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Monday 14th July 2008

Am I the only one who is concerned that the hysteria over knife crime is at least partially responsible for the rise in the amount of knife crime that is happening at the moment? Don't you think that by the papers and the media continually harping on about knives is a) making carrying knives seem like a cool thing to do for all the many idiots our there and b) frightening the different idiots into thinking they'd better carry a knife in case one of the idiots who thinks carrying knives is a cool thing to do decides to attack them? Might a suggestion to make the knife crime stop be to stop going on about knife crime all the time? I know I am adding to the problem here, but luckily I am very uncool and me even mentioning knives will make the many young people who like my blog and using knives decide to stop using knives because I have mentioned them. Look at the dip in yoghurt purchases amongst 16-25 year olds.
Does the media have a responsibility to hold on reporting things, if by reporting on it they affect the news? For example the coverage of the recent suicides in Bridgend must surely have slightly fueled the problem. If a vulnerable person saw that someone killing themselves got them on the headlines of the news, they might be tempted to kill themselves in order to gain some perverse kind of fame. It seemed to me that the media backed off a bit from this story, perhaps noticing the connection. That doesn't necessarily prove anything, as perhaps the suicides continued unreported, but I doubt it.
Jacqui Smith's latest idea to combat knife crime is to send people caught with knives to hospital wards to see knife crime victims. Isn't the problem with this that for this punishment to work it is reliant on knife crime happening, in order to serve as a deterrent to other knife crime. So people will need to do some knife crime in order to deter other people from doing knife crime. It is possible that we will get to a situation where people will need to be rewarded for stabbing people, so that their victims can be used as scare tactics to stop people stabbing people. It's a fucked up idea is my point. Which won't work anyway. Doesn't it just serve to say - this is what you would have done if you'd had the balls to actually stab someone, but as it is you're carrying a knife round and you haven't even hurt anyone, you dick.
I saw Iain Duncan Smith on Question Time last week, talking on some other issue - can't remember what now, but it was something about international relations and how to deal with diplomacy. He said his philosophy was that you should talk softly and carry a big stick. Which I thought was inappropriate given that in other sections of the show they wanted to discourage kids from carrying weapons. But now he was saying that by carrying a big weapon it would stop people fighting you, even though that clearly isn't the case. In fact if you carry a big weapon, you are more likely to be in a fight and also encourage your enemy to locate a bigger weapon.
In any case "Talk softly and carry a big stick" is stupid advice. If you are carrying a big stick the last thing you want to do is talk softly. People will be shouting at you, "Hey mate, what's with the big stick? Why are you carrying that massive stick around with you? What point are you trying to make?" and you'll be talking softly saying, "I am just trying to show that I am ready for a fight should there be one, well prepared, but I am calm and don't want to use it." But in the hubbub of battle no one will be able to hear your soft talk. You'll just be babbling away and they'll be saying, "Talk less softly, we can't hear you. Tell us in a loud voice why you've got that stick with you. It's so unnecessarily big that we inevitably feel threatened by it. I mean who carries a big stick with them anyway? If you don't tell us why you've got the stick we will have to attack you."
But someone following Iain Duncan Smith's advice would surely conclude that the problem must be that they're not talking softly enough and thus respond more softly saying "I have no intention of using the stick. It's for show. That's why it's so big. It's a show stick." But in the increasing panic, this even softer entreaty would be lost. And all that people would be thinking about was the big stick and where they could get a bigger stick to take on this gigantic stick, which wasn't so unwieldly as to become useless. The person talking softly and carrying a big stick would be attacked and though they might take out a couple of people with their big stick, they'd be killed in the assault surely.
Better advice is to talk at a level that makes what you're saying clearly audible (probably a bit louder than usual) and carry a big stick. Or even better, talk at an audible level (calmly if you like, that might help) and don't carry any kind of stick or weapon. Just talk. No weapons.
To be honest whatever level you're talking at, if you have a big weapon you're only attracting attention. It's probably about time everyone realised that, both in daily life and on a global level.
But they won't.
Good luck whichever softly talking big stick carrying twat ends up doing for you.

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