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January 29, 2013

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sk60

particularly those they imagine in a cabin somewhere eating possum stew off of the tits of their first cousins.

Jeff Goldstein wins Mental Image of the Week.

cm

Ms Abbott, a woman of substance in only the physical sense,

Sexist fat jokes? Really?

David

Sexist fat jokes? Really?

It’s barely a fat joke. And I’m not at all sure why you think it’s sexist. It is, though, a reasonable description of a charmless incompetent who’s prone to hypocrisy, inconsistency and dumb racial statements. (You know, the one who isn’t keen on “blonde, blue-eyed Finnish girls” working as nurses on her turf, who tells us that “white people love playing divide and rule” and that “the British invented racism.”) And as Chris Snowdon notes, Ms Abbott’s own weight issues – which she has framed as political - seem to inform her desire for displaced responsibility. I don’t have the quotes to hand but I recall Abbott saying something about the terrible burden of being a black woman with a rounded figure and how oppressive and unjust it all is. “A solid, black woman’s bosom and thighs,” as I think she put it. Though I’d imagine even fewer people would give a damn about her size if she’d stop trying to meddle in other people’s lives and dietary choices.

Perhaps she imagines the state can make her thin.

AC1

People on benefits are deprivers, not deprived. Most are poor parents in both the financial and child-care meaning.

JuliaM

I'm sure cm is just as outraged at all the sneers at Eric Pickles' size...

JeremiadBullfrog

Sexist fat jokes? Really
---

Ah, but David is clearly just doing his moral social duty to shame and beat upon *ahem* I mean, to persuade the rest of the citizenry not to be like Ms. Abbott.

Goose-Sauce-Gander

David

Tim Worstall on Monbiot’s idea of ‘the elite’.

Heh. As we’ve seen more than once, George isn’t exactly known for his keen self-awareness.

BenSix

Whether the Americans pass gun laws or do not is of little interest to me but David Mamet's piece is woeful nonetheless. The police, he says, "do not exist to protect the individual" but to "cordon off the crime scene and attempt to apprehend the criminal". I am no great fan of policing institutions here or in the States but the idea that they have no role in crime prevention is something I would expect to hear from teenage libertarians.

The idea that cities in California, Florida and Arizona are "typically are much safer" than Chicago and D.C. is something no one who has lived in Stockton or Miama could hear with a straight face. As for the paragraph about guns and accidental damage: never mind the fact that criminals do harm themselves, does he not see the difference between the criminal, whose attack is pre-meditated, and the citizen who has no time think about their actions? I fear that conservatives are so pleased to have a literary figure who supports their causes that they pay him more respect than his arguments deserve.

svh

Perhaps she imagines the state can make her thin.

The state can fix anything if we make it big enough. #InsanePromises

BenSix

(Ah, nuts, I misremembered something: he said Texas, Florida and Arizona. Replace Stockton with Houston, though, never mind Lubbock, and the point remains.)

the wolf

I am no great fan of policing institutions here or in the States but the idea that they have no role in crime prevention is something I would expect to hear from teenage libertarians.

I'm not sure Mamet posits that the police have "no role" in crime prevention or if he's using hyperbole to illustrate that, when the door is being kicked in, he'd rather take his chances with his gun than wait 20 minutes for the police to arrive. I'd bank on the latter.

David

BenSix,

Mamet overstates his case and I can’t speak to the relative hazards of American cities. But taken broadly, it seems to me there’s some truth in what he writes. In terms of serious crime with mortal risk, I’m sure the police have a deterrent and protective function, the success of which I wouldn’t know how to calculate. But for an actual victim of such crime any benefit is after the fact. A person faced with intruders in their home in the middle of the night can’t assume the police will arrive in time and take care of the problem for them, even if a call for help can be made. In that sense, armed self-defence is an existential concern as much as a political one, and hence, presumably, the strength of feeling on the issue.

[ Added: ]

The expectation that one can and should defend oneself when mortally threatened is challenged surprisingly often, sometimes in strange and subtle ways. For instance, when a local councillor expresses her “sympathy” for masked burglars, one of whom was slightly wounded while in his victims’ bedroom in the middle of the night, this implies something. The councillor’s oddly roundabout language – home invasion, theft and terrorising people described as “invading privacy” - adds to an air of moral equivocation. [ Added: ] Taken at face value, the implication seems to be that it’s somehow lamentable or improper that a couple living in a remote farmhouse were prepared to shoot at the latest gang of masked intruders to have broken into their home in the middle of the night. “How the situation was handled” – i.e., that the victims were prepared to defend themselves – is apparently troubling for the councillor.

