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The Wrong Kind of Mass Shootings

One of the more grimly amusing things an American can do is watch the international press try to decide which shootings are worth covering. Now don't get me wrong -- it is indeed the case that multiple-victim shootings happen routinely in America. But not all get international coverage.

This is because the shooters, and often the victims as well, are usually gang members. And much more often than not, black. This sort of thing doesn't fit in at all with the preferred narrative, which is gun-crazed white supremacist cops and citizens opening fire on hapless young black males. In the first few hours, any shooting may seem to a Guardian news editor like a potential confirmation that there is 'open season' on young black males. But then the narrative is ruined by new facts, and the story is dropped like a hot potato.

The latest incident to get this treatment were the shootings in Austin, Texas about a day ago. Believe it or not, the incident went viral, generating multiple news stories in the British press and even one in India! Why Indian readers should be concerned about some shooting happening on the other side of the globe is beyond me. Unless, of course, it turns out to be the last installment in racist gun-mad crackers mowing down innocent black youth.

But alas, it usually doesn't. The last story that went 'poof' before this one was the shooting at the Club Blu nightclub six days ago, which killed two people and left almost 20 injured. Again, the international press was all over this, hoping it might be the next Orlando or Charleston. But alas, the victims were all black, the shooters will also turn out to be black, and the reason for the mindless carnage will be some stupid gang beef or perceived insult.

The New York Times recently looked at 358 cases of shootings involving four or more victims:

Seeking deeper insight into the phenomenon, The New York Times identified and analyzed these 358 shootings with four or more casualties, drawing on two databases assembled from news reports and citizen contributors, and then verifying details with law enforcement agencies....

They chronicle how easily lives are shattered when a firearm is readily available — in a waistband, a glove compartment, a mailbox or garbage can that serves as a gang’s gun locker. They document the mayhem spawned by the most banal of offenses: a push in a bar, a Facebook taunt, the wrong choice of music at a house party. They tally scores of unfortunates in the wrong place at the wrong time: an 11-month-old clinging to his mother’s hip, shot as she prepared to load him into a car; a 77-year-old church deacon, killed by a stray bullet while watching television on his couch.

The shootings took place everywhere, but mostly outdoors: at neighborhood barbecues, family reunions, music festivals, basketball tournaments, movie theaters, housing project courtyards, Sweet 16 parties, public parks. Where motives could be gleaned, roughly half involved or suggested crime or gang activity. Arguments that spun out of control accounted for most other shootings, followed by acts of domestic violence.

Most of the shootings occurred in economically downtrodden neighborhoods. These shootings, by and large, are not a middle-class phenomenon.

The divide is racial as well. Among the cases examined by The Times were 39 domestic violence shootings, and they largely involved white attackers and victims. So did many of the high-profile massacres, including a wild shootout between Texas biker gangs that left nine people dead and 18 wounded.

Over all, though, nearly three-fourths of victims and suspected assailants whose race could be identified were black. Some experts suggest that helps explain why the drumbeat of dead and wounded does not inspire more outrage.

“Clearly, if it’s black-on-black, we don’t get the same attention because most people don’t identify with that. Most Americans are white,” said James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University in Boston. “People think, ‘That’s not my world. That’s not going to happen to me.’ ”

What most of the international press still doesn't realize is that the majority of gun homicides are committed by American blacks. White Americans own a lot of guns, the murder rate among white Americans is only slightly higher than the European average. The murder rate among blacks is, in comparison to Europe, astronomical. Here's a chart from a Quartz explainer on the racial dynamics of crime in the US:

Crime

The majority of Europeans, even the ones who think they understand the US, are ignorant of this phenomenon. The reason is simple: black-on-black crime doesn't fit The Narrative of a nation mired in racism, where hapless blacks cower in fear of being gunned down by racist whites. Instead, it paints a more complex picture in which blacks do not appear exclusively as helpless victims. And why confuse your readers with complexity when there's a Narrative to be pushed?


The U.S. Is Much Less Xenophobic Than Europe

Foreigner poll

Here's another cultural difference to add to the others.

