Massive riots? Blame Twitter

As I discussed in a previous post, scapegoating is nothing new, and despite repeatedly being told that Europeans are more enlightened than foolish Americans (and usually being told this by other foolish Americans), it seems to be a favorite activity over there.

Scapegoating is certainly nothing new in the UK. The sheer amount of petty laws they’ve passed and enforced maybe a couple of times is essentially a symptom of this… a sign of a society’s governing class that feels like it’s losing control over the big things, and thus tries to compensate by displaying as much control as it can over the little things. That’s how you get stuff like little old ladies being up on charges for selling a goldfish to a teenager (yes I’m serious), having to show your ID and be over a certain age to buy a fork, as many closed-circuit TV cameras as there are people, things like that.

And now these massive riots look like they’re only going to spread, and one has to wonder if the authorities haven’t already given up on stopping or containing them to a certain extent and are just hoping they exhaust themselves, because they’re already looking for that next scapegoat:

Police are scrutinising tweets and messages on internet forums and could press charges if they consider they amount to incitement to riot.

Now clearly, if the tweets and whatnot were saying “There’s a bunch of cops at 2nd and Briton! Charles, you come up behind them on 2nd, we’ll jump out from the alley!”, that’s one thing. But the tweets and other social media pieces they’re apparently referring to are things like:

A two-minute film of a police car being trashed by rioters was posted on YouTube to a rap soundtrack. The clip finished with the words: ‘The enemy isn’t your own people, the enemy is the police.’

Offensive? Almost certainly. Insensitive? Definitely. But clearly this is free speech protected by the first amendme-… oh, right. Whoops.

But the thing is, it’s pretty clear that the “incitement to riot” phrase is going to be seeing a looot of workout. No doubt they’ll catch people like the complete idiot at the start of the article who’s posting pictures and bragging about the stuff he stole, but there’s no way they’ll catch all or even the majority of people who started or participated in these riots, or even those who actively tried to coordinate them. (Here’s a hint: if they’re dedicated enough shit-stirrers that they’re actively coordinating riots, they’re probably dedicated enough to cover their tracks a fair bit.) But what’s to be done about a populace who is now more scared than ever, less confident in the government and authorities’ power to protect them than ever, and a country more simmering with tension than ever? Have some nice big public smack-on-the-wrist trials for “incitement to riot” because somebody posted a video with rap music and aggressive text overlaid. Sure, it’ll distract you from tracking down anyone who’s actually responsible… but it’ll also distract the citizenry from the fact that you’re incapable of doing so! So net win all around, eh Bobbies?

Again, it’s pretty clear some people were actually using social networking sites to coordinate crime… and these people need to be found. But at this point it seems like the authorities are aiming just as much focus on anyone who tweeted about the subject. Admittedly, at this point it’s just an assumption that they’ll target people who tweeted “Hell yeah! Fuck the po-lice!” as much as anyone, but it’s an assumption built off of prior behavior.

The fact of the matter is that riots happened long before twitter, simply because mob mentality is a powerful thing. Hell, spreading riots happened before phones. You could as easily blame the TV stations for reporting the story (and I imagine the thought of doing so passed through at least a couple of heads). Now, if people were in fact using twitter as more than a round of cheerleading, fine… but cracking down on the cheerleading? I’ve got news for these guys, if they’re going to try and hold trials for everyone with an anti-authoritarian state of mind and who’s willing to voice it, well, you may as well just start building the internment camps now, because there’s not a lot of other options for controlling a portion of the population of that size.

Is this the result of a dedication to multiculturalism? Possibly. I find it just as likely that it’s a result of a society that has become more and more dependent on a sense of entitlement. As much as the spread of rioting seems to have a definite anti-police slant, the focus of much of it has still been shopping centers and looting. This is the natural extension of people who have been raised in a society that sponsors cradle-to-the-grave care and that they’re owed more than they have… in their minds the things in those stores are rightfully theirs anyway, this is just finally their chance to get their hands on it. Much of the twitter “incitement” that will apparently be evaluated revolves around things like “I’m finally going to have a big-screen TV” and showing off all the video games they stole. It’s as much about “Finally, I’m able to take what should have been given to me in the first place” as anything else, if not more.

Ultimately, these riots are a sign that something is wrong with the UK as a society. Which is not, in itself, an indictment, in truth… there’s something wrong with just about every society. If there’s nothing wrong with your society, well, that’s impossible, because there’s something wrong with scooping out part of peoples’ brains to make them utterly compliant and satisfied, which is what you’d have to do to have a society without problems. But they are an indicator of what’s wrong with the UK as a society, as is the maintainers of that society’s response to it… a thinly-veiled (albeit currently only implied) crackdown on freedom of expression.

