Answer to America’s Prayers

Answer to America’s Prayers July 24, 2015

An answer to America's prayers

Both Hemant Mehta (who shared the above cartoon by James MacLeod) and Lauren Nelson blogged about the recent shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana, and their sentiments were along similar lines.

Prayer often emerges from a feeling of helplessness in the face of circumstances beyond our control. But prayers about shootings are like the person who prays not to get lung cancer and yet smokes, or who eats unhealthily and prays for good health nevertheless.

We are not helpless. We can go as far as we want in dealing with the reasons why gun violence is more common in the United States than in other, otherwise similar countries. Personally, I would rather see the second amendment to the U. S. Constitution repealed altogether, than see it implemented in the way it currently is, with guns easily accessible to all sorts of people who should not have access to them, from small children to angry white men and other terrorists. But if you don’t want to go that far, and are persuaded that the majority of Americans would not support such a move, then let’s figure out how far the majority of us are ready to go with respect to gun control, and then let’s go at least that far together.

Sometimes we must be the answer to our own prayers. The problem of gun violence in the United States seems like such an instance. But if you are going to do nothing, and persuade yourself that nothing can be done even though that clearly isn’t true, then what’s the point in praying?

Of related interest, if you haven’t seen it, you should read the 2014 article from The Onion on this topic: “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”

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  • TK

    “angry white men and other terrorist” -really?
    Let’s try enforcing the current laws.

    • rubaxter

      Problem is us’ins don’t enforce the laws, the gun nuts, like cops and their sponsors/brethren the DAs, do.

      We’ve seen, in recent US incidents involving those below average adults, what happens.

  • ccws

    Amen, brother, AMEN.

  • spinkham

    I’m not opposed to increased gun registration and other controls, but I don’t think gun control is the answer. In many of the attacks that make the news, a small improvised explosive or 3 would have done the job just as well, and are basically impossible to stop people from building.

    Better places to start are looking at the psychology and fears that drives these people, and then reducing those social ills. For example, reducing inequality, increasing the opportunities for people entering the workforce, curtailing the politics of fear mongering that “the other” will take your jobs/women/whatever etc.

    Inequality correlates much more strongly with the sorts of social dysfunction that drives these mass shootings than gun ownership. Norway has way more guns than we have, but way less inequality and fear, and very little in the way of violence. On the other hand, it’s not unheard of there either,, but it’s much less common statistically.

    • a small improvised explosive or 3 would have done the job just as well,
      and are basically impossible to stop people from building.

      -Doubtful. If they were easy to build, there’d be more explosives.

      Inequality correlates much more strongly with the sorts of social
      dysfunction that drives these mass shootings than gun ownership.

      -Highly doubtful. So moving Beverly Hills into Haiti would increase mass shootings in Haiti? I don’t think inequality is the cause of America’s mass shooting problem.

      • Michael Wilson

        Yeah, drifters and nuts that think their the joker aren’t going to put in the time to build quality explosives. On the other hand the belief that this doesn’t happen any where else isn’t really true, we just don’t care in the us about crime in Europe or elsewhere. We’re a nation of 300 million, we’re gonna have more criminally insane maniacs than a country of 10-50 million. We probably still have more mass shootings, but if we only had half as many, it would still get the same reaction. Personally, I don’t fret much about maniacs. Statistically my neighbor is more likely to try and kill me. I often find that the sensible measures to curb gun violence would not stop the killings that have happened and as far as repealing the 2nd amendment, the half of America that owns a gun simply won’t give them up to stop something that has a 1 in a million chance of affecting them.

      • -Doubtful. If they were easy to build, there’d be more explosives.

        Agree with this. Here in the UK, where we have very tough gun control laws, we are not swamped with aggrieved ex-employees or jilted lovers taking out their frustrations with IEDs.

        • Tim Layne

          No, they are busy stabbing each other to death. Why make an IED when the kitchen butcher knife is handy.

          • There are certainly still murders in the UK, though I think murder rates here are much lower than in the US. But it’s obviously harder to commit the kinds of mass murders and spree killings that seem so depressingly frequent in the US if you only have access to a kitchen knife.

          • Michael Farrens

            Mentioned below. If you take out DC, Detroit and Chicago, the US is on par with the rest of the developed world. Also mass murders are a very small portion of murders. The news just gets better viewership on these crimes. Coming from the popular view that “all lives (supposedly) matter.” Thanks

          • Why would you take out those three cities? Could I then take out (say) London, Manchester and Liverpool from the UK to show that the UK is reaaally safe?

          • Michael Farrens

            As a percentage of population those three in the US wouldn’t do much, especially compared to the UK example. I’m not sold on it either. Just hear it talked about a lot and wanted to see what other people thought.

          • Bah, nonsense. Those cities contain less than 2% of the U.S. population, combined. In the U.S., White homicide rates are comparatively high, too.

          • kiljoy616

            True for the UK its more about people standing around like sheep scared out of their mind until they can get someone with a gun to deal with the problem. I would personally never live in that kind of place.

          • There are very few circumstances where having a gun in the UK would “deal with the problem”. In any case, UK police are not routinely armed. For the most recent year I can find data, (11/12) there were only 39 firearms murders in the UK, something like 5% of all murders. I suspect if you dug deeper, you’d find that many of these are gang related, not honest civilians standing around like sheep while bad guys take pot shots at them.

            The most at risk group for murder in the UK is children under 1 year old. Not sure how having lax firearms laws would help there?

            I’m not saying that the UK is a paradise, but the idea that owning a gun would make me any safer is laughable – statistically I’d be more likely to kill myself with it than any gun toting intruders. I would have no problems living in the US, despite the gun laws, but if you don’t want to live over here…. hey, that just means more warm beer and free medical care for me!

          • asmondius

            ‘Free medical care’ up to the point the government decides you are still worthy of it. And if you think it’s ‘free’, you must be an immigrant from France or Greece.

          • The UK has reciprocal agreements with those countries, so that’s an odd point to make.

          • kiljoy616

            Considering how easily it is to look up murder online for the UK an Japan your not really up to speed of what is going on in your country. But then those who are unarmed have to delude themselves if not imagine the stress you be under.

      • Tim Layne

        You are full of doubts but apparently no solutions. Also you are committing a lot of logical fallacy with the false comparisons. Moving Beverly Hills into Haiti? What sort of nonsense is that? Please learn to think things through.

        • How’s that a logical fallacy? It’s what the commenter I was responding to was implying. Philosophy consists of thought experiments such as this.

      • JenellYB

        Have to disagree with your view on the inequality correlations. Rates of both violent and property crimes do correlate consistently and directly to inequality of income and/or opportunities, downturns in the economy and high unemployment/underemployment are about the only factors that do so consistently. I’ll see if I can find a good link to source this to, but this was something I studied in the process of a degree in Psychology.

        • Well, if Beverly Hills moved to Haiti, of course you’d expect property crime and theft to go up in Haiti. According to Tyler Cowen, he felt quite safe in Haiti as it was crowded and people were too poor to profitably rob.
          Crime went down in the aftermath of the Great Depression and 2008 recession in the U.S.

      • spinkham

        I’m really tempted to put a link to LMGTFY and the search terms “inequality” and “murder”.

        Here’s one study:

        “The results were unambiguous: when income inequality was higher, so was the rate of homicide. Income inequality alone explained 74% of the variance in murder rates and half of the aggravated assaults.”

        Here’s the relevant Wikipedia segment:

        You can stick the sources from those into google scholar and read papers till the cows come home. The correlation is quite strong.

        Of course, mass murders are statistical noise in the much largerl dataset of murders. For that reason I must admit I personally care much more about the general murder rate than the mass murders that make the headlines…

        If it’s mass murders specifically you care about, you might want to read about the causes of terrorism in general, as that’s the profile these people fit, and those were where my other suggestions were targeted. This link by the APA is a decent place to start: Otherwise, search for “Scott Atran podcast” and any of the top links have great discussion on who tends to fit that profile and why. Scott Atran has spent his life studying and working with terrorists and other radicals, and has quite a few insights that are helpful.

