Friday, October 22, 2004

Public violence

emile_durkheim British universities stop working on Wednesday afternoons so that we students can participate in violent sporting activity http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uczxfen/clubinfo.htm. In Venice, Friday afternoon is free, and the students drink, shout and enjoy ritualistic violence in large groups all afternoon. In the USA and Sweden the fraternities and sorieties torture initiands. http://www.sensations4women.com/frat/. One of the great achievements of Emile Durkheim (pictured) was to explain how all societies have a "normal" level of antisocial behaviour, exemplified at length in his monograph on suicide. Similarly, a certain level of public violence is common to all societies, and should not necessarily be considered "a bad thing." In Britain, there has never been a co-ordinated, progressive policy towards the regulation of public violence. Public flogging for women was banned in 1805; bear baiting was banned in 1835, but the last public hanging was not until 1875; hanging was not restricted until 1965; and not abolished entirely (for treason and piracy) until 27th January 1999! Corporal punishment in (non-state) schools was illegal as of 1st September 1999. Foxhunting has just been banned, leaving only fishing as the UK's last bloodsport.

Some people claim that public violence in Britain has been replaced by private media, especially computer games. Films, which are enjoyed somewhat publically, are closely regulated, especially in the wake of the James Bulger murder, which some blamed in part on violent films. Now, computer games are more violent than films, and "Doom" is cited as inspiring the form of a massacre in an American school a few years ago. I find it hard to accept that this amounts to the same thing. It would be interesting to know whether "alcohol-related violence" has genuinely increased in recent years in Britain. Perhaps the high street on a Friday night has become the modern amphitheatre, an experience enhanced by its participatory nature. If so, the government should act before it is too late. Britain needs well regulated public violence; though care should be taken when choosing the form. One possibility is to extend opportunities for shooting farm animals (see 20/10/04) to members of the public. I think bird shooting is still legal in Britain, which may mean shooting is too classy to be widely accepted by the lumpen proletariat ("social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of old society" as Marx so charmingly characterises them. See http://www.chavscum.co.uk/ for how the other side lives now). Another alternative is the ever popular sport of midget tossing. Play for yourself: http://www.fetchfido.co.uk/games/midget_tossing/midget_tossing.htm. Does watching Paula Radcliffe run marathons perhaps qualify? Anyway, all suggestions welcome, and I would encourage inundating my useless MP Claire Ward with massive amounts of correspondance on this and any other strikingly impotant issue.

If you wish to contact Claire Ward MP:
you can call on (01923) 213579 Fax: (01923) 213595
or write to her at:
270 St Albans RoadWatfordWD24 6PE
or House of CommonsPhone: 020 7219 4910 Fax:020 7219 0468Pager: 020 8345 6789 then quote 880045Mobile: 0468 901606
or write to her at:
The House of Commons Westminister London SW1A 0AA.
or you can e-mail her at: wardc@parliament.uk


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