Freedom of (and from) Religion in America

For years Americans have debated the issue of church-state separation. The debate has become hotter in recent years as many political minorities, especially the gay community have begun to push back against the hegemony Christians have enjoyed almost since the founding of the nation. The playing field is being leveled, and Christians don’t like it one bit. There is much kicking and screaming among Christians right now because they feel they’re being persecuted. In some cases they’re right. In others, it’s just a matter of them being uncomfortable with being placed on equal footing with those they disagree with.

Part of the problem is that many, perhaps most, Christians feel they have a mandate to define our culture’s sense of morality. If the Bible says it’s wrong, then Christians tend to think it should be wrong for everyone, not just them. Gay marriage is the most obvious issue along these lines. Recent events in Indiana and Arkansas bear this out. Christians have become almost frantic to find ways to prevent gay marriage from becoming legal at the federal level. Why? Because according to the Christian doctrine gay relationships are an “abomination.” Do Christians in fact have the constitutional right to have their doctrine codified into law? Are we in fact a “Christian nation?” True enough, the majority of the population is Christian. But the majority of the population is also white. Are we a white nation? No. The majority of the population is female. Are we a female nation? No. The Founders in their wisdom tried to make certain no one group could ever dominate the rest of the populace.

Let’s take a quick look at what the Constitution says about religion. First, the one we all know – the portion of the First Amendment relevant to this discussion:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Note that the Constitution makes no specific reference to Christianity. It merely refers to “religion.” It says two things here. First, that the US shall have no established (official) religion. Secondly, it says that government shall not interfere with the practice of one’s religion. Again, no specific reference is made to Christianity. From that one can only conclude that the Founders referred to all religions and not just Christianity. All religions have equal standing in the USA.

There is one other reference to religion in the Constitution, found in Article VI. The relevant portion of Article VI states the following:

“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

This is quite important. It makes it clear that religious faith is irrelevant to public service. The Founders, while most were Christian or at least believed in a Higher Power, recognized that true religious freedom was attainable only if government remained neutral where religion is concerned. An oath to support the Constitution is required. An oath to support the Bible (or Qur’an or Torah) is neither required or allowed.

Simply put, the “Wall of Separation” between church and state is not only real but one of the cornerstones of American freedom. We are free to believe as we see fit and to practice those beliefs as long as we do not infringe upon the rights of others. But humans are imperfect, and unfortunately so is our system. Sometimes our rights as Americans come into conflict. This again became obvious when Indiana passed its version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

It was believed by many that the law would allow legal discrimination against gays. As a result the gay community, lead principally by Star Trek legend George Takei, launched a huge and mostly successful campaign against the law. Indiana’s Governor Pence eventually sent the law back to the state legislature for “clarification” so that it was understood the law did not allow businesses to discriminate against customers solely because of their sexual orientation. Arkansas passed a similar law and also bowed to the pressure and sent the law back to its legislature. In Arizona, similar legislation was vetoed by Governor Brewer in 2014.

But this whole thing begs the question, “Can a business owner be forced to violate his/her religious beliefs?”There have been several high-profile cases lately, and in many the business owner lost. The most well-known case as of this writing is a baker in Colorado who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding because it would conflict with his religious beliefs. Now folks, the gay couple could have and should have just gone to another baker. Were I them it’s what I’d have done. But instead the couple chose to make an example of the baker and pretty much destroyed his business. In the moral sense, that’s just plain wrong.

But in the legal sense, the couple was absolutely right. They didn’t ask the baker to do anything he didn’t do every day in his business. Bakers bake wedding cakes. Lots of them. It would have been expressly illegal for the baker to refuse to bake a cake for an interracial wedding or whatever other kind of wedding. And gays deserve equal protection under the law like everyone else. Since it was the baker who was frankly engaging in an act of bigotry, the courts ruled against him.

Christian businesses don’t always lose these battles. In another high-profile case, Hobby Lobby won a religious exemption so that their employee insurance under Obamacare would not pay for morning-after pills. Hobby Lobby contended that their pro-life beliefs would be violated if they had to provide it. They won the fight, and I say more power to them. There is a difference between this case and the Colorado baker. Hobby Lobby was not engaging in any sort of discrimination. They were not denying their employees access to the drug. They simply refused to pay for it.

