United Kingdom

Knives Don't Kill People…


…unless you're in the U.K., where this ad recently appeared in Underground stations and buses. The poster was created from a design done by a 14 year-old Thomas Keller from Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in Kensington. The "s" at the end of "lives" is a Swiss Army knife. Pretty clever for a 14 year-old. One hopes adult subway riders will not be swayed.

I suppose they're just trying to keep up with the MacJoneses.

Via Dynamist


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  1. I’m not sure how the Swiss Army knife could be threatening. Perhaps having one’s nails clipped to death?

  2. It does rhyme.

  3. Seriously, Great Britain is becoming a paternalistic version of Oceania. We know that Big Mother is always watching [through hidden closed circuit cameras]. What next? Mandatory exercise sessions? Children being thought to snitch on their parents unauthorized indoor smoking?

  4. Note the fine print: “Knife Surrender Bins are now in place….” What, no Knife Buy-back Programmes? Cheap bastards.

    So will we soon see a “Knife Cam” like the “Smith & Wesson Gun-Cam?“?

  5. I’m not sure how the Swiss Army knife could be threatening.

    How do you think the Swiss managed to stay Neutral all these years? Those fuckers are like ninjas with those things.

  6. Orrr! Knives! An’ all this ‘ere time I’ve been fretnin’ me victims with a bit of kippered herring! Next time, I’ll try a knife. Fanks, mate!

    — Really Stupid British Thug

  7. It is a little weird that the operation of which this anti-knife ad campaign is a part is called “Operation Sabre.” Make up your minds, guys, either sharp cutty things are bad, or they are cool.

  8. “So will we soon see a “Knife Cam”

    Knives with laser sights will probably come first. One step at a time, you know.

  9. Pity about the Brits.

    The Norsemen will be back soon.

  10. I prefer “knives are for knaves.”

  11. It isn’t the knife blade that’s so dangerous in the Swiss Army Knife. It’s the magnifying glass. Fry an ant and your finger real quick.

  12. Yea, I was killing Brussels sprouts with my knives last night. Oh, the horror.

  13. “Make up your minds, guys, either sharp cutty things are bad, or they are cool.”

    Sharp, cutty things are cool, but only in the hands of a representative of the state.

    This is idiotic.

  14. That’s not a knife!

  15. Aye, and after our Scottish cousins renounced swords, as well. Soon the Danes will be back.

  16. Next up: blunt objects.

  17. On the plus side, Americans still have guns and keep the argument there rather than worry about knives.

    On the minus, an American 14-year-old who designed that would be suspended from school for creating art with a violent theme.

    So… it’s a wash.

  18. Next up: blunt objects.
    Wonder how long before martial arts are outlawed. You know, because young people are the most at-risk for fist beatings in Chelsea and London.

  19. If that was the flyer for a show at a punk club, I would totally shell out ten bucks to see them.

  20. dagny

    “On the minus, an American 14-year-old who designed that would be suspended from school for creating art with a violent theme.”

    You probably wouldn’t want your kid in that school anyways.

  21. Man, is anyone else really board at work today?

  22. You’ve just got to figure that knitting needles are next. They’re long and pointy, you could do a lot of damage with one of those. Even worse, Gramma usually carries TWO of them.

  23. If they really want to reduce violence they should ban football matches.

  24. Say, you don’t think this is connected to that V is for Vendetta movie, do you? I recall knives in that. In Britain, to boot.

  25. Whew…I was just thinking that it’s been hours since Reason has had a “everybody’s stupid except us” moment.

  26. I thought Chuck Norris took lives?

  27. Didn’t I read something here at Reason.com that there’s a movement in the UK to require all knives to have rounded tips? Or was that a bad dream?

  28. What if they come at me with a pointed stick?

    SHUT UP!

  29. I thought Chuck Norris took lives?

    Chuck Norris does not take lives, they are given to him.

  30. I thought Chuck Norris took lives?

    He doesn’t. Lives voluntarily expire in his presence.

  31. Man I really fucked up bored….is anyone tired at work?

  32. Whew…I was just thinking that it’s been hours since Reason has had a “everybody’s stupid except us” moment.

    Every day of our lives, man. It’s a burden.

