I was clapping and cheering when I heard that Tony Blair was committed to restoring a â€˜sense of mutual respect‘ to our society. The African in me felt affirmed because Tony Blair was finally saying what my father had been saying for ages, people in this country have no respect. Oh, but my joy was short lived. What had initially started out as a noble campaign has began to resemble an attack on the working classes. Littered with heteronormative buzz words, this new Labour policy does not do what it says on the tin. Instead it seems to be intent on creating a culture of fear and mistrust which will only serve to isolate the very people who for so long have been disrespected.
One minute we are discussing anti-social behaviour the next minute we are being told to join in the fight against â€˜yob cultureâ€™. I never had doubts that the term yob was always used to refer to white working class men who engage in unruly behaviour. The televised news however has ensured that for good measure they will accompany every â€˜Yob Culture: Special Featureâ€™ with footage of young white men, apparently intoxicated and behaving badly against a backdrop of council houses. This is the same tactic they employ when the place the banner â€˜inner city violenceâ€™ or â€˜urban youthâ€™ at the bottom of an image of young black men. What bothers me is that they are trying to convince us that these young white boys have a monopoly on bad behaviour. There are appears to be no mention of Euan Blair, Tom Parker Bowles, Prince Harry and all those who are non-working class types known for being high and misbehaving in public.
Apparently we shouldnâ€™t blame the yobs though. It is not their fault. It is the breakdown of the family that has caused all this. This line of argument always scares me. Family in this context is always taken to mean an exclusive relationship between one man and one woman for the purpose of procreation. Anyone who attempts to live a lifestyle that differs from this is seen to be responsible for the breakdown of the family. Most of the blame is dumped on those who are raising children in these â€˜unconventional familiesâ€™.
Needless to say, the bulk of the backlash is usually reserved for single parent families, especially single mothers. All these immoral women who are sleeping around and spawning off male children need to be stopped. They are not able to raise real men. Instead they are producing boys who, unsure of their masculinity, take to mugging old ladies so as to feel all macho. What nonsense. Let us not even start on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people who want to birth and raise children.
There is no doubt that this country needs to do something about peopleâ€™s behaviour. The binge-drinking, the lad/laddette culture, the racism, the hooliganism, the homophobia all these things and more need to be addressed. I just feel that segregating one group of people and naming them as the only trouble makers does not help anyone.
These young people, who already feel as though society ignores them, will continue to find ways to be seen and heard. The bigots will feel that they have been given a platform to spread their views and so they cycle shall continue.