Murder in America
Continued from pg. 1
By the Numbers
America Murders in America: 14,043 Murder by Firearm: 9,601 Murder by Knife: 1,775 Murder by Blunt Object: 555
New Hampshire Murders in New Hampshire: 13 Murder by Firearm: 5 Murder by Knife: 5 Murder by Blunt Object: 3 all info from 2010
Murder sells, and it sells big. TNT has hinged most of its line-up on crime shows with special attention to murder: CSI, Bones, the Closer, Major Crimes, Rizzoli and Isles, and so on. Law and Order continues to thrive in syndication, its 60 minute episodes enough to rip a headline from the news, spin it, and lock away the bad guy for good. Lifetime has made its mark through made-for-tv movies on famous murders while they’re still fresh in our memories. Prosecuting Casey Anthony promised to reveal prosecutor Jeff Ashton’s “inside story”, allowing even more intimate access to some-
Murder sells, and it sells big
thing as deeply disturbing as that of a woman accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, real crime shows, such as 48 Hours or a brief visit to Investigation Discovery (which airs aptly-named gems like Deadly Women, Young Killers, and I (Almost) Got Away With It) capitalize on tragedy as it unfolds in real time. TNT’s new reality series, “Cold Justice”, brought to us by Dick Wolf (mastermind behind Law and Order), promises to inhabit that queasy gray area by claiming to follow a real-life prosecutor (Kelly Siegler) and C.S.I Investigator (Yolanda McClary) as they solve cold cases, following the same neat, hour-long format as its predecessor. The tagline itself promises that Cold Justice “is more than a show”. The allure of shows about murder - fictitious and otherwise - lies in its reassuring premise. As Emily Nussbaum argued in the June 10th issue of the New Yorker, Law and Order (along with its brethren) “takes the grisly stories that dominate the news... and reorganizes them, reducing the raw data to a format that viewers can handle. You can pause an episode, you can laugh at the bad guy. The cheesiness itself is a reassurance.” Murder represents an unknown, the majority of us will never even come close to committing it, and yet it maintains an omnipresence in the news, on tv sets and in the papers. So much of it seems random and thoroughly beyond our control. The United States maintains one of the highest homicide rates of any industrialized country - 4.8 per 100,000, according to 2010 data from Uniform Crime Reports compiled by the FBI. While that doesn’t even approach the rates of drug-and-war addled countries of El Salvador (65 per 100,000) or Honduras (78 per 100,000), it’s almost three times higher than its northern neighbor, Canada (1.7 per 100,000). The likelihood of being murdered rises in relation to race (minorities are the most frequent perpetrators and victims), gender (men), age (under 28), and location (cities). Less than 14% of murders are against strangers, the more likely
victims being family members or acquaintances. 67.5% of all murders were committed using a firearm as the weapon of choice. As such, the murders that attract attention are the outliers. ‘Missing/Murdered White Woman Syndrome’, used by sociologists and media commentators alike, refers to the intense coverage devoted to cases involving young white females. This is neither a rare nor relatively new phenomenon: Paul Collins’ novel ‘Duel with the Devil’ outlines the trial of “America’s first sensational murder mystery’, for the murder of the young, unmarried Elma Sands all the way back in 1799. Many of the most famous cases are famous primarily because they are so rare and arbitrary. Truman Capote was moved to write In Cold Blood - the forerunner of the modern nonfiction novel and true crime - on the Clutter homicides because the lack of motive behind the atrocious quadruple homicide of a upstanding Kansas family. There has yet to be a study that can definitively link exposure to fictional violence with real violence. The dubious claim, which surfaces as the motivating factor in every mass murder from the 2011 Tucson, Arizona shootings to last year’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, offers a simple solution - stem the tide of hollywood depictions of murder, and you prevent the horror from unfolding in real life - that is dead wrong. By the time a child finishes elementary school, they’ve been privy to upwards of 18,000 depictions of violence. By the time that same child reaches legal adulthood at 18, the number clocks in at an estimated 200,000. Yet the sensational murder remains elusive enough as to still command the conflicting emotions of disgust and fascination of his fellow Americans.
Murder by Year 2000-2010
Where do we go from here? A serious discussion of race in America by Doug Marino
here is no court verdict that has personally devastated me more than the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin. I feel, as many of you do, that Trayvon Martin's death is the direct result of aggressive actions taken by Mr. Zimmerman and that Zimmerman should have been held accountable. For the entire trial, we engaged in a heated discussion about the possible role racism played in this incident, and its aftermath. Some people resented the idea that race played a role in this incident. But the fact is, whether race played a role or not, we know that stereotypes did. I do not believe that George Zimmerman is a racist man, and I do not believe that those who defended him are racist either. Such claims are nothing short of offensive. With that said, we have to acknowledge the fact that this incident took place primarily because Trayvon Martin was unfairly profiled. Zimmerman made assumptions
In order to prevent incidents like this from happening in the future, we have to ﬁrst be honest with ourselves. While I do not believe we live in a racist society, I do believe that all of us have been guilty of making assumptions about each other based on certain traits.
about Trayvon based on his appearance. These assumptions were not justified and resulted in a tragedy that could have been prevented. George Zimmerman saw a teenager walking the streets at night and assumed the worst. While this incident received a lot of attention, Zimmerman is not the only person making assumptions. In order to prevent incidents like this from happening in the future, we have to first be honest with ourselves. While I do not believe we live in a racist society, I do believe that all of us have been guilty of making assumptions about each other based on certain traits. Everybody has been guilty of it from time to time. Sadly, sometimes we act based on those false assumptions, and oftentimes we may not even fully realize that we did it. Obviously these sorts of judgments don’t always result in the death of an innocent teenager but it is often still very damaging. When we do this, it’s not only damaging to others, but it also is damaging to ourselves. We often miss out on chances to meet new people and build new friendships because we make assumptions about each other. Whether race played a role in George Zimmerman’s thinking or not, stereotypes certainly did. While we have made extraordinary progress combating racism and all forms of prejudice, we still as a society are struggling with this. Trayvon Martin could have been any of us. Trayvon was an innocent teenager just like us. George Zimmerman was an average person who made an unfair judgment about him. That’s the bottom line, and we as a society need to make a change. If we don’t, we will be inviting more tragedy. Whether we want to characterize this problem as racism or not, it is a problem nevertheless, and if we don’t solve it, more families will lose loved ones, and more young adults will be deprived their right to life.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the ﬁnal word. -Martin Luthor King Jr.
Published on Sep 5, 2013