Have you ever been in a riot? Did you start it? Did you just watch? If you just watched, how long did that work for you? When did you realize you were about to be set on fire, gassed or clubbed into a permanent vegetative state?
I thought about this recently after I learned that Seattle now has a rugby team called the Seawolves. I’ve only seen rugby in YouTube videos, but I’ve seen enough to understand that the game is basically a riot. It’s the only game I know where it is normal for players to bite one another. At times it looks like a mosh pit that’s escaped and is roaming the countryside looking for towns to devour.
I’m all for rugby and for riots in general, at least in principle. Of course any single individual riot may not be desirable. I’m not endorsing all of them, willy-nilly. But I endorse the concept.
If you don’t know how riots work, you don’t know how life works. Life is just a tedious riot from which no one escapes alive. So, you shouldn’t ignore them.
Speaking of riots, Pittsburgh police have been ordered to bring riot gear to work every day until further notice, to prepare for “semispontaneous” riots anticipated in the central city whenever Trump fires Robert Mueller. In the past I have made fun of Pittsburgh, most notably that time after the Steelers lost the Super Bowl to the Dallas Cowboys in 1996. I’m fighting the urge now.
I’ve been to a “semispontaneous” riot. I watched the start of it from half a block away. I witnessed it clearly being started by police in riot gear who attacked nonviolent protesters without warning. The police attack was undeniably planned in detail. It was seemingly spontaneous (because, without warning), but only semi-so (because, deliberate on the part of the police). There was a lot of semispontaneous head-bashing by police officers swinging clubs during that riot, and friends of mine found themselves semispontaneously in the local ER being treated for concussions and cracked skulls.
Semi-spontaneity is like a square dance in a church basement. Semi-spontaneity is like a mass rally for Glorious Leader. Semi-spontaneity is like “beloved president is re-elected with 99 percent of the vote for the third time.” Semi-spontaneity explains why all Fox News anchors say the same things hour after hour, day after day.
Semi-spontaneity is a company picnic. Semi-spontaneity is tinted contact lenses and corporate culture and different dress codes for men and women. Semi-spontaneity is a pine-scented air freshener for your car.
Semi-spontaneity is when you tell your boyfriend tonight is the night you finally want to stay over, all night long, and he tells you, “What a lucky coincidence! I just bought an alarm clock so you won’t miss your morning class (job, doctor’s appointment, whatever). Because, spontaneity. Also, I have just today bought two boxes of protection, completely by chance, so no worries.”
Semi-spontaneity is a wardrobe malfunction in a halftime show. It’s Jerry Lewis crying about Jerry’s kids during a telethon.
Semi-spontaneity is why we can’t have those people working here because they would create a situation in which there could be disturbances.
How does anyone figure that there will be semispontaneous riots in cities because of a potential firing of a prosecutor? What goes into that calculation?
It sounds like the Pittsburgh PD is at the cutting edge in the science of riot prediction. It’s amazing to me that they would estimate that the firing of Robert Mueller would be the trigger — the last straw — that would set off the cities. Rather than, I don’t know, things such as police shootings of unarmed residents of those cities. Rather than any of the other things you’d think would trigger riots.
I find myself thinking it’s not so plausible that Mueller’s firing would trigger the residents to riot, as it would trigger the police themselves somehow. Perhaps it would be a signal to them of a victory for Trump and a time for celebration. What better way to celebrate a victory of a cruel man than to hold a police riot and blame the people who suffer it?
And why not start blaming them even before it happens? If you can get everyone to believe that people are already on the verge of starting riots, then when you make it so by causing the riots yourself, you can say, “See? Told you they were going to become violent.”
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
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