First the bad news: Vancouver is filled with losers. They are certainly a minority, but it’s their version of the city’s reaction that represents the whole in the bullet-point media cycle, and they are a noxious minority. Those in Damascus and Athens have reason to be upset to the boiled-over point of destruction and recklessness. Those few in Vancouver, leaping about the flames and stealing pants, are not sporting people. They are losers, much more than the team. What could the majority have done? What could Vancouver have done? They should have done like the people of Miami, but instead for the second time in two opportunities some Vancouverites – what, 1000? 1500? – failed, on behalf of the whole city, to show a little class.
If people in Vancouver had reacted this way to every Canadian Olympic Silver, Van City would look like Tripoli.
Unfortunately, in any scene of mob mentality like this, it is the large group of bystanders in the middle who bear the real blame. If you tweeted about it without taking any photos of rioters, it’s your fault. If you just drank your beer and watched, it’s your fault. If you cheered people on from the periphery and hung around when it was time to disperse, it’s your fault. May you get tear-gassed next time.
Many people in Vancouver took pictures which will be useful, and afford an opportunity for the regular people of the area to take steps to redress the situation and discourage it from happening again: look at the facebook page. Identify and persecute a looter today. Fire them from your workplace. Wake them up early. You didn’t agree to cover for them, so you can identify them to the police without being a rat. Tell them you know as you pass them in the hall. Vancouver needs a big blanket of shame, and it can only be knit by the rational majority of people who live there.
I say persecute rather than prosecute because this was not a legal event. It was a social event, and can only be dealt with in any constructive way by social action. That’s why those who are cleaning up deserve credit, and a pass on the reputational smear that they will have to live with as much as the looters. That’s why those who took good pictures deserve credit. That’s why those who stood around are guilty. Guilty until today, when they wake up, tired, maybe hung over, and decide to do the right thing. Persecute!