Facts don't matter when it comes to crime

Conservatives love to tell people on the left "F*ck your feelings", but when it comes to crime, feelings are the only thing that counts. Even the police recognize this fact.

When it comes to crime and politics, statistics don’t really matter. Feelings do.
Just ask San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott. Violent crimes such as homicides are up across California, but most other crimes are down.

“Statistics — I’m glad we track them, I’m glad we have them,” Scott told me. “I can tell people all day long that crime is down. But if you don’t think so and you don’t feel safe, then that has to matter to us.”

The crime rate and people's perception of the crime rate have been going in opposite directions for decades now. When it comes to crime, facts and feelings are completely detached from one another.



The giveaway is how people's perception of crime in their own neighborhoods, where reality is more likely to intrude, doesn't match their overall perceptions.

In a Washington Post/ABC News poll, 59 percent of respondents saw crime as a serious problem nationally, but only 17 percent felt the same way about their own area.

There are several reasons for this. The most obvious being the media's long-time philosophy: "If it bleeds, it leads." This tendency is bipartisan and has distorted people's perceptions since long before I was born.
But there is also a more naked, in-your-face partisan strategy as well.



Republicans in California — as they are nationally — are trying to make crime a top issue by triggering pandemic-stoked anxieties. Or as San Diego County GOP state Sen. Brian Jones titled an online video to constituents last week, “Democrat leaders abandon law-abiding families.”

Make no mistake about this. If you buy into the fear hype, and it is reflected in your voting, then we are looking for a return mass incarceration and an even more militarized police force.
That is what the Republicans are selling. They aren't being subtle about it.

The real kicker is that the Republican "solution" won't solve anything.
All you have to do is to dig down into numbers to figure that out.
There is one type of crime that is indeed increasing dramatically.

It's important to be clear about what types of crime are on the rise. Several forms of property crime, including robberies, residential burglaries and larceny declined in 2020 and continued to go down in the first quarter of 2021, according to a report from the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ), continuing a multi-year downward trend.
According to the FBI's preliminary 2020 findings, violent crime rose by 3% across the country last year. But the number of murders rose by 25% between 2019 and 2020 — the largest jump recorded in the US in a one-year period since the FBI began releasing annual figures in the 1960s.

Murders are waayyy up and that's a big deal. No one should downplay that.
However, you need to dig one level deeper to get the whole story.
First of all, it wasn't a blue/red thing.

"The political affiliation of the mayor of a city had nothing to do with the increase in homicide," said Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri St. Louis who co-authored the NCCCJ's most recent report. "Cities with Republican mayors, cities with Democratic mayors, if they were reasonably large cities, they probably saw an increase."

So switching political parties won't have any real effect on the crime rate. But if you look even deeper you'll see something important.


So yeah. The cause of the spike in murders has to do with our country being awash in guns. Which is not something conservatives have any intention of doing something about.
I'm a gun owner, but even I recognize that there are too many damn guns in this country and they are too easy to obtain.
Just to give you an idea of the scale of this issue, Mexico is suing American gun manufacturers.

For years, Mexican officials have complained that lax U.S. gun control was responsible for devastating bloodshed in Mexico. On Wednesday, they moved their campaign into American courts, filing a lawsuit against 10 gun companies.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Massachusetts, was the first time that a national government has sued gun makers in the United States, officials said. The suit accuses the companies of actively facilitating the flow of weapons to powerful drug cartels, and fueling a traffic in which 70 percent of guns traced in Mexico are found to have come from the United States.

I realize that if you want to be scared, someone telling you not to be scared does absolutely nothing to change your mind. When it comes to crime, facts mean almost nothing to those that are terrified.
But buying into the manufactured narrative has consequences.

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I've really beat the subject to death, but it's because I feel strongly about it,

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@gjohnsit so thank you. I don't know what the previous spikes in violence were caused by, but there was a rise in cinematic violence at the time, bigger fantasy firepower with massive destructive power in all it's glory. Reagan got shot and still was a gun rights advocate.

