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In Sadness and In Anger

This post was written almost immediately after a mass shooting on in Orlando by a self-described follower of ISIS.

After just about any mass shooting, you start hearing dueling cries. The first says that we must put an end to this. The second says that we should not politicize tragedy.

Not politicizing tragedy is hard when the tragedy is tied very directly to government policy, which is a political question. Access to guns, such as which guns civilians should be able to possess and under what circumstances, is a question of government policy. This government should be influenced by the ramifications of the policy. Including tragedy. So it’s really not reasonable to suggest that such things cannot be politicized.

The question, though, is when it’s appropriate to do so. Proponents of gun control argue that mass shootings are so frequent that if we wait until a significant amount of time has passed, another one will have occurred. So “later” becomes “never.” This is true up to a point, but becomes troublesome when we’re talking about politicization in the immediate aftermath of what happened, before we even know what happened. Increasingly, this practice itself has been defended.

I do get the appeal. If you want to enact change, the best time to do so is in a (seemingly) favorable political environment. When it comes to mass shootings, that’s right after the shootings. That is when it becomes hardest for gun rights advocates to defend their position without seeming indifferent to the death and carnage that is consuming us all.

As someone that supports a robust right to gun ownership, I certainly feel that. In the aftermath of these shootings, I do start to waver. I start to wonder what gun control measures we could enact that would prevent either this tragedy or ones like it. So it may seem weird, or disingenuous, for me to then object to you making a seemingly effective argument right at the point where it is having the most impact.

terrorist attack photo

Image by slagheap

The problem is that the impetus for action does not begin and end with gun control. This week, Senate Democrats staged a filibuster to demand action on a specific element of gun control: The terrorist watch list. The argument goes that people accused of being terrorists should not be allowed to buy guns. In general, I am skeptical of this policy on due process grounds. I the aftermath of tragedy, though, I tend to have a more open mind. This may have prevented Orlando! This one little thing!

It’s a little thing unless you happen to be a Muslim that attends the wrong mosque, or has a cousin with some radical ideas. Or, horror of horror, some of your own ideas do not meet with FBI approval. In the aftermath of Orlando, though, I have an open mind on such things. Actually, I have an open mind about a lot of things related to Muslims. Maybe we need to watch them more closely. Maybe we need to be more aggressive in taking action and when someone calls the FBI about suspicious activity exhaust every alternative before concluding that the Muslim poses no threat.

This may sound bigoted. It may sound Islamophobic. It is, to some degree, both. In the light of day, I don’t like admitting that I have any of these thoughts. I don’t like admitting them here, but feel I need to in order to convey that some of the thoughts that we must Do Something actually lead to some unfortunate places. In my better judgment, I try to balance the needs of freedom and security towards more freedom for everybody including Muslims. I try not to let my fear get the better of me. I try not to be a bigot. Now, maybe for you, you don’t even have to try. Good for you. Most of the time, it’s not something that explicitly guides my thought process. After Orlando, it takes more effort. I’m willing to bet there are a lot more people like me than there are like you.

These thoughts come and go, with regard to guns, freedom, and Muslims. Time passes, and I remember why it was I already didn’t take the position I have suddenly been considering. Sometimes change does take root. I’m not made of stone. But most of the more sweeping thoughts I have don’t, and whether you’re a liberal or a conservative that’s probably a good thing.

To be clear, being anti-gun is not the same thing as being anti-Muslim. This is true regardless of your threat assessments. The first is an object, the second is a person. The arguments, however, are connected in one important way: Consciously or unconsciously, arguments are being made right now that seek specifically to exploit impaired judgment.

I am myself increasingly bowing out of such discussions. To some, this suggests a degree of heartlessness and indifference, to the point where any expression of sympathy or sadness is ipso facto disingenuous or worse. Or at least cowardly. But really, it’s because I know enough about myself to know that anger and sadness is not fertile ground for good decision-making. It’s not a good emotional or intellectual place to separate good arguments from bad. It’s a good place for emphatic reaction.

Politicians are going to politic. Activists are going to agitate. Pundits are going to pontificate. People I value and love will suggest that I am indifferent to bloodshed, if not responsible for it. It’s hard not to get hurt, be upset and to lash out, but I try to remember one thing: Sadness and anger impair judgment.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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227 thoughts on “In Sadness and In Anger

  1. One definition of crazy is doing the same thing again and again, expecting a different outcome than obtained before. Are we really going to do this here, again?

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    • Of course we are b/c liberals will never stop wanting to ban guns instead of dealing with the real problem which is terrorists. It’ easier to blame guns that admit we have a terrorist issue. Maybe the Brits need more van and knife control b/c it didn’t work.

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              • The technical solutions involved in shutting down the chat rooms / web sites / whatever are kind of similar to, “We must deny them cell phones.” It sounds good, but in order to do it, you need to have control over the communication medium and be able to monitor it well enough to know which ones to shut down.

                That means the comms channels need to be public and within US control. If they’re not public, that means a pretty massive surveillance operation. If they’re public and not under US control, it could be easy or it could be a major problem.

                But mostly, that sort of thing turns into, “Just monitor everybody’s email,” if you don’t keep a close eye on it.

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          • I understand the ban on refugees part, but when you say a travel ban you must mean something more expansive than Obama’s (or Trump’s for that matter) restrictions. So, do you mean a complete ban on Muslims traveling to the US from anywhere in the world? Or a complete ban on everyone traveling to the US from Muslim countries? Or…?

            That is, what specific policy would you like to see implemented?

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            • Also, I may understand the ban on refugees, but it’s not clear how it actually addresses the problem. The best answer I’ve ever gotten is something like, “Well, it may lead to a reduction in terrorism in a generation,” which doesn’t sound like a strategy for dealing with an urgent problem, if you catch my drift.

              It’s not so different from responding to the Orlando and San Bernadino with gun control: it might help in the long run, and at the margins, but then again it might not.

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            • I think this exchange illustrates a really fundamental problem with terrorism policy arguments: there isn’t much to be done to stop it. You can’t really prevent terrorist attacks by banning bad people, through gun control, or pretty much anything else along those lines. If people want to commit acts of terror, they will do so. There are 320+ million people in the US and you can’t watch them all without turning it into a dystopian hell hole. In fact, even if you’re good at profiling, you can’t watch the people you’re profiling without turning the US into a dystopian hell hole.

              Most of the policy positions seem to be about curtailing somebody else’s rights to provide an infinitesimal increase in security for the person recommending it.

              Gun control is an illustrative example. Pro-gun folks note that terror attacks happen anyway without noting that knife attacks seem to kill a lot fewer people for the same amount of effort. Anti-gun folks note that terror attacks are more effective with guns while ignoring the fact that terrorists choose lots of different weapons. The same data point supports both positions.

              The basic truth is that the attacks are so rare and varied that even a 100% measure to attack any one variable probably wouldn’t change the numbers much, and even reducing terrorist attacks by 50% reduces the risk to any one of us by almost nothing. It seems like there are some problems that will always persist as background noise in the context of a free society.

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              • Yeah, I think terrorism isn’t a very good argument for gun control – it’s such a tiny fraction of the total violent death toll in the US, or most places outside of active war zones. You shouldn’t use statistical outliers as the basis for your argument.

                Without getting into whether they are sufficient arguments for gun control, I think domestic abuse related murders, suicides, and accidental shootings are all far better arguments for gun control, than is terrorism.

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                • Terrorism is a great argument for arming everybody. In the aftermath of the Orlando night club attack, gays flocked to firing ranges for free instruction.

                  The terrorist can always get AK-47’s or suicide vests because they’re Muslim. The question is whether any of their targets will be armed, too.

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                    • More significant though – terrorism is vanishingly rare, as a fraction of
                      – total instances of use of firearms
                      – total instances of violent deaths.

                      It’s very common as a fraction of total TV news airtime and newspaper column inches, is about all.

                      If having lots of guns in homes and on our persons made us 100% terrorism-proof (even against terrorist attacks that couldn’t be countered by guns – poisoned food, bombs on buses, all of it), and 0.1% more vulnerable to murder by a jealous spouse, suicide, and accidentally shootings of our selves or family members – the guns would be a bad deal.

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                      • If having lots of guns in homes and on our persons made us 100% terrorism-proof (even against terrorist attacks that couldn’t be countered by guns – poisoned food, bombs on buses, all of it), and 0.1% more vulnerable to murder by a jealous spouse, suicide, and accidentally shootings of our selves or family members – the guns would be a bad deal.

                        That sounds right… but reality is more complex. Presumably we’re giving everyone gun training, does that mean accidental deaths go down? Does the war on crime change if everyone is armed? Does the war on drugs? Does drug dealer vs drug dealer change if the civilians are armed? Does violence against women go down?

