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Britain’s Yob Problem

I’ve just returned from a couple of weeks of shepherding a group of 27--mostly college students--around Great Britain. Having spent some time watching television news there, I can only say that I was surprised by how weak it was. Whether it be the BBC or SkyNews, there was no meaningful coverage of foreign events. There was a great deal of talk about American billionaire Malcolm Glazer’s acquisition of Manchester United (was that even a story here?), and talk about the opening of Parliament (we got to watch the procession of the Queen back from Westminster). George Galloway’s performance before Norm Coleman’s Senate subcommittee briefly made news, but faded almost immediately from public notice.

The biggest news story--one that the networks went back to again and again--involved "yobs." Apparently the term derives from the word "boy" spelled backwards, but according to the American Heritage dictionary a yob is "a rowdy, aggressive, or violent young man." They are, it seems, so much of a problem that many shopping centers have passed rules against the wearing of the hooded sweatshirts ("hoodies") that have become so important to "yob culture" (another term that popped up again and again). A representative of Scotland Yard characterized them as "feral gangs" prowling the streets of English cities, menacing the innocent locals. Tony Blair wants to dedicate his third and final term as PM to dealing with the threat of the yobbos.

The strange part is that, from what I could see, the yob phenomenon is being tremendously blown out of proportion. Youth crime in Britain has actually dropped quite a bit in the past ten years--by something between 25 and 30 percent. But a few headline-grabbing stories from the past few weeks, including the tragic episode of a father of four who was beaten nearly to death by a gang of yobbos, have served to create something bordering on a sense of panic.

Discussions - 5 Comments

Actually, yob was originally an acronym: Youth On Benefit. It is slang for the agressive, antisocial, particuarly male member of the underclass who is "signed on" to the dole, and dedicates his considerable free time to drinking, petty crime, sports betting, domestic abuse, etc.

The Uk’s growing and scary crime problem is hugely under-reported because Labor cooks the books. (There was an article on this some years ago in NR). The real reason for this new crusade against yobs is that they are a classically white stereotype, thus a group hand wringing Labor MP’s can still declare a "crusade" against. No one is allowed to discuss the crime brought into London in particular by open, unrestricted, and lawless immigration. When the Tories dared to even raise the immigration issue in their pathetic campaign last month, he was called a racist. Immigrant crime? Muslim intimidation in neighbourhoods like Finsbury Park? Forget it, not going to be reported, not going to be discussed. All of these fears and resentments will instead be put into a crusade against the only hooligan one is still allowed to denounce.

What is this Manchester United you speak of?

Thanks for the clarification on the origins of the term--nobody in Britain whom I asked could give me an answer, and what I posted above came from the American Heritage dictionary.

To answer Browns Fan, they call Manchester United a "football team," but to me it looks like a bunch of sissies chasing around a beach ball.

Do you have any source for that etymology of "yob," ’Used to live there’??

My Cockney roommate was the first person I heard it from, and he was an authority - he’d tell you. I do recall reading it as well, but it was 1996, and I could not tell you where I read it. I read the Times of London and the NME, so it could have been one of those two places. Can I give you a dictionary cite - no - but I heard that it was an acronym more than once.

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