Georgia's blog

The end of the ‘human rights culture’

with 2 comments

This is what David Cameron thinks should come next, including rubber bullets, social media restrictions and whatever else. The London riots was just the beginning. It won’t stop there.

Unfortunately we have all been infiltrated by the media industry to perceive and interpret events and people in a manicheistic sort of way. And now all this disinformation industry are in heaven, dividing us all into the good and the bad. You have to know where you stand. With the police or with the looters. Really?

Melodramatic interviews with people whose houses were burnt during the riots, video footage of angry hooded looters, breaking and stealing, the ‘other’ crowd that helped clean up, a confusion of messages. Who is to blame? The police who shot dead a young black man, the gang culture, crowd psychology, the government cuts, the closing down of libraries and youth centres? People filmed looting say ‘we are taking our taxes back’. While other British taxpayers feel they have to pay for all this damage. But who caused the original damage? And is it just such an easy one-way explanation?

Let’s play the black and white game they want us to. I am a PhD student and a MA graduate of one of the best universities in the world, speak 8 languages or 10 if you count the dead ones, have 10 years work experience in different fields and still cannot find a paid (important clarification) job in London within my expertise. What chances does a young black man from a council house without higher education have? Try to put yourself in his shoes. I know it’s difficult, we are perfectly trained to ignore, but give it a try. You could never study because you can’t pay the fees, you face social and racial discrimination when it comes to jobs, so where would you turn to? You get regular police checks because of the way you look and the place you live. Your family is poor and cannot support you. You are angry and afraid and hopeless. There is no security, nothing you have that you can lose. So you find yourself within a crowd that throws stones at window glasses. And here is the question: would you throw that stone? Would you let that anger and fear come out this way?

Now to the other side. Put yourself in the policeman’s shoes. Your duty is to protect citizens, human lives and property. To restore order into chaos. Most of the times you do paper work, but when worse comes to worst, you might find yourself in the midst of an enraging crowd. You don’t like these confrontations, but it’s part of your job and your orders are to restore order. So you catch this youngster looting from Carphone Warehouse and you have to arrest him. That’s the other question now: would you hit him with your baton? You have to arrest him and he resists, so you have to do something.

Would you throw the stone or would you use the baton? That is the question we are all expected to answer. Tell me with whom you identify most and I’ll tell you who you are, like a TV magazine quiz. Because if we invest our time answering this sort of questions, then we miss the point and Mr Cameron gets the ground he wants to rip us off our ‘human rights culture’. As far as I know there’s scarcely any place in the U.K. without video surveillance cameras; photos of youngsters stealing crisps from supermarkets are immediately first page news. When people -including 15-year-old kids- demonstrate peacefully against the rise of university fees, they find themselves kettled in the cold for 10 hours, plain torture. How worse can it possibly get? I wonder if the U.K. will be able to fulfil E.U. human rights standards in the near future.

But the real question is do we want to understand and change things or do we want to blame and condemn and get back to our lives? And how do you condemn something you do not understand? There are many good attempts to explain the context of the London riots, like the articles of Nina Power, Tariq Ali, David Harvey and many others, as well as this article published in the Guardian days before the riots started. Sometimes the context is even more important than the events themselves. And our context is that of a society that tolerates to be looted by bank bailouts, but is deaf to the angst and fear of the poor and the weak.

Yes, Mr Cameron, there are sick parts in our society, nice metaphor, well done. But when someone is sick, you don’t let them die, right? Or is it this what you want to do with the NHS? When someone is sick, you diagnose him, find the cause of the sickness and cure it. The sickness is not the problem, it is only the manifestation of the causes. And big part of the causes you’ll find if you take a good long look in the mirror. Your ‘Big Society’ is a ‘Sick Society’.


Written by Georgia

August 16, 2011 at 18:04

2 Responses

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  1. ‘And our context is that of a society that tolerates to be looted by bank bailouts, but is deaf to the angst and fear of the poor and the weak.’
    I suggest that this is due to the poor being demonised as scroungers, or chavs. Our most widely read newspapers feature stories of benefit fraud daily, usually in families of ethnic minorities. They are made the ‘enemy’. Bankers haven’t been demonised and attacked on anything like the scale that ‘scroungers’ have by the media.

    Very interesting article, it’s important we don’t allow our rights to be further eroded in the light of these riots!


    August 16, 2011 at 18:36

    • Totally agree, thanks for the feedback!


      August 16, 2011 at 19:27

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