John Walker's Electronic House

Tag: scum


by on Aug.11, 2011, under The Rest

The behaviour of so many who have rioted has been shocking and appalling, and the stories coming out about some of the abysmal crimes committed have been horrendous. But something else that has upset me hugely throughout our week of English riots has been the use of the word “scum”.

Of course it upsets and offends me to see the looting, arson and brutality, and I’m weary with the tedium of those who cannot distinguish between asking questions and whatever it is people think counts as “justifying”. But one of the most concerning things to have come out of these events – to my eyes – has been the language used to describe the perpetrators.

“Scum” is such a vile word. It’s a word with a clear purpose: to dehumanise.

I, like everyone else alive, do not know the motivations and backgrounds of each and every one of the thousands who rioted. It seems likely to me that some did it because they are criminals, others because they are disenfranchised and had no structure that told them not to. Some because the saw opportunity that had never presented itself before, others because they were angry, others still because they’re cruel, selfish people who do not care about the consequences of their actions. There will be some whose backgrounds are so appalling that the veneer of society has never meant anything to them at any point. Others who fancied a widescreen TV and thought it was a chance to get away with it. And every single person who took part, for whatever reason, with whatever motivation, with whatever amount of deliberate malice or idiotic inertia, is a person with a story, a life, a set of experiences that took them to the day they rioted. And the moment they’re called “scum” is the moment they are discarded and dehumanised.

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