Who cares if Gaff’s a ‘good guy’?

On Monday morning Andrew Brayshaw woke up in hospital recovering from surgery to help set a broken jaw after Sunday’s Western Derby between Fremantle and West Coast. Sore and sorry, his debut season was over and all his food will be delivered via straw for the next month. If he chose to read the daily newspapers, or listen to morning radio, while he drank his breakfast, he might have been surprised by an apparent groundswell of goodwill and concern towards his attacker.

The defence begins

This misplaced application of victimhood upon Gaff seemed to stem from his apparent guilt and remorse for his actions. This sight of him being upset over breaking another man’s jaw enough to prompt a large number of media figures to trip over each other in their rush to offer their support. As is the case when there is an attempt to defend the indefensible a slew of passionate, but irrelevant, claims were inflicted upon us in rapid fire.

It was out of character we were told, as if that somehow made the incident any more palatable. Gaff only meant to punch him in the chest it was suggested, as if the intended location somehow made a deliberate punch more acceptable. The Eagle is a ‘good guy’ it was argued in some kind of misguided belief that this was more important than the broken jaw he had caused. He was distraught about his actions it was explained, as if this was a noble response rather than exactly what a person deserves for inflicting what he had upon another person.

When will we learn?

We have a serious problem in this country in that we just don’t take violence seriously, and these responses clearly illustrate that. The idea that Gaff is just unlucky that he broke Brayshaw’s jaw is as absurd as it is offensive. That he is somehow less liable for the outcome because he meant to punch him somewhere else is both ridiculous and dangerous logic. That he his just a good guy and that this is out of character is for advocates at the tribunal to argue and something that remains to be seen until he proves it over time on his return from his inevitable suspension.

When will we learn that when you choose a violent action, you are responsible for any catastrophic outcomes that follow? Excuses for violent acts, and the describing of those who commit them as ‘good guys’, has to end. There is only one victim in this sorry affair and it isn’t the bloke who threw a punch. Until we genuinely believe this and stop making excuses for those who choose violence, more people like Andrew Brayshaw will suffer the consequences of other people’s ‘misfortune’.


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