Keith Harris: UK Riots Aftermath - The Blame Game...

31 Aug 2011

Credits: dullhunk@flickr

Having read pages of soul searching reflection on the causes of the recent riots I am surprised to find that there is an element that seems to have been completely overlooked.  There was of course the usual, almost traditional resort to blaming the sort of music that young people are listening to, and in some quarters the heavy implication that it is something to do with black culture.  There is however a group of people who I think should be prepared to step forward and take a bow when it comes to accepting part of the blame.  I am referring to those people who have been happy to condone the theft of intellectual property online, notably music, films, and books.  The argument runs that technology has made it possible and although it is illegal and obviously theft we can’t do anything about it, so we might as well take no steps to prevent it, and in some areas encourage it.

It seems that technology in the form of social media played a hand in the organisation of some of the riots; does that mean that we should throw our hands up and say technology has made rioting possible, so there is nothing that can be done about it and the people who had their businesses looted would be better to find another business model because their current one has been superseded by the advance of technology?

Only a few short weeks ago there was a sense of triumphalism across the media at the breaking of super-injunctions by the use of social media and much was made of the fact that the law was now unenforceable in this area because it had been overtaken by the use of technology.

It seems to me that great care needs to be taken by those mainly middle and upper middle class people in the media who rejoice in the fact that technology makes it possible for laws that they find inconvenient to be broken.  It makes the righteous indignation that follows when people, mainly from lower socio-economic backgrounds, march in and take their stuff seem, at the very least a bit pathetic.

My over-riding point here is that we live in a democracy, if you don’t like the law, get it changed, rather than encourage a social free for all.

Keith Harris – MusicTank Chairman / Keith Harris Music / Director of Performer Affairs, PPL

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