E-mail Scott
Scott's Links
About the Author
Opinion Archives
Social Media:
Google Plus
Monthly Archives:

January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016
December 2016
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017

Powered by Blogger
Subscribe via RSS

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Perception is reality, so education is critical

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

When it comes to politics, the reality we all face is that perception is reality. No matter how right you are on the facts, and no matter how well your argument is constructed, you have to deal with the voters where they are, not where they should be. This is why it is critical to never stop teaching voters about facts and policy, and (like it or not) this is something advocates of criminal justice reform have to deal with.

With that said, here are three very informative bits from Radley Balko's blog post last week:

About half as many cops are killed on the job today as in 1968, despite the fact that there are significantly more cops on the street. So far this year, 10 U.S. police officers have been killed by gunfire. That puts us on pace for 29 by the end of the year. That would be the lowest raw number in well more than half a century. And again, once you factor in the increase in the number of cops overall, the drop in the homicide rate among cops is even more dramatic.


The crime rate was much higher in 1968 than it is today. Here's a mind-blowing statistic: There were 500 fewer overall murders in 2013 than there were in 1969, despite the fact that the population increased by 115 million people.


In 2013, there were nearly 9,000 fewer homicides, about 27,000 fewer rapes, and about 368,000 fewer aggravated assaults than there were in 1991, even though the country's population increased by 64 million people.

These are the kind of statistics that criminal justice reformers need to keep repeating, as often as is necessary to educate the public about the reality of crime in America. Even as crime has fallen, we have continued our "tough on crime" policies, and the use of paramilitary SWAT raids continues to increase even on nonviolent suspects. Even regulatory agencies are employing SWAT teams to enforce code, which sounds like it should be in an absurd parody movie, not reality.

Balko expresses frustration that two pundits critical of Hillary Clinton are only engaged in political analysis instead of dealing with the facts, and that is a reasonable criticism. It is irresponsible for a journalist to deal only with perception when that perception does not match reality.

But whether we like it or not, in politics perception is reality. This is why voter education is important. The statistics about the falling crime rate need to be pounded over and over and over so it is inescapable in order to combat the sensationalistic "if it bleeds, it leads" focus of the news media (especially TV news) as it covers violent crime. Because these statistics are not "sexy," they need to be hammered home all the more.

That said, I think Balko overstates his case when he describes policies that disproportionately harm blacks as "racist" in areas governed by blacks. Merriam-Webster defines racism as "poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race" or "the belief that some races of people are better than others." I cannot imagine the black leadership of Baltimore are intentionally harming blacks. It strains credulity to describe it as such.

But bad policy is bad policy. We do not need to attach a loaded word like "racism" to bad policy to explain why it is bad policy. We simply need to explain why that bad policy is causing a great deal of harm without getting much in the way of positive results, and that there are alternative ways to solve problems without the negative externalities caused by the current "tough on crime" mentality. Using a loaded word like "racism" is unnecessarily divisive and creates a left/right debate that is a needless distraction.

We have a lot of work to do in order to roll back the abuses of the War on Crime and the War on Drugs, and there is a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and Democrats ready to work toward that goal. (I would be remiss if I didn't point out that those Democrats and Republicans have just recently caught up to where the Libertarians were decades ago.) There is also bipartisan resistance to reform, as the current leviathan is a bipartisan creation. Let's not blow this opportunity by making it a left vs. right or a Republican vs. Democrat issue.


Note: All posts must be approved by the blog owner before they are visible on the blog.


At May 13, 2015 at 6:09 AM , Blogger Mike Newton said...  

"When it comes to politics, the reality we all face is that perception is reality."

But only to individuals or groups sharing the same "beliefs," as in religious superstition or the constant lies spewed out by right-wing media. That skewed "reality" has no connection to real-world events, science, history, etc., and thus only serves to deepen popular delusions held by the unbalanced. Since you endorse that position, I hope you'll enjoy it. As for proving you "rational" or "sane," good luck!

At May 13, 2015 at 6:47 AM , Blogger Scott Tibbs said...  

Since you endorse that position, I hope you'll enjoy it.

Oh for crying out loud.

Did you even read the blog post? I said perception is reality, which is why advocates of criminal justice reform need to change the perception.

Post a Comment

Below are the rules for commenting on ConservaTibbs.com.

  1. A reasonable level of civility is expected. While it is expected that controversial political and social issues may generate heated debate, there are common-sense limits of civility that will be enforced.

  2. This blog is a family-friendly site. Therefore no cursing, profanity, vulgarity, obscenity, etc. will be allowed. This is a zero-tolerance rule and will result in automatic deletion of the offending post.

  3. Anonymity has greatly coarsened discourse on the Internet, so pseudonyms are discouraged but not forbidden. That said, any direct criticism of a person by name cannot be done anonymously. If you criticize someone, you have to subject yourself to the same level of scrutiny or the comment will be deleted.

  4. Please keep your comments relevant to the topic of the post.

  5. All moderation decisions are final. I may post an explanation or I may not, depending on the situation. If you have a question or a concern about a moderation decision, e-mail me privately rather than posting in the comments.

Thank you for your cooperation.