In response to the riots, a petition has been set up to remove benefits from those involved in the riots. At the time of writing, it has amassed 115,436 signatures. Some people have argued against this move, saying it will disillusion those people further from society. Whilst not necessarily advocating to removal of benefits myself, some seem to be under the impression that everyone is entitled to a place in society, which is something I don’t agree with. A place in society is earned by adhering to the unwritten social contract we have, i.e. respecting others and the laws of the land. It is this contract the keeps society functioning smoothly.
Some are under the impression that it is the job of the Police to keep the population in check, which is of course not the case. If everyone decided not to adhere to the law, the Police would be overwhelmed and could do nothing about it. Luckily, most people respect this social contract, but there those who choose to ignore it. These people should not necessarily gain the advantages that functioning members of society receive. When events of these nature occur, there is always the attempt to excuse the actions due to societal factors, as Nina Power in The Guardian has tried to do here. However, it is unfair to blame society as a whole for criminal elements that have always existed, and always will.
There is absolutely no justification for the actions and conduct of the rioters. People can go on all day about the reasons why this happened and the underlying causes, but simply put, these people have committed criminal acts. It is sheer criminality and it cannot be tolerated. There is ALWAYS a choice when it comes to such acts, the choice between doing what is right and what is wrong. If one were to come home and find their wife in bed with another man, and then they shot her, people might understand their reasoning behind it. But is it the right thing to do? Of course not.
Some quarters have pointed to the cuts as a catalyst for the riots, which is what Harriet Harman did on a shameful display on Newsnight where she tried to score political points from the events. This is absurd, and not even the New Statesman could agree with Harman. It is unlikely that a 13 year old stealing a widescreen TV is making a statement to the cuts to the EMA. If there is any underlying cause to all of this, it is a culture that has fostered this sense of entitlement from society for nothing, and a breakdown in the identification between right and wrong in people. A good way to establish the difference is to show the consequences of doing wrong. Punishing these rioters to the full extent of the law would be a good start.