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Thursday, May 29, 2003
 
What's So Bad About Feeling Guilty?

That's what Michelle Cottle wants to know.

To which I can only respond: Exactly what the hell is so wrong with a little liberal guilt--or guilt in general, for that matter? In recent years, personal guilt has fallen tragically out of vogue as psychotherapists and self-help quacks have implored us to love ourselves just as we are, regardless of the hurtful, selfish things we do. Come to think of it, it's odd that "liberal guilt" has emerged as such a common slur since Republicans in particular profess disgust over the "If it feels good, do it" mentality. Moreover, the Judeo-Christian belief system that conservatives so adore is all about guilt. We're supposed to feel bad about the terrible things we do--or those that we sit back and watch others do. Without guilt, there can be no redemption.

Of course what she misses here completely is that Howell Raines does not feel guilt (as far as I know) for things he actually did. That is NOT part of white liberal guilt. White liberal guilt is about what others did, and not just stuff that they allowed to happen, but stuff that happened before they were born. White liberals feel guilty about slavery, they feel guilty about stealing the land from the Native Americans, lord knows they probably feel guilty for the Spanish Inquisition and the Dark Ages if you press them on it.
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The New York Times is reporting a story "Linking Guns and Gun Violence" from a couple days ago. It's a classic liberal bias piece, lazily reported by Eric Nagourney. Although it's only 7 paragraphs long, it's brimming with startling factoids like "people with guns are 16 times as likely to commit suicide using guns". (And people with sleeping pills are 20 times as likely to commit suicide using sleeping pills).

But what really made me swallow my gum was this floater:

The study also found that women were significantly more likely than men to be victims of gun homicides. "This likely reflects the singular danger faced by women in abusive relationships," Dr. Wiebe wrote.

This is nonsense. In point of fact, women are FAR less likely to be murdered than men. In 2001, for example, over three times as many men (10,503) were murdered as women (3,214). An estimated 8,719 people were murdered with firearms in 2001. Unfortunately, the FBI does not break out the data by weapon and gender, but even if we assume that 100% of the women murdered in 2001 were murdered with firearms, that leaves 5,505 people murdered with firearms in 2001 who were NOT women. Since we can generally assume that those who are not women are men, that means that even under the most generous assumption, women make up about 37% of firearm murder victims, while men account for 63%.

This is a classic Liberal Media Bias error--one that suits the prejudices of the New York Times. Mort Sahl used to joke that if the world was ending tomorrow, the headline in the New York Times would be "World To End: Women and Minorities Disproportionately Affected". New York Times' readers now believe that women are more likely to be victims of gun homicides.

Note: I have assumed for the purposes of this argument that women=females and men=males, so children are included in each category. However in all probability if we excluded children the effect would be that men are even more disproportionately killed by firearms than women. For example, although females make up 23.4% of murder victims, women over 20 make up only 23.1% of murder victims over 20. Using 17 years as the baseline figure, women over 17 make up only 22.1% of murder victims over 17. However, the FBI does not provide a breakdown of murder victims by age and weapon, so we cannot do the calculation I used above.
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