Skip to comments.When Hooligans Bach Down: Strike up Johann Sebastian and watch them scatter
Posted on 01/30/2009 4:35:24 PM PST by mojito
Staying recently in a South Yorkshire town called Rotherhamdescribed in one guidebook as murky, an inadequate word for the placeI 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 Rotherhams 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.
The Rotherham example, incidentally, bears out a story told by the great Belgian Sinologist, Simon Leys, in his recent book of exquisite short essays, Le bonheur des petits poissons. Leys was sitting in a café where other customers were chatting, playing cards, or having a drink. The radio was on, tuned to a station that relayed idle chatter and banal popular music (you are lucky these days if popular music is banal only). But suddenly, and for no apparent reason, it played the first movement of Mozarts clarinet quintet, transforming the café into what Leys called the antechamber of paradise. The customers stopped what they were doing, as if startled. Then one of them stood up, went over to the radio, and tuned it to another station, restoring the idle chatter and banal music. There was general relief, as if everyone felt that the beauty and refinement of Mozart were a reproach to their lives to which they could respond only by suppressing Mozart.
I sympathize with the criminal youths of Rotherham for reacting to Bach in a similar way. Any other response would be too unbearably painful for them. Rotherham boasts a lot of fine early nineteenth-century architecture (and even a very fine fifteenth-century church), but everything has been overwhelmed, dwarfed, and ruined by highways and brutalist concrete buildings of surreal hideousness, many of them municipal and all of them erected with municipal consent. If the powerful do not care about the world, why should the powerless?
Interestingly, research has shown Beethoven has had the opposite effect...
You would be surprised at how fast Bluegrass music sends some people on the run.
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This has been tried in several European towns, and it actually does work. Put some classical music on outside speakers, and all the hoodlums, drug dealers, homeless bums and adolescent punks crawl to some other place immediately.
City council does this in Rotorua, and in Waitakere City, where I live.
Give’em a little Ludwig Von!
Prelude and Fugue for Yutes? Anyway it could be worse-consider what Slim Whitman does to Martians.
Wow. Interesting concept. I’ll have to stash this for future reference.
To be an inheritor, don't you have to accept the inheritance?
Bach as pest-repellent -- he must be spinning in his grave. *\8^(
Yes, bluegrass works very well. Mexicans in particular hate it.
Classical, new age, and soft jazz will all deter thugs. Rap and heavy metal will attract them. Decent people are attracted by music that thugs hate and repelled by music thugs like. A businessman can select his clientele by the music he plays.
I tend to prefer it when businesses play no music at all, however.
I feel sorry for the empty souls that find great music intolerable.
I’ve heard this works on “urban yutes” if you play classical or C&W.
Then Bach to Bach!
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Real horrorshow post, droog!