                        My intuition is that on the whole, the number of deaths goes up… but I seriously don’t trust my intuition. This is a really complex situation with people involved. I’d love to have a city (other than Chicago) experiment with this.

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                        • This just in: Pretty much everyone in the red states has a gun.

                          Go into a gas station and all the employees have guns, but often they don’t know that all the other employees have guns. That’s a trust issue because company policy is that nobody has a gun, and nobody wants to get fired or get someone else fired. So nobody talks much about the 9mm, .380, or .38 in their pocket. They keep that off camera.

                          They will only draw them until the shit hits the fan because they’ll have to be fired. They will let robbers clear out the register before they will respond with fire.

                          .

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                        • The best real-world example I can think of is Switzerland. The Swiss Army is a militia and most men train at 20. Its relatively low rate of violence (afaik) been used as a case for both sides of the argument — high rate of gun ownership, but also a widespread culture of associated “responsibility” b/c of the government-run aspect.

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                      • It’s very common as a fraction of total TV news airtime and newspaper column inches, is about all.

                        That is a very, very big part of the problem.
                        The reason that it is news in the first place is because it is an unusual occurrence.
                        Yet there is a lack of context abounding.

                        If a tornado touches down in Kansas, killing 60 people, does that make my chances of being in a tornado go up, go down, or stay the same?

                        If a schoolbus in Tennessee gets plowed into by a train, killing 3 and injuring 12 others, what does that say about all the schoolbuses in Denver?

                        Seriously, a vast majority of Americans are simply too stupid to figure that out.
                        Informing a very, very stupid populace carries inherent risks in itself, much less skewing the information for a target audience.

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                    • That, I believe, is one of the reasons people who choose to carry need to be very careful.

                      1) An armed person must understand that pulling a weapon and discharging it means you are attempting to kill another person, so the threat to you needs to be significant.
                      2) If you do 1, then you better know what’s behind your target if you miss, because you could be liable for the repercussions missing your target and hitting something/someone else.

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                      • I know all those rules, but I wonder if everyone “in the heat of the moment” does.

                        I know we have been told on campus that if there is a shooter/hostage/whatever situation, and the campus cops come in, we (the “good guys” or “bystanders”) are to immediately pancake on the floor and show that our hands are empty, because a responder coming into a situation doesn’t know who’s a criminal and who’s not.

                        multiply that by a big public area and lots of people and….I dunno. I’m not ANTI gun but I’d not be comfortable, for example, with “classroom carry.”

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                        • If you can’t think clearly in “the heat of the moment” or do not know what to do, and still carry, then you’re an idiot. It’s the same problem I have with concealed carry folks who cross state lines and end up arrested. You don’t assume you know the law, you make sure you do. You make sure you drill, and know how to react. You make sure you’re prepared, mentally, emotionally, etc. for the repercussions of your actions. If you’re not prepared, keep the damn gun at home.

                          This is why I don’t do “gun time” with certain people….they have demonstrated lack of wisdom in this area in front of me.

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                      • This is also a reason why everybody being armed is perhaps less useful than one might hope at stopping or mitigating mass shootings.[1]

                        It’s not because all those armed, law-abiding citizens will turn the incident into a tragicomic Keystone Kops re-enactment, but because they take steps to make sure they don’t, which typically means not shooting the bad guy because they might hit someone who isn’t the bad guy.

                        The bad guy, who’s there to shoot everybody, doesn’t have any such compunctions.

                        [1] I base this on the couple incidents I’ve read about where there’s been a mass shooting and someone has been carrying concealed on scene. Though ISTR that back in the late ’80s or early ’90s, a woman who was carrying put a stop to a mass shooting in Texas.

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                        • There is also another issue. If I’m carrying, I’m not carrying to protect you. I’m carrying to protect me and/or my loved ones.

                          In the event of an active shooter situation, my duty is get get me and them out of Dodge, not to save everyone else’s ass. If saving everyone else is a byproduct, so be it. Note, others may have differing opinions, but neither is the one true path.

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                        • For me it isn’t about everyone carrying a gun, it’s about making sure that for those who chose to, the barriers to legally doing so are not so arbitrary or capricious that only the wealthy or well connected can manage to do it. It’s why “Good reason” requirements are (IMHO) a bad idea, because it leaves too much to the subjective judgement of an official, but realistic training requirements are just fine, since they can be objective and fair.

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                        • I’ve never found the argument that permitting concealed carry mitigates these situations to be particularly persuasive. That isn’t to say it can’t or never has but it’s too random and the incidents themselves too rare to inform policy. I say this as someone who is largely skeptical of most gun control measures currently floating around in public debate.

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                    • filly,
                      yeah, make like a pancake. Cover first, then spot, then shoot.

                      But heat of the moment means something different for combat vets. “Bam!” (Firework!) “Bam!” (car backfiring). Bam! — drawn gun, ready to shoot.

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                      • It depends on where you’re at.

                        Back home, if I was going tramping through the fields, I would carry a shotgun. A lot easier to hit a rattlesnake with a shotgun. Not everyone has to worry about that sort of thing.

                        I worked with another inspector at BP Whiting who got robbed on the way to work. He had a flat, and he didn’t pull away from the alley to change it. Two guys came up on him and got him for his wallet. He said he had his 9mm on him, but they already had the draw on him.
                        That guy had been shot at pulling out of a gas station in the early AM hours, filling up a can for the generator.

                        It really depends on where you’re at.

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                • That sounds about right. There’s a much larger background issue of gun deaths to discuss on one hand. On the “let’s stop Muslim immigration” side, the issue really does appear to be only fear of terrorism. If we agree that focusing on outlier cases makes bad policy, only the gun question at least remains a viable policy to disagree over.

                  In any case, I’m just noticing that terrorism is the worst case for the “now more than ever” effect in politics. Something happens that makes news and everybody says, “Now more than ever, we need to do the thing I’ve always said we need to do,” even if those things are contradictory and even though the people saying them say them no matter what’s in the news.

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  2. “I am myself increasingly bowing out of such discussions. ”

    Because they’re never discussions, anymore. They’re platforms for people to shout slogans at each other. Even if you didn’t want to do that, there’s someone willing to assume that you did and to start screaming at you.

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    • This.

      Rights don’t always trump safety/security, but restrictions on rights in the name of safety/security, IMHO, need to demonstrate that the benefits strongly outweigh the costs. This is something that the security state (especially since 9/11) has been unable, or (if I am feeling generous) unwilling, to do.

      As for government lists, how many of those have ever had the desired effect without some pretty significant negative unintended consequences?

      ETA the last two points aren’t aimed at you, DD.

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      • There’s a real tendency to offer plans that might plausibly lead to small improvements as if they will entirely solve the problem.

        But it’s very difficult in the heat of the moment, or even outside of it, to argue that avoiding one terror attack in ten, or having three more people survive a mass shooting that kills 20, might not be worth it.

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        • This dovetails into your comment below.

          It’s like the inversion of a tax: a tax is a small cost to everyone, big impact to a certain thing; these security ideas represent a small improvement to the overall statistics, but a huge cost to the people on the wrong side of the security apparatus.

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    • Libertarians never said that people would be good people, or that you would always have a good choice.

      The idea behind the philosophy is that nobody knows better than you which person or choice is the least bad.

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      • The idea behind the philosophy is that nobody knows better than you which person or choice is the least bad.
        Which is almost certainly not true. A vast number of people know far better than I what I ought to do about almost every aspect of my life. I’m pretty sure your life is no different.
        To be sure, it is irksome to have to listen to people who know better than I what I ought to be doing in order to advance my own interests as I myself perceive them, and I might just prefer being allowed to go to Hell in my own way. But that is very different from the question of who knows best.

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        • A vast number of people know far better than I what I ought to do about almost every aspect of my life.

          Almost certainly true! Of course, we have no reliable, objective way of determining who those people are, and then ensuring that they truly are offering advice that will work toward my interests, rather than their own, or in service to some ideology.

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        • “A vast number of people know far better than I what I ought to do about almost every aspect of my life. I’m pretty sure your life is no different.”

          Yeah….bullshit. I fixed that for you.

          A vast number of people THINK THEY know far better than I what I ought to do about almost every aspect of my life. I’m pretty sure your life is no different.

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  3. With both sorts of proposals that Will mentions, it’s hard to escape the sense that their persistent popularity rests, at lest in part, with the idea that the costs will be imposed on other people.

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  4. I don’t think its a mystery why those of us who favor gun control speak up at times like this. The statistics are staggering, and we have to hope that one of these events will be the last straw.

    As for why proposed policies aren’t ideal, it’s because we live in a world where the current version of the Supreme Court has read the words “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” out of the constitution, so we cannot take the most direct/effective action to try to get our gun crime rates below 3.9x the next-highest rate in the world.