I think this time it's pretty much one political party is convinced that if you are not with them you are left wing, America hating commie scum deserving of torture and death, preferably by 2nd amendment means. If you're a patriot you can do no wrong. That and more and more guns presented as "The Answer" to everything, and courts always making new precedent of when it's ok to shoot someone.

Of course the other political party considers republicans "colleagues" so we're kind of on our own. Some how poverty, poor medical access and a general impossibility to change your circumstances have nothing to do with it.

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Pluto's Republic's picture


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Add some Truth to your daily news. CGTN — See the difference!

QMS's picture

You make a good point. The same concept applies to many issues beyond crime. Whatever the media monster wants public opinion to accept, facts be damned. It is the critical thinking skills that are being lost. Thanks for posting.

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I live in a small Florida county with approximately 74,000 people. Every month this is a shooting where someone is killed. Add to that there have also been at least 6 what I would call "drive-by" shootings this year. Someone shooting at someone from a car. I never knew that many people carried guns in their cars.

Most of the shootings have been of the domestic nature. Relatives killing each other. Usually, girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife. There was a boy who killed his grandmother, but I think he stabbed her to death. A couple of years ago, there was maybe one a year. Everybody here owns guns, usually multiple. Drug use is also rampant. It's as if everyone has gone insane.

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Instead of reporting irrelevant statistics from before the covid/george floyd/peaceful protests to defund the police, they use numbers from 2020, and 2021. Just look at how the local Fox21 spins the story using current statistics. https://kdvr.com/news/local/denver-crime-up-22-in-june-since-last-year/

They start out ok, using numbers for the entire state, like my town for instance where our biggest crime wave is littering during the weekly farmers market. The police here are always admonishing us to lock our places up at night instead of leaving everything wide open. Ever since our town got paved streets 20 years ago it's been ripe for a crime wave, any day now.

As the article progresses they get down to manipulating facts just like I thought they would. Aurora, the part of Denver with the most violent crime, the most people of color living in poverty, violent crime is up 50% over the first quarter of last year, murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, what a bunch of cry babies. I expect we'll be getting porch pirates stealing our Amazon stuff any day now.

Like I said, it's the media in cahoots with Trump and maybe the Russians or something. The media needs to learn how to use the right pronouns, and statistics from time periods that are irrelevant.

This conspiracy isn't just Fox, and the Republicans, it's the Atlantic, the New Yorker, the NYT, even our own Denver post, AP, and Reuters.

Even the Denver Police Chief! He lays the blame on letting out half the people in jail, says 59% of homicides are committed by people with a previous felony. What does a police chief know about crime?

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@ban nock
And what's irrelevant about 2020?

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

@The Voice In the Wilderness yes, snark, not enough time to write it well but the time periods to look at are mid 2020 to now. It's hard to get very recent numbers but the cities keep their own and it's pretty bad. I like gjohnsit's things in general, especially economics, class, etc. But he's in denial on this, as is much of the left side of the party.

The sad part is it takes years to have good policy actually put a dent in crime, there's a lot more to it then having more cops crack down.

Most people don't feel increases in crime. It's happening in the most underserved zip codes in the country, and it's hitting them hard. Some of it is spilling over onto issues like anti Asian crime, homelessness, that kind of thing.

2024 is looking bad. A percent can hurt.

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@ban nock

But he's in denial on this, as is much of the left side of the party.

I am fully aware that no amount of facts will make a bit of difference.
Just like I'm fully aware that you aren't going to try and disprove any of the facts that I presented. You don't have to, because facts don't matter. Analogies, like your example above are more important than overall reality because of how they make you feel.
Sort of like how like people will get more excited about a meme than the truth.

I am fully aware that Republicans, running on a law-and-order platform, are going to destroy the Democrats in the next election and that the very modest reforms that we've had in the past decade or so will be reversed and our militarized police force will be worse than ever before, while the prison population will skyrocket.
And yet the murder rate won't change significantly. And somehow it'll be the fault of people on the left.

This is why I've been looking at retiring in another country.

