Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Being careful with words.

I have heard over the past day or so, several people with which I am acquainted, refer to the rioters in London as scum. I'm a picky bastard sometimes, where the choice of words is concerned. The use of the word scum, is I think, misplaced. The use of the word scum implies, to me at least, that the rioters are part of our societal group that can only be looked down upon, that they are somehow unworthy of our understanding. Barbaric, I think would be a better word, still not perfect but better. As best I can tell, not being there, the rioters are essentially removing themselves from society - both protest and looting looks to me like people who have basically said - society doesn't work for us anymore, nor can it control us, we are placing ourselves outside it for the time being. As the commenter in Power's Guardian column suggested, it's not the police who keep law and order, it's the populace, abiding by the law that does. Flouting the law - stating that it doesn't apply to you is removing yourself from the society that abides by it. Thus, barbaric - the barbarians outside the gates of civilised society.


  1. The rioters were excluded from society already. They don't get the choice of dropping in or out that others might get.

    Oh, and:


  2. Which doesn't change the fact that they are outside. If one were to be a pedant, one would also argue that whilst outside of society in a practical sense, rioting is an acknowledgement of being outside. Being outside and officially serving notice that you are outside being two different things. Without acknowledgement, there's still some hope, however misplaced of returning to the fold.