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OP-ED: Why People Can't Help Themselves

Society & Culture  (tags: world, rights, antisocial behavior, Psychology, riots, UK riots, freedoms, government, education, crime, culture, society, politics, safety, news )

- 2463 days ago -
Andrew Potter on how many take a great pleasure in anti-social behaviour, like rioting

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Teresa W (782)
Monday August 22, 2011, 5:01 am

Cheree M (46)
Monday August 22, 2011, 5:21 am
Noted, TY

Alexandra R (180)
Monday August 22, 2011, 8:07 am
Interesting. It has never occurred to me that one could do it just for fun. No doubt it does release pent up outrage, but to riot just for fun? I don't think so.

Kamila A (141)
Monday August 22, 2011, 10:21 am
This is very disturbing to think that we are all capable of violence, but I don't agree with this article. I think that the author is probably capable, but there are many who are awakened to a higher sensibility and would not do it.

Dotti L (85)
Monday August 22, 2011, 1:07 pm

Yvonne W (229)
Monday August 22, 2011, 1:27 pm
I can agree with most of what he says. The technology involved these days can be good & bad. I think Purposeful Rioting could be politically viable - but focusing a riot would be more like trying to get thousands of cows to stampede in a surgical way, too military-like for "week-end rioters".. so I think American politicians are "safe" for now. But they better get a good Jobs Program going SOON, because the '68 riots could be repeated in 2012 if too many millions don't have decent jobs to go to!

Eternal G (745)
Monday August 22, 2011, 6:10 pm
Social science is endlessly fascinating, or sociology in this case specific.

Ginger S (20)
Monday August 22, 2011, 6:30 pm
people are complex beings

Lin P (92)
Monday August 22, 2011, 6:51 pm
Can't get through. SPAM just above me Shushuas a., so am trying this to Care2 in comments. I'll give back the 20 flutterbyes.

Lin P (92)
Monday August 22, 2011, 7:11 pm
Thanks Cal. This is a real comment to the article now. Social creatures such as ourselves, often are tempted to go into the pack/attack mode. Perhaps one of the reasons male humans dislike wolves and other pack animals so much. That is much too simplistic for riot behaviour, though leaders use this. Many of us lack control over our lives. Lack of personal contol can lead to violence as individuals and as groups of millions. As Empress Ginger says, we are complex beings. Look at the human body and how many defense system are in our blood. Riots abound!

Veronica C (22)
Monday August 22, 2011, 10:20 pm
Well, I cannot think like a young man, but it doesn't look like fun to me.

. (0)
Tuesday August 23, 2011, 4:36 am
I read quite a few interviews from some of the London rioters who used just that word - it was "fun".

I think the author is correct, at least to some extent. How often have we seen a group of otherwise good children decide it would be fun to, say, throw a rock through a neighbor's window, or some such piece of senseless vandalism? And while a lone child might do such things, from my own recollection of childhood it was when kids (especially the boys) got together in groups that the anti-social behavior was more likely to happen. Not only does peer pressure play a role - but doing what the crowd is doing in a way "gives permission" for an individual to throw off his inhibitions and join in.

Rules of decency and law force most of us to lead decent and law-abiding lives (and a great many of us want to live that way). But even though I can't imagine myself joining in a riot for fun, I do understand why some would have the mindset that it is fun. We haven't been "civilized" beings on the evolutionary timeline for all that long, after all.

Esther Z (94)
Tuesday August 23, 2011, 5:57 am
As far as I'm concerned be it collective subconciousness or convergence theory of a mob mentaliy, a crime is still a crime. People can rationalize their behaviour by blaming it on peer pressure or being led astray by the "excitement" of the moment. Regardless, we all have free will, and if you let yourself be pulled in by all the drama and mayhem, you're still making a choice, and a bad one at that.

Robert S (111)
Tuesday August 23, 2011, 7:05 am
A riot is the language of the unheard.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday August 23, 2011, 11:08 pm
The article is right in all regards, I think, except one:

"In the meantime, we need to stop assuming that these occasional flare-ups of mass social unrest are signs of profound social dysfunction. "
It is a profound social dysfunction that so many people are willing to so thoroughly disregard the well-being of others and even themselves for the sake of a day's fun. This is worse than the unemployment or whatever else has been blamed.

Robert S (111)
Wednesday August 24, 2011, 7:26 am
I think the essential premise is wrong, though it may be fun for some. There are always those....
But you try confronting a line of police on horses and tell me what a "riot" you had. You try getting kicked, by police or horses, punched and hit with sticks by multiple cops, also "having fun" and tell me you look forward to the next adrenaline rush.

For others, it as MLK said. This article seems intent to trivialize and is enabled in its theorizing by idiot sports fans who chances are, have no clue whats going on in society but instead raise up "who won" as the most important thing in the world, making them essentially retards.

"and wed all do it if we could"

Bull. Simply Bull. The majority of people will only be so inclined.... when there lives are empty, full of quiet desperation which one day after building and building is released, by a catalyst, such as the shooting of innocents....again. You will find both criminal and patriot in such a crowd. There is no screening process.

In an event such as Katrina you will find both the best and worst of people doing respectively what they do. One attempting to help, and the other looting, raping, killing. Some in the latter group may even be police.

Fun? I think the writer is the one who should look in the mirror.

Jerold t (13)
Tuesday August 30, 2011, 12:35 am
No Mr. Potter, we would not all love to riot. Maturity does not lead us in such a direction.
The only thing rioting accomplishes is a bolstering of government opposition, and it will power up against these people. We will all suffer for the actions of a few. We already have to much security, to many policemen.
The hippy movement gave us the war on drugs. Yes, that too was a riot, a slow one, a riot of civil disobedience. It gave us a harsher style of policing.
The Arab dawn was an insurrection, not a wild riot such a Canada's or England's.
It's easy to find a self centered brat, just look for a riot without a social cause. G2 was not affected a bit. Watts was, it had a real purpose.

Karen Marion (30)
Tuesday August 30, 2011, 6:00 pm
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