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  1. CM

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  2. Rann *

    Oh look, CM steps in to vent his butthurt at Alex, grumble that the Daily Mail is lies lies lies (without, of course, refuting those lies or providing a different source), whinging about “the poor” being oppressed, and suddenly he’s interested in real, tangible solutions rather than protesting something on principle alone.

    How shocking.

    Anyway, if it was accepted that a ‘sense of entitlement’ is the problem, what is the conservative solution? I mean in real terms. Give us specifics. I assume it involves fewer social services and reducing welfare payments? What happens then?

    Gasp! Not fewer social services and reducing welfare payments! These people might have to get jobs or try to find other ways to support themselves! What kind of monster would ask that? Next we heartless conservatives will be advocating lower taxes so that people can save for themselves in the event they’re faced with a medical situation they’d be expected to pay for themselves, rather than heaping praises on Britain’s socialized health care that does things like having ambulances circle the bodies with dead bodies in them rather than racking up the hospital’s death toll for that day in the name of better numbers.

    I mean, seriously, who could advocate a reduction of the welfare state that now sees more than a few instances of a third generation going on the dole without ever having held a real job? Who would possibly criticize such a welfare state without being immediately ready to step forward and present a comprehensive and thoroughly vetted plan for restructuring an entire society overnight and with no possibly controversial side effects that a dyed-in-the-wool party-line-toeing far leftist could argue about endlessly to deflect the issue?

    What kind of heartless conservative monsters do you think we are, anyway? Oh, wait, I forgot, the most evil and meanest kind, as you reveal every time your anus aches and you get a little too honest about what you think of pretty much everyone slightly to the right of Che.

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  3. richtaylor365

    Other than that I think it’s a combination of poor parenting (allowing them to get away with too much in their younger years) and kids being bored and lazy and being led astray.

    You mentioned opportunity in another post and I think that is also a major component. Most of these kids are not criminals, or at least did not start out that way. But they witness real criminals engaging in criminal behavior and there are no repercussions. They witness store lootings going on, no cops in sight, with people helping themselves and they think ,”Gee, I could use a new pair of Nike’s, what the hell”. It infuriates me to see news crews Johnny on the spot documenting all this stuff with no cops around to crack some heads. If some news footage could be circulated showing bad guys getting grabbed and arrested, criminals who resisted arrest then got their ass kicked (not excessive, just sufficient) then this might go a long way in showing people the stick, not just the carrot.
    When there are no consequences, no real threat of being found out, then you have stories like this:

    Before I knew it, the front door, a solid piece of glass shattered and people came crashing in with hoodies, masks, and random weapons…. He told me to take off my rings and grabbed my hand, trying to yank them off. His friend tried to help too, but the rings wouldn’t come off and I just yelled at him that I’d take them off myself….”

    Fortunately the the kitchen staff intervened, I bet they have some real sharp knives in that kitchen.

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  4. West Virginia Rebel

    The leadership class either seems to be on vacation, or in denial. These aren’t riots out of agner, they’re riots of opportunity by a generation that has gotten used to the idea that they’re always going to be able to get free stuff.

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  5. CM

    The vast majority of these arseholes are apolitical. They wouldn’t know what a voting booth was if they fell over one, and wouldn’t be able to differentiate between a liberal politican and a conservative one. They see them all as part of the same system. All they know is that they live in shitty conditions, they are constantly bombarded with messages about how people outside their world are living, and there are many of them thinking the same thing. The conditions are all there for this (and they can tell they’re going to get worse with the cuts and lack of jobs). All it needs is a spark. Unfortunately the cops make mistakes (or make really bad decisions, or are actually racist or other prejudices, or cannot separate their personal opinions from their professional duty, or a combination of all this) and an seriious incident occurs and things kick off.
    The vast majority of the fuckwits involved in this would not have had a bad experience with the police but are constantly told about experiences by others (often probably exaggerated). It’s not even the really bad single events that build up this anger, it’s the day-to-day targetting/hassling while walking along the street. I have no doubt that the cops often think they have good reason to constantly keep a careful eye out by doing these things, but the reality is that it builds real anger and resentment.
    I’ve spent time in and around Brixton talking with cops and a social worker there is one of my best friends. I have no clue what the answer is. All I know is that it’s not simple.

