Thoughts on Bachar Houli

I’m a big fan of Bachar Houli. He started his career at the Bombers before he left for Richmond. So I’m probably a bit biased. Anyway …

Looking at the vision it looks to me like any one of a number of similar incidents on an AFL field every weekend. Player puts out the “don’t argue”. Except this time, the recipient was knocked unconscious. Houli eventually got a 4 week suspension which is probably about right.

But …

If Jed Lamb hadn’t have been knocked out, Houli might have gotten a week, or nothing. Herein lies one of a number problems – problems that are not unique to the AFL.

A lot of the debate has revolved around whether or not Houli is a person of good character. He got character references. Now the thing is we all know he is a good and clean player. We don’t need the PM to tell us that. Any fan of the game knows that. So, quite rightly, people have argued that we should penalise the action and not the person.

But …

The fact is we don’t penalise the action, we penalise the consequence. Putting out the “don’t argue” isn’t the problem, the problem is Lamb got knocked out. I suspect if Houli had knocked out a player on his own side that there would be no consequence.

So let’s think about the points we have established. We should punish actions and not people and punish actions and not consequences.

Now let’s give some thought to applying those principles to the criminal justice system.

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70 Responses to Thoughts on Bachar Houli

  1. Alexi the Conservative Russian

    You are correct in that you are biased. It appeared to me to be a premeditated assault. If this had been on a public thoroughfare he would likely be charged with criminal assault. Lets think about this on principles rather than emotion which I think you are guilty of Sinc. The guy clobbers someone deliberately, think of what message this transmits to young followers of the game, so he should be expelled for the remainder of the year as far as I am concerned. Let me get emotional now, its my turn, the guy demonstrates the actions of a thug and should be treated as such. I call Rugby League Thugby for the obvious reason. This guy should be playing Thugby.

  2. A “don’t argue” is usually a strong push. Very rarely does a “don’t argue” travel towards the face.
    Houli swung his fist at head height.
    It was designed to hurt, not shrug Lamb off.
    Sinc’s logic would have coward punches in NSW leading to death being treated as just a minor assault.

  3. candy

    He biffed Lamb hard and deliberately. I don’t think much of his character.

  4. Sinclair Davidson

    Sinc’s logic would have coward punches in NSW leading to death being treated as just a minor assault.

    No I don’t think so.

    Deliberately hitting somebody at random leading to death should be murder without the legislature having to intervene.

  5. chrisl

    I think you got the nuance of a “Don’t Argue” wrong
    Houli was trying to break the illegal tackle of his opponent as he was trying to make position downfield
    He accidentally hit in the head and knocked him out
    He didn’t intentionally knock him out.
    His good record was taken into account at the first tribunal hearing.
    Until the backlash.
    Then it wasn’t.

  6. jupes

    Fair enough Sinc, however you missed the main point.

    The Basher didn’t get off lightly originally because he is a ‘good bloke’, he got off because he is a Muslim. A celebrity Muslim vouched for him in the tribunal and the Prime Minister – who has probably met him only two or three times – praised him and this testimony was read out at the tribunal. Waleed Aly and Malcolm Turnbull’s testimony has never been given, or been required at any Kafur’s tribunal hearing.

    Even the Social Justice Warriors at the AFL realised this was taking multiculturalism too far* and appealed.

    * Apparently they might have received a few calls from irate club presidents.

  7. Suburban Boy

    “We should punish actions and not people and punish actions and not consequences.”

    That’s a fair point, but at some stage you have to include “intention” in the justice equation. A given action could be made with a wide range of intentions (as well as a wide range of consequences). A punch to the head might be intended only to stop someone holding on to one’s jumper, or it might be intended to kill the victim.

    The same action is involved, and the consequences could be trivial, fatal or somewhere in the middle, but the attacker’s intention surely needs to be considered in assessing the moral seriousness of the action.

  8. Sinclair Davidson

    chrisl – I don’t disagree with that. It may well be that the character references from the PM and Walid Ali did him in. I hope not.

  9. Infidel Tiger

    Houli had no intention of hitting the head, but that doesn’t matter under the capricious AFL laws.

