Gil Scott Heron, who died recently, may have been right when he said "The revolution will not be televised." But it's definitely going to be on the web -- just like the Vancouver riot.
There is so much web footage of the riot that a viewer with an appetite for chaos can spend all day watching young men and women smashing windows, burning cars, throwing punches, and exchanging insults on streets many Alaskans are familiar with from visiting Canada's premier West Coast city.
Vancouver authorities are blaming "anarchists" for fomenting the riot. But "anarchist" suggests someone with a political point of view, however limited. It is difficult to find anything hinting of politics in the destruction along Granville and Georgia streets. When asked why he was rioting, one young man said "Because it is a f------ good time."
Yet the rioters, no matter how dim their political awareness, knew they live in a democratic country. The authorities were not going to turn loose a mounted regiment of armed Cossacks to restore order as the tsars did when confronted with anarchists who had actually studied the philosophy of anarchism.
I have been in huge political demonstrations in New York. They can be unsettling. If anything goes wrong, opportunity to escape is limited.
The rioters didn't seem to care. Many were oblivious to danger. It's dangerous to kick out the windows of jewelry stores and department stores. Yet here were men -- and some women -- high kicking their Nikes against reinforced glass. When they broke the glass, they cheered, when they failed, they laughed.
Mark Twain brought mobs into his stories on a number of occasions. He found their bravado under the cover of anonymity despicable. He didn't live long enough to see the end of mob anonymity. In the 21st century, after you have finished rioting, you can go home and see yourself on the web -- where your mother can see you too.
-- Michael Carey