If you believe it's a good thing for a country to have a generally positive attitude toward diversity, then you must acknowledge that the USA is morally superior to any European country. European elites overwhelmingly think diversity is a good thing, which makes the results of this survey problematic to them. How can a country which embodies so many things they disapprove of 'score' so well on a value they desperately wish their countrymen shared?

If you're neutral on that question, as I am, this is just an interesting difference. Doubtless the main factor here is that the US is a nation of immigrants, while European nations all have native traditions and populations and thick, deep cultures and identities.

 


Enjoying a Casual Afternoon Stroll, Erect Member in Hand

Blottare_rattvik650

And while we're on the subject, thanks -- I guess -- to commenter Sandro for a link to this Swedish news story from 26 July. This man, according to locals an asylum-seeker from a nearby hostel, approached a 5- or 6-year old child in central Rättvik, Sweden, pulled out his penis, and began masturbating. The father chased the man away with a steel bar. The man apparently wandered around afterward, penis exposed, masturbating, and didn't stop even when someone pointed a camera at him and took pictures. Eventually the police arrested him.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, this behavior is staggeringly abnormal. There are streakers and flashers and peeping toms in any society, certainly including Sweden. They're virtually all male, of course. But even those people know what they are doing is wrong. They try to limit their period of exposure, so to speak, so they won't be caught. Their behavior certainly indicates bizarre sexual urges, but it doesn't indicate a total break with reality, or complete ignorance (or defiance) of social convention. Walking around a crowded city center in broad daylight masturbating is far beyond flashing. It invariably signals some sort of profound mental disturbance.

The chances of this man ever contributing anything positive to Swedish society are, shall we say, not very encouraging. It should also cast doubt on his asylum claim, for several reasons. First, the UN Refugee Convention specifies that asylum-seekers and refugees are obliged to follow the laws of the country which gives them refuge. Second, if this man has claimed that he fears persecution in his native country, maybe it's because he masturbated in front of children there. Political asylum is meant for people who face unjust persecution, not for those whose activity is blameworthy and criminal.


The Grotesque Mystery of Train Masturbators

Here's a recent police press release from Erfurt (g, my translation):

Yesterday, shortly before midnight, a 21-year-old female traveler spoke to a member of the federal police in the Erfurt central station. She seemed frightened, and told the officer that she had been harassed by a man in the train from Kassel. After he had stared at her for long time, she moved to a different seat. The man followed her, sat on the seat opposite, and began manipulating his penis. He did not open his pants.

After she got out in Erfurt to change trains, the man followed her. For this reason, she approached the police officer, who located the suspect in the train station. The suspect is a 31-year-old Iranian national. Because he could not prove his identity, the officer detained him. It is also suspected that the Iranian is in the country illegally.

And here's a picture of another alleged train masturbator from Cologne, whom the police are actively seeking: 

536497953

This guy is suspected of staring at, and masturbating in front of (g), a group of children from 6 to 8 years old in a Cologne streetcar. The children were engaged in Sternsingen ('star-singing') the German version of Christmas caroling. This involves dressing up as the Three Wise Men, singing traditional tunes, and collecting for charity. This guy apparently found this activity sexually stimulating, so he began touching himself in full view of the children, their minders, everyone else on the train, and the apparently the surveillance camera (actually, this probably isn't a picture of him in the act of jerking off in front of small children. But then again, given the facial expression, I'm not so sure).

No word on whether he unzipped his pants. I assume I speak for everyone when I say I hope he didn't.

And these are not isolated incidents. Well, in one sense they are. We have to keep a sense of proportion here, your chance of being the object of some horny foreign man's intense staring and jerking off on your next train voyage is probably very small. But there have been literally thousands of these incidents by now in Germany. Almost without exception, they involve foreign males.*

When it comes to train masturbators, I am genuinely puzzled. I have taken trains in lots of developing countries, and have never seen this behavior there. Nor have I ever seen German males doing this in Germany. I've seen them get drunk and be rowdy, but never masturbate in public. 

