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by Peter Moskos

December 20, 2007

Shooting in White and Black

The Sun has an excellent interactive graphic that can display all the year's homicide victims. You can select for different variables, so it's fun to play with (if you're a nerdy academic).

One of the depressing things about homicide is the racial breakdown. Breaking violent crime down by race doesn't get much press, probably because it treads on incredibly un-politically correct territory. But I'm not afraid of fact. According to today's paper, the city's homicide count rose to 277 (surpassing the 2006 total).

If you go to the interactive graphic, select for all of 2007 and white. You get 13 victims. Three of those by shooting. Keep shooting selected and then select for black victims. It's very, very depressing. It's mostly clustered in the Eastern, Western, and part of the Northwest.

Keep black and shooting and add "article, yes." Look at those red dots disappear. Young black men shot and killed that you never even heard about. And that's if you read the daily paper. Granted, most of the white victims didn't make the paper either. But for whites in Baltimore, we're talking maybe a dozen or so, not hundreds of lives a year!

Most of the deaths are caused by the issues related to the illegal drug market. If we regulated drug selling (and who is for unregulated drug selling?), lives would be saved.

When people ask me why things aren’t getting better, one of my stock answers is this: liberals refuse to talk about culture and conservatives are too greedy and don't give a damn. Of course, that's just my simplistic way to piss everybody off. So let me explain:

Liberals refuse to think of anything other than “root causes.” This usually comes down to money and racism. If anything is going to get better, it will cost money. But money isn’t everything. Rich drug dealers (though most are poor) have money. And they’re part of the problem. And most poor people struggle buy without ever killing anybody.

And racism matters. But if we wait till racism is over before moving forward, we’re going to be stuck a very long time.

And let’s talk culture. Part of ghetto culture is screwed-up. There are a lot of bad parents out there. I’m not going to divide parents into either “good” or “bad,” but some parents simply do a crappy job of raising (or not raising) their kids. I'm not blaming the victim. I think there are good reasons people are screwed up. But screwed up they are.

Just once I’d like to hear a liberal call anybody a “bad” parent. I’m not saying insulting parents is the answer, but sometimes a little truth is refreshing and helps clear the air (and may get conservatives to open their pocketbooks).

Conservatives, at least the good ones, do give a damn. But too often they are greedy or ideologically blinded. They don’t want to spend money. We need to change attitudes and shift priorities. But this can’t be done without money. We could make things better. If we had the will, we would find the money.

Say want you want about the risks of legalized and regulated drug selling, but if we could save lives (and raise money), wouldn't it be worth it? If you're still for drug prohibition after all these failed years, ask yourself what is more important than saving the lives of poor young black men. If you have an answer, you need to look deep inside yourself. You may not like what you see.

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