The best thing since the last Good Charlotte album.
by TONY FYLER
edited by WOO and ANDREW HICKS
[This week, London and several other cities in the UK erupted into riots and looting. Tony Fyler was there. In his reinforced bunker. Waiting for it all to be over.]
As London and a handful of other British cities put out the fires of this week’s rioting – just in time for Parliament to re-open and the whole thing to kick off again – some of the teenage looters are coming forward to explain why they did it.
“It’s our way of expressing our rage at the authorities,” they’ve said. “We’re showing the police and the authorities we do what we like! Nobody listens to us! Well, they’ll listen now!”
Excuse freaking me, but isn’t that called “being a teenager”?
And correct me if I’m wrong, but being a teenager is an excuse for slamming doors, feeling like nobody understands you, writing maudlin poetry, getting more sex than is good for you, not getting enough sex to be good for you, puking up alcohol in your neighbor’s rosebush, going on an occasional demo and then growing the hell up and realizing what an idiot you were. It is not an excuse for beating people up, breaking into shops or burning down your cities!
Pull that shit at home and the Supernanny’d have you on the Naughty Step before you could say, “I didn’t ask to be born!” Now, suddenly, because you’ve gotten together with your buddies and torched some stuff, we’re supposed to take you seriously? Reeeeeally doesn’t work that way. Put down the matches, Inferno Boy, you’re just a bunch of emo kids with hoodie hair!
Of course, there’s been a lot of talk about the economic deprivation of these times feeding into the rage. ’Scuse me? Number one, you’re a teenager, you haven’t done anything yet that warrants a word like “rage.” Number two, yeah, everyone’s poor, what’s your point? “Oh, but all the rich kids have the coolest toys, and it’s not fair that I don’t have them, so I’m gonna smash things and shout and take what I want, cos that’s fair then!” Whatever happened to, “You can’t have it ‘cos it costs too much, now sit down, shut up and play with this cardboard box”? The sense of ‘outraged’ entitlement is never pretty and never persuasive. How about this – quit your bitchin’, get a job, save up your money and buy whatever the hell you want! Simply “not having stuff” is no good reason to take it from somebody else.
There’s also been talk about the sense of disenfranchisement felt by “the youth.” Well again, let’s look at some facts here. You’re teenagers, you can’t be disenfranchised – most of you haven’t even been enfranchised the first time yet! Honestly, the National Health Service no longer provides the quadruple irony bypass needed to be able to listen to a 14 year old talk about how he doesn’t have the rights and respect he deserves without throwing something at the TV screen. You don’t have rights? How about we talk again when your balls drop or your tits emerge. You don’t get enfranchised untill you’re 18. ‘Till then, our house, our rules, put down the freakin’ gasoline. You’re not disenfranchised, you’re a goddamned teenager.
Oh, and while we’re talking about disenfranchisement, in the last election in this country, nobody – but nobody – voted for a coalition government. So I’ve got news for you kids: being technically enfranchised is no guarantee of getting what you want anymore. The government that nobody voted for has gone on to make the most savage cuts in a generation to healthcare, education, wages, unions, the lot.
So y’know what? We’re all pissed off. But there are ways of doing things. Your way is the way of the toddler. In fact, hell, we’ve had to keep the courts open for extra hours to process all the toddlers who’ve been involved in this lunacy, so how about this for a punishment – make ’em all walk around for one day dressed in romper suits and diapers, with pacifiers in their mouths. If you’re going to act like toddlers when you can’t have your impulses satisfied, we get to treat you like toddlers. Fair?
I think most of ’em would rather die.
The way grownup people deal with things, by the way, has been shown by the crews of volunteer street cleaners that have emerged. Ordinary people are responding to the damage of their community by cleaning it up, even though they had nothing to do with causing the damage. There have, of course, been groups of vigilantes ganging together to actively fight the looters. But the most telling report about them is that, in most cases, “the group of men had been gathering in local pubs since about 2 pm.” These are not proper grownups either; these are drunken morons. They have their own version of the Naughty Step – it’s called Their Lives.
Oh, incidentally, much has been made of the “trigger point” of these riots – the death of a young black man at the hands of the armed police officers. (Yes, really, we do have them over here now.) This would be fair enough if, a) it was news that the police were useless at identifying targets. It isn’t – they shot an unarmed guy stone dead on the Tube just a few years ago because he was wearing a duffle coat when it was hot. This new man, Mark Duggan, was at least armed, so the idea that the officer thought there was a threat to life at least gains a little credibility. And, b) more young people weren’t killed every year by other young people with knives and guns than are killed by the police. Bottom line, it’s sad that he died, but claiming his death was the trigger point for these riots is disingenuous given the stated motivations of the looters themselves. These riots were sparked by opportunism, a misplaced sense of entitlement and the chance to nab an iPad 2 in the melee.
You lot, Naughty Step, NOW!