This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

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ONLY TWO DAYS LEFT!!! The HijiNKS ENSUE Store will be shutting down for a few weeks so I can make some big, exciting changes. [READ MORE HERE] If there is a shirt you want, and you DON’T WANT to wait until sometime after San Diego Comicon, you should probably buy it now. This week will be your last chance for a at least a few weeks. Please check out this blog post to see which designs won’t be coming back, in case you want one of those.

CONVENTION NEWS: I will be at San Diego Comicon at the Blind Ferret Booth with Least I Could Do, Looking For Group, GuttersGirls With Slingshots and possibly more. It’s going to be a blast and a frakking half.

I can say with certainty that, while I do not share an enthusiasm for any organized sporting contest, I can understand fully why many (most) people do. There’s camaraderie, civic pride, a perceived communal goal, competition, statistics to geek out over, rivalries, drama, etc, etc. The part of “sports enthusiasm” that I can’t even begin to relate to on even the most basic level is the mentality of the vast minority of sports fans where in a particular game doesn’t result in their chosen team winning, and they decide the only way to express their disappointment is to set shit on fire, assault people and destroy public and private property. Not to mention proving to any hyper-advanced alien races who may be watching us that, yes, we are all a bunch of beastly fuck ups, and you should probably go ahead and lazer-doze our stupid planet to make way for your intergalactic throughway.

Seriously, if all it takes to devolve a random group of previous reasonable people into god damn rage monkeys is a little alcohol and some sad hockey times, then we don’t deserve nice things like societies and civilization. “MY SPORTS WAS BAD! I NEED TO HURT THINGS AND PEOPLE!” just isn’t acceptable. I know this seems odd, but this kind of behavior scares me more for the future of the human race than war. There’s something incredibly sinister and terrifying about the snap change from “I’m a regular guy, hanging out at a hockey game. I have a job, and an apartment and I’m in a long term relationship” to “I bet this car should be on fire and then things will be better. How about a brick to this guy’s head? Yeah, this is an excellent way for me to behave, and afterwards there will be no negative repercussions.” That borders on sociopathy. So does littering (I’m quite serious), but that’s a different argument all together.

Many of the riotous fuckwits were photographed and videoed by onlookers and uploaded to this tumblr. Here’s hoping they are identified and held responsible for their crimes. That reminds me of the cell phone surveillance system in The Dark Knight, except we don’t need Bruce Wayne to build it for us. We’re already doing it ourselves. The next time you plan to throw a flaming trashcan through a local business window, keep in mind that nearly everyone around you has an HD video camera in their pocket.

At least this deplorable display of inhumanity allowed an opportunity for others to step up and show some real selflessness and kindness. My friend Amy posted this on Twitter today:

I’m not from Vancouver, but I’ve gotten to know the city and its people pretty well. They’re AWESOME. Last night was an aberration. What you won’t hear about is how thousands of residents volunteered their time today to clean up the city after a few drunks got outta hand. RT @LizTheCanadian Here’s a gallery on Facebook of the volunteers cleaning up today

Commenters: What the fuck is going on? Are we just god damned savages? How are we ever going to get into The Federation like this?

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  1. (In my Michael Caine in "The Swarm", voice.) "We've been fighting a losing battle against the sports fans for fifty years, but I never thought I'd see the final face-off in my lifetime. And I never dreamed, that it would turn out to be the Canadians. They've always been our friend."
    Seriously, well said, sir. Well…fucking…said!

  2. I was mainly surprised the riots were in Vancouver. Usually it's "fans" of the winning team that drink themselves into a violent frenzy, and Boston sports fans aren't exactly known for their calm demeanors to begin with.

    • This. This was exactly what I was thinking. But Vancouver fans have rioted once before when they won and once before when they lost. So…maybe they just like to riot?

      • Naw, we lost last time too. If the Canucks ever actually won, I'm pretty sure they'd react a lot better. Things would still go crazy, but I bet there'd be less destruction.

