Monday, August 08, 2011


Reading's cup tie at Charlton on Tuesday evening has been postponed due to the carnage across parts of London over the past few days. On such flimsy, vague and irrelevant footballing basis can I turn my usual soccer-spiel into a socio-political rant. Because - admittedly less impressively and infinitely less memorably than the rioters - I do what I want.

The first ever Twitter Riot has proven what a powerfully destructive tool social media is, with very little tangible positives to the contrary. Gangs have been able to jump on the looting and pillaging bandwagon by linking in via sites such as Twitter to such a terrifying degree that the authorities have threatened action against those who even so much as dare joke online about joining in. Those of us on the law-abiding side of the fence can't hope to mobilise ourselves against such violence, merely stand around posting useless platitudes of sadness and dismay. Perhaps we could organise a whist drive? Otherwise we have no voice because we generally have very few facts at our disposal and not the vaguest clue how to mobilise our collective anguish at the truculent, destructive behaviour of others. That is because, frankly, there is no vehicle for us to cogently do so. We could always say another Mass.

I do not know Mark Duggan personally. We know very little about what happened at Tottenham Hale last Thursday which led to the death of a member of the public and a police officer - less relevantly it seems to a good many who have an opinion on the matter - being injured. I do know that left-leaning pundits hanker on about Jean Charles de Menezes, as if innocent civilians are gunned down every day by the fuzz. I am fairly confident in predicting that more police officers have been murdered by civilians in this country over the years than the other way around. We do know that the family's impromptu protest led indirectly to scores of violent protests over the weekend and I do suspect that they would have been better off mourning privately than starting an immediate campaign for justice of their own before the ICC had barely had chance to pick up their pens and notepads.

We have heard comment from rioters - supposedly disenfranchised by the authorities stop-searching certain members of society more readily than others - that this is a vote of no confidence in the governing classes and that they are looting shops in order to somehow claim back what is taken from them in tax, as if Armani jeans are somehow produced with recourse to public funds. It is frankly little more than an excuse to play the victim and have a bit of fun into the bargain.

And the tax bill wasted on failing to bring more than 200 arrested (at the time of writing) to justice will in itself be more terrifying than those scenes of destruction over these last few days; due to the Criminal Justice system in this country consistently taking the rights of the aggravators more seriously than those of the aggrieved, thanks to that curious and inflexible decision-making body, the ECHR. Throw in an under-resourced over-stretched police service unable to deal with every whim of the defence, the under-funded CPS's attitude towards adverse outcomes in court and due to the unique way that the average villain's defence budget is funded by your Armani jeans, it is easy to see why society stands no chance. And remember folks - Custody Time Limits apply.

Still, perhaps you can log onto Twitter and try to organise the yoghurt-knitting cardigan-eating moral elite into a march down Whitehall way to demand more money for community projects in deprived areas. Yeah, that will solve the problem of man's inherent hatred for and distrust of his fellow man. Like Amy Winehouse's liver, the damage has been done.


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