WTP

Whether gun laws themselves contribute more or less to the overall murder rate could be, and has been, debated ad infinitum, the principle remains as Mamet stated It was to guard us against this inevitable decay of government that the Constitution was written. Its purpose was and is not to enthrone a Government superior to an imperfect and confused electorate, but to protect us from such a government.

And to David's point above, A person faced with intruders in their home in the middle of the night can’t assume the police will arrive in time and take care of the problem for them, even if a call for help can be made. In that sense, armed self-defence is an existential concern

Now, if you're looking for indicators of what constitutes high-crime cities/areas, an examination of the socio-economic makeup of the cities on this wiki list would be a much better indicator:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_cities_by_crime_rate#2011_data
(hint, top of the list, NOLA, Detroit, St. Louis. Bottom of the list, El Paso(!) TX, Plano TX, and Lincoln NB.

Of course, we shan't talk of such things. It simply must be the guns that are the problem.

mojo

Hey, I been gypped!

My first cousin doesn't HAVE any tits.

Anna

The state can fix anything if we make it big enough. #InsanePromises

Newsflash: government blames others. Yes what we need is a lot more government.

Dr Cromarty

Perhaps she imagines the state can make her thin

But the state can make you thin. Plenty of thin people in North Korea, Mao's China, Pol Pot's Cambodia....

newrouter

bensix

"The police, he says, "do not exist to protect the individual" but to "cordon off the crime scene and attempt to apprehend the criminal". I am no great fan of policing institutions here or in the States but the idea that they have no role in crime prevention is something I would expect to hear from teenage libertarians. "

via wiki

"Castle Rock v. Gonzales, 545 U.S. 748 (2005), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled, 7–2, that a town and its police department could not be sued under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for failing to enforce a restraining order, which had led to the murder of a woman's three children by her estranged husband."

"Warren v. District of Columbia[1] (444 A.2d. 1, D.C. Ct. of Ap. 1981) is an oft-quoted[2] District of Columbia Court of Appeals (equivalent to a state supreme court) case that held police do not have a duty to provide police services to individuals, even if a dispatcher promises help to be on the way, except when police develop a special duty to particular individuals."

BenSix

newrouter -

That is interesting - and rather disturbing. It should still be noted, though, that police officials do strive to protect individuals and their property and ignoring this is a bit insulting to officers like Kevin Tonn and William Coleman.

The similar point that David makes is a fair one, though.

bgates

The idea that cities in California, Florida and Arizona are "typically are much safer" than Chicago and D.C. is something no one who has lived in [atypically unsafe cities in California or Florida] could hear with a straight face unless they know what "typical" means.

JeremiadBullfrog

It should still be noted, though, that police officials do strive to protect individuals and their property and ignoring this is a bit insulting to officers like Kevin Tonn and William Coleman.

No. You are injecting irrelevantly emotional pleas into what ought to be a sober consideration of the individual's expectations for safety, protection, and self-defense. I'm sure there are many officers like Tonn and Coleman, but are you willing to stake your life and property on it when a thug jumps you on the street or invades your home while your children are sleeping? You certainly seem to be willing to stake other people's lives and property on it. Noting that an institution which does not have a legal obligation to provide what may be a vital service--and that the individual should therefore have recourse to the means to do so for himself--is not "insulting" to those members of the institution who choose to go above and beyond their legal obligations. You can't tell when you'll get a Tonn or Coleman. Maybe you'll end up with a Drew Peterson.

Similarly, noting that the police cannot get there fast enough by no means insults the officers who certainly try their hardest to arrive as soon as possible. For whom do you feel more sorrow: The (hypothetical) officer whose feelings may be indirectly hurt from taking personally what was intended as a general statement of fact, or the person who may now be dead or destitute because they were forced to surrender their own means of immediate self-defense?

BenSix

bgates -

...unless they know what "typical" means.

I was doing Mamet the credit of assuming that he referred to cities where other things were equal: large, socially and ethnically diverse et cetera. If he referred to typical cities in a literal sense that would have been silly - like comparing crime in London and Wells. Bad luck re: Microsoft, by the way.

JeremiadBullfrog -

You certainly seem to be willing to stake other people's lives and property on it...Similarly, noting that the police cannot get there fast enough by no means insults the officers who certainly try their hardest to arrive as soon as possible.