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      • “Hemisphere” is a really interesting variable to use when binning countries for comparing social variables. Why not mean elevation above sea level instead?

        Our child mortality rate is actually quite good if you consider the number of dinosaur fossils we have.

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        • I dunno, hemisphere makes since in that we do have a vaguely common history with our continent(s), some common attitudes (such as birthright citizenship), and so on. It’s not the only relevant comparison, but it’s not arbitrary.

          The question is whether or not we should consider Latin America to be our peers?

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          • The question is whether or not we should consider Latin America to be our peers?

            That’s my point. This was a carefully chosen variable designed to group us together a with a bunch of countries we have very little in common with. “Hemisphere” is about the only thing we have in common with many of the countries in question. It’s such a weird thing to do that it’s transparently obvious that it was intentional.

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            • I guess I disagree about the “very little in common with” part. We’re well ahead of them economically, but I think we have other things in common with each other that we don’t with Europe and Asia. I mention citizenship, and by extension immigration and diversity, but also presidential systems, relatively short history, different senses of identity.

              It wouldn’t surprise me if, even with gun control, we didn’t have homicide rates more like a lot of Latin American countries than European and Asian.

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              • I guess I disagree about the “very little in common with” part.

                How about if we narrow that list to things that are likely to make a difference in the homicide rate? Or, “Very little uniquely in common.”

                If we weight all of the interesting variables reasonably and check the correlations between our in-hemisphere groups and our out-hemisphere neighbors, would a useful pattern emerge?

                Along similar lines, does the quality of the hemispherical correlation hold up from north to south, or is there something that makes hemispherical grouping only useful in one direction?

                It seems like there are any number of better variables to group countries by for this purpose, but they’d probably all have located us as an outlier in the absolute opposite direction.

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                • To go a little bit deeper into the clustering we’ve chosen, it’s not “Americans vs everybody else.” Our cluster includes such closely related countries as Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone.

                  Basically, you turn up the grouping on a variable with low predictive value until you get the result you want. Just increase “location” to “one half of the entire planet” and ignore the fact that the correlations have become almost useless while ignoring more useful variables like stage of economic development and government corruption.

                  This is one of those classic statistics games anybody can play with high dimensional data. It’s just not being played very well or very subtly.

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                • [Redacted]

                  When you look at state by state homicide data and try to draw some conclusion about gun control, it doesn’t work because all you’re looking at is driven by race and ethnicity.

                  violence policy center link

                  In 2010, there were 2,890 Hispanic victims of homicide in the United States. The Hispanic homicide victimization rate for that year was 5.73 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall homicide victimization rate for that year was 5.27 per 100,000, the black homicide victimization rate was 19.47 per 100,000, and the white homicide victimization rate was 2.52 per 100,000.

                  Given that this hemisphere has large numbers of Hispanics and Europe doesn’t, we’re going to have higher homicide rates.

                  *Ironically, although Spain is packed with Spaniards, it doesn’t have very many Hispanics.

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                  • This doesn’t really get you past the El Paso Problem. Specifically, the extraordinary low crime rates there. It’s not just El Paso (so it’s not the lithium in the water, for example). Across most major metropolitian areas in Texas there seems to be an inverse relationship between Hispanic population and crime rate. In California the relationship is less clear, but there doesn’t appear to be a strong relationship in the other direction.

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                    • I’v worked with the EPPD. As you know, Bob, I defer to few in my low opinion of the “new professionalism” in US law enforcement.

                      But, damn, those guys are good. Nor just in community relations, but the nuts and bolts. From the top all the way down. I’d even be willing to give them at least partial credit for El Paso being such an outlier.

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                      • It’s not at all implausible. There seem to be a lot of reasons to believe that having law enforcement agencies that are highly professional and inspire the trust of the community that they police is very helpful for reducing the homicide rate.

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                  • OK, let’s take your correlations as concrete truth. Does that mean that your original use of “Western Hemisphere” was just a less precise proxy for the number of dangerous nonwhite people we have? If I shortened it to, “For the number of black and Hispanic people we have, our homicide rate is extremely low,” would that be an accurate restatement?

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                    • The white murder rate is very low, similar to Canada’s. The Hispanic murder rate in the US is about twice that, and the black murder rate is vastly higher.

                      You can’t get the overall murder rate to really low numbers, like 1 in 100,000, while you have significant subpopulations whose murder rates are 5 to 20 in 100,000.

                      But of course it’s not all blacks and Hispanics who are the problem, it’s a subset of them, typically found in failed urban areas where their murder rates reach Venezuelan or Guatemalan levels. For example, St Louis has a murder rate of 60 per 100,000 and Baltimore’s murder rate is 50 per 100,000. They’re basically shooting people for sport.

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                      • How is it racist to note who is killing who? Whites are 2.5% of Chicago’s homicide rate. They used to be the majority of it, but they just gave up and quit trying.

                        And this just in: The most well-confirmed finding in all of psychology is that stereotypes hold true. They’re the result of those big pattern-matching organs in our heads.

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                        • George,
                          So you beat your wife to within an inch of her life? Or didja kill her?

                          Seems some idiot done forgot that there are Scotch Irish stereotypes too. Plenty of truth in them, if you look back a ways, surely.

                          But you miss a lot of things if you only look at stereotypes. See, the ScotchIrish weren’t racist sons of bitches either. That’s on you.

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                      • What I marvel at with George’s racist comment is that he probably finds it entirely reasonable and rational.

                        I don’t think that’s right. My view is that he’s accepted the post-modern infestation of liberal thought – where words are texts, facts are ideologically determined, what’s “reasonable” is determined by the speaker – and views substantiating ridiculous partisan claims by using these tools as rewarding intellectual challenge.

                        He’s a super smart dude, but almost everything he says regarding politics or culture is pure bullshit in the Frankfurtian sense of that word.

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                        • Nope. If you want to dig into homicide rates, most of what is staring back at you is culture.

                          White culture used to have elements that were extremely violent. Italians were especially violent in the fairly recent past. The culture slowly shifted away from that, but not all places shifted at the same time. You can look at European murder rates over the past centuries to see the shifts take place.

                          A lot of black violence in the US is the result of their adoption of some violent aspects of white Southern culture, which came here from violent parts of England.

                          Hispanic culture has been extremely violent since they arrived in the New World, a place where the natives were even more violent than the Spaniards.

                          At present, the best predictor of US homicide rates is the statistical makeup of the different cultures in the cities.
                          .

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                          • I think there is some circle twerking disparities of correlation and causation here. I could just as easily say the violence comes from failed social engineering projects for the past 60(?) years that created terrible opportunities for capital formation, and poor velocity of money within population clusters that need those things to thrive.

                            I think Oscar posted something a while back that the injection of money solved a great deal of localized violence problems found in minority community settings.

                            I also find it no coincidence that when locations where people think society should solve the problems, and there is little education on how base capitalism works, violence becomes significantly increased.

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                        • Smart is interesting here because we have an implication that intelligent people could never be racist.

                          Yet Richard Spencer was in a PhD program at Duke and Jared Taylor of the far-right AmRen was educated at Yale and Sciences Po.

                          So you can be a person intelligent enough to get through some of the hardest academic institutions in the world and still believe in horrible things for a variety of reasons.

                          You might even be really smart about many things but the reigning champ of Kunning-Dueger in others because that is how pernicious and hard to control bias and ignorance can be.

                          And I think it is kind of academic to argue whether GT has an ulterior motive or is doing Frankfurtian BS because the effect is the same. He is damning an entire group as prone to violence just cause of their ethnicity. He thinks he is being rational and enlightened in doing so. And I am not having it.

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                          • I’m not condemning them to anything. I’m just noting that at the present time, not all groups are equally prone to violence. Perhaps someone should work to get the violent cultures to change.

                            If you gave everyone a survey that asked how they’d respond in a long list of hypothetical situations, most will return it without a single question answered with “shoot him in the ___”. But some people would have that as a very common response.

                            The murderous responses would not be scattered randomly. They would cluster, because people feed off each other’s attitudes.

                            As I said, at one time Europeans were extremely violent. They would kill you at the drop of a hat. They would make up insults just to get the opportunity to kill you for no reason at all. They changed.

                            Not every group of people changed away from rampant violence at the same time, or at the same rate. I’m from a group of whites that was among the last to change (Appalachians). Growing up, my dad had a talk with me about when it was morally justifiable to assassinate the mayor. He was dead serious. That was an ongoing issue there. One of my former coworkers from Tennessee tried to assassinate his own mayor, but missed. He was later chastised by the mayor’s daughter for missing.

                            We still have subgroups who think that shooting someone is a valid response to situations, or the proper way to defend their honor and reputation. We have subgroups who think committing felonies is a viable way to live. Combined, those two types of groups are the vast majority of the murder rate.

