London’s burning

I have been scratching my head over the recent UK riots. I have to admit, I don’t really understand why these people looted, pillaged and rampaged their way through their own communities. By my own admission, I am a leftist. However, over the past week, I have found myself agreeing with those to the right. Not all, but some. This is quite irksome to me.

The riots came out of nowhere. Initially started after the shooting of Mark Duggan, I was never clear as to the real reason as to why it carried on for three days. As the backlog of court cases clear, it is emerging that it’s not just the dregs of our society, the lazy chavs living off the benefit system, or disenfranchised kids who hurled bricks and stole. It was people of every colour, creed and class. Recently, a mother dragged her olympic hopeful of a daughter to the police after spotting her on the TV.

We can make all the excuses under the sun – the cuts, the Labour government, Thatcherism, poor education, lack of role models – but at the end of the day, they knew what they were doing was wrong. People need to take responsibly for their actions – as a parent, as a human being, as part of civilized world.  I’m still perplexed as to why young children, some as young as 10, were out and about. Every action has a consequence. But, there must be a fine line to tacking this problem and having a knee-jerk reaction. We don’t want to the situation even worse, and causing even more tension than there already is.

A lad was asked why he took part in the riots. His answer? He didn’t get the job at Curry’s, so that’s why he stole the plasma tv. I have a piles of rejection letters from all the jobs that I’ve applied for. It didn’t mean that I went an firebombed the building. That lad was not owed a job. No-one is owed anything in life.

The sad fact is, people have died. Three men in Birmingham were mowed down while  protecting properties from looting.

And for what? A pair of brand new trainers, a plasma tv. Sorry, but that’s not good enough. It’s not as if they were fighting for their right to vote, to walk down the street without being victimised for their colour or religion or their right for free education. This I can understand. But for material things? Are these riots a reflection the greedy culture that we live in – I want therefore I shall have. Now.

Now the rioting has calmed down, people (including myself) is evaluating why this has happened. Obviously there is frustration. Frustration at the bankers who has caused the economic crisis and lack of  jobs. Also there is the distinct lack of discipline. These people are not afraid of authority. ASBO’s have turned into a badge of honour, not a punishment.

But what to do with the rioters? Rather than banging them up behind bars or handing out ASBOs like sweeties, they should be made to clean up the communities they destroyed, wearing the orange bid. Maybe a bit of humiliation will make them stop and think the next time they decide to torch a building or hurl bricks at the police.

I recently read a blog by Bibio, who has also written about the recent riots and has compared to our culture to Lord of the Flies. It’s worth a read. Also, Russell Brand makes some interesting observations.


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