Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Why Does Terrorism Scare Us More?

I saw this as part of a post on the Iowa Voice. The author is an unabashed conservative, but for the most part he does put thought into his posts and at least is willing to articulate an argument (even if I disagree). In regards to the NSA illegal spy program he writes:

Personally, I'd much rather have 1000 innocent people investigated than to have NO investigation at all and find out later that had we done it, we could have prevented the next 9/11. Of course, by the time we realize that, the next 9/11 will have already happened, and it would be too late.

What is it about terrorism that has us so afraid that we are willing to give up liberty for security? This is not meant to be an attack on anyone's ideals, but an honest question.

There were 14,408 murders in this country in 2003, which is more deaths than all terrorist attacks in the history of the US combined (including domestic terrorists like McVey). 9,638 were by firearms. Of those 9,638 murders, approximately 3400 of them were by people who had never committed a crime before.

So, still, you have more deaths by firearms from previously non-criminal Americans in 2003 alone than you have deaths by terror in the history of the US. Why is the 2nd amendment so sacred, but the 1st and 4th can be tossed out the window for the sake of safety. Rational thought would tell you that the 2nd amendment is much more dangerous to our safety than the 4th.

Surprisingly, only 17% of murders in the US in 2003 were related to felony crimes such as rape, robbery, burglary, drugs, etc (the reason we say we keep guns for protection). The rest were done mainly over arguments over property, significant others, bar room brawls, etc.

The majority of murders happened by people the victim knew (of cases where the murder was resolved as to the offender). 123 by husbands. 573 by wives. 129 by fathers. 105 by mothers. 268 by sons. 193 by daughters. 3294 by acquaintances. 160 by boyfriends. 464 by girlfriends. Only 1795 were by strangers.

So, what is it about terrorism that scares us more so that we are more willing to surrender our liberties than death from individual Americans. After all, you are thousands of times more likely to die from a crime other than a terrorist attack. Why do we give up our liberty in order to combat terrorism but not other crimes? Iowa voice is much more likely to be killed by his wife or girlfriend than a terrorist.

Why is it that we respect the constitutional right of law biding gun owners when 35% of the 9,638 gun murders are committed by people who never had a prior record, but we don't respect the 1st and 4th amendment in relation to terrorism?

Of course some of it comes from the fear of mass murder from weapons of mass destruction. But, even if Terrorist were able carry out a 9/11 attack each and every year, it still would not match the number of murders inflicted upon us by our fellow citizens.

So, what is it about terrorism that gives us such a knee-jerk reaction to safety? Why is it that the low grade simmer of murder by Americans is less fearful than flash in the pan terrorism? And if there are so many more murders committed by Americans than terrorists, why do we insist that the police stay within the bounds of the constitution on one, but not the other.

I would like to hear your opinions.

Sources: FBI

Murder stats 2003

Murder by State 2003

Murder by Relationship 2003

4 comments:

Harrison said...

First, if you think "domestic" spyin' is somethin' new 'n different created by the Bush administration you got another think comin'. Carnivore and Echelon have been around forever—used to monitor communications to and from the Soviet Union and East Germany. (You are old enough to remember the Soviet Union and East Germany, I suppose.) You can even go to a website that lists some of the "keywords" the governement looks for and ya' know what? One of 'em is "Monica." Another is "Bubba." Gee. Wonder which administration could have been possibly been interested in what U.S. citizens were sayin' about "Bubba" and "Monica?"

And if you're so hot and bothered about domestic spyin', you better include employers spyin' on employees, stores spyin' on customers, and cities spyin' on anyone and everyone walkin' the streets. And think how many crimes have been solved by police gatherin' info from the bank surveillance videos of ATM machines?

Second, there's a difference between one-on-one murder and a terrorist attack. If ya' can't figure out what it is, maybe you should head back to Pre-Law 101. Better yet, try some Economics 101 courses. An attack like 9/11 affects the economic infrastructure of the entire country. Think of all the additional expense of airport screenin', f'instance, somethin' everyone yelled for after the attack. Whether it's workin' well or not, the money's bein' spent, and passed on to the average citizen in the form of higher prices and taxes. From the top of the government heap to the smallest local courthouse, you've got the expense of metal detectors, scannin' machines, and multiple guards, all paid for by the citizens. I could keep goin' with dangers to distribution systems, power stations, water supplies, etc., etc., but I hope you're gettin' the message. A single murder—even the murder of a national leader—will never have the same effect. We already know that.

