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by Peter Moskos

April 16, 2020

When fear of being a victim hits home

I saw some tweets from a certain kind of professorial class saying: "COVID fatality rate is now about 125/100K in NYC. So why do people over-react to small rises in the murder rate, which is just 5/100K." 

In high-crime neighborhoods, such as Baltimore's Eastern and Western Districts, the murder rate is 125 per 100,000 EVERY DAMN year. What I don't hear from academics right now about a Coronavirus death rate of 125 per 100,000 — the same ones who are dismissive of rising crime and murder in high-crime neighborhood — here's what I don't hear: "It's just a blip. Don't over-react. Besides, virus deaths are actually way down, compared to 1918."

There's a certain irony because the Coronavirus really is a blip! And it really isn't as bad as it was in 1918. And yet that doesn't mean we shouldn't react. Hell, even error on the side of over-reaction. Maybe understand there actually is a balance between civil liberties and public safety. After all, lives are at stake! Or maybe I should say our lives are at stake.

Public-health professionals like to emphasize the virus-like transmission of violence. Violence isn't a virus. Still, look how people will change their lives when they're the ones at risk. But when other people, black people I need to point out, are victimized or murdered at similar rates, by criminals? Meh. A see a lot of white people at anti-police rallies shouting: "Depolice! Decolonize!" 
  
But that fear you have of being a victim of the Coronavirus? The feeling of helplessness and despair and even death? What keeps you from leaving your house? For those who live in fear of crime, who those who live on the same block as violent criminals, that's what life is like all the time.  

Of course I need to point out that deaths from the virus are still happening, so the rate of death this year, at least in places hard hit, like where I live, will be very high. 
  
We actually know so much more about violence than the virus. Violence, just from policing alone, is actually not that hard to reduce when there are resources and political will. 

The virus will, presumably, at some point, be history. And violence will still be with us. But not all of us. Just some of us. And too many people, educated people, not only won't care, but will advocate for policies and policing that make violence worse.

2 comments:

Адриан said...

i dunno man. streets are pretty gloomy. im in manhattan... you can’t just put an economy to a halt... im mostly scared of riots breaking out.

half the people in my building aren’t paying rent anymore and don’t have much to lose. feels like the calm before the storm. at least there aint much to steal out here anymore. nothings open

TreeEater said...
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