[Paleopsych] NYT: British Medical Experts Campaign for Long, Pointy Knife Control

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Mon May 30 22:13:11 UTC 2005

British Medical Experts Campaign for Long, Pointy Knife Control
[Switch blades have long been illegal in New York State, so precedents for 
knife control in this country are already in place.]


    Warning: Long, pointy knives may be hazardous to your health.

    The authors of an editorial in the latest issue of the British Medical
    Journal have called for knife reform. The editorial, "Reducing knife
    crime: We need to ban the sale of long, pointed kitchen knives," notes
    that the knives are being used to stab people as well as roasts and
    the odd tin of Spam.

    The authors of the essay - Drs. Emma Hern, Will Glazebrook and Mike
    Beckett of the West Middlesex University Hospital in London - called
    for laws requiring knife manufacturers to redesign their wares with
    rounded, blunt tips.

    The researchers noted that the rate of violent crime in Britain rose
    nearly 18 percent from 2003 to 2004, and that in the first two weeks
    of 2005, 15 killings and 16 nonfatal attacks involved stabbings. In an
    unusual move for a scholarly work, the researchers cited a January
    headline from The Daily Express, a London tabloid: "Britain is in the
    grip of knives terror - third of murder victims are now stabbed to
    death." Dr. Hern said that "we came up with the idea and tossed it
    into the pot" to get people talking about crime reduction. "Whether
    it's a sensible solution to this problem or not, I'm not sure."

    In the United States, where people are more likely to debate gun
    control than knife control, partisans on both sides sounded amused.
    Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle
    Association, asked, "Are they going to have everybody using plastic
    knives and forks and spoons in their own homes, like they do in

    Peter Hamm, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun
    Violence, which supports gun control, joked, "Can sharp stick control
    be far behind?" He said people in his movement were "envious" of
    England for having such problems. "In America, we can't even come to
    an agreement that guns are dangerous and we should make them safer,"
    he said.

    The authors of the editorial argued that the pointed tip is a
    vestigial feature from less mannered ages, when people used it to
    spear meat. They said that they interviewed 10 chefs in England, and
    that "none gave a reason why the long, pointed knife was essential,"
    though short, pointed knives were useful.

    An American chef, however, disagreed with the proposal. "This is yet
    another sign of the coming apocalypse," said Anthony Bourdain, the
    executive chef at Les Halles and the author of "Kitchen Confidential."

    A knife, he said, is a beloved tool of the trade, and not a thing to
    be shaped by bureaucrats. A chef's relationship with his knives
    develops over decades of training and work, he said, adding, "Its
    weight, its shape - these are all extensions of our arms, and in many
    ways, our personalities."

    He compared the editorial to efforts to ban unpasteurized cheese.
    "Where there is no risk," he said, "there is no pleasure."

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