        • I sorta get the mechanism for aggravated assaults, but not murders. Could you explain how the mechanism of income inequality leading to crime works in detail? I understand how it might lead to property crime and kidnappings, but not murders.

          I doubt more than a small fraction of mass murders in the U.S. can be considered terrorism. Terrorism is always a political act, and most U.S. mass murders are apolitical.

          • Michael Wilson

            It seems mixed regarding income inequality. Look at the nations comparable to the U.S. in inequality and homicide, you will see there is a lot disparity. Its true that the nations with the most inequality have the greatest murder rates, but these nations are much poorer. People are desperate, their starving and disease ravaged. Its rich are a hand full of corrupt generals and bureaucrats. I think if the inequality stayed the same, but incomes all rose 100% crime would drop.

            And again, we are talking MASS murders. I agree that there is little evidence people shoot up public gathering because their so much poorer than others. Jealous and envious, but not about those on the highest peeks, but those close by. The Aura, columbin, woukd not have been stopped by more equal incomes.

          • spinkham

            > I think if the inequality stayed the same, but incomes all rose 100% crime would drop.

            There’s a lot of data to look at that you haven’t considered. For example, income inequality and murders and other crime strongly correlate across US cities and states as well as across the world.

            This study directly looks the difference between inequality and poverty, and clearly blames inequality. It is one of many:

            High inequality destroys social trust and causes a lot of social anxiety, both of which lead to violence. As wikipedia says, there have been tons of studies over the past 30 years to try to see if some other factor explains the data better, and none does.

            As to mass murders specifically, I wrote above more extensively about the psychological and social causes, and yes, decreased inequality would have knock on social effects that would decrease drastically the number of mass shootings. As the Norwegian example shows they wouldn’t eliminate it, but we can’t eliminate any type of crime in general.

          • Michael Wilson

            The US correlation follows the third world pattern, high inequality states are full of poor people who tend to commit more crime irregardless of their neighbors. But look at new york state, which has the nations highest inequality but modest crime. Here the inequality is caused by it having an abundence of the hyper-rich not high rates of poverty.

          • spinkham

            Poor is relative. The US fits the “raise everyone 100%” model from Haiti, and yet the correlation stays. Sure, I’d probably agree that giving everyone more money would tend to raise social trust and decrease crime, but not as much as a system that raised incomes and distributed it more evenly.

            For New York State, what’s the inequality level, and the comparative crime rate in a control with most of the same characteristics but a lower inequality? If you’re not thinking about the data in that kind of way, you’re just hunting for counter examples you think brake the rules because you don’t like the conclusions. It should make you pause that the people who engage in that kind of rigour and try to poke holes in each other’s theories roundly disagree with you.

          • Michael Wilson

            I think the sorts of examples like New York give pause to the notion that inequality is the driver of murder. There are other more important factors at work. New York’s high inequality us driven by the disproportionate number of billionaires that live there. Yet they didn’t cause New York to skyrocket ahead of Missouri, a state with considerably less inequality than Mississippi but just as much murder. What are the other factors involved? I think the correspondence you see is a result of generaly poor states tending toward higher inequality, but adding a few hyper wealthy individuals to a wealthy state will not increase murder but lowering inequality by leveling incomes in poor state will not decrease murder. Haiti wouldn’t be better if its few wealthy people left for Beverley hills.

          • Ian

            It depends what you mean by political, surely. A crime against women for being women in a society that gives them rights, or a crime against black people in a society that gives them rights. I think those are political. There are plenty of apolitical mass murders, but I think they’re reasonably common.

            When a perp is middle-eastern we talk about ‘radicalisation’ and ‘terrorism’ right off. But this guy? I wonder if there’ll be as much hand wringing about white male radicalisation against women.

          • Michael Wilson

            Ian, first is violence against women an especially white phenomenon?

            Regarding terrorism their have been a number of white terrorist groups and they are all called out for their terrorism; basque separatist, IRA, various Marxist groups, the Unabomber, Tim McVeigh, and so on. It is ignorent to imagine muslims as a terrorist group generally but not to talk about Muslim terrorist. I disagree with this push to lable all sorts of crimes terrorism to distract from efforts of ISIS, Al-quad, Hamas, and other self identified Islamic terror groups.

          • Ian

            first is violence against women an especially white phenomenon?

            First, are you saying that any observation of a particular event has to apply universally to all events?

            You’re smarter than that ploy, Michael.

            Houser was a white male with radically anti-feminist beliefs. Will we hear much handwringing about the radicalisation of such people?

            ISIS, Al-quad, Hamas, and other self identified Islamic terror groups.

            When did IS and Hamas self-identify as a terror group? Or do you mean they are self-identified as Islamic?

            I didn’t mention terrorism at all, so not sure if that bit is responding to me.

            I think of terrorism as a tactic involving inciting fear in a civilian population to force policy changes. But I’ve little patience for definitions, so I don’t think that is the ‘right’ definition. Terrorism, insurgency, guerilla warfare, freedom fighters, they are all concepts with primarily political utility.

          • Michael Wilson

            No, we won’t here much hand wringing outside leftist circles because it isn’t especially relevant. With such a powerful presence in the mid east and Africa and Europe it is right to worry about incidences inspired by islamic jihadist in America.
            “When a perp is middle-eastern we talk about ‘radicalisation’ and ‘terrorism’ right off. But this guy?” Is what I was referring to regarding terrorism.

          • Ian

            ‘radicalisation’ and ‘terrorism’ right off. … Is what I was referring to regarding terrorism.

            My bad, sorry.

            With such a powerful presence in the mid east and Africa and Europe it is right to worry about incidences inspired by islamic jihadist in America.

            As opposed to anti-woman violence? Why is that irrelevant? Other than the fact that you’re male? Because it has only loose organisation? Which has killed more Americans? Realistically, which is most likely to have a higher death-toll over the next 10 years?

            I’m not suggesting it isn’t worth being worried about Islamist radicalisation, but I don’t get why radicalisation of anti-feminists is ‘irrelevant’ since we’re talking about a public shooting by someone with such views. I get that the media won’t talk about it because it doesn’t fit the standard narrative, but I’ve no idea why it is irrelevant.

          • Michael Wilson

            Organisation is one factor. First, reading on the gun man’s back ground while I would bet he is misogynistic he was generally a right wing conspiracy theorist with neo-nazi tendancies. I’m not sure what his motive was for picking that particular movie, though the thought is the crime its self was inspired by Holmes’ recent appearances in the news. I’m not sure if this was intended to make a statement about women, but if you know more, inform me. Now back to the point, anti-feminist terrorist, or neo-nazi/conspiricy wing nut terrorist have nothing close to the sort of orginization as the jihadists. David Duke and Westborough Baptist have yet to murder anyone, call for anyones murder, and certainly don’t gave access to 100s of millions of dollars or tens if thousands of armed troops. That makes them less scary. I feel that reactions to the Tennessee incident were overblown, but it is more troubling than the Louisiana incident.

            Regarding anti-women terrorism’s long term toll, first I think it stretches the term to view all acts of violence against women as terrorism. Violence against people is a sad part of the fabric of human society, but every instance of wife beating or, jealousy crimes is not a political act intended for all women, no more than two men fighting on a play ground or in a bar is a political act aimed at all, whatever. Political crimes like assassination and terrorism have aims more deadly than their immediate human cost. They deteriorate the overall well being of society in ways more pronounced than general crime. More men were killed the day MLK was assassinated in brawls, robberies, and jealous rages than the one killed by James Ray, but his killing had more negative consequences by far than all those other deaths so focusing on that crime was not disproportionate.

