Friday, 12 August 2011


scum n. 1 a layer of dirt or froth on the surface of a liquid.
              2 informal a worthless or contemptible person or group of people.

Emotive language keeps being bandied around following the riots. The main purpose of this is to create a sense of "us" and "them". I have heard children described as "rats" on television and during conversation. In the Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew (quoting from Wikipedia - try substituting Hoodie for Jew)

One of the shots early in the film shows a pack of rats emerging from a sewer, juxtaposed with a crowd of Jews in a bustling street of a Polish city. Close-ups of individuals show sickly, malformed facial features. The narration says that, as rats are the vermin of the animal kingdom, Jews are the vermin of the human race and similarly spread disease and corruption.

If we resort to labeling groups of people as subhuman we are treading into highly dangerous territory. Those using such language should control themselves a little better. 

Among those using emotive language is our own Prime Minister David Cameron. He labelled sections of our society "sick". It should be remembered that Mr Cameron was a member of the Bullingdon Club at Oxford University. Members are not adverse to a spot of vandalism and criminal damage. That they "leave a cheque" to cover the cost is supposed to make everything better but is more like adding insult to injury if you ask me.
Name calling and emotive labeling might make you feel good for a second or two but it serves no useful purpose. There has been a lot of talk about responsibility as well. Rather than "them" taking responsibility for "their" actions I think we need to find a way of bringing even the most unsavory groups (Hoodie nihilists, EDL nuts, Islamic and Christian fundamentalists) and making them feel a part of "us". It's easy to fight about black and white, less so to thrash about in shades of grey. As David Cameron said in his infamous "hug a hoodie" speech:

"But hoodies are more defensive than offensive. They're a way to stay invisible in the street. In a dangerous environment the best thing to do is keep your head down, blend in. For some the hoodie represents all that's wrong about youth culture in Britain today. For me, adult society's response to the hoodie shows how far we are from finding the long-term answers to put things right." 

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