Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Anti-Darwin riots in France

15-year-old Moushin and 16-year-old Larami were riding a moped in Villiers-le-Bel, a suburb of Paris, last Sunday. The moped was stolen and not autorized for the public roads to begin with, the guys were not wearing helmets, and they were not much into various rules of the road, so at some point they ran into a police car and died.

Kind of sad, because IMO people don't really deserve to die for driving like shmucks, even on a stolen bike. But shit does happen, and this is as clear-cut a case of a Darwin award as any. Among any normal people this would have been an occasion to reflect upon human mortality, use of motorcycle helmets, and the uncomplicated relationship of these two things. The parents would have used this as an occasion to remind their children about the dangers of not using the helmets, the parents in better families might have reminded the children that stealing mopeds is not nice either, the brighter kids would have even googled to find out whether the cars have priority when they are coming from the right or from the left. Somebody would have possibly sued the manufacturer of the bike, just in case.

Not so in Villiers-le-Bel and the rest of Maghreb-sur-Seine. The local thugs, I mean "youths", decided that everything was the police's fault, that the police did it on purpose, and that the police left the boys without any medical help. The police are saying that firefighters came to help the boys but were unable to do so because the situation was too tense (about 50 hostile bystanders). One can of course say that it's the police's job to secure the area from the hostile bystanders, and rightly so; it does, however, sound a bit corny if said by the very same hostile bystanders. "Oh dear! We stone the fucking pigs every time we see them and the selfish bastards never stop to help us! Boys, get those Molotov cocktails!"

Anyway, during the two nights that followed 82 police officers were injured, 4 of them seriously, one police station was burned and another one robbed, the local library was also burned, as well as a number of businesses, cars and trash cans.

Inquiring minds want to know:

1. How many people were out there rioting? It would seem like it would take quite a lot of folks to do all of the above. The town has about 25000 inhabitants.

2. How does one burn and rob two police stations? What were the police doing at the time? (This is not an accusation: I am just curious whether there were too many rioters, not enough police, police not adequately armed, police not allowed to shoot, etc.)

3. Am I the only person who has serious trouble thinking of the rioters as fellow humans? I mean, I realize that they are, technically speaking, human beings, and should be recognized as such in a court of law (the sooner the better) and be presumed innocent and entitled to a lawyer, etc., but it's just very hard to imagine what is going through their minds, or that anything is in fact going through their minds.

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