Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Things Getting Better in America

Domestic Violence: over the 1993 to 2012 period, the number of Americans assaulted by an "intimate partner" fell by more than half, from 13.5 per thousand to 5.0.

Sexual Abuse of Children: Down 60 percent from 1990 to 2010. (Obviously this is really hard to measure, but if anything our data ought to be getting more complete, not less so.)

Drunk Driving. Fatalities caused by drunk drivers down 51% from 1982 to 2009.

Teen Pregnancy. Down 51% from 1990 to 2010.

Violent Crime. Down 49% from 1991 to 2014. (Murder bumped back up a little last year but other violent crimes continued to fall.)

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

You assume people care about these things. I honestly believe for the most part, they don't.

To the average American, domestic abuse, rape, and murder are things that only happen to "other people" - specifically to people whom they generally will never interact with or even think about, and people who probably "deserved it" somehow, like the poor or the desperate.

No, I think most Americans couldn't care less about violent crimes unless they personally are directly impacted. Most people get far more riled up over football games then they do about the tragedies that play out every day in "bad neighborhoods", because it simply isn't real to them.

You can recite statistics to them all day, tell them that X number of people they've never met were gunned down in the street last year, and it means nothing to them. Likewise, telling them that only half as many people they've never met were brutally beaten, rapred, or murdered this years also means nothing to them. It's all just so vague and insubstantial. They can't feel pity or empathy for people they don't have even the most basic understanding of. Someone who has never lived in a ghetto can't properly comprehend what life is like there, and they can't properly value the lives of the unfortunates who overwhelmingly make up the victims of our societal violence.

Of course, violent crimes do happen in middle class suburbia too sometimes - but far less regularly, to the point that they can be written off as just random flukes and quickly forgotten or put out of mind. And when something is that uncommon - that rare in a given location or context - and you tell people within that context, "Good news! Murder is down 50%!", what they hear is "Good news! This thing that almost never happens is happening even less than it was before!.

It's like being reassured that attacks by zebras carrying combat knives between their teeth have dropped 72% - it's information that a lot of people simply cannot relate to. Unless you live in the crazed knife-zebra capital of the world, you just don't have any reason to care.

But maybe you've seen something change recently in your middle class suburban neighborhood that -does- trouble you. Maybe that empty house at the end of the block got bought by a family of Mexicans (or maybe Cubans? some other kind of Hispanic entirely? you're not sure, and that makes it even more worrying!). Maybe you've started to see young black men playing basketball at your local park (what are they up to? selling drugs? recruiting our young men into gangs? seducing our young women? they're a menace, I tell you!) Maybe you went into the grocery store yesterday and they had added an ethnic food aisle! And worse still - you saw a woman wearing a headscarf there, and she was speaking what must have been Arabic! (huh? Ukrainian you say? well I don't -care- which country in the Middle East she's from! all of their kind aren't welcome here!)

This is what many people truly get upset about, spurred on by the hysterical fearmongering of modern mass media, and this is what a huge portion of our nation's political landscape is built upon. Violent crimes are in decline? Who cares! Our neighborhoods are under attack from Mexican rapists and Black gangbangers and Muslim terrorists! They're stealing our jobs and bringing drugs and violence into our peaceful communities! They're godless heathens out to destroy America! Somebody should do something about it!