Good Reasons to Kill

Good Reason to Kill #76a: Mystery Clown (or, Clown Mystery)

There's definitely going to be trouble (image: Newsbie Pix via flickr CC: 2.0)

The Guardian (July 28, 2019):

[P]olice … were not aware of a clown being involved in the brawl.

I will be completely honest here. I came across this report and some others calling the clown’s involvement into question late last night, when I was double-checking the original report as I am wont to do. But by that time, my previous post (see “Good Reason to Kill #76: Fancy Dress (Clown)”) was already finished and scheduled to post in just a few hours, and I was pretty darn sleepy. Plus, it involved a clown allegedly starting a mass brawl on a cruise ship. So here we are.

I want to stress, however, that I am aware of no evidence establishing that a clown was not involved in this brawl. The police spokeswoman quoted by The Guardian said only, “There is no information to suggest that a clown or anyone wearing fancy dress was involved in this incident” (emphasis added), but as we all know, an absence of clown evidence is not necessarily evidence of clown absence. While The Guardian also states that “P&O Cruises said there was no clown onboard,” it is not at all clear how P&O Cruises could be sure of that. In fact, The Guardian follows the “no clown onboard” claim with this:

“Following an incident on board Britannia on Thursday evening we can confirm that all guests disembarked yesterday and the matter is now in the hands of the local police,” a spokesman said, adding that P&O did not tolerate disruptive behaviour.

Not, I hasten to point out, that “after a comprehensive search of the ship, all passengers, and their possessions, no clown paraphernalia were located, nor did any of the passengers or crew seem particularly funny.” Or anything similar. Only that everyone who was on the ship disembarked, and that the company does not tolerate disruptive behavio[u]r. I have no reason to doubt either of those facts, but they just don’t say what The Guardian claims they do.

USA Today, on the other hand, quotes a P&O vice president as making the bold statement, “I can confirm there was no clown.” It provided no details as to how the company allegedly established this. And at press time (which as you know means “when I decided to press ‘publish'”), P&O Cruises had not yet responded to my tweet asking it to confirm or deny clown involvement and to state the basis for its conclusion. Its Facebook page also appeared to be devoid of further information, despite at least one comment (not from me) seeking it. Similarly, the Twitter feed of Richard Gaisford, the Good Morning Britain reporter who broke the clown story in the first place, remains silent on that detail.

According to The Sun, the woman who was one of the two people arrested after the brawl is a “YouTuber and boxing enthusiast,” but it said nothing about her being even a part-time clown, and it is hardly the kind of authoritative source I prefer to rely on for important matters of this kind anyway.

Hampshire police noted that the investigation was continuing, and asked for the public’s help. “If anyone has any information,” a spokesperson was quoted as saying, “including phone footage of the incident, they should call Hampshire Constabulary on 101 quoting 44190262605.” If you have such footage, and it can definitively establish whether or not a clown was involved, I would give you not less than a dollar to copy me on your email to Hampshire Constabulary when you send it. Perhaps two, even.

I will go ahead and leave this in the “Good Reasons to Kill” category, because (1) they’re unlikely to be able to prove a clown wasn’t involved, and (2) this is by no means the first time clowns have been unfairly (or fairly) accused of being responsible for violence.