, as the general public become judge, jury and executioner. I hope that as a civilised society, we can remain so and in doing so, be the better for it.
I send my condolences to Tom and to Jill’s family. I wont pretend to understand what they are going through, I wont pretend to know the right words to offer.
I also send my thoughts to friends at the ABC who will reflect individually and together about how this horrid crime will affect them. I know they will come together and support one another, I know the camaraderie in that workplace is tight and I know they will look after each other.
If we are to lean anything from Jills death, it is to look after one another. When we do that, we will all live in a place that is better off.