Category Archives: Hockey Politics

Canucks Riots: Turn your neighbours in?

Yesterday, I wrote about the narrative of division that’s going around in the traditional media and social media following the Vancouver Riots.  Jasmin wrote about the standard leap-to-blame-the-anarchists reaction that also came up.

But now I’m getting kind of creeped out by the digital witch hunt that’s taking place, with a huge amount of websites and facebook groups that were created overnight, dedicated to taking pictures of the stupidity that happened in downtown Vancouver and effectively crowdsourcing the identification. In the end, it kind of feels like a call towards digital naming and shaming, or an online rush to name names and turn your neighbours in.

Never mind the fact that these websites are replete with horribly racist, sexist, ableist, and other kinds of disgusting comments about the people pictured in them – many of them, of course, pictured doing rather illegal things – but the very nature of an open website where anyone can post an image — with no restrictions that it actually be of the Vancouver riots — and people will clamor trying to scour Facebook and Tumblr and so on, trying to ‘identify’ people that they think they can see.  There are a number of images posted that have absolutely nothing to do with the Vancouver riots: I saw, on one Facebook group, a set of photos from the Chinese repression of the Uyghur riots in recent memory and the Jasmine uprisings in Beijing.

Potentially worse is that people named in stories or on the internet may not have been the people in the photos; it may not even be the case that they were there.

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On the Canucks Riot, Protest, and Division

I was saddened and disappointed to watch Vancouver burn last night.  Disappointed because the Canucks played so poorly and lost a game that they didn’t deserve to win, saddened to watch how the people in the streets ‘reacted’ to the game and went on a rampage, and I’m disappointed and saddened to watch the online–and traditional media–reaction to what happened.  Yesterday was a weird day; one that ended with me being temporarily restricted from updating my Twitter because I was posting too much, one that kept me up all night as I watched the part of the world that I really consider home burn and get smashed, one that scared me as I tried to contact my friends who were downtown. 

But, in short, I’m not surprised there was a riot.  I’m not an accredited hockey commentator, and I don’t watch a huge amount of it myself, so I’m not really able to comment on the psyche and social construction around the games extensively–other than I wonder how the pressure on the players to ‘fight’ and play a physical game could possibly translate into how reactions and responses are created after the game. Not to mention the narrative around ‘hockey riots’–and there’s a lot.  And, sadly, I’m not overly surprised at the extent of the geographic-based bashing in the media, both online and traditional, that seems to hold people who can afford to live in the City of Vancouver as some kind of sacrosanct class of citizens who would never dare to harm another.

Even more sadly, I think that the confluence of these events highlights a dominant narrative these days, one of division and antagonism and a willing ignorance of our collective humanity.  It is a narrative that is aptly employed by capitalism to keep us from working together, and willing to exploit one another, and it’s a narrative that’s used by overly commercialised professional sport to continue its business endeavours.

Perhaps the only bright light that comes out of the Canucks Riots of 2011 is the response to the reaction that happened today; with people travelling together to the downtown core to clean up the disaster that was last night.  But even that bright light is tinged with some darkness.

And it’s something that we probably all need to talk about.

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