Reciprocity and social contracts.

I’m including this in another post, but I think it’s useful and I’m using it now. It’s rhetoric that I’ve settled on and seems useful.
“A riot is a kind of protest, it’s reciprocal behavior in a culture where there’s a broken social contract relative to the criminal justice system.”

Martin Luther King Jr. is the inspiration. I just like to have more than one way of saying something and I really like the usefulness of “social contract” here.


  1. StevoR says

    Also MLK :

    But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. [Martin Luther King Jr., “The Other America”]

    Source :

  2. StevoR says

    PS I am a white privileged, fairly sheltered and fortunate Australian bystander and reading and seeing and hearing about what African Americans are experiencing makes me feel furious, helpless and upset. I can only begin to imagine what it must be like to live through and constantly ex[perience things as they do.

    I can understand why African Americans would riot and they have every reason to be far more angry than almost all of them seem to me to be.

    They say that Black People should ask nicely and take it slow. Being saying that since Nina Simone sang about it in ‘Mississippi Goddam’ back in 1964. ( Hear. Listen :

    Well, MLK protested peacefully and they murdered him.

    Colin Kaepernick took a knee and they called him an SOB, got him fired and refused to listen.

    George Floyd said “please!” no less than fourteen times (by my count) in the 9 minutes he lay helpless on the ground as they choked the life out of him.

    I’d say that approach has been tried and failed. If only those in power had listened and acted before.

  3. John Morales says

    StevoR, look closer to home. We incarcerate Aboriginal people four times as much (in proportion to the population) as the USA does its blacks. And not one copper — ever — has been charged for any of the deaths in custody.

  4. says

    Is there anything in particular that you think will be useful?

    I’m trying to point out that the violence were experiencing is justified at the moment. It’s not that I want to ignore non-violence, it’s that I’m not quite sure how to help there beyond calling out violence against peaceful protestors and attacking bigoted conflation of peaceful protestors with rioters.

  5. John Morales says

    Sorry, Brony. I lack the inclination or dedication for activism, and I haven’t carefully perused the document, it just came to mind because you mentioned the social contract aspect. That said, the section on propaganda was informative for me, it’s got a good classification IMO, and that seems to me to be your own inclination.

  6. StevoR says

    @ John Morales : Yes. Australia’s record of ongoing mistretament of our First Peoples is absolutely appalling. 432 Indigenous deaths in custody since a Royal Commission into it in 1991 and no cops charged is but one example. Yes, we also have lots of appalling police brutality directed against Indigenous People here too such as this recent incident :

    WARNING : Police brutality video and references, swearing.

    FWIW. I was at the Black Lives Rally in Adelaide yesterday to oppose all those things – home and abroad.

  7. says

    No problem. I’ll look at the part you mentioned. It could be useful, it’s just that I’m hitting a saturation point where I can do what I’m doing but shoving something new into my awareness might have to wait.

    In the meantime it could be useful to someone else.

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