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May 15, 2005

Happy Slapping

The most alarming programme on British TV this week was an ITV report on the happy slapping craze. Moronic teenage thugs apparently find it amusing to slap complete strangers around the face while recording the incident on their video phones. In the worst cases it goes beyond slapping to punches and kicks, or even - in one case - setting a sleeping drunk alight.

I found a couple of goodish press reports on the subject, one here in a Scottish newspaper, and one in the Observer. As always, it is difficult to tell how far this is a real phenomenon and how far a media panic, of the kind that has recurred periodically since the 'Mohawk' craze of 18th century London.

Another issue that the two newspaper articles are conspicuously silent about is the ethnic aspect. In the ITV report most of the assaults seemed to be by blacks on whites. On the other hand, some of the culprits were certainly white, and in the setting-on-fire case the two culprits (now serving an inadequate 6-year sentence) were both white. I suspect that this is another case (like crack, gangsta rap, and 'hoodies') where a fashion has started among young blacks and spread throughout the underclass of feral teenage scum (if you'll excuse a non-value-neutral expression).

Posted by David B at 06:52 AM