In my local area we had seven people murdered in less than a week—two families practicaly wiped out without a shot bein' fired. The murderers used knives. Now, since knives aren't protected by the Second Amendment, maybe we should just ban 'em and hope the murder rate will plummet. Not.

Oh, and since you're a big First Amendment supporter, how come I can't wear a cross to school without offendin' someone? Hmmmm? And do not, under any circumstances, try to feed me that bogus "wall of separation" crap. It was NEVER in the Constitution. It was, however, recently (d'ya' know when?) made up by a bunch of Supreme Court justices led by…who? D'ya' know? Think HUGE socialist edgin' on communist sympathizer.

Here's an ethical conundrum for ya'… If somehow the wireless devices we all have floatin' around our homes picked up a transmission of your neighbors talkin' with each other 'bout blowin' up a bridge or a dam or doin' a suicide run on the sub base up there in CT, would ya' call the FBI or not? That couple drivin' on I-95 had no qualms 'bout listenin' and tapin' Newt Gingrich's private phone conversation and feedin' it to Clinton's people. They were hailed as responsible citizens. Guess that was okay since it was the Clinton administration, right?

Somehow, Dingo, I get the feelin' if another attack happened in your backyard you'd be one of the first to blame the Bush administration for not doin' enough to stop it.

tommy said...

terrorists are different because they are trying to reshape the world, different groups have different aims but they all want the world to be different.

most criminals have a much smaller view. it doesn't make much difference if you're the victim though, dead is dead, but one group is interested in killing the society too, not just an individual.

Dingo said...

"but one group is interested in killing the society too, not just an individual."

Good point, Tommy.

Harrison, Carnivore and Echelon were intended for foreign spying, not domestic. Foreigners don't have constitutional rights.

"And if you're so hot and bothered about domestic spyin', you better include employers spyin' on employees, stores spyin' on customers"

business are not covered by the constitutional prohibition. the government is. Big difference.

"and cities spyin' on anyone and everyone walkin' the streets"

Public places, by definition, are not private.

"An attack like 9/11 affects the economic infrastructure of the entire country."

If you are willing to give up your liberties for economic reasons, maybe you should go back to civics 101. And by the way... contisutional law 101 will also let you know that economics does not trump personal liberty (at least until Kelo).

"Think of all the additional expense of airport screenin', f'instance, somethin' everyone yelled for after the attack."

If you think that we spend more money on terrorims security than we do on domestic security, then you really do need ot go back to econ 101. Think about all the metal detectors that have been placed in schools across the contry alone. 95% of the police being paid do not focus on anti-terrorism. The private security industry alone is $37 Billion a year. Beyond security guards, think about all of those ATM cameras, home security alarms, etc. They aren't there for terrorism.

"In my local area we had seven people murdered in less than a week—two families practicaly wiped out without a shot bein' fired. The murderers used knives."

Exactly. You are more likely to get killed by a knife than a terrorist. Why don't people want to ban them? If it is all about security, right?

"It was, however, recently (d'ya' know when?) made up by a bunch of Supreme Court justices led by…who? D'ya' know? Think HUGE socialist edgin' on communist sympathizer."

Now you are just going off the deep end.

"If somehow the wireless devices we all have floatin' around our homes picked up a transmission of your neighbors talkin' with each other 'bout blowin' up a bridge or a dam or doin' a suicide run on the sub base up there in CT,would ya' call the FBI or not?"

Of course I would... I am not getting your point here.

" I get the feelin' if another attack happened in your backyard you'd be one of the first to blame the Bush administration for not doin' enough to stop it."

So, tell me Harrison, what is your limit. At what point is the president doing too much.

Lou said...

I think that a terrorist attack has much more impact because it kills so many people at once, it shatters our reality, you hear it in the news for weeks, like you hear of a plane crash for days or weeks, whereas a murder is an isolated act.