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@ban nock
Cook County has not prosecuted a felony since the pandemic lockdown began. The only trials have been without juries for arrestees pleading guilty. Electronic monitoring since it is "inhumane" to incarcerate when prisoners could catch covid. So nightly murders. A one year old girl gunned down last nights in aparent gang retaliation. Politicians vow to find out where guns are comi9ng from. I KNOW WHERE THE MURDEROUS PUNKS ARE COMING FROM. BTW, the victims are all black or hispanic. Haven;t seen a white victim for months. But go ahead, defund the police. That will stop crime.

I'm sure that you all will call me an atavist. but the electric chair stopped those particular punks from ever killing again.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

@The Voice In the Wilderness Life in prison without parole prevents a murderer from murdering.
Death penalties require innocent people participate in killing a person, and there are statistics that show appellate judges so respect jury verdicts that later found evidence, such as DNA, show INNOCENCE, they still order the penalty of death be carried out.
I not only live within an hour's drive of a museum featuring "Old Sparky", the infamous Texas electric chair, I once worked with a man who's Dad was the one to pull the lever on the chair. This man not only grew up being spat upon by his peers at public school, he also lived through his father's premature death, due to depression and alcoholism. The Texas Prison System actually provided the liquor to the lever guy because he had to be drunk to do it.
I have also represented 2 prison guards whose job was to monitor those on death row inmates. One of them went into deep depression, and was living on the streets, and the other one quit before he went nuts.
The Death Row guards live in constant fear of being killed. Their spouses and children are also in mortal danger.
The death penalty has outlived it's usefulness. And not a single method, electric chair, lethal injection, or firing squad, is guaranteed not to violate the US Constitution barring cruel and unusual punishment.


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@on the cusp
After like twenty years, Liberals start to whine about the inhumanity of incarceration and they get released. Unfortunately, their victims are never released from their death. Anyone who deliberately shoots a baby deserves to die. Last year there was case where a baby was raped and then strangled. The electric chair is to good for that one.

So "without parole" is a red herring. I read (on a Liberal blog) that the average sentence for murder in Cook County is four years. Much less than the average sentence for burglary (15 years IIRC). Of course, murder is usually committed on the poor and working class, while you have to own property and have something worth stealing to be burgled.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

@The Voice In the Wilderness @The Voice In the Wilderness Life without parole is exactly that.
I deeply regret knowing you believe killing people convicted should die, and die horribly.
If you knew the inside of the prosecutorial system, throughout the US, you would change your mind in an instant. You haven't seen prosecutors, judges, and cops hide mitigating evidence.
I have.
Never be sure of the government's evidence. They are usually politically motivated.
Go visit a person in death row. Ask them what it is like to be tortured mentally.The dread.
I have.
your turn.

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@on the cusp
Tell it to the Kennedys. Tell it to the children deprived of a father. Even my father who opposed the whole Kennedy clan, was horrified "that a US Senator is murdered for expressing his political views." So now Sirhan Sirhan is free to be lionized and supported by anti-Semites.

"The law is for the rich. The gallows is for the poor and justice is for fools."

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

usefewersyllables's picture

are *those*?

This is just another product of the post-truth world. The War On Objective Truth is winding down, and it would appear to have been won (although I've never been able to understand who the sides actually are). We now have a sizable fraction of the country who will reject, out of hand and with no further study, any and all information that has come from Da Gummint.

Problem is, a lot of information (such as crime stats) has to come from Da Gummint, since they are the only people who actually have it available. So it isn't just about feelings: it is about which propaganda source a given person has adopted as Their Personal Truth. In the case of the aforementioned folks who summarily reject anything touched by Da Gummint, that's generally Fox News, in the best case. In the worst case, there are legions of demagogues lurking under every rock who will happily tell them Exactly What They Want To Hear on pretty much any topic. And if the information came from Da Gummint, it has to be a Lie, and exactly the opposite must therefore be True.

Same thing applies to the folks who choose to believe only Da Gummint, of course, before I cause a pig-pile on top of myself... Pure tribalism. Your team BAD, my team GOOD, ook ook (dangles by one arm from the cage and flings feces). You know the drill.

