Friday, October 10, 2008
The Arch Narrative of Random Violence
A couple of days ago I promised to get back to the dominant narrative of random violence. There’s an important point here: The Dominant Narrative doesn’t have to be factual to affect the way people think and act. It only has to be true – that is, some significant group of people has to believe it.
Random violence is a very rare fact of life in any society in any time.
Read that sentence again.
At least two members of my own family have been victims of such crimes over the last two generations and all the statistical analysis in the world will not ease their (or my) suffering for it.
Still, that doesn’t make it a common occurrence, just one that gets reported: through the news media, anecdotes told at neighborhood gatherings, emails forwarded to “EVERYBODY YOU KNOW!”
Yet, we all believe it. I say “we” because I include myself in that statement. It’s part of who we are. That’s an arch dominant narrative.
Recently a friend who works in the justice system confirmed my suspicions regarding so-called home invasions. “Twenty years,” she said, “never seen one where they didn’t know each other.”
So why do these myths of random violence persist? Part of it has to do with legal restrictions. When a guy gets shot on his front porch or is found dead in a parking lot outside a night club, the cops may know he was a drug dealer, but it’s a bit awkward to say that about a recently deceased 19-year-old.
They’re coming for your women
Several weeks ago I received an email from a friend – insisting that I pass it along to my wife for her own safety – about a new gang initiation rite. It seems that “gang members” were being ordered to break into cars and minivans – at random – in the parking lots of local discount stores and then lay in wait to rape white women. Recipients were advised to avoid certain parking lots, park in well lighted areas, and check the back seats and cargo areas of their vehicles.
Good advice. Bad narrative.
Who were these gangs that want to harm white women? If they specifically target Caucasians, they must be something … other. Who are you afraid of?
Who is THEM?
What other arch narrative are we following?
Rule: Check Snopes before you believe anything.
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