I have posted a couple of items from Wes Siler of the Gizmodo-spinoff blog Indefinitely Wild in the past. (here, here). A number of you came across this an forwarded it on, so I thought that it was worth putting up for the weekend perusal of those who might have missed it.
In the article Why Switchblades are Banned, Wes traces the intersection of hoplophobia and racism, with a healthy dose of media-sensationalized pearl-clutching.
From Indefinitely Wild:
During the early ‘50s, the white middle class became obsessed with the alleged danger posed by gangs of ethnic minorities allegedly roving America’s cities. That’s one reason for suburbia and the hysteria is what led to the Switchblade Knife Act, as well as the bans by individual states.
Urban street violence was the 1950’s version of The War On Christmas. Look over here while we develop the military-industrial complex! And the switchblade was sexy. What began with “The Toy That Kills” led to a raft of newspaper and tabloid stories, all vilifying the switchblade, then Hollywood got in on the act with Rebel Without A Cause, Crime In The Streets, 12 Angry Men, The Delinquents, High School Confidential, etc, of course culminating with the smash hit broadway musical, West Side Story. That debuted in 1957. It’s no coincidence that the federal Switchblade Knife Act was passed the next year.
The article goes into great historical detail, much of it previously covered here at TTAK, but there is a lot of information that is likely new to many of you as well.
Read the whole thing.