          • Ian

            I think it stretches the term to view all acts of violence against women as terrorism

            I don’t, but also discounting the body-count of misogynistic violence because it doesn’t qualify as ‘terrorism’, so it isn’t as important as the ‘terrorist’ deaths seems incredibly biased.

            every instance of wife beating is not a political act intended for all women

            Nobody claims it does. You seem to be fond of arguing to an untrue universal so you can avoid discussing a point. “X takes place”… “Not every thing is X!”. That’s the second time you’ve tried that.

            If you think that violence against women is not significantly about gender, then I don’t know what to say. I’m rather shocked you could imply that.

            Political crimes like assassination and terrorism have aims more deadly than their immediate human cost.

            So do many crimes against women. They operate on a subtext of subjugation, of male power over women, of cultural presumptions of women’s roles, responsibilities, and behavior. That in turn propagates violence against women which kills women every day. I’m sorry you think that misogyny isn’t particularly deadly. Comparing it to a playground fight seems to speak a lot about your views of women.

          • Michael Wilson

            My view of women is that they are equal to men, hence I believe that violence between men is the same as violence between a man and a woman. Since we’re sharing personal attacks, your view of women seems Victorian ands to discrimination against women as it reinforces the sterotype that women are not as capable as men and need “protection”

            You just claimed every act of violence against women is intended for all women.
            ” “I think it stretches the term to view all acts of violence against women as terrorism”
            I don’t””

            When I talk terrorism, I’m speaking of a political crime. When I talk assassination I’m speaking of a political crime. “Martin Luther King was assassinated, Biggie and Tupac were murdered” Chris Rock
            Many assaults and murders are to terrify, but we know that, its common knowledge so we don’t need a separate term. But if we call every mobland hit or street brawl terrorism, what do we call 9/11 and like crimes?

            Most violence agaist women is about control in personal relationships.
            I have lived with a gay couple that engaged in domestic violence. No one was the woman there. Nor in any if the other incidents of domestic violence I have known in gay couples. Their domestic disputes are no different than those between heterosexual couples. There are no subtext here, just people willing to use violence to control, a universal human failing.

          • Ian

            You just claimed every act of violence against women is intended for all women. ” “I think it stretches the term to view all acts of violence against women as terrorism”
            I don’t””

            My ambiguous wording, sorry. I mean I don’t view all attacks against women as terrorism. I thought it would be clearer from the rest of the sentence you didn’t quote there, which doesn’t much make sense if I thought all violence against women is terrorism.

            it reinforces the sterotype that women are not as capable as men

            Any more than your view of Islamist violence portrays all Americans as weak and incapable? It’s a weird reading. If you think identifying a group as being targeted is ‘Victorian’ then you’ve got some weird ideas on history and ethics, I think.

            My claim is this: there is an active and widespread male-dominance ideology in the west that targets women with aggression, violence, harassment and murder. It is largely ignored or diminished in significance by men who a) change the subject onto other violence, b) claim they’re the real egalitarians, c) deny the problem is systemic, d) claim women who raise the issue are irrational or anti-men, e) claim men who raise the issue are patronising or white-knighting. This ideology is given shelter by a much wider culture that discounts women’s experience of smaller aggressions and portrays more serious aggression as individual, random, and unconnected.

            I’m speaking of a political crime

            Which is my original point: it depends what you mean by political. If you mean political as having ramifications in government, or if you mean political as applying disproportionately to a group by virtue of their group membership. I was suggestion targeting women is a political act, by using the second sense of the word. I’d go further and say that because of the latter it should be political in the first sence.

            I have lived with a gay couple that engaged in domestic violence.

            What relevance is there that domestic abuse occurs between men or between women or perpetrated by women on men? If you still imagine we’re talking about *all* situations, then okay, it proves that the situation isn’t universal. We agree. But as I keep saying, that has never been my point.

            To suggest there isn’t a systemic pattern of violence against women backed by cultural assumptions about the role of women, is another thing. Are you denying that? I can’t tell. I infer you are, but your counter evidence seems to be consistently evidence against a totally different claim, one I’m not making.

            Variations of ‘but there’s other violence too’, seems to be a bizarre and tendentious tactic. But one you keep coming back to. I’m not sure why. I don’t mean this insultingly, but I genuinely think you are smart enough to identify the pattern and stop using it.

            Since we’re sharing personal attacks

            We disagree, we seem to be having a largely structured and adult conversation here, responding to each other’s points, getting gradually towards the core of the disagreement. If I’m pulling it down into nastiness, then I’m sorry. But part of the disagreement has to be around moral judgements, so if you can help me find ways of criticising you without coming across as trying to land insults, then I’m happy to try and improve. I mean you personally no disrespect, but I also don’t want to give the impression I respect your view on this.

            I try to avoid calling people ‘racist’, or ‘misogynist’ or ‘radical’ (though I sometimes slip). But I don’t think it helpful if I avoid saying that I think a particular view or belief is misogynist, or racist, or extreme.

            [edit: finished last word that had got chopped]

          • Michael Wilson

            Yes, their are those that maintain that women ought to be subservient to men and it is appropriate to use violence to enforce that. No doubt a lot of violence against women is sparked by the belief that a woman has dishonored a man with insolence. It is a universal problem but its more relevant in some communities over others,
            But it is not a racial issue, machismo is found everywhere. But you seem to believe that it isn’t just uneducated boors slapping around women that disrespect them but some sort of KKK style campaign of terror against women?
            Or is it the domestic violence in the name of male superiority? Again this pattern of violence is similar to other notions of violence and control. That is, its hard to separate how much violence is motivated by sexism or by the impulse to direct violence at anyone that dishonors you or at a proxy (as when a person starts a fight with another just because their angry) I really don’t see evidence of any systematic campaign to keep women in place, just the selfish outburst of backward ogres and pathological misogynist. Entonoplous is right, it isn’t terrorism any more than being beaten for insulting someone, being in the wrong neighborhood, or any other ploy of common ruffians to enforce their claim to power.

          • Ian

            you seem to believe that it isn’t just uneducated boors slapping around women

            Yes I do. Are you saying that you think violence against women only consists of ‘just’ uneducated boors? If that is what you think, then I can understand why you’d be making some of your other claims here.

            I really don’t see evidence … just

            Which is a nice way to ignore any evidence. Like “I don’t see any evidence of evolution, just the self-referential nonsense of a bunch of ivy league elitists.”

            If you don’t think there’s a systemic campaign to keep women in their place, then I can’t understand how you’ve spent any time on the internet. I’m quite flabbergasted at that claim, to be honest.

          • Michael Wilson

            People of all stripes assault women, but it seems less common the higher ones education, to say the least. I don’t put much faith in the veracity of internet activists and conspiracy mongers, if you can point out the evidence for a systematic campaign of violence to keep women in place, let me know.

          • Michael Wilson

            And the media has discussed it, all reports from media left and right mention his right wing views, but the correlation between being a Trump supporter(in jest here, I have no idea, but he seems like the type) and a terrorist seems slight. On the other hand correlation between Muslims and supporters of Hamas, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, etc seems more toubling. Like the Louisiana shooter the Tennessee gunman seemed unwell, but their is no comparing the propaganda aimed at mentally ill Muslims vs mentally ill wing nuts.

            However, I do see a lot of Hauser in many of the right wing trolls I encounter online. The impersonal direction of unhinged anger at the system seems like good marker for poor psychic well being which might in some mania or desperation seek violence. But peddlers of this crap like Alex Jones or Donald Trump are not of yet demanding violent action, and thats important.

          • Ian

            On the other hand correlation between Muslims and supporters of Hamas, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, etc seems more toubling.

            I’ve been getting the strong impression that you’re much more troubled by Islamic fundamentalism in brown people than you are in extreme misogyny in white men.

            It’s not an uncommon point of view, I think. My point is that it seems to be a deeply troubling double standard.

          • Michael Wilson

            Again Ian, I dislike your interjection of racist accusations here. If the government of Egypt is more concerned with terrorism than misogyny, I don’t think ISIS’ browness plays into it. And I am more troubled because it is an increasing threat. Violence against women is a decreasing threat, especially among white men. Its silly to suggest resources and media focused on terrorism would be better served combating white misogyny.