  33. “Knives Take Lives”

    So do ropes, pills, razorblades, water, CO, cars, trains, planes, and pretty much any fucking thing given the proper circumstances. Why don’t we just start a campaign against everything?

  34. Knives don’t kill people. O.J. Simpson kills people.


    Knives don’t kill people. But if they did, this is how they’d do it …

  35. That’s a much better response than mine, shecky.

  36. “Man, is anyone else really board at work today?”

    Best. Misspelling. Ever.

    Cuz we’re all commenting on a board.

    That’s two threads, steveintheknow. Go for the hat trick.

  37. So, in light of this poster, I have to ask, what tools do UK surgeons use to remove tumors?

  38. Damn, now I want one of those cool knives on the sign. At least it’s close to Christmas!

  39. I’m boared. I wouldn’t have been, but the government took my knife, so that I couldn’t fight off the danged pig.

  40. Some day we will all of Britian will be eating their government approved and mandated low fat low calorie diets with plastic sporks, and the scourge of knive violence will be over. The U.K. has become the world’s first nanny-totalitarian state.

  41. It is a little weird that the operation of which this anti-knife ad campaign is a part is called “Operation Sabre.” Make up your minds, guys, either sharp cutty things are bad, or they are cool.

    They’re cool because they’re bad. This is the ineluctable truth at the heart of all prohibitionist campaigns and why we will always win and they will always lose. Your mom and the government are never cool, no matter what.

  42. I just want to add that this is especially ironic coming from an ethnic group that got their name from the large knives they carried…

  43. ralphus: Big deal, haven’t I seen James Bond do this? The best was Steve Martin w/ a tennis racket in Roxanne.

  44. J sub D,

    Maybe, but you gotta admit the pictures are priceless.

    I’m actually planning on practicing the art. You never know when a gang of young toughs might need a sound thrashing.

    And is there anything more demoralizing than geting your ass beat by a guy in a bowler hat?

  45. This is funny because I just read an article at Drudge about Britain’s first case of “web rage”, one guy attacking another for insulting and threatening him in an internet chatroom.
    Brit A went to Brit B’s home, Brit B answered the door with a knife in his hand and Brith A disarmed him and cut him with it! One more reason to be polite when you disagree with someone from Hit & Run.
    Of course, I don’t meet people at the door with a knife, I’m an American.

  46. Stevo Darkly;

    Best comment today.

  47. Of course, I don’t meet people at the door with a knife, I’m an American.

    What? A bazooka?

  48. J sub D,

    Don’t be a fool. Americans have thermonuclear weapons and “lasers”. Bazooka indeed.

  49. They’ll build bigger boards with bigger nails, and one day they’ll build a board with a nail in it large enough to destroy them all!

  50. A Society Well Armed with Knives is a Society….um…with way to many heavy metal fans.

  51. If that was the flyer for a show at a punk club, I would totally shell out ten bucks to see them.

    Holy Fucking Shit….Joe hit it on its head!

    “Knives take Lives” best band name ever!

  52. First they came for the knifes and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a knave…

  53. “”Knives take Lives” best band name ever!”

    Nah. For knife-related bands, I still have to give the edge to Abracastabya.

  54. I’m not sure how the Swiss Army knife could be threatening.

    Funny story opportunity! =

    I was mugged by a guy with a swiss army knife in Lisbon, Portugal, September 1999

    When I was filing the report with the Lisbon Police later that evening, the cop stopped to ask me why exactly I’d chosen to attack the mugger.

    I said, “Because he tried to mug me with a @#$&* swiss army knife. What would you have done?”

    It seemed an obvious reaction to me. The cop still didnt really get it. I helped him understand by taking his pen out of his hand and then pretending to ‘threaten’ him with 3 inches of it. He then seemed to get the picture, although he probably wrote “@#*& crazy americans” in his report.