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                            • “I’m not condemning them to anything. I’m just noting that at the present time, not all groups are equally prone to violence. Perhaps someone should work to get the violent cultures to change.”

                              Can you compile some data on which groups are prone to violence?

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                              • See the list of countries by homicide rate that I linked a few comments below. It also has a map.

                                You can also read the FBI crime reports or DoJ statistics.

                                Most of it is from men defending their honor or committing crimes because they grew up in an environment where crime was normalized in some of the subgroups.

                                In the case of blacks, whites had a lot to do with it, especially white Democrats, even the northern liberals who segregated the Northern cities. This left blacks out of the white property market, which boomed, and herded them into places where property values would become almost nil. With no real estate or significant property to lose, crime actually carries much less of a potential downside. And of course blacks had adopted violent Southern white honor culture, which most Southern whites have since abandoned.

                                In the case of Hispanics, they’ve never been not violent by European standards. They have a macho culture. And then US demand for drugs, coupled with the Latin celebration of drug lords in many circles, fueled a disaster. Macho men trying to out-macho each other in countries with weak institutions and pervasive corruption.

                                As the NRA says, guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

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                            • I saw a kid (president of the local black fraternity) giving a presentation about drill music and the increase in violence.
                              In the Q&A that followed, the opinion that the two are causally linked was unanimous among the Chicago students.

                              I’m sure the figures you’re looking at reflect more than a single cause, but there are causes which are widely acknowledged.

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                          • He is damning an entire group as prone to violence just cause of their ethnicity.

                            I don’t see it.
                            He’s arguing culture. Ethnicity is valuable only to assess prevailing culture.

                            Hispanic communities have significantly more honor killings than white communities.
                            Saying so is not racist.

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                            • Either way, framing it as racist, ethnicity or cultural, it’s poor practice. Doing the whole ‘grouping people’ thing ought to be sequestered to the faction who mostly attempts to weaponize it.

                              Marginalizing and creating baskets of deplorables should be left to the ‘experts’.

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                                • Weaponized wasn’t directed towards you or george, but more general towards the liberal-social-democratic factions that create issues from race or class groupings.

                                  In my opinion if we are a republic we should be looking at a person at a time, and disengage the the race-class warfare scheme, even if it is prevalent.

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                                  • Thanks for the clarification.
                                    It reads differently now.
                                    And I agree, to an extent.
                                    I’m one of those who believes class is more of a factor than race, gender, sexual orientation, or most any other thing.

                                    There are certain writers in the field of feminist legal theory who claim this as well, and I was very excited to learn of those similarly-minded individuals. Black feminism tends to focus on class issues.

                                    I’ve already been through my spiel of why I hate identity politics too many times for me to want to go through it here.

                                    Again, thanks for the clarification.

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                                    • No worries, when I first arrived at OT I was pretty hung up on ethnicity and culture, but I found that what was happening most often, is I was dragged into the social democratic battlefield, where I should have been making my stand over in the individual republic battlefield.

                                      IMO there really isn’t much to be gained no matter how truthful or factiness the social implications are.

                                      I parse the difference not as social correctness, but strategical correctness in that if we want a republic, we have to recognize there is one.

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                                  • — But how do we get there from here?

                                    For myself, I’d love it if being queer were merely a colorful footnote to my life. But it is not. The bigotry against me is extreme. Likewise, in the US racism remains extreme.

                                    People who act as if they are “colorblind,” well, two things:

                                    1. You probably are not

                                    2. To be thus would be closing your eyes to massive injustice.

                                    Neither of these are admirable things.

                                    Plus, when you say “our republic,” does that mean the government in Washington DC? My state government? My city? The police? What about my employer? Other employers? Media companies? Communication companies? Companies who provide basic civic infrastructure (such as cab companies and Uber)? What about angry people on the subway (who in fact single me out)?

                                    It’s fine to say, “None of those things should be at all bigoted,” but sometimes they are. Often they are in systematic ways.

                                    By “our republic,” does that mean to some degree our culture. For example, I am a member of a resistance culture, which is a response to pervasive bigotry. You might criticize this, but you really don’t have standing to do so, unless you have a handy magic wand that would eliminate bigotry.

                                    Resistance cultures do not form on a whim. They form under pressure. Bluntly, they are justified.

                                    Short version, while you pontificate about “our republic,” I live in the actual material world, where “our republic” is one conceptual frame to help understand what happens around me. However, is that a good model? After all, all models are wrong. Some model are useful.

                                    I suspect that whatever you mean by “our republic,” it will turnout to be a poor model to understanding the world.

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                                    • how do we get there from here?

                                      You could try toning it down with the dick-waving.
                                      Just a suggestion.

                                      There are two ways that people will respond to dick-waving. Either they will be really impressed with your dick, or they will not.
                                      With those who are impressed with your dick, you have to ask, “Why is So-and-so so-o-o-o impressed with my dick?”
                                      The people who aren’t impressed with your dick-waving likely already think you’re a world-class A-hole anyway, and so you don’t have to worry about them.

                                      There might be other strategies worthy of consideration.

                                      I see a lot of gay people in this little midwestern city, and nobody seems to give a sh!t.
                                      Pretty much the same way it was 20 years ago in a major midwestern city.

                                      Very, very few people in this world really give a crap about how queer anyone else might be.

                                      However, when confronted with a dislikeable person, they will typically cite apparent attributes without considering further.
                                      If you need some examples, I can step through some examples, for therapeutic purposes.

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                                    • v, I’m not going to be able to fix a sick society. It was built this way before you and I were born. I’m not going to be able to fix sick social constructs. They aren’t mine, I didn’t build them.

                                      There is only one of me. If I could I would disassemble all of it, but my ideas of freedom are not what other peoples ideas of freedom are. People need their social constructs. They need them for comfort. They need them because they need.

                                      To build justice is to build injustice. Not one person owns social justice, not one person owns social objectivity, but the claims are made. The legitimacy is reached for, the authority is reached for, the escalation is pursuit.

                                      I am not here to fix the imperfections in humanity. Not by your standards or anyone elses. You want a model to understand the world? How does humanity have to behave to get along? How do you disassemble faction?

                                      Not by order. Not by banning through social constructs a million times over.

                                      The strongman on the subway, it is easy to group many if not all men to be that fear. The strong man is always there. In every midst, of every time, of every age. Some may seek the comforts of the leviathan to feel secure that the strongman is in check, well is he? Is he in check? Does the leviathan do your bidding, render you without fear?

                                      There is no reason to live in a material world and depend on leviathan mystics for your needs and protection. Only one person is aware of all your needs and aspirations. Free will is useless without knowledge. Knowledge is useless without free will. This life, you do it yourself, no one is going to do it for you, that is the model.

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                              • Do you mean to imply that persons are invading black communities for the purpose of enacting violent crimes?

                                As I stated upthread, I sat at a presentation about drill music causing an increase in violent crime in black communities given by the president of the university chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha.

                                If you think you’re doing some good by objecting to race at every occasion, you should think again, if that is truly your intent.
                                Masking causes is not helping in any way.

                                And I remind you that I, myself, am a racial minority.
                                And like most Indians you will find, I am not very enthusiastic about a prospective “Native American Day.” In fact, the greatest endorsement I have heard of it in the community is, “It’s a step in the right direction.” If you understood the people at all, you would take this as a statement that the step is misguided.
                                If you don’t understand why this is, a big part of it has to do with re-naming Columbus Day. It looks, for all the world, that the whites just want to rob Columbus of his commemoration, the same as they took land from the Indians.
                                Secondly, the Spanish were much more favorably inclined toward the Indians, with the first anti-slavery activist some 114 before the founding of Massachusetts Bay Colony. For some reason, the Anglo world likes to think itself morally superior.
                                If you really want to designate a specific date as “Native American Day,” I suggest July 4th as entirely appropriate.

                                There are big problems with Indian-on-Indian crime, and a lot of that has to do with proximity and alcohol.
                                We don’t need your input on that.
                                We don’t need you denial either.

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                                      • I would say that crime data tells you a lot about differences between groups. Especially important is not just who might commit an offense, but why. You see, being “multicultural” means we have more than one culture. Since we have multiple cultures, you need to know the rules of the cultures you’ll be interacting with, just as if you were traveling abroad.

                                        When you travel abroad, you have to read up on the culture of the country you are visiting to learn several things.

                                        Might the local ne-er do wells robs you before you get out of the airport? Might the locals assault, arrest, or kill you for a reason you think is stupid? You won’t have anything to worry about in Norway. At most you might get an icy stare for talking to a clerk in a checkout line. But sometimes you have to look behind the reasons for a very low incidence of incidents. The culture might be very tolerant, or it might so rigidly enforce its intolerance that nobody misbehaves. Nobody but you, that is. Chewing gum in Singapore is a no no. Don’t be that troublemaker. If find yourself in Plymouth Massachusetts in the 1600’s, learn the rules of social behavior because they are strictly enforced.

