Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The French Riots

While I must admit, and I am not proud of this, I took some twisted pleasure in the recent problems in France at the beginning of the riots, and I know that that is wrong. So I made an effort to help the French. While there is clearly not much I can physically do to aid them, I can offer suggestions. Unfortunately, the riots in France are one of those things that are complex, not because of their cause, and not because ending them would be difficult if that were your only objective, but because ending the riots the right way is a true conundrum. If we throw out morality and humanity, simply shooting all the rioters would end the riots. But, for many, that is not a legitimate option. What then is France to do?

Rather than just offering my own ideas, I thought it an interesting exercise to survey a couple people I work with, and see if any of them had any revolutionary ideas. To summarize the options these people came up with, the French authorities could exercise lethal force (killing the rioters) and make an example of the dead rioters, I call this the head-on-the-pike solution. Another option was lethal force, but without the head on the pike. The third option suggested was, what sounded very Israeli, to deny any captured rioters, and their immediate families any benefits of France's liberal welfare system. I had two votes for the head-on-a-pike, one vote for plain lethal force, and one vote for the Israeli method.

I can't really say I like any of those methods. At some point, the police will have to use lethal force to protect the public from the rioters, but before that, what else can be done? Amazingly, they have only just started imposing curfews(1), a week or two into the riots. The curfews are a good first step. It will be interesting to see if that works. In conjunction with the curfews, perhaps the French ought to consider relaxing their gun control laws. France is regarded as having very strict gun control laws. I looked, but did not find much specific in regards to their restrictions. Perhaps a reader with great knowledge on French gun laws could comment. There is no doubt however, that right now, the police have weapons they have refused to use. The rioters have weapons they have used (firebombs, guns, etc), and according to some reports(2), rioters may have access to grenades and other heavier weapons. Right now, the only people that are defenseless and unarmed are the law abiding French citizens, one who was set on fire, and another who was beaten to death(3). This leads into the same old arguments for and against gun control used in America, but one cannot deny, in America or France, that police are by their nature reactive. Police come AFTER a crime has been committed, and hopefully then track down and capture the criminal. The only way to stop crimes as they are in progress is to have a suitably armed, law abiding population, willing and able to defend itself.

(1) Curfews
(2) Rioter weapons
(3) Riot Victim

Pat Buchanan on the riot's greater meaning
French youth, riot sympathizers