Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You don’t want to be a hoon

Hoon charged. The headline caught my eye as we came through Customs after arriving in Perth, Australia, and I recall musing about it. “Hoon… that’s an odd name.”

But over the next weeks, it became clear that “hoon” was not a person’s name at all. According to a Wikipedia explanation, the term is “derogatory term used in Australia and New Zealand, to refer to a young person who engages in loutish, anti-social behaviour. In particular, it is used to refer to one who drives a car in a manner which is anti-social by the standards of contemporary society, that is, fast, noisily and/or dangerously.”

Another headline about hoons in the June 24 Midwest Times, Geraldton, WA.

Since April, I’ve seen and heard many references to hoons—all negative. What’s more, unlike many of the terms we are used to seeing for anti-social behaviour—vandals, hooligans—the term “hoon” seems to carry a much heavier weight of general social censure and ridicule here.

Evidence of hoon behaviour in Rockingham, WA
If someone is a hoon, the implication is that they are not just socially irresponsible, but also stupid, and unworthy of the attention of even their friends.

Anti-hoon laws in various jurisdictions have resulted in vehicle confiscations. Whether or not it has been a deterrent to the behaviour is not clear, but if you are an Australian with any aspirations of fitting into your community, you certainly do not want to be labelled a hoon.