Saturday, June 18, 2011

Complete Anarchy: My Vancouver Riot Rant

Fan of Anarchism... Or Anakin Skywalker?
Despite being a hockey blog, I wanted to take some time to write a long post about the riot in Vancouver after the Canucks Game Seven loss to the Boston Bruins.

The sadness and disappointment I felt as a 20 year die-hard fan (and season ticket holder) in watching my hometown Canucks lose the way they did after being so close to becoming legends in the city, and getting the championship monkey of Vancouver's back was quickly overshadowed and put in immediate perspective by the pathetic spectacle that took place in the streets afterwards.

What follows is neither a scientific analysis, nor an emotional tirade, but perhaps a bit of both (at least in my mind), and some therapy.  Rather than burn cars, I'd rather rant about the losers who defaced our great city and our reputation. As a fan, a citizen, and with my experience working for and with law enforcement, and background in Criminology, I am someone intimately and intricately invested in the events for many reasons, and I have my opinions...

1) "Angry Canucks fans" didn't riot. Losers did. "Angry Canucks fans" cleaned up the next day.
Game 7 sucked for me.  I was sad, and a little mad.  But I didn't even contemplate visualizing how flipping and burning a car, punching police or looting a store would be therapeutic.  Sure, the looters and rioters might have been angry, and they may have been cheering for the Canucks, but that's like saying a riot took place because they're human, or Vancouverites, or wear clothing, or drink water.  It's a common trend, but it's not the reason why people rioted.  I, like a million other people in the province of BC, am a die-hard Canucks fan.  I chose to watch the playoffs at home or with close friends and family, because I care more about the GAME and my TEAM than an excuse to drink and do dumb things.  I'm not anti-social, but when Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final is in Vancouver, I wear my jersey, grow my playoff beard, eat the same food on game days and sit on the same place on the couch.

Nothing about a hockey game justifies a riot.  Just like nothing should incite tax evasion out of emotion. It's a conscious decision.

2) I am a citizen of Vancouver, and I didn't riot.
It doesn't matter what religion you believe in, or if you're an atheist like me. It doesn't matter if you live in Boston, Toronto, Surrey, Richmond or Vancouver. There's a fundamental golden rule to being human, and that golden rule is so well known that I don't even have to tell you what it is, do I?  Wednesday night brought feelings of anger, shock and disappointment to me.  Citizens of Boston and anyone else who saw video of the event may judge Vancouver, but I don't. I know my city, and the thousands of volunteers who cleaned up afterwards, and the thousands that are apologizing by signing boarded windows, writing letters to Boston, writing letters to newspapers and websites are the real Vancouver.  Every city has losers, let's be honest, but the spirit of Vancouver and its people is better than that crap. As a citizen of Vancouver, the destruction of property is heinous, but the damage to our reputation is probably more appalling.  Just because I'm from Vancouver, does not mean I'd riot.

3) The rioters were not Anarchists.
I mean, come on, look at them.  They're either too young or too dumb to know what that word even means.  Anyone who tries to jump over a burning car, dance on a port-o-potty, or loot moisturizer probably should be removed from the gene pool.

Anyone who has done any content analysis of media over time, or heck, anyone who's been alive for long enough will tell you that there's always an evil image to project on someone depending on the political climate.  If this riot happened 50 years ago, every one of these 'hooligans' would have been hippies or commies.  5-10 years ago, they would have been terrorists.  Are we no longer afraid of the far Right, so we're going to be afraid of the far Left again?  Anarchists did this?  The Vancouver Police say these people came armed with gas masks and fire extinguishers. I think for the most part, that's a pile of crap.  I have no doubt that a few people started it and everyone else joined in, but I don't think anyone considers a fire extinguisher a weapon of choice.  I would presume they grabbed it from inside the store they were looting. Then again, I don't know how to set a police car on fire by shoving a cloth into the fuel line, but apparently a high school water polo player is an expert.

In fact, the alarming issue that few public officials are commenting on yet, is that the majority - dare I say overwhelming majority - of losers that took part in the events Wednesday evening fall into one of three groups none of which involves anarchists, or Fan-archists. 