                                        So crime data is necessary, but insufficient. Back in the US, not that long ago, there were no crimes committed at white country clubs, and very few in upper class white neighborhoods. Cops hardly ever had to go to those places – unless of course a black person mistakenly thought their low crime rates meant “safe place”.

                                        So you have to check the local culture to see if the lack of assaults represents a Sweden, a Singapore, or a North Korea. Are they lawless? Are they tolerant, or are they so intolerant that nobody even thinks about deviating from the norm? Are the norms enforced with lawyers, with fists, or with gunfire? Do the norms seem to radically change when people are drinking?

                                        But back to travel. If you’re in one of the countries where you walk on eggshells, what are things they don’t tolerate? What are the reasons they might do violence to your person? What must you do and not do to keep yourself reasonably safe?

                                        With some groups, maintaining eye contact is taken as a challenge, and one that will likely lead to a violent confrontation. Sometimes this applies in US inner cities.

                                        With some groups, such as Somalis, shaking hands with the right hand instead of the left is taken as an egregious insult because they wipe with the right. As an aside, proper Americans don’t let their pinkies touch food or food containers because centuries ago, Italians wiped with that finger. Letting it touch the communal pot of food resulted in a severe beating.
                                        Of course, Italians also used to stab people at the drop of a hat. Any Italian who wouldn’t stab people was considered unmanly and girl’s wouldn’t date them. So we didn’t screw with Italians. And for a long time we didn’t screw around in Italian neighborhoods. Irish neighborhoods could likewise be a bit rough. And when in Chinatown, know the rules.

                                        Other travel tips. Don’t take pictures in North Korea or in any military police state without getting permission.

                                        Don’t ever wear ripped jeans to a mosque, church, or temple unless you are authentically that poor or know that it’s okay.

                                        Don’t use hand gestures unless you know what they mean to the locals. An Italian bird-beak for emphasis might mean “screw your mother”. A thumbs up might mean “up yours”.

                                        If you’re traveling in the Middle East, don’t do most of the things you might want to do. Just don’t. No bikinis. No shorts. No necklace with a cross hanging out.

                                        Now you might think that these dangerous or rigid places are intolerant and backwards, and that you live in an enlightened, coastal, liberal society. But try wearing a Trump hat and Confederate flag T-shirt in Berkeley. Always changing the culture is.

                                        And that’s not even getting into the rules for dating. Those can be dicey. And they don’t end with marriage. In parts of Eastern Kentucky a big wedding tradition used to be “the killing of the in-laws.” But that’s only because they needed killing.

                                        That kind of thing shows up in crime stats. It showed up in newspaper stories. People used those to form stereotypes. Those stereotypes would help keep you safe. That’s why we evolved to form them.

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                                        • “…very few in upper class white neighborhoods.”

                                          Is theft a crime? Fraud? Domestic violence? Rape (including so-called “marital rape”)? Drunk driving? Tax evasion? Paying domestic workers or other employees off the books? Employing undocumented immigrants? Drug use?

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                                          • Actually, I’m out on this. I don’t know if you actually believe this bullshit or think you’re being clever, but either way I have no interest engaging with someone who spouts such willful and self-serving ignorance.

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                                            • On the one hand, I don’t think the comment was meant to be taken seriously. On the other hand, I’m afraid I found most of its content to rely on stereotypes to such a degree that it teeters on the razor’s edge between tedious and offensive.

                                              Sorry, , but if this was an attempt at humor, I didn’t get it. Brevity could have been the soul of wit here.

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                                            • It’s ignorant” to be aware that not all cultures are like yours?

                                              That’s a big problem on the left. They’ve convinced themselves that every other culture in the world is really just like theirs. It’s not remotely true, but they need it to be true for their multi-cultural, cultural-relativity to make any logical sense.

                                              I routinely have to move within several very different white cultures. Those cultures have vast differences between them. I have to know what these differences are when I interact or my behavior would be inappropriate or misplaced.

                                              Some people are very good at that, and can pop into almost any restaurant in the US and pass for a local, and a particular class of local.

                                              Middle Easterners are keenly aware of the vast cultural differences between them. There are things you can do in Jordan that would get you in all kinds of trouble in a neighboring country.

                                              It’s not ignorant to know these things. Think of it as a version of street smarts. Think of it as knowing what kind of bar you’re drinking in.

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                                          • And those things happened so rarely that the cops were almost never seen in upper class white neighborhoods. Seriously, I grew up in the US in the 1960’s and 70’s. I know these things.

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                                            • Oh be serious. The cops didn’t find the crime because they weren’t looking in those areas. Money could paper over the more minor problems and the cops weren’t present to see the drug abuse or drunk driving.

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                                              • Back in the day drunk driving wasn’t a crime, it was expected. A well-heeled American banker is going to enjoy a few glasses of whiskey and fine cigar before heading home. That was not a police problem. Correcting the wife’s behavior was also not a problem. If she’d listen then it wouldn’t be necessary.

                                                All the problems were in the poor communities, which we policed rather heavily. You have to be careful about people getting big ideas or not knowing their place.

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                                      • analyzing crime data tells us nothing about inherent differences among groups of humans.

                                        That simply isn’t true.
                                        It tells us a lot.

                                        What is problematic is comparing unrelated sets of statistics, or even statistics from the same source over a number of years.
                                        You learn early on in criminal justice classes that crime statistics are manipulated on a regular basis.
                                        Whenever the police need more money, crime is up. Whenever a new chief comes in, crime goes down.
                                        And they do that mainly by altering the definitions, or re-categorizing things.
                                        They also have ways of reducing the number of reports taken, to show that unresolved cases are way down.

                                        But those statistics are internally consistent.
                                        They’re just not consistent with each other.

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                                          • The data can be drilled down to isolate those characteristics, the same as any other.
                                            That said, they are conceptually limited as to what characteristics are capable of being shown.

                                            But the answer is “I considered it” and yes, you did miss that.

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                                            • The most reliable statistics are homicide because a dead body has to be explained. There’s a body with a bullet in it. It’s newsworthy.

                                              All the rest is smoke and mirrors. What does the beat cop take as an assault? Is that burglary worth reporting? Was it rape-rape or a date gone bad?

                                              And sometimes the line is almost purely political. My city would have a few episodes of gang violence, but the police were adamant that we had no gangs, and no gang activity, because by gosh we weren’t going to allow such a thing to go on here. We’re not that kind of town.

                                              We have an ongoing heroin and meth epidemic. The cops just ignore the addicts. Everyone else can see them, but the cops can’t. Wouldn’t want drug arrests to go up or the voters might ask some uncomfortable questions.

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                                              • George,
                                                Yeah, every damn body has to be explained.
                                                You explain those darwin awards recently?

                                                In Japan, a dead body is ruled a suicide, even if Anywhere Else it’d be clearly not. (as in you can see the attempted robbery).

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                                      • What I’m saying is that analyzing crime data tells us nothing about inherent differences among groups of humans.

                                        Inherent? Probably not. But it’s probably not useful to pretend crime is purely chance or that culture plays no role.

                                        Or to put it differently, we know darn well that certain zip codes or groups are creating a lot of dead bodies, that’s probably something we should at least try to make sense of. So what are we looking at?

                                        Lead in water? Over policing? Bad policing? The war on drugs? Poverty? The previously suggested bullet-for-an-insult culture?

                                        Does giving everyone a thousand dollars a month make it go away? How about bottled water? How about arresting Tony Soprano and his “family”? Are gov incentives creating and supporting dysfunctional behavior? If so, why and what should we change?

                                        I think we don’t understand what’s going on at a fine enough level of detail to be effective.

                                        And I think we’re flinching away from asking the right questions in part because people don’t want to be accused of racism.

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                                          • You have to start there. Fixing the culture of sorority girls in Starbucks is going to do zero, absolutely zero, to reduce Chicago homicides. For that you have to look at what’s going on in the streets of Chicago.

                                            As one black mother bemoaned about her young son, (paraphrasing), “What people need to understand is that he likes the violence. It’s exciting to shoot and get shot at! I can’t keep him from going out and getting mixed up in it because he likes it.”

                                            And she’s right. Some people think it’s fun as hell. Some are adrenaline junkies. Some are responding to our evolutionary programming in which young males are drawn violence. It establishes our reputations. It sets our social status. It’s fun to intimidate people. It’s feels good to be feared and respected.

                                            Once it’s ongoing, those who partake in it can exert social pressure for others to take part. “What, are you chicken? Are you a man or are you a pussy?”