In all of these cases, it is the constitutionality of the issue that must be adjudicated. The courts have to decide who if anyone has taken an action that violates the constitutional rights of others. And if a violation has taken place, then the courts must effect a remedy for the situation.

So where does this leave Atheists?

The question is, “Does freedom of religion include freedom from religion?” I believe that by definition, “Of” must include “From” in this case. Atheism certainly is not a religion though some Atheist groups have been granted privileges similar to those allowed for religious groups. The thing is, Atheism does in fact espouse a well-defined belief where God is concerned: They believe there is no credible evidence to prove He exists. Therefore, they do not believe in Him. Like it or not that belief must be respected just like all other beliefs where deities are concerned. So yes, freedom of religion must include freedom from religion for those who choose it.

But what about when some Atheist group like the Freedom from Religion Foundation decides to sue some little town in the Midwest because they have a Nativity scene at Christmas on city property? Folks, can’t we all just get along? Who’s being hurt by the display? No one. Who’s rights are violated by the display? No one’s. And please note here that most Atheists are not like the busybodies at FFRF. Most Atheists just want to live nice quiet lives like the rest of us.

By the same token, there are Christians who also stir the soup. A prime example is Alabama State Justice Roy Moore. The following is from a Wikipedia page about Moore and the controversy he created:

Roy Stewart Moore (born February 11, 1947) is an American judge, Republican politician, and the current Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. In 2003, during Moore’s first term as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, he refused to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments (which he had commissioned) from the Alabama Judicial Building despite orders to do so from a federal judge. On November 13, 2003, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary unanimously removed Moore from his post as Chief Justice.

In the years preceding his first election to the state Supreme Court, Moore successfully resisted attempts to have a display of the Ten Commandments removed from the courtroom. The controversy around Moore generated national attention. Moore’s supporters regard his stand as a defense of “judicial rights” and the Constitution of Alabama. Moore contended that federal judges who ruled against his actions consider “obedience of a court order superior to all other concerns, even the suppression of belief in the sovereignty of God.”

On November 6, 2012, Moore won election back to the office of Alabama Chief Justice, defeating replacement Democratic candidate Bob Vance.

Justice Moore obviously feels a need to defy those he perceives as trying to silence the Christian voice. He’s proud of his Christian faith and wants to proclaim it from the roof top of the federal building in Montgomery. That’s all well and good, except that his Ten Commandments monument violated state and federal law. And the Bible does say something about obeying the laws of the land. It’s a matter of degree. Placing a huge religious monument on government property in violation of the law is a bit more serious than the aforementioned Nativity scene.

And besides all that, the Book of Matthew makes it rather plain in regards to public displays of faith:
Matthew Chapter 6, verses 1-6…

  1. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
  2. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
  3. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
  4. That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
  5. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
  6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

So maybe Old Roy should quiet things down a bit. And don’t get me started on Tim Tebow. What a show-boating phoney.

When you get down to it, the diverse nature of America’s cultural landscape will always have the potential for conflict. For that reason we must all learn to respect each others’ beliefs even (perhaps especially) when we disagree. Atheists have no reason to complain about a Nativity scene on city property. Christians are not hurt by gay marriage and should silence their objections. Gays should honor the religious beliefs of those who do not wish to bake cakes or arrange flowers for their weddings. We need not inflict our beliefs on our neighbors, nor should we tolerate such behavior from others. People, stop bullying each other and just learn to get along. It’s so simple, and America would be a better, more peaceful nation because of it. Live and let live.

My Way, Dammit

America has become politically and ideologically polarized to a degree I never thought I’d see. We’ve reached a point where the old “Us versus Them” attitude between the political left and right is nearing open warfare. We’ve labeled and categorized ourselves and each other. We’ve divided ourselves into inimical groups and occupy ourselves with hateful and fruitless pursuits, each group trying to discredit the other. We are no longer just citizens with differing opinions. We are a nation of mindless ideologues, each of us intent upon shouting down anyone else who might have a different opinion. People show up at protests with little idea of the hard facts (if any exist) regarding what they’re protesting. And read the comments following op/eds on websites that support comments. The utter ignorance and hate (and poor spelling / grammar) are disheartening to say the least.