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  6. CM

    But the “free stuff” they’re getting now, and how they’re getting it, bears no relationship to welfare and the shitty life that comes through surviving on welfare.

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  7. Rann *

    So out of curiosity, are you lying now when you say that you’re interested in honest debate, or are you lying whenever you sneer about “another condemnation of conservative thought” or try to implicate us all in net harassment against you?

    Just, y’know, let us know which of your two faces is the more full of bullshit so we can at least keep score.

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  8. CM

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  9. Poosh

    These poor, disfranchised youths who can’t get a job – planning their lootings on their blackberries.

    I can’t afford a blackberry, and I’m lower-middle class!

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  10. Poosh

    It’s not so shitty. Some of these people get a small fortune through welfare (sometimes fraudulently).

    But it is welfare that causes a vicious loop. You become dependent on welfare and it encourages a certain type of person to think that he or she does not need to work as the government will pay for everything. And when this doesn’t happen (they want another x-box, for example) then BLAM, they resent it. I’ll tell you right now not just conservatives but post-marxists, strong leftists – some – likewise think the welfare state is a disaster for pretty much the SAME reasons conservatives give (read Habermas, for example).

    These youths resent the police, outside the racial thing, because they resent the police stopping them from being immoral and causing harm to others. That’s what this is about. How dare that policeman try to stop me from stealing, or abusing that person.

    We’re dealing with the consequences of killing God and not replacing him with a method of relaying morality (said famously by Nietzsche). Conservatives will say, fine, Nationalism is the way to fill the void. But liberals put an end to that. ERGO widespread immorality.

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  11. Rann *

    These poor, disfranchised youths who can’t get a job – planning their lootings on their blackberries.

    Oooo, good one.

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  12. CM

    Hardly any need to have blackberries to be well organised. Only one in each group needs one. Many are also in ‘designer gear’ but then that’s as cheap as non-designer gear at Brixton Market.

    Some of these people get a small fortune through welfare (sometimes fraudulently).

    I’m always interested in how someone gets a ‘fortune’ through welfare. I mean yeah sure every so often they’ll be some scam artists collecting it on behalf of all their dead relatives, but is there any evidence that the vast vast majority of welfare recipients get what they are entitled to and no more? If not, how does what they are entitled to (under the system) equate to a ‘fortune’? Obviously it depends on the cost of living.
    Does anyone actually know?

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  13. Kimpost

    If some people actually get small fortunes from welfare services in the UK, then it sure as hell must be from fraud. Living on welfare is crap, and I’d imagine that well over 90%* would avoid it for anything. The rest are desperate, addicts or have mental issues which somehow haven’t been addressed by society, either that or the possible attempts have failed.

    The government doesn’t pay for everything for these people. They never have, they never will. There’s no incentive to stay on welfare. It’s a nightmare. Granted, having no welfare, and no job, and no access to health care or education, would be even worse. But what the fuck kind of standard would that be?

    UK, like US (or Sweden for that matter), are amongst the richest nations on earth. We don’t totally throw people to the wolves any more, or at least that’s many of us would like to think. We take care of each other, even deadbeats, addicts and petty criminals. We do it because we are civilized. We do it by offering minimum living conditions. We don’t do it by offering prosperity or luxury cars or 72 virgin models.

    *) I pulled the number out of my ass to illustrate a point. If I’m way off, then Poosh should be able to straighten me out.

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  14. Dave D

    I just read a USA today article that shows 46% of all babies are now born to single mothers. Squeeze out 5-6 kids with a stay-at-home welfare mom and an unmarried support male or three and you have quite a nest egg, I’d say. You’d sure eat well. Seriously, doesn’t ANYONE on the left see this?

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  15. sahrab

    Kimpost wrote

    Ok, cool. Excluding the supporting male (or three) for a second, how much would such a single mom make, typically?

    Sadly, you dont even understand how wrong your approach is to this subject. It does NOT matter how much a single mom makes for spitting out kids. What matters is the abuse inflicted upon the system and citizens who pay taxes.

    This is also the problem CM is incapable of understanding (more later). The problem is the system rewards mothers, for having more kids. When the systems is setup so that an activity is rewarded, even if that activity seems counter productive, then those using the system will naturally seek to increase the reward. Think of it as Socialistic Capitalism.

    The Mothers then seek additional funding, from the system to support the kids, because they now have more mouths to feed than they can support themselves. This is outside of the standard Welfare Unemployment benefits. Let alone the ancillary drain caused by the glut of “Bonus” kids, in the form of schools, school lunches, Medicaid, Food Stamps/WIC, Section 8 Housing.