        As an ex-Vancouverite, I'm just sort of astonished that tehre's so many people running around looking for an excuse to act this way. Scarrry…

    • In Boston, we just don't have enough room to riot. You start rioting in Boston, and then before you know it you're accidentally rioting in Cambridge and Brookline, and the Harvard students and black-hats are looking down their noses at you. It's tough to get a good riot going in the face of direct hipster scorn.

  3. I was once in a Black & White sports bar in Philadelphia and the Eagles were playing the Red Skins on the screen. Needless to say, a fight broke out.

    • @ Greg

      Yeah…you can see that pretty much on any day that ends in "y" in Philly.

      Now a Canadian apeshit? That is amazing. I keep expecting them to stop mid-riot to politely say please or excuse me as they throw a newspaper dispenser through a plate glass window.

  4. I will not sacrifice Vancouver. We've made too many compromises already; too many retreats. They invade our space and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further! And *I* will make them pay for what they've done

  5. What we really need to fear are the millions of frothing Canadian hockey fans that are massed along our northern border. One more good trouncing next year and they may just lash together some beaver-chucks and invade! Moose calvary!

      • "I love the smell of maple syrup in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' body. The smell, you know that maple smell, the whole hill. Smelled like…victory. Or Maple Dip Timbits."

  6. Joel: I'm a HUGE sports fan. And I don't get this either and it also scares me.

    We lost LETS BURN CRAP WOOOOOOOOO is a beyond irrational response to anything as trivial as sports.

    On the other hand, there is THIS

    So someone in Vancouver had their head on straight.

        • Actually, just found out its neither faked, nor a kiss:

          Update: William, a citizen witness, wrote to The Sun to explain what REALLY happened.

          He said: "I was on the top floor of a parkade on Seymour, the couple was right outside of the parkade on the street in front of me. What happen was the police line rushed the crowd and this couple trying to stay together couldn't react in time and were run over by 2 riot police officers. The girl who was knocked over landed head first on the pavement with her boyfriend landed partially on top of her. She was in visible pain, crying, but the 2 officers gave them a parting shove and moved on. By standers went to go make sure she was ok. I understand that the front line police have to control the crowd but it is a bit ridiculous that they couldn't have other officers or paramedics behind the line to help anyone who is hurt."

          Another update: According to Aussie news website NineMSN, the man photographed is an Australian, identified as 29-year-old Scott Jones, who has been living and working in Vancouver for six months. The article identifies the woman as Alex Thomas. Read the full story here.

          Read more:

  7. Consider the case of Bryan Stow, a California medic, who was beaten nearly to death after a game at Dodgers stadium.
    personally, I think we've created this ourselves. we pay athletes an outrageous amount of money, elevate them to the status of heros. its like religion…build large gathering places, quote stats like scripture, fork over significant amounts of our income, label ourselves as one denomination (team) and then react with extreme measures when our gods and heros disappoint us. I bet a PET scan of the rioters brains would look just like the crusaders, jihadists, and other nuts.

    • Don't forget we also encourage people to get p*ss drunk at sporting events, rile them up to no end with "my team is the best and kill enemy" rhetoric, then cut them lose after a game.

      It's almost like a mini-Crusade with every sport having its own campaign to wipe out the infidels of the other side.

  8. I agree with Deanna – to some people, sports ARE a religion. Consider:

    -Raised supporting a particular team – usually the one that all your family supports.
    -Communal worship/praise of the team during matches
    -Communal prayers and hymns (chants)
    -identifying uniform
    -large identifiable 'temples (arena)
    -irrational adoration of and adherance to the team

    As a rational person and atheist who also happens to be a football (soccer) fan I was recently shocked to realise that I have a religion after all. My partner was denigrating my team and uttering that dirty phrase "It's just a game" and it caused a very rare argument between us. It was only when I thought about my reaction to what he'd said that I realised that my devotion to my team was akin to religious devotion – and even knowing that, I still can't break the hold it has over me. I would never go to the extremes of what happened in Vancouver, but many soccer fans have!

    • A couple weeks ago in church I was telling somebody how some people treat their religion like it's a sports team, citing many of the same things you just did. Even if you don't *watch* Raiders games per se, you're still a Raiders guy because your dad was a Raiders guy. You don't know who the quarterback is right now, but you still know they're the one true team.