    Incredibky stupid defence guaranteed he was suspended for longer than he deserved. Fancy bringing as character witnesses the two smuggest and most hated men in Australia. He would have been better served getting sheik Hilaly and Pauline Hanson.

  10. Sean

    Apparently references are a part of the system, so you can’t blame the tigers for using them to try and reduce his sentence.

  11. Infidel Tiger

    A normal player would have got 3 weeks. He has paid the price for running with a bad crowd.

    His life won’t improve until he makes better decisions and dissociates himself from bad elements like Muslim hate preachers and far left economic wreckers.

  12. Sinclair Davidson

    That’s a fair point, but at some stage you have to include “intention” in the justice equation.

    Yes. That is becomes a problem too though. I think intention has become oversold. Take for example the one-punch attacks.

    So perp punches somebody, they fall over, hit their head, and die. Sure the perp didn’t intend to kill them, but he did intend to do harm. That harm lead to death. I can’t see why that isn’t murder. Now I understand why in a society with the death penalty that the legal system would split hairs to avoid execution, but in a society without the death penalty the definition of murder can be tightened up.

  13. Leigh Lowe

    OSC is right.
    The “don’t argue” is usually delivered with a stiff arm and open hand to the upper chest. The objective is to unbalance the opponent and prevent any purchase being gained in a tackle.
    The action to break an “off the ball” tackle from a pursuing player is often delivered as a swipe with the open hand backwards at torso level, as that is usually where the grappling occurs. The “tagger” rarely grabs at shoulder or head level as that is too obvious.
    Basher looked back then swung a fist (not open hand) at head height. Maybe a split second decision but deliberate nonetheless.

  14. Leigh Lowe

    His life won’t improve until he makes better decisions and dissociates himself from bad elements like Muslim hate preachers and far left economic wreckers …

    … and Richmond Footy Club.

  15. chrisl

    Infidel : I know you are just taking the pi5s but are there any good muslims ?
    I think I met 3 today but I can’t be sure because they all had beards

  16. Leigh Lowe

     Fancy bringing as character witnesses the two smuggest and most hated men in Australia. He would have been better served getting sheik Hilaly and Pauline Hanson.

    I would have gone with Dusty Martin Snr and Jake King, but the point is valid.

  17. Andrew

    The Basher didn’t get off lightly originally because he is a ‘good bloke’, he got off because he is a Muslim. A celebrity Muslim vouched for him in the tribunal and the Prime Minister – who has probably met him only two or three times.

    I would have thought 1-2x fewer than that. I asked that question today: How the fuck does the PM (a telco exec from Potts Point, who “works” in Canberra) know Basher (a Muslim footballer from Melbourne)?? I can only assume he met him once, at the Iftar tongue-bathing, and even then he would have been distracted by Squalid Alley.

    Do courts or other judicial bodies routinely accept character references from people who don’t know the accused from a bar of soap?

    What would the reference have said? “I met him once, at Iftar, and he didn’t commit any serious crimes that night”?

    It’s possible that Squalid knows Basher, but I don’t accept that St Malcolm does. Not one bit.

  18. Sinclair Davidson

    Andrew – my understanding is the Richmond Football Club quoted Turnbull saying good things about Houli from a previous occasion.

  19. Leigh Lowe

    Correct Sinc.
    They were speech notes from Trumble spraying our money at the Hooley Moozley Academy earlier on Tuesday.
    Completely disingenuous and unethical of Richmond to use it as a character witness statement.

  20. Rabz

    the Richmond Football Club quoted Turnbull saying good things about Houli from a previous occasion

    With hindsight, a rather regrettable action for them to have taken.

    Anyway, I’ll look forward to reading excerpts of the breathless meeja screeching about the islamic imbecile being booed for rest of the season due to various ALPFL fans being waaaaacists.

  21. hzhousewife

    It’s possible that Squalid knows Basher, but I don’t accept that St Malcolm does. Not one bit.

    I think they met just the other day, when St Malc gave Basher about 600,000 smackeroos for his Foundation.

  22. Hydra

    If you swing your head hard enough at a player’s head that they get knocked out then I consider that intent and 4 weeks is the right punishment.

