Should one feel sympathy for the youngsters who caused the worst riot in Hong Kong since 1967? Many people apparently think so. Personally, I find it hard to. How do you empathise with people who wantonly destroyed property, beat up other human beings and turned an entire district into a battlefield with police? Well, they are young and angry, some say. So why are they angry? Basically, all the political problems and social and economic ills from which Hong Kong is suffering have been offered as an excuse for their violence. First, it was the fault of the police and hygiene officers’ crackdown on illegal hawkers, so the rioters were only fighting for the downtrodden. It turned out there was no crackdown as the officers were quickly surrounded and beaten up by localist rioters before they could ticket or charge any hawker. So this clearly could not justify causing a mass riot. Other reasons are then being trotted out. It’s our housing problem, it’s our extreme wealth gap, it’s our education problem, it’s our lack of democracy, it’s our inadequate health care, it’s the lack of job opportunities for your people, it’s Leung Chun-ying and his unresponsive government, it’s Beijing... Or the fit-for-all-purpose excuse: Our kids are being marginalised and ignored. There you have it. That’s why young people went berserk in the streets of Mong Kok. Or are they rather excuses to be used retrospectively to justify their crime? In truth, such societal problems can be used for any purpose and to justify anything – in this case, the crime of riot. I just love those people who congratulate themselves on being so deep, insightful and sympathetic while adding they are not trying to justify the violence and criminality of our youngsters. Of course they are trying to justify or explain away their behaviour, so at least have the guts to say so. No one has yet mentioned the bad air in Mong Kok and the lead in public estates’ water supplies. But I might be upset and angry too if I lived in a Mong Kok public housing estate with water supplies contaminated by lead. Maybe such residents should start a riot! Many people in Hong Kong hate Leung, the government and Beijing so much that any means to destroy or discredit them, however violent, are seen as justified. They may think they are fighting evil. But in their hatred, they are dragging the rest of us into the abyss with them.