Sunday, May 15, 2005


I have never owned or worn a t-shirt with a hood, and I’ve never appeared in a court and been ordered to do community service for some minor misdemeanour or other. But I still feel nervous at the prospect of new rules governing both.

These new rules have been proposed by our disappointingly re-elected New Labour government (New by name as well as by status) which seems intent, in a kind of diluted Orwellian way, on eradicating from the State things the State doesn’t like seeing. Hoodies, for example.

The thinking behind banning the hooded top goes that you can’t see young people’s faces when the hood’s up, and young people are terribly worrying for older people, especially when they stand around and be young in youthful groups. Need I remind you that in the depths of insane America where hoodies come from, even the authoritarian bastards in charge there would laugh at such an unfair, finger-pointing, shallow scheme?

Amid echoes of John Major’s ill-fated “Back to Basics” campaign, a moral panic is in full swing. As one politician put it, ‘the morals of children are ten times worse than formerly.’

Those words, however, were spoken by Lord Ashley in 1823, suggesting the demonisation of youth by their elders is nothing new.

As Blair unveils a Queen’s Speech this week stuffed with measures to ‘restore respect’ the question remains: has he picked up on a genuine erosion of civilised values? Or is a Government that once entertained Noel Gallagher at Downing Street just getting old and square, as its members hit their fifties and sixties?

I feel even more nervous about the other unhelpful idea our wise Government coughed up recently — when someone’s doing community service on their own to pay their debt to society, make them wear a brightly-coloured uniform so that they’ll feel even more alienated and everyone will be able to ‘see justice being done’. Please, please, NO.

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