The phrase “mindless violence” has been used many times in the past 24 hours, most of us have thought, tweeted or said it and we were wrong do so.
“Mindless” implies an automatic, uncontrollable reaction to – or against – something but the havoc and disorder which engulfed many parts of London last night was planned, calculated and deliberate.
There was nothing “mindless” about it.
Whenever we use the phrase we diminish – albeit accidentally – the culpability of those responsible.
For those living close to any of the hot spots it was terrifying. For those burned or forced out of their businesses and homes it must have been soul destroying.
Yet too many people have sought to excuse the fear and damage wrought by the culprits by citing race or poverty or a ‘disconnect’ with the police.
None of those are acceptable reasons – and they can never be excuses – for destroying other people’s livelihoods and property.
Most of us have a list of disappointments, regrets, frustrations and unfulfilled dreams and ambitions. Few of us take to the streets to burn cars, smash windows and steal.
Whatever the perceived grievances of any section of society, they cannot justify actions which impoverish our town centres.
In the hours past, those who seek to set the actions of the mob “into context” have also blamed the scrapping of the Educational Maintenance Allowance and the cutting of funding for youth centres.
However loud the calls to spend money appeasing the looters, the first priority for any public money spent in response to this violence must be to ensure not a single displaced homeowner or business is left worse off.