The London riots. I condemn them from the two auricles and ventricles of my heart. There, I said it, lest I be accused of altering a couple of letters and condoning them.
That I first need to reaffirm, reconfirm and restate my condemnation before proceeding to express any further opinion on the subject is a uniquely modern phenomenon. One is as likely to be judged by what one did not say as much as what one did. Logicians will point out that this is actually a logical fallacy with a complicated Latin name that I can't seem to Google for some reason, but I will point out that anything that cannot be Googled cannot possibly be true.
On the face of it, it's quite funny. It's like saying that the most politically correct thing to do is to begin every conversation with a Jewish person with “I am not a Nazi.” So why have we got ourselves into a position where we have to state the bleeding obvious in all its redundant glory before saying anything useful? For instance, “Let me first make it clear that I am totally against beating one's wife, but is it possible that the domestic violence act can be misused?” or “I assure you that I completely love the Irish people and empathise with the potato famine of 1845, but potatoes cause gastric trouble.”
I think the reason is that, with the growth of the Internet and social media, along with the advent of 24x7 TV news, there is now not only more opinion, but more opinions on opinions, and while university degrees were required in the past, an Internet connection and a functional keyboard seem to suffice nowadays.
If there is going to be analysis (and analysis of analyses) of every stirring of the vagus nerve that controls the vocal cords, it's quite obvious that it becomes boring and repetitive to merely judge someone by the content of their words because there is only so much people can say in the television-sound-bite era. So there is analysis about what the speaker did not say, speculation on why he might have said what he said, and the possible connection between the girl who appears in the secret MMS video featuring him and what he said. Then someone will try and guess what Hitler would've felt about what this person said while another will auto-tune his speech and set it to the melody of Darth Vader's “Imperial March.”
In short, with more media, we have increasing amounts of vapid pre-qualification and that brings us back to the London riots. David Cameron – the conservative PM of the country that most Indians remember for one thing, namely stealing the Kohinoor – announced a few days back that he is considering banning Blackberry Messenger, Twitter and Facebook because they were used by the rioters to organise themselves. He did not, for some reason, additionally state that he plans to embed remote-control chips in everyone's vocal cords to prevent them from sharing information by word of mouth.
There's been some predictable outrage online about the utter daftness of this idea but that's missing the point. I don't think they are actually going to block all social media for UK citizens, in order to control the riots, but as a PM, Cameron needs to demonstrate that he is willing to take ridiculous steps because he condemns the riots so much from the bottom of his heart. This is Security Theatre, where expressed intentions count more than actual outcomes.
And just to be on the safe side, I condemn that too.
Keywords: Digital Natives