Voters’ Perceptions of Crime Continue to Conflict with Reality

Despite double-digit percentage decreases in U.S. violent and property crime rates since 2008, most voters say crime has gotten worse during that span, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The disconnect is nothing new, though: Americans’ perceptions of crime are often at odds with the data.crime

Leading up to Election Day, a majority (57%) of those who had voted or planned to vote said crime has gotten worse in this country since 2008. Almost eight-in-ten voters who supported President-elect Donald Trump (78%) said this, as did 37% of backers of Democrat Hillary Clinton. Just 5% of pro-Trump voters and a quarter of Clinton supporters said crime has gotten better since 2008, according to the survey of 3,788 adults conducted Oct. 25-Nov. 8.

Official government crime statistics paint a strikingly different picture. Between 2008 and 2015 (the most recent year for which data are available), U.S. violent crime and property crime rates fell 19% and 23%, respectively, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which tallies serious crimes reported to police in more than 18,000 jurisdictions around the nation.

Another Justice Department agency, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, produces its own annual crime report, based on a survey of more than 90,000 households that counts crimes that aren’t reported to police in addition to those that are. BJS data show that violent crime and property crime rates fell 26% and 22%, respectively, between 2008 and 2015 (again, the most recent year available).

So what explains the gap between perceptions of crime and the data?

Voters’ perceptions of crime continue to conflict with reality

Honest Injuns*: Policing Native Identity in the Wake of Rachel Dolezal

[One of the most common questions I receive from readers is how to check their lineage for Native American ancestry.

There are a few companies now that – for a pretty penny – will search your DNA for ethnic markers and give you a sort of roadmap of percentages. I’ve had friends use these companies and haven’t heard anything negative from them, so I imagine the information they provide is legit.

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying to figure out your genetic heritage. I fully support that.

But I wonder: For those who find they are some percent “Native American” (and let’s not forget we’re talking thousands of unique tribal nations in that vague descriptor), what will they do with that information?

In discussing Rachel Dolezal, the national conversation centers on her claim to Black identity, what she calls “the Black experience” (as if being Black, or any race, can be packaged into a singular experience). I am in full support of these discussions.


But no one outside of Native thinkers bats an eye at her assertion that she was born in a tipi and her family hunted with bows and arrows. In fact, Dolezal’s parents, who swore up and down that Dolezal is Caucasian without a hint of Black, noted that, in fact, one or two great-grandparents were Native.

Debbie Reese (Nambe Pueblo) addressed this on her (fabulously educational) blog,American Indians in Children’s Literature:

“The lack of questioning of that born-in-a-tipi story, however, points to the need for children’s books and media that accurately portray our lives in the past and the present so that people don’t put forth stories like the one Dolezar did, and so that that those who hear that kind of thing question such stories.

“Dolezal’s story about living in a tipi is plausible but not probable. The power of stereotyping is in her story, and in those who accepted it, too. That is not ok. Look at the images of Native people you are giving to children in your home, in your school, and in your library. Do some weeding. Make some better choices. Contribute to a more educated citizenry.”]    Read the full article here | Righting Red


Photograph found in author’s post in Righting Red



Jimmy John Liautaud, Big Game Hunting, and Ethical Boycotting… Or, the Treacherous Desert of Abundant Choices



The man in the photos smiles broadly as he poses behind the hulking carcass of an elephant, and, in another picture, he wears the same grin as he hoists a leopard’s limp body for display.

Repulsed, I found it easy to order my submarine sandwich elsewhere.

But that brings me to an unsettling revelation: My self-righteous mini-boycotts are random, inconsistent and, often, hypocritical.

How many businesses would offend me if I knew more about their owners, their investments and their source of labor? Where does one draw the line? Am I a horrible person if I long for some amount of blissful ignorance? (Chocolate and child labor come to mind.)

Many of my friends say they, too, avoid certain trademarks that conflict with their personal values regarding the environment, politics, morals or human rights.

Wal-Mart continues to draw wrath for the methods it uses to keep prices low, from its labor practices to its effect on mom-and-pop businesses. Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria Secret’s Pink and other companies that seem to sexualize children in their advertisements grate on others.

One childhood friend who fled to Wisconsin long ago boycotts the entire state of Illinois because he is disgusted with our corruption and politics. Another refuses to use self-checkout lanes, saying that “it’s symptomatic of our absurd complacency. We get less service for the same amount of money, while unemployment goes up.”

After the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I saw a woman in a floppy hat outside a suburban gas station, holding a giant hand-lettered sign: “Boycott BP.” I had to admire her determination, though I wondered what effect her one-woman effort had on the motorists who sped by.

We are victims of our own success when it comes to consumer choices — because there are so many of them. I already spend way too much time in the cosmetics aisle, trying to make sense of which skin care products are affordable and effective.