    Otherwise agree with you Sinc

  23. Rabz

    OK – for my sins, I’ve just watched the video.

    That is a blatant swinging arm with clenched fist deliberately aimed at the head of an opponent who was nowhere near the ball.

    Anyone who tries to dress it up as anything else is either dishonest, an idiot, or both.

  24. jupes

    How the fuck does the PM (a telco exec from Potts Point, who “works” in Canberra) know Basher (a Muslim footballer from Melbourne)?? I can only assume he met him once, at the Iftar tongue-bathing, and even then he would have been distracted by Squalid Alley.

    The PM lives at Point Piper Andrew, not Potts Point.

    Anyhoo, he has met the Basher at least twice. You are correct about the Iftar dinner last year. The Basher was seated at the cool kids’ table with the PM, Waleed Aly and Yassmin Abdel Magied. I have also seen a photo of Turnbull visiting an AFL event for Musso kiddies hosted by the Basher.

    Still, how does that deserve a character reference?

  25. candy

    Rabz, yes, which is why he went to arguably the two most respected/elite status influential men in Australia for a reference, to gloss it over.

  26. marcus w

    Doomlord … you raise a ggod point … the “one punch rule “.
    i imagine that on the average sat night many people receive a “one punch “…. and most are not fatal …and some receive 10 punches and do not die ….the arbitrary sentencing based on outcome , not intent , seems a bit inflexible .

  27. .

    If only Rugby League would clean up the cheap hits as well.

  28. Rabz

    dotters, if league cleaned up the cheap hits it wouldn’t be league.

  29. Infidel Tiger

    Infidel : I know you are just taking the pi5s but are there any good muslims ?
    I think I met 3 today but I can’t be sure because they all had beards

    There are millions of good Muslims. Wonderful
    People.

    But there is no good Islam.

  30. marcus w

    I only saw footage ….. he didn’t even look back….. swung a punch into the area of the “problem”….. lucky punch … ( obviously not lucky for recipient )

  31. chrisl

    Rabz How would you have persuaded your opponent who was illegally holding you to “Be gone you dastardly foe!”
    The game of AFL has become so crowded that often 36 players are in a quarter of the ground
    Illegal tackles ,holding and blocking are commonplace and cant be policed
    The Carlton player would have been coached to tackle Houli because he is a very important linking running player (stop Houli)
    Houli was trying to persuade him to stop and desist
    That’s football

  32. Rabz

    he didn’t even look back

    We must have been watching videos of completely different incidents then.

  33. Rabz

    How would you have persuaded your opponent who was illegally holding you to “Be gone you dastardly foe!”

    Well duuh, by giving him a knuckle sammich, obviously*.

    *Sentence may contain elements of “troothiness”.

  34. marcus w

    ok Rabz … correct … he looked back … but as I saw it the punch was thrown blind ..

  35. Sinclair Davidson

    but as I saw it the punch was thrown blind ..

    Yes – his head was turned, but it was a blind a punch and therefore under the rules “reckless”.

  36. marcus w

    Sinc … you are a wise man … not only all over the machinations of economics but also of the rules of AFL

  37. OldOzzie

    Larry Pickering sums it up for me

    BASHING AFL OPPONENTS UNCONSCIOUS IS STILL JUST A CULTURAL THING

    This bloke, Richmond’s Bachar Houli, should have been outed for life for the way he king-hit an opposing player off the ball, but his sentence of two weeks’ suspension by the AFL Tribunal seemed more than a little curious.

    Obviously there was more to this than met the eye and there were some sound reasons why he should not have been suspended at all. The word was, as a culturally, sensitive, devout Muslim he was not expected to be punished in any way. But he made two bad errors.

    Apparently just as he was about to be let off altogether, he produced a reference from that smarmy, token fellow Muslim, from “The Project”. That silly move got him one week’s suspension from the Tribunal and then he was stupid enough to produce another reference from PM Turnbull that got him another week’s suspension….Two weeks altogether.

    The Board agreed that the sentence was still a light one but admitted that there were cultural differences that needed to be taken into account.

    The AFL has already agreed to provide more prayer rooms adjoining change areas to encourage more Muslim players to the game but refused a written request from the local mosque to provide AK47s after losing matches.

