Anorak News | How Barack Obama Will Save Bridgend, End Knife Crime And Sadness

How Barack Obama Will Save Bridgend, End Knife Crime And Sadness

by | 29th, December 2008

IN it’s news review of the year, the Guardian’s Decca Aitkenhead takes readers “from the election of Barack Obama to economic meltdown, from the Beijing Olympics to the Baby P trial”. She “recalls the year’s best and worst times”.

But rather than being a time to reflect and make sense of things, Aitkenhead ends with a spot of mawkish media sensation, a spot of Mourn Porn:

Perhaps the saddest place of all in Britain was Bridgend, where another young suicide in August brought the total to 23 since 2007. The mystery of why so many youngsters did want to die was one no one could answer.

Indeed, why anyone commits suicide is a mystery for those who do not, although some victime do leave a note. But why mention Bridgend, other than that young people make for a more photogenic story than any illustrations to the fact that in the early 1990s, the highest UK suicide rates were in men aged 75 and over?

And that:

Suicide rates in young men have fallen to their lowest level since the 1970s, marking the end of a three-decade long rise. In young women, suicide rates have been in steady decline for the past 40 years and are now at their lowest level since 1968.

Or that a briefing document prepared for Bridgend Local Health Board (LHB) by the National Public Health Service for Wales told us:

Bridgend has higher overall rates of suicide among males; however the rates achieve statistical significance in Neath Port Talbot, Denbighshire and Carmarthenshire. Conwy, Cardiff and Swansea had the highest rates among females. Suicide rates were lower for men in the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff, and for women in Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly.”

This apparent news some after Aitkenhead has told readers about knife crime:

Whoever replaces the metropolitan commissioner will inherit a youth knife crime wave that neither metal detectors, stop and search operations, “Broken Britain” headlines or mourning relatives’ marches seemed able to arrest.

Indeed. The Sun leads with “KNIVES KILL SIX A DAY“, a figure based on the 22,000 “knife incidents” in the year to last March. The Sun does not say which part of “Broken Britain” it gleaned this stat from, nor if the figure includes not only attacks but also accidental injuries from knives. But still, any good scare story needs some basis in fact:

By December 1, 66 teenagers in Britain had met a violent death this year, more than two-thirds of them by a knife, and almost half in London. Accounts of the murders became so routinely gruesome, it seemed scarcely credible that they could involve children, but in the details there could be terrible reminders. Witnesses to one 16-year-old stab victim relayed his dying words: “I don’t want to die. I want my mum.”

One might conclude that knife crime is not a nationwide epidemic, but a story driven by crime in London. Maybe London should rival the writer’s title for Saddest Place Of All In Britain?

Of course, something needs to be done. Spinning figures serves no good purpose – we need to at least rely on the facts. Police focusing on knife crime should in the long run help rates fall.

But there is one other factor, a panacea for all these ills and more:

But in the end, 2008 would be remembered for the audacity of its hope. “It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun,” Obama promised in Grant Park. “Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.”

Incidentally, this is now Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff, deals with matters:

Suddenly Emanuel grabbed his steak knife and, as those who were there remember it, shouted out the name of another enemy, lifted the knife, then brought it down with full force into the table.

”Dead!” he screamed.

The group immediately joined in the cathartic release: ”Nat Landow! Dead! Cliff Jackson! Dead! Bill Schaefer! Dead!”

So if you feel suicidal or murderous, lay down your weapons and make the “O” with cupped hands.

And sing:

O what a beautiful morning
O what beautiful day
I got a beautiful feelin’
Ev’rything’s gonna be O-Kay.


Posted: 29th, December 2008 | In: Key Posts, Reviews Comments (2) | TrackBack | Permalink