                                            It has nothing to do with race directly, it has to do with culture. I come from a culture that was historically extremely violent. The mafia wouldn’t bother us because we thought it was perfectly okay, and quite fun, to just shoot them in the head with a rifle. People from outside the region were assured that although our murder rate was extremely high, the odds of getting murdered in the region was almost nil unless you were related to someone who lived there.

                                            My hometown would have shootings almost every weekend. My dad’s boss was slaughtered, along with ten of his bodyguards riding in three cars. My dad’s golf partner once shot a man through his front door without even looking. He opened it to find a dead man on his porch with a pistol in his hand. My uncles would drive to work with pistols on their hips, standing on the running boards. We were of course related to half of the famous Turner Howard feud. The Cawoods and Spurlocks were allied with us back then, and for reasons unknown, I grew up playing with Cawoods and Spurlocks.

                                            Then we just all up and decided to quit killing each other. The change was rather abrupt. Now our murder rate is probably on par with Wales, even though we’ve got a drug epidemic.

                                            Unless you address the culture, you won’t change the culture.

                                            And again, despite all the screaming, it’s not a racial thing. Snoop Dogg is the biggest fan of a British show called Peaky Blinders about 1920’s gangs in Birmingham. Snoop said “That’s my culture! I grew up like that!” He talked to the producer for three hours about how the Peaky Blinders gang is describing where he came from. Our inner city gang culture is the same as lower-class English gang culture of the past. They share a set of common values and have a common outlook.

                                            Digging into why that is is fascinating.

                                            Perhaps you should watch all three seasons of Peaky Blinders to gain a better understanding of bits of American culture that aren’t like yours, stripped of any racial connotation whatsoever, since that seems to trigger you.

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                                            • Then we just all up and decided to quit killing each other. The change was rather abrupt.

                                              *That*. The question is, what happened? I expect “decided to quit killing each other” isn’t the root answer.

                                              Did the State open up economic progress and all of a sudden, there was another way to impress the girls? Did the economic value of life go up high enough that risking dying was all of a sudden a bad deal?

                                              It’s like… cars. If your income is a dollar a day, then you can’t afford a car. But as income increases there’s a tipping point where affording a car becomes possible and useful, so as economic development in a country increases, there’s a point where the market for cars just explodes.

                                              That looks like (and is) a huge cultural change, but culture is being massively shaped by something else.

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                                              • Well, what basically happened is that our juries started convicting people of murder. Prior to that change, no jury would convict on anything work related. It was okay to murder union people or non-union people because you could never get a jury that was all on one side or the other, and the people on the juries were more concerned with protecting one of their own than delivering justice.

                                                The people had taken the union killings to be a slightly different form of our feuds, and our feuds were taken to be a form of warfare, so many of the trials were as futile as having a mixed jury of Germans and Brits trying to convict their own soldiers of shooting the enemy’s soldiers.

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                                          • Which we don’t do when we start sentences with “Blacks/Hispanics/Whites are…”

                                            :Shrug: It wasn’t my sentence, but with the (lack of) granularity of data that most people throw around, it’s easy to end up with statements like that. It’s a mistake to get hung up on that point.

                                            IMHO policy built around treating “all Blacks” (or “all Muslims”, or “all Whites”) as one group is going to result in bad policy, because they’re multiple groups.

                                            One implication is the murder problem is a lot worse than the numbers suggest. The Black middle class and upper class isn’t killing each other every weekend. Focus on the right zip codes or whatever and the murder rate is going to be insane.

                                            Since the nation’s murder rate is largely driven by a handful of inner cities, rounding up guns in the typical suburb won’t change it. Most of these inner cities already have gun control much higher than the rest of the country so that’s probably a dead horse.

                                            Because I always look for dysfunctional government policy in a dysfunctional situation…

                                            The war on drugs plays a role, ditto the war on crime. Various social/welfare policies which encourage out of wedlock children play a role. I can’t tell if these areas are over policed, under policed, badly policed, all three of those but there’s probably something.

                                            And while we’re on the subject of not treating very large groups as uniform; Intuitively expanding opportunity would probably be a really good thing. However as currently structured, Affirmative Action’s benefits are largely captured by the Black middle and upper class.

                                            Similarly, my expectation is that there are White groups which have similarly crazy murder rates, it’s just that they’re lost in the noise because they get lumped in as “White” and not “whatever the relevant stat should be”.

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                          • I’m reminded of an old Michael Shermer quote in which he points out that it’s harder to argue smarter people out of the dumb things they believe, because smart people are better at rationalizing things that they came to believe for non-smart reasons.

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                      • I don’t know about Hispanics, but between US states, percentage of the population that is black is a far, far more potent predictor of homicide rates than gun ownership rates. See, for example, this study, which, in a multivariate regression, found a one-sigma increase in firearm ownership increased the firearm homicide rate (again with the deck-stacking!) by 12.9%, while a one-sigma increase in the percentage of population that is black increased the firearm homicide rate by 82.8%.

                        You guys need to stop with the self-righteous, pearl-clutching accusations of racism whenever anyone mentions this fact (at least, in contexts where it’s actually relevant and not just gratuitous smearing of black people), and acknowledge that a) For some reason, black Americans commit much more violent crime, especially homicide, than white Americans; and b) This is okay, because the vast majority of black Americans are not violent criminals, and the fact that they happen to share certain physical traits with a disproportionate share of violent criminals is not their fault and does not reflect badly on them.

                        The disproportionate share of violent crime, especially homicide, committed by black Americans is easily verifiable via a number of reputable sources. We do not want people who think the correct response to this is to “kill all the n[egroe]s” to be pointing to FBI data and academic research to justify their position while anti-racists are peddling easily-refutable bullshit. But that’s exactly where this kind of thing is leading us.

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                        • He’s received a multitude of responses, and protest was registered, his point about correlation was responded to (and clarified, a bit), and not more than one person clicked the Report button.

                          In retrospect, I probably should have redacted the specific language of the first sentence with a request to rephrase, leaving the rest, but I’m not sure if that’s the extent of the objection here.

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                        • Consider an alternative expression of a substantially similar concept:

                          Rates of violent crime in the Latino community are significantly higher than for the population at large. There are surely many causes to this — is a culture of suspicion of law enforcement authorities at least partly to blame?

                          I doubt that we’d censor a comment like that at all.

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                            • I disagree and I think a lot of the pushback at is telling in it’s lack of substance. Now maybe he is trolling and I’d never articulate some of his points the way he has, but like said above, conceptually none of this stuff is beyond the pale. I live within a few miles of some of the most violent parts of this country, yet my demographic is virtually unimpacted by it. A disproportionate amount of the homicides are committed by (and the victims of it disproportionately are) racial minorities.

                              Now the reasons for that aren’t related to the hue of their skin except to the extent that’s resulted in social and economic exclusion. Add in the drug trade, and yes, the culture that’s grown out of it, and that’s what you get.

                              It’s completely reasonable to respond to gun control advocates who point to Western Europe by noting, that for Americans of European ancestry, the gun homicide statistics really aren’t that different. No progressive would be pissed off by this If we were talking about standardized test scores.

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                    • It happens to be the truth, statistically. It is factually correct. It’s just not politically correct. If you go with politically correct instead of factually correct, you will end up with lots of discussion that is factually incorrect, and that means you won’t solve the problems because you won’t even acknowledge they exist.

                      The Hispanic murder rate in the US is twice the white murder rate. The black murder rate is about ten times higher. But the black murder rate is low to normal for most Central American countries, including Mexico.

                      List of countries by homicide rate

                      A lot of countries south of the border have national homicide rates that are higher than what we have in St Louis or Baltimore. Of the 30 most violent countries on Earth, all but seven are in the Caribbean or south of the border.

                      Virtually all of those countries have strict gun control and relatively few guns in private hands. But they do have a whole lot of violent people. That doesn’t mean they’ll always be violent, but at present they are. Take Japan. It used to be a violent place where samurai hacked people apart. Now it’s murder rate is 0.3 per 100,000.

                      The big drop is when you move from an honor culture to a dignity culture. Not everybody has made that shift yet. Since not everybody has, the differences in the two types of culture swamp almost every other crime-control measure when you’re looking at homicide rates.

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              • It wouldn’t surprise me if, even with gun control, we didn’t have homicide rates more like a lot of Latin American countries than European and Asian.

                We have one of the lowest homicide rates among countries with similar or higher homicide rates. Good then, nothing to see here.

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                • No, my point was that among countries that fit along a particular profile (“new world countries”) that are geographically interconnected, our homicide rates are towards the bottom.

                  This, to me, is not radically unlike “among countries that fit along a particular profile (prosperous, high GDP), our homicide rate is exceptionally high.

                  There are multiple axes to compare.

