Contrite? I’m not surprised.

You may have heard news of a Sheffield Hallam student being ordered to  carry out 250 hours of community service after urinating on a war memorial.

The first year, Philip Laing, had been drinking large quantities of alcohol both before and during an organised pub crawl.

District judge Anthony Browne did not give Laing a jail sentence because he had “never seen anyone more contrite” before him.

I’m not surprised.  After just a couple of months away at university, he wouldn’t have imagined all this.  There are plenty students who get carried away and do ridiculous things due to a mixture of cheap drink, excitement, a sense of new freedom, and a want to fit in.  Enjoying freedom and wanting to fit in do contradict each other, but we’re contradictory people in many ways.  It’s complicated…

As well as getting carried away, there’s the matter of cost.  Students on a budget (i.e. the majority) often find that soft drinks can cost a lot more than an alcoholic drink.  A quid for a pint of beer, or three quid for a pint of Coke?  Make that three pints, please.

Over at the Times website, someone commented on Laing’s actions, suggesting, “The guy chose war wreaths, not lamp post, not kerb, he knew the value of what he was de-facing”.

I disagree.  If he was truly making a statement by choosing a war wreath, I very much doubt he would be so contrite and devastated at what  unfolded after the event took place.  Even if he did have some thought about where he wanted to pee, I bet it was pretty nonsensical, drunken gibberish.  Alcohol does that, especially in large quantities.

As the judge said, the behaviour, and the drinking which preceded it,  is the responsibility of Philip Laing and no other person.  But to imagine he had an agenda is almost certainly misguided.  He was out on a bender.  The organised pub crawl, by Carnage UK, gave students the opportunity to buy alcoholic drinks for £1.  Unsurprisingly, Laing became ridiculously drunk and cannot remember the evening.

Scarier still, Laing had been drinking whisky BEFORE going out that night.  But some people do drink before they go out (I’ve known plenty).  And they get very drunk.  And they do stupid things.

Pretty much everyone I know who drinks to get drunk agrees it’s daft and can be dangerous, but that’s not enough (at first, at least) to stop some of them.  With events companies promoting cheap nights of partying, it’s clear that we won’t see the end of drunken antics any time soon.

If Laing’s act had been deliberate and out of hate, that would be deeply shocking.  However, a moment of drunken stupidity is more careless and irresponsible than anything else.  While the actions were not accidental, I’m sure they were not deliberate either.  He deserves his punishment, he seems to acknowledge that, and hopefully he’ll think twice before getting too drunk in future.

Next week, I’ll post on enjoying yourself without getting drunk.

You may have heard news of a Sheffield Hallam student being ordered tocarry out 250 hours of community service after urinating on a warmemorial.The first year, Philip Laing, had been drinking large quantities ofalcohol both before and during an organised pub crawl.

District judge Anthony Browne did not give Laing a jail sentence because

he had “never seen anyone more contrite” before him.

I’m not surprised.  After just a couple of months away at university, he

wouldn’t have imagined all this.  There are plenty students who get

carried away and do ridiculous things due to a mixture of cheap drink,

excitement, a sense of new freedom, and a want to fit in.  Enjoying

freedom and wanting to fit in do contradict each other, but we’re

contradictory people in many ways.  It’s complicated…

As well as getting carried away, there’s the matter of cost.  Students

on a budget (i.e. the majority) often find that soft drinks can cost a

lot more than an alcoholic drink.  A quid for a pint of beer, or three

quid for a pint of Coke?  Make that three pints, please.

Over at the Times website, someone commented on Laing’s actions,

suggesting, “The guy chose war wreaths, not lamp post, not kerb, he knew

the value of what he was de-facing”.

I disagree.  If he was truly making a statement by choosing a war

wreath, I very much doubt he would be so contrite and devestated at what

unfolded after the event took place.  Even if he did have some thought

about where he wanted to pee, I bet it was pretty nonsensical, drunken

gibberish.  Alcohol does that, especially in large quantities.

As the judge said, the behaviour, and the drinking which preceeded it,

is the responsibility of Philip Laing and no other person.  But to

imagine he had an agenda is almost certainly misguided.  He was out on a

bender.  The organised pub crawl, by Carnage UK, gave students the

opportunity to buy alcoholic drinks for £1.  Unsurprisingly, Laing

became ridiculously drunk and cannot remember the evening.

Even scarier, Laing had shared a bottle of whisky BEFORE going out that

night.  But some people do drink before they go out (I’ve known plenty).

And they get very drunk.  And they do stupid things.

Pretty much everyone I know who drinks to get drunk agrees it’s daft and

can be dangerous, but that’s not enough (at first, at least) to stop

some people.  And with events companies promoting cheap nights of

partying, it’s clear that we won’t see the end of drunken antics any

time soon.

If Laing’s act had been deliberate and out of hate, that would be deeply

shocking.  However, a moment of drunken stupidity is nothing more than

careless and irresponsible.  While the actions were not accidental, I’m

sure they were not deliberate either.  He deserves his punishment, he

seems to acknowledge that, and hopefully he’ll think twice before

getting too drunk in future.

Next week, I’ll post on enjoying yourself without getting drunk.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6933293.ece
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/nov/26/student-urinated-war-memorial-s

entenced
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/south_yorkshire/8380214.stm

2 comments

  1. I agree with you that Philip Laing is not the monstrous bad guy some of the press have painted him to be. My son is the same age and I feel so sorry for Philip Laing and his family too – his entire future has changed completely because he went out, got blind drunk and did something stupid – not malicious. If we are honest, we’ve all done stupid things in our teens and most of us have been lucky enough to get away with them and think, “phew I won’t do that again” and there’s an end to it whereas he has lost his place at Uni, has a criminal record and what chance does he have of getting into another Uni anytime soon? I do think the real ‘monsters’ in this piece have got away lightly i.e. the truly vile ‘Carnage UK’ who shower freshers students (just kids on their first big adventure away from home) with copious amounts of cheap alcohol, encourage them to get almost comatose on drink, pocket a massive profit and then walk away with a shrug going “not our responsibility” when things go wrong. They are profiteers and they don’t seem to give a toss about what happens to their customers, or to the cities they litter with vomit and empties on their pub crawls. I wish they could be banned before someone dies through either a drink induced coma or drink induced violence following one of their ‘events’.

    1. The Guardian reported today that the alcohol industry is ‘targeting young people’.

      After speaking to some current Freshers at uni, some of them seek out events that promote heavy drinking and treat any occasion to drink as the best thing about being a student. One student even found a recent ‘Carnage UK’ event a bit “meh” and told me he prefers to organise his own excuses to drink. ‘Carnage UK’ like to mention that they have dedicated medical staff on hand and “wants the students to be safe“. But, as you say, companies have to think about profit.

      I don’t know what would happen if alcohol wasn’t targeted at young people, or if advertising alcohol was banned outright. With new licensing conditions being introduced by the government later this year, it’s a move toward more sensible practice, but how much it will make a difference? Only time will tell.

      So long as there are students who want to drink copious amounts of alcohol, there is no reason anyone in the alcohol industry will stop promoting where it could help profits. Unless regulations are tightened and authorities keep up with developments within the industry, I can’t see much changing.

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