“The mob believes everything it is told, provided only that it be repeated over and over. Provided too that its passions, hatreds, fears are catered to. Nor need one try to stay within the limits of plausibility: on the contrary, the grosser, the bigger, the cruder the lie, the more readily is it believed and followed. Nor is there any need to avoid contradictions: the mob never notices; needless to pretend to correlate what is said to some with what is said to others: each person or group believes only what he is told, not what anyone else is told; needless to strive for coherence: the mob has no memory; needless to pretend to any truth: the mob is radically incapable of perceiving it: the mob can never comprehend that its own interests are what is at stake.” ― Alexandre Koyré, Réflexions sur le mensonge
If I remember correctly it was around 1974 when Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau visited where my family was living. My best friend and myself went to hear what he had to say. The Prime Minister was not afraid of what anyone thought of him. During the period of our bringing our Constitution home Prime Minister did a pirouette behind Queen Elizabeth at the signing ceremony. Anyway, we were there standing listening to the Prime Minister when someone decided to make an ass out of himself by yelling, “if I had a tomato I would throw it at you”. That brought about great laughter, but, it also encouraged others to yell out hateful expressions towards the Prime Minister. The amazing thing was this, Prime Minister Trudeau didn’t miss a beat and kept going with his speech. It wasn’t minutes when the mob realized that they couldn’t get the Prime Minister roiled up, so they quit.
In 1975 we moved back into the city of Windsor, Ontario. In the summer a preacher would come to the city and conduct tent meetings. During one these meetings a former teacher and her son were also there. It was really strange and somewhat uneasy for me. After the meeting they approached me. What happened next truly gave me a shock. The teacher’s son, by the way I did not know they were related when I was in the prior school, and the son apologized for bullying me. I will never forget that few awkward minutes, I will always remember their names and how a bully turned into a acceptable young man.
I have learned over the many years that many who act while in a mob presence would not act that way if they were alone. It is the power of “mob mentality”.
Herd mentality, mob mentality and pack mentality, also lesser known as gang mentality, describes how people can be influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors on a largely emotional, rather than rational, basis. When individuals are affected by mob mentality, they may make different decisions than they would have individually. – Wikipedia
I am not writing this to make a political statement. I believe in peaceful protests. However, when a protest turns into violence, property damage, and setting fires, it no longer is a protest, but, it now has become a riot.
In 1968 America was burning. Riots across the nation in cities of Detroit and in Chicago In the latter it was while the Democratic National Convention. The riots were triggered by the assignation of Martin Luther King Jr.. I was not that very old, but do have memories of looking across the Detroit River and seeing smoke rising in the air. I did not understand what was happening, but, I will never forget seeing the smoke rising all across the water front in Detroit.
In Canada back in 1990 we saw a protest that lasted seventy eight days. It occurred in in the community of Kanesatake, near the Town of Oka, on the north shore of Montreal. The protest was broadcasted on all news channels here in Canada. The catalyst was the announcement of an expansion of a golf club and development of townhouses on disputed land in Kanesatake that was also on a Mohawk burial ground.
I feel protests like the one that happened in Washington, D.C., on January 6 was ripe for violence and all it took was for the mob to let down it’s inhabitations.
Inhibition – An inhibition is a force that prevents something from happening—and often comes from you yourself. Shy people are often said to suffer from inhibitions. Some inhibitions are good, such as the one that prevents us from choking the life out of people we dislike.
It is my guess that many who have been in a mob setting may be regretting it a day or so afterwards. It may have brought criminal charges, embarrassment to the family, and even to the company they work for. The criminal charges if the person is found guilty may imperil their job or future jobs, for that record will always be with them the rest of their life.
So dear reader, have you ever been caught up in the frenzy of a protest turned riot?