Earlier, I saw a story from Chicago that struck a chord. So again, I want to demonstrate a little skepticism.
I want to stress that the people in the story are acknowledging the tragedy in Connecticut as horrific, and are not trying to downplay it in any way. But they are also correct that we don’t hear nearly as much about violence in Chicago among young black youths as we do when tragedies like the one in Newtown occur in white communities. Why is this happening, and is it racism?
First: are there any mass school shootings in Chicago? I don’t recall, nor did a simple Google search reveal anyone recently murdering a large group of children and teachers in a Chicago school. If it has happened, then I am terribly sorry for not acknowledging the lost—I am truly ignorant of such an occurrence. If I am correct however, then we don’t have an apple to compare to an apple.
I believe that most shootings in Chicago involve a violent youth, often gang related, settling a score with someone. As so often happens when public shootings occur, innocent people are caught in the crossfire, and that often does make the news. However gang-on-gang violence is simply too common to report.
The number of murders in the state of Connecticut for 2011 with a population of 3,580,709 were 128 . Conversely, the murders in the city of Chicago with a population of only 2,707,120 were 433 . If we do some quick math, Connecticut has a ratio of 1:27,974 vs Chicago’s 1:6,252. This means you are approximately 4-1/2 times as likely to get murdered in Chicago as you are in Connecticut. That’s pretty alarming when you consider that there were less deaths in Afghanistan among our troops at 418 in the same year.
So why do I believe these stats are relative to the topic of discussion? There are a number of issues. The shooting in Newtown was a single incident; the second largest school shooting in American history in a state that ranks 37th in murders. Compare that to multiple incidents throughout the year in a city that is in the top 6% of the country’s most violent.
So what makes something newsworthy? It’s not whether something is violent or not—people are murdered every day in America. Something is newsworthy by virtue of how atypical it is. The more atypical, the more newsworthy. So I would argue that the issue isn’t about race, it’s about the rareness with which an occurrence such as the one in Newtown happens compared to the frequency of those in Chicago.
So are these people crying wolf? Let me say that there are unfortunately people who make a living out of exploiting racism. I won’t mention any names, but people should always be skeptical of those who make a living off of “raising awareness.” If racism were eradicated, such people would be out of a job. Therefore, if there isn’t any overtly racist acts to report, these types often look for something that could be construed as racism, and move forward with the assumption it is in order to remain relevant. Sadly, it’s a living.
But in this case, these are just average Chicagoans speaking out, so their claim isn’t one borne out of exploitation, but instead justified disappointment in the lack of concern for their losses while many mourn the loss of others. It’s a fair argument.
So what do I believe the issues regarding Chicago are?
Chicago is one of the nations most violent cities, yet the people can’t properly defend themselves thanks to over-restrictive gun laws. We have heard that one of the strongest deterrents for most criminals is fear of the homeowner they’re about to invade being armed. Thanks to laws in Chicago, those fears are somewhat allayed. They tried these gun laws to reduce crime, but in 2012, there are 488 murders and counting. Stats show gun laws don’t help, but I suspect reports of intruders routinely getting killed sure would.
Another problem I believe is that teacher’s unions have destroyed Chicago schools. Even the fairly left-wing mayor Rahm Emanuel had to go to battle with them, and he’s someone who is traditionally a union supporter. They cost far too much for the poor results they produce, and had no intention of improving their quality. Instead, they simply fought for higher wages—and sadly won! When you have a sub-par education system, children come out of schools, often sans diplomas, to either obtain low paying jobs or join a gang and make big money. For them, it’s a sad but easy choice.
I also believe that like many inner cities, Chicago needs better parenting and adult role models. Parents need to spend more time teaching their children that education is important and that gangs are a dead end—literally. I’ve seen far too many parents glorifying thug-life, encouraging their kids to be hard instead of smart, and not working with their children to make sure they’re actually learning. I’ve personally known many single parents, of varied races, who seem to be more concerned with going out and getting their drink on, than being a proper parent.
Being a libertarian, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that legalizing and regulating vices like drugs, gambling, prostitution, etc., has historically proven to reduce violent crime. Free people rarely war with each other.
So is the coverage of the school shooting in Newtown vs the lack of coverage for Chicago racist? I don’t think so. If I am to believe the people making this claim, I would have to believe that the directors at NBC, CNN, Fox, et al., all sit around and say, “Don’t bother with the deaths in Chicago, they’re just black people.” If someone thinks that’s how white people think, they should consult their mirror for evidence of a racist.
The fact is, the tragedies of Chicago, by volume alone, outweigh the tragedy in Newtown. It kills me inside to see all of the people dying in the inner cities of our country, no matter what color their skin is. Why it’s not so often talked about in the media however, is merely a result of typical occurrences in Chicago versus an atypical massacre in Connecticut. It’s not racism—just rarity. I have no doubt, that if someone were to replicate the Newtown incident in Chicago, it would be talked about just as much; let’s hope we never find out.
log·i·cal: capable of reasoning or of using reason in an orderly cogent fashion lib·er·tar·i·an: an advocate of the doctrine of free will; a person who upholds the principles of individual liberty especially of thought and action