I said clearly that I was not arguing for gun control and that your second assertion is a fair one. The point was that however ineffective the police might be at preventing crimes that is, in fact, something that they are charged with doing and subsequently do and, thus, claiming otherwise is erroneous. That it may have been the product of rhetorical sloppiness does not excuse this but it does make it trivial enough that I won't press the point again.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

BenSix:

You may want to read Radley Balko, who's done a lot of documentation on how the police in the US are practically becoming a law unto themselves. He's got a book on the topic coming out later this year.

The Cory Maye case is bad; the Kelly Thomas case in Fullerton, CA is far more disturbing.

BenSix

Ted -

The Agitator is indeed a damn fine blog but something as large and complex as a nation's police services, like its army or healthcare system, is liable to contain much that is awful and much that is or at least strives to be good.

dicentra

something as large and complex as a nation's police services, like its army or healthcare system, is liable to contain much that is awful

Isolated incidents of badness are inevitable, so you judge by what happens to the perpetrators of the badness and whether the institution tends toward self-correction or self-justification.

dicentra

Because you simply can’t be trusted when there’s pie nearby.

Strictly speaking, this is altogether true, though in my case pie is not nearly the temptation that cake, frosted sugar cookies, and CinnaBuns™ pose.

Aside from that, it's extremely difficult to get accurate information on which foods contribute most to obesity. I've been reading how insulin is almost solely responsible for how calories are allocated to fat cells (genetics being the other factor), and yet foods that provoke a huge insulin response (fruits, grains, starchy veg [carrots, taters]) are touted as "good for you" whereas dietary fats and meats (which barely stimulate the pancreas) are denounced as fattening and carcinogenic, respectively.

It turns out that the "burn more calories than you take in" theory is fallacious: it's all about the insulin. But Our Betters enjoy blaming Gluttony and Sloth (and corporate Greed) on obesity instead of admitting that the politically crafted USDA food pyramid (starchy grains dominate, animal products barely rate) is a sham.

If they want to "slim down" the poor, maybe they should stop them buying junk food with public assistance. Hey, it's our coin: we should be able to dictate how it's used.

For instance, when a local councilor expresses her “sympathy” for masked burglars, one of whom was slightly wounded while in his victims’ bedroom in the middle of the night, this implies something.

It implies that whatever the riff-raff perceive to be true, the sophisticate must reject and invert.

Because of their sophistication.

Rafi

For instance, when a local councillor expresses her “sympathy” for masked burglars, one of whom was slightly wounded while in his victims’ bedroom in the middle of the night, this implies something.

"The mother said her story would have ended much differently if she didn't have her pistol."

http://www.click2houston.com/news/Home-invasion-suspect-arrested-after-woman-opens-fire/-/1735978/18331728/-/format/rss_2.0/-/s329rz/-/index.html

I'm sure Councillor Posnett would disapprove.

Spiny Norman

BenSix,

(Ah, nuts, I misremembered something: he said Texas, Florida and Arizona. Replace Stockton with Houston, though, never mind Lubbock, and the point remains.)

Funny you should bring up Houston: A Tale of Two Cities.

AC1

> it's all about the insulin

The pancreas doesn't just make insulin. It also releases digestive enzymes into the stomach, it might be via this path that obesity happens rather than insulin.

BenSix

Spiny -

Funny you should bring up Houston: A Tale of Two Cities.

And rates of aggravated assault in Houston and Miami are higher than Chicago and Washington. The problem with the idea that the rise of murders in Chicago is a problem of gun laws is that according to the police 80% of murders are gang-related. Most of the victims have had arrest histories and, thus, one presumes, gang associations. These people would have had access to guns. This does, I quite agree, suggest that gun control is not a magic cure for gun murders but it also suggests that it is not a major cause of them.

dicentra -

I've been reading how insulin is almost solely responsible for how calories are allocated to fat cells (genetics being the other factor), and yet foods that provoke a huge insulin response (fruits, grains, starchy veg [carrots, taters]) are touted as "good for you" whereas dietary fats and meats (which barely stimulate the pancreas) are denounced as fattening and carcinogenic, respectively.

Whole grain and fruit consumption has been inversely associated with obesity time and again. It seems odd that in an era that has marked the rise of strange new combinations of refined grains, processed fats and sugar - pizza, muffins, cupcakes, cokes, crisps, chips and what have you - people blame the foods our grandparents ate. I mean, does anybody think the people Snowden writes about were eating too much brown rice and stewed apple? There may be metabolic exceptions for all I know but by and large I don't think it's unfair to say that it's the darned cheetos.

Anna

Though I’d imagine even fewer people would give a damn about her size if she’d stop trying to meddle in other people’s lives and dietary choices.