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                  • If you’re going to take mere geography out as the relevant metric you gotta identify some other stuff new world nations share: recently settled, comparatively high immigration rates, etc. Stuff like you mentioned upthread. But if those are the metrics then why restrict them to merely the new world? You need to include countries like NZ, Canada and Australia in the mix. In which case our homicide rate is again astronomically high by comparison.

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                    • Canada is not separate from the mix, though their evolution as a country (ditto Australia and NZ) is still different from most of the rest of the continent and they are at an edge of the continent. On the other hand, Canada gets bonus points for birthright citizenship (neither Australia nor NZ do) as a cultural marker. While Canada does have its share of immigrants, it doesn’t have as much cultural cross-pollination with Latin America that we have often had. (Canadians can share how far back their history with immigration goes – I honestly don’t know)

                      Lest there be any confusion, I am not making the race-based argument that George is. I just mean our history has always been more involved with and adjacent to (figuratively and literally) with Spain and Mexico and therefore Latin America than theirs.

                      It seems to me that even given all of this with our relative affluence we should look more like Canada and Australia than we do. Some of that could be attributable to being more of a hodge-podge nation of (more) immigrants than the others, but I honestly don’t know what the immigration histories of most of South America look like and for all I know they may not look as much like ours.

                      Mostly I was taking objection to the notion that sharing a hemisphere, and some of the shared history that entails, is analogous to sharing latitude. I just don’t think that’s true.

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                      • Canada has historically had higher immigration rates than the United States and particularly has a much, much higher ratio of foriegn born to native born than the US currently. Of course the immigration demographics are quite different as Canada as a matter of policy seeks skilled immigrants while the USA gets a lot of unskilled labour.

                        Canadian immigrants concentrate in the low-crime urban centers, while the high crime areas tend to be interior resource cities. Of course the highest crime areas are the impoverished, poorly integrated and badly governed First Nations reserves.

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                      • (Canadians can share how far back their history with immigration goes – I honestly don’t know)

                        That’s a peculiar way of looking at it, innit?

                        Canada is in North America. Ergo anyone who’s not of North American aboriginal origin, is of immigrant origin. In the USA, that’s about 99.1% of the population. In Canada it’s about 95.7%.

                        (That’s not considering some small percentage of North American aboriginal people from a nation entirely within the settler borders of the USA, who have moved to Canada, or vice versa).

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                        • You’re not an immigrant if you were born here*. There are of course second generation vs third generation vs fourth and so on, which does get to your point. Which, in turn, gets to my main point that western hemisphere countries have commonalities that make comparisons between them more valid than altitude.

                          * – And, of course, even that is a western hemisphere thing.

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                    • New Zealand is 0.9 per 100,000, Australia is 1.0 per 100,000, Canada is 1.5, Belgium is 1.8, Estonia is 3.1, Latvia is 3.9, the US is 3.9, Lithuania is 5.5.

                      Of that 3.9 per 100,000 US homicide rate, non-Hispanic whites probably account for 1.3 per 100,000.

                      But when we throw the borders open and admit people from nearby places that have homicide rates of 20 to 60 per 100,000, it’s going to boost our homicide rate until the troublemakers among them adopt our cultural norms, which can take up to several generations.

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                • We have one of the lowest homicide rates among countries with similar or higher homicide rates. Good then, nothing to see here.

                  Close. It’s that if you look only at the data on all the people in the US who don’t commit homicides, we have the lowest homicide rate in the world.

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    • Sent this feedback on that stinker of a Vox article:

      Correlating gun ownership with “gun-related deaths” or “firearm homicides” is a deeply flawed and maddeningly common form of analysis clearly designed to stack the deck in favor of the result you’re trying to get. What you’re trying to imply is that greater gun ownership causes more homicides and/or suicides. What you’re actually showing is that greater gun ownership is correlated with some combination of greater homicides and/or suicides plus a body-count-neutral substitution away from other methods of murder and/or suicide.

      Putting aside the fact that raw correlations are the weakest form of statistical analysis, the honest way to do this would be to correlate gun ownership with the intentional death rate (homicide + suicides).

      I’m fairly common that this give much less impressive results when it comes to suicides. The US may have unusually high rates of fire-arm related deaths, but its intentional homicide rate is above average but not an outlier (in between France and Finland, and well below Japan and South Korea).

      However, the US is still an outlier among wealthy countries when it comes to homicide, so I think you could get similar results for homicide without cheating. Which makes it all the more puzzling that authors who write these pieces continue to cheat like this.

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      • I’m fairly common that this give much less impressive results when it comes to suicides. The US may have unusually high rates of fire-arm related deaths, but its intentional homicide rate is above average but not an outlier (in between France and Finland, and well below Japan and South Korea).

        I think you mean “intentional death rate” there?

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      • correlate gun ownership with the intentional death rate (homicide + suicides).

        Why? Reducing guns would also reduce gun-related accidental deaths. Far more toddlers accidentally kill people with guns than with knives, after all. In my view, it measures exactly what it should be measuring: that our country’s love of gun ownership leads directly to our country’s problem with gun death.

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        • Far more toddlers accidentally kill people with guns than with knives, after all.

          In 2015 we had 43 people shot by toddlers (normally them shooting themselves and only 15 total deadly) (snopes). Same year we had 15,696 murders (NYT). So a 1% reduction in the murder rate would be worth doubling the number of toddlers killing people.

          In my view, it measures exactly what it should be measuring: that our country’s love of gun ownership leads directly to our country’s problem with gun death.

          If that’s actually a thing, then you can and should be comparing murder rates rather than “death by gun” rates to make your point.

          Exchanging “death by gun” or “suicide by gun” with “by something else” isn’t an improvement.

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        • Sure, we can throw those in too, I guess, but it wouldn’t change the results much. Deaths from accidental shootings are on the order of 1-2% of all shooting deaths.

          The point is that fewer guns could well lead to more homicides and especially suicides by other means. If you restrict access to guns, cutting annual shooting deaths by 10,000, and then stabbing homicides and hanging suicides go up by 10,000 because people switched methods, that hasn’t actually done any good.

          I’m not saying that would actually happen. I’m extremely confident that homicides and suicides by other methods would increase, but probably by not quite as much. But ultimately, we care about deaths, not gun deaths. If you can’t make your case without stacking the deck like this, maybe the case isn’t as strong as you think.

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  5. A disgruntled ex-employee just killed five people in Orlando with a gun.

    I suppose the hard part is teaching everyone to learn to deal with ex-amount of danger as a way of life. The most recent terrorist attacks, the truck as battering ram ones, are the hardest to stop and the most unpredictable.

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    • This.

      I once had an ex-coworker where everyone kind of tiptoed around in the days leading up to their official firing because we were fearful of….stuff. Nothing happened, ultimately, but it was a bad feeling. And I’ve had a few students that I was prepared to call security on if they came back after storming out of class.

      Then again, I suspect if I do “eat it” before my appointed threescore and ten or whatever it is these days, it will be because some idiot on the interstate decided “now is a good time to text” or else decided he could switch lanes without checking to see if there’s a car right next to him.

      I actively remind myself “You drive an hour’s round trip on the interstate, on Friday or Saturday afternoons, a couple times a month” when I start worrying about someone showing up on campus with a gun or something. Thus far it hasn’t made me afraid of driving….

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  6. The thing about the whole “let’s talk about Muslims” discourse is the obvious: let’s talk about the actual common thread in most gun violence: men.

    But that becomes a rather different conversation, eh guys?

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    • Well, it does, but it’s not a helpful one, since Men ~= 50% of the population, which makes it hard to narrow it down much further.

      Now men, who are single, have a history of failed relationships, a history of violence, a history of… etc. That gets us a bit further.

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      • — I’m happy to drill down that way. If we do so, we’ll catch a fair cross-section of the alt-right, which in turn is a fair cross-section of exactly those people saying, “Oh noes the Muslims!”

        Except “single” doesn’t quite cut it. Certainly many of these men are single, but it is hardly a universal trait. However, “history of abuse” probably would draw a fair circle around this population, at least as well as “Muslim” does.

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        • Well, no one trait is a solid marker, it’s the collection of traits in an individual that raise the flag. And my list is stuff off the top of my head, I’m sure the FBI has a much more exhaustive list.

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          • — Well, I’m sure the FBI does, but they seem no better at stopping angry white men than they are stopping angry Muslim men. Myself, I have to make my own risk assessments, and in my experience the biggest danger is not the lady with a hijab. She sits quietly on the train and minds her own business. For me, it’s the middle-aged white dude who feels “cheated” (meaning he lives a bland middle-class life) and believes a toxic stew of right-wing hate.

            These guys are less common in Boston than (I guess) Portland. However, as I’ve mentioned before, I do encounter them from time to time. One of them threatened to cut my throat (after harassing some brown people). This was maybe a year ago. In the current context, particularly with the Portland murders (along with a number of other murders that haven’t gotten much exposure), I wonder what that guy would do today?