A) Idiotic bystanders/enablers
These people may actually offer some value, because they recorded everything on their phones and video cameras and uploaded the mayhem to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.  These are probably the same people who would stand around cheering on the school bully to beat up the nerdy kid for his lunch money.  You know, the real brave souls who think they are doing nothing wrong by enabling and egging on the idiotic acts.  Well, wake up and give your head a shake.  You egged on the morons, and made the rest of the world think there were thousands of rioters instead of a hundred.  Good job, your desire to watch the train wreck unfold and marvel at the 'miracle' of fire makes you and your city look like the dumb apes that you showcased yourselves to be.  I'm amazed your opposable thumbs can navigate a Blackberry keyboard to upload your stupidity to the internet.

B) Moronic douchebags
You know the type.  Canucks game or not, these guys would be patrolling Granville and hitting the clubs on a Wednesday night.  They traded in their Ed Hardy / Affliction wear for a Canucks jersey, as an excuse to blend in with real fans and make a mockery of our city, our neighbours, and Canucks fans everywhere.  No wonder the team changes logos so often.  These guys aren't anarchists, they're the morons spending their month's pay at the beer lineup, leaving their seats empty all game.  You've seen these morons for the five seconds they're at their seat before the puck drops.  They can't spell anarchy and have no idea what it means.  All they can tell you is how much protein powder to put in your shake.

This group would include idiots that think fire is cool, and breaking things is cool.  Just stop and ponder that for a moment.  I'm going to reference opposable thumbs again because I'm amazed if these clowns have them.  Idiots that manage to string a few words together to update their facebook status bragging about their feats.  Well done Brock Anton, you've disgraced yourself, your family, your friends, and clearly the Canadian education system.  You wanted to be famous, well now you'll be famous as the goomba who is so bloody stupid that he confessed his own crimes via his iPhone to the world.

I hope you and every moron like you pays a price for this. Maybe your stupid friend will wonder why she befriended such a loser.  Women can be every bit as stupid as men, but they generally like fire fighters.  This guy doesn't.

Clearly he's taking too much protein powder and not investing in time at the gym, or else he looted a spare tire and found a fitting place to 'hide' it.  You see, there's enough idiots like these around Vancouver and any town to fill night clubs on most nights, but the disturbing thing is, in a city like Vancouver, these aren't even real thugs with tough lives.  Just a bunch of insecure losers who think they look tough and manly.

No, these are momma's boys who are 30 years old, living in their mom's basements.  They wash cars for $10, but steals parts from work, sell pot and roids to pay for beer and the MMA pay-per-views, and puff their chests like they're bad ass.  Well, they'd wet their pants at any real sign of trouble, we all know that.

Don't get me wrong, I like beer and don't mind MMA, but these guys are greasier than a White Spot menu item

Guys like this are a disgrace to good guys, Canucks fans, the city of Vancouver, citizens of Canada, and decent human beings everywhere.  We've all seen our share of these tough guys.  They're silver spoon babies who got their chains from their mom for Christmas and steal money out of daddy's wallet.  I grew up in White Rock/Surrey, I can spot these spoiled brats a mile away.

That leads me to the third and final type of rioter that I suspect was downtown on Wednesday night...

C) Spoiled rich kids who haven't heard of consequences
These are the punks who wander around on halloween setting off fire crackers because much like the douchebags above, they discovered fire.  In the case of Nathan Kotylak, his father's a surgeon, yet Nathan seems better with a rag and a lighter than Dr. Kotylak does with a scalpel.

Why is it that so many of these people appear to be university students or high school students from middle-upper class families?  Well, I would suggest it's poor parenting and not much more, but before we explore this a bit, let's make a couple of things clear.

Just because you're young, you aren't necessarily stupid.  It doesn't take Mother Theresa to tell you that rioting and looting is wrong.  It should just take your mother, when you're a child.  The excuse that they are young people is just as stupid as saying it's because they are angry Canucks fans.  It's a moronic excuse, and it's letting them off the hook. 

There is an overwhelming majority of youth that did NOT riot and would never riot under circumstances like those (what circumstances? exactly.).

