Tag Archives: crime

Since 9-11 we have less crime but more fear of crime. A win-win for our rulers!

Summary:  Today we look at falling crime rates in America and our blindness to this good news, 16th in the seemingly endless series of posts showing Americans’ disconnect from reality, our inability or unwillingness to clearly see the world around us. This is the 2nd of 2 posts today.

Crime under the microscope

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I see no large reality-based community in America. Not on the Left; not on the Right — although each clearly sees their foes’ flaws. We stumble blindly into the 21st century. I doubt this will work well for us. Perhaps it’s for the best that we’re led by the 1% until that day we decide to rip off the blindfolds, again to see and stand like citizens.

Most of these posts discuss our inability to see our problems. Today we have the opposite, as we allow the government and Hollywood to conceal good news about falling crime rates. Gallup asks how many Americans believe the rate of crime has risen from last year? They compare the answers with the DoJ’s crime statistics.

Gallup: Crime vs our perception of it
There was an uptick in the violent crime rate during 2011 and 2012. The FBI’s 2013 report shows the estimated number of violent crimes in 2013 decreased 4.4% YoY and property crimes decreased 4.1%. The FBI prefers to use the 5-year average, which smooths out the noise.

Something happened in 2001.

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Our love for gun play grows as our trust in ourself wanes. Logical, mad, sad.

Summary:  Polls are our mirrors in which we see who we are and how we’re changing. The new Pew Poll showing our increased trust in gun-play reflects several obvious but grim trends in America. Let’s examine them. Always stare at the news; never ask for the blindfold. {This is the second of today’s posts}

“Well in the first place, an armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. For me, politeness is a sine qua non of civilization.”

— From Beyond this Horizon, a science fiction novel by Robert Heinlein (1942). Fun fiction, although quite false.

Americans trust in themselves

The saddest of graphs, from Gallup

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As you see in this graph, each year we have less confidence in ourselves, collectively. So, quite logically, we have less confidence in the officials we elect to run America. That makes us weak (we have power only when acting together), and strengthens those people with the resources and confidence to rule America. Worse, we are losing our ability to clearly see the world — and become more credulous in accepting things told to us by people we trust. This makes us easy to manipulate.

PEW poll on guns

Nowhere is this clearer than with gun rights. We have gone from several generations of moderate regulation to allowing widespread concealed carry to increasing agitation for open carry (something forbidden in most towns in the Wild West). It’s logical, in a mad way, that we’d turn to personal weapons for a sense of control and security (unraveling several centuries of social progress).

The reason we tell ourselves for this confidence in guns range from false to delusional, while the astonishing toll in blood astonishes people in other developed nations (subscribe to Robert Waldman on Twitter for horrific real time reports: @KagroX).

The latest Pew Poll about Americans attitudes about guns makes grim reading. Support for gun regulation has dropped significantly among most groups during the past ten years. Among Black Americans, the group suffering the most from gun violence, belief that guns protect them from crime almost doubled in two years (29% to 54%). It’s “the hair of the dog that bites” them; massive evidence proves this false. See the posts at the end for detailed debunking of the major myths about guns.

This reaching for guns oddly accompanies a long-term decline in the crime rate. The hysteria about 9-11 and Benghazi matches contrasts with our far larger annual death toll from mass shootings.

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Richard Castle shows us the dark reality of justice in 21st C America

Summary:  We continue our examination of the hit TV show “Castle”, today mining for insights about justice in 21st C America. Castle is a romantic comedy; an accurate depiction of our criminal justice system would be a horror show. As in the previous chapters of this series, this suggests that we might no longer defend America because we’ve lost confidence in it.  Spoilers!

We should fear Justice. If she weighs America in her scales, she might use that sword on us.

Lady Justice
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Contents

  1. “Castle” shows us 21st C American justice
  2. The collapse of our criminal justice system
  3. Feudal justice
  4. Other posts in this series about “Castle”
  5. For More Information
  6. They’ll have to carve these words off the Court’s building

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(1)  “Castle” shows us 21st C American justice

From the first episode of Castle.

BECKETT:  You have quite a rap sheet for a best-selling author: disorderly conduct, resisting arrest.
CASTLE:  Boys will be boys.
BECKETT:  It says here that you stole a police horse?
CASTLE:  Borrowed.
BECKETT:  And you were nude at the time.
CASTLE:  It was spring.
BECKETT:  And every time the charges were dropped.
CASTLE:  What can I say? The mayor is a fan.

BECKETT
Mr. Castle. You’ve got quite a rap sheet for a best-selling author: disorderly conduct, resisting arrest.

CASTLE
Boys will be boys.

BECKETT
It says here that you stole a police horse?

CASTLE
Borrowed.

BECKETT
Ah. And you were nude at the time.

CASTLE
It was spring.

BECKETT
And every time the charges were dropped.

CASTLE
What can I say? The mayor is a fan,

– See more at: http://seriesmonitor.com/castle/transcripts/season1/01.html#sthash.atyJdJrh.dpuf

BECKETT
Mr. Castle. You’ve got quite a rap sheet for a best-selling author: disorderly conduct, resisting arrest.

CASTLE
Boys will be boys.

BECKETT
It says here that you stole a police horse?

CASTLE
Borrowed.

BECKETT
Ah. And you were nude at the time.

