Now that the riots are becoming history, and commentary is moving inexorably toward kneejerk explanation – and equally kneejerk proposals for dealing with future outbreaks – the world and its wife is busy issuing and contemplating sugegstions that range from the vaguely helpful to the utterly barking.
One i hadn’t heard til today, and which has a certain superficial plausibility to it is the idea that police should just spray all those attending a riot with an indelible dye. It would then be possible to pick up assorted ne’erdowells at a later date on the simple test of whether they carried this modern age Mark of Cain somewhere about their person.
I say superficially plausible, because i’d be intrigued to see how this would work in court at a later date: when, f’rinstance, some individual is hauled up before the magistrates with no evidence whatsoever provided as to their behaviour beyond the fact that they had been splatted, paintball style.
The opportunities for legal miscarriage seem legion.
As, it seems, the likelihood of counter claims by those legitimately present for some reason, whose clothes had been ruined by indiscriminate police spraying.
Its a long while since i did street journalism, getting out and about and following the mob. And i’d hardly dress up in my Sunday best if i did. But still, i think i’d be pretty pissed off if, just doing my job, i had a decent outfit stained forever in this way.
And i guess it all depends on just how “mindless” you think these actions are. Commentators seem, currently, to oscillate between self-satisfied rhetoric, condemning all and sundry as mindless thugs, with not a rational thought in their head – and paranoid outburst, retailing stories about organised criminal gangs, answerable to some shadowy Doc Evil behind the scenes.
Of course, its probably a bit of both. But still, in the rapidly growing divide between Good and Evil that the press are revealing to us, it cannot be beyond our intelligence to imagine that the “forces of Evil”, too, possesses a few thoughtful individuals on their side.
So, sure: bring on the new Judge Dredd style police, with their cry of “Dye, sucker!”
But how long before some rioters, some fellow travellers, lay their hands on stocks of the same chemical – and wreak their revenge by colouring in innocent shoppers.
Perhaps paint bombs will become the latest form of direct action.
And if the police go down this route, can it be long before some wag decides that the members of the Bullingdon Club deserve to dye.
Now there’s a thought: police eventually rounding up some of the country’s richest hooray henry’s for no better reson than that they are persons of colour.
No. I can see how this idea might have some traction: but i can also see it having some very unintended consequences.