The politically active among us were once all considered to be “concerned Americans.” Nowadays we are tea baggers, enviro-nazis, birthers, gay liberators, gay bashers, femmies, etc. We’re divided along ethnic lines as well. African-American, Latino, Native-American, the list is endless. Divided into so many different factions, it becomes impossible to have a national identity. We are becoming a land of tribes, not a nation of one people.

A few years ago when I was still writing my weekly column, I caught hell any time I dared to write a balanced piece. It was the same thing every time: The hard righties accused me of being a squishy liberal. The hard lefties accused me of being some kind of neo-Nazi. I stopped writing regularly because I grew weary of being expected to choose which choir I’d preach to.

In case no one has noticed, America’s problems are not being solved. They’re getting worse. While (mostly) well-meaning Americans continue to box themselves into smaller and smaller factions, the country continues to spiral down the drain. Both Barack Obama and George W. Bush claimed to be “uniters and not dividers.” Both failed miserably as the people continued to move farther apart. The current crop of politicians are making the usual promises. I expect the usual results.

What happened to our willingness to work out our differences and seek solutions? Why do we insist upon an all-or-nothing approach to problem solving that can only lead to the exacerbation of our troubles? If I may be blunt, why the hell have we become pig-headed to the point that we behave like a pack of brainless dupes? Are we all destined to become like the junior-grade Nazis from Westboro Church?

I can’t provide a definitive answer. I can only offer my always-humble opinion based upon what I see.

I see a nation of grossly uninformed people, of all political stripes, dissatisfied with the state of the nation. And those people, as per human nature, look to their leaders for solutions. But the leaders by and large have no real solutions. What they do have is a desire to attain / retain a place of power while feeding their respective followers a steady stream of unadulterated bullshit to keep them happy. With few exceptions, we are not served by those we place in power above us.

And of course, there are those who flood the print media, the airwaves and the Internet with their opinions (yeah, I know this sentence makes me a hypocrite – sue me). Opinionators ranging from Ed Schultz to Rush Limbaugh constantly spew a stream of “My way or the highway” rhetoric that leaves little room for compromise. Limbaugh of course loves to point out that one gets run over when he stands in the middle of the road. And we all know what happens to your rhetorical nether regions if you straddle the political fence.

But the concept of a political road or fence is part of the problem. It’s the first divider in the vast container that day by day grows more complex. Each side of the divider contains yet more divisions, separating us by race, political party and religious beliefs. We are then further separated by beliefs on individual issues, which leads many people to become single-issue voters who consistently fail to look at the larger picture when selecting a candidate for public office.

It’s both natural and harmless for like-minded people to gather together and form groups working toward common goals. But such gatherings fail when they descend into absolutism. We must never lose sight of the fact that most everything is a matter of degree. When we isolate ourselves from other groups we lose the ability to reach out to those groups and seek common solutions. We instead end up at loggerheads and accomplish nothing.

The problem of course isn’t limited to private citizens. Imagine if Republicans and Democrats had actually worked together to create a common-sense solution to the problems we face with the delivery of health care. A reasonably simple system of delivery with elements of both private and public sector involvement is eminently possible (something better than the equally nightmarish Medicare/Medicaid systems). But the Democrats ignored all contrary opinion and created the regulatory nightmare known as “Obamacare” that many Americans believe will only make things worse. Anyone surprised by this has obviously never seen our federal tax code in printed form. It probably weighs more than my car. And will the spineless Republicans, now that they yet again control Capitol Hill do anything about it? Don’t hold your breath.

We as a people must swallow our misplaced pride and disavow our misguided loyalties and again learn how to work together. Our loyalties should rest with our nation as a whole, not to some group formed in your neighbor’s garage over beer and pretzels. The guide to how those loyalties should be applied is found solely in the Constitution of the United States. Our current political and cultural tug of war will only result in finally breaking the rope, leaving the lot of us sitting on our backsides wondering how it could have happened to us.