Another puzzling thing is that these foreign train masturbators often don't seem to worry about getting caught. Most of the time, the woman who was the focus complains to police, and they often find the guy sitting in the train seat, as if nothing had happened. Many of these train masturbators seem unaware that anything they were doing was wrong, or that the woman they were jacking off in front of would complain about that. I am sure another factor is that Germans are a confrontation-avoiding lot who would rather complain to cops than confront train masturbators. I doubt a train masturbator who jacked off in front of a girl in Egypt would reach his destination uninjured.

I surmise there's often alcohol involved here. Most of our new fellow citizens come from countries in which alcohol is hard to come by. And then they land in Germany, where you can buy a bottle of rotgut which will get you pie-eyed for 5 Euros. I sometimes see them tottering along the streets of my own neighborhood, clutching half-empty bottles of cheap 80-proof booze, talking to themselves. But then again, I see Germans doing that, too.

Yet many of these incident reports don't mention alcohol (which police reports usually do when it's in play). Which implies that these men, while completely sober, decided to take their erect penises out of their pants in public and jack off while staring at females. Sometimes while staring at children

This is why I am convinced that there are an unusually high number of young males with mental problems among the recent migrants. Public masturbation is the quintessential sign of what psychologists call disinhibition and hypersexuality. I worked for almost 4 years in a public mental hospital, and one of the things we had to teach our acutely schizophrenic clients was the necessity of not masturbating in public (they were obviously allowed to masturbate, but in private only).

We don't have reliable stats yet, but I will be happy to bet any amount of money that if we ever get them, we will find very high rates of mental illness among these young lads.  

Continue reading "The Grotesque Mystery of Train Masturbators" »


Quote of the Day: Dostoevsky on Virtue Signalling

The narrator describes an article by the writer Karmazinov, Dosteovsky's satirical portrayal of Turgenev:

"A year before, I had read an article of his in a review, written with an immense affectation of naïve poetry, and psychology too. He described the wreck of some steamer on the English coast, of which he had been the witness, and how he had seen the drowning people saved, and the dead bodies brought ashore. All this rather long and verbose article was written solely with the object of self-display. One seemed to read between the lines: 'Concentrate yourselves on me. Behold what I was like at those moments. What are the sea, the storm, the rocks, the splinters of wrecked ships to you? I have described all that sufficiently to you with my mighty pen. Why look at that drowned woman with the dead child in her dead arms? Look rather at me, see how I was unable to bear that sight and turned away from it. Here I stood with my back to it; here I was horrified and could not bring myself to look; I blinked my eyes—isn't that interesting?'"

Dostoevsky, The Possessed


Man Who Has "Slaughtered So Many Jews" Threatens to Behead German Doctor, Is Released by Police

The Express describes the incident. After the quote, I'll add two surprising facts gleaned from the above video:

Dr Attila Tan, from Bonn, had just returned to work after a holiday when he was set upon by the crazed father of a 19-year-old he treated. 

The teenager, who had previously fractured his leg, came back to the German hospital on Monday complaining of the treatment he had received. 

He demanded further medical care from Dr Tan, complaining about pain he said he was suffering from. 

Dr Tan, a 54-year-old surgeon, said: "The patient came in around 10am, he was accompanied by his girlfriend who wore a veil.

"He was radiating aggression that only intensified when I treated him.

“I explained everything to him, including the exercises he should be doing. But he wasn't listening."

The irate teen stormed out of the office shouting insults, only to return with his 45-year-old father and younger brother, 15. 

The dad brought with him a 30cm ‘Rambo’ knife. 

Dr Tan’s wife, 54, who works at the hospital reception, screamed for help when she saw the blade. 

In surgery when the trio burst in, the medic rushed towards the front desk and met the knife-wielding attacker head on.

While trying to hold him down, Dr Tan recalled: “The father screamed at me: 'apologise to my son, go down on your knees and kiss his hand'.

"The younger son then grabbed me from behind and tried to push me down.”

The doctor’s loyal wife was beaten as she tried to help her husband and suffered a heart attack during the ordeal and had to be rushed to receive medical treatment. 

Dr Tan said: "She just wanted to protect me. The way he hit her, it hurts so much."

The video above, in which the doctor explains the incident, contains two telling facts that did not make it into the Express story. First, the doctor recounts that as the father was threatening to murder him, he kept repeating: "I am a Palestinian. I have slaughtered so many Jews."

