Both 50 Cent and Paul Dacre corrupt the youth

3:57 pm - July 7th 2008

by Dave Osler    

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Other than being the Big Swinging Dicks in their very different respective ‘hoods, there might at first sight appear to be little in common between a rap superstar and the editor of the Daily Mail.

But following on from a comment in a Shakilus Townsend post I wrote on my blog, I am rather taken with a possible parallel between 50 Cent (pictured) and Paul Dacre, namely the role they wittingly or otherwise play in popularising ‘knife culture’.

Fiddy, of course, routinely glorifies violence for commercial reasons, because that’s what sells records. For his part, Dacre regularly ramps up the reportage of the latest moral panic, becauses that’s what sells newspapers.

And as a commenter using the name Asquith points out:

I think the media’s relentless focus on ‘knife crime’ is having a terrible effect, because it sends a message that carrying knives is cool and street and will piss off the Daily Mail, your parents, teachers, and twats of that variety. A vicious circle.

This point inevitably puts me in mind of my own youth, especially the media furore that surrounded a Sex Pistols’ interview on London Weekend Television back in 1976. Several of the band used four-letter words.

The resultant outrage was spectacular. Before the incident, the Pistols – yet to release their first single – were unknown to those who did not read New Musical Express. Thanks to front page coverage across the tabloid press – ‘Must we throw this filth at our pop kids?’, the Daily Mirror famously wondered – they became the most controversial group in the country. The more the press urged teenagers to hate them, the deeper a generation fell in love.

Of course, both rappers and newspaper bosses will insist that they reflect social conditions and do not create them. Moreover, both popular song and popular journalism have treated crime as suitable subject matter for centuries, so there are traditions at stake.

As an ex-punk, I would never join the array of politicians – from Tipper Gore to David Cameron – that argue for the censorship of music deliberately designed to shock parents. Such a step would only be counterproductive, anyway.

But just maybe one practical means of defusing some of the tension that really exists on the capital’s streets right now would be to keep the reporting straightforward and the four page spreads to a minimum.

BBC – Is knife crime as common as we think?
Septicisle – Even more thoughts on knife crime and the Sun

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About the author
Dave Osler is a regular contributor. He is a British journalist and author, ex-punk and ex-Trot. Also at: Dave's Part
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Crime ,Economy ,Media

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Reader comments


Another old chestnut – to what extent does culture inform or reflect politics (*and vice versa)?

I suggest the answer lies in the false definition of the question. The transition from youth to maturity is the process by which innocence is corrupted – so how you describe the nature of the paradox is a statement of self-description above anything else.

2. Michael Clarke

Isn’t it funny that the Daily Mail is so concerned that sex sells when its own founder admitted that it makes its money by selling hate. Don’t get me wrong, a culture where sex sells can be very bad for women in many ways. However, I think its easy to conclude that out of the two, a culture where hate sells is far more dangerous than a culture where sex sells.

If i ever meet Paul Dacre, I would have one question for him: how can the Daily Mail be outraged by youths murdering other youths when it has spent the last decade breeding hate, contempt and fear against those very youths.

If i ever meet Paul Dacre, I would have one question for him: how can the Daily Mail be outraged by youths murdering other youths when it has spent the last decade breeding hate, contempt and fear against those very youths.

Spot on.

4. Rob Knight

This is certainly no surprise to anyone familiar with the concept of ‘social proof‘ – the more that the media tells kids that ‘everyone’ has knives – and I’ve seen plenty of well-meaning media morons parrot this line over the last few months – the more likely they are to think that ‘well, if everyone is doing it, I don’t want to be the only one who isn’t…’. And kids are uniquely vulnerable to this, because they don’t have enough experience and sense of self to defy what must look, to them, like unstoppable social trends.

All of this pathetic politics while another young man has died today.

A blog worth its salt as a moral and political force would be arguing today for a black leader in City Hall with the mutual backing of all 3 parties, to fill the vacuum left by the departures of Jasper and Lewis and get a grip on the situation.

Instead it’s party politics as usual, and you lot having YET another wank about the Daily Mail.


More of concern than whether teenagers etc are carrying knives to strike out at the Daily Mail is whether youths are being influenced to carry them precisely because of the media coverage which suggests that so many are carrying them.

Incidentally, there’s another excellent post by Mark Easton here:

disputing the IoS figures which were publicised yesterday. I don’t think anyone is disputing that there is a serious, potentially intractable problem in parts of London, but to suggest it’s country-wide is simply not backed up by the facts at the moment.

@5 you waste your breath and by the terms of your prescription it would be an empty gesture. As for the rest, look in the mirror, friend.

Ah, the Sex Pistols. Whenever I think how much worse the world is becoming that’s the first counter-argument I think of – a bunch of mad Christians and local politicians stopped me from seeing them but I can see them now. Of course it costs 10 times as much and I’m far more likely to be stabbed on my way home. but still…

“I’m far more likely to be stabbed on my way home”

As the BBC piece linked above highlights, no you aren’t.

Re: BBC on knife crime – that’s reported knife crime.
My girlfriend has 3 flatmates, they’ve been mugged 4 times in the last year between them. I realise that’s no survey but I wouldn’t trust Home Office (BCS) statistics any further than I could happily throw them.

BCS isn’t reported crime, it’s survey-based and nobody serious questions its methodology. It only applies to over-18s, but I’m assuming your girlfriend and her flatmates fall into that category.

