Le Snog

An enigmatic image from last night’s post-hockey riots apparently has CBC in a twit-storm:

Actually, I like this image a lot better than the ones of rioters jumping on cop-cars. It’s a much truer reflection of what Vancouverites (and Canadians in general) are normally like.

And no, rioting is NOT due to anarchy OR “just part of hockey culture”, as some ignorami from the Kommentariat are suggesting. Rocker Matthew Good has perhaps the best possible analysis of what the fuck really happened in Vancouver last night and what it says about the city:

There is a vast difference between gathering in such numbers to protest something deemed politically unacceptable and burning cars after the loss of a hockey game. To put it in the clearest context possible, if the people of Egypt were able to gather in much larger numbers and force the Mubarak regime out of power without acting like idiots, then what does that say about a city in the land of milk and honey in which people riot because of the loss of a sporting event? The Egyptians faced persecution for their actions, not to mention uncertainty as to whether the movement would succeed. That’s bravery, and something to be applauded. And yet, here we are on the other side of the world acting like buffoons, lighting police cars on fire and causing such distention that emergency service vehicles can’t even access the downtown core to deal with people that have sustained injuries.

What do you want me to say? That it doesn’t represent the city as a whole because everyone from the downtown core to the Wally exchange wasn’t directly involved? That’s a nice thought, though wondrously short sighted. What do you think the national media is saying? Or, for that matter, foreign media? That it was just a small group of rabble-rousers? Or that, once again, Vancouver rioted after a Stanley Cup loss as if it’s tradition.

The last thing I care to hear is some 20-something that’s lived downtown for four months lecture me on the “realities of the city.” I lived in the downtown core for almost two decades, I’m quite familiar with it — and unlike some naïve scenester that can’t find their own ass with two hands and flashlight most of the time, I know full well what tonight’s unrest will ultimately cost taxpayers. You can think what you will about Greater Vancouver, but its core mentality hasn’t changed all that much. No amount of trendy eateries, hip night spots, and upscale retailers is going to change the fact that if you give most of the idiots around here enough rope, they’ll hang themselves and think it cool.

Basically, rioters riot because they are fucking idiots. Get enough beer into ’em, and they get bold, and shit happens. Get ’em in a crowd with lots of cover, and they get bold, and shit happens. Give ’em an excuse, any excuse, and shit happens. But they are not “anarchists”, and they are not revolutionaries, and they are not real hockey fans, either. Get it?

What happened last night in Vancouver should never be seen as an excuse for a draconian crackdown. Especially not against peaceful protests, which happen here all the time…and as long as the cops don’t get too bold themselves, peaceful is how they stay. (Yes, cops can be hooligans too. Get ’em in a crowd, give ’em uniforms and heavy armor and weaponry, and shit happens. Same as with the non-uniformed rioters. As I so often like to say, it’s never a riot until the cops show up.)

Blaming “anarchy”, like blaming hockey, is a cop-out. Chaos, which is what happened in Vancouver last night, is not the same thing as refusing to be either a leader or a follower, which is what REAL anarchism is all about. Canada is kind of short on actual anarchists. And growing shorter all the time. We live in an increasingly policed state, and that’s something we SHOULD be protesting against.

There’s another problem I notice growing: Our society is increasingly militarized, as well as increasingly policed. Do we really need that? Especially when it’s not guaranteeing or safeguarding our own democracy, but taking things in exactly the opposite direction? People in Afghanistan and Libya are being oppressed because of us and our meddlesome false notions of what a “democracy” is supposed to look like. I can tell you one thing — THIS is not it:

Personally, I’d rather see these kids making out in mid-street than all those other ones breaking windows and taking stuff. Seems like a lot more fun, and if the cops are sensible, they won’t arrest two lovebirds just for rolling around in the road. As long as they didn’t frighten the horses of the mounted unit, who cares? The traffic was already backed up for blocks, so no harm done there. As long as they weren’t rolling in stolen loot (from local boutiques or someplace halfway around the world), ain’t love grand?

Vive le Snog!

PS: The young couple in the picture have now been identified. She was injured by a cop with a riot shield; her boyfriend is trying to comfort her while they wait for help to arrive. It’s a very sweet story, so clicky the linky and be prepared to go AWWWW.

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This entry was posted in Angry Pacifist Speaks Her Mind, Canadian Counterpunch, Cops Behaving Badly, Fascism Without Swastikas, Morticia! You Spoke French!, Rivers in Egypt, Socialism is Good for Capitalism!, The WTF? Files. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Le Snog

