Get smarter, faster. Subscribe to our daily newsletter.
Does rioting work? Here are five times it did.
Expert opinion is divided on how effective riots can be on causing social change. However, these five examples show they can do something.
- We often hear that riots are not an effective means towards social change, but what do the experts say?
- Experts are still working on it, but it is agreed that it is at least occasionally effective.
- We include five cases of when rioting clearly led to desired social change.
The United States has a long history of rioting. Some of these events, such as the Boston Tea Party, are well known and celebrated. Others, such as the Tulsa Race Riots, are rarely discussed and only with a proper level of shame. These days, whenever rioting breaks out, one of the first points made is that "rioting doesn't work." However, several experts on the subject disagree with that analysis.
In his recent Jacobin article, Dr. Paul Heideman refers to data that shows how popular support for more policy changes to advance equal rights spiked to new highs following the riots in Ferguson and similar ones in Baltimore in 2014 and 2015. He also points to data showing how the 1992 Los Angeles riots increased support for liberal policies. Darnell Hunt, a professor at UCLA, pointed out to Vox readers that this shift in opinions led to concrete policy changes in Los Angeles. In the same article, Heather Ann Thompson of the University of Michigan explained how the riots of the 1960s lead to the Kerner Commission.
Other experts agree that rioting can lead to desired change, but caution that the effects are not as clear cut as many would like to think they are.
In reference to the then-current riots which lead to the 2011 Revolution in Egypt, Megan McArdle of The Atlantic noted that there are cases where riots work, even if the track record is spotty. Thomas Sugrue, a historian at New York University, told Vox that many social changes were accelerated by rioting, but that they also "cut both ways," as there is always some unseen consequence that can muddy the waters.
Assistant Princeton professor Omar Wasow, in a study published this month in the American Political Science Review, argues that while peaceful protest caused popular opinion to shift towards equal rights legislation, the riots that followed the death of Martin Luther King caused American voters to turn towards Richard Nixon in the next election –leading to the "tough on crime" policies people are protesting at this moment. This suggests that while riots can lead to change, they can also prompt a backlash strong enough to erode those gains.
Taking these experts' opinions together, it is clear that rioting can cause change at least some of the time. A basic understanding of American history endorses this view. Here, we will take the opinions of the above experts to heart and consider five times in American history that rioting was able to deliver the change that people demanded.
Of course, there are plenty of examples from outside the United States as well. This list is also far from exhaustive when it comes to the United States.
Stamp Act Riots
The Stamp Acts were the first attempt at directly taxing the American Colonies by the British Parliament. Like the later taxes that would directly lead to the American Revolution, these were imposed without the representation of the colonists. The act required that all printed materials in the colonies be on specially printed paper that carried a revenue stamp.
Shortly after the law passed, the protests and riots started. Street protests of unprecedented size broke out from New Hampshire to Georgia. In Boston, an effigy of the appointed tax collector Andrew Oliver, who didn't know he had been appointed to the role, was beheaded by an angry mob who then threw rocks at his house and raided his wine cellar. A few weeks later, the same group stormed the mansion of the Lieutenant Governor and took everything not bolted down, including the slate roof.
Similar riots broke out in every colony. Ships bringing in the stamped paper were turned back at harbors. Every designated tax collector resigned within eight months of the law's passage. The act was repealed after only one year of existence and without having raised much money at all.
Groups that had organized to resist the act formed the Sons of Liberty, which would play a large part in the beginnings of the American Revolution.
The Dorr Rebellion
In 1660, when the colonial charter of Rhode Island was drawn up, it included an uncontroversial requirement that all voters own property. After all, when they wrote it, most people were farmers who owned their land. Nearly two hundred years later, however, this situation was intolerable. Only 40% of the state's white male population could vote, and even this group was far more rural than the white male population as a whole.
Given that most other states had near-universal white male suffrage by 1840, the people of Rhode Island tried to peacefully replace the colonial charter with a more liberal state constitution. However, these attempts all failed at the hands of the misaligned state legislature. In 1841, having given up on working within the system, a group of supporters led by Thomas Dorr had a people's convention that drafted a liberal constitution granting universal white male suffrage, which was supported by considerable margins in a later referendum.
Both Dorr's supporters and the original government of Rhode Island held elections for governor the next year, with neither party recognizing the other. Predicting trouble, the old state government instituted martial law. Dorr's supporters later attempted a raid on the Providence Arsenal but were driven back. After the state militia was called out to battle a collection of armed Dorr supporters who gathered for another convention, Dorr dissolved his forces and fled the state.