Of course, the first compromises necessary would be the goals themselves. Imagine a town divided into two groups: One wishes to paint the courthouse black, the other insists it be painted white. As they dig in their heels and shout each other down, the old paint on the courthouse continues to peel. Finally someone looks up and sees the old building sitting there looking dilapidated and wonders how it ever reached such a state. If only, that one sensible person realizes, we’d just agreed on a different color.

Shall we join together as Americans and solve our problems, or shall we indulge our egos and allow the greatest nation in planetary history to crumble into mediocrity? The clock is ticking, the paint is peeling, and we have scant little time left to us to stop our bickering and behave responsibly. Stop waiting for someone else to blink and let’s fix what’s broken.

Matthew 12:25
And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand…

[Canadian author] Hugh MacLennan
The trouble with this whole country is that it’s divided up into little puddles with big fish in each one of them.

Winston Churchill
If we are together nothing is impossible, and if we are divided all will fail.

Do Increases to the Minimum Wage Affect Unemployment?

Much political hay has been made over the years by Republicans and Democrats over the federal minimum wage. Republicans tend to oppose increases, while Democrats tend to favor them. The primary Democrat talking point is that raising it will improve the standard of living for those who work for minimum wage, while Republicans claim those same workers would be hurt due to businesses laying people off to save labor costs.

Now folks, we all know 99% of elected officials in both parties are concerned only with getting reelected. Few if any of them actually give a damn about you and me. It’s all about buying votes. It’s a good bet that minimum wage earners who vote, vote Democrat. And it’s an equally good bet that business owners tend to vote Republican. This is nothing more than another case of the two parties ignoring the facts and telling people what they want to hear.

So what’s the truth? Who is helped or hurt when the federal minimum wage is increased?

Obviously the wage earners are helped by having more money in their pockets, assuming that their employers don’t cut their hours or lay them off. And yes, payroll is among the largest expenses for most businesses. But a business cannot function without it’s workers, so layoffs are far from automatic. According to economists Jonathan Meer and Jeremy West in a 2013 paper written for the National Bureau of Economic Research, unemployment itself generally does not increase after a raise in the minimum wage. New job creation however, tends to slow down while employers adjust to the higher labor costs.

In the table and chart below you can see the minimum wage increases and unemployment data from 1947 through 2010. The chart tells the tale. Scroll around on the data and you can see unemployment rates going up and down regardless of what’s happening with the minimum wage. Why? Because many other factors can also have an effect on the economy and therefore unemployment. Tax increases, wars, trade embargoes, oil prices, even widespread severe weather can affect the economy.

And yes, raising the payroll costs for employers can also have such an effect. But before you oppose an increase in the minimum wage keep in mind that minimum wage earners generally represent less than five percent of the workforce. As such, giving them a little raise every few years isn’t going to have a profound effect on the economy. But it just might have a profound effect on someone working two shifts at a fast food restaurant trying to make ends meet.


Crime By The Numbers

With all the discussion and debate regarding violence, guns and race, especially in recent years I thought it might be helpful to compile some meaningful numbers to help sort it all out. As is per usual I have no ax to grind (grinding axes is hard work after all), I just wanted to sift through the bullshit and see what’s true and what’s…well, bullshit. Depending upon your own opinions you may find some of this information surprising. Sources are included.
– – Alan

We’ll start by giving things a global perspective and then move on to local data from the US. The first table is a list of murder rates from over 200 countries around the world. Each entry uses the most recent U.N. data available, so not all the reporting years are the same. I get a little tired of hearing about how violent we are here in the USA. Our murder rate as of the release of this information is 4.7 (per 100,000 people). That’s higher than some, but a heck of a lot lower than many others. Check out Honduras for example.NOTES:

