Tuesday, 9 August 2011

How to Avoid Riots - an Idiot's Guide

So London is on fire and everyone's got their opinions on what is going on. I'm not going to pretend that my thoughts are the most enlightened, informed or intelligent, but I think I have a few ideas as to how such stuff might be stopped. Given the seriousness of the events, I have taken out number 7 (send for Thunderbirds),  19 (let's just all move somewhere nicer) and 23 (let's listen to what Nick Griffin thinks).

If you want to protest, aim in the right bloody direction

Yes, there are many things worth protesting about. Yes, you might feel like the normal channels of complaint will not get the attention of those in charge. The authorities do appear to be an ignorant bunch of bastards who don't listen to anyone unless they went to school together, so I get that you might want to make more noise than just complaining on facebook. But once you start burning houses and looting shops, you've kind of lost the coherence of your message. Now all anyone can hear is 'I'm a greedy, thoughtless prick'.

You'll notice I didn't complain when you smashed up government offices last year. Blame them - not poor bloody small businesses.

If you're simply a greedy, thoughtless prick, don't pretend you're anything else

As the rioting continues, it's pretty apparent that there's no political will behind most of the violence - just the desire to indulge in selfish, stupid behavior. If that's you, then grow the fuck up. You aren't making any kind of postitive change. 'Getting you tax back' are you? From whom? Curry's? They took tax from you, did they? Or, whoah - is it the whole capitalist system, man? Are you somehow attacking the underlying roots of the system by nicking a telly? Or are you just taking something you're too bloody lazy to work for?

I'd have a lot more respect for you if you just said 'I like breaking things and I want things for free because I'm incredibly selfish.' I understand that from when I was nine years old. Also, it would mean we could just set the hounds on you, and I wouldn't have to worry about having become a fascist.

If you're the Police, don't let your officers get away with murder

Watching the news last night I found myself torn when I saw armies of police marching up the street. Part of me thought 'Thank goodness - get to where you can protect people from this violence.' And part of me thought 'Oh dear, this sight is probably not going to calm anyone down.'

Sorry, The Police. I'm sure most of you are brilliant, and I'm glad you exist. But how many stories have we heard in recent years of you killing people and getting away with it? Fatal shootings on the tube, manslaughter at protests, unexplained deaths in custody - these are not things that make people look at your uniform and think, 'Phew - I'm safe now!'

It's not even the killing, really. Not quite. I get that things happen in high pressure situations. It's your lack of accountablity. It's the sense that nothing you do gets properly investigated. It's the fact that some of you are bullies, and don't respect our rights, and that you get away with this because of systems which protect you when you should be protecting us.

If you're the Government, wise up to the fact that this is your bloody fault

When I teach a class, there is nothing I can do should my students decide not to co-operate. There are loads of them and only one of me and, despite many times of asking, I'm not allowed a cattle prod. Yet somehow I get through the day, working with my classes, getting stuff done. I'm sure you'll find this is the case for most people working in most situations.

Systems only work when everyone understands that we all benefit. My students aren't scared of me, but they understand that I represent the potential for achieving a qualification . Employees of the worst boss in the world will resist punching him in his stupid face, knowing that the financial and career rewards are worth putting up with his bad tie and stupid jokes. We adhere to systems because we believe in them.

Do you understand, The Government, that this is how your country works? There are many more people than you can control with the police, the army, the courts and the prisons. Last night proved that. You can only possibly maintain order if people believe that order is reasonable and good. The hundreds of people who started burning things yesterday might be dickheads, but they've probably been dickheads for ages, and only now are they going mental.

And you have to take some responsiblity. You reward the rich and punish the poor, to an almost cartoon-like degree. You have made huge, idiotic cuts that attack the very soul of the country you are meant to be protecting. Are you really so stupid that you don't understand the consequences of reducing provision to culture and recreation? Yes, you might save a little money not paying for youth workers. But that money - while not as exciting as the money that flies around the financial sector, making you wet your pants as your banker friends slap your back - that money works constantly and subtly to help people believe that the culture of this country isn't just for millionaire tossers like you.

In conclusion

It's everyone's fault. Except mine, obviously. And maybe yours. For now, take a look at this, and gasp at the irony.