  9. Im most confused by this mentality! I have Ohio State one town over and they like to flip cars and burn things and loot win OR lose! Even when I was young (and drunk most days), that NEVER sounded like a good time!

    Burn cars? Find some ladies? Hmmmmmm

  10. ..Human nature i would say, violence and impulsive action is the majority of what our little hind-brains are all about.. The endless struggle with our own ID is something we all deal with. Violence is like virus, if it crops up in a large enough group of people it will spread if it is not stemmed quickly.. The Mighty Ice Men love their sport of skate and punch so there was the human element, and their team lost a very important game after much drama.. So.. How could people be surprised? I would be surprised that the police were not prepared, but then it is Canada so they must have been watching the game and then realized that people might not take it well after they finished flipping their snow mobiles. The men of the south in their gleaming metal Eden called Boston learned this harsh lesson, they had no reservations about corralling people into the side streets so they could not group into huge unmanageable crowds.

  11. We don't deserve nice things. We haven't deserved them for a long time, if ever.

    Our reign has gone on long enough. Summon the meteors.

  12. I feel kinda sad that I don't find it unusual. Over here in the UK, football and rugby fans are quite capable of killing fellow supporters of their own teams, and have started to be banned form travelling abroad to events. It's almost accepted that people are going to be dicks when there is sport involved. Sigh… I still find it frightening, but not out of the ordinary any more.

    I remember being about nine and a man coming over, shoving me to the ground and spitting on me because I was wearing a football scarf that my Grandad gave me. I don't know if he then went to a bar and bragged to his friends that he pushed over a nine year old girl, but it gave me an early taste of this insanity.

      • The great part is I still remember the exchange leading up to it as one of the most unfair moments of my pre-teen life.
        Middle-aged man: Ayy. Why are you wearing such a [bad] team's scarf?
        Me: ? Because it was my Grandad's team?
        Middle Aged Man: *Shoves, knocks my legs out from under me and spits*

        I can only assume he was drunk, as it was New Years Eve and my family were out at a public fireworks display.

  13. About the Federation: We still have slightly less than 52 years for the war to end all wars to take place and a man to build a warp ship in Montana to signal the other aliens that we can then brow beat until they join our Federation. Who knows? We've sort of missed the Eugenics War…maybe the big war will start out as a sports riot.

    Sports riots are not something I get. The only team I support (in any real fashion) is the St. Louis Cardinals (baseball), which, yes, I was raised in the St Louis area, so that's my local religion. When the Cards win the World Series, everyone goes out into the streets of St Louis and they have…a parade. When they lose, they go to the bars, console themselves with a drink, and make plans for next year. That's it.

    • I have nothing to worry about in my town – the Leafs have not even made the playoffs in ages – The Jays, formerly Blue Jays but that was amaericanized, and the Raptors are almost as loosingest – only the Argonauts have a half decent chance of ever winning at any one time and their fans are usually too cold to be of any menace to anyone.

  14. This wasn't really about hockey. This was about a bunch of drunk rednecks in a highly charged atmosphere getting overexcited by all the shouting and thinking that breaking shit is awesome. It would have happened whether they'd won or lost. There is a certain kind of asshole who is just looking for an excuse to go WOO RIOT WOO!!1! and light things on fire.

    • Yes, but unfortunately, that "certain kind of asshole" is the everyday kind of asshole. The thing about riots–as I understand, never having been in one–is that one gets caught up in them and stops thinking. You turn into a sort of hive-mind, and one doesn't have to be especially dickish to do it; it can happen to most people.

  15. You'll notice that only a particular subgroup of so-called humans participate in such sports riots: young hetero men. You never see women, or Queens (even the bears) torching cars after sporting events.

    Women have always known the truth: testosterone is a neurotoxin in young hetero male brains compounded by an admixture of alcohol. There can be no other answer 🙂

  16. While I do love how the media is portraying the whole City with this, there are lots of facts that aren't being reported world wide.… this op-ed has a few observations from a different perspective of the night, and then there is how all the volunteers showed up downtown the next day to clean up and literally reversed almost all the damage within 24 hours with almost no cost to taxpayers (other than what they volunteered).