CASTLE
It was spring.

BECKETT
And every time the charges were dropped.

CASTLE
What can I say? The mayor is a fan,

– See more at: http://seriesmonitor.com/castle/transcripts/season1/01.html#sthash.atyJdJrh.dpuf

BECKETT
Mr. Castle. You’ve got quite a rap sheet for a best-selling author: disorderly conduct, resisting arrest.

CASTLE
Boys will be boys.

BECKETT
It says here that you stole a police horse?

CASTLE
Borrowed.

BECKETT
Ah. And you were nude at the time.

CASTLE
It was spring.

BECKETT
And every time the charges were dropped.

CASTLE
What can I say? The mayor is a fan,

– See more at: http://seriesmonitor.com/castle/transcripts/season1/01.html#sthash.atyJdJrh.dpuf

BECKETT
Mr. Castle. You’ve got quite a rap sheet for a best-selling author: disorderly conduct, resisting arrest.

CASTLE
Boys will be boys.

BECKETT
It says here that you stole a police horse?

CASTLE
Borrowed.

BECKETT
Ah. And you were nude at the time.

CASTLE
It was spring.

BECKETT
And every time the charges were dropped.

CASTLE
What can I say? The mayor is a fan,

– See more at: http://seriesmonitor.com/castle/transcripts/season1/01.html#sthash.atyJdJrh.dpuf

This is a realistic description of High Justice in America, the criminal justice system for the rich. Drug use? Disorderly conduct? Sexual assault, rapeEven murder? Erased by money and power.

A young man of the middle class who commits crimes like Castle’s gets Middle Justice:  a criminal record, with punishment mitigated only if the relatives fund crippling legal fees. Disorderly conduct, indecent exposure, and resisting arrest are misdemeanors, usually punished by fines and probation — with possible “collateral consequences” such as loss of professional licenses and bonds.  Theft of the police horse is a felony, with punishment depending on the degree of anger felt by the police.

A young man of the lower classes commits such crimes gets Low Justice: a criminal record, with all of the above plus the possibility of jail time.

(2)  The collapse of our criminal justice system

The “Castle” TV show frankly if lightly describes some dark aspects of our criminal justice system, such as prison rape. But overall it is accurate as a “police procedural” in the same sense that Lord of the Rings describes warfare. Fun fantasy.

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Do guns make us more safe, or less? Let’s look at the research.

Summary:  The incidence of apparent murders justified under the “stand your ground” laws raises questions about the vast number of claimed “self-defense” gun use.  How many of these were justifications of improper use, not legitimate (and socially prestigious) self-defense? Fortunately there is research on the issue.  Here we look at samples of this research, most of which ruins the narrative created by the NRA.

20130123-nra

Contents

  1. What stories about guns reveal about us
  2. Do guns in the home make you safer?
  3. How are guns used?
  4. How are guns used by California teenagers?
  5. About studies showing massive rates of self-defense gun use?
  6. Other posts about guns in America

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(1)  The big picture:  What stories about guns reveal about us

This essence of The New America, what divides us from the America-That-Once-Was, is our willingness to believe what we’re told — no matter what the evidence — if it suits our prejudices. There’s no longer a reality-based community in this mad superpower.  We’ve examined this in a hundred posts on the FM website, looking at both Left and Right.  Recently we’ve examined inconvenient material about guns and climate, things partisans refuse to see least it ruin their beloved narratives.

When we open our eyes, returning to the skepticism and iconoclasm of our forefathers, then reform will again become possible in America.  How to make that happens might be the greatest challenge of our age for America.  Until then we remain pawns of our leaders, easily manipulated by our fears.

(2) Do guns in the home make you safer?

Risks and Benefits of a Gun in the Home“, David Hemenway, American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, November/December 2011 — Abstract:

This article summarizes the scientific literature on the health risks and benefits of having a gun in the home for the gun owner and his/her family. For most contemporary Americans, scientific studies indicate that the health risk of a gun in the home is greater than the benefit.

The evidence is overwhelming for the fact that a gun in the home is a risk factor for completed suicide and that gun accidents are most likely to occur in homes with guns. There is compelling evidence that a gun in the home is a risk factor for intimidation and for killing women in their homes.

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“Combating the Growing Threat of International Organized Crime”

Summary:  On rare occasions speeches by public officials deserve attention.  This is one, describing the growing danger of international criminal organizations.  For more on the geopolitical implications of this, see John Robb’s Global Guerillas website, or read his book Brave New War.  Hat tip on this to Simon Hunt Strategic Services.

Combating the Growing Threat of International Organized Crime“, speech by United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey,  given at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  Excerpt:

Perhaps we are victims of our own success because it seems that there is a widespread belief around the country that organized crime is no longer a serious threat. Most Americans think of organized crime only as a part of America’s past, its modern role merely the subject of popular movies or television dramas. I can assure you that organized crime is different in source and different in scope, but unfortunately this phenomenon, in a different institutional costume, is alive and well.

That is why, earlier this year, the Organized Crime Council met for the first time in 15 years. It did so because the United States faces a new and more modern threat, from international organized crime. We can’t ignore criminal syndicates in other countries on the naïve assumption that they are a danger only in their homeland, whether it is located in Eurasia, Africa, or anywhere else.

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