MARKET TRADER, MARCH 29 - APRIL 11, 2019
Market By Roger Mills
Folk Devils and Moral Panics
Say ‘Mods and Rockers’ and if you’re my age the same few feet of newsreel footage of motorbikes and scooters arriving at say Margate in 1964 will play unbidden in your mind’s eye at those words. On early sixties Bank Holidays the rival groups would journey to the coast for a punch up – or at least that’s what the papers told us was happening. The reality was a bit
different. Sociologist San Cohen studied the Mods and Rockers ‘riots’ found that the way they were reported by the papers made people a) think they were more severe than they were and b) created Folk Devils of the two groups.
He called the cycle ‘deviancy amplification’ and argued that the very reporting of the incidents made copycat behaviour more likely. Such things become he reckoned a ‘Moral Panic’. Some event or phenomenon attracts media attention and gets saturation coverage often out of all proportion to what is really happening. This rouses public concern. (At least according to the same media – the public are often in reality completely indifferent.) There is, or can be, a knee jerk reaction from the authorities after which the whole bang shoot gives place to the next simulated press outrage. Moral Panics are often irrational. Over my lifetime
they’ve included everything from American Civil War picture cards sold in a pack with quite horrible bubblegum, women playing bingo, video games, social media, mugging, video nasties and dangerous dogs. At the moment it is – or at
least was it may be something different by the time we go to press – knife crime. Now I’m not belittling
knife crime especially as we reported in our last issue an incident on Wednesfield High Street. To be cut down in the prime of life while simply hanging out in a park with mates, to take one case, can only be classed as a tragedy. A tragedy too that so many victims and perpetrators are young men
It took years to do nothing at Queens...
being as heedless of possible consequences the young often are. I do know the pupil I had to disarm in 1974 when she was about to puncture another girl with a pair of scissors was appalled at what might have happened... when she came to her senses. So we do probably need a sensible sober debate about the issue. A discussion that reflects
the fact it is only one part of a ‘background noise’ of violent crime which varies in severity year on year. The peak year for knife crime related hospital admissions was actually 2005. Most violent crimes involve no weapon and knives account for only 6%.
Instead we had the usual fandango of sensationalist coverage with all and sundry blaming all and sundry causes usually with a dash of special pleading for more money for their own personal interests. This climaxed with banner
headlines on one of the usual tabloid suspects calling for the army to be summoned to sort things out. Apparently the idea of one of the many ex ministers we seem to have lying about these days, former Defence Secretary Michael Fallon. When the papers resort to calling for those they still refer to as ‘our boys’ you know some sort of Moral Panic is in train. As I write one lunatic MP, Scott
Mann, has suggested that all knives sold should be fitted with GPS Trackers. Readers in North Cornwall you have my sympathy. Why do I mention all this?
Simply because knives or indeed anything that could be used as a weapon like say a screwdriver or a hammer or indeed a ring spanner or a pair of scissors have to be bought from somewhere. At the moment the rules are simple it is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under 18, unless it has a folding blade 3 inches long or less. In Scotland, 16 to 18 year olds are allowed to buy cutlery and kitchen knives. (There is a list of knives it is illegal to sell at all
HUGHMARK 2019 EPSOM/DERBY/OAKS FESTIVAL Now booking
FRIDAY, MAY 31st & SATURDAY, JUNE 1ST, 2019. Fabulous crowds. Sorry no catering.
Contact: Hughmark – www.hughmark.co.uk
By phone 01189 451799.
Regular market list:
Basingstoke Top of the Town Market – every Wednesday and Saturday Cheap rents. Require: footwear, sweets, swag, cheeses and catering.
Ramsgate Town Centre Market – every Friday and Saturday Require: menswear, children’s wear, kitchenware, bedding and meat.
Tadley Country Market – Sunday Require: catering.
Kempton Park Market – every Thursday Require: most lines considered. In season Kempton Market is the largest midweek out of town market in Southern England.
Bracknell Town Centre Market – every Friday and Saturday Very busy. Food only. As of 1st Tuesday of March also Tuesday’s. Food only.
Didcot Broadway, Oxfordshire – Friday Market Require: butcher, fish, farm shop and cheeses.
Folkestone town centre Friday’s and Saturdays Very busy all year round. Require food lines including butcher and fish.
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