And now, in other news….

The New York Times

May 27, 2005

British Medical Experts Campaign for Long, Pointy Knife Control

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

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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