    • Very true. I'm not from Vancouver (I live about 60 miles away from there), but a lot of the media seemed far too happy to tar everyone with the same brush. I watched this unravel live on TV, and the majority of these rioters were there to riot no matter what happened, win or lose.

      These weren't hockey fans. Hockey fans don't go to watch a game carrying molotov cocktails, gasoline, fire extinguishers and things to cover their faces with.

      What I found far more impressive is how quickly everyone sprang up on social media to coordinate identifying these morons so they can be brought to justice </Rant>

      Sidebar: Check out Craigslist Vancouver entries for the day afterwards… lots of goods from brand-name stores that were looted seems to be making an appearance 🙁

      • Re: Sidebar — As much as I am loathe to defend Surrey, there were just as many postings for similar products two days ago and the days before that (I'm referring to that screencap going around of Louis Vuitton stuff for sale)…

        • That's brilliant, because any good law enforcement of any level could set up a lovely sting operation to catch the people putting up looted merchandise for sale…I've done it before as part of my job, and it's quite enjoyable to bust someone who's stolen things this way.

          Of course, someone would have to have a plan to get all the stolen stuff back and whatnot…but after this scale of theft and destruction, I'd hope someone would be working on it.

  17. Nice " The Road" reference, btw.

    Remember, though, that it is our emotions which give us the strength to lead the Federation. Nowhere is this more apparent than sports riots, where all logic is thrown aside and raw emotion is sublimated into action. They never showed it on-screen, of course, but the most popular sport in the 24th century is Chudball: a game that involves cobra pits and eye skewers. Points are tallied by how many orphans you create. Win or lose, the spectators riot, tally the dead, and continue on with their lives because, dammit Jim, that's what red-blooded humans do!

  18. I mentioned this to a semi-famous internet Vancouver based personality, but yeah: the stereotype of the friendly Canadian did not disappear after that night. We know this is a terrible thing but we also know it's mostly those dumb assholes doing it. And there were Twitter/Facebook-led groups to clean up after the riots, which showed the more helpful side of our Northern Neighbors (aka America's Hat)

    Remember the "Toronto Batman"?

    There's a video of people looting during the G20 Summit in Toronto, and a guy just grabs a looter by his chest and pushes him to the ground, throwing the stolen merchandise back into the store and telling him "Don't steal!". Canadians can't all be bad.

    • There's a similar figure from this riot, known as the "Hero of Vancouver" or simply "Workout Shorts Guy." He chased off somebody who was trying to light an overturned car on fire. The would-be arsonist as then sucker-punched by another hero who didn't even bother to stop talking on his cellphone before clocking him.

      Normally I'm not in favor of random violence, but… it's so oddly satisfying.

      • Just saw a clip of this on some Philip DiFranco show. Was kind of hard to find the clip itself since typing "Hero Of Vancouver" got me a bunch of people who were trying to stop the madness when they could.

  19. Now I can take a certain amount of pride in the fact that when one of our local sportsball teams (I think it was either basebat or feetsball) made it into their playoffs, there were people cheering them on, but nobody throwing anything. And when they (seemingly inevitably) lost, everyone just shrugged and went on with their lives. We've got more important things to worry about in the Seattle area – like the rising price of coffee. (Now *there's* something to riot over!)

  20. For starters, the rioters were not hockey fans in the strictest sense. Yeah, they probably like hockey, and there were great numbers of them wearing Canucks garb, but as the hash tag said on twitter Wednesday, Real Fans Don't Riot.

    Here's the problem: after the success of the Olympics, and having hundreds of thousands of people gather in the streets to watch/celebrate events, the City of Vancouver decided to put giant screens up so we could all have a big ol' hockey love in again.

    In the 'burbs, the city of Surrey did likewise, but with smaller numbers, the party stayed calm and cool.

    While the fans inside Rogers Arena managed to stay cool and respectful… some of the party goers outside did not. I know a bunch of people who were downtown that night, and they did what any normal human being would do in that situation: they got the hell out of Dodge.

