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September 26, 2022

Oort Cloud Oddities: British Sporks

By Alexandra Queen

The rush is on to childproof the entire world, and this time, the British medical industry is leading the way. In a June first news story, the AP reported that three emergency-room doctors from London's West Middlesex University Hospital have asked for the government to ban sharp knives.

Guns, points out the article, are difficult to obtain in Britain. So the most common murder weapon in Jolly Old England is the humble knife.

In an editorial in the British Medical Journal entitled, "Reducing Knife Crime", Emma Hern, Will Glazebrook and Mike Beckett say that sharp knives are dangerous and, because people haven't used the sharp points on knives to spear their food since forks became available in the 18th century, the three doctors say sharp, pointy knives are simply unnecessary.

Hern, Glazebrook and Beckett took it under their own initiative to interview ten chefs. Some of the chefs said, according to the article, "that a point is useful in the fine preparation of some meat and vegetables," but, obviously missing a true calling in investigative journalism, the doctors pressed the point, revealing (and I quote), "None gave a reason why the long pointed knife was essential."

The response of the British people has been overwhelming. Overwhelmingly funny, at least. The article comments on the British Medical Journal website have read like open mic night at the local comedy club.

Some people have called for bans on forks, frying pans, rolling pins and skewers. Others have pointed out that long pointy knives aren't essential for those who only need kitchen tools to poke holes in the top of a microwave dinner, but they would like to see someone try to carve poultry or a joint of lamb without one.

My favorite response was from a Yale student who pointed out that we have four thousand years of human history documenting "the horror" that knives inflict. Since forks also have the potential for harm, Saif Rathore recommended that the British Medical Association move quickly to adopt a "pro-spork platform".

Another medical student, May Wung, was not very entertaining but made the most sensible point when she wrote that the article "concludes that 'many assaults are impulsive, often triggered by alcohol or misuse of other drugs...' Then perhaps it would have a greater effect on prevention by tackling alcohol misuse and drug abuse, rather than banning a very useful kitchen utensil."

Alas, despite the number of people who see this as a (to put it politely) laughable suggestion, the British government has actually taken it seriously. And while I have to agree with the members of the Internet community who have been suggesting that it sounds like a better idea to impose a ban on sharp scalpels, there are actually movements being taken in British legislature to restrict the purchase of pointy kitchen knives.

Cars kill people, too. Shouldn't we get rid of them? What about small objects less than two inches in diameter? Those are choking hazards! Stairs cause nasty falls. People have been known to drown in toilets. Get rid of all of them! Put people in padded rooms. Small ones so they don't have enough room to get up enough speed to hurt themselves on the walls. No, wait, that would require building tools! Curse the danger!

What, you only want to ban things that are involved in homicides? What about spouses? A large percentage of murder victims are killed by their husband and/or wife. Ban marriage! A huge percentage of the problem in Britain is juvenile offenders. Don't just ban sixteen year olds from owning knives, ban the sixteen year olds!

The writing has appeared on the wall, I'm afraid. Next thing you know, the pro-spork lobbyists are going to start appearing on our shores. And while our Constitutional framers specified that Americans should always have the right to bear guns, they didn't say a single word about the right to bear kitchen knives. What a lack of foresight.

Fortunately, while citizens in the UK are being sent to jail for running with scissors and trimming their hedges with de-horned goats, Americans at least will never be entirely reduced to a menu of soups and jello. I'll be blaming James Madison and the British Medical Association when I have to cut my pot roast with a butter knife. But I'll be thanking Charleton Heston and the NRA when I can whip out my semi-automatic and blow my beef into bite-sized chunks.

Comments and blunt objects to Alex.Queen@gmail.com.

This article first appeared in the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin.

Article © Alexandra Queen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2005-06-27
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