We are becoming safer. The Washington Post article, “2017 is on pace for the second-lowest crime rate since 1990 – and near-record low murders”, makes this point clearly.
Americans are obsessed with fear. One of our largest fears is crime. Our “entertainment” consists often of terrifying tales of murders and rapes and the police and the courts.
We went from a nation terrified by serial killers in the 1960s and 1970s, to one terrified of king pin dealers in the 1980s, gangs in the 1990s and sexual predators for the past twenty years.
Our child-rearing practices have commensurately changed with our fears rather than by data. It is normal to hover and protect our children from being alone in places where the crime rate is very low.
Our mass incarceration problem, which has finally come to the attention of the general public and of both political parties, is a direct result of legislation by fear. The public has demanded that Congress and the state legislatures enact laws to protect us. Judges who show leniency have been pilloried. It used to only be conservatives who said “lock ’em up and throw away the key” but now progressives attack judges who fail to imprison sexual offenders harshly.
Facts are “sticky things” and, in spite of our cultural narrative of obsession with fear, they are completely clear. The United States of America is a much safer place than it used to be and what most Americans think it is.
The next time you are afraid, take a deep breath, and if warranted, take rational steps to make yourself and loved ones safer. But please don’t direct your fear as anger towards groups of people you think produce criminals in large numbers: be they a gender, a race, or an ethnicity.
People’s freedom and a public policy based on rationality is frankly more important than your neurotic need to stop feeling anxious. Stop watching CSI and grow up.
For more information regarding this post, contact author, David Nacht.