A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
There are several myths circulating in the aftermath of the Vancouver Riot. Let me set the record straight.
1 – Some rioters have come forward to admit their guilt.
This is not true. Some may have walked into the police station and admitted participation in last Wednesday’s disaster, but I doubt it — at least I haven’t heard of any. The vast majority of rioters who’ve come forward so far have already been clearly identified on Facebook and other social media. They were trapped by their own brazen behaviour. When you’re photographed with the smoking gun, it’s best to admit the crime.
2 – Many of the rioters were just caught up in the excitement and hysteria of the moment.
No, they were the hysteria of the moment. They committed antisocial acts of wanton destruction. There are no mitigating circumstances. Since when has misdirected adrenalin been an adequate defence for a criminal act? “I stole a purse from The Bay ‘cause I was all excited,” just doesn’t cut it.
3 – Most of the rioters have expressed genuine remorse for their actions.
Maybe, but on Thursday morning many ordinary citizens went downtown with brooms and plastic bags to help clean up the mess. I didn’t see any of the remorseful there. In general, they were probably sleeping it off, perhaps resting up to be remorseful at a later date.
4 – Outing rioters on Facebook and other social media is vigilantism.
No, in our society, if you see a crime being committed, it’s your obligation to help identify the criminal. Just because there happened to be hundreds of criminals n the same place at the same time Wednesday night doesn’t make the situation any different. If you see somebody set fire to your neighbour’s car do you call 911 or watch it burn? If you have a picture, do you show it to the police or delete it? If you know the person…etc. etc.
5 – The rioters are suffering from an overwhelming public backlash.
Wrong again. The Wednesday night rioters are not the victims here. They caused millions of dollars in property damage. Certainly, that can be fixed and paid for, although I doubt very much if any of the over-exuberate youth are ever going to pony up the bucks. The real problem is the reputation of every citizen of Vancouver has been ruined internationally. We’re not going to get that back any time soon. The public is justifiably angry and they should be.
Here’s the truth. Hundreds — perhaps thousands — of people went nuts the other night. They wantonly destroyed my property and my neighbour’s property as well. If an individual had committed these crimes and been photographed in the act, he or she would have to answer for them — perhaps even be made to make restitution. However, given the circumstances, I don’t think I’m allowed to recover the damages inflicted upon my neighbours and myself. I think we’re just going to have to pay for those burned-out police cars. Also, through no fault of my own, my exemplary reputation has been destroyed. All the glamour and goodwill Vancouver generated internationally from the 2010 Winter Olympics has been ruined. Again, if an individual had done this to me personally, I would have some recourse. I could hire a lawyer and sue for slander and defamation of character. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. I just have to live with looking like an idiot.
The perpetrators of these crimes are being identified. They are the focus of public scrutiny. The public is angry, and rightfully so. Those people who committed these crimes need to understand that we are all neighbours. It’s not acceptable to burn your neighbours’ cars, break their windows or steal from them. Nor is it acceptable to ruin your neighbour’s reputation just because you got caught up in the moment.