Immediately before Pompeii was covered in lava people were making love. How do we know? They were forever preserved in the act, turned to stone in the heat of passion. Danger does funny things to human beings, reducing us to the rush of chemistry in our blood and brains. There’s no accounting for it.
Rich Lam’s brilliant photograph (below) has everything but the requisite tide of lava. Caught up in a melee, men find themselves doing the strangest things. A fire becomes a primal occasion to beat one’s chest. Glass becomes an outrage to form that must be smashed. Alcohol in the blood turns to heat, and men become defiant. For an indescribable moment, men succumb to the animal inside.
Or so goes the apology. I rather think that last night’s laying waste to Vancouver was rather more organised and wilful than it was primal and forgivable. The men in hockey shirts – from Boston as well as from Vancouver – likely had no interest in the game, but came with the intent of kicking off. The instigators, I will bet my life’s savings, were not swept along by an animal impulse, but were organised, determined, and acting under their own sober (if idiotic) volition. A hockey loss does not cause men to loot Sears (below). A hockey loss does not cause men to attack the CBC or the police. A hockey loss does not lead men to cover their faces, lest they are identified, before casting the first stone.
The British police have known now for several decades that the presence of a crowd will always attract an element that wishes to degenerate it to violence and anarchy, and they have become the best in the world at preventing it at sporting events. (At political events they have recently taken too many leaves from the book of Italian policing). I do not know what the security arrangements were like in downtown Vancouver last night, but it stands to reason that if 100,000 people gather to watch a game, someone should be watching for the usual suspects. Quite simply, this should not have happened.
Let’s be clear: men don’t riot because they are disappointed. Men don’t riot because they are hockey fans. Men riot because they are easily led by other men who adore violence and chaos. The easily led are weak, pathetic animals, and (I should imagine) soon remorseful. The others are dangerously rational, but lost to civilisation. Something is deeply wrong with them. Let’s not call them hockey fans. Let’s find out who they are, and determine how, through profound failure, our society has produced these sorry excuses for men.