          • Ian

            We’re forking, so this might get complicated. And I’m on vacation tomorrow, so it might be a while until I can respond again.

            I don’t think ISIS’ browness plays into it.

            You were talking about supporters of Hamas, Al-Quaeda and ISIS, weren’t you?

            I’m quite sure a muslim country has a far more nuanced view of the support of such groups. And I’d rather not look to Egypt for evidence on whether misogyny is more important than any other topic.

            You said

            correlation between Muslims and supporters of Hamas, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, etc seems more troubling

            If you keep generalising my point to be the most extreme you can make it, it’s no wonder you think I’m insulting you.

            Let me try to be plain again. I think the denial, minimisation, and evasion of misogyny by western men, compared to their eager and full-throated condemnation of supporters of islamist fundamentalism is very telling. One notable feature is that the people they see as ‘troubling’ tend to be of a different race, where the people involved in male-dominance ideology do. So yes, I see the double-standard as having a strong racist component. People who don’t look the same are scarier, whereas the evil people who do look the same are ‘uneducated boors’ or a few unstable renegades.

            To head off some possible misrepresentations you might try, I do not think islamic fundamentalism is not a problem, I am not saying all white men or all men are misogynists.

          • Michael Wilson

            Have a good vacation Ian! I have enjoyed our conversation!

            I’ll say a few last words, and it would be great to hear your comments, but if you move on to other projects that will be fine.

            Yes, Egypt does have a more nuanced view, it is the front line of this conflict with violent Jihad. Westerners don’t understand it fully for the most part. And so people get false ideas like people are enraged and scared of Jihadist and Muslim terrorist because they are racist. Some insist that terrorism and violence are inseparable from Islamic, Arab, and other cultures. But Egypt, which as I said, does not act much on issues if misogyny, I think now demonstrates a more complicated picture of Islam. I bet many that support the army there consider themselves good Muslims. But yet, they still have been very proactive against islamic terrorist. This is not an issue of racism though or Christian Muslim conflict. It is a conflict with two factions in the Islamic world along with other nations, the U.S. among them.

            I don’t think their is a strong component of racism in western men’s reaction Islamic Fundamentalism. They are executing members of the Islamic brother hood in Egypt. Isn’t it conceivable that some one who is not Arabic or even white, might find Islamic Fundamentalist dangerousfor the same reason Arab secularist, Christian, and minorities do?( Americans were also strongly anti-german and Anti-Communist even though those people were white.) I think that it is common that westerners and Americans are motivated to fear Islamism for non-racist reasons. Far less common is support by western men of violence against women or comparatively speaking, misogyny generally. I think to much has been focused on both recent mass shootings, but levels of condemnation and focus seem reasonable.

          • arcseconds

            Happy holidays 🙂

          • arcseconds

            How much of the lack of concern about misogynistic violence is just the usual lack of concern about death so long as it comes in dribs and drabs?

            I don’t deny there’s a racist, colonialist, and something that’s like racism, but about ideology component to the fear of Islamic radicalisation, and I also don’t deny that Western culture remains misogynistic, and I don’t think insouciance about death in dribs and drabs but getting all hyped up about the occasional dramatic slaughter is terribly rational.

            And I’d even be prepared to accept the insouciance might be functionally misogynistic as it ends up ignoring violence against women (although a lot of men die in dribs and drabs too).

            Tens of thousands of people die preventable deaths every year in the USA, say. Some of those are women at the hands of men in ways that are worth terming ‘misogynistic’. But all of them are ignored, and it seems to be because all of them are ‘dog bites man’ variety boring, not because they/we specifically don’t care about deaths of women.

          • asmondius

            Unabomber and McVeigh were individuals, not organized ‘groups’.

          • Michael Wilson

            Yeah, but their actions were terroristic.

          • asmondius

            Regardless, they were not members of an organized group. ‘Yeah, but’ is irrelevant.

          • arcseconds

            I don’t think anyone knows for sure, but it’s not just the isolated fact of a few people having more money than others.

            To take your Beverley Hills to Haiti idea still further, if some enormously rich person like Oprah moving to Bhutan but just lived like an ordinary Bhutanese, nothing would happen. People don’t psychically detect income equality.

            But that’s totally unrealistic, of course. Income distribution tends to be a log-normal distribution, not some crazy bimodal distribution with the main peak at $10k a year and and a much lesser peak at $1b a year.

            And people spend their money. Markets don’t try to give people a ‘fair go’, so a lot of things will be priced for the median or even the mean income (the mean being higher than the median in a log-normal distribution, the gap getting wider as the income equailty increases).

            The greater the income inequality, the more people who are just priced out of the market for a lot of things, or (and possibly more importantly) the more that have an increasingly difficult time staying in the market and having to make enormous compromises.

            When you’ve got a group of people who have to work long hours in shitty jobs where they get treated like shit to live in shitty houses, who can’t access health care or decent education very well, and who get treated like shit (including poor protection) by the police, naturally you’ve got a group of stressed-out and frustrated people who don’t feel that society does anything for them. Add in some drugs (including alcohol) and you’ve got a recipe for a group of people with problematic family relationships and a propensity towards violence.

            There definitely is research that shows high levels of deprivation across a number of indices (including income, job availability, presence of professionals in the neighbourhood, etc.) is strongly associated with violent crime.

            Does that help?

          • You’re talking about poverty, not inequality, so far as I can see.

          • arcseconds

            Paragraph 5 of the above shows why I am talking about inequality, but I’ll try to make it a bit clearer.

            Poverty and inequality are intertwined. The pricing of goods is, roughly speaking, based on what an average person can pay. If there are a significant number of people who are well below average, then they are going to be priced out of the market of many things.

            This is particularly clear in the case of things that have limited quantities. Let’s say a number of settlers divide up an uninhabited island being sold off by the square foot. If everyone has equal amounts of money, then we can say they all get land to the extent that they value it. If they value it all equally, they’ll all pay the same amount and get equal quality land. If some value it less, they’ll pay less and get less land, but have more money for other things that they value more.

            But what if we have a highly unequal distribution of money? What if it’s like the global distribution of wealth, and the top 2% have half the money and the bottom 70% have 3% of the money. If there’s 100 settlers, you’ll get the rich couple living on half the island, the kind of well-off 28 people living on 47% of the island (~1.7% each) and 70 people on 3% of the island (0.04% each).

            Let’s say in the equal case each settler has twice the amount necessary for a subsistence farm, so they can grow enough for themselves and have plenty left over to trade. That means 0.5% of the island is enough for a subsistence farm It’s evident now that in the unequal case the poorest 70& do not have enough land to live on, so they would have to presumably tend the land of the rich and the well-off, so we practically have feudalism emerging here, purely through wealth distribution alone.

            Nothing rides on being ‘objectively poor’ here. We can imagine that while for some reason they only have this one island to access for real estate and food, the poorest of them are still billionaires and can all afford to have huge sprees on the Sears catalogue. Or maybe the island is all they have with no access to anywhere else, so they’d all be ‘poor’ by Western standards. Neither of these situations changes the fact that it’s looking quasi-feudal.

            Note also that there could be great variation as to how much people value the land, and it could still end up much the same. Let’s say in the case I’ve just described, everyone thinks land is so important that they’ll spend half their money on it. Well, we could halve the amount of money the rich spend on land, and double the money spent by the poor (as this is all their money, it means land has supreme value to them, whereas the rich are a bit ho-hum about it) , and we would wind up with the rich couple on 25% of the land, and the poor each have 0.08% of the land – still not nearly enough to subsist.

            Or to show how pricing to the average can price people out, imagine you, me, Beau and Ian each have 50 guineas in disposable income a fortnight. James decides to charge access to his blog, and he’s trying to maximise profits and realises we’re prepared to pay 25 guineas each… so that’s what he charges (you’re gouging us, James!)

            Now imagine we all do a bit better in the marketplace, but Ian lucks out and now has 200 guineas in disposable income, Beau and I do quite well and double my income to 100, and you just increase yours to 60.

