Mark Steel: Flogging is too good for them

Share
Related Topics

People who love to scream about stern discipline and National Service are having a fantastic time in post-riot Britain. My favourite was a man on a Radio 5 phone-in, who ended his rant by yelling, "I TELL you how little discipline there is. My son gets homework and he's allowed to do it ON HIS COMPUTER. We need to GET BACK to PENCIL and PAPER!" And you felt that if you suggested 'What about pen and paper?' he'd shriek "NO! NOT PEN, YOU BLOODY LIBERAL. PENCIL! They have to SHARPEN pencils, it teaches them DISCIPLINE!"

I was hoping someone would ring in and say, "That bloke with his pencil is TOO SOFT. We need to get back to PAPYRUS, like they had in ancient Sumeria. Or PAINTING their homework on walls of CAVES. You didn't get STONE AGE MAN breaking into Foot Locker DID YOU?"

This was followed by someone explaining that his generation was brought up in the Seventies and were poor but didn't riot, which suggests he didn't keep all that close an eye on the news. And all week we've heard how, "We'd get a good hiding and it did us good," and, "If we were cheeky, the headmaster would march us to Reggie Kray who'd smear zebra fat over us and make us run through Bethnal Green chased by a pride of lions and it taught us RESPECT."

There's the call to evict families if one of their kids has been arrested, because once they're all homeless they'll be much less likely to steal things, won't they. On one phone-in a caller yelled, "These parents don't pay any attention to their own kids." So the presenter asked what age the caller's son was and he said, "Either seven or eight, I think."

And when they're in full flow about the need to whip and birch and drown, if someone says: "Well if I can just point out", that's as far as they get before being interrupted with, "How can you condone this looting and burning you sick, liberal bleeding-heart do-gooder with your, 'Well if I can just point out', how DARE you?"

Some newspapers have taken to connecting every story to the riots, such as the soldier killed in Afghanistan who was a "hero who shamed the riot yobs". Tomorrow a headline will say, "Riot yob Gaddafi fires on RAF jet", with a story that our pilots bombarded a retail park to stop him breaking into the Tripoli branch of Currys and making off with a plasma TV.

But little of this is actually in response to the disturbances. The callers, the Conservatives, the newspapers calling for crackdowns and good hidings have thought that all along.

What has changed is that the embittered snarling that was once confined to pub corners and fuming blogs now stands a chance of becoming government policy. Irrational screaming has become legitimate, and it's in this context we should see David Starkey.

The riots were caused, apparently, by black culture, and we can get round the fact some rioters were white by saying they'd turned black, and get round the fact most black people don't riot by saying they've turned white. You could use that logic to prove that being Welsh causes boats to capsize, or that everything alive is a penguin. Take away the title historian, and he's one more purveyor of loud incoherent gibberish.

Despite this, the call to bring back National Service might work, if it applied to all thieves and criminals and not just the looters. It would even be worth putting on live television, so we could see a sergeant barking, "You there, you weren't this slow to fiddle your expenses, you right horrible honourable member, now MARCH. And you, YOU'RE used to bonuses, well give me 60 press-ups then you get the bonus of shining my shoes. And YOU, instead of poncing about hacking phones I want five laps then you can write 10,000 words on why you're a useless little toerag. NOT on the computer, with a PENCIL and PAPER."



React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash the two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in new political order

Michael Ashcroft
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before