Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bill O'Reilly lies about statistics to whitewash cops - I know, it's SUCH a surprise!

Once again, troubles in America are perpetrated because counting is a skill few people seem to develop.  Please, America, learn to count!

Bill O'Reilly - who, admittedly, also thinks that NYPD Officer David Pantaleo shouldn't have choked to death Eric Garner - gave the statistics that 123 black people were shot by cops last year while 326 whites were shot by cops.

First, the caveat that there are no accurate statistics about police shootings in the US.  Police departments are not obligated to tell anyone when a cop kills someone.  So, let's bear that in mind.

Second, let's do the math.  About 50% of Americans are white.  About 12% of Americans are black.  The ratio, there, is about 4:1.  Even accepting O'Reilly's numbers as absolutely accurate and representative, he's saying that around 2/5ths of the people killed by cops are black.  Translation?  Black people are seventy percent more likely to be killed by cops than white ones.  If you can't figure that out, shame on you, because it allows assholes like O'Reilly to pretend that everything is hunky-dory and to convince other people that racism isn't a thing.

He's also just reprehensibly saying that, hey, cops killing 459 people is okay.  Dude, countries have gone to war over less provocation.  The Boston Massacre?  FOUR people were killed.  FOUR.  It was considered by those Founding Fathers O'Reilly claims to love as a clear sign of tyranny.  So when you're at the place when it's necessary to talk about proportions and percentages to get a better handle on how many people are killed, you're waaaaaaaaaay past that into the territory of "just stop it, already" and maybe into the territory of "maybe a revolution isn't that bad an idea".

Also, other countries don't feel the urge to shoot their citizens so often.  Places like Great Britain can go whole years without cops killing anyone.  This is particularly interesting because Britain - with the exception of murder, where we outstrip all industrialized nations, often by an order of magnitude - has very similar crime rates to the US.  Yet, English bobbies don't feel the need to kill over a hundred Brits a year (if you can count, you know this is about proportionally accurate).  Indeed, the last time a cop in Britain shot someone dead was March 3rd, 2012.  Before that, August 2011 and before THAT June 2007.  That's right.  Between 2007 and 2011 - four years - no English cops fatally wounded NO ONE.  (And, unlike the US, Britain does keep accurate statistics about police killings.  Though, granted, it's a lot easier over there since their cops kill so few people.)

So the idea that, hey, cops are okay because the only kill 459 people a year and only black people are only 70% more likely to be gunned down by cops than white ones, everything is hunky-dory.  Nope, no problem at ALL that police kill 459 people a year, a disproportionate number of them black.  Not a problem at ALL.  Not to Bill O'Reilly.

Okay, and here's the real bogus part - O'Reilly was just plain lying.  There were about 459 people killed by cops in 2013, sure, but not all of them were either black or white.  A lot of them were, y'know, Hispanic because about 1 in 3 Americans is Hispanic.  A whole bunch of them are unnamed, without any attribution of race and sometimes not even of gender!

Remember, the US does not keep police officer killing statistics.  So such records are usually compiled from police crime desk stories.  Often, the information given is very scant and is rarely accurately fact checked.

For instance, according to Wikipedia's list of people killed by cops in January of 2013, forty-six people are listed as having died that month.  Eleven of them - over 20% of them - are listed as unnamed.  Hmm.  I checked seven entries before exhausting myself, and in the news articles about the shootings, in no case was the race of the person identified.

So, since out of those 459 people (barring the unlikely event that O'Reilly has access to data taht I don't have), O'Reilly assigned everyone who got killed by cops in American as black or white (which is, itself, disturbing) - totally ignoring the fact that many people killed by the police do not have their race released AND that a bunch of Americans are neither white nor black . . . well, what else can I conclude other than O'Reilly lied.  He pulled this specious bullshit "fact" out of his pocket to distract an outraged guest and whitewash racist police brutality.

Fuck Bill O'Reilly.

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