We’ve all become accustomed to stories of inexplicable violence in big international cities. Whether it occurs in a church in Normandy, with a truck in Nice, a bomb in Brussels or gunmen in Paris, the overwhelming cruelty and the emotions that they evoke still seem, somehow, distant. But when they occur in our own back yard, in a city we know and identify with, the violence becomes very, very personal. To those of us who protest at the increasing involvement of the State in our personal affairs on the justification of “homeland security”, it raises difficult questions of values and priorities. To those of us who are suspicious of the powers and actions of our police forces, it compels us to confront the reality that there are some among us who will harm and even kill us for absolutely no reason whatsoever. To those who dismiss the law and order agendas of many of our politicians it forces a consideration of which is the greater evil – a community that has the freedom to behave (virtually) as it wishes with the sure knowledge that many will come to harm as a result or a community more tightly regulated in the hope that the more random acts of violence can somehow be minimised. The senseless killing of at least three of our fellow citizens in Melbourne raises these questions in stark relief.