Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Observed Behavior

I know, statistics show that violent crime is actually going down over the last ten years and I should keep making a point of repeating this tidbit after every report of senseless death. It is extremely likely that even though the rate of violent crime is indeed down, the rate of reporting violent crime is up. Why wouldn't we be frightened by the "if it bleeds it leads" editorial stance that exists in our twenty-four hour news cycle?
Newark, New Jersey has had sixty-two homicides this so far this year. That means it hasn't been a great year for Newarkians, but they probably won't be pushing for any records when it comes to murder.
This may be because of the heightened awareness folks in that corner of the woods, what with their annual 24 Hours of Peace celebrations and all. The goal being to shine a light on the strengths of the community and the bonds that hold that city and so many others like it together. The rallies highlight culture and performing arts, all that is alive and vital in Newark. Increasing the peace is a difficult challenge when, all of a sudden, a spotlight is shone down on that place on that day.
Within hours of the festival, two denizens of the city were dead another critically wounded by gunfire. Not exactly the textbook definition of celebrating peace. Who is to say that these victims wouldn't have become victims even on a day that wasn't devoted to anti-violence? Statistics suggest that there will be a certain number of homicides over a certain number of days and it just so happens that some of them will coincide with the efforts to bring that number down.
Especially while people are staring at it.
Conscious observers may impact the outcome of such experiments. Conscientious observers may impact them, but in a way they hadn't fully intended. For those who have a bent toward breaking laws and causing pain, there might be just a little added something to the top of that trauma sundae by killing someone on the night when we are all supposed to not be killing someone.
It makes sense.
Sort of.
It makes sense in the same way that I feel compelled to return to those violent crime statistics while certain members of the press and the Republican Party would have us running for the shelter of our concrete bunkers and our well-appointed personal arsenals. We are safer now than we have been in a long time. Except for those who are dead.

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