Monday, December 27, 2004

Boston Global application.

When debating the Iraq war I try to parallel the media coverage of it and the net effect on the public psyche to something domestic. I know it's easier for my gray matter to process an analogy to something less that 8 thousand miles away. An article in today's Boston Globe on violence in New York helps my endeavor:
NEW YORK -- When one of her sons was gunned down, Louise Brown found the body on a street, streaked with rain and blood.

More suffering was to come: Two more of Brown's five sons have died in shootings in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, the latest three months ago.

Brown's triple tragedy is a black mark on the city's well-promoted success story of less bloodshed across the five boroughs.

Citywide, serious crime is expected to fall for the 13th straight year in 2004. The homicide tally so far this year is down 4.4 percent from last year and should stay below 600 for the third year in a row, a level comparable to that in the early 1960s. New York had a record 2,245 killings in 1990.

Still, through Dec. 19, killings were up by 40 percent in Brown's neighborhood of Bushwick, by 107 percent in the adjacent Brownsville section, and by 70 percent in Coney Island, where her third son was killed.

Why some poverty-stricken pockets of Brooklyn remain prone to surges in lethal violence defies ready explanation. Police say an entrenched drug trade can be a cause. But they also view some spikes as "unconnected events happening closer together," said Paul Browne, top spokesman for the NYPD.

Brown began the familiar process of identifying a bloodied corpse, collecting a death certificate, and planning a funeral she could not afford. The experience has made her wonder whether crime is down in any meaningful way, and how deadly weapons end up in angry young hands.
Although the overall decline in violent crimes has dropped for 13 straight years in New York, a statistic can't ease Ms. Brown's pain. The heart-wrenching story of a woman in a different kind of war-ravaged area is much more sensational to a newspaper reporter than the success of 13 straight years of steady decline in violent crimes.

Ms. Brown's loss it tragic. I use her for an example for no other reason than to point out that bad things happen even when things are getting better. Ms. Brown's proximity to the concentration of New York's violence correctly makes her question the declining frequency of violent crime. At the same time, what happens in pockets of Brooklyn is no more a reflection of Brooklyn immediately and New York as a whole. Draw your own global conclusions.

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