The second fact comes at the end of the video. Two of the four attackers were detained by the police, two voluntarily turned themselves in. Despite the fact that the attackers beat and threatened to murder the doctor repeatedly and beat his wife and threw her to the floor -- all while screaming 'Allahu Akbar!' -- all of them are still at large.

German law doesn't allow anyone to be held in custody pre-trial unless they are an imminent danger to others or a flight risk. And a German judge and prosecutors decided none of the members of this family were either of those things. Not even the father who threatened to decapitate a doctor while boasting of having "slaughtered so many Jews", not his sons, nobody. The two employees of the doctor's office who are in the video above won't show their faces because they're frightened the attackers might show up again.

The police spokesman also say that suspicions that the crime might have a religious or political motive "could not be established". No word on whether the Palestinian man's claims to have "slaughtered so many Jews" will be investigated, although the video does report that Germany's domestic security agency is investigating the case. It will be interesting to see whether in this case, as in some others, Germany's lax asylum laws ended up in granting protection to people who have committed crimes against humanity, instead of to their victims.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The German criminal justice system was designed for a harmonious, ethnically homogeneous society with high levels of social trust and cohesion. In many parts of Germany, those conditions no longer apply. Pressure is building to make the justice system much more coercive. Professors and experts will fight these changes, as they usually do in Germany, but if there are more cases like this one, eventually, even the powerful screen of expert control (pdf) that insulates German criminal law from change may crumble.


Wait, Since When Are Fifth Columns Supposed to be Reassuring?

Every time there's a terror attack, open-borders sympathizers cross their fingers and pray to the Magic Pixie that it wasn't one of the young men who came in through...open borders. To them, the only terror attacks that could possibly "count" must be committed only by people who entered Germany in the summer of 2015. And even then, they are "regrettable one-off cases".

But why are we supposed to be reassured by the fact that the perpetrators of IS-inspired terror attacks had been in Europe before 2015, or were even born and raised in a European country? What this means is that there is a large group of alienated, disaffected young males who are susceptible to radicalization even though they enjoyed every advantage (and all the disadvantages) of living in a prosperous European nation since birth. 

A very small -- but very steady -- number of these fellow citizens can be convinced by foreign propaganda to murder dozens of their fellow Frenchmen or Germans at random, and then either blow themselves up or run into a hail of police bullets shrieking "Allahu Akbar!" Since they know the customs of the country they're living in, they can conceal their activities much more effectively.

And as we've seen, the authorities often (1) have no idea the risk they pose; or (2) know the risk, but do not have the legal tools to effectively counter it. See, e.g., the terrorist who slit the throat of an 84-year-old French priest while wearing a police ankle monitor. Or the mentally unstable man who was able to remain in Germany and commit a suicide bombing even though he had already been ordered deported to Bulgaria.

If you find this state of affairs reassuring, I don't think that word means what you think it means. And given that 83% of Germans (g) (the highest percentage in Europe) think immigration and integration are the most pressing challenges facing Germany today, they don't think so either.


No, It Can't Happen Here: America's Political Institutions Are Much Stronger than Trump

 

This video is making the rounds recently, mostly accompanied by a sinister warning that 'it could happen here', i.e. in the U.S. The idea is that if Americans elect Donald Trump, it could set in motion a chain of events that could transform America into a dictatorship.

Breathe easy, world. It won't happen. If America elects Trump, it will simply have made a dim narcissist demagogue President. Nothing more, nothing less. Trump will not transform the structure of American democracy because he can't. No President can, no President ever has, and no President ever will. It's that simple.

The American style of Presidential democracy, in contrast to the parliamentary style which is much more popular world-wide, has a number of disadvantages. Elections only happen every two years. The President may, and often does, lose his support in the Congress, leading to political gridlock which stymies new policy initiatives. The first-past-the-post electoral system means there are only two viable political parties. Third parties come and go, but never get a lasting foothold.

But there are advantages to the system as well. The number one advantage, by far, is its phenomenal stability. The USA has had the same system of government for the past 230 years, placing it in an extremely tiny, rarefied group of countries which have ever, at any time in history, kept the same basic governing structure this long. Even the Civil War did not interrupt the consistent election of new Congresses every 2 years.