    But then some Bros and Lady Bros decided it would be fun to wreck some shit. More Bros joined them, and more Bros joined them. It turns out – shock and gasp – that some people didn't go into Vancouver to watch hockey. Some went in to get drunk and stoned and start a fight. Win or lose, the outcome would have likely been the same.

    Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of sane people watched the city they love get torn up. We were publicly embarrassed, and personally disgusted.

    And the next day, we got up and cleaned up the mess. Because that's how we roll here.

  21. Look. We're a bunch a fucking monkeys. Sure, we've got iPhones, but we're reptile brains under mammal brains under a layer of primate neocortex that's only 2- to 4-millimeters thick and is supposed to make us behave properly. Until we either a) go Singular or b) evolve yet *another* layer of cortex–which isn't happening anytime soon, given that civilization has removed the hard core evolutionary pressures that made us grow the neocortex in the first place–significant numbers of us are going to mob up, burn shit, and kill people. And we'll do it for really, really stupid reasons, some of which involve ice skates, others of which involve petrochemicals, still *others* of which involve marks on bound pieces of paper.

    It sucks, but it's perfectly explicable, and very human.

    Ooo-ooo-ah-ah-ah! <pounds fists on chest and scampers into the underbrush>

  22. Joel, I'd have to say that the rioting does not BORDER on sociopathy, but rather, jumps up and down on the border line, takes a dump on it, then runs gibbering and screaming deep into it's very essence!

  23. As mentioned, the following day volunteers pitched in for the cleanup of the giant mess left by rioters. Smashed windows were quickly replaced with plywood. Didn't take very long for people to start leaving messages on the blank plywood. The Mayor of Vancouver even bought up sharpies from London Drugs and distributed them.

    This photo of the plywood is particularly relevant though:

    VPD cruiser covered in love and thank you notes: (they ended up towing it back to hq as not to disturb all the notes)
    More of the wall:
    Where Mayor Gregor Roberston signed:

    • What would be interesting from a sociological, or civil disater/preparedness perspective, is if we could figure out what the flashpoints are that cause things like this at certain sporting events vs. others.
      And not off-the-cuff excuses like "it was ony a few rioters", "city X is full of Y kind of people" and so on.

      Where I'm from (Cleveland, OH area) has had plenty of reason over the past few decades to have rioters in the streets every time the sports teams there disappoint the fans, which is nearly every time they play…yet there aren't riots. Teams in other places win championships, lose them, and so on, yet there's nearly a tipped over trash can. You have the Olympics where there is intense competition that makes training for pro sports look like a pick-up game at the local park, yet there aren't riots when someone wins.

      So what's the thing that setting people off? Could we ever figure it out? Or are we doomed as a people to go apesh*t at random times for no good reason?

  24. Interesting quote from a sobering article: “This riot is not the result of one single factor,” said Prof. Gruneau. “It is an ensemble and certainly far too complicated to explain in a soundbite. At the very least to say that it had anything to do with hockey as a game leaves far too much out of the account.”

    While I like to think that REAL fans don't riot, it seems a lot of the rioters were just stupid, drunk, 20-something, middle class males looking for an excuse.

  25. People can get pretty insane about their hockey. My brother-in-law is a huge Calgary Flames fan and he will sit alone in a room and watch the game, screaming and yelling on a continual basis. He has missed family events because he refuses to tape a game. Not because he's worried about someone telling him the outcome…no the reason is "Because my cheers won't count". He actually believes his cheering affects the outcome of a game.

    All I've heard for the past 12 years in Winnipeg is "Bring back the Jets!", on-and- on until I was good and sick of it. Unfortunately the NHL is coming back…so the torture will continue.

  26. Sports riots. Grand Theft Auto. Football (soccer) fights. Fight Club. Cross burnings. Snuff films. Suicide bombers.

    Pick your point on the violence continuum and there will be those that can separate fiction from reality and those that can't. And then there will be those that think violence is the answer to everything.

    I keep being reminded of the Dorsai books by Gordon R. Dickson.

