London Riots: A Primer For Journalists

Watching the coverage of the rioting in London on Sky News last night (yes, I’m a Murdoch bitch, but they had a helicopter and the BBC didn’t), I was struck by inability of otherwise intelligent journalists to grasp the motivation behind the social unrest.

I have therefore prepared a short primer, firstly to facilitate better dissemination of the facts and secondly to prevent me from starting my own riot by throwing objects at the television.

You’re welcome.

Question 1: Why are the protagonists not disguising themselves? Do they not understand that their activities will appear on CCTV and they will be arrested?

Well, I’m no expert, but I would suggest the reason behind the seemingly lackadaisical attitude towards identification may stem from the fact that they don’t give a crap. Why would they? For many of these people, prison is something of a home from home. For others, it is a better alternative as it offers a structured life, three meals a day and all the PS3 you can it. It’s also cheaper to buy crack in prison. Probably.

Besides. Shocking though it may seem to the middle and upper classes of this country who feel that they are the only ones entitled to a voice, poor people also have access to social networking. Your disbelief that they know how to use it and have done so to supposedly ‘co-ordinate’ these activities will be overshadowed by the breaking news that they post photos of themselves stealing expensive trainers and laptops. So their friends can see. Get it?

Question 2: Why are they destroying their own communities?

Er… what communities? If there were any ‘communities’ amid the clumps of social housing you prefer to pretend don’t exist in urban centres, they left with their tails between their legs some time ago, when you set about summarily dismantling their pillars. Over the years, the tenets of religion has been eroded as a guiding force, discipline in schools is but a vague memory since you removed the means by which teachers maintain control, and as for the police… it’s fairly obvious they’re toothless. These kids do not know what boundaries are;  no one has ever given them the time of day except to accuse them of negative behaviour. Why on earth should they care about the shops you buy your stuff in?

Question 3: Why did the police stand off? Why didn’t they charge and fire water cannon? Where were the riot squad with their tanks and rubber bullets?

Oh yes. Because if a police officer baton charged someone looting a shop or throwing bricks at the massing troops, and made contact, you lot would be filming him or her doing it. They would then be summarily tried and convicted on the front of your newspapers, made a scapegoat for the Metropolitan police and there would be an enquiry. Also, it’s my understanding that many of the offenders are under eighteen. A police officer physically restraining a kid of thirteen or fourteen? On the front of the Daily Mail?

Yeah, you’d love that, wouldn’t you? Get a grip, people. The question you should be asking is not ‘why is this happening?’ but ‘why doesn’t this happen more often?’

Image: Reuters Pictures

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