Tuesday, 28 June 2011 14:43

Shouldering the blame

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By Rose Sanchez

Canadians were shocked as they watched their television screens and forgot about the hockey game, instead turning their attention to riots which had broken out in Vancouver.

With the turning over of the first vehicle, a mob mentality quickly ensued. Many people were caught up in the actions of a few vigilantes.

It was unbelievable to watch the news coverage and think this was happening in Canada. Canadians don’t get riled up over much, but it appears losing to the Americans in the national sport will do it.

Backlash quickly followed. Facebook groups started popping up all over the popular social website, seeking identities of the people responsible for the action and seeking justice.

While those responsible for the damage inflicted on the city should be punished in some way, is it fair to have such a public flogging?

What about people who were caught up in the actions of a few, but really had no direct involvement with the trashing and looting of the city? Is it fair to have their faces splattered all over social networking sites for being in the wrong place at the wrong time?

A 17-year-old teen and his family are facing the consequences of his actions. The aspiring water polo athlete was photographed trying to light a rag on fire, stuffed in to the gas tank of a police cruiser. The evidence of his actions appeared in newspapers and online and was met with a wave of public hatred.

He made a public apology after he and his family had to flee their home when their address appeared online and threats were made. Let’s ask ourselves this: how is threatening a 17-year-old — and his family who had no part in the teen’s actions — any different than what the people who participated in the riots did?

A mob mentality swept through members of the crowds on Vancouver streets, but it also swept the Internet.

We are taught from a young age, not to judge a book by its cover. It’s important to take it off the shelf, open its pages and see what’s inside before forming an opinion. We should be doing the same with photographs. There is a story behind every photograph. Case in point, the “kissing couple” also taken during the riots. In the background of one photo, a couple is lying on the street in what appears to be a passionate embrace. Once published, the backstory reveals the girl was pushed down and injured, and her boyfriend was kissing her to comfort her.

Now some businesses are being effected who employ individuals thought to be involved in the riots. Is it fair for those businesses to have to work to gain a better reputation because of the actions of their employees? Those businesses had nothing to do with the chaos.

Every person needs to take a sober second look at their own actions in the light of the Vancouver riots. Although a person may not have been in the city, taking part in the vandalism and looting, he or she still may not have a clear conscience.

Too many individuals need to share the blame of being taken up in the mob mentality that has taken place on the Internet.

Frankly, social media websites are not the places to seek justice.Rose Sanchez is assistant managing editor of Prairie Post. Contact her with  your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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