Many factors no doubt played a role in the violence that caused multiple deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in England in recent weeks.
But there has been no end to the excuses some observers have put forth for that behavior. The most common excuse has been that the rioters are poor, and the riots and looting were their way of lashing out against "the rich" and against supposedly unjust social policies in Britain.
But that does not square with the TV images we saw over and over during the disturbances in London and other major cities in England. If anything, rioters appeared enthusiastic about the mayhem they caused. Looters were seen methodically hauling electronics, clothing or other goods out of stores. Dwellings inhabited not by "the rich" but by ordinary citizens were set ablaze -- with their inhabitants often having only minutes to flee for their lives.
In one sickening incident, a young victim of the rioting was bleeding profusely on a sidewalk. Some grown men approached him and at first seemed to be helping the dazed man to his feet. But then they went through his backpack and gleefully stole from it!
The rioters were not stealing as a form of "protest." Rather, they created chaos that overwhelmed England's police forces, then used that chaos to take what belonged to others -- dishing out violence to any who stood in their way.
British Prime Minister David Cameron labeled the violence a "slow-motion moral collapse." He noted that family breakdown -- including high rates of absent fathers -- contributed to a culture in which there is lack of respect for the basic rights of others. He also criticized a justice system that lets too many crimes go unpunished. (Don't some of those points sound frighteningly similar to conditions in the United States?)
There is no single solution to violence in any society, but blithely excusing it is certainly not the answer.