    The AFL is still considering Eddie McGuire’s objection to IEDs being allowed to Richmond team members when playing Collingwood.

  38. Just Interested

    Looked pretty high range reckless to me.

  39. Hydra

    If it was on concrete Jed Lamb could be dead.

    Let that sink in.

  40. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    That is a blatant swinging arm with clenched fist deliberately aimed at the head of an opponent who was nowhere near the ball.

    With you on that one – he turned around, looked directly at the other player, and threw a punch with enough force to knock him unconscious.

  41. jupes

    Yes – his head was turned, but it was a blind a punch and therefore under the rules “reckless”.

    Yeah nah.

    The match review panel deemed it “intentional”. So did the tribunal and the appeals board. Houli’s defence tried to argue that he was aiming for the chest but have a look at the vision. I know Houli unbelievably claimed that he “had never hit anyone in his life” but even if that was the case, you would think he could aim a bit better than that.

    They don’t call him the Basher for nothing.

  42. Sinclair Davidson

    So Larry Pickering is a Carlton supporter?

  43. jupes

    Larry Pickering sums it up for me

    LOL

    Has anyone seen Pickering and Infidel Tiger in the same room?

  44. Sinclair Davidson

    Oh please – if anyone seriously thinks that Houli intentionally knocked someone out they should call the cops. I’m quite happy to believe that he intentionally struck at Lamb.

  45. Infidel Tiger

    Pickering disgusts me to my core. He is a thief and a conman and should be in jail.

  46. Sinclair Davidson

    Has anyone seen Pickering and Infidel Tiger in the same room?

    No. But to be fair. Infidel Tiger is always very funny.

  47. Infidel Tiger

    If it was on concrete Jed Lamb could be dead.

    Let that sink in.

    If they played on concrete there would be several deaths a game.

    Houli should have got three weeks. He runs with a bad crowd and got an extra whack.

    I almost feel sorry for him.

  48. Leo G

    The fact is we don’t penalise the action, we penalise the consequence.

    A penalty is imposed for a violation of a rule and aggravated by the consequences. Establishing intent is impractical for most incidents on a football field, but the action and consequences are readily ascertained- that’s why the football judiciary usually requires video records of the action during most matches.

  49. Sinclair Davidson

    A penalty is imposed for a violation of a rule and aggravated by the consequences.

    That is a good theory and I understand the argument. But we have also seen instances where players from the same team collide or injure each other and no action is taken.

  50. jupes

    But we have also seen instances where players from the same team collide or injure each other and no action is taken.

    It would be ridiculous for the AFL to take action in that case. Any issue of recklessness will be dealt with by the club at the selection table.

  51. GerardO

    I don’t care about Houli. My only hope is that the Giants win the flag, and send the Vic footy fans insane.

  52. Sinclair Davidson

    My only hope is that the Giants win the flag, and send the Vic footy fans insane.

    That’s the spirit!

  53. Armchair Spaceman

    Fun Fact: “Don’t Argue” was Don Argus’s nickname when he was Chairman at NAB (and while he was Chancellor at RMIT)

  54. mundi

    AFL is very much outcome based. Just watch the hit and the umpire. The umpire did nothing and only paid it when he realised the carlton player was knocked out. A clip over the ear by two players well behind the ball is usually just play on because no one is hurt.

  55. Leo G

    But we have also seen instances where players from the same team collide or injure each other and no action is taken.

    Yes. Often rules are framed to minimise the risk of injury, but without some perception of risk by the spectators, there is no spectator interest. The purpose of the game isn’t to play by those rules, but to win in a way that excites the crowd. The rules are merely a necessary constraint applied judiciously.

  56. Sinclair Davidson

    Leo G – that I understand too. At some level the rules are profoundly pragmatic and I can even respect that. But say so.

  57. Jannie

    It was an illegal punch thrown at the head, would have been illegal in League and Union. Blind punch or not, it had enough force to fell a strong man. In Union he would have got at least six weeks suspension because it would have been a foul against a legal tackle.

    But four weeks is about right, football is not for wimps.

