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Hug A Hoody

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Hug it or hate it, hoody remains a potent and divisive symbol 

In 2007, David Cameron, then the opposition leader, was visiting one of the most deprived estates in Manchester when a teenager ran up behind him and made a hand gesture to shoot him to impress his friends (more on that story). The photo of 17-year old Ryan Florence in a hoodie was reprinted on many frontpages — all the more ironic because only a year before, Cameron had made his famous speeches arguing that hoodies were “more defensive than offensive”.  “Hug A Hoody” — to use Labour’s then dismissive view — was a defining moment of his journey towards a softer liberalism.

But in the last few days, we have come very far from those heady days; we need to reexamine hoodies and their status in the ganglands. When the history of the last few days is debated, written, and analysed, understanding gangland culture will be more important than prejudicial fingering the usual suspects of unemployment, disenfranchisement, poverty, materialism, and racial tensions.

Of over a thousand people arrested, many were in their early teens and the youngest was 11. They stood for nothing; like Florence, they view hooliganism as a rite of passage, a youthful act of rebellion, a snub towards authorities. Sooner or later, most of them grow out of this phase. A handful, however, fails to reform. They becomes hardened gangmembers and anarchists who in turn recruit another generation of impressionable teens as their foot soldiers. Through promises of drugs, social acceptance and protection, they manipulate others, and this weekend, they have shown their power once again by outmanoeuvring police with their urban guerrilla tactics. Their symbol? Hoodies.

Yesterday, in a speech that echoed the sentiments towards kilts after the Jacobin Rebellion, the former Deputy PM John Prescott entertained a hoodie ban. Defensive, offensive or not, hoodies are oppressive. In Hood Rat, a haunting expose of London’s gang culture by Gavin Knight wrote, “Not everyone in a hoody is a gang member, some are just teenagers wearing hoodies, but the line is deliberately kept blurred”. In many inner-cities, teenagers feel they have to wear one for their own survival. They are terrified, trapped, intimidated by older gang members. Hoodies have such cultural power that they become their own unique kind of weapon.

 And for this reason alone, this house believes that they should be banned.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

August 11, 2011 at 7:05 am

7 Responses

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  1. You’re kidding right? I own hoodies and I’m a 34 years old and not a rioter or hardened gang member. Would you draft your law banning them specifically for a certain age group? Or just young males? Or would it be only jersey hoodies with sporting logos that are to be banned? What about waterproof nylon or polyester hoodies that sporting folks wear during rainy weather or hill walking? We’d have to make an exception for those, they have an actual purpose in keeping one dry. How about just a blanket ban on anything with a hood? May as well ban Burkas and other forms of face covering religious costume while you’re at it. Let’s throw in short-shorts on males because you might find that potentially offensive. What we should really do is have standard issue boiler suits with name tags and NI numbers for everyone as that might keep things fair. I might be 34 but I’d riot in the streets if someone dictated what I could and couldn’t wear. Stick to the iconic photos.


    August 11, 2011 at 10:38 am

    • “I might be 34 but I’d riot in the streets if someone dictated what I could and couldn’t wear.”

      No you would not. If you got anywhere near a real riot you’d reverse course and hide under your bed.


      August 11, 2011 at 6:23 pm

  2. Lighten up, Pointless…


    August 11, 2011 at 2:01 pm

  3. A few well placed rifle rounds and all this goes away. Harsh but true. And you know it.


    August 11, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    • Well, I for one would be far more likely to want to protest or riot if the government was using live ammunition against its teenagers. Do you also advocate the death penalty for traffic offences?


      August 15, 2011 at 5:56 pm

  4. Dear Comrades,

    Well, Well,….Those British Ass-Hats finally got around to Banning CLOTHES!

    Now See here you Damn Fools of Parliament: In the Colony’s (That means US) You tried to Bann All firearms and were on your way to our arsenals at Lexington and Concord when we Bushwhacked you an sent your redcoats Packin.

    Then, You Banned Guns in your own Country because you dont trust your own People….Then you Banned them again….and again…till the only thing you could own without leavin your testicles on deposit is an air-gun…then recently you went after them too….

    I remember During the Great WW2, you were so disarmed that you went Begin us to send you come guns and we did. Didnt that teach you anything?

    Now your gonna Ban Clothes….? Well, when winter comes are you gonna ask us to send you some????

    I dont give a Damn if some people wear this or that and become identified with a bad element for doing doing so. It is a matter of FREEDOM and the real reason there are so many Riots in your Country is because you have takin away the individuals right to secure his own safety! If the PEOPLE were armed and empowered in a true partnership with the government then your problems would be over.

    But NO. You just dont trust your own people! You dont even trust them to dress themselves!

    How Does that song Go?, “The English, Never-Never-Never will…Be…Slaves!”
    BAH! Your nothin BUT a Bunch O” BLOODY SLAVES!

    Still, since we Bailed you out O’ two World Wars an Pulled your Chestnuts out of the Oven a dozen more times, I feel that at least you deserve a good kick in the Co-Honnes for even thinkin about Bannin what some people wear!

    I may be X times the age of that young Feller giving the Ol’ Freedom Salute but I Join him in spirit an remind everyone that these kids are who we fought the wars for an if were ever goin to reach them we gotta do it on STREET LEVEL…not from some high-Chair in some asinine Parliament!

    Your Obt. Svt.
    Col. Korn,
    Chirf O’ Mayhem in the Great WW-2,
    Now Chief O’ Sanitation an Security (An the Complaint Dept.)
    OXOjamm Studios.

    Col. Korn

    August 15, 2011 at 9:54 pm

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