Now that I have learned that the plastic microbeads in my favorite facial scrub are clogging Lake Michigan, I will start my product search over again.

I know, I shouldn’t complain. Some people don’t have the luxury of boycotting, say, Wal-Mart, because it’s all they can afford.

Yet I often compromise my values out of laziness, convenience, cost or sheer desire. Um, chocolate.

A co-worker who dropped R&B artist Chris Brown from her iPod because of his violent history with singer Rihanna admitted that she still listens to the also-notorious singer R Kelly. Sure, Kelly was acquitted of child pornography in 2008. But Georgia suspects he’s no poster child for healthy relationships and feels vaguely guilty about it.

Some people devote much effort toward making ethical choices, and business gurus pay attention to them.

“To do ethical boycotting, you need the ability and the time to think abstractly,” said Joel Whalen, associate professor of marketing at DePaul University. He agrees it can be challenging but added that social media have given the unhappy consumer a bigger voice, which can be conveyed by photos and graphics as well as an old-fashioned complaint letter.

The Internet is rich with complaints about businesses, mostly prompted by poor customer service, which deserves its own essay.

Remember the singer whose humorous YouTube music video “United Breaks Guitars” propelled him to fame in 2009? Canadian Dave Carroll sang about how the airline’s baggage handlers at O’Hare International Airport broke his $3,500 Taylor acoustic guitar and refused to pay for it.

United was forced to respond, and eventually it donated $2,500 in his name to support music education through the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, according to news reports.

Similarly, you can find documentaries that expose corporate interests and ethical concerns. But, as Whalen pointed out, people are quicker to react if the problem hits close to home, such as if they discover their water supply is being polluted. Human rights violations in Third World countries, however, are not as “real.”

When considering Jimmy John’s, I learned from news articles that Liautaud contributes to right-wing causes and threatened to move his business out of Illinois when the state sales tax increased.

Liautaud, through a corporate spokeswoman, declined comment on all of those issues, including the safari photos and the status of his headquarters relocation.

Personally, I don’t want to research every corporate executive to compare their right or left leanings, both of which could offend.

But those photos ruined my appetite, and gave me one less choice to make.

Article found here | Chicago Tribune


… and an excerpt from Rober Hirschfeld’s Jimmy John is a Big Man. With the Photographs to Prove it | Smile Politely

I believe we’re collectively culpable, and pointing out the varying degrees of hypocrisy in order to maintain the status quo is a fool’s errand at best and slyly evil at worst.  After all, you may eat tofu harvested from mono-crop fields and ride your bike to work on the streets — thus mitigating your footprint, but still acting as an accessory to a few of the prongs of civilization that have destroyed animal habitat – the primary cause of species decline in the first world.  Such complicity is, in fact, real. 

However, I don’t think this relative complicity should prevent one from speaking out about human behavior — though that is a recurring theme in the comments, and surely will be pushed by Jimmy John’s PR department.  Collective culpability and relative hypocrisy do not mean that any behavior is sanctioned, or that we are incapable of making value judgements on grossly immoral acts.

I eat meat. I don’t have a moral problem with that (partially because I firmly believe in the rightness of big predators like leopards and wolves). But I eat more than I should, and I’m not always careful about where it comes from. I do have a problem with that. If these pictures lead to greater discussion of how humans fit in to the larger landscape, I will be happy.

Red is Not Black

Rachel Dolezal and Andrea Smith: Integrity, Ethics, Accountability, Identity

[… a more productive place to begin might be to ask why there has not been any noticeable difference in professional or political expectations of Smith—in her self-presentations, speaking engagements, professional service, and publications? There are certainly many people who knew/know, so why have her ethics and integrity not been questioned or challenged in the same or similar way to those of Dolezal? Why does Smith’s fraud get excused on the grounds of “her good work” but Dolezal does not?

Meanwhile, we’ll all fail to ask why, as Dolezal and Smith present themselves through such complicated personal stories of childhood abuse and family dysfunction, we respond so differently to Dolezal’s blackface and Smith’s redface. We’ll avoid the opportunity to think out loud together about why it seems the entire nation demands accountability of someone pretending to be Black–of literally altering her physical appearance to conform to racist expectations of Blackness–but doesn’t seem to give one iota of concern about those who pretend to be Indian.]

Read the full opinion article | tequilasovereign


Challenging Assumptions, or New Orleans’ Eternal State of Suspended Animation | A Different Visual Point of View on Katrina’s Impact

[“The Rising” features work by 11 photographers, including some who lived in New Orleans before the storm and others who moved here since. While all share a common subject matter in the context of the show, most of their images avoid the kind of visual clichés that have come to characterize a large part of post-Katrina imagery.

“Instead of ‘disaster porn,’ we wanted to show the positive aspects of what’s happened since Katrina,” said Ogden Museum curator Richard McCabe, who organized the show. “This work is more of a metaphor for what’s happened in New Orleans over the last 10 years.”