Truth is now dead: the only things that remain are team membership, propaganda and opinion- the louder shouted, the better. It's a free country, and everyone is absolutely within their rights to choose their own personal reality. Let's see how that works out.

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

lotlizard's picture

— tourists from Hong Kong, passengers on a German suburban train — with an axe, maiming and disfiguring them for life.

The thing is, arguing statistics doesn’t address the shock of being forced to realize that such an attack could occur at all.

Witnessing society and its opinion leaders react by expressing more concern for the groups the perpetrator is a member of, than for the actual victims, is also disturbing.

(As I indicated the other day, the same psychological effect applies in the case of violent crimes I hear about that are said to have been specifically directed at Asian-Americans.)

“First they came for white Europeans, at their Christmas markets and worship services, or strolling along the beach at Nice, or just being teens at a pop concert. But I was not a white European who goes to Christmas markets, or strolls along the beach at Nice, or is a teen who frequents pop concerts in Manchester or Paris, and also didn’t want to risk being characterized and cancelled as a neo-Nazi, so I said nothing…”


“Social Democrat / Green / Left Party dominated German public broadcaster RBB acknowledges problematic refugee-smuggling phenomenon that AfD populists have been complaining about for six years to no avail” — could be a Babylon Bee headline if BB were based in Berlin:

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The cause of the spike in murders has to do with our country being awash in guns. Which is not something conservatives have any intention of doing something about.

How do you explain the long decline in gun homicide between the peak in the early 90's up to 2017-18 or so - both an absolute decline and even greater one per capita, given population increase?

During which time gun ownership greatly increased as did legal concealed weapons carry?


(gun homicides numbers were pretty stable from 2015 - 2019 according to FBI stats)

BTW - I imagine that ban nock's (rural CO?) or OtC's (rural TX?) or Lookout's (rural AL?) are all 'awash in guns' by your standards - maybe they can give us the lowdown on their local spikes in murders?

I'd contend that the problem tends more one of social capital - or lack thereof. If a significant segment of your population is lacking a moral imperative towards social responsibility and face no other deterrent to engaging in violent, anti-social actions then a whole lot of people are going to get hurt.

And as Voice in the Wilderness points out - most of the victims are going to be from the most marginalized and vulnerable segments of society - where is the concern for *them*?

“You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization -- including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain -- without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large.”

― Thomas Sowell

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@Blue Republic

I'd contend that the problem tends more one of social capital - or lack thereof. If a significant segment of your population is lacking a moral imperative towards social responsibility and face no other deterrent to engaging in violent, anti-social actions then a whole lot of people are going to get hurt.

Let's start with the concept of deterrence.
Those same social groups are being killed by police at shockingly high numbers, while also being imprisoned by numbers never before seen in history.
So are you saying that there isn't enough deterrence already? Outside of (more) extra-judicial killings, what else would you suggest?
Mass incarceration has societal costs too. Many of today's criminals grew up without fathers who were in jail.

As for the country being awash in guns, we've got more guns than any other nation on Earth.

How do you explain the long decline in gun homicide between the peak in the early 90's up to 2017-18 or so - both an absolute decline and even greater one per capita, given population increase?

True, but it didn't decline nearly as fast and far as the overall homicide rate.

Now do I do agree with your statement of "a significant segment of your population is lacking a moral imperative towards social responsibility", but I tend to view that segment of society being wealthy people who have strip mined the working class and caused so much suffering.
There is a clearly defined connection between extreme poverty and crime.

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lotlizard's picture

What the Right understands and the Left often misses is this. A phenomenon like crime has much more significance than can be captured by _quantitative_ (i.e. statistical) observations alone.

People on the Left can try to argue as if only quantitative observations count as facts, but the facts about crime are qualitative as well.

For example, when a chain of actions of Muslims in France leads to the beheading of a schoolteacher on the street with the perpetrator even posting video on the Internet, liberals can’t act is if this is just a further “1” to be added to a statistician’s count of murders.

Crime is much more than just numbers of cases. Who exactly is doing what, to whom, where, and why? How have the answers to these questions changed and shifted over time? What could be the causes of these shifts?

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