…thus proving the point in my article linked above, about The People having massively exaggerated fear of crime because they don’t understand that anecdotes are worthless and statistics are vital [ha ha…].

Stabbed victims tell no tales (not sure which smiley would be appropriate here!)
More muddifying anecdotallage: I actually saw far more violence in my youth in Sheffield than I’ve seen in London, and I never saw any in notorious Nottingham.
Maybe it’s the places I go – and not living in Brixton like my girlfriend.

Hmm. “Partisan think-tank claims, without evidence, that police claim, without evidence, that knife crime is getting worse” might be a more accurate summary of the above.

“Policy Exchange is an independent think tank whose mission is to develop and promote new policy ideas which will foster a free society based on strong communities, personal freedom, limited government, national self-confidence and an enterprise culture.”
Sound like Tories to me.

Quite. So “social authoritarians with a dislike of the current government claim, without evidence, that social authoritarians whose funding goes up if crime goes up claim, without evidence, that knife crime is getting worse”, then.

In JULY 2001 the Daily Mail newspaper published the FRONTPAGE headline as follows:-


Since July 2001, the Daily Mail has used “Knife” ‘dysphemism’ headlines on over 100 occasions.

Whenever they print such a headline, there is always guaranteed to be at least one murder, which is then reported a few days later. When I wrote to Paul Dacre about this in 2001, he responded by using “Knives come out” or “Knives are out” at least once a week for about 6 weeks.

The expression “Knives are out” printed as a headline is a catalytic trigger to mentally unstable people with a predisposition to kill with knives, there’s no doubt about it.

So when will the Daily Mail stop doing this? Other papers have done similar things. Recently, the Sun printed “MPs queue up to knife Brown” on page 2 of their paper. That afternoon a man was killed in Oxford Street in broad daylight.

There is a massive connection, because I have interviewed someone who threatened shop staff with a knife (in 2006) and she says she felt compelled to do it after reading one of these “Knives are out” headlines!

I don’t know whether Peter D’s comment is earnestly barking or an absolutely superb satire on the media’s use of statistics, but either way I love it.

I am utterly determined that this paper stops printing knife dysphemisms. This guy can’t be allowed to get away with this. I have submitted some of my information to the police, I have attempted to spend £1,850 of my own money publishing an open letter (printed as an ‘ad’) in The Times to ask Mr. Dacre to respond to me about my concerns for his apparent knife headline obsession, and the result was a helpful call from the Managing Editor of the Times at 8.30pm at night, advising that the ad had been pulled after a call from the Management of the Daily Mail. I was further advised me that Paul Dacre, Chief Editor of the Daily Mail would telephone me. He did not, he got his deputy to call me, who proceeded to defend his newspaper as best he could! I personally feel the newspaper group cannot continue with this guy in his job. The late Sir David English, the predecessor editor, NEVER printed Knife dysphemisms/cacophemisms (when I read the paper as a young boy about 15) and I did not SOMETIMES DAILY have to put up with another miserable report of murder in the newspaper or other media news source. Knife culture cannot be allowed to continue, when the fuck will people start to listen to me?

May I further add..

If Paul Dacre cannot be sacked, then perhaps the newspaper should be shut down.

Other newspaper editors like Richard Wallace of the Daily Mirror and Rebekah Wade of the Sun should take care that their own newspapers do not use knife dysphemisms or cacophemisms too.

But at least they did not print such headlines in an obsessive continuous manner.

What kind of a “family newspaper” prints a headline like “Who who wield the knife?” as a double page spread in the first few pages of its’ contents ?

What kind of a “family newspaper” prints a headline like “Knives are being sharpened” with reference to City news, or on another occasion, also in City knives, “Barlcays’ Knives”.

Did you know after the latest “Knives are out” headline just a few months ago, in the Daily Mail – although it was printed as a smaller headline, 8 people were stabbed to death in one day, just a fwe days later.

Since which time the “knife” headline has been used further times.

Why is Mr. Dacre obsessed with using these knife headlines? Obsessed with scaring the nation with Knife culture related headlines like “The Spectre of the Knife”. What the Hell has this man been doing?

I do not wish anybody to be murdered or attacked with a knife. I do not wish to be personally murdered or attacked. I have a business to run called “”

Only two days ago, I had to act quickly to stop a knife incident outside my house late in the evening, where somebody was trying to make a film of stabbing someone so that they could upload their “first” recording of their attack onto an internet site – for viewing and downloading. How disgusted do I feel !

This is serious as hell.

Peter Dew.

Sorry I had to post again a final post – I apologise for swearing in my last post but one, this is of course not directed at any internet viewers of the site, and I really apologise for swearing, but I do hope people will start to take note of my comments, because it’s like I’ve been a one-man campaigner for the last 7 years. Let’s just hope that all violence starts to be regarded as a very uncool thing to do, and all gleaming headlines like another I’ll quote “No.10 Knives Are Out For Poisonous Brown Ally” are I believe very dangerous, and sick people see these headlines as a catalyst to commit murder. And furthermore I believe it’s happend time after time after time during the last 7 years (since July 2001). I’m really upset by the whole disgusting business.

Man yall crackaz need to stop finding someone to blame and take the fuckin responsibility to blame your fuckin self. don’t blame 50 cent because you let your kidslisten to your music and yall crackaz did the same thing with 2pac and now he’s dead. Is that what yall want? 50 cent dead? and now he got more than most of yall crackaz.

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