No shooting events in front of the kids

Boris wants to stop yoof from watching Olympic shooting events because of their gun-glorifying effect. Is he joking?

Tim Black

Tim Black

Topics World

Here’s something to ponder: shooting sports such as the ‘25-metre rapid-fire pistol’ event have been contested at the modern summer Olympics since the inaugural games of 1896. Now, bearing that factoid in mind, is it ‘just a coincidence’ that 18 years later the First World War broke out? Are we to believe that it is ‘just a coincidence’ that on the eve of the most wilfully bloody century in human history, a few men were taking part in… wait for it… shooting competitions?

If you’re looking for anyone outside of Broadmoor to answer those questions with ‘No, it is not a coincidence – shooting competitions do lead to mass slaughter’, may I suggest you send a quick email to Because if it is propagators of some of the dumbest monkey-see, monkey-do determinism you’re after then the London mayor’s office is seemingly packed to the glass-fronted rafters with them.

Don’t believe me? Well take a gander at the mayoral decision, presumably approved by mayor Boris Johnson himself, to stop 125,000 young people, as part of the subsidised ‘Ticketshare’ scheme, from accessing tickets for the Olympic shooting events. ‘We decided it would not be appropriate’, an understandably ‘anonymous’ official said. Danny Bryan, founder of Communities Against Gun and Knife Crime, was all too eager to concur: ‘I agree with Boris. It is good kids should enjoy the Games but there’s no way we should glorify guns.’

The unstated reasoning is that should British youth catch sight of the ‘100-metre running deer single shot’ or, perish the thought, the ‘skeet’, they will be inspired by the Praise-Be-To-Guns spectacle to take up arms themselves. This doesn’t mean these youngsters would take up the specific discipline in question. No, they will feel, having witnessed, for instance, the world’s best ‘trap’ shooters, that it is really, really cool to shoot people.

What’s especially absurd about this train of thought is that if Bojo’s bozos are to be consistent then they might as well stop kids from watching a whole heap of other events, too.

Take fencing for example. As a spectacle, it ought to be particularly concerning for the youth demonisers down at City Hall. Two men, poncing around and prodding away while the crowd cheers… if that’s not giving a big thumbs-up to sword fighting, then I don’t know what is. Forget the so-called epidemic of knife crime, the authorities ought to be terrified by the prospect of the likes of the Shadwell Massive, the Pembury Boyz or even the Chiswick Chickens haring across the capital, their épée in one hand, a bag full of Footlocker goodies in the other.

And what about boxing? It doesn’t just ‘glorify’ pummelling and rough nuzzling, it does something no other sport does: it legitimises massive shiny shorts. Half-an-hour watching such a display of semi-naked machismo, and before you can say ‘Queensbury rules, boys’, the nation’s youth will surely think it perfectly acceptable to beat the proverbial out of one another wearing nothing but oversize, metallic-effect bermudas.

Someone should probably also email the mayor’s office about the track events. It seems to have escaped their attention that each race is started by an official firing a pistol into the air. It will only take a few of these staggeringly impressionable kids to witness this shameless display of gun worship and, before you know it, Britain’s towns and cities will be covered in dead birds.

To use language Boris would understand, this is all poppycock, of course. Yet just as fencing could no more be the cause of some sword-fighting craze among the nation’s youth, so shooting events are neither causally nor even tangentially related to gun crime. To think they are is to reduce social phenomena to some simple-minded theory in which people respond automaton-like to external stimuli, in this case, er, Olympic rifle events. This just makes it even more remarkable that those running London choose to subscribe to such logic. Either Boris is enjoying one of his infamous japes or those drawing up policies in the capital really do combine an incredible lack of nous with naked contempt for the minds of the young.

Do you know who I pity the most in all this? The scriptwriters of the BBC’s London Olympics satire Twenty Twelve. Boris’s aptitude for self-satire could put them out of a job very soon.

Tim Black is senior writer at spiked.

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Topics World


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