This statement from a teenage girl on the street of Croydon on Monday night is brutally honest or total nonsense depending on your sympathies.
If I’m in hoody hugging mode I’m empathizing with her lack of choice (no choice to go on a Clegg/Cameron/Miliband holiday for instance). If the choice to riot was the only valuable option – why not?
But then there’s common sense . The “why not” is that we have rules – morals- a design for life that we’ve evolved in the UK over the past two millenia which include
“thou shalt not nick/burn/smash up other people’s stuff “.
As Dylan sang “to live outside the law you must be honest” and whether we see the rioters as “feral vermin” or- “bent out of shape by society’s pliars”
“I just want to show the rich I can do what I want”
does not make you honest.
As I wrote yesterday, some people want a riot – a riot of their own. They do not pay for the police, for the insurance, for the loss of earnings or for the hospital bills of those injured. They feel entitled to their riot on the basis that they have not got the means to buy a Blackberry, pay for a holiday or get “rich”. As one twitter put it yesterday
“If you want to avoid these people spend some time in a jobcentre”
This kind of wit is a proper response to the moral depravity on display.
But their behaviour also fosters a kind of bigotry that perpetuates the violence.
Try reading this vitriolic peice of journalism by Max Hastings (in the dependably outraged Daily Mail), which confirms my feeling that the gulf between the moral majority and the outcast minority is a social division too wide.
Until we as a society find a way of bridging the gap between “their” way of thinking – and our “paradigm”, we will continue to have periodic riots and unless we want to have martial law rubber bullets – water cannon and mass detention – we will continue to have riots.
What’s interesting is how grown up we can be about that uncomfortable idea. I heard a brilliant phrase on the radio this morning
We need to comfort the afflicted but we also need to afflict the comfortable
If that girl in Croydon and the thousands of disaffected rioters have done anything positive – they’ve got me thinking just how big the gap between me and the rioters is. Perhaps I don’t feel as comfortable as I did a week ago.
I won’t be listening out for the berating of Teresa May and the police inspectors nor the politicking of woolly liberals, I’ll be listening to the good sense of those who’ve worked with these disaffected people trying to bridge the gap and I’ll be paying attention. As a UK citizen, I think it’s part of my duty to join in bridge building I don’t know how I can do that – but I’m ready to be learned.
- London riots: before and after the destruction in Croydon, Hackney and Enfield (telegraph.co.uk)
- Slideshow: British Photojournalists Capture Stunning Images Of London Riots (mediaite.com)
- London Riots: Croydon Residents Leap From Burning Buildings As Capital Burns (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- Buildings set ablaze in London suburb of Croydon (scientificamerican.com)
- Local newspapers fail to rise to the occasion to report on the riots (guardian.co.uk)
- VIDEO: London’s Croydon ‘is a war zone’ (bbc.co.uk)
- The UK Riots (therainbowpost.com)
- London riots: CCTV pictures released as police bid to catch rioters (mirror.co.uk)
- Family’s Croydon furniture store destroyed in riots (independent.co.uk)
- London Rioters Interrupt Tourists’ Dinner, Get Scared Off By Restaurant Staff (huffingtonpost.com)
- riot cleanup – but is it over? (vault9.net)
- VIDEO: Croydon store owner: ‘Mindless arson’ (bbc.co.uk)
- London on fire – Riots by criminal elements create chaos in London (hotelier.typepad.com)
- clapham junction latest in riots (vault9.net)
- CCTV bid to identify riot suspects (mirror.co.uk)
- Miliband: No excuses for rioting (bbc.co.uk)
- Croydon vs Banks & Tax Dodgers (lambethsaveourservices.org)
- Who decided Croydon should be an Olympics-free zone? (insidecroydon.com)
- Croydon burns as looters storm the Whitgift Centre (insidecroydon.com)
- “Clean Up Croydon” will need more than a dustpan and brush (insidecroydon.com)
- Croydon riots: Reeves furniture store owners talk of fire devastation (mirror.co.uk)
URGENT MESSAGE FROM PMT CAMEROONE TO COMMANDER IN CHIEF AFGHANISTAN GENERAL PISSEDOFF.
BRING BACK TROOPS TO UK PRONTO.STOP
WE ARE UNDER HEAVY ATTACK.STOP
THE NATIVES IN HOTTENTOT,
SALFORD AND CRONYDON PROVINCES
OUR FORCES OVERWHELMED.STOP
WE NEED AIR AND MISSILE COVER URGENT.STOP
TWO TANK REGIMENTS URGENT. STOP
THE INSURGENCY IS SPREADING FAST.STOP
REBELS SIGHTED IN MIDLANDS AND MANCHESTER.STOP
RIOTING AND LOOTING.STOP
COULD BE TERRORISTS.STOP
INTELLIGENCE REPORTS STRONG AL-QUAEDA
PRESENCE IN ALL PROVINCES.STOP
DEVILISHY CLEVER USING LATEST HI-TECH.STOP
LUCKILY WE HAVE IT TOO.IN FACT I HAVE ONE.STOP
GREAT LITTLE THINGS-BLACKBERRIES.STOP
URGENT-CANCEL ALL LEAVE.STOP
I AND FOREIGN SECRETARY WILL BE BACK
FROM HOLS NEXT WEEK.STOP
IF YOU WANT TO CONTACT ME DO SO BY BLACKBERRY.STOP
GREAT LITTLE GADGETS.STOP
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