Monday, 11 April 2011

The Crime Rate Is Falling, Not the Sky: Why Harper's Message Appeals Even Though It's Counter-Factual

One of the most puzzling things for me is the way so many Canadians believe that Stephen Harper is going to save us from something, that they have to vote for him because otherwise there would be doom and gloom.

Ian Brown in Saturday's Globe and Mail takes aim at the question and comes up with some pretty interesting answers. Specifically, he examines the complete disconnect between our current falling crime rate and the fear of crime that Harper and his friends are exploiting. "Don't confuse me with the facts," is perhaps the easiest reaction: Harper doesn't want to know about crime statistics, just as he doesn't want to know how we live. For the latter, he cancels the long form census. For the former, he "stands up for victims," discounting all the stats and studies which show that throwing more and more people in jail doesn't make us safer.

Brown writes: "For many years, Canada's approach to criminality ..relied less on prison and more on rehabilitation, on changing people...

"(But) If people are unlikely to change, the bad ones can be locked up. That way the bad people will be in one place, and the good people will be in another place, and we'll never have to be confused as to who is whom.

'We think we want to be tough on crime because we're afraid of criminals, but it turns out we're not. We're afraid of ourselves, and who we might turn out to be."

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