  • This table is sortable via the column headers. Click a header once to sort it in ascending (A-Z) order. Click it again to sort it in descending (Z-A) order.
  • I’ve tested the scrolling and sorting functionality in Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer 11. Works fine in FF and Chrome, but sorting doesn’t work well in Internet Explorer. Might work in later versions, but I’m still running Windows 7 so this is the latest version of IE I can use. And frankly I don’t care about IE anyway. Thankfully Microsoft is at last getting rid of it. If you’re using IE, you need a new browser.
  • x (in the count column, mainly in the Oceania section) – From UNODC source: “due to small population size the estimated count is less than 2“.
CountryRateCountRegionSubregionYear listed
Burundi8.0790AfricaEastern Africa2012
Comoros10.072AfricaEastern Africa2012
Djibouti10.187AfricaEastern Africa2012
Eritrea7.1437AfricaEastern Africa2012
Ethiopia12.011,048AfricaEastern Africa2012
Kenya6.42,761AfricaEastern Africa2012
Madagascar11.12,465AfricaEastern Africa2012
Malawi1.8279AfricaEastern Africa2012
Mauritius2.834AfricaEastern Africa2011
France6.012AfricaEastern Africa2009
Mozambique12.43,133AfricaEastern Africa2012
Reunion (France)1.815AfricaEastern Africa2009
Rwanda23.12,648AfricaEastern Africa2012
Seychelles9.59AfricaEastern Africa2012
Somalia8.0819AfricaEastern Africa2012
South Sudan13.91,504AfricaEastern Africa2012
Uganda10.73,753AfricaEastern Africa2011
Tanzania12.76,071AfricaEastern Africa2012
Zambia10.71,501AfricaEastern Africa2012
Zimbabwe10.61,450AfricaEastern Africa2012
Angola10.02,079AfricaMiddle Africa2012
Cameroon7.61,654AfricaMiddle Africa2012
Central African Republic11.8532AfricaMiddle Africa2012
Chad7.3907AfricaMiddle Africa2012
Congo12.5541AfricaMiddle Africa2012
Democratic Republic of the Congo28.318,586AfricaMiddle Africa2012
Equatorial Guinea19.3142AfricaMiddle Africa2012
Gabon9.1148AfricaMiddle Africa2012
Sao Tome and Principe3.36AfricaMiddle Africa2011
Algeria0.7280AfricaNorthern Africa2011
Egypt3.42,703AfricaNorthern Africa2011
Libya1.7103AfricaNorthern Africa2012
Morocco2.2704AfricaNorthern Africa2012
Sudan11.24,159AfricaNorthern Africa2012
Tunisia2.2235AfricaNorthern Africa2012
Botswana18.4368AfricaSouthern Africa2012
Lesotho38.0764AfricaSouthern Africa2010
Namibia17.2388AfricaSouthern Africa2012
South Africa31.016,259AfricaSouthern Africa2012
Swaziland33.8416AfricaSouthern Africa2012
Benin8.4848AfricaWestern Africa2012
Burkina Faso8.01,311AfricaWestern Africa2012
Cape Verde10.351AfricaWestern Africa2012
Ivory Coast13.62,691AfricaWestern Africa2012
Gambia10.2182AfricaWestern Africa2012
Ghana6.11,537AfricaWestern Africa2012
Guinea8.91,018AfricaWestern Africa2012
Guinea-Bissau8.4140AfricaWestern Africa2012
Liberia3.2135AfricaWestern Africa2012
Mali7.51,119AfricaWestern Africa2012
Mauritania5.0191AfricaWestern Africa2012
Niger4.7803AfricaWestern Africa2012