    [there *was* another reason, much less funny – i’d had ~$2K in cash in my bag at the moment. Yes, people should use travelers checks. It had been on my agenda at the time]

    The mugger (a skinny moroccan heroin addict) accidentally sliced open my hand before I got proper hold of him and proceeded to demonstrate my Tai-Bo. (he had been trying to gesture with the knife the same moment I decided to grab him; i apparently put my hand in front of its path and never noticed getting cut)

    The profusely-bleeding hand led to some amusement seconds later because as I was wrestling him to the ground to better kick his few remaining teeth in, we both noticed big bloodstains spreading everywhere that I’d grabbed him.

    We both stopped fighting for a second, freaked out, trying to figure out which one of us was spewing blood, pulling our clothes, looking in our shirts, etc.

    As soon as we both saw it was just the palm of my hand, we immediately went right back to what we were doing. It was a perfectly-timed comedy routine.

    Even funnier, and right on time as well – my girlfriend who had been with me wasnt aware that I had gotten the guy under control, and had immediately screamed and run away (I guess she assumed I’d planned to save her by sacrificing myself)…

    anyway, like 20 seconds later, totally out of the blue, she comes running *back*, sees me standing above the guy – now covered in blood – screams, runs away AGAIN. That was so awesomely funny. I thought she’d run away so fast she’d lapped us (she was an avid runner).

    I giggled about that for hours and hours. Running away…. then running back to a crime… [for what? me? her purse? to subtly remind me to hurry up, that we had plans for dinner?]… THEN screaming, and then running away again.

    I joked with her, “what: you forgot to scream the first time, and went back to reenact it?”

    mercy, i still find that funny

  55. Nah. For knife-related bands, I still have to give the edge to Abracastabya.

    dude puny named bands hasn’t been cool since pearl jam…and they sucked even then.

  56. As several have obliquely yet swashbucklingly indicated, the ad is not only ineffective, but counter-productive. The target audience, namely the “market” of knife-wielding citizens, wield said knives just because they present a credible lethal threat; the ad could have been calculated to reassure the descendants of Jets and Sharks (or Mods and Rockers) in the wisdom of their choice. It is lacking not only in the classic ad-virtue of “relevant surprise” (except the cute graphics), but in any surprise at all. With unintended irony, it’s but a more urgent version of “umbrellas keep you dry.” The contrafactual “Kinives Don’t Kill” would be more relevant to the concerns of the cutlery-bearing pedestrian, prompting him to trade up.

    There. And you thought work was boring?

    Analysis Kills.

  57. knives take lives could headline with bullets hurt and my clubby valentine supporting.

  58. “Perhaps having one’s nails clipped to death?”

    ..or the corkscrew of DEATH!!1!

  59. I’m astonished that the British Goverment is starting this campaign when the spectre of Dihydrogen Monoxide still looms on the horizon like a….

    I’m trying, I’m trying…!!

    Won’t someone think of the CHILDREN????

  60. That’s not a new angle, stupid as it may be.

    I took this one:
    this spring visiting a friend, taking the photo because it was so retarded, but forgetting to blog it.

    Note the URL: onelifeoneknife.co.uk

    .co.uk? Commercial? So that’s how little a British life is worth? I mean, you can get a knife for a Euro.

    On the other hand: One life per knife? That’s just bad technique! Or is it disposable knives? We may never know!

    Doesn’t make any sense whichever way you turn it.

  61. Oh, and excuse the ridiculous resolution; I just pulled that right out of my…well, iPhoto.

  62. What, I can’t use me trusty scimitar to lop off the ‘eads of infidels anymore? How bloomin’ culturally insensitive can you get?

    Just have to choke ’em wit’ me beard, I guess.

  63. Isn’t the rise in knife-related violence the logical outcome of their total ban on handgun ownership?

  64. Props where it is due:

    The layout/design of the poster is pretty top notch. Even if it was designed by a brainwashed little twat in support of an idiotic and oppressive governmental campaign.

  65. You know, that kid must have a pretty cool knife collection to draw those knives so well.

  66. Buckshot —

    Thank you. And I consider you an asset to this forum. Welcome.


    That was a great story.

  67. Next they’ll wanna ban teeth.

  68. Great story GILMORE.

  69. Knives Don’t Kill People…

    Government kills people.