One of the reasons for this stability is separation of powers, which strictly limits what the President can do. Here are some of the things the American President cannot do which heads of states in other countries often can:

  1.     Dissolve Congress and call a snap election.
  2.     Unilaterally declare a state of emergency.
  3.     Fire or otherwise punish or sanction members of the Supreme Court.
  4.     Unilaterally change the number of judges on the Supreme Court.
  5.     Declare war without Congress' consent (although Congress has relinquished a lot of this authority).
  6.     Change the Constitution, even if he has the support of 70% of all members of Congress.
  7.     Interfere with areas in which individual US states have exclusive legislative competence, such as family law, contract law, tort law, and dozens of other areas.
  8.     Name or replace governors of states.
  9.     Remove anyone from any political party, including his own.

Democratically-elected leaders have sometimes been able to transform their countries into authoritarian systems, and sometimes into totalitarian ones. But all of those countries differed from the United States in several critical ways. First, they usually gave the head of state at least some of the 9 powers listed above, or they gave the head of state the means to acquire some of these 9 powers. 

But the differences go even deeper:

First, their political institutions in these countries were much less robust, popular, and well-anchored. No matter how unpopular an American Congress is, Americans have never, and will never, support abolishing the institution itself. The same goes for the Supreme Court and the Presidency, for that matter. A President who suggested abolishing any of these institutions "in the name of national solidarity during a time of crisis" would be laughed at, or declared insane.

Second, the political institutions are designed for stability. Stability is one of the side-effects of the 9 limits on Presidential power listed above. There is simply no way the President can ever stop the Supreme Court from reviewing laws and declaring them unconstitutional. Now, the President can direct the executive branch to consciously and openly decline to enforce certain Supreme Court rulings, and this has happened on occasion in American history. But it's considered a major and controversial breach of trust, and hasn't happened in decades. And believe me, the US Supreme Court has handed down some extremely unpopular rulings that have gone directly against the President's wishes, such as the 2010 ruling about corporate campaign contributions, which Obama criticized in front of members of the Court.

Third, federalism. The USA is among the top 2 or 3 most federalist countries in history. Individual US states have a huge amount of authority to determine their own policies. They can and do all have their own, individual governments, including a governor, state legislature, state constitution, and state supreme court. They have their own criminal laws, family laws, tort laws, tax laws, inheritance laws, contract laws, commercial codes, hunting and fishing regulations, road traffic laws, drug laws, environmental laws, workplace-safety laws -- the list goes on and on. There is a lot of federal government legislation in some of these areas, but states still get to have their own policies, and they use this privilege with gusto. States could and would certainly rebel against any attempt to use illegitimate powers to force the entire country to obey a single unified policy handed down by an authoritarian President run amok. The Second Amendment fans among you might also point out that if the President tried to crush resistance by military force, he would face a well-armed and no doubt rebellious population.

So breathe easy, World. A Trump Presidency would be most regrettable, but the US has already had one dim, reckless, foolish President this millennium. He did a lot of damage which we're all still living with, but he didn't usher in Armageddon or AmeriKKKa, and neither will Trump.


Arab World Fails in Mental Health Care, Germany Chooses to Pay the Price

Reutknife
A Syrian refugee in Reutlingen, apparently upset about relationship troubles, hacked a 45-year-old woman to death with a 40-cm döner kebab knife. He then ran shrieking through the city, hacking at other people with the knife, until a man in a BMW ran him over and brought the rampage to an end. Although only in Germany for a year, the accused killer had been in trouble with the police before for drug, property, and violent crimes (g). Early reports about the 27-year-old Syrian rejected asylum seeker who blew himself up in Ansbach, injuring a dozen other people, indicate he had a history of mental illness and had twice attempted suicide.

This is not normal behavior, even for people who (may) have withstood trauma. And this sort of behavior doesn't just crop up one day out of nowhere. It's a good bet both of these men displayed behavior problems back home, although given taboos and the language barrier, it will probably be hard to find out precise facts.