Shocked by the strength of Dorr's supporters, the old state legislature passed a new constitution that expanded suffrage even further than the one Dorr suggested. Dorr was arrested, given a harsh sentence, and then released after a public outcry. He is traditionally listed as a governor of Rhode Island in recognition of his popular support.
The Lager Beer Riot
In 1855 as the temperance movement began to pick up steam, it was not uncommon for legislatures to limit which days alcohol could be purchased and who could sell it. In Chicago, under Know-Nothing mayor Levi Boone, the city increased the price of liquor licenses from $50 to $300*. It also reduced their term of validity to three months, down from one year, in an attempt to reduce the number of saloons in the city.
This action had a distinctly anti-immigration tone to it, as the legislation most impacted German and Irish immigrants. They enjoyed a drink on their one day off at saloons in their own, often more impoverished neighborhoods.
Saloon owners ignored the law, and two hundred were quickly arrested. On the day of the first criminal trial related to the law, immigrants swarmed the downtown area. After several arrests, an armed group of German immigrants marched on the area from the North Side to rescue the prisoners. The bridges across the Chicago River were swung to prevent crossing and allowing the police time to gather. When the bridges were turned back, the immigrants charged and were fired upon, killing one.
As a result of the rioting, the licensing fee went back down to $50, residents of Chicago started to pay attention to who was running the city, and the Sunday law went back to infrequent enforcement. Those charged with violating the law were not released, but the rioters got off scot-free.
The Detroit Riot/King Assassination Riots
Two riots separated by less than a year, which led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
Sparked by a police raid on a bar hosting a party to celebrate the return of two GI's from Vietnam, the Detroit riot soon spread all over the city. The national guard was quickly called in by Governor Romney. However, the guardsmen's lack of professionalism and experience led to several deaths and did little to stop the rioting. So many people were arrested that the Windsor, Canada police stepped in to help process fingerprints. Several instances of incredible police brutality took place. This did nothing to help restore order- nearly 500 fires blazed on the second day of rioting.
Around midnight on the third day, President Johnson sent in federal troops. While the army proved more effective than the National Guard, it took another 48 hours for the riots to end. Dozens of people died, hundreds were wounded, more than a thousand buildings burned, several thousand people were arrested, and the images of tanks in the streets of a burning American city graced screens worldwide.
While the riots were still ongoing, President Johnson formed the Kerner Commission to investigate the causes of the riots and suggest solutions. Their report found that African Americans did, in fact, endure problems related to what we would now call "systemic racism." It called for a variety of policy changes, including fair housing laws, job programs, and more public housing. As has been a theme in the American history of addressing racism, Johnson and Congress proceeded to ignore these suggestions.
One month after the release of that report, when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was struck down, riots broke out in more than 100 American cities. President Lyndon Johnson pressured Congress to act. With the sound of rioting audible from within their smoke-filled meeting rooms, Congress found the votes to pass the previously stalled Civil Rights Act in six days.
At 1:20 on the morning of June 28, 1968, the police knocked down the door of a mafia owned gay bar in the Village without running water to clean glasses with. The patrons of the bar refused to cooperate with police demands for identification and verification of what sex they were, resulting in the decision to arrest them all. A crowd began to form outside the bar, which dramatically outnumbered the police.
After witnessing the police strike an unknown woman* with a baton, the crowd attacked the police vans, slashing the tires and helping the arrested escape. The police barricaded themselves inside the bar, which was then besieged by the assemblage with an impromptu battering ram. The officers who brought the paddy wagons fled.
Police reinforcements arrived, but the situation only deteriorated from there. Nightstick wielding officers attacked a singing kickline, police were chased down the street by the crowd, and the Stonewall Inn was laid waste. Rioting continued over the next few days before dissipating.
Unlike the other riots on this list, the immediate effects of Stonewall were oriented more towards psychological and activist outcomes rather than changes in the legal system. Raids on gay bars continued, but gay newspapers, organizations, and activist groups sprang up like flowers in the spring. Two years to the day of the riot, the first Pride parades took place. Gay rights activists Randy Wicker and Frank Kameny, who were both initially embarrassed by the riot, went on to claim that there was a definite psychological effect caused by the event, which "stirred an unexpected spirit among many homosexuals."
The results of that psychological change and the fruits of that post-riot organization are evident today in the robustness of the LGBTQ+ movement and its successes.
* Today, this would be around eight thousand dollars.
* Ideas as to who this person was vary and a definitive answer remains elusive.
- Dismissing Protestors Belittles What Keeps Us Free, says Wesley ... ›
- Protest is not enough to topple a dictator: the army must also turn ... ›
How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.