  1. Jim Hadstate says:

    This picture brings to mind so many things from my youth (Yes! I had one you smart asses in the peanut gallery!). There was the “Make Love, Not War!” mantra that embellished so many signs, And we Boomers thought that we had invented passion! It carried us through some pretty insane days and nights of police and student riots and things that shouldn’t have been.
    But it is nice to see that love, or passion, survives and can be found amidst insanity. And at least the point of the passion has not attracted the notice of police or they have chosen to ignore it so the happiness continues amidst all the ugliness around them.
    I will say that Vancouver has now gotten itself a history of idiocy over lost hockey games. No matter what the author says, there are some deep currents here that should be explored. Like why in the Hell are the people of Vancouver (and just about every other losing sports city in North America) so angry that something so trivial as a sports game loss sets them over the top and chaos results. It seems to me that there is a lesson buried there, but I’m just not smart enough to grasp it.
    As for what it says about Vancouver…Sorry folks! If those people came from the hockey game, they weren’t low class scum. The LOWEST priced tickets to that game were $75.00 Canadian for the nose-bleed seats. Not too many working people can afford that and beer to get drunk at the game when the beer is $5.00 Canadian for a plastic cup of warm piss. So if they came from the bars, then how did they manage to get magnetically drawn to and organized into a churning mass of insanity? Questions that Vancouver needs to study before any of its professional sports teams play again in a championship.
    And that brings to mind another issue. Why in the Hell is it ALWAYS the professional teams that engender such insanity and chaos? I love and follow Minnesota Gophers Hockey and live and die by their season. But I don’t run through downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul looting and/or burning everything in sight if they lost the NCAA championship game, which they play in with surprising regularity. Neither does anyone else. The worst that can be said is that a few students tip over some garbage cans on the way back to the dorms. Of course, Minnesota may be a bad example because everyone there was always so polite and reserved. But the, Canadians have the same reputations. So why the riots?
    There’s something more going on here, but nobody takes the time to look at it in a sociological or psychological perspective. It’s blown of as just a bunch of hooligans taking advantage of a situation to create chaos. In Philadelphia or New York or even Pittsburgh maybe. But Canada? It’s time for great minds with expertise in this area to find out what engenders this dark underside of human existence.

  2. Mr. Hadstate seems to think it’s a “north american thing” to riot when a sports team loses. Sorry, but it’s a RICH North American thing… we in Mexico are also North Americans, and seldom riot over anything. We’re able to pull off very large demonstrations, and have seen windows smashed during our very large manifestaciones, but these displays of public outrage involved serious issues like food and justice.

    As it is, when a bottle rocket was launched during a Pumas game a few years back, injuring a coach, from the worried commentary from sports announcers (and in the Congress of the Union), you would have thought there had been mass murder at the very least. The closest thing I’ve seen to a “sports riot” in this country was when Mexico defeated Italy in the World Cup semi-finals… which was by way of celebration (and no windows smashed, let alone fires started).

    What you need to blame is the decadent, self-indulgent society in respect for the rights of others is over-ridden by the privilege of ownership (even if that ownership is only in the vicarious sense of allegiance to a sports franchise).

    Of course, being addicted to a violent sport like hockey, I can see where this kind of behavior would be carried over into the public sphere. Why don’t you guys adopt something that at least gives sense to the violence. Bullfighting, perhaps? I have never heard of a bullfighting riot… ever!

  3. Sabina Becker says:

    Well, guys, you’re both right, up to a point…it IS about privilege, and yes, there are aficionados of the violent brand of hockey here. (Don Cherry, the crotchety old CBC fixture, comes to mind…and he HATES leftists, and blamed them for this even though there’s not a shred of evidence that it WAS “commie pinkos”. Ugh. He’s gonna be wank-listed here tomorrow, never fear.)

    I think the real difference between us and the Mexicans isn’t the choice of blood sports, it’s the fact that north of the Rio Grande, America is swarming with riot cops and SWAT teams. Mexico, or so I’ve heard, has trouble keeping its police chiefs alive and uncorrupted by the drug mafias, so there’s that. Not that there aren’t sharp divisions between the rich and poor on both sides of the river, but it’s pretty obvious that up here, there are more riot cops and SWAT team members per capita than there are in Mexico. Gotta protect all those fancy boutiques that nobody can afford to shop in, after all…because the only way you’re ever gonna walk out of there with any of THAT swag, is if you threw a rock through the window and made off with it. We’re constantly being inundated with nyah-nyah advertising suggesting you’re a failure if you can’t score a Vuitton bag or a pair of Louboutin platforms. And even the punks in the $200 hockey jerseys can’t afford THAT shit. But by gaw, if they don’t have their heads stuffed with worthless crapitalist dreams…and if the riot cops haven’t been getting steadily more riotous over the past couple of decades here in the Great North…Canada is catching up to the US, and not in any good way.

  4. John Jones says:

    There are many similarities to what took place in Toronto; a few running amok with no opposition except from bystanders and then innocent people being beaten and bullied. Has anyone checked their boots yet?
    It looks a lot like a staged event to justify more money for more police. With the number of police there and the trouble makers primarily on the sidewalks it seems like they should have been confronted.

  5. Shelley says:

    Great summary,Bina ! Hope you do a post with links to all the wonderful post-riot stuff that’s happened in Van, including the guys who hold off the rioters & stopped them burning books at Chapters. etc. etc.
    Re the other comments about a N.A. phenonmena. Have any of you ever SEEN a riot after a EU soccer game?! Excuse me. It seems the young men, beer, prof. sports & testosterone is a toxic combination the world over.

  6. Sabina Becker says:

    Right said, Shelley…and Ms. Manx is pawing my legs and meowing at me to compile some links, which I think I will.

    (Who the hell is asshole enough to attack a bookstore? That’s not anarchism, that’s just plain old VANDALISM.)

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