A Perfect Riot

Cars burning, stores looted, cops maintaining a hands-off policy… it’s situation perfect.

Riot 14

We have their photographs.  Soon all their names.  It would seem that in one fell swoop our society’s up-and-coming sociopaths have been outed.  This is something to celebrate.

We hear talk of anarchists, alcohol, adolescent frustration and kids from good families getting swept up in the mayhem.  Let’s talk instead about a much more inconvenient truth – that societies everywhere suffer the aggression of individuals who are untroubled by a conscience.  And, so, what hope of life having any meaning?

Often clever, they do not however have the mental machinery to acknowledge their own culpability.  What they do have is a talent for charming their way out of personal responsibility.  You watch.

Riot 9

My curiosity about psychopaths stems from my friendship with the late Polish psychologist, Kazimierz Dabrowski.  Founder of the Polish mental health movement, Dabrowski also taught at the U of A in Edmonton in the 1970s.  As a young man, he witnessed the horrors of Nazi and Russian invasions of his motherland.  That the human organizm was capable of such unconscionable acts startled Dabrowski, and he devoted his life to the study of mental development. 

At one end of the development spectrum – permanently stuck in a state of childish integration – are the psychopaths.  Untreatable, but rarely criminal, they bully their way through life, forcing their narcissistic agendas upon whatever occasion presents itself.  A lawless, drunken, burning, inner-city is a sociopath’s dream come true.

Riot 6

Courts will fall for their strategic whimperings and pardon most of them.  And we will soon forget.  But a greater public good will be served if these miscreants realize that we have not forgotten – if they must forever confront photographic evidence of themselves stuffing flaming rags into a vehicle’s gas tank. 

The message is: we know who you are and we’re watching you. 

Bullies are like vampires – they melt away in the light of truth.

This is the silver lining in the smoke that rises off the still-smouldering reputation of our city.

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  1. McGoo says

    The camera has become the new conscience of today! Not the whip or the shadow of the whip, but the hidden and not so hidden eyes fo the camera watching and telling. Is the pendulum swinging back from the edge?

  2. says

    Maybe the camera will encourage some much needed actual self-reflection.

    Meanwhile, another writer has emailed to caution against my use of “sociopath” and “psychopath”. In his words:

    “They are thieves. That is a far better description than sociopath. These terms were ‘invented’ by social and behavioural scientists to construct academic paradigms to better manage data. No one is going to be charged and convicted for being a “psychopath” (they are usually too clever anyway) or a “sociopath” or a “diseased neurotic”. They will be charged and convicted, or not, with crimes as described in the penal code; and it is not a crime to be a psychopath or sociopath or a stupid person in our society. We punish criminal acts and not labels like they do in Uganda, and many other countries…

    “In our imperfect society (we should) be tolerant of our imperfections and try to understand them within a context that may one day lead to betterment for all. And I think you should feel the same way, though that’s only a personal feeling. I don’t think you are an extremist raging against the darkness, because I know you live in the light (at least most of the time). I think you made some obviously valid points, but overall I think you missed the mark by putting a lot of dissimilar things together. But that’s just my opinion.”

    I thank this reader for those comments.

  3. McGoo says

    Most interesting comments there. Our own humanity has to keep expanding beyond our personal tolerance thresholds. Otherwise…

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