Has Canada crossed the line? Was the post-hockey rioting in Vancouver the last straw? Should we toss Canada in a cell and throw away the key?
Al Capone once famously claimed he didn’t “even know what street Canada is on.” But I think we know that, kidding aside, Canada is a big and populous place, having somewhere around 34 or 35 million people, almost as many as Binghamton.
At any time, some of these millions are behaving well, others badly. With perhaps a few exceptions that we can debate in psychology class, every individual human being is responsible primarily for his own conduct, not that of anyone else.
So why does a New York Times story, “Hockey Hangover Turns Into Riot Embarrassment,” report that after Canadian thugs went on a rampage when their team lost a hockey game, “a nation that takes pride in its reputation for peaceful coexistence wrestled with questions about possible flaws in the national character”?
First of all, “the nation” didn’t fret about this. Certain people did.
Second, thugs who use sports and team rivalries — or trade agreements or any other grievance — to rationalize random destruction are nothing new in the world. Journalist Bill Buford published a visceral account of the British soccer-thug scene. Read Among the Thugs and you’ll know that the conduct of the rampaging rioters has nothing to do with the “national character” of either most fans or the little old lady down the street.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.