‘Carnage’ at the War Memorial
Philip Laing, the 19 year old student from Sheffield Hallam University has become the latest focus for the media. Recently photographed urinating upon a poppy wreath at a Second World War Memorial, Laing has attracted an enormous amount of negative attention. Although, Laing claims he was drunk at the time, and remembers nothing of the events of that evening, he did make ‘a full and complete admission’ when confronted by the photographic evidence. Upon appearing in court this week the teenager was warned that he may face a custodial sentence for what the judge described as a ‘disgusting and reprehensible’ act.
Although, many may agree with the judge’s comments, it seems that this case offers an outlet for many emotive concerns, not least binge drinking. Although, Laing has admitted his actions, and apologised profusely for them, the judge has raised concerns about the culture surrounding binge drinking. Carnage, the company responsible for arranging the pub crawl, has come in for particular censure. In the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday, which has seen increasing numbers of British deaths in Afghanistan, this case was bound to raise disquiet. However, by focusing on the actions, albeit distasteful, of one teenager, we run the risk of creating little more than a smokescreen. Thus, avoiding much wider and more important debates such as the nature of nationalism, patriotism and pacifism, together with growing concern over the continuing British military presence overseas.