A spate of attacks on bearded men is being blamed on a recent newspaper campaign. Police believe that the gangs of ‘barbers’ currently roaming Britain’s streets armed with foam and razors, forcibly shaving off beards, have been inspired by a series of front page articles in the Daily Excess, linking large beards with extremism. “At first we thought these unprovoked attacks might be the work of rogue wig makers or hair restoration clinics desperate for raw materials,” explains a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police. “However, it soon became apparent that these gangs were simply dumping the bristles they’d removed in nearby drains and waste bins.” Moreover, it quickly became apparent that the mysterious assailants were exclusively targeting men with large, bushy beards. “All the victims had unkempt, straggly beards. Every one trimmed was more than three inches long,” claims the spokesperson. “Men with moustaches, goatees or even neatly trimmed full beards seem immune from attack.” Whilst denying any link with the attacks, the newspaper stands by its ‘Shave an Extremist’ campaign, claiming that it is both factually based and in the public interest. “Everybody knows that the huge wild beard is the hallmark of an extremist terrorist,” declares Daily Excess editor Frank Crank. “Just look at the photos of those suicide bombers they release to the press after they’ve blown themselves and several innocent bystanders to bits – huge beards, even the women! What about the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden? Massive straggly beard! Let’s not forget Saddam Hussein and that huge beard he grew as a symbol of his defiance when he was on the run and, later, on trial!” The Excess’ campaign originally started in response to the wrongful arrest of two Muslim brothers in London, whose house was raided by police. Both were heavily bearded and one was shot during the raid. No weapons, explosives or other terror-related materials were found on the premises. “If they didn’t want their door kicked in, they should have bloody shaved,” claimed Crank in an editorial following the brothers’ release. “It’s obvious that anyone wearing that much face hair must have something to hide! It’s about time these beardy weirdies were made to shave, so that we all know who we’re dealing with!”

Britain’s beard wearers are unimpressed with the newspaper’s campaign, which they believe is directly responsible for the increase in attacks on the facially hirsute. “Sure, there are always occasional attacks on the bearded, just as there are on bald people, but such isolated incidents are usually only verbal,” says Geraint Tuft, President of the British Beard Council. “What we’ve seen over the past few months is a steady rise in systematic, and violent, attacks on our members by highly organised gangs!” Tuft is in no doubt that the Excess’ campaign is behind the attacks. “Their outrageous stereotyping of those with large beards as terrorists and weirdoes is undoubtedly fuelling this wave of assaults,” he claims. “The fact is that the vast majority of the heavily bearded are perfectly innocent – albeit eccentric – and law abiding citizens. However, thanks to these irresponsible articles, the clean shaven are increasingly equating big beards not just with extremists, but with perverts and sex offenders!” Not surprisingly, Crank brushes aside such criticisms, along with allegations of racism. “We’re trying to help these people – despite what the beardies might have you believe, these huge clumps of undergrowth attached to your face are not considered normal in this country,” he opines. “Let’s be honest, the only people who normally sport such face foliage are hippies, folk musicians, tramps and psychiatric patients. Do immigrants to this country really want people to think that they are either about to murder them with cacophonic dirges or ask them for change to buy organic vegetables whilst coughing up phlegm into their horrible beards?” Crank believes that his paper’s campaign to remove big beards is no different to earlier calls from some UK tabloids and politicians for Muslim women to remove their full face veils. “It’s exactly the same argument,” he contends. “It is all a question of communication – can you really trust someone if you can’t see their face properly? Besides, if they were to shave their beards off, we might understand what they are saying. They probably all speak perfect English, it just gets muffled by all that hair!”

The campaign has won some support from politicians, with London Mayor Ken Livingstone proposing that some seats on tube trains and buses should be designated unkempt beard free areas, with ‘No-Straggly-Beard’ stickers like ‘No Smoking ‘ or ‘No Mobile Phones’ stickers, on the windows. “It’s clear that some people find these things disturbing. I know that I’ve always found these straggly beards most intimidating when I’m forced into close proximity with them on trains and tubes – I have this overpowering fear that they are going to lunge at me tentacle-like and try and suck my face off,” reveals Livingstone. “But at the same time, we don’t want to infringe anyone’s right to have such a beard – just so long as we don’t have to sit next to them.” The British Beard Council, meanwhile, is seeking to strike back at what it sees as dangerous anti-beard discrimination, organising a ‘Hairy Pride’ march for next Saturday, during which hundreds of magnificently bearded men will parade through Hyde Park, proudly displaying their extravagant facial hair in defiance of the mystery shavers. “We want to show that we’re not afraid to risk going out in public,” says Geraint Tuft. “There’s no way that our members are going to concede victory to these thugs by trimming their own beards.” In some parts of the country, the clean shaven have shown their support for the hugely bearded, with men, women and even children walking the streets whilst sporting massive false beards. However, the man at the centre of the controversy, Excess editor Frank Crank, has little sympathy for the straggly bearded. “Nobody’s saying they have to shave their bloody beards off altogether, just trim the things. Don’t they have any self-respect? Surely no one in their right mind would want to look like a care in the community nutter?” says Crank, whose paper – in what is being seen as a tacit admission of responsibility for the attacks – is to call upon the shaving gangs to merely style and trim straggly beards, rather than remove them. “Trust me, they’ll feel a lot better for cutting back that foliage, a lot healthier, too. There could be anything lurking in that bushy growth: all manner of creepy-crawlies, not to mention nesting house martins – possibly even Lord Lucan!”