As I've argued before on this blog, it seems that among the hugely disproportionate numbers of random young males Germany allowed to wander across the border last year, there's a disproportionate number of violent, mentally ill young men. The reasoning could hardly be simpler: If you have 5 children, 3 of whom are men, and 2 of those men have jobs and/or families, who are you going to send to Germany to try to set down an anchor there and start the chain migration which, your hope, might one day allow your whole family to resettle? Two of your sons are founding families and/or generating income to support you, so losing them would be a problem. But what about your 18-year-old son, who has always seemed a bit 'off', who says odd things or deals drugs or has a nasty temper or sometimes talks to himself?

One of the reasons families might be eager to off-load family members with mental illnesses is because mental health care in the Arab world is totally inadequate

The Arab world is taken to mean the 22 members of the Arab League, accounting for 280 million people. The region has the largest proportion of young people in the world: 38% of Arabs are under 14. Life expectancy has increased by 15 years over the past three decades, and infant mortality has dropped by two-thirds. Around 12 million people, or 15% of the labor force, are unemployed. The quality of education has recently deteriorated, and there is a severe mismatch between the labor market and the education system. Adult illiteracy rates have declined, but are still very high: 65 million adults are illiterate, almost two-thirds of them women. Some 10 million children still have no schooling at all.

The health expenditure estimated as a percentage of gross domestic product is highest in Palestine (13.5%), followed by Lebanon (8.8%), Jordan and Djibouti (8.5%) and Egypt (6.4%) . Health services in all Arab countries are provided by public (government) and private sector facilities and out of pocket (this last category representing 63.4% of the total in Sudan, 58.7% in Egypt, 58% in Yemen, 56.1% in Morocco and 54.9% in Syria). In some countries insurance systems contribute to the provision of the service. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have come to be recognized as an important actor in the provision of health services, especially in countries with internal instability (in particular, Lebanon in late 1980s and Palestine now).

The mental health expenditure as a percentage of total health expenditure is not available in most Arab countries and not reported by the officials. Only three Arab countries have provided an estimate: Qatar (1%), Egypt (less than 1%) and Palestine (2.5%)....

Currently, most of the Arab countries are exposed to conflicts, wars, terrorism and fundamentalism, which may be the seeds for many behavioral and mental disorders.

Cultural beliefs of possessions and the impact of sorcery or the evil eye affect interpretation of mental symptoms. In this context, the first resort for the families of mental patients is not even the general practitioner, but the traditional healers, who acquire a special importance because of their claim of dealing with the “mystical” and the “unknown”. In the majority of Arab countries there is no interaction between the medical profession and the traditional healers. In Jordan, there is some kind of a relationship, which remains informal and unorganized. In Saudi Arabia, however, they constitute part of the staff, using religious text and recitation in management.

In conclusion, our data show that, in the Arab world, health and education budget assignment is below the recommended requirements far better quality of life. The budget allowed for mental health as a percentage from the total health budget, in the few countries where information is available, is far below the range to promote mental health services. The mental health human resources and the inefficient data collection by the official agencies are incompatible with the gross domestic product of Arab countries. An appeal for implementing mental health in primary care as stipulated as a policy in many Arab countries and to prioritize mental health in the agenda of politicians is urgently needed.

In the close kin-network and community you live in, your son already notorious as a problem child and/or petty criminal and/or target of a curse or evil eye, so he cannot find a job and isn't a suitable match for an arranged marriage. At home, he can do nothing but cause problems for your family. Abroad, nobody knows about his past, and he'll have a chance for a fresh start. 

As long as there's a country there offering a welcome and housing and education and money to any random young male who makes it across their borders, what's there to lose? Even the $5,000 for a smuggler isn't that much of a sacrifice, since you will no longer have that mouth to feed, and will no longer have to stay up at night worrying about what your unstable, unpredictable family black sheep might do tomorrow. And if he lands in prison or a mental hospital in Germany, everyone knows those are quite comfortable in comparison with similar institutions anywhere else in the world.  And maybe the change will do him good, he'll establish himself, and bring you to join him! What is $5,000 against the priceless prospect of being able to relocate most of your family to a nation which is infinitely more stable and secure than where you live?

More stable and secure for now, that is...