May 1, 2012, 7:20 pm
Rodney King (photo from Wikipedia)
Twenty years ago this week, riots swept through Los Angeles. Rioters looted stores and then burned them to the ground. Photographers and journalists attempted to capture the mêlée, but some were physically assaulted in the process. South Central and South East Los Angeles were on fire. The vitriol and violence emerged hours after several white police officers were acquitted by an all-white jury in the infamous Rodney King beating case. A year before, Rodney King’s name left an indelible mark on our collective conscious as did the video tape of his brutal beating at the hands of baton-wielding officers.
Indeed there was a sad double consciousness for some blacks—pain and empathy for King while at the same time his beating provided some political expediency…
August 9, 2011, 7:23 pm
In an earlier post, Michael Ruse asked me how evolution might help explain the British riots.
In this regard, I’m sympathetic with one reader’s comment that maybe it isn’t incumbent upon evolution to have anything to say in this regard. On the other hand, it seems to me that any perspective that claims to provide deep and wide insight into human behavior— including but not limited to Freudian, Marxist, feminist, post-modernist, pre- or post-apocalyptic, millenarian and theoprotonucleohermeneutic—should have something to contribute when it comes to events that are themselves widespread, oft-encountered, important, and, in all probability, deeply implanted in the human repertoire. Violent riots and trouble-making would certainly appear to qualify. So thank you, Michael, for asking.
My immediate response is to think of those irascible, violence-prone subordinate elephant…
August 8, 2011, 10:49 pm
Watching video of the London riots, skimming the newspaper commentary and bloggery, I get shivers. Not only because of the awful destruction, not only because the difficulty of establishing facts, not only because everyone is stunned by the sheer scale of the violence, not only because some cops are racist, not only because so many people like thuggery and looting and burning and throwing things at cops—that’s “like” as in “thrill to,” “feel like taking part in,” not as in Facebook “like”—not only because nihilism is as much fun as cruelty and as cruel as it is fun, but because of the vast cloud of incomprehension that surrounds the events—an incomprehension that seems to match Americans’ incomprehension in 1965 (Watts), 1967 (Newark, Detroit)…1992 (L. A.).
At least it’s my impression that now, as then, much of the commentary consists of nothing more than rage, fear, and…
June 16, 2011, 2:32 pm
As you’ve probably read by now,
Rioting hockey fans clashed with police officers, set vehicles ablaze, smashed windows, looted stores and set several fires in downtown areas here Wednesday night, moments after the Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals to the Boston Bruins.
Yeah, yeah, we all know that hockey is a fight disguised as a sport. So perhaps most people are shrugging their shoulders about the riots in Vancouver. After all, what can we expect from such a supposedly violent sport but violent behavior from its fans?
But hockey is not necessarily more or less violent than other sports. Let’s face it, football and rugby ain’t for sissies. On the other hand, soccer is not the manliest of sports, nor is it even a contact sport, and yet its hooligans are some of the most violent—they regularly riot, burn cars, and beat the crap out of each other and the…