            James still wants to maximise profits, but he can only charge one rate, and each of us is willing to spend half of our disposable income.

            So what does James do?

            He charges 50 guineas a month. That way he gets 150 guineas a month. Ian would be prepared to pay 100 guineas, but that would only get James 100 guineas.

            But you can’t afford that, even though you are now richer than you were before.

            This is because James is charging to the ‘average’ – beau and me, and you’re not keeping up.

            You’ve just been impoverished by the distribution.

          • I sorta get your first scenario, but not your second, and I still don’t quite see how your scenarios relate to crime. If I can no longer get access to James’s blog, maybe I’m suffering from money illusion and my real income just fell. Or, alternatively, in a world where everyone is richer (in real terms) but the distribution is less equal, are you suggesting that rents would skyrocket, but other prices wouldn’t? And what does that have to do with crime, anyway?

          • arcseconds

            I think you have to think about what ‘real terms’ mean. There are some goods which are limited like real estate (of course more housing can be built, but it can’t be done instantaneously, and there’s not an infinite amount of space, and more importantly there isn’t an infinite amount of space within an easy commute of major city centres, so as an approximation it is a limited good).

            When bidding for a limited good that’s highly desirable, you can’t get richer in real terms, as you are bidding against everyone else. It’s a zero-sum game (in terms of the good in question at least).

            The second example was supposed to illustrate how people are normally going to price their goods and services towards something like ‘the average’. The ideal situation for James is to get each person to pay the largest sum they are prepared to, so if he could, he should get Ian to pay 100, me and beau to pay 50 each, and you to pay 30 (he would get 230 a month in that case, rather than 150). In that scenario you wouldn’t be deprived. But in the real world, this sort of thing is difficult to arrange for various reasons, so people normally charged fixed prices, although often there is some attempt to ‘segregate the market’, as it is called, by charging pensioners and kids less or whatever.

            So if you’re going to market to hire a professional, this is the sort of thing you’re faced with: their prices aren’t set in a way that includes the poorest people in the society, but rather pitched towards something like ‘what the average person is prepared to pay’.

            So by being in the lowest bracket of income, you are increasingly priced out of professional services as income inequality goes up.

            (In some ways this can also be seen as a limited goods scenario, because at any one time the amount of doctor’s time there is up for grabs in an area that’s accessible to you is limited, and it’s costly and time-consuming to produce more doctors, but I think the pricing schedules is an easier and more direct way to look at it.)

            So again, income inequality means you end up being poorer in real terms when trying to get hold of a professional.

            So how could you be richer in real terms? Well, the biggest single thing that makes everyone richer across the board is technology: the ability to produce more for less (in terms of man-hours especially). In a highly technological society with an operative marketplace, the price of consumer goods comes down.

            So if the rising tide has ‘raised all the boats’, but has raised some boats only a little bit and other boats massively and other boats even more massively still, what that can mean is that everyone has more access to gizmos than formerly but the poor have even worse access to decent housing, professional services, the ability to influence government, etc. than they did formerly.

            It is of course convenient for people who don’t care about the real situation of the poor to focus on the gizmos.

            Another thing that has to be considered here is that people actually don’t care all that much about absolute measures. Sure, you can always argue it’s better to be a pauper now than even a high-class citizen in mediæval times, but people don’t think in those terms, they think in terms of what their contemporaries have. One way that might make this a bit more obvious is that people want ‘what’s best’ for their children. They want their children to have all of the best things in life… not to be measurably better than the average person in some alien society. So ‘all the best things’ means ‘all the things a well-off person in my society can afford’. (I’m not too sure of your capacity to understand this, though, as you apparently are open to seeing infants as a food source)

            There is also a concern with fairness here, which impresses upon people a lot. Why should rich people who work less hard than you do get fantastic places to live, nice creches for their kids, and access to medical care, when you live in a shithole and have to watch your kids suffer from preventable illnesses? Again, the fact that some mediæval bloke has it worse doesn’t enter into the picture here.

            As far as crime goes, I’ve already explained this in my initial post on the topic.

            You have to imagine this happening across allaxes, not just James’s blog. You can only afford to rent a shithole, you have to work three shitty jobs to pay for rent and basics, everyone treats you like shit, your kids are constantly sick (due to living in a shit hole in part) and you’re far from providing ‘the best in life’ for them. Your partner is just at you all the time for rent money, especially after you’ve burnt through a few dollars of your minimal disposable income for a cheap beer with a couple of your mates. You’re also probably a victim of crime, but the police never do anything for your neighbourhood.

            You’re stressed out and angry all the time (imagine your worst day on Slactivist, with everyone piling on to you. Now imagine you actually live with them and you can’t get away from them by switching the computer off. And in fact imagine Lori’s your boss and you can’t talk back to her because she’ll fire you. Now imagine that’s what life is like every single day , forever.)

            Everything’s basically shitty, and then things get even worse when you lose all three jobs and you’ve nothing to do and even less money.

            Then one of your mates starts talking about ‘a job’.

            Can you see how this might lead to crime now? If you have no other options towards economic improvement and you’re at rock-bottom, then any opportunity is going to seem tempting.

          • Ah, so you were talking about rents. O.K., I can see that.

            But, in the U.S., crime fell during both the Great Depression and the Great Recession. And it boomed during the 1964-1973 period, when real wages were skyrocketing, unemployment was low, the capital share of income was falling, and income inequality was declining:
            So while the poor in the U.S. do tend to commit more crime than the rich, I just don’t see any direct relationship between poverty (whether relative or absolute) and crime.

            The most crime-prone area of the world is Latin America (this is environmental; U.S. Mestizo Hispanics aren’t highly prone to crime: ).
            Latin America has lots of income and wealth inequality. But so does the U.S., where Hispanic crime is low. Indeed, it is in the least economically unequal country in Latin America, Venezuela, where crime is highest.

            Income inequality itself may simply be a sign of inequality of natural ability and intelligence. It is well known that crime is mainly an activity of the less intelligent. Or it may indicate parasitism: the rich being little more than extractors of natural resource rents, leaving little opportunity available for everyone else. In the U.S., I’m guessing the inequality of natural ability and intelligence (and other behavioral traits) explanation is the correct one, as America is a mobile society for non-Mestizo White people. In Latin America, I’m guessing it’s parasitism. In Africa, I guess it’s a mix of both.

            Also, is wealth inequality or income inequality more correlated with crime? Ukraine and Sweden are comparatively equal in income, but not in wealth.

          • arcseconds

            Rents, yes, but also pricing of many things being defined by the demand from the comparatively wealthy, which is not the same thing.

            Your confidence that intelligence (as, say, measured on intelligence tests) is ‘natural’ seems misplaced. There is some heritable effect, but it’s not all that strong, and it’s heavily influenced by education. There was one study done in the South when schools were closed to avoid segregation, and black children (who presumably had much less access to home schooling or whatever than their white peers) fell quite measurably lower in IQ tests every year they were out of school. I can’t remember the exact rates, but it was enough to be around about one standard deviation lower by the time they left school. That’s enough to go from ‘average’, to ‘quite dim’, all because of a bunch of racists closed the school system down!

            And, honestly, it should be obvious that sitting down and doing pointless potted problems for an hour or two in total silence is something that you learn, it’s not something that human beings do naturally.

            (actually, practically everything we do is learned and improves with practice, so the notion that any activity of ours indicates innate ability more than anything else seems already dubious, but it seems particularly obvious in the case of IQ tests)

            (Note that if people have reasonably equivalent schooling, IQ tests are going to measure more of the stuff that is heritable, as that source of variation has been eliminated)

            Moreover, there’s a lot of evidence that suggests that child education is heavily influenced by the home environment and nutrition. Again, this should really be obvious, I honestly don’t know why people think intelligence is something you’re born with. I suspect it’s because it’s an easy way for them to presume that some people are naturally better than others and there’s no point in trying to solve social problems.

