Officer Alex lowers the boom on false comparisons
“Oh, come on,” he said with just the hint of a sneer. “You’re more likely to be struck by lightning than to be killed by a terrorist.”
It’s an argument that never gets old. (Well, OK, it does, but smug oversimplification of things often does, so perhaps I just enjoy its utter predictability.)
The person saying this is as likely to be wearing overly tight pants and sporting a haircut that cost three of my hourly wages while sipping a corporate-branded coffee as they are to be wearing loose and thoroughly stained corduroys with a bird’s nest for a hairdo and sipping an off-brand energy drink while living in their mother’s house at age 45, but they tend to all have one thing in common: They are in no way involved in public safety and have never been tested with a split-second life-and-death decision involving immediate violence.
The irony of the “lightning argument” is that they consider it scientific, and therefore justifying their supposition. Think about this a moment. You are comparing one criminal act—a subset of a crime, actually (a “terrorist” committing murder is a “hate crime,” a subset of the crime of criminal homicide) to “weather.” Apples to apples? Interesting.
For the sake of conversation, though, I’ll give you that one and let you compare it to the odds of being killed by a police officer in the United States. (How’s that for subtlety?)
A think tank (aka “blog page”) said that you are in fact “55 times more likely to be killed by police (justified or not) than you are to be killed by a terrorist action.” Again, let us ignore how they arrived at this and just pause to think.
You are comparing one specific subset of crime (a homicide designated as a “hate crime”) to “all misdemeanor and felony crimes that precipitate lethal interactions with police.” Hundreds of combinations of crimes that lead to death, and comparing them all in one lump with the one crime that leads to death.
While I myself am a fairly smug person who makes it easy to be disliked, these brothers in audacity are actually just using stacked statistics to make themselves feel intellectually superior, despite the fact they may as well be comparing a terrorist act to the price of lettuce.
In reality? It’s just “denial.” (I’d add the psychoanalytic historical references or perhaps use the word “abnegation” if I wanted to sound just as superior, but I’m not the one deluding myself with preconceived and irrelevant notions here. Sad face.)
Some folks would expect me to be annoyed by this, but it would be unfair to be, because I have the unfair advantage of dealing with people who are “full of shit” every day on a professional level. These folks are the same ones who tell me how safe my job is because (get ready for it) “statistically speaking, fishermen have a more dangerous job than police officers.” (Audible sigh.)
Fishing: Practically the same as police work, except for the parts where fish aren’t armed with projectile weapons while committing criminal acts and cops aren’t hunting wildlife on the ocean. These are industrial accidents, literal “accidents” that they are comparing to intentional criminal acts. Hence? “Full of shit.”
The best part though? Using that argument in the city of Chattanooga. You can call him a “homegrown violent extremist” for political purposes, but, sports fans, “lightning” has struck this town, and no one was in that building on July 16 letting him know he was a statistical anomaly, so he needed to stop.
Delude yourself. It’s fun, I don’t blame you and sometimes I imagine what it’s like being a holocaust denier or a 9/11 “truther” for kicks to better gauge those types of mindsets, but when the storm clouds gather and the air starts to charge up and denial gives way to reality despite all your manufactured odds? Give me a call. I’ll be there for you.
When officer Alexander D. Teach is not patrolling our fair city on the heels of the criminal element, he spends his spare time volunteering for the Boehm Birth Defects Center