The ever brilliant Graham Linehan (@glinner on twitter) has just circulated this excellent piece from Bagehot in the Economist - comparing the worst excesses of the left and the right reactionaries after the riots and comparing their words to what has been written over the last 200 years about similar incidents. In each and every case, the collapse of society has been predicted, calls for extreme punishment have been at the forefront of the debate, and the advent of new technology has been blamed - even down to the introduction of the new fangled silent movie in the early 20th century.
"Here is M.G. Barnett, author of "Young Delinquents" (Methuen, 1913) warning readers that silent films present children with "a direct incentive to crime, demonstrating, for instance, how a theft could be perpetrated". Small wonder that the Times of the same year editorialised:
All who care for the moral well-being and education of the child will set their faces like flint against this new form of excitement"
Its much longer than the average Bagehpot piece so do have a gander on line if you can as it will undoubtably end up edited down in the magazine...