            This is all quite in keeping with the empirical findings in the paper I mentioned that violent crime is correlated with high levels of deprivation across all areas, not merely income. A family in highly deprived circumstances is going to have less well-nourished children, in a less stable home environment, going to a less funded school. You’d have to have a lot of faith in the magical ability of intelligence to shine through no matter what to think that this isn’t going to affect their education and their overall mental ability. I’m sure the fact that the children often end up being less mentally able than children going to posh schools doesn’t help the crime rate, but it’s not as simple as ‘poor people are poor because they’re stupid, and they’re also criminals because they’re stupid’. Also, while being a criminal is strongly correlated with low IQ and lower education, the converse relationship is not nearly so strong: someone with a low education and low IQ is not all that much more likely to be a criminal (especially a violent criminal) than anyone else. So this is not enough to explain crime either.

            One thing I’ve been trying to push here, but perhaps haven’t ended up putting enough emphasis on, is the fairness angle. If we’re all up shit creek, then we band together and make the best of a bad situation. If just a few of us are, and others are doing fantastically well and don’t give a shit about us, then it’s much more tempting to suppose that there’s no justice and life’s just about getting what you can, whatever way you can.

            This, again, is strongly attested to empirically. For example, students are far more likely to cheat on exams if they think other students are also cheating.

            And that seems to help considerably in explaining solidarity in the Great Depression, for example.

            I’m not trying to say there’s not a cultural component to this. I understand the Japanese are extremely reluctant for the most part to indulge in crime even if they’re deprived, and I suspect the USA isn’t helped by the extreme version of individualism that holds sway.

            And that is in fact what I’d appeal to in the case of immigrants. If you’re an immigrant, or even have immigration in living memory (parents or grandparents), your experience is very different from oppressed locals, even though you may be just as poor and just as exposed to racism. After all, you chose to be there, and it’s an opportunity you have to take with both hands. Obstacles are there to be overcome, etc. Whereas if you’re an oppressed local, the outlook is much bleaker: obstacles look like more of the same stuff that’s ground your people into the dust for the last century or two and nothing is ever going to change. People tend to be much more accepting of situations they chose than ones they were forced into!

            Also, one has to keep in mind that an individual is not necessarily capable of turning their situation around on their own. Even if we imagine two equally go-getting people, one born into an immigrant family and the other into an oppressed local family, the fact is the first person can more easily find allies among their community who are also go-getting, whereas the second might find themselves quite lonely in their go-gettingness. Realistically that’s going to tend to quash go-gettingness, but even if someone has the fortitude to struggle on regardless (and some people do, although it is very rare), it’s much more difficult when you essentially have to do everything yourself. Another thing to consider here is that in some communities being economically successful as an individual is seen as a success, pure and simply, but in others the attitude is more problematic.

          • Your confidence that intelligence (as, say, measured on intelligence tests) is ‘natural’ seems misplaced.

            -I don’t think so.

            I can’t remember the exact rates, but it was enough to be around about
            one standard deviation lower by the time they left school. That’s
            enough to go from ‘average’, to ‘quite dim’, all because of a bunch of
            racists closed the school system down!

            -So from an average IQ of 85 to an average IQ of 70?!? That’s not ‘average’ to ‘quite dim’, that’s from ‘quite dim’ to ‘barely able to remember one’s phone number’! These are extraordinary claims, and, so, I would like to see some evidence for them. They’re not totally inconceivable, just implausible.

            “And, honestly, it should be obvious that sitting down and doing
            pointless potted problems for an hour or two in total silence is
            something that you learn, it’s not something that human beings do

            -Of course. But that doesn’t distract from the fact that some people are still naturally better at it than others.

            I agree with your second parenthesed statement.

            Moreover, there’s a lot of evidence that suggests that child education
            is heavily influenced by the home environment and nutrition.

            -Scott Alexander (why choose some Greek name over a Jewish one, anyway?) pointed out there was a study that suggests that having a White mother strongly improved mixed Black-White children’s outcomes, but, as he pointed out, the study had some clear methodological problems that make its conclusions murky. I haven’t looked at it, just at the comments of his post:
            I doubt nutrition is much of an issue in America. Black athleticism is less frequently analyzed than Black intelligence, but I just don’t see any significant malnutrition in America, anywhere, among Blacks, Whites, Asians, or Mestizos. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places, but the paucity of intelligent Blacks is most visible at the top of the ability distribution, where malnutrition would hardly be an issue, even if it existed.
            “You’d have to have a lot of faith in the magical ability of intelligence to shine through no matter what to think that this isn’t going to affect their education and their overall mental ability. I’m sure the fact that the children often end up being less mentally able than children going to posh schools doesn’t help the crime rate, but it’s not as simple as ‘poor people are poor because they’re stupid, and they’re also criminals because they’re stupid’.”
            -You haven’t addressed the issue of White American income mobility:
            “If we’re all up shit creek, then we band together and make the best of a bad situation.”
            -That still doesn’t explain why crime fell during the Great Recession, when the common perception, whether true or not, was that Main Street was getting hit much harder than Wall Street.
            “This, again, is strongly attested to empirically. For example, students are far more likely to cheat on exams if they think other students are also cheating.”
            -That’s an incentive problem. Students cheating suggests weak enforcement of anti-cheating rules, and screws up the recorded ability distribution, giving other students a greater motive to cheat to get ahead.
            “Whereas if you’re an oppressed local, the outlook is much bleaker: obstacles look like more of the same stuff that’s ground your people into the dust for the last century or two and nothing is ever going to change. People tend to be much more accepting of situations they chose than ones they were forced into!”
            -How hard do you think it is to verify or falsify this hypothesis?

            Also, where’s the oppression in the First World? I don’t see it. Unless you’re talking about the praxeology of privilege, which might be an issue, but which I doubt can exist in a self-sustaining manner by itself alone without any underlying genetic (or at least cultural) causes:

            Anyway, I suspect all the above is off-topic. The topic was how inequality led to crime. I don’t think you’ve specifically discussed my proposed mechanisms.

          • spinkham

            Causation is much more difficult that correlation.

            Here’s a few likely mechanisms, all of which center around status anxiety in one way or another. For social animals on the edge of survival (which includes us and our ancestors for most of our history), social status can be a life or death issue, and there should be little surprise that it is tied to increased violent activity in an attempt to garner greater social capital.

            Serotonin is linked to social dominance and violence way back in evolutionary history. The mechanism is often studied in rats and crawfish for example. This overview paper is one of the classics in the field:
            Low social status drives low serotonin levels, which drives increased risk taking.
            In humans, perceived low social status leads to what we call depression. In addition to increase in risk taking, depression removes from us our fear of the consequences, and allows us to do things we wouldn’t otherwise consider.

            Why are most murders and basically all mass murders men? Testosterone increases both anxiety and the need for social dominance, both of which play into the behaviors strongly. Relevant to the issue at hand, handling guns seems to reliably increase testosterone production.

            Relevant to terrorism, I didn’t argue that these were terrorist acts primarily because terrorism is hard to define. I argued that the shooters usually fit the mold of people likely to fall into terrorism: Undergoing a large social transition (usually leaving college or high school age), have strong status anxiety and feel that they don’t have a good shot at the good life however they define it, and feel that some other group is responsible for the fact that they don’t have a shot at the good life. These combine to make them want to defend some death defying ideology or symbol at whatever cost. They also tend to have very high need for closure, which is one of the best explinations of why so many of them are scientists and engineers.

            TL;DR: The social status of both yourself and your value system are WAY more relevant to what happens in the world than most people realize.

            I will point out that these theories also probably partially explain why it turns out that low inequality strongly correlates to better outcomes for those at the top as well as at the bottom: There’s increased social anxiety for everyone in the system when the stakes are higher. It’s much worse for those at the bottom of course, but people at the top fare worse too.

          • arcseconds

            I’m not sure I buy the testosterone thing. I wouldn’t say it had nothing whatsoever to do with it, but murderers are actually quite rare and mass-murderers extremely so, whereas males are 50% of the population, and stressed-out males with some evident problems with social dominance are rather common.