    This isnt a Black/White thing, this is a societal problem. Even during the Depression the illegitmacy rate was only 5%. Blacks were at the same percentage, even with Jim Crow laws. Today its over 30%, and over 80% in many inner city neighborhoods. How much of a role does AFDC (Aide to Families with Dependent Children) and TANF (Temprorary Assistance for Needy Families) have with this drastic increase?

    As to CM and his inability to understand the enslavement to the System. In this and other threads YOU make the Conservative/Liberterian position a … what was the phrase Binary argument. This must be your understanding issue coming to the forefront again.

    Some dont have a problem with Welfare, for those that need it. Our issue is when the system Rewards those that dont. This is for 2 reasons.

    – First because it takes from those who produce in society and gives it to those that drain from society. We are not discussing those who lost a job and are activily able and willing to get another, and use Welfare to get over the hump (you know this, but you have to change the argument to cover your dishonesty)

    -Second because Welfare is just one of the methods politicians use to enslave a voting block. You may not have the cynicsm to understand, but the only reason Politicians cater to this particular Societal Engineering is because it gives them a built in block of accounted for votes. (Notice i didnt distinguish a party? thats because both parties do this for their prospective bases). This is no more evident than the Illegal Alien issue we have in this country. Both Parties see the Illegals as potential voters, neither party wants to piss off these voters, and instead paints the other side as the hindrance to “Fix” the issue. The enslavement comes from EVERYTHING that goes along with being eligible for recieving welfare (see above for the single moms as an example). When you have Food (food stamps, school lunches), Rent (Section 8), Clothing (WIC) paid for, along with additional cash (tax credits) in your pocket what incentive do you have for working? If you have one politician who supports keeping you in this state, and one politician who wants to revamp the system, which one would you vote for? You know this as well, but focus on only one aspect of Entitlements in order to claim there is no enslavement.

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  16. sahrab

    is there any evidence that the vast vast majority of welfare recipients get what they are entitled to and no more? If not, how does what they are entitled to (under the system) equate to a ‘fortune’?

    HOLEE CRAP

    Get what they are entitled to? In order for that to be justified, that would mean everyone starts on equal footing.

    As far as I know I dont recieve Unemployment Welfare, Food Stamps, WIC, Welfare Subsidies (AFDC/TANF) or Tax Credits greater than i pay into the system. This is going to be true for everyone else that is not a burden to society.

    It may seem harsh, but if your benefiting from the generosity of Society, especially a society that is forced to pay into supporting you, then you are a burden.

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  17. AlexInCT

    If some people actually get small fortunes from welfare services in the UK, then it sure as hell must be from fraud

    .

    I am sure many are many people that suck at the government’s teat that are engaged in fraudulent if not outright criminal behavior to subsidize their income, but it isn’t that they get big money, it’s that they get money for nothing. You must not know the type that is quite content living bare bones as long as they get to stay home, play video games, and drink booze/do drugs. Their biggest ambition in life is to be that big bad ass on the server they play whatever game on. Other than that, they think work is for idiots.

    Living on welfare is crap, and I’d imagine that well over 90%* would avoid it for anything.

    Disagree, and disagree vehemently. For some reason I believe if so many thought welfare was so bad that the number of people on it would be far lower than reality bears out. I know many that feel welfare doesn’t give them enough, not because it is crap, but because they would prefer to ride the pricey cars, drink expensive booze, and eat lobster & steak on someone else’s dime.

    The best explanation I ever heard for why so many live on welfare was from this lady on the Oprah show I happened to catch one day wile home sick and being mad to watch that junk by my wife, also home sick. She told Oprah she went back on welfare because after she paid for daycare for her children, paid for gas, paid for car insurance, and the gubmint was done taxing her, she was left with about $23 per weekly paycheck. Welfare gave her over $400 a week scot free, no deductions, so anyone not sucking at the government’s teat and working was a moron. She was right IMO.

    The rest are desperate, addicts or have mental issues which somehow haven’t been addressed by society, either that or the possible attempts have failed.

    I think the number of recipients in this category is by far the likely high one. The truly needy are going to be the minority these days.

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  18. richtaylor365

    An article in the WSJ this morning attempts to dispel the premise that the riots were caused by social injustice:

    There is a notion that the criminality is the product of poverty or government spending cuts. That’s false. The British government is spending as much as it ever has in history, and the poor in Britain have access to a social safety net that is remarkably generous by any standard. Then, too, the sort of people who torch cars and smash plate-glass windows to get at the jewelry and televisions inside are not, we suspect, highly correlated with those most put out by the reduced hours at the local library.

