Home > Uncategorized > Rioters, Law & Order & Irrationality.

Rioters, Law & Order & Irrationality.


The press is filled at the moment about the riots happening in England. Everyone is keen to add their two cents as to why young kids are taking to the street and rioting. Some are blaming prison sentences that are too short others are blaming knife and gang culture whilst others blame celebrity culture – the wanting something without having to work as pointed out by libdemchild here. The blogpost is excellent but for me all the reason for the riots fall flat on one thing – they are rational.

Lets not kid ourselves there is no rationality behind the riots. These kids are rioting and looting because its fun and a laugh as well as getting something for free.

The idea of David Cameron and the Conservative party in general saying that longer prison sentences are needed is hilarious. Their argument that these kids wouldn’t riot if prison sentences were longer again is ridiculous. These kids probably don’t know what the prison sentence for rioting and looting is let alone being rational enough to think about it before they commit the crime. Everyone is capable (its especially true for kids) of doing something without thinking of the consequences. The reason why I think its hilarious for David Cameron to say it is because he himself is guilty of public disorder and vandalism with his mate Boris when they were at Oxford. I highly doubt that David and Boris were thinking about what they were doing or the consequences of it when they decided to vandalise shops in Oxford.

I can just imagine one of the rioters being jailed today or over the coming few weeks or perhaps one who is never caught being elected Prime Minister (as a Conservative) in 20 years time with lets just say an incident similar to the current riots or perhaps worse either in front of No. 10 or at the despatch box saying “What we need to do in order to stop riots like these in the future is have longer prison sentences. Even though when I was rioting and looting the streets of London town 20 years ago, I was not thinking about the consequences of my actions but oh what fun it would be to smash up some shops and steal what I could get my hands on. I must say that was a jolly good night out.” Ok maybe that last sentence belongs to a Bullingdon club member and not one of the present rioters. All the PM says on the subject of that night and his cannabis smoking as a young person was that he was young and stupid. Thats not a reason and it doesn’t help us make sure these things don’t happen again in the future.

On BBC Question Time tonight it was suggested that the reason for these riots was based on class or the fact that these kids feel alienated or it was the welfare system creating people who get something for free or it was because they knew they wouldn’t get caught or Davis’ suggestion that their parents hadn’t set boundaries, the schools hadn’t created discipline, rioters with previous convictions or failed convictions thought that the police wouldn’t do much is quite frankly ridiculous. Some of the rioters may have one or all those factors in their head but i doubt that was the reason or the cause of the riots.

Our PM, didn’t fall in any one of those categories yet he somehow ended up in a similar position – ok the police reacted quicker and better then than they did in the riots. With young kids in bad homes, bad situation like most of the rioters, they rationalise their ways into gangs and misbehaviour. Trick is to catch them before they fall into these gangs or the “bad crowd” or help them before they get into serious trouble.
These are irrational acts, organised irrational acts which we are trying to rationalise afterwards to stop it happening in the future. That is all very noble and of course right but how can we rationalise to stop an irrational act?

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. August 12, 2011 at 08:32

    Completely agree. These riots can’t really be rationalised because there is no sole reason for starting the riots, or why many are ‘joining in’. And with so many people involved blaming lack of opportunity, and government not listening, it’s difficult to even get a running theme on why these young people are involved.

    It’s an issue of family and education as to how people view prison, crime and what’s right and wrong; but how we address those issues, I’m none the wiser.

    • August 12, 2011 at 13:27

      Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, i think sort of explains the joining in in his book. I think people are joining in because a) they don’t know their preferences b) they see other people who are poor or even better off nicking stuff, they themselves within their social network feel poor so decide to go and nick stuff themselves thinking it would make them feel better and happier coz they have the latest gadgets. Not thinking about the police or jail because the police on the first night didn’t do anything they hung back and did nothing.

  2. August 31, 2011 at 02:17

    I never thought of it that way, well put!

  3. September 2, 2011 at 18:25

    I agree 100%

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