Nigeria20.033,817AfricaWestern Africa2012
Senegal2.8379AfricaWestern Africa2012
Sierra Leone1.9113AfricaWestern Africa2012
Togo10.3684AfricaWestern Africa2012
Antigua and Barbuda11.210AmericasCaribbean2012
Aruba (Netherlands)3.94AmericasCaribbean2010
British Virgin Islands8.42AmericasCaribbean2006
Cayman Islands (UK)14.78AmericasCaribbean2009
Dominican Republic22.12,268AmericasCaribbean2012
Montserrat (UK)20.41AmericasCaribbean2008
Puerto Rico (US)26.5978AmericasCaribbean2012
Saint Kitts and Nevis33.618AmericasCaribbean2012
Saint Lucia21.639AmericasCaribbean2012
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines25.628AmericasCaribbean2012
Trinidad and Tobago28.3379AmericasCaribbean2012
Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)6.62AmericasCaribbean2009
United States Virgin Islands (US)52.656AmericasCaribbean2010
Belize44.7145AmericasCentral America2012
Costa Rica8.5407AmericasCentral America2012
El Salvador41.22,594AmericasCentral America2012
Guatemala39.96,025AmericasCentral America2012
Honduras90.47,172AmericasCentral America2012
Mexico21.526,037AmericasCentral America2012
Nicaragua11.3675AmericasCentral America2012
Panama17.2654AmericasCentral America2012
Bermuda (UK)7.75AmericasNorthern America2012
Canada1.6543AmericasNorthern America2012
Saint Pierre and Miquelon (France)16.51AmericasNorthern America2009
United States4.714,827AmericasNorthern America2012
Argentina5.52,237AmericasSouth America2010
Bolivia12.11,270AmericasSouth America2012
Brazil25.250,108AmericasSouth America2012
Chile3.1550AmericasSouth America2012
Colombia30.814,670AmericasSouth America2012
Ecuador12.41,924AmericasSouth America2012
French Guiana (France)13.330AmericasSouth America2009
Guyana17.0135AmericasSouth America2012
Paraguay9.7649AmericasSouth America2012
Peru9.62,865AmericasSouth America2012
Suriname6.133AmericasSouth America2012
Uruguay7.9267AmericasSouth America2012
Venezuela53.716,072AmericasSouth America2012
Kazakhstan7.81,263AsiaCentral Asia2012
Kyrgyzstan9.1494AsiaCentral Asia2011
Tajikistan1.6126AsiaCentral Asia2011
Turkmenistan12.8660AsiaCentral Asia2012
Uzbekistan3.71,060AsiaCentral Asia2012
China1.013,410AsiaEastern Asia2010
Hong Kong0.427AsiaEastern Asia2012
Macao0.74AsiaEastern Asia2010
North Korea5.21,293AsiaEastern Asia2012
Japan0.3442AsiaEastern Asia2011
Mongolia9.7266AsiaEastern Asia2011
South Korea0.9427AsiaEastern Asia2011
Taiwan3.0686AsiaEastern Asia2011
Brunei2.08AsiaSouth-Eastern Asia2012
Cambodia6.5964AsiaSouth-Eastern Asia2012
Indonesia0.61,456AsiaSouth-Eastern Asia2012
Laos5.9392AsiaSouth-Eastern Asia2012
Malaysia2.3652AsiaSouth-Eastern Asia2012
Myanmar15.28,044AsiaSouth-Eastern Asia2012
Philippines8.88,484AsiaSouth-Eastern Asia2012
Singapore0.211AsiaSouth-Eastern Asia2012
Thailand5.03,307AsiaSouth-Eastern Asia2011
Timor-Leste3.639AsiaSouth-Eastern Asia2010
Vietnam3.33,037AsiaSouth-Eastern Asia2012
Afghanistan6.51,948AsiaSouthern Asia2012
Bangladesh2.74,169AsiaSouthern Asia2012