  70. Gilmore – funniest thing I’ve read in a long time.

  71. Hmm… Perhaps the next poster could read:
    “Ice picks are for pricks!”
    followed by mandatory round tip mechanical pencils with 3/8″ diameter leads.

  72. Gotta concur on the story, there. That was sweet.

  73. Most know, but for those who don’t, The Dynamist is Virginia Postrel’s site. She preceded The Man In Black at the helm of Reason Magazine.

    I thought she’d run away so fast she’d lapped us

    Dude, that’s funny. In fact, it’s a scream.


    I must confess, that’s one of the best stories I’ve ever heard here.

  75. What Thomas Paine’s Goiter said, which was:

    Government kills people.

    When you’re talking death by unnatural causes, nothing’s truer than that.

    (Kind of evocative of a certain Talking Heads song, huh?)

  76. The TSA people took my minature Swiss Army knife away from me this summer when I accidentally forgot to leave it in my car. It maybe had a 1.5″ blade. I guess that I could have hijacked the plane with that, but I am thinking no.

  77. Ha. The Park Police (I think) refused to let me on the ferry to Liberty Island (you know, where the statue is) because I had a Swiss Army knife on me. There’s really nothing I can say about that doesn’t say itself.

  78. Rick,

    I was just thinking about what Dale Gribble said about guns.

    “Guns don’t kill people; government kills people”

  79. Bernd, I am amazed at that photo.

    When all this gun control crap started in the US my folks used to make jokes about knife control. It’s De Ja Vu all over again.

  80. NoStar, NNS was great. I think I need one. Prolly works on coyotes and those pesky rabbits too.

    Almost as funny is the Rodenator, which is real.

  81. I followed the links all the way back to SIPPY CUPS


    There is no hope.

  82. “& get rid of squirrel problems”

  83. Hey, that awl that’s in the Swiss Army knife is pretty dangerous. Pop that baby out, hold it in your fist with awl poking out ‘tween your fingers and you got nice eyeputterouter.


  84. “Hey, that awl that’s in the Swiss Army knife is pretty dangerous. Pop that baby out, hold it in your fist with awl poking out ‘tween your fingers and you got nice eyeputterouter.”

    New proposed govt slogan:

    Give your awl for the cause of knife control!

  85. When I was amongst Uncle Sams Misguided Children they taught us how to pop an eyeball out without an awl.

  86. Shouldn’t it be called a Roman army knife? (replica)

  87. footnote to story =

    sorry, to be clear = girl did NOT scream first time around. she had just vanished immediately, silently… later returned, screamed, and ran again. the delayed reaction to something that had already occurred was the really funny aspect.

    also: reason why i happened to discover my inner steve segal = the guy only had the 1.5″ blade out of his swiss army knife. The 3″ one was broke. we were risking bad scars at best. also, my 100lb girlfriend likely outweighed our assailant. Also, I was like 25yrs old and fit. also i’m from brooklyn and have been mugged for real by more authoritative and scary people. this was a sitch that a lot of otherwise-cautious people would choose to fight back in. In other scenarios i would have likely been totally submissive for concern for safety.

    a small observation =

    i was positively impressed with portugals healthcare. i was stitched up by docs within 2 hours of injury. I still had time for a dinner out 🙂 there were no forms to fill out, no real questions asked. the doc spoke good english and was a real class act of a guy. funny as hell. while in the waiting room, i was joined by another heroin addict who’d blown a vein shooting, and brought a 6 pack with him. we split them and swapped stories waiting for the doctor. he smoked a half a pack of cigarettes while we sat there – drinking beer in the waiting room. that was almost a story in itself.

    I thought it worth mentioning since if the same shit had happened in my hometown, it would have taken all day to sort my shit out and a year to settle all the various insurance claims. just a comment on how maybe socialized emergency room care provides (in some cases) better performance than our current, digustingly complicated healthcare system.


  88. Maybe next they’ll ban bats and the English cricket team will have to train in another country.

  89. Something serious just occurred to me about this ad campaign. It’s not aimed at the really dangerous people – duh; like any miscreant who feels like carrying a knife to hurt people really cares. No, it’s aimed at the common people who wouldn’t carry a knife anyway, but it’s meant to whip up support for more social control. Pound into the sheeple’s heads the idea that anyone with a knife is an evildoer who must be punished, and you can justify that much more of a police state.

