Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas

I have little enthusiasm for watching professional sport. Partly this is a result of the fact that none of my sports of choice (cricket, Australian Rules Football) have any following in this country, but even back in Oz I was at best a casual observer. Partly, this is also a snobbery about the kinds of people who get excited about sporting teams - let's just say that I wouldn't expect to converse with them about their favourite opera, poet, foreign politician, or economist. There are exceptions, of course - Steve Sailer writes lots of interesting stuff about sports. But the prior stays mostly where it is. And every now and then, you remember why.

As far as I understand it, in the NHL finals recently Vancouver just lost the Stanley Cup to Boston. It was game 7 in the series, and Canadians are famously hockey-mad.

So how do you respond to this disappointment? A few sad ales? Complaining to your friends about the refereeing? Ranting on the internet?

No. Apparently, if you're Canucks fans, you decide to riot and trash your own city.

I note in passing that disappointment at Eugene Fama being passed over for the Nobel Prize in Economics has yet to produce this response in Hyde Park.

Make sure to check out the pictures at the link above. Look at these lecherous, middle class dipshits, grinning and posing next to burning police cars and trashed stores in their own home town. What a laugh! Some guy's car is being tipped over!

This juxtaposition on reddit summed it up well. These pampered, spoiled brats go bananas over ... what? One sporting team losing to another? That's your big complaint in life?

It reminds me of this wonderful essay by Jason Lee Steorts on the Batman movie.
Let me end on a personal note. I hate vandals. My friends ask what makes me a conservative, and sometimes I wonder myself, but there is an answer, and it’s that I hate vandals. The problem with vandals is not that they are wrong about a conceptual matter. The problem is that they smash beautiful things. They couldn’t care less about your rules or your God or your conception of the good. You have to stop them with tools that work.
Just so. In this case, thankfully, the prudent response is also the satisfying one - send in the riot police early and hard to bust heads. The key dynamic in riots seems to be that there's a hardcore group of initial instigators who start breaking stuff, and a whole lot of average joes sitting around waiting to see what happens. The instigators on their own can't actually wreck a city, as there's not enough of them. The really dangerous point is when the average joes see that the police aren't stopping anything. At that point, they start thinking, wouldn't it be fun to smash a window and swipe some stuff? And there's a whole lot of them wondering this at the same time, waiting to see what happens. Average people start joining in, and the trickle becomes a flood.

The good news is that average joes are the most amenable to being deterred by riot police making arrests and busting heads. And even if they are temporarily too high on destruction to be deterred, as least you can get the cathartic pleasure of seeing vandals and thugs getting their asses kicked.

In terms of the tools that work, this is a good start. This is even better.

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