Bhutan1.712AsiaSouthern Asia2012
India3.543,355AsiaSouthern Asia2012
Iran3.93,126AsiaSouthern Asia2012
Maldives3.913AsiaSouthern Asia2012
Nepal2.9786AsiaSouthern Asia2011
Pakistan7.713,846AsiaSouthern Asia2012
Sri Lanka3.4707AsiaSouthern Asia2011
Armenia1.854AsiaWestern Asia2012
Azerbaijan2.1194AsiaWestern Asia2010
Bahrain0.57AsiaWestern Asia2011
Cyprus2.023AsiaWestern Asia2012
Georgia4.3187AsiaWestern Asia2010
Iraq8.02,628AsiaWestern Asia2012
Israel1.8134AsiaWestern Asia2012
Jordan2.0133AsiaWestern Asia2011
Kuwait0.412AsiaWestern Asia2012
Lebanon2.295AsiaWestern Asia2010
Palestine7.4312AsiaWestern Asia2012
Oman1.134AsiaWestern Asia2011
Qatar1.123AsiaWestern Asia2012
Saudi Arabia0.8234AsiaWestern Asia2012
Syria2.2463AsiaWestern Asia2010
Turkey2.61,866AsiaWestern Asia2011
United Arab Emirates2.6235AsiaWestern Asia2012
Yemen4.81,099AsiaWestern Asia2010
Belarus5.1486EuropeEastern Europe2010
Bulgaria1.9141EuropeEastern Europe2012
Czech Republic1.0105EuropeEastern Europe2012
Hungary1.3132EuropeEastern Europe2012
Poland1.2449EuropeEastern Europe2011
Moldova6.5229EuropeEastern Europe2012
Romania1.7378EuropeEastern Europe2012
Russia9.213,120EuropeEastern Europe2012
Slovakia1.475EuropeEastern Europe2012
Ukraine4.31,988EuropeEastern Europe2010
Denmark0.847EuropeNorthern Europe2012
Estonia5.065EuropeNorthern Europe2011
Finland1.689EuropeNorthern Europe2012
Greenland (Denmark)19.411EuropeNorthern Europe2009
Iceland0.326EuropeNorthern Europe2012
Ireland1.254EuropeNorthern Europe2012
Latvia4.797EuropeNorthern Europe2012
Lithuania6.7202EuropeNorthern Europe2012
Norway2.2111EuropeNorthern Europe2011
Sweden0.768EuropeNorthern Europe2012
United Kingdom1.0653EuropeNorthern Europe2011
Albania5.0157EuropeSouthern Europe2012
Andorra1.31EuropeSouthern Europe2010
Bosnia and Herzegovina1.351EuropeSouthern Europe2011
Croatia1.251EuropeSouthern Europe2012
Greece1.7184EuropeSouthern Europe2011
Italy0.9530EuropeSouthern Europe2012
Kosovo3.664EuropeSouthern Europe2010
Malta2.812EuropeSouthern Europe2012
Montenegro2.717EuropeSouthern Europe2012
Portugal1.2122EuropeSouthern Europe2012
San Marino0.7xEuropeSouthern Europe2012
Serbia1.2111EuropeSouthern Europe2012
Slovenia0.714EuropeSouthern Europe2012
Spain0.8364EuropeSouthern Europe2012
Macedonia1.430EuropeSouthern Europe2011
Austria0.977EuropeWestern Europe2012
Belgium1.6182EuropeWestern Europe2012
France1.0665EuropeWestern Europe2012
Germany0.8662EuropeWestern Europe2011
Liechtenstein0.00EuropeWestern Europe2012
Luxembourg0.84EuropeWestern Europe2011
Monaco0.00EuropeWestern Europe2008
Netherlands0.9145EuropeWestern Europe2012
Switzerland0.646EuropeWestern Europe2011
New Zealand0.941OceaniaAustralasia2012
New Caledonia (France)3.38OceaniaMelanesia2009
Papua New Guinea10.4713OceaniaMelanesia2010
Solomon Islands4.324OceaniaMelanesia2012
Guam (US)2.54OceaniaMicronesia2011
Cook Islands3.1xOceaniaPolynesia2012
French Polynesia (France)0.41OceaniaPolynesia2009

