On the Charleston S.C. incident

On the subject of the attack Charleston, before we start talking about “what can the government do to fix”, let’s start with this being a homicide.

Whoever did it is a murderer. That is legal fact. Anything else (“terrorism”, “thug”, etc.) goes into the realm of Narrative and is subject to capture by our own emotions, demagogues and Elite-benefiting special interests (news industry, gun control, racism, political party fundraising).

The murder’s motivation was primarily biological and mental. You first have to be heavy in the corner of *wanting* to kill before something like “I don’t like Black people” sounds like a *rational* argument for murder. Especially when, as Lt. Dave Grossman, it takes quite a bit of internal impulse and external stimulus to actually make a person directly take the life of another.

So in addition to already being male (the gender scientifically more prone to acts of lethal aggression) he had some history of drug use (an indication of a possible psychological problem and/or a nudge in that direction), and was “shy” (which can often mean non-socialized i.e. socially isolated).

All of those things together are a dangerous mix. None of them are peculiar to the United States.

If there is going to be a “race war” or any kind of widespread violence qualifying as another “civil war” in the USA, the bloodiest fighting will be among precisely this group: young, mentally damaged, socially estranged males. The same folks who do most of the domestic killing now.

If you feel more in control by using terms like “terrorist” (average 20–30 years old, male, single), please tell me why. (Because it’s such a useful term in other spheres, like foreign policy).

— —

In this context President Obama’s comment about how often homicide occurs in “other advanced countries” is especially provocative. Always be wary when a politician or appointed official talks about statistics to justify an action or policy.

So before we start talking about a culture of violence let’s look at some stats relevant to the South Carolina homicide:

– Homicide rate (out of 100,000):
Russia 9.2
USA 4.7
Australia 1.1
UK 1
France 1
Germany 0.8

– Ethnic and Cultural Diversity (1= more diverse, 0=less diverse)
USA .49
Russia .33
UK .32
France .27
Australia .14
Germany .09

– Population Growth Rate
Australia 1.01
USA 0.97
UK 0.75
France 0.49
Germany −0.07
Russia −0.51

– Gini Index (roughly income inequality, where high % means high inequality)
USA 41.1
Russia 39.7
UK 38.0
France 32.7
Australia 30.5
Germany 30.6

– Immigrants as Percentage of Population
Australia 27.7
USA 14.3
UK 12.4
Germany 11.9
France 11.6
Russia 7.7

– Guns per capita (number of privately owned small firearms divided by number of residents)
USA: 88.8
Australia: 15
UK: 6.6
Germany: 30.3
France: 31.2
Russia: 8.9

– Opiates use as percentage of the population aged 15–64
USA .57
Russia 1.64
UK 0.9
Australia 0.5
France 0.4
Germany 0.3

Now I don’t want to play fast and loose with numbers, but I think it’s worth noting that in the USA a mentally disturbed man like Mr. Roof had the following in the USA:
* greater chance of using drugs
* greater chance of accessing a firearm
* greater chance of encountering people significantly different from him
* greater chance of falling somewhere on the poor end of the rich/poor divide

If one is going to draw a policy conclusion, let’s keep in mind that *ALL* of those things matter.

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