Dr. Beckett's Mom Cuts Up His Food For Him

From Britain comes the news that hordes of kill-crazy, knife-wielding young people are slaughtering the people of England left, right, and a deep cut down the middle.

Well, not so much:
...experts differ strongly on whether this is a sudden phenomenon that is taking the country into perilous new territory, or just a blip that is generating a disproportionate response from the authorities.

The data is inconclusive. Government figures show fatal stabbings hover at just over 200 every year, with occasional spikes above 250. This time appears no different, despite shrill headlines warning of "blade-mad Britain" each time another teenager dies in a public altercation.

"There have been a number of high-profile incidents and that gives the impression that the problem is more widespread than it actually is," says Enver Solomon, deputy director of London King's College's Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. "There hasn't been an underlying increase in the number of people murdered by sharp implements."


Some even argue that this is not an epidemic of knife crime, just an epidemic of press stories about knife crime. "The BBC now puts any murder in the national news," said Simon Jenkins, a prominent commentator. "The effect of this nationalization of social panic is that you get knee-jerk policy reactions," he told BBC radio.
Roger Matthews, a criminologist at London South Bank University, says that surveys of youth show that a "very significant percentage of young people routinely carry knives." He attributes knives' increased popularity to Britain's strong anti-gun legislation. [...] "The great attraction of knives is that they are enormously accessible and can be acquired from different places. Very often they aren't machetes, they are just kitchen knives," he says.
So, Britain has a growing problem with knife-based assaults, except that the problem isn't actually growing. And a lot of these attacks are being made by people carrying kitchen knives.

I. Don't. Think. So.

If I want to carry a knife around with me, I'm NOT going to say, "Oh, I'll just take this unsheathed, sharp-pointed knife from the kitchen and shove it into a pocket." Yeah, someone would likely end up in the ER with a knife wound, but he would be an idiot, not a victim.

If you want to carry a knife around with you, the overwhelming odds are that 1) it will have a sheath of some kind, or 2) it will have a folding blade. Like, oh, the folding pocket knife I usually carry (which also has a belt clip, which is not only more convenient, but saves worries about accusations of "carrying a concealed weapon").

My bet is that the overwhelming majority of "kitchen knife" attacks, in Britain or elsewhere, are the results of domestic violence incidents where someone goes over the edge and grabs the nearest household weapon available, usually the one on the kitchen counter.

But the newspapers say there's a problem, so obviously we need to find someone with a solution to it. Enter Dr. Michael Beckett:
Another medical expert, Dr. Mike Beckett, argues that it is time to remove sharp knives from kitchens altogether. He says there is no need for the pointed tips that make knives fatal. "What people want in a kitchen knife is the edge," he told the BBC. "The point on the end of the knife actually serves little culinary purpose, but it is the point that kills people."

Ay, caramba. No doubt when Dr. Beckett clips out the news article for his scrapbook, he'll use the round-pointed "safety scissors" he saved from his days in kindergarten.

The mental image that comes to mind is of a young British tough getting into an argument, pulling a "Beckett-Special" kitchen knife from a pocket, staring at the rounded front edge, crying "Damn! DAMN, DAMN, DAMN! This won't work!" and getting so depressed that he goes home, runs a hot tub, and slashes his wrists.

Can I be treated like a competent adult now, Doc? Thanks.

(photo from Geekologie)


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talpianna said...

But, Bruce, those knives are just as illegal as guns in the UK. I've just been involved in a discussion with Catherine and others about names and types of flatware and cutlery; a link to a British site mentioned that even a table knife can't be sold to anyone under 18!

In one of the later Dick Francis mysteries, the hero was trying to identify a knife used in a murder and was sent to consult a famous expert on edged weapons, who had to conceal his collection in a secret compartment lest it be confiscated by the police--despite the fact that he was a respected scholar whom even the police consulted on edged weapons.


Bruce said...

The first couple of comments posted here were "comment spam", posts written by people who are paid to troll blogs and post comments that link back to commercial sites. I deleted the posts. (BWAA-HA-HA-HA-HA! THE POWER! THE ABSOLUTE POWER!!)

talpianna said...

Catherine commented:

Bruce is perfectly right, of course. The knives are not normally 'kitchen knives'. Occasionally there are 'knife amnesties', from which one sees arty shots of heaps of knives that have been handed in the police (I can never see the point of that. Can't they just go out and get another one?), and I have never spotted any type of kitchen knife amongst them.

The reason for media panic on this issue, and the resultant pronouncements by people who have not thought the matter through, is the sheer number of fatal stabbings, especially in London, and especially involving teenagers in certain areas. It is a part of the general lawlessness which is now normal.

You can actually kill someone with an everyday Swiss Army Knife of the type I have carried in my handbag for 40 years and more, but it would hardly be the weapon of choice fior anyone who moves in circles where violent assault is an everyday event.