Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vancouver Riots - What Were They Thinking?

The answer to the question in the title above is, of course, nothing. Rioting erupted almost immediately following the 4-0 loss of Vancouver to Boston in the Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver's downtown. In a place that, only last year, hosted weeks of peaceful celebration of the Olympic Games, now there were cars burning, the sound of windows shattering and, eventually, the stinging of tear gas.

Reading the reports and watching the numerous videos popping up on-line, I was disgusted by the total depravity demonstrated by so many. I recognize that the real troublemakers were only a small majority of the crowd, but the large number obviously enjoying the mayhem was very disturbing. The results of a few minutes of idiocy remain to be seen, but the obvious outcomes were a diminished reputation for Vancouver in particular and Canada in general.

Why did this happen? A lot of people are asking this question today. Many average Vancouverites admitted to being "ashamed of their city" and "scared" as a direct result of the violence. Was it just anger and frustration being expressed over the series loss by the Canucks? Was it an outpouring of pent up disenchantment at society as a whole - a continuation, if you like, of the G-20 demonstrations?

We'll likely never know. What it does reveal is a horrible lack of impulse control by the 20-somethings of Vancouver. Regardless of whether there were anarchist provocateurs, as some claim, it still takes a lot of willingly compliant people to cause the kind of willful destruction we saw. It also reflects a shocking lack of shame.

In an age of instant communication and you-tube videos, you have to wonder about the thought processes of those lighting cars on fire and smashing windows while others stand back videotaping. Is it that there is no sense of consequences for their actions? That somehow no-one will ever find out? Or is it that they simply do not care?

There were heroes in the group. There were several who placed themselves in harms way to prevent thugs from breaking windows and looting. When one mob attacked one of these good citizens, others came to his defense. And today, many took to those same streets to help with the clean up.

I guess these events were really a micro-cosm of life. Some respond to disappointment with self-destructive behavior. They will, maybe, eventually wake up and realize that they acted like tantrum-throwing toddlers. Some reacted to the disturbers by happily joining in the lunacy, kind of a "Lord of the Flies" tribal think. Some saw the rioting start and immediately made a bee-line for safer streets. Others sized up the situation, determined the proper course of action, and tried to make a positive difference. What would you have done? There's the question.

Here's an idea: let's track down the guilty and deal with them, setting an example. But, probably more important, let's track down the heroes who actually stood against the mob and did the right thing! Let's honour those young people who acted like we would hope our kids would act if they were there.

I've included a couple of videos below as a reminder of the events. Let's hope that this is never repeated in Canada, it's not something of which we can be proud.

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