Monday, May 1, 2017

Sometimes Just Showing Up Isn't Enough

"90% percent of life is just showing up." So goes the advice. Here's another. "It's better to try and fail than to never try at all."

These phrases make for wonderful motivational posters. I would say that the message is something people should internalize. I don't think it's a bad message. But, let's not make the mistake of believing it is universally true. Sometimes just showing up is a bad idea. Sometimes trying and failing makes things much worse than they would have been.

As an example, take the French riot police. Here they are, policing riots. Or trying to.

While I feel for the individuals forced into the melee with limited means to actually enforce order, the comedic quality is undeniable. You could just about speed this one up and set it to Yakkity Sax. (Do we have a video editor in the house?) The police are out there getting humiliated by any yokel who decides to throw bottles, some of which contain burning accelerants. What effect could this serve but to encourage additional uncouth behavior? "Don't act up kids, or the crowds will cheer and the authority figures will look foolish!"

This follows a series of hilarious European policing videos, most notably the Swedish female police officers unable to apprehend an aggressor (link). If the goal of these police actions is to demonstrate to the public that the state is unable to enforce order in culturally enriched Europe, then they are doing an impressive job of conveying the message.

Update: as it turns out one of the officers in the video was horribly burned, including 3rd degree burns to the face and hands. That is a disfiguring, life-changing, and immensely painful injury. What a blow to the morale of the French police. I wonder if we'll soon see them start to abandon their posts the way the Swedes are. Police officers knowingly put their personal safety at risk to enforce order. But this -- being permanently disfigured while an out-of-control mob cheers on your attacker -- is just beyond the pale. It's hard to imagine a more humiliating and enraging experience.

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