Credit: Wikipedia table sourced from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

For what it’s worth, of the 218 nations listed above, the USA’s murder rate ranks 109th. Squarely in the middle.

Closer to home, events in Ferguson, MO and elsewhere have elevated tensions between blacks and whites to dangerous levels. Incompetent police officers, black leaders race hustlers like Al Sharpton, and racists of both colors are only making it worse. But who’s killing who, really? Let’s start by looking at some general numbers, then we’ll get into specifics. Check out this small table (2013 FBI UCR data):

Race of VictimTotalWhite
Black or African American2,4911892,2452037
Other Race1593227964
Unknown Race682517323

Data pulled from FBI Uniform Crime Report website.

So, according to the 2013 (most recent available at this writing) FBI Uniform Crime Report data, 3,005 whites were killed in 2013, and 2509 of the killers were also white, while 409 of the killers were black.

And, of 2,491 murdered blacks, 189 of their killers were white while 2,245 of the killers were black.

The rest of the killers were of “Other” or “Unknown” race. But according to the various race baiters on both sides of the fence, blacks and whites are supposedly killing each other at heroic rates. Perhaps both races need to quit listening to the racial / political propaganda and clean up our own back yards before we engage in any more finger-pointing?

There is an alarming fact buried in the data if you also toss in Census data along with it. There are nearly 6 times as many whites as blacks in the USA. But only 514 fewer blacks were murdered than whites. And the ratio of black murderers to black murder victims is nearly 1:1.

And so my question to the black community would be: “WTF is wrong with you people?! You’re destroying yourselves!”

Total population308,745,538100.0%
One Race299,736,46597.1%
Black or African American38,929,31912.6%

US Census 2010 (most recent available for this data)

Curiously, the FBI Uniform Crime Report does not include race information in the data regarding “Justifiable Homicides” by law enforcement or by private citizens. This is odd to me, given the wealth of racial and demographic information the FBI otherwise makes available. While I don’t like doing so, I will engage in a bit of speculation here as to why this is the case:

  • IF racial data were available and it showed a majority of the people killed by cops were black, then the aforementioned race hustlers would have a field day with it. They’d be on all the talk shows hyping it up as a massive conspiracy to eradicate the black population.
  • But IF the data showed that more whites were killed than blacks, then race hustlers from the other side would quickly claim that blacks have nothing to complain about and should just pack up their protest signs and go home.

Either way, the data would be controversial and I’d bet a decision was made behind closed doors to sweep it under the rug. This frankly pisses me off, and I may go the route of a FOIA request to try to get the data. Inquiring minds want to know.

Here is the FBI UCR data regarding “Justifiable Homicide by Law Enforcement” from 2009 to 2013:

type not stated
Knives or cutting

Data from this table in the FBI 2013 Uniform Crime Report

As to how race data and arrests shake out, I was expecting to see (based on all the hype in the media and from folks like Sharpton) many more blacks being arrested than whites. Guess what? That’s not what I found. The data below is a summary of the “Arrests by Race” table in the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

Arrest Summary by Crime and Race

  • In 2013, 68.9 percent of all individuals arrested were white, 28.3 percent were black, and 2.9 percent were of other races.
  • Of all juveniles (persons under the age of 18) arrested in 2013, 63.0 percent were white, 34.4 percent were black, and 2.7 percent were of other races.
  • Of all adults arrested in 2013, 69.6 percent were white, 27.6 percent were black, and 2.9 percent were of other races.
  • White individuals were arrested more often for violent crimes than individuals of any other race and accounted for 58.4 percent of those arrests.
  • Of adults arrested for murder, 52.1 percent were black, and 45.5 percent were white.
  • Black juveniles comprised 53.3 percent of all juveniles arrested for violent crimes.
  • White juveniles accounted for 59.7 percent of all juveniles arrested for property crimes.
  • Of juveniles arrested for drug abuse violations, 73.0 percent were white.
  • White juveniles comprised 54.4 percent of juveniles arrested for aggravated assaults.

Data Source: The summary of this table at the FBI Uniform Crime Report

State By State Rankings Study #1 2014

I wanted to do a bit of studying on the quality of life in America. I finally settled upon the idea of comparing state-by-state using several measurements: Average life expectancy, infant mortality rate, divorce rate, property crime rate, violent crime rate, the poverty rate and DUI fatality rate. For what it’s worth, here it is:

StateAverage Life
Mortality Rate
Crime Rate
Crime Rate
DUI Fatality
New Hampshire80.15.34.321.91.72.410.30%
New Jersey82.45.23.420.83.11.915.50%
New Mexico77.76.14.434.45.94.716.10%
New York82.55.83.419.43.91.818.10%
North Carolina79.68.84.534.
North Dakota80.
Rhode Island79.
South Carolina78.39.43.439.06.07.615.80%
South Dakota74.37.23.318.52.75.310.60%
West Virginia74.