            Also, domestic violence perpetuated by women is not at all uncommon. In fact, there is some evidence that it’s at least as common as violence perpetuated by men.

            So it can’t be as simple as testosterone, and I’m wondering exactly how strong a role testosterone would play in an explanation that encompasses problems with social dominance, violence, violence perpetuated by women, and the rarity of murderers even amongst men.

            The mass-murder phenomenon I think needs to be seen as some sort of symbol (which you are encouraging us to do, so I agree with you there), and I think it shows similarities to suicide more generally: there’s a ritualistic aspect to it which is strongly influenced by how other people have done it in the past. For that reason, I think the anti-gun control people have half of a point here: it’s unrealistic to expect there to be no guns in American society (guns are still available in Australia, NZ, Canada, etc.), and your up-coming shooting spree is likely to be a one-off event for you, which inhibits the usefulness of gun controls. To eliminate it completely, or nearly completely, it would have to be taken out of circulation as a possible cultural act for desperate and on-the-edge people, and that’s a lot more difficult.

      • kiljoy616

        A knife wilded by someone trained would have taken as many, people have no idea how deadly a combat knife is. There are way to many ways to kill people the issue is that even Atheist are falling for the Utopia magical thinking. So for me I don’t want any more rules its hard enough keeping with the ones already in place that do little.
        I get that lots of people want the government to fix everything lol, how about they arm them selves and stop thinking their safety is not in their hands. Get some training so your not a sheep waiting to be a victim.

        • Dave Again

          What BS. Before our gun laws in Australia a lone gunman murdered 35 people with a semi-automatic. You think he could have done the same with a knife?

        • Knives have a much more limited range and stab wounds are much less fatal than shots.

        • asmondius

          The government cannot even control the borders or balance its own budget.

        • arcseconds

          I can only assume you have never fired a gun nor trained in knife combat, nor perhaps have thought about what advantage a gun has over a knife?

          Has it occurred to you that maybe the military and hunters know something you don’t? Because no military arms its soldiers just with blades, and hunters also tend to prefer guns.

          I’ve fired guns and trained in knife combat. It’s very easy to kill lots of things with guns, I did so the third or fourth time I held a gun, as a teenager. I’ve done a lot more training with knives than with guns, and I can tell you flat out that there’s no way I’d try to take anyone out with a knife if I had a gun handy.

        • Michael Wilson

          Crocodile Dundee taught me how deadly an Aussie with a knife can be, but most mentaly unstable misanthropes don’t have the dedication for ninja training. Magically eliminating guns would reduce mass killings quite a bit. All we need is a magician.

          • arcseconds

            For some reason my browser (or whatever bit of technology does the typesetting) puts arguably a bit too much space after the ‘c’ in the word ‘magician’, that plus a bit of priming given there’s an Ian involved in the conversation made me think you were talking about a ‘magic Ian’…

    • kiljoy616

      Gun control is easy, the sheeple will suck it up like honey. Mental disorder is costly and unpredictable and hate saying this but a lot of Atheist do seem to think Utopia is possible if only this or that. Pathetic.

  • Phil Ledgerwood

    Don’t you watch the news? Angry white men aren’t terrorists; they’re troubled loners whose actions in no way reflect on white men in general. You have to be from the Middle East to be a terrorist and evidence that America is under siege. Or you can be a black person and be a thug and evidence that black people are criminals.

    But white? No, those guys are just isolated fringe cases.

    • asmondius

      Do most inner-city gangs consist of white men?

      • Phil Ledgerwood

        No, but most mass murderers do.

        • asmondius

          Which kills more people in the course of a year?

          • Phil Ledgerwood

            White people lead all violent crimes and all non-violent crimes except drug-related homicide, and that’s just percentages. In terms of actual numbers of people killed, white people lead everyone.

          • asmondius

            I’m talking murder – don’t hide the truth with shuffling statistics.

          • Phil Ledgerwood

            Yeah, we don’t want actual data getting in the way of your narrative.

          • asmondius

            You have ‘actual data’? Let’s see it.

          • Phil Ledgerwood

            We can start here:


            Honestly, if you just search for things like black crime myths you’ll find tons. You do need to understand statistics, though, because a factor is that smaller samples yield greater variances.

            My own comments were from the FBI crime statistics by race for 2014, which shows white people blowing the doors off in every crime except homicide.

          • I still wouldn’t want to be around Detroit or East St. Louis for too long at night:

        • asmondius

          Based upon what – ?

        • Not disproportionately so.

  • Gary
  • Ranowa

    It’s simple. We have the highest rate of gun violence out of ALL other first world countries. Switzerland is the only other first world country with loose gun laws and also a low gun-related crime rate; ALL of the rest of the countries with less gun violence than us have much stricter gun laws. It’s pretty hard to argue with statistics, but, the NRA can sure buy enough ‘experts’ to do it.

  • Dave Again

    I’m always amazed Americans don’t or can’t grow the balls to change their gun culture. Yes, I’m one of those bloody smug Australians who are proud a conservative government, (yes conservative) changed our gun laws. USA 10.6 gun related gun deaths per 100,000 people, Australia less than one.

    • arcseconds

      What was it before the gun law change?

      • Dave Again

        2.6 per 100,000. By the way, this is a 300% improvement. We are currently .86 per 100,000.

        • arcseconds

          Cool. So you more than halved it.

          • Dave Again

            If the U.S. had the same statistical improvement, you would save over 20,000 lives per year.

          • Michael Farrens

            What do you think about the three statistical outliers in our country? I think they are DC, Detroit and Chicago. If you take those cities out, we are on par with the developed world. They also have very strict gun laws (though you can argue that you can just go a city/state over). This perspective makes the US look a bit less crazy. I can find the link if that helps on the article. God Bless

          • rubaxter

            So, the people in those three areas are just cannon fodder to you, from criminals using guns bought in other states, as Georgia was cited by NYC?

            I don’t know about YOU, but I don’t think ‘a bit less crazy’ is really any improvement, unless you just can’t bear to somehow ‘lose the argument’ ’cause you’re such a good ‘Murican.

          • Michael Farrens

            Oh, I’m not sold on it either. That’s why I proposed is as additional information and point of view. I’m a big fan of those two. No reason to get all caps about it. But Murica is the best ever! Hands down, not debate 🙂

          • Dave Again

            How many other countries have you visited recently? Second time I visited the USA I was held up at gunpoint in Anaheim. Best ever?

          • rubaxter

            Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it.

            America was founded on fine principles, compared to many other nations who didn’t have the Constitution to refer to. However, even then it took a substantial effort to correct the slave and ‘all mens are created equal’ things.

            The best part of it all, is we have a legal way to change things to fit the new reality. Unfortunately, that a long-run correction in too many cases, and we’re all dead ‘in the long run.

            Seems to me this gun obsession is something that also needs to be amended into sense, if we could only kick out all the men and let the women take care of it, just like only women should be allowed in the showroom where SUVs and pick’em ups are trying to be sold to emotionally retarded males.

          • Dave Again

            Australia has had no mass killings since the introduction of strict or gun laws. Your words ‘a little less crazy’ are very telling. The lives of innocent people including children or the ‘right’ to own a gun. Over here it is hard to obtain a gun licence. You must have no criminal record and a reason for ownership. A hunter, farmer with feral animals, target shooter etc. fine. We are safe in our homes without the ‘need’ for firearms. It is still crazy to accept allowing unstable people to own firearms. One mass killing per fortnight is just plain wrong.
            Sorry about the delay in reply. Night got in the way.

        • arcseconds

          Well, some of that is presumably the decline in violent crime that most Western nations have seen over the past few years… it can’t all be attributed to better gun control.

