The chaos that consumed England this week has brought some clarity to Vancouver's own Stanley Cup riot of two months ago.
The destruction that tore through the Vancouver core in June was deeply disturbing, but compared to the pandemonium gripping London, it was a relatively minor event. Storefronts were smashed and more than 100 people were injured, but very few of them seriously. Police dispersed the crowd in a matter of hours, and much of the mess was gone by the following day - thanks largely to efforts by the public. It was followed by a flood of apologies, some of them from the participants, and later by similarly large gatherings that have finished peacefully.
The mayhem across the Atlantic was a different animal altogether. Looting and violence continued for days and spread to other cities; residential buildings were torched with people inside them; police, entering the fray by the thousands, were overwhelmed.
The difference was one of cause. England's riots were triggered and sustained by deep-seated social issues: simmering racial tensions and economic disparity.
Vancouver's riot, in retrospect, was more a crime of opportunity, brought on by a toxic mixture of alcohol, high emotion and shocking but short-lived mob mentality. In its wake, there was a lot of soul searching, and rightly so, but in reality there is nothing wrong with our city or its populace that isn't found throughout the world.
Vancouver's problem isn't one of social decay, but of crowd control.