            #####

            Anyway, my real point here is to illustrate how bigotry paints our approach to risk assessment. I certainly don’t want to die in a terrorist attack. However, I also don’t want to be murdered by some right-wing freak job. Which is more likely? Why do we so easily focus on the former but not the latter?

            After all, “angry disaffected men who have problems with women” would target the population perhaps better than worrying about who prays in which building.

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            • Whenever a spree killing happens, it seems to go something like this:

              The right: “A Muslim terrorist did this.”

              The left: “Crazy right wing white guy did this.”

              Me: “I’m almost 100% certain one of you is right, but I’m close to 0% certain as to which one.”

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              • It’s gotten to the point where you can feel the bated breath as everyone on Twitter waits to find out the race of the assailant.

                I’m convinced that a lot of hot takes from one side or the other end up going into the recycling bin when the answer comes out the other way.

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              • It’s gotten to the point where you can feel the bated breath as everyone on Twitter waits to find out the race of the assailant.

                I’m convinced that a lot of hot takes from one side or the other end up going into the recycling bin whenever the answer comes out the other way.

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                • That’s true, and it’s usually pretty unproductive, but if you take the union of the two sets of predictions, they turn out to be extremely powerful predictors instead of a toss of a coin. This is surely not a coincidence.

                  It’s just interesting to me that people make these arguments as though both can’t be right about half the time. A disaffected or otherwise prone to violence demographic of impressionable young men exposed to toxic ideas that increase their agitation and tendency toward violence seems to be a pretty obvious common thread. It’s just that each side wants to focus on the “boys will be boys” aspect of it for one and the “toxic stew of bad ideas” aspect of it for the other. They trade positions depending on which demographic they’re talking about.

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                  • — But more, here on this forum there are (as far as I can tell) zero Muslims (never mind disaffected Muslim men). There are, by contrast, a handful who are “alt-right” (or at least “alt-right adjacent”), who seem part of the “angry white man” memeplex. Yet here they are, spouting their hate. Here we are playing along as if their ideas are any less toxic than an Isis recruitment video.

                    I’m fine with the FBI digging into Muslim groups in the US, trying to find the vectors of radicalism. I also want them looking into the “angry white men” sectors, where we have perfectly analogous vectors of radicalism.

                    For us, we should know what we’re looking at when these guys run their mouths. There is no Isis propaganda on this site. There is right-wing hate.

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                    • Here we are playing along as if their ideas are any less toxic than an Isis recruitment video.

                      Muslims are about 1% of the population and Whites about 72% (counting Hispanics who identify as White) (google for both).

                      With that as the starting point, a coin flip chance (if it is that) is pretty impressive and suggests the Alt-Right’s ideas are a LOT less toxic (at least currently).

                      Expanding things to the world… there are entire countries threatened by ISIS (and a lot of their radicals leave for those battlefields).

                      I can’t think of anything similar for the alt-Right.

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                      • Muslims are 1-2% of the population. Many of them are, themselves, white.

                        The alt-right is probably more than 2% of the population, but it’s a hell of a lot less than 70%.

                        Also, I think the number of countries threatened by the alt-right expands considerably when you note the degree of influence the alt-right appears to have on certain regional and even global superpowers.

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                        • For example, I think I would argue that the world’s largest air force is controlled by the alt-right, and the world’s second largest air force is, if it is not controlled directly by the alt-right, is controlled by one of the major sponsors of the alt-right in other countries [1]. Both of these air forces are currently engaged in combat operations in Syria.

                          [1] In much the way that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may not itself be jihadist, but is a major sponsor of jihadism in other countries.

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                        • You’re comparing the radical fringe of the Whites, i.e. the White Power movement, to all Muslims. That’s probably not a useful comparison unless you’re claiming that all (or most) Muslims are as radical as the White Power movement.

                          And I don’t understand why you’re trying to go down this path. Is this an “all cultures need to equally create the same amount of violence” thing?

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                          • “Whites” don’t have a radical fringe, because “white” isn’t an ideological grouping unless you’re taking a stance that is, to be frank, a little too SJW-y even for me.

                            Nonetheless, if the argument is, let’s focus on the radical fringe of Muslims, I think that’s a great idea, and one that it seems like Muslims who are not-so-radically-fringy [1, 2] are pretty cool with. But if we’re talking about danger, I think the Muslim radical fringe is distinctly less dangerous than the right-wing radical fringe.[3]

                            [1] British Muslims were freaked out by the Manchester bomber long before he blew himself, and few dozen other Britons, to bits.

                            [2] ISIS poses a grave threat to Yazidis and Christians, to be sure, but most of their victims have been Muslims.

                            [3] There isn’t enough of a left-wing fringe to be super-dangerous now, but historically it’s probably the most dangerous of all.[4, 5]

                            [4] Did you know there are still people who describe themselves as Maoists? What the literal fuck.

                            [5] Unless you live in Venezuela, in which case, my condolences.

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                            • “Whites” don’t have a radical fringe, because “white” isn’t an ideological grouping unless you’re taking a stance that is, to be frank, a little too SJW-y even for me.

                              The KKK and the Aryan Nation would like a word with you, and they’ve got some friends they’d like to introduce to you on that topic.

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                  • It’s just that each side wants to focus on the “boys will be boys” aspect of it for one and the “toxic stew of bad ideas” aspect of it for the other.

                    Interesting observation, tho I tend to think there is a difference here. In general, lefties view both types of violent acts as emanating from a toxic ideological stew whereas righties think that’s only true of acts perpetrated by Muslim extremists. For them, the etiology of right wing violence traces back to ideological-independent causes, like mental illness and suchlike. And because of that the political dynamic takes on a slightly different character than you suggest. Or so it seems to me, anyway.

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                    • I won’t claim perfect symmetry because there’s basically never perfect symmetry. But I have heard quite a lot of people insisting that jihadi terrorists are all just bad or mentally ill guys looking for an excuse to do violence and not at all motivated by religious ideology. I don’t think those people would extend the same benefit of the doubt to, say, a white nationalist murderer.

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              • — Exactly.

                My point, is these two sets of people actually have much in common, but if we drill down on that commonality —

                — well, should it surprise us that the most virulent anti-Muslim assholes don’t want to drill down on that commonality.

                There is sufficient overlap between the “alt-right” and the “dudes on the Internet who say shitty things about women” that we should really treat them as the same group. They’re angry. They’re irrational. Their hatred feeds back on itself, growing within an insular community. We should expect a steady stream of homicide to emerge from that space.

                So yeah. The guy ranting about Muslims is likely more dangerous than any random Muslim I’ll encounter. The cops/FBI/etc. should be focusing on those guys as much as terrorism.

                So should we. Look who says what on this forum.

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              • What about the times when a maladjusted Muslim snaps or a white guy with an agenda kills some people who needed killing?

                I’m not convinced there isn’t a very similar continuum of individuals within two very dissimilar populations.

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                • I think those things happen too.

                  But if it was all just explainable by every population having a maladapted subset who will snap without any connection to ideology or culture, the predictions of wingers on Twitter wouldn’t have the extremely high hit rate that they do. If somebody is repeatedly making good predictions about what will show up in the news in a few hours, their model is probably more right than the “it’s just random wackos” model.

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                  • I see that. I see the possibility that similar pressures push down on similar types of person, and the steam escapes in a way that’s more or less shaped by the nozzle of their culture and conditions.

                    I think it would be very edifying if we could do a post-mortem with all these losers and find out what really made them do it. Unfortunately, in these cases “post-mortem” is most of the time not just a figure of speech…

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                    • I think we should also be very hesitant to assume that there’s necessarily something “wrong” with those people to begin with. Hitler didn’t just find himself a million plus damaged or deranged individuals to populate the SS. Sometimes all it takes is social pressure, really bad but catchy ideas, and a population of young men being passionate about ideas and group membership the way young men often are.

                      Just as it’s entirely possible to do Nazi stuff during the day and go home to your children and lead a fairly normal life, I think it’s also perfectly possible to be an otherwise normal guy who passionately believes that nonwhite foreigners are ruining America or that God really wants you to slaughter the bad people who are having an unholy influence on your culture. At the end of the day, it’s all just ideas and worldview, and I think that history shows that there’s nothing innate in human nature that prevents us from adopting some really horrifying ideas really passionately.

                      Maybe being a little bit off in the head helps, and maybe those people are disproportionately represented among the worst actors, but I suspect that’s about as far as it goes.

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            • Why do we so easily focus on the former but not the latter?

              Which one is more visually distinguishable? Which one constitutes “The Other” more readily?

              Read: It’s theater, not serious analysis.

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