          • Dave Again

            A very minuscule proportion can be attributed to this. However I reiterate, Australia has not had one, repeat one mass gun killing in the seventeen years since gun control laws were introduced. This is not a lucky coincidence. The USA has to get serious. The Sandy Hook Elementary School killings were amazingly not the wake up call the USA needed. What degree of murder will it take before change occurs? 100 babies and their mothers in a maternity hospital?

          • Dave Again

            Not sure if my previous reply went through. A minuscule proportion can be attributed to decline in violent crime. However I reiterate that in the seventeen years since gun control measures were instated in Australia, we have not had one mass killing involving firearms. I would have thought the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre would have been the wake up call the U.S.A needed. What will it take? The murder of 100 mothers and their babies in a maternity hospital?

          • arcseconds

            You’re preaching to the choir here.

            Also, I got the impression earlier (from a use of ‘you’) that you figured you were talking to an American. Such is not the case.

          • Dave Again

            Assuming you were American – sorry. What suggestions do you have to change the tide of gun massacre?

          • arcseconds

            ‘slur’? That’s a bit mean! There are Americans following this blog, you know…

            Apart from the obvious (sensible gun control legislation), I don’t have any concrete suggestions.

            These things probably have to go, or at least have their teeth pulled significantly:

            *) The whole macho swaggering ‘ah got my piece’ thing

            *) The shrieking and howling whenever the slightest tightening in regulations is proposed, as though the world was about to come to an end

            *) The notion that it’s somehow an impossibility to enact gun control.

            *) The idea that personal safety is best seen to by everyone having deadly weaponry.

            And I despair of any real change here. I suppose marriage equality shows that attitudes can change quickly, so hopefully one day soon I’ll be pleasantly surprised, but I can’t see much signs of it happening at the moment. The gun control lobby in the USA seems to have won the political debate hands down.

            The other thing is, it’ll be really difficult. Even if there was sufficient political will at a certain point in time, it’s clear that many people are not going to cooperate with this. Any real resistance is going to be interpreted as further evidence the whole thing is impossible, and the first major incident after any such legislation is enacted (and I’m sure there will be such incidents) will be interpreted as failure.

            It’s not really impossible, if there was sufficient will. But the USA just seems to be unable to really do anything effective any more. It’s the nation that stared down the Soviet Union, pulled itself out of the Great Depression, built the Apollo project and the interstate system, was instrumental in the defeat of Nazi Germany and pretty much took on Japan single-handedly at the same time, but now it has immense trouble passing halfway sane healthcare legislation, and things like climate change and gun control are seem by many as being all too hard 🙁

    • asmondius

      Well, we had the ‘balls’ to save your bacon from the Japanese.

      • Dave Again

        Well grow them back again and save your own bacon.

  • Michael Farrens

    A bit about prayer.

    No matter what laws we change (within reason/constitution) or how much we pray, these sort of things are going to happen.

  • A racist terrorist goes int a black church and mass kills people who probably prayed before the meeting. The problem is the hate speech that incites violence coming from Fox news and Republican mouths. The racist slogans thrown at our president, the drawing cross hairs on our leaders pictures and the telling followers to bring guns to political rallies. One person did and mass killed many democrats so as it goes Republicans will stick up for terrorist, racist and mentally disturbed people to own and operate guns, but they will strictly regulate and stop people from voting.

    • asmondius

      The problem is liberals casting the mentally ill out on the street to fend for themselves.

      • Republicans, purporting to care about mental-health treatment so tell lies about liberals. This
        doesn’t mean they care about mental health. They tell lies so not to offend the
        National Rifle Association who lobbies for the gun manufacturers. Republicans have devastated
        mental-health funding and they voted against and are preparing to vote
        en bloc to not fund or delay a law that will do more to address mental

        But Wisconsin, under Walker, has slashed funding for mental health services in recent years. Between 2009 and 2011, Wisconsin cut $107.1 million in mental health funding. Walker did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

        Like most of the lawmakers mentioned, Walker has received a high rating from the National Rifle Association.

        • Michael Wilson

          The funding that was blocked wouldn’t have made a difference. These people didn’t kill because they couldn’t afford to see a therapist. Republicans want more power to monitor or contain the mentally Ill. Not that having your shrink report on you or have the power to commit you make me feel great.

  • kiljoy616

    Oh yes lets blame it on the guns when the Mental disorder and the Magical thinking of the people slain where not contributing to the problem. One less retarded person with a gun there and we would not have been talking about this incident. Sorry but Utopia does not exist and Atheist should stop fixating like believers that it does.

    • Dave Again

      How about not letting the retarded people get guns. Works in other civilised countries. England, New Zealand, Australia etc. etc. You are happy to accept a mass murder every two weeks?

      • asmondius

        Well, the problem you see, is that people can change after they are cleared for a license.

        • Dave Again

          But my friend, this only seems to happen on a regular basis in the USA. It doesn’t happen in my country (Australia) ever since the introduction of stricter gun control laws including licensing. Also, we hear that most of the murderers were disturbed. Clearly the licensing is not enforced properly or strong enough or both.

    • I’m not an atheist, so I wondered whether this comment was intended to be a response to another commenter but got misplaced?

    • arcseconds

      What is all this ‘Utopia’ and ‘Atheist’ business? There are plenty of theists who believe in gun control. in fact, John Howard, who introduced the stiffer gun control laws in Australia, is a committed Christian and ran a government known for hanging its church on its sleeve.

      And it’s not necessary to believe things can be perfect to believe things can be better. Do you just eat junk food and blob out on the couch because you’ll never be Captain America?

  • Justine Valinotti

    While I think that inequaity has something to do with the disproportionately high murder rates in the US (at least, compared to most European countries and Japan), I think it’s only a partial explanation. So is the unequal enforcement of gun laws.

    Most mass murders are committed by young white men from lower-middle to middle-class circumstances in small towns. Such men expected to inherit the jobs, lifestyles and other things their fathers and uncles enjoyed. But the jobs and industries that gave young men with no propensity for education but a willingness to work hard the opportunity to better themselves no longer exist. When such young men become angry, they blame people who aren’t like themselves–e.g., women and people of color–but are “making it” for their troubles. Worst of all, such socially isolated young men have few news sources besides Faux, I mean, Fox “News” and right-wing talk radio, for which there are really no equivalents in countries like England, France, Germany, Japan or the Scandanavian countries.

    • asmondius

      The majority of black and Hispanic murder victims are killed by what race?

    • Michael Wilson

      Uggh, really, looking at the back ground of spree killers you saw their distress over a lack of good paying jobs and anger at women and minorities? Your just making stuff up. Please start reading or watching the news, think for God’s sake.

  • John MacDonald

    Presumably, a God who could answer prayer would have been able to stop the crime in the first place. If there is no God out there stopping bullets, what does that tell you?

  • John Mayer

    The one of many common denominator in all these shootings is “GUN FREE ZONES”. We do not need more gun control we need more people carrying ! Please do not tell me that more people carrying will cause more violence because that is totally untrue and a ridiculous argument .

    • Obviously putting up a sign “gun free zone” in a country where guns are available to the general public is not a solution. That is not what Australia did, for instance.

      Simply calling something untrue and ridiculous is not going to persuade anyone. Indeed, asserting without evidence gives the impression that you do not have persuasive arguments to offer.

  • ObscurelyAgnostic

    In my own preaching and teaching as a pastor I’m often make this provocative (to some) statement — “I’m not sure God even listens to prayers we haven’t tried to answer ourselves first.”

  • celtblood

    “Personally, I would rather see the second amendment to the U. S. Constitution repealed altogether, than see it implemented in the way it currently is, with guns easily accessible to all sorts of people who should not have access to them, from small children to angry white men and other terrorists.”

    Then it is quite clear that you completely fail to comprehend the essential foundation of genuine liberty, and the ability to maintain that liberty. My suggestion is that you relocate to a more “progressive” country, where the people are sitting ducks for criminals and tyrants, and when a new dictator arises have to wait for American forces to come and save them.

    I won’t even waste my time addressing the “angry white men and other terrorists” comment, as you have thoroughly discredited yourself by making it.