  90. JD-This only just occurred to you?

  91. Why does this surprise anyone? It isn’t like this is the first time knives have been… attacked(?) It may have beeen a while ago but switchblades, dirks and other knives were regulated out of existence some time ago. Many of the laws were initiated because these were the weapon of choice of “assassins.”

    To quote the linked page “they said that this law only affects law-abiding citizens, but since many of them have been convicted, and thus have been redefined as criminals, let’s keep enforcing it.”

  92. Reading this (and the concomittant comments) put me in the mind of recent events dealing with edged weapons and self-defense in the mega-metropolis of Stuart, FL.


    Stuart News, The (FL){PUBLICATION2}

    Date: November 15, 2006
    Section: Local
    Edition: St. Lucie County
    Page: B5

    Robber, clerk engage in machete standoff
    Byline: GABRIEL MARGASAK gabriel.margasak@scripps.com

    STUART — The robber pulled out a machete and demanded cash. Behind the counter, the clerk refused and pulled out her machete.

    “If you come in, I’m here,” Guillermina Sanchez said in defense of the Lil’ Saints Texaco store on Kanner Highway just north of Salerno Road.

    She described the encounter to The Stuart News through a Spanish-speaking translator on Tuesday.

    Hearing the ruckus, her manager appeared, also armed with a machete, and the two convenience store workers chased the robber away at about 9:44 p.m. The suspect escaped.

    “We have it (the machete) there in case this happens. We’ve had robbers come two times before. They come with a big knife or something like that,” said Sanchez, 46. “We got the idea of putting the machete there for these cases.”

    Authorities suspect the robber actually got his machete inside the store, which sells them.

    The robber had approached the counter with a bag of cookies and asked for a pack of Newport cigarettes.

    When Sanchez turned her back to get them, he pulled the large blade from under his shirt.

    He fled after the standoff.

    The robber was described as a white man, about 25 to 30 years old, with medium brown hair and a receding hairline. He had no mustache but a possible light goatee. He was wearing a baggy blue pullover sweatshirt with white accents and writing across the chest. He also had a pair of sunglasses propped on his head.

    Even with the string of robberies, Sanchez said she would continue to work at the store.

    “If they come with a pistol, of course, I would have had to open the register,” she said.

  93. Man, That is one badass lady. I wonder if she’s busy next saturday night.

  94. Bin your knife; save your life.

    So I’ve been living on borrowed time the past half-century?

  95. Shem – eh, sort of. I mean, there are a lot of similarly stupid campaigns, which the producers apparently do think will change the minds of miscreants or potential miscreants, rather than Joe Schmoe who isn’t a threat anyway. Take the anti-drug cartoon one, for one.

  96. I work in and commute to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea a couple of days a week, and I see this poxy sign in the Tube station. If it weren’t so busy and covered with CCTV cameras, I’ve always wanted to graffiti it to say “Knives Steal Vegetable Lives” or some such equivalent.

    My knives are very useful. They help me cut all sorts of food products quite efficiently. And, of course, open my mail.

    The only people who “steal” my life are the bureaucratic security folks who arrest otherwise harmless people for carrying harmless items:

  97. We *are* talking about a country that’s cutting the limbs off of horse-chestnut trees so that kiddies don’t hurt themselves playing conkers.

    Soon, the UK will be all padded with pink fluff, and everyone will have their hands cut off at the elbow because even a wrist stump can be an offensive weapon.

    When hands are outlawed, only outlaws will have hands.

  98. “Didn’t I read something here at Reason.com that there’s a movement in the UK to require all knives to have rounded tips?”

    There was post here about this article:


    From the article:

    “The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.

    They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen.”

    Several years ago on a trip to London, I spotted a sign in the kitchen implements section at Woolworth’s, that the sale of sharp knives to minors was prohibited. That’s when I realized the country had lost its mind.

  99. It might have been the same trip when a mentally ill man went on a knifing spree. He drove his car around the London, jumped out periodically to stab someone, and then jumped back in and drove off. It took about a day to catch him.

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