Friday, 12 August 2011

A rant on riots

I am seeing some real knee-jerk comments about riots that really seem to miss any logic. If there are riots, whether political motivated, or just criminal activity, the underlying causes need addressing. You need to find a way to run the country so that people respect the law and people and property in the first place.

One thing that makes people not respect the law is bad laws.

Yet, the reactions are not to address the underlying reasons that the riots happened, but to suggest more bad laws. Like blocking access to social media sites which have been so helpful in organising clean-up operations and bringing the communities together to address the problems. Like police powers to ask people to remove masks - as if that helps at all. Halloween will be fun.

None of this addresses the actual problems, whatever they are (and I really do not know). They just make for more unrest - more disrespect of the law - more cases where people become criminals without trying and so may as well go all the way.

We need governments that can actually run a country. We don't need more laws, we need fewer laws; simpler laws; laws we can all understand; laws that we are not breaking by walking down the street not hurting anyone.

I see this in software - if I have to pile on more and more special cases, I have the design wrong and need to start again. The same is true for laws. Making new laws to address more and more special cases of social behaviour gone wrong is missing the point - you need to fix the design.

One area I think the Yanks got right is freedom of speech - here we have laws against inciting riots or religious hatred, which seem like a good idea on the face of it. Once when I was in Vegas I witnessed some outrageous religious comment on the street (done with banners and megaphones) that would incite a riot in any UK town I am sure. The point is that everyone knows that everyone has the right to speak out and spout crap, so they ignore it - they don't feel they have to react. Even people that did react just stood and shouted in the guys face but did not touch him as that would be assault - so nothing bad happened, just noise. Making people's crazy views in to just noise makes life simpler for everyone. Trying to stop people say what they want causes unrest and is the start of the slippery slope to an oppressive government, and that never works out well.

Heck, for all I know something in this blog post has just made me a criminal - it is impossible to be sure these days. And no, I am not in any way endorsing riots and looting, just dismayed at the reaction of so called government.


  1. While freedom-of-speech is quite important in the US, there are limits. Explicitly encouraging violence is illegal, as are things that put people in danger. The famous example is falsely shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theater.

  2. Indeed - I can see that you really have to have some things like that. After all, freedom of speech does not allow you to defraud someone by saying things that are lies. What is perhaps most important is being able to freely express your views.

  3. My reaction to it was to make a parody song about it...


  5. Your rant is just vacuous intellectually adolescent drivel, the banally obvious packaged as a simplistic social nostrum masquerading as a political platform. Your assertion that 'We need governments that can actually run a country' will prove so astoundingly profound that people will be forever in your debt for having articulated an insight hitherto beyond the grasp of thinkers. I don't believe anything in your blog post will make you a criminal as there is no legal constraint against immature bleating.

  6. Like many, I suspect the root cause is due to the immegration policy to the UK. People grow up with different laws and different understanding of whats acceptable and whats not. Look at majority of crime committed within the UK cities and see how many of them are actually committed by white British who's family back dates 3+ generations rooted in UK.

  7. Ah, the Daily Mail argument. Not our fault old chap, blame the damn foreigners.

    Personally, I suspect the problem really lies with those who blame others. And whilst I'm blaming others, I do appreciate that I am at least partly responsible if only for my inaction as the world around me changed for the worse.

  8. Oh, and I should thank 'Bongo McGurk' for giving me a laugh by posting the very epitome of an ironic comment.