Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Kings Cross gangster murdered: prohibition takes another life

Apparently he was a Kings Cross gangster named Todd O'Connor. Apparently he might have been involved in a drug supply gang called "Notorious". But maybe not. In any case he was murdered in Tempe on Sunday night, shot through the head. 

And apparently all the bikie gangs of Sydney are competing for the lucrative drugs turf in Kings Cross.

While this fallout from drug prohibition makes for colourful news stories, we don't need it any more than Chicago needed Al Capone. The sooner we discard this dysfunctional way of managing drugs and redirect the wasted $$ millions into productive directions, the sooner we can enjoy a much happier society. Are you listening, Premier Rees?


Anonymous said...

Maybe prohibition is warranted if you end up like the drug crazed John O'Connor.

The Editor said...

Pal was certainly not crazy. But the main point is the glaring fallacy in the anonymous point of view above -- whatever Pal was, it was happening under prohibition (or haven't you noticed the sniffer dogs?)! So if he was 'drug-crazed' it's further evidence that prohibition does not work. How you conclude the opposite is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous. Do you drive a car? Have you seen a serious car accident victim? Maybe they should ban cars if you end up like that.


Anonymous 2

Anonymous said...

I saw john O’Connor daily. He trashed the front yards of propertied in Kellett St. Defecated in them, brought in boxes , bottles and assorted rubbish and needles and created as a sort of shelter. It was unimagined filth which I documented.

He dug through the garbage bins and scattered their contents everywhere. He collected the contents of used syringes and took them back to his shelter where he collected their contents into small piles and re inserted them into other needles . I believe he injected this concoction into himself.

He walked around and urinated into his trousers. He was filthy beyond comprehension. He often asked me for money to buy food. One friend never gave the cash but bought him food or coffee.

Digging through the bins he conducted loud conversations with himself.

He made living in Kellet St hideous.

“Pal was certainly not crazy”

The Editor said...

And I wonder how you would live if you had drawn Pal's hand in the game of life?

We know life on the street isn't pretty. It's typical of the judgemental conservative mind to blame the victim, not the system as shaped by Liberal Nick Greiner when he closed down the psychiatric institutions to save money -- but never authorised the budget for compensatory care that he promised.

The joke is that Pal, "the million dollar man' as he was styled in the media, cost the health system more to keep him in abject poverty on the street.

Yes, he was messy but I liked him a lot. He had a heart of gold.

The Editor said...

And another thing... whenever I gave Pal money and checked on where he spent it, it was always what he had said he would spend it on -- things like a hot cup of coffee on a cold, rainy winter's night.

He was more honest than most of us.

Anonymous said...

Maybe John O'Connor took a chance when he took drugs. Who knows - what came first - the egg or the chicken ?

Nevertheless he once was a normal individual according to his peers.

SMH letters 6 October

"Heroin addiction a condition not a crime

I was shocked to see John O'Connor on the front page of the Herald, though sadly not surprised he was dead ("Death of a million-dollar man: we paid to keep him homeless", October 4-5).

I knew John as a young man, indeed, smoked my first joint with him and then saw from afar his fast descent into hard drugs, a walking lesson to myself and my peers on what heroin did to a bright and inquisitive mind.

In more recent times I'd seen him locally - now he served as a warning to my children. I never helped, bar some loose change he'd ask for. He didn't recognise me, he was too far gone.

Who knows what a different outcome there might have been if, early on, his heroin addiction had been treated as a medical condition instead of a crime.

Rest in peace John.

Michael McHugh Potts Point "

Yes driving can be dangerous and so can many other endeavors such as the daily newspapers reveal. But to inject substances to get a thrill into ones blood stream so that it that passes through the heart, lungs and brain defies any form of logic.

The Editor said...

Anonymous just doesn't get it. He/she says:

"Yes driving can be dangerous and so can many other endeavors... But to inject substances to get a thrill into ones blood stream so that it that passes through the heart, lungs and brain defies any form of logic."