I see a pattern.

sackcloth and ashes

'A person faced with intruders in their home in the middle of the night can’t assume the police will arrive in time and take care of the problem for them, even if a call for help can be made. In that sense, armed self-defence is an existential concern as much as a political one, and hence, presumably, the strength of feeling on the issue'.

Fine, but that weapon doesn't need to be a firearm; unless (thanks to lax gun laws) the burglar himself is armed.

David

Sackcloth,

Fine, but that weapon doesn’t need to be a firearm; unless (thanks to lax gun laws) the burglar himself is armed.

Guns laws chiefly affect the law-abiding. Armed burglars and would-be burglars tend not to be overly concerned with the legalities of life. And were I in the position of the family above, or any number of similar instances, I doubt I’d appreciate you (or anyone) telling me how I should be permitted to defend my family. On what moral basis do you decide whether I need a firearm to deter the gang of masked intruders who’ve broken into my home?

[ Added: ]

I didn’t mean to sound quite so accusatory, but imagine yourself and your loved ones faced with the scenario mentioned above. Would you be heartened by my remote assurances that you shouldn’t need a firearm to deal with a masked gang of home intruders? There are people who live in isolated rural areas and other places that are ideal targets for burglars (and worse). The family mentioned earlier had been targeted several times. It seems a little presumptuous for you or me to say that because we don’t feel we need a firearm for self-protection, nobody else should ever need one.

Now, I live in a very low crime area and the likelihood of facing that situation is somewhat remote. But I’ve previously lived and worked in some very dodgy parts of town, in various parts of the country, where burglary and mugging were much more commonplace. For several years I worked in a recording studio that was repeatedly targeted at night – while people were working inside - by a gang armed with crowbars and knives. Without a firearm, or at least a small army of Chuck Norris clones, I’m not sure how you’d deter a gang of crowbar-wielding thugs.

sackcloth and ashes

@ David

I have a nice set of eskrima sticks from my martial arts training. If a burglar breaks into my home, he will encounter them.

If gun control laws affect the law-abiding, then how come any other democratic and stable country other than the USA can cope with them, and still have lower crime rates?

Re: the situation described in your last paragraph, a firearm would no doubt be handy to ward off the proverbial mob of thugs. But in a society where guns can be purchased with ease, the chances are that they will be carrying shooters too. Guns get into the hands of American criminals because of straw purchases. Guns get into the hands of psychopaths because they can buy them without background checks at gun fairs. And then there's the issue of how easy it is to buy ammunition.

On gun control itself, no one in a civilised except a member of the armed forces or a police SO19/SWAT officer should need to carry an assault rifle or a submachine gun. No one should need a weapon with a 30 round magazine.

As for the claim that an armed citizenry can be a constraint against official tyranny, I'd like you to consider a theoretical face-off between untrained civilians armed with shotguns and Armalites, and the government of a superpower with Apaches, Abrams tanks and drones at its disposal.

David

Sackcloth,

As I said, I don’t have much skin in the game, and the differences between US and UK law, culture, crime stats, etc., are outside my immediate interest. The study summaries I’ve seen (e.g.) suggest that tighter gun control laws may not in fact reduce crime and may actually have adverse effects in terms of robbery rates, burglary, etc. Obviously, there are issues concerning background checks, mental health and such, and there are studies that suggest different outcomes. I don’t have the time or expertise to parse them decisively. But that wasn’t the point I wanted to explore. What struck me was the apparent inability of some pundits and campaigners to comprehend why it is that “nobody should need a gun” is a contentious and emotive statement. As if the only people who might object must be mouth-breathing hill people with a taste for human flesh. (It reminded me of Dan Collins’ recollection of his college days, specifically, “How obvious it was that none of the Criminology module lecturers had ever been burgled or mugged.”)

[ Edited for clarity. ]

I have a nice set of eskrima sticks from my martial arts training. If a burglar breaks into my home, he will encounter them.

Good for you. That’s the spirit. In a better world, the bad guys would be the scared ones, and for very good reason. But what of our hypothetical Mrs Wilson, who lives with her invalid husband in that remote farmhouse, and both of whom are a little too long in the tooth for martial arts?

Sam

I want to know more about this small army of Chuck Norris clones.

Or was it an army of small Chuck Norris clones?

David

Or was it an army of small Chuck Norris clones?

Someone call Hollywood. We’ve the pitch of a lifetime.

Matt

"On gun control itself, no one in a civilised except a member of the armed forces or a police SO19/SWAT officer should need to carry an assault rifle or a submachine gun."

