I had planned to awaken way too early yesterday morning to write this column deploring our loss of rights.
I had wanted to bemoan how quick we Canadians are to give up our basic freedoms: speech; public assembly; the right to purchase alcohol in the downtown core during regular store hours (regardless of whatever Olympic-sized sporting event happens to be on that day).
Oh, as well, I wanted to congratulate us West Coasters for how well we celebrated our Stanley Cup victory – in stark contrast to our riotous defeat seen worldwide in 1994.
Joke’s on me.
Instead I join the rest of you wondering now what went so horrifically wrong after the Canucks’ Game 7 loss Wednesday night, when thousands upon thousands stayed behind in downtown Vancouver to start fights and fires, to flip parked cars and metaphorical birds, as riot police descended.
In the end, the only thing truly in contrast to 1994 was the scope of the riot, and that so much of it was seen by the masses seconds later online, with faces and identities available to anyone with access to the Internet.
Darwin’s theory certainly has its holdouts.
The irony is, the very social media that likely brought the rioters together – tweeting, texting and online posting – could well provide evidence for their undoing.
Justice may not be swift, but it will be done, whether solely through our courts, or through branding that will follow the hooligans for the rest of their unnatural existence. (Just imagine the next job interview, when the prospective employer does a quick Google search).
As so many on our Facebook pages were noting while these crimes were going down, the instigators were comparatively few but the thousands of participants and gawkers complicit.
And for what? The loss of a trophy?
In other parts of the world, rioters take to the streets for political reasons. Whether those reasons are sound is up to you, but they do it to effect change. Think Egypt. Think Thailand. Think four dead in Ohio.
Here, they riot over sport.
Or maybe the riot is the sport.
One can assume these amoral bullies were ready to rampage, win or lose, or were at least lying in wait – gas cans at the ready – for the next opportunity to ambush our collective reputations.
They may wear the jerseys, but how dare they call themselves Canucks fans? These are not true Vancouver fans in any sense of the word, “fanatical” or otherwise.
They are our shame – content to have their so-called fun for an evening, looting stores and robbing us of our rights as free-thinking human beings in the process.
Free speech? Right to public assembly? Forget it. Gone.
Any arguments I could have mustered to show that we can govern ourselves without living in a police state have been dashed.
No doubt, these words would be lost on Wednesday’s rioters. Even later in life, when they excuse their earlier behaviour on a combination of youthful exuberance and drunkenness, they’ll see the world a little differently than you and I.
I just wonder what sort of world it will be.
Lance Peverley is editor of the Peace Arch News.