Thursday, April 14, 2011
Riots and the Righteous
By Kelli Stanley
It seems like forever since I've sat down to right an honest-to-goodness blog. First there was the book tour ... then there was Left Coast Crime ... then there was the burglary of my house, which has taken (and is taking) a great deal of time to deal with. I'm really, really grateful to Shane, my blog buddy, good buddy, and ace substitute for filling in for me ... he also needs a shout-out for being shortlisted for a Thriller Award--yay, Shane-Meister!!! :)
I also want to thank my fellow blogmates for bearing with my absence ... my schedule was already impossible before the burglary, and ... now I just laugh at it. ;)
So, back to the post. The subject for the day is a riot. No, I mean literally.
Riots are nasty. They're a sort of unified mob chaos, with random individual acts of crime and violence ... even those riots that are initiated by positive events (like winning a Super Bowl or a World's Series). Those that are begun out of frustration and anger with a political or social event can be even worse. Innocent people are inevitably hurt--or even killed--because of the temporary, uncontrolled madness and lifting of inhibitions that embody riots. And of course, criminals--by definition anti-social--will take advantage of the chaos for profit.
I was nearly caught in a riot in Greece once when I was a young student and studying in Italy. A political rally turned nasty ... as politics often does. Let me put it this way: nothing undertaken by an out-of-control mob ever feels good. There isn't much difference between a riot and a lynching, except that the latter is smaller and focuses on a defined, murderous goal.
What's frustrating, though, is that good things have emerged from bad acts. Riots have helped change policy and law--for the better--by calling attention to an issue that might otherwise be ignored by the power-brokers. And because this is the case, they continue to be viewed as a viable form of protest, and are--witness the recent events in Egypt. Riots can lead to revolution, which might lead to a stronger sense of individual rights and freedom.
Miranda Corbie, however, will have none of it.
Miranda distrusts people in general, and in groups, she distrusts them even more. There is no such thing as a safe mob. So ... if she's hauled to the Hall of Justice down on Portsmouth Square one day in 1941--and presented with a charge of inciting a riot--she'd call her attorney, Meyer, who would get the charges dismissed. Because Miranda would never start a riot ... though she would try her damnedest to end one.
Say, a riot targeting Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor. Or the "Zoot-Suit" riots in Los Angeles. Or the "Bloody Thursday" riot of San Franciso's great strike in 1934.
Because the problem with riots is that innocent people are harmed ... even if the underlying cause is just. And in Miranda's world--where politics and politicians are largely concerned for themselves, rather than for the citizens--where the citizens themselves are more concerned with food on the table and Amos and Andy than they are with what's going on around them--where the people you trust you can number on one hand and maybe two fingers--in that world, riots and the mob violence that define them are what Miranda fights against.
Because saving the dry cleaner on the corner--making sure the drug store's windows aren't broken--picking up the lost kid caught in the middle of a gunfight--are the causes she's fighting FOR.
Miranda returns in CITY OF SECRETS on September 13th ... she's got a lot of fighting ahead.