It is time to stop describing bad human behaviour as the behaviour of animals. We all know the saying, “He behaved like an animal”. Today, the papers report on a riot in Bristol, UK. They were protesting against a law which appears to limit their right to protest. A good protest, therefore. But they became violent and police officers were seriously injured and vans set alight.
Andy Roebuck, chairman of the Avon and Somerset Police Federation said:
“Disgusting scenes in Bristol by a mob of animals who are injuring police officers, members of the public and damaging property.”
Equating poor human behaviour with animal behaviour is a well-entrenched human attitude and the saying is often used. It trips off the tongue instinctively so it will be hard to stop. But stop it must because it is inaccurate.
Animals don’t wantonly injure other animals in protests. They may attack another animal in a ‘mob’ as a hunting strategy but that has a high purpose behind it: survival. The saying is an insult to all animals. Often the saying is used to describe highly immoral human behaviour making it all the more inappropriate as we can’t equate human morals to animal behaviour. Morals are a human construct.
A mob of humans attacking police officers has no higher purpose. The protest is fine and proper. They feel strongly about protecting their freedoms. I am sympathetic because Britain is becoming a police state, almost. But don’t hurt people when you protest, please. If you do you are behaving like badly behaved humans not animals.
As an aside: did you know that the UK’s Covid Act allows law enforcement to arrest and detain indefinitely anyone who potentially has the Covid-19 infection? It gives the authorities unfettered powers well beyond those normally conferred on them. The UK today can look very much like a dictatorship or 1984 (the world described in the book 1984). The police are failing, actually, in their role. They’ve lost the respect of the citizens they are charged with protecting. It has taken many years of poor behavior for this to happen.