Being drunk is another dumb excuse.  Aside from kick ass at Rock Band, there aren't a heck of a lot of things I do well when drunk.  So like most people, I know my limit.  Want proof that these people were drunk out of their minds? They looted CHAPTERS.  I love Chapters, but I don't think these idiots would find anything of value in there.

I hear Jane Austen is a rioter favourite.

As I said above, my background in Criminology and experience working for and with police for most of my career has introduced me to a lot of theories on Criminal behaviour.  From being possessed by the devil, to psychological illness, or socio-economic causes, there are a lot of options over the past 200+ years of explaining Criminal behaviour.  My favourite, though, is good old parenting.  You don't have to be rich or poor to know what's right and wrong.  Some chief proponents of socio-economic causes would argue that a single mom working two jobs has less time with her children to supervise and instill these lessons, but I think the culprits of Wednesday's horror show suggest the opposite.

The aforementioned Nathan Kotylak is the son of a surgeon, and high school and university students committing these acts suggests that while dad is working 12 hours a day, and mom is at yoga and getting groceries (or vice versa, I'm not trying to be sexist), the $100 allowance they gave ohhhh let's call him "Jason Li" or "Nathan Kotylak" or Sarah McCusker and Luke Basso is being put to good use: alcohol. The complete lack of supervision and dilligence in raising their children is alarming.

Where are your children? Why are they drinking? Who are they friends with?

It's not Anarchism, it's Absenteeism.  It's parents trying to be their children's best friends, and use entertainment as a babysitter.

Most of the parents of these kids deserve the shame and embarrassment that their children cause them.  Perhaps they should re-finance their Lexus to repay the damage caused by their dereliction of duty as parents.

Little Johnny isn't the perfect little boy you think he is, and no, it's not the music he listens to, or the video games he plays.  It's not the movies he watches or the school he goes to.  It's not the religion he does or doesn't follow, or the colour of his skin.

I didn't see a lot of two year olds rioting in 1994, so I'm going to guess that in 2011 we saw a lot of people who thought that joining in was something fun to do, and weren't repeat rioters.

It's the lessons you teach them: that flipping and burning cars is wrong, that taunting and assaulting police and citizens is wrong, that destruction of property and stealing is wrong, and that embarrassing a team, a city, a province and a country is wrong.

The Chief of Vancouver Police Jim Chu agrees with me.  Why do 16 year olds have bottles of vodka downtown during the game? Where are the parents here?

Too often these days, poor decisions do not lead to consequences worthy of ensuring the acts are not repeated.  It's called learning.  Without the consequences, people seldom learn.  The powerful role that social media is playing in this event will be the subject of many research papers over the coming years - no doubt.  For now though, it's a valuable lesson to everyone who thought that rioting and looting was cool, and how stupid they are for bragging on the internet about your exploits.

For that stupidity however, we can all be thankful, as justice will be served.


  1. Yeah, this was an awesome writeup. Epic. I can tell your writing is getting better in leaps and bounds.

    On top of the great points you made, I think the "story" here which has nothing to do with Vancouver, the outcome of the series, or Canadians in general (sigh..), is the Social Media angle.

    Yes there was a riot in 1994, but we had nothing like Twitter or Facebook back then. Perhaps the closest (more recent) comparison for a Championship series riot was the Lakers Riots (ten years ago), the Red Sox Riots in 2007 and even the Lebron James Decision Riots in Cleveland (Victory?Loss? Tough to call ;)) just last year.

    We all have the technology in our smartphones to do a Youtube video in seconds, so this kind of 'over-hype' is just going to keep on happening. And because networks like CNN/FOX are profit-driven and just plain lazy, they're going to cover this kind of stuff, instead of, you know, National Elections, International Wars, etc.

    On second thought, that's not entirely fair...a smash and grab at Borders is pretty damn funny, actually.

  2. Thanks.
    I completely agree on the social media aspect. There are a million eyes watching, and the stupidity of people to post about their exploits is a blessing to police. It's downright hilarious. The equivalent 50 yrs ago would be walking around downtown with a megaphone saying what you did lol.

    I mean, I was just reading Grown Up Digital, and it's full of examples such as these. As it was unfolding, I was thinking "this is going to wind up in a 'how social media changed the world' book.