Again, the widespread assumption that such weapons are readily available in the US: they aren't. Fully automatic weapons have been VERY tightly regulated since the 1930s; the number of hoops one needs to jump through to acquire one of the few available on the market puts them well out of the range of any criminal. The "assault weapons" that people so frequently want to ban are strictly semi-automatic: one bullet per trigger pull. Frankly, they're so seldom used in crimes that their appearance in one is an anomaly. As for 30-round magazines, there's little reason to ban them, either, again, because they're so seldom used in crimes -- and the few times they do see use, they don't do anything that multiple smaller magazines couldn't do.

"As for the claim that an armed citizenry can be a constraint against official tyranny, I'd like you to consider a theoretical face-off between untrained civilians armed with shotguns and Armalites, and the government of a superpower with Apaches, Abrams tanks and drones at its disposal."

I don't know; the locals seem to be doing a fine job of it in Afghanistan, unfortunately for the rest of us.

dicentra

It seems odd that in an era that has marked the rise of strange new combinations of refined grains, processed fats and sugar ... people blame the foods our grandparents ate.

The strange new combinations are not held innocent, but neither are the starchy grains that our grandparents ate. Pre-agricultural societies and the current hunter-gatherer societies have/had fewer health problems: less tooth decay, stronger bones, taller stature, less cancer.

it might be via this path that obesity happens rather than insulin.

If insulin alone (plus genetics) controls whether calories are allocated to fat cells, then the digestive enzymes are irrelevant.

Fine, but that weapon doesn't need to be a firearm; unless (thanks to lax gun laws) the burglar himself is armed.

Burglars are not armed by lax gun laws; they get their weapons on the black market.

If gun control laws affect the law-abiding, then how come any other democratic and stable country other than the USA can cope with them, and still have lower crime rates?

We in the U.S. have to deal with the situation as it stands, not compare ourselves to imaginary ideals, or "ideals," as the case may be.

To all preening Euros: I'll see your gun violence and raise you the Liverpool path and other forms of "humane" euthanasia in your blighted yet vaunted "health-care" system.

We at least call our murderers by their correct label.

dicentra

Guns get into the hands of American criminals because of straw purchases. Guns get into the hands of psychopaths because they can buy them without background checks at gun fairs.

Zeus on a Zamboni, can you please be more ill-informed?

WHY DO YOU PEOPLE IMAGINE THAT THE ONLY WAY TO GET A GUN IS THROUGH LEGAL PURCHASE????

1. Criminals get guns through the black market. Some of those guns were purchased legally, before the criminal had a record, some were stolen from law-abiding citizens; others have been smuggled in. They've all got their serial numbers filed off, and they change hands over and over and over again.

We have NO idea how many of them are in circulation, but there's absolutely no way to round them all up. Or to round up 1/10th of them or 1/100th or 1/1000th.

"Psychopaths" are rarely if ever diagnosed as such and therefore won't show up on a background check unless they've already been busted; the word you're looking for is "schizophrenic." Schizophrenics are loose on the streets because the bleeding-heart ACLU decided to make it nigh on impossible to involuntarily commit dangerous people until they actually kill someone.

Adam Lanza, Mr kiddie-slaughterer himself, TRIED TO LEGALLY PURCHASE A GUN AND WAS TURNED DOWN. There was supposed to be a follow-up from law enforcement but there wasn't. His poor mother was trying to get him committed but was having to deal with the ACLU-enforced labyrinth of red tape at the Circumlocution Office. Her hell-bent son murdered her and STOLE her guns.

If he hadn't stolen hers he'd have found others, believe you me. Or in the absence of guns he'd have fashioned explosives from instructions found online.

2. THERE _ARE_ BACKGROUND CHECKS AT GUN FAIRS! Criminey, do you NEVER double-check propaganda? Have you never heard of a com-pu-ter with web access in an exposition hall?

Now watch this breathtaking piece of self-contradiction:

"no one in a civilised [sic] [society] except a member of the armed forces or a police SO19/SWAT officer should need to carry an assault rifle or a submachine gun. No one should need a weapon with a 30 round magazine."

Followed IMMEDIATELY by

"As for the claim that an armed citizenry can be a constraint against official tyranny, I'd like you to consider a theoretical face-off between untrained civilians armed with shotguns and Armalites, and the government of a superpower with Apaches, Abrams tanks and drones at its disposal."

THAT IS WHY WE NEED HIGH-POWERED ARMAMENTS, YA KNUCKLEHEAD! So that we're not outgunned by those who would coerce us into submission!

Or are all wannabe tyrants wasting their time by disarming the populace--you know, like the Brits did in India upon arrival?

It's ALWAYS so delightful to hear hothouse flowers chide alpine perennials for not blooming year-round.

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