In your opinion, anonymous, in your opinion. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Lewis Carroll, ST Coleridge, Ken Kesey, Hunter S Thompson and William Burroughs just to name a few disagree with you. They made their own cost-benefit analysis and made their own choice about their bodies, just as you have about yours.

Risk is risk and I cannot see the difference between risk from drugs, the risk of being splattered all over a car windscreen or the 27% risk of death people face when they climb the mountain K2.

The distinction you make between types of risk is based on nothing but prejudice. And the simple fact is, the risks from drugs would be much lower under a system of controlled availability.

Anonymous said...

Mate, I had a friend who injected heroin into his eye just to get the rush to his brain quicker.

He destroyed all around him- his family and his friends in his decline and eventual death in squalid conditions- harming all of us who cared. It was long slow and tortuous. Climbing K2 is a different thrill.

Goodness knows what O'Connor's family had to endure watching this

The Editor said...

Terrible. Who would do it? The fact that this happened under prohibition says a lot. Wouldn't happen in a supervised facility.

I know of similar stories. These people represent less than one percent of drug users, so why do the other 99% have to be punished for the self-destructive behaviour of a very few?

Climbing K2 is a different thrill but the principle is the same. Risk is risk.

The Editor said...

PS Anonymous, thanks for the link to the funeral story.

Anonymous said...

More on O'Connor

Anonymous said...

Maybe some good will come out of the death of this wretched and tragic figure. But the sycophantic tributes are nauseating and hypocritical.

The Editor said...

Dear anonymous:

You might be nauseated but in what way is Adele Horin -- or myself for that matter -- hypocritical?

And how the #%&* are you getting blogger to carry html links in these comments? My instructions are:

"You can use some HTML tags, such as tags for [bold, italic etc]"

Anonymous said...

I think that what Anonymous is saying is that its not you or Adel Horin who are hypocritical. Rather the people who are crying crocodile tears for their "Pal".

A lot more needed to be done to help him other than carting him off to a hospital and put him back on the street and to live in the front yard of Deans.

Anonymous said...

Correct !

The Editor said...

"Correct!" says Anonymous 1.

However the people responsible for the lack of care for Pal and his ilk are not crying crocodile tears. Rather, it's the poor sods at the bottom of the heap -- nurses, pastors, Police etc -- who are speaking out.

The nabobs of the government and bureaucracy are, true to form, ignoring it until it goes away. It's all just "background noise" to them (as Michael Costa once put it).

Anonymous said...

Smh letters 12 October 2008

Homeless need more than a roof over their head

Adele Horin's article is a timely reminder that homelessness in a developed country such as Australia is an indictment of the failures of governments of all hues to provide for its fringe dwellers ("Help the destitute and save money - New York proved it", October 11-12).

Having worked in the sector for the past 10 years it occurs to me that homelessness is not really the lack of a roof over one's head but a state of alienation or estrangement from the mainstream. Typically, a homeless person has experienced a trauma event and then developed dysfunctional coping responses, has little or no family or community support, and may veer into psychosis.

What follows is any combination of substance abuse, criminality, mental illness and isolation. Most homeless people need sufficient time in which to deal with deep-seated issues that entrench them in a cycle from which it becomes harder to break free the longer they remain in the system. And yet in the very way it purports to offer its support, it is the system that is one of the contributing factors to prolonging the condition of homelessness. The system churns people in and out of agencies because of a lack of resources or professionally trained staff to deal adequately with the numbers, according to strict timeframes, and the necessity for agencies to generate statistics required to justify funding applications. This causes disruption to vital relationships between client and support worker and breeds a self-oriented view among agencies whose roles become conflicted between caring for their client base and fighting for their existence.

While many homeless people would benefit from an immediate roof over their heads, a significant proportion of the homeless have had jobs, accommodation and been in relationships, only to see all these founder time and again. John O'Connor would not so much have benefited from a home as a long period in involuntary psychiatric care followed by placement in a long-term program that enables people to confront and resolve issues, achieve stability and learn living skills.

The short-sighted mainstream argument is that the costs of managing homeless people in this way outweigh the benefits. The O'Connor case is merely one example of how flawed this view is.

Fred Jansohn
Rose Bay