  27. Knowing the Ohio fans that I do, it's highly possible you made the best choice. I knew a gal, quiet, charming, wouldn't hurt a fly, but would (literally) spit on people wearing Michigan clothing. And she had never gone to the school.

  28. I'm just surprised that there are people in Canada, even a vocal minority, that are capable of any kind of violence.

    • Hey, we do have an army, you know. 😉

      Sadly, the Canadian Forces actually have terribly high standards to get in (even for the grunts); if you don't meet certain intelligence and fitness levels you aren't getting in. Which is a shame, because I think it might actually be really good for these morons to go through the year-and-a-half of basic and other training we have so they can learn some kind of discipline, control, and responsibility.

  29. I'm Canadian. Not only that, I'm from Vancouver, BC. I live in the West End (just west of downtown, and where the riots spilled over to) in the Gay Village. I also was raised in Surrey (a very large city to the South East which will be important in a minute.)
    Firstly, gays WERE involved in the riot. So were women. That women didn't assault people standing in front of broken store windows doesn't mean they didn't climb inside after defenders were beaten down. And to say that gays weren't involved because it's testosterone that causes violence? Ever met a leatherboy? Testosterone is not a problem. What the problem is, is mob mentality…which I think all here know yet don't want to admit to because then they might just be as prone to it themselves.
    Secondly, not all of Canada is the same, as I'm sure the mentioners of "snowmobile tipping" and "rednecks" are probably actually aware. Vancouver is as metropolitan a city as the West Coast can get. Somewhere between San Fran, LA and NY. But we're also where suburbanites (bridge crossers) come for fun. Almost ALL the stolen property from the riot popped up on craigslist in Surrey. This isn't coincidence. We don't have rednecks past Langley/Abbotsford, but Surrey has its share of white trash. That's a lot of whom you saw on your tvs. Hockey fans, too young to have been at the '94 riot (where again, Vancouver Canucks lost…that time unfairly, we think), who can't hold their liquor. And mob mentality, where a half-hearted attempt to flip a SMRTcar was egged on to flipping it, smashing it, and lighting it on fire, was the escalator.
    Canadians are NOT helpful, polite, igloo dwelling earth lovers. We're professionals, blue collar, poor (please google Vancouver Downtown East Side to see how much some of us need help), and hopeful. But our country is HUGE and our population small and we keep a small town mentality, some of us.
    But the riot wasn't small. It wasn't "professional rioters" or "politically motivated" either. It wasn't "young hetero males" and they WERE hockey fans. It was what happens when disappointed, drunk people are closed into a small space and idiot juice is added.

    One last thing. The police WERE ready. Vancouver Police Department helicopters were deployed as soon as the game ended. VPD Riot squads didn't request help from the RCMP TAC or ERT teams because so much had been learned about crowd control during the Olympics. They were trying not to recreate the terror of the 94 riots or the trade riots in Toronto. The people of Vancouver LOVE what the police managed to do, despite being outnumbered, terrified, and some of them looking at friends across battle lines.

    Thank you, Joel, for a laugh over something that I thought I'd still be crying over.

  30. I agre with Lesharo, and since I live in Ohio and know plenty of people that are Buckeye fans and did my undergrad at a Ohio college whose colors were the wrong ones (blue & gold)…you made the right choice.

    I won't even drive on the freeways through Columbus when there's an OSU game, let alone go into that city when it's a Saturday home game…just not a good idea.

    "People" like that are one of a number of reasons why I lothe most hardcore "fans" of organized sports, collegiate, "professional" or otherwise…it's that visceral hatred for the person who is totally disinterested/uninvolved that makes it so obnoxious…forget about how much they hate the opposing team and its fans.

  31. I know Im a little late posting this. But I was there I live in downtown Vancouver and had to walk home from work through the middle of this so called riot. Personaly coming from the UK this was a one on the riot scale. Most UK roits which Ive also seen are around a 5 unless some one ends up getting killed. I walk up robson and granville. Saw the riot police being called in, the tear gas sting my eyes. And guess what their were maybe 20 people trying to light a bin on fire and break into Chapters. Idoits its not like they could even read the books they were stealing. I got interviewed by a reporter.

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