Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Math and Loathing in America...

Your math, my loathing...

[WARNING: This post ends with an obscene, if justifiable, gesture.]

What do you worry about? Drunk Drivers? The house catching on fire? Colds and Flu in the fall? The kids being abducted?


Well, here are some statistical tidbits, based on the latest stats I could find for the United States…

17,602 people killed by drunk drivers. That’s about 48 people every day.

725,000 children reported missing – about 2,000 every day. So, it would appear that having a child abducted would be forty times more likely than being involved in the above drunk driving accident.

406,500 house fires, resulting in 3,390 deaths. Just short of ten a day.

25 – 50 million cases of flu each year, 30-40 thousand deaths. For argument’s sake let’s call it 137,000 sickened and a hundred dead every day.

Suicide bombings? Just about one per day, based on the 3,000 Americans killed in the six-plus years since the bombing.

The art and science of deciding what is or is not a reasonable worry is called Risk Assessment, a skill which Americans notoriously lack. We jump at shadows, fearing whatever the nightly news succeeds in tossing out as ‘dangerous’, while refusing to heed warnings that make perfect sense about things that really might kill us.

According to the above figures, your chance of being killed by a drunk driver is some forty-eight times higher than the chance of being killed by terrorist attack. Probably less if you don’t live in a major population center. Yet the President hasn’t authorized sweeping wiretaps on the telephones of repeated drunk driving offenders. Congress hasn’t passed legislation incarcerating anyone who does bodily harm while driving under the influence without trial or counsel.

We are willing, if not eager, to cancel the Bill of Rights and put an end to freedoms that have stood since the Magna Charta because we fear terrorists. These putzes in bomb-belts get far more attention than they deserve, as we look warily over our shoulders and build fruit-picker-proof walls across the southern border.

Funny thing is, these mad bombers have an undisputed one-hundred-percent failure rate. Terrorists have not now, nor ever, been able to convince any government anywhere to give them what they wanted by blowing up cars, buildings, people or things.

America is being guided by a tunnel-visioned fear of some generic ‘terrorist’ attack. We are swayed by unproven and unprovable allegations of plots thwarted. Riled up by pundits who, in the name of national security, rain the nastiest of epithets down anyone who questions this lemming march toward the cliff of repression.

The United States of Afraidia is brought to you NOT by nineteen clever low-tech fanatics. It was built brick by speech in Washington and in New York City. Through histrionics and hyperbole. The numbers don't back it up this level of fear... nothing does.

I say "Kiss my pasty white butt!" to the terrorists. I say "Bite me!" to political murderer and religious fanatics.

But I save the "F" bomb for the pathetic, terrified, lying cowards who want to cancel the Bill of Rights because they can't count.

To legislators, pundits and racist-jerkwads I say "Fuck You."

...And the Constitution says "Right-on, Bro."

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