- A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
- It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
- The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
The ocean depths are home to many creatures that some consider to be unnatural.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU2NzY4My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTUwMzg0NX0.BTK3zVeXxoduyvXfsvp4QH40_9POsrgca_W5CQpjVtw/img.png?width=980" id="b6fb0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2739ec50d9f9a3bd0058f937b6d447ac" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1512" data-height="2224" />
What benefit does this find have for science? And is it as evil as it looks?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="7XqcvwWp" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="8506fcd195866131efb93525ae42dec4"> <div id="botr_7XqcvwWp_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/7XqcvwWp-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>The discovery of a new species is always a cause for celebration in zoology. That this is the discovery of an animal that inhabits the deeps of the sea, one of the least explored areas humans can get to, is the icing on the cake.</p><p>Helen Wong of the National University of Singapore, who co-authored the species' description, explained the importance of the discovery:</p><p>"The identification of this new species is an indication of just how little we know about the oceans. There is certainly more for us to explore in terms of biodiversity in the deep sea of our region." </p><p>The animal's visual similarity to Darth Vader is a result of its compound eyes and the curious shape of its <a href="https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/research/sjades2018/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" style="">head</a>. However, given the location of its discovery, the bottom of the remote seas, it may be associated with all manner of horrifically evil Elder Things and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">Great Old Ones</a>. <em></em></p>
We look back at a year ravaged by a global pandemic, economic downturn, political turmoil and the ever-worsening climate crisis.
Billions are at risk of missing out on the digital leap forward, as growing disparities challenge the social fabric.
Image: Global Risks Report 2021<h3>Widespread effects</h3><p>"The immediate human and economic costs of COVID-19 are severe," the report says. "They threaten to scale back years of progress on reducing global poverty and inequality and further damage social cohesion and global cooperation."</p><p>For those reasons, the pandemic demonstrates why infectious diseases hits the top of the impact list. Not only has COVID-19 led to widespread loss of life, it is holding back economic development in some of the poorest parts of the world, while amplifying wealth inequalities across the globe.</p><p>At the same time, there are concerns the fight against the pandemic is taking resources away from other critical health challenges - including a <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/charts-covid19-malnutrition-educaion-mental-health-children-world/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">disruption to measles vaccination programmes</a>.</p>
A new study explains how a chaotic region just outside a black hole's event horizon might provide a virtually endless supply of energy.
- In 1969, the physicist Roger Penrose first proposed a way in which it might be possible to extract energy from a black hole.
- A new study builds upon similar ideas to describe how chaotic magnetic activity in the ergosphere of a black hole may produce vast amounts of energy, which could potentially be harvested.
- The findings suggest that, in the very distant future, it may be possible for a civilization to survive by harnessing the energy of a black hole rather than a star.
The ergosphere<p>The ergosphere is a region just outside a black hole's event horizon, the boundary of a black hole beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape. But light and matter just outside the event horizon, in the ergosphere, would also be affected by the immense gravity of the black hole. Objects in this zone would spin in the same direction as the black hole at incredibly fast speeds, similar to objects floating around the center of a whirlpool.</p><p>The Penrose process states, in simple terms, that an object could enter the ergosphere and break into two pieces. One piece would head toward the event horizon, swallowed by the black hole. But if the other piece managed to escape the ergosphere, it could emerge with more energy than it entered with.</p><p>The movie "Interstellar" provides an example of the Penrose process. Facing a fuel shortage on a deep-space mission, the crew makes a last-ditch effort to return home by entering the ergosphere of a blackhole, ditching part of their spacecraft, and "slingshotting" away from the black hole with vast amounts of energy.</p><p>In a recent study published in the American Physical Society's <a href="https://journals.aps.org/prd/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevD.103.023014" target="_blank" style="">Physical Review D</a><em>, </em>physicists Luca Comisso and Felipe A. Asenjo used similar ideas to describe another way energy could be extracted from a black hole. The idea centers on the magnetic fields of black holes.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Black holes are commonly surrounded by a hot 'soup' of plasma particles that carry a magnetic field," Comisso, a research scientist at Columbia University and lead study author, told <a href="https://news.columbia.edu/energy-particles-magnetic-fields-black-holes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Columbia News</a>.</p>
Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration<p>While there might not be immediate applications for the theory, it could help scientists better understand and observe black holes. On an abstract level, the findings may expand the limits of what scientists imagine is possible in deep space.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Thousands or millions of years from now, humanity might be able to survive around a black hole without harnessing energy from stars," Comisso said. "It is essentially a technological problem. If we look at the physics, there is nothing that prevents it."</p>
A popular and longstanding wave of thought in psychology and psychotherapy is that diagnosis is not relevant for practitioners in those fields.