  58. Sinc, the action brought on the consequence. I rest my case.

  59. Leigh Lowe

    Hypothetical.
    Fact … I fire a shot from a gun.
    Scenario 1 … My intent is to kill my neighbour. The outcome is his death. That is murder.
    Scenario 2 … My intent is to kill my neighbour. I miss. That is attempted murder.
    Scenario 3 … My intent is to shoot a cockatoo on the fence. The outcome is I miss the bird and kill my neighbour. That is manslaughter.
    Scenario 4 … My intent is to just to fire my gun for fun. I miss everyone and everything. I am a right wing nutter and have my gun confiscated.

  60. Rohan

    Houli’s hit is no different to big bad Barry Halls hit 9 years ago.

    https://youtu.be/l5qVLJEOTpo

  61. Notafan

    Accident is not the same as on purpose is it?

  62. Roger

    Curious:

    Is Houli still in denial?

    No admission…no contrition?

    Surely that would go to his character, which everyone seems so keen to talk up.

    Anyone can snap upon provocation, but most are contrite when the damage caused is out of proportion to the provoking offence.

  63. Rebel with cause

    Life’s not fair.

    You fall asleep at the wheel and drive into the ditch then the matter will probably stay between you and your insurance company, you fall asleep at the wheel and cross into the opposite lane and take out a family in holiday then you are probably doing jail time.

  64. Romeo Whiskey

    I don’t follow AFL – but I think the general situation is that one player was engaged in illegal activity by holding back, and the “guilty” player was trying to extricate himself from that player.

    Cause and action. I strongly doubt the “guilty” guy was trying to cause any serious damage.

    I’ve seem similar events occurring in union as well. Generally the “guilty” player is yellow carded.

    My view is – if you don’t want the horns, don’t mess with the bull. Unfortunately the rules don’t follow the same view.

  65. The AFL tribunal used to be made up of retired judges and lawyers, I assume that’s still the case.
    We have numerous court cases where the offender was dealt with lightly because of “cultural differences”.
    Bashar Houli tried to get a lighter than usual sentence by playing his cultural card.
    In my book, that makes Bashar Houli a low life son of a b!tch. Who you pray to or who you copulate with should have no bearing on sentences.

    Imagine a gay footballer asking for a lighter sentence because gays are usually less aggressive. Houli asked for a lighter sentence because he is a member of the “religion of peace”. In fact world events show the opposite. I’d have given the pr!ck 12 weeks.

  66. History

    I cannot comment on the man’s character as I do not know him, but the fact that he can produce references from the likes of Turnbull and Walli is contra-indicative of good character. Also, that he thought signalling his acquaintance with this pair would assist his cause raises serious doubts about his judgement and intelligence (perhaps that was the real intent of his legal team – effectively a plea of insanity?)

  67. Stimpson J. Cat

    But we have also seen instances where players from the same team collide or injure each other and no action is taken.

    I think Basher plays for a different team than the one I support.
    And he hit someone from an opposition team.
    Oh well Inshallah.

  68. whyisitso

    Lamb was holding on the Houli when he was hit. When I was a boy (many decades ago) the VFL used to have a rule against “holding the man” when the ball wasn’t close. Obviously since been repealed.

  69. Nick

    His hand swings back at the height of his opponents’ head. Worse, he turns to follow where his arm is headed. He intended to give Lamb a good slap, he was definitely negligent and should have gotten four weeks.

    As I said on the Open Thread, the comment by the AFL that “I want to reassure Bachar that he will continue to be held in high standing and high regard in our game, and in our community “, only illustrate the AFL’s hypocrisy, one of any number of examples. Their inaction over drug use at the Eagles being one.

  70. GoTiges

    A bit late to this, but I agree with some others that have pointed out that he was being illegally held, and so Bachar intended to hit him, but he didn’t intend to knock him out.
    One of the posters at a Richmond supporters website posted this. I thought it was funny..

    I wonder if there is another AFL body, maybe the AFL Supreme, that the AFL body can appeal to against themselves for appealing against the AFL tribunal’s decision which was passed on by the AFL MRP who were too scared (or not allowed) to make a decision on what should have been an open and shut case. Maybe AFL need to drug test themselves as there’s been some very peculiar happenings going on.

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