The wordpress daily question for today is: What would cause you to protest or riot for something?
The question was triggered by the rioting in Vancouver after game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final yesterday. But my feeling is that high passion about hockey is not really a proximate cause for the rioting and that bad things were going to happen whether the Canucks won or lost.
The riot was about the crowd, about incitement by a small number of provocateurs and the descent into mob madness of a much larger number of people who were in it just for kicks and giggles. I noticed a similar (although much more low key) phenomenon at Vancouver’s annual fireworks displays in English Bay. Lots of teenagers and people in their early 20’s train and drive in from the suburbs, get drunk and stoned, and fight or smash stuff up. The police usually control that pretty well with cordons and checkpoints and mounted officers, but the potential for random-seeming mayhem remains.
As an editorial in the Vancouver Sun notes:
Those who watched in shock as the media covered this year’s Stanley Cup riots — as the flames flew higher, the looting raged on and the cheers grew louder — couldn’t help but notice the visceral enjoyment experienced by the intoxicated men, and to some extent, women.
“They weren’t even angry. They were having fun,” said University of B.C. sociologist Rima Wilkes, who studies collective action.
“There seemed to be a lot of privilege there. They acted as if they were untouchable. As if they weren’t criminals…”
“Many people seemed to treat the riot as entertainment,” Wilkes said in an interview.“They were taking pictures of the fires and overturned police cars. If there had been a dead body, would they have shot a photo of that? People get caught up in the moment, and in the crowd mentality, and they think this is acceptable behaviour.”