Vancouver Riots

My brother has posted his thoughts on last night’s rioting in Vancouver.

#vancouver2010 olympics hockey party by rocketcandy

I think we’re mostly on the same page about how this mess came about: the riots happened because people expected a riot to happen. The anarchists and the assholes showed up, dragged a few fence-sitting drunkards in with them, and the party was on.

The people who gathered to watch bear some of the guilt too: their presence was encouraging, even if they remained silent (although some did speak up, and I applaud them). The presence of the silent witnesses provided the cover which made it possible for those without conscience to do their looting and violence.

But even though I condemn these actions, I’m not embarrassed by them. Living in a free society means embracing a certain amount of risk. Eliminating all crime necessarily requires the elimination of all freedom and privacy. Other Western nations are turning increasingly towards a police-state mentality: the USA has its obscene airline security. The UK has more surveillance cameras per capita than anywhere else in the world. France has proposed arbitrary censorship of any website.

I’m hopeful that Canadians will accept that this event — an extremely rare, and, relatively speaking, minor one — is an acceptable price to pay for living in a truly great culture.

On Poppies

I spotted a poppy pin lying on the ground today.  Serendipitous!  Poppies are a Canadian tradition — nobody wears them here — and the pin was probably accidentally dropped by a Canadian shopper taking advantage of the exchange rate.  I’m excited to be able to celebrate Remembrance Day properly.

In the US it’s Veteran’s Day; in Canada it’s Remembrance Day.  They’re both on the same day and nominally celebrate the same thing (the end of WWI), but they have slightly different flavors.  I can’t comment too much about the US since, not having grown up here, I don’t really know what happens at school assemblies and various memorials.  I do get a sense that there’s a mix of honoring veterans and general patriotism.
At home in Canada it’s about honoring veterans, but also tinged with regret and shame.  Not shame for the people or the country, but shame for all of us, all of humanity, that such a horrible thing as war should ever exist.  It’s called Remembrance Day because we should never forget the horror of war, and we should never forget that war is, fundamentally, a failure of that which makes us human.