Friday, September 01, 2006

Blair: the Madness Hypothesis

I was going to blog on this but Gordon beat me to it, sending in this remark:
"Here's one for you Bryan: Tony Blair has had the temerity to suggest that children growing up in, say, single-parent families, or families suffering from drug and alcohol problems, may have a disposition to criminal activity. Here. According to this report from the BBC News website, Anastasia de Waal, head of the 'family and education unit' at 'think' tank Civitas, said: "It is teetering on genetic determinism this kind of saying that before children are even born they are labelled as problematic." Which, of course, is exactly the opposite of what Tony Blair was suggesting! In terms of the nature/nuture debate, Tony Blair was suggesting that nurture, the environment people grow up in, makes people predisposed to certain types of behaviour. This is the opposite of genetic determinism! It would be funny, if it wasn't so tragic."
Well, quite, Gordon. Ms de Waal plainly has problems with elementary scientific concepts. But there are many confusions here, are there not? Blair's apparent environmental determinism is being pursued in an insanely personal way. Surely, it is the job of the politician to do what he/she can about the environment, not to dive in and sort out individual families on the basis that their children look like hoodlums in waiting. Imagine what would happen if he started to conduct the "war on terror" that way.
Of course, it doesn't matter because the actual implementation - never mind, success - rate of Blair "initiatives" is close to zero. They are only ever mood music. But I do think that the idea of intervening prenatally to prevent crime throws petrol on the flames of the Blair Madness hypothesis. He had a post-holiday tan when he talked about it on television, but there was definitely something crazed about the mouth and eyes.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps Blair might intervene in curbing the tabloid culture of consciousness defiling rubbish that ensures millions of people become so much less than they really are, rather than pussy-footing around with red herrings, designed to increase State(and what/who is this State I wonder) control over individual rights. It's very easy to dress up in fine language any actions, but I think the words of Aldous Huxley are appropriate here: "A democracy is a society dedicated to the proposition that power is often abused and should therefore be entrusted to officials only in limited amounts."