I love my family..

Aug 9th, 2011 | Filed under Uncategorized

Conversation on Facebook between my father and brother…

Dad:

Couldn’t have put it better

Zeinobia [Egyptian blogger and activist who took part in the protests that forced ex-Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak from power] : “I am sorry but you do not loot to object the murder of a young man, you are using his murder.”

Brother:

Bit of a straw man argument, that. The riots are an irrational outburst by people who have been pushed to breaking point. The shooting was the catalyst but this isn’t a calculated protest with clear aims.

Dad:

“but this isn’t a calculated protest with clear aims” …

… except it looks as if there were clear aims. Set a few random fires and do a bit of early Christmas looting. I would also suggest that these disturbances were well planned and co-ordinated, therefore not just an “irrational outburst”. I reserve judgement on the Tottenham riot as that could have been genuine local anger against the police/establishment/etc. Altho’why they burnt their own shops, etc is a mystery

Brother:

I should have said “clear political aims”. People are using the looting to discredit a political agenda to which the rioters aren’t staking a claim. The idea is that the absence of a definable political motive divorces the riots from politics, which is bullshit. The rioters are the product of their political landscape and, while that doesn’t excuse their actions, it points to deep societal problems that need to be addressed.

The indiscriminate destruction of property and endangerment of lives is irrational. These crimes do not benefit those committing them. Their ability to co-ordinate and plan – which, in the real world, just means talking to each other – says nothing of rationality.

The idea of “genuine anger” is an odd one. Does that mean that rioters in other areas have nothing to be angry about? Are they just angry for the sake of it? What makes these people suddenly decide to act in this way?

Anyway, don’t pay attention to me. Let’s see what our glorious leaders [used to] think:

Cameron: “I think people want their politicians to ask the question: ‘What is it that brought that young person to commit that crime at that time? What’s the background to it, what are the long-term causes of crime?’ If you’re ill, it’s no good putting a sticking plaster on it. You’ve got to get to the bottom of the illness.”
– http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5163798.stm

Clegg: “There’s a danger in having a government of whatever composition led by a party which doesn’t have a proper mandate across the country trying to push through really difficult decision. I think a lot of people will react badly to that. I think there’s a very serious risk [of rioting in the streets].”
– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YItK1izQIwo

Dad:

Ed, as always you make powerful arguments. I just think they are wrong :-)
Not being a psychologist I don’t know why peole in Stl LOndon, or B’ham rioted. However, I do belive that for many it was a good excuse to both vent some frustration (so close to my “genuine anger”) but also to do a bit of looting. I cannot believe that the looting wasn’t premeditated.

And, what’s more, I suspect that not all the rioters/looters were the oppresed poor. And if they do have grievances with the police/gov’t why torch a furniture shop?

I guess I’m just getting old and reactionary (I’ll be buying the Daily Fail or Excess next!) . The “genuine anger” bit is that you are reacting to something, not just thinking “Ooh, let’s be like Tottenham and have a riot!” While also thinking, “We’ll have the riot down XYZ St, as I need anew PS3/watch/3D TV”

Bah humbug – time to go back to the hotel

Brother:

Your lack of qualifications as a psychologist shouldn’t stop you from trying to understand people. When this many people go to such severe lengths, it’s an attack on the fabric of society and understanding why it has happened is vital. Extreme behaviour is fueled by our willingness to write off those susceptible to it.

With regards to premeditated looting, when do you suppose the evil geniuses hatched their plan? I reckon they must have been plotting for years. I’m not disputing that many of the looters will have gone, “Yeah, fuck it, let’s go down and see what we can grab,” but, again, a functional society doesn’t breed that level of contempt for its rules.

Condemning the looters feels like a waste of time to me when we have an elaborate legal infrastructure specifically designed to punish them, and the constant need to condemn criminal acts suggests a widespread insecurity about the law. The energy spent on saying, “Stealing’s bad, mmkay,” would be better directed towards identifying and rectifying the circumstances that nurture criminal attitudes.

I refuse to accept that it’s as simple as people thinking, “Ooh, let’s be like Tottenham and have a riot!” Even if that’s what they’re saying, people don’t take part in something as risky and violent as a riot just for the sake of it. Their inability to recognise and articulate what they’re reacting to doesn’t mean that this isn’t a reaction.

I’m not disagreeing that the perpetrators are reprehensible twats but, when you consider that the common factor among them is geographical, serious questions have to be asked about why they’re such pricks.

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