Skip to main content

Goths and hate crimes

You shouldn't be attacked for looking like this
- or any other way
There was a wonderfully cringe-making piece on the often glorious Channel 4 News last night, covering the move by Greater Manchester Police to consider attacks on goths, emos, bikers and goodness knows what cultural groupings as hate crimes, putting them on a par with racist attacks. The cringe-making part was Jon Snow saying he would like to dress like a Fearless Vampire Killers band member who was one of his interviewees - but the interesting point was made by a journalist present. He was doubtful about this move because it was making an artificial distinction - and I think he was spot on.

The thing is yobs (as the journalist labelled them (and, no, he wasn't from the Sun, it was a broadsheet)) will attack anyone for looking different. It all depends on context. No one is going to attack someone for dressing like a goth at an a concert for a band that has that particular look. But they might have trouble if they turned up in a suit and tie. When I was at school I was twice attacked for wearing my school uniform. Not just verbal abuse (there were plenty of examples of that) - once a punch to the jaw on a crowded railway station (no one took any notice) and once having stones thrown at me in a quiet suburban street

The fact is that literally anyone can be attacked for looking different. For their age, the way they dress, the way they look, the way they behave. For having red hair. This is as old as the hills. I'm not saying it is acceptable - of course it is to be abhorred and punished. But to single out particular groups as a 'hate crime', implying that somehow attacks on other people for exactly the same reason are less significant is a serious mistake and should be avoided at all cost.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Mirror, mirror

A little while ago I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the Royal Institution in London - arguably the greatest location for science communication in the UK. At one point in the talk, I put this photograph on the screen, which for some reason caused some amusement in the audience. But the photo was illustrating a serious point: the odd nature of mirror reflections. I remember back at school being puzzled by a challenge from one of our teachers - why does a mirror swap left and right, but not top and bottom? Clearly there's nothing special about the mirror itself in that direction - if there were, rotating the mirror would change the image. The most immediately obvious 'special' thing about the horizontal direction is that the observer has two eyes oriented in that direction - but it's not as if things change if you close one eye. In reality, the distinction is much more interesting - we fool ourselves into thinking that the image behind the mirror is what's on ou