Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Barbarians in the Gates

I came across an interesting, and ultimately sad, article. I spend the vast majority of my time trying to figure out how to attract folks to our place of business (the church). I never thought of Bach, the "Fifth Evangelist", in this context. It's a crazy mixed-up world we live in.

Theodore Dalrymple
When Hooligans Bach Down
Strike up Johann Sebastian and watch them scatter.
29 January 2009

Staying recently in a South Yorkshire town called Rotherham—described in one guidebook as “murky,” an inadequate word for the place—I was interested to read in the local newspaper how the proprietors of some stores are preventing hooligans from gathering outside to intimidate and rob customers. They play Bach over loudspeakers, and this disperses the youths in short order; they flee the way Count Dracula fled before holy water, garlic flowers, and crucifixes. The proprietors had previously tried a high-pitched noise generator whose mosquito-like whine only those younger than 20 could detect. This method, too, proved effective, but the owners abandoned it out of fear that it might damage the youths’ hearing and infringe upon their human rights, leading to claims for compensation.

There is surely something deeply emblematic about the use of one of the great glories of Western civilization, the music of Bach, to prevent the young inheritors of that civilization from committing crimes. The barbarians are well and truly within the gates. However, in these dark times it is best to look on the bright side. Our prime minister, Gordon Brown, has told us that we must expect crime to rise along with unemployment (which has already reached more than 13 percent of the labor force, if one takes into account those whom the government dishonestly counts as sick). If proprietors all over the country follow Rotherham’s lead, therefore, we may hear much more Bach, and less rock music, than we did previously. Hegel was right when he said that the owl of Minerva flies by night....

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