As a result, “The Rising” challenges certain assumptions of how the storm affected the fabric of life in New Orleans.

And like the New Orleans Museum of Art’s excellent if even more opaque “Ten Years Gone,” running concurrently across town, it confounds expectations of what a “Katrina show” should be.

Sophie Lvoff’s dreamy cityscapes show a New Orleans in an eternal state of suspended animation seemingly untouched by any kind of outside influence, meteorological or otherwise.]

Read the article and see the photographs here | THE NEW ORLEANS ADVOCATE



10 Stories the Mainstream Media Ignored While Obsessing Over #CaitlynJenner

Article published in ANTIMEDIA

1. Rand Paul received widespread coverage for delaying the Patriot Act’s renewal at the end of May. As a result of his filibuster and congressional inaction, the Patriot Act and its Section 215—one of the NSA’s justifications for bulk data collection—expired on Monday. Though this was lauded as a victory, this week the Senate pushed through the USA Freedom Act, selling it as a bill to respect the privacy of Americans. In actuality, it renews and arguably strengthens the government surveillance apparatus.

2. On Tuesday, news broke that the FBI has been conducting warrantless surveillance across the United States using a fleet of planes disguised as private aircrafts. It was responsible for mysterious planes flying over the Baltimore protests in May and surveilled as many as 40,000 people in one flight over Anaheim, California. In similar news, it was revealed this week that a single local police department conducted over 300 warrantless searches using highly secretive and controversial Stingray technology.

3. This week, NBC was caught manipulating footage of a witness interview to make the police shooting of unarmed college student, Feras Morad, seem less sinister to its audience. His death was one of nearly 400 police killings logged this year, alone.

4. In what appears to be good news, Congress moved this week to require police to report all killings and uses of force committed on duty. There has previously been no requirement and only 750 of 17,000 police departments voluntarily report such data. The law also requires reporting of police deaths on duty (this was already codified in a law passed in May) but nevertheless, signifies a growing shift toward police accountability.

5. A Department of Homeland Security investigation found that in 95% of cases, the TSA failed to find weapons and mock explosives smuggled through airports. Undercover DHS agents managed to sneak through 67 of 70 incidents without any hassle from the TSA, the administration that claims its services are necessary to keep Americans safe.

6. A “high value” Guantanamo detainee, Majid Khan, alleged this week that he was tortured by CIA agents with tactics worse than previously revealed. Though the Senate’s December torture report detailed gruesome techniques including forced rectal feeding and sleep deprivation, Khan claims he was sexually abused, hung nude from beams, and had his genitals dipped in ice water—among other offenses.

7. In a continuing, unsettling pattern, three more stories came to light of bankers meeting their death. The executive of American Express died mysteriously on an international flight while another jumped off the 24th floor of his apartment building in an apparent drug-induced suicide. Another story released this week detailed a Goldman Sachs employee found dead in her car in April. They join a growing list of bankers whose lives have ended prematurely.

8. In an all too common pattern, news surfaced this week that local police in Palm Beach, Florida engaged in illicit activity. As Anti-Media reported, “At least one minor and at least one sex-worker were invited to a private party on a golf course that was held by members of the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Department in 2012. Witnesses reported that members of the party were openly using cocaine and that the woman who attended the party was walking around the golf course fully nude.” This parallels the DEA’s recent drug cartel-funded prostitute party scandal as well as a plethora of cases where police use and sell “illicit” substances.

9. In a “once-in-a-century” discovery, archeologists in Russia discovered 2,400-year-old golden bongs. They contained trace amounts of opium and marijuana, suggesting (as the Palm Beach cop cocaine soiree does) that seeking altered states of consciousness is not a crime, but human nature. The findings further prove the failed war on drugs to be futile and obsolete.

10. A declassified Pentagon report revealed this week that Western governments helped to create ISIS, the infamous terrorist organization. According to the Defense Intelligence Agency report, “US and other western governments allied themselves with al-Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups to oust Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad. They suspected the consequences of this tactic would lead to the rise of an ‘Islamic State.

Thugs | Language and President Obama’s Press Conference

[As has often been reported, when white teenagers riot over a sports game or a bad concert, these people are not thugs. Even though they may be masked, in the streets, destroying property, injuring and killing, these people aren’t thugs because they aren’t black. This form of violence receives to the terror code status of ‘rabblerousers.’ They are dismissed as drunken mobs, fools, idiots, or the more European and jovial-sounding hooligans. In the morning after a riot, hooligans get to put back on their suits and ties. They get to chalk up violence to alcohol or a stupid referee call, or even a surprising victory.

Thugs are masked men. Thugs are in the street. Thugs are black.]

Read the full article | Talking Points Memo