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  19. CM

    I found this USA Today piece from January which puts the figure at 41%.

    It certainly is a huge problem. I’m not sure how much of it is by choice though. Can’t find the stats on that. We can only speculate, which is largely meaniningless.

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  20. CM

    I am sure many are many people that suck at the government’s teat that are engaged in fraudulent if not outright criminal behavior to subsidize their income, but it isn’t that they get big money, it’s that they get money for nothing.

    Many? How many? 80%? 5%? What do you base this on?

    You must not know the type that is quite content living bare bones as long as they get to stay home, play video games, and drink booze/do drugs. Their biggest ambition in life is to be that big bad ass on the server they play whatever game on. Other than that, they think work is for idiots.

    Nobody is denying that these people exist. The key questions are: What proportion of the people on welfare can be described like that? Is it significant enough to warrant a completely different way of administering welfare? The problem is that’s hard to answer the second question because it’s almost impossible to get any sort of answer to the first. We’re all basing our opinions on speculation and anecdotal evidence.

    Disagree, and disagree vehemently. For some reason I believe if so many thought welfare was so bad that the number of people on it would be far lower than reality bears out.

    The fact that the unemployment rate plummets during boom times is some sort of indication that the numbers actually ‘stuck’ on welfare are a percentage of the unemplyment numebrs when they’re at their lowest. A few years ago unemployment here was at 3%. If even up to 50% of those were ‘stuck’ on welfare through choice, that’s still only 1.5% of all people able to work. To me that’s not a significant enough number to say the system is broken. Sure, I’d prefer it was lower, or ideally 0%, but that’s never gonna happen.

    I know many that feel welfare doesn’t give them enough, not because it is crap, but because they would prefer to ride the pricey cars, drink expensive booze, and eat lobster & steak on someone else’s dime.

    I’m sure we’d all agree that’s just tough shit for them.

    The best explanation I ever heard for why so many live on welfare was from this lady on the Oprah show I happened to catch one day wile home sick and being mad to watch that junk by my wife, also home sick. She told Oprah she went back on welfare because after she paid for daycare for her children, paid for gas, paid for car insurance, and the gubmint was done taxing her, she was left with about $23 per weekly paycheck. Welfare gave her over $400 a week scot free, no deductions, so anyone not sucking at the government’s teat and working was a moron. She was right IMO.

    Can those figures be verified?
    I certainly agree that it shouldn’t be easier to stay at home than to work. When kids are involved the situation is made more complicated and we need to factor in how childcare can be affordable so that it STILL makes sense to work. At least from when the kid turns 3.

    I think the number of recipients in this category is by far the likely high one. The truly needy are going to be the minority these days.

    Don’t understand what you mean by that first sentence. Not sure what the basis is for what you say in the second.

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  21. CM

    Sahrab, you’ve misunderstood the meaning. ‘Entitled’ to means what they are legally able to get under the welfare system. I.e. no less and no more.

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  22. CM

    Sorry Sahrab, you say I’m “incapable of understanding” and then you proceed to show how you’ve not understood me. I’ve not said the Conservative/Liberterian position is a binary one at all.

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  23. CM

    I’m sure I’m about to be de-friended on Facebook after making much the same arguments to some liberal friends who are just writing the most ridiculous things. Naturally, they now think I’m an evil right-winger. Whatever. I just couldn’t resist responding.

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  24. Miguelito

    The rest are desperate, addicts or have mental issues which somehow haven’t been addressed by society, either that or the possible attempts have failed.

    Somehow? Try reading Theodore Dalrymple’s Life at the Bottom for examples of how it’s actually the way the system has been set up. He talks a lot about how the welfare systems are heavily abused and set up to keep people on them too, IIRC. Been awhile since I read it, but the mental health issues were very clear.

    I don’t really feel much sympathy for addicts either. They made the choice to start using drugs, no one forced it on them.

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  25. Kimpost

    I do much the same. I tend to take a position against what I consider to be stupid and over-simplified. Binary positions, left or right, tend to bring that side out of me too.

    Stupidity clearly isn’t a left-right issue.

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  26. sahrab

    I misunderstood? You are the one that used Interesting choice of words.

    The ONLY people Entitled are those that work. They have their available funds reduced to support those that are a societal drain. IE those you feel entitled to other peoples money

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