April 19, 2013
Obama is in a huff this week because his gun bill got shot down like a clay pigeon. Like most of us, he was deeply affected by the massacre at Sandy Hook. Like much of the country, he seems to think emotions should drive public policy. Celebrities such as Jim Carrey agree.
As I write this, some numskull on Twitter is telling me, “regardless of numbers, better gun control is just a good idea.” This is despite the recent amendment being “too vague for law abiding citizens to understand and too easy for criminals to avoid.” Emotions drive modern political discourse because we are living in a nation of mathematical illiterates. Gun violence is mostly blacks killing other blacks, and even then yearly gun-related deaths only kill about a hundredth of one percent of the American population.
You know what else is responsible for killing at least 0.01% of Americans? Cars, prescription drugs, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. All of these threats to our survival cause a minimum of 30,000 deaths a year. (Some estimates put yearly prescription-drug and auto-related deaths at over 100,000.) The media cherry-picks which topics it decides are fashionable and so does the president, numbers be damned. This is what happens when you throw math out the window and let photos of dead children dictate legislation.
I don’t mind that car accidents aren’t on the news every night. Ralph Nader has already made enough money scaring us into thinking that driving is dangerous. When you factor in the countless accidents that are avoided every millisecond of American life, a hundredth of one percent is a goddamned miracle. Cars are not in the news any less than they should be.
However, the danger of prescription drugs should be in the news way more than it is today. While everyone blames the recent shooting sprees on access to weapons, few writers noticed how many shooters were on psych meds. The American pharmaceutical industry makes over $300 billion a year”compared to only $12 billion for America’s allegedly “powerful” and “well financed” gun industry”so there’s a real economic disadvantage to questioning the efficacy of prescription drugs. I think celebrities avoid this topic because they are so high on their own pills, the hypocrisy would give them a bad trip.
Prostate cancer kills only about 10,000 fewer people than breast cancer yearly. We supposedly live in a sexist patriarchy where evil men dominate poor, helpless women. But if you think prostate cancer should get at least 75% of the attention breast cancer does, somehow you’re trivializing women’s suffering.
The same goes for any discussion of late-term abortions. If you don’t see the Gosnell carnage as an irrelevant local news story, you’re against women’s rights. The general consensus seems to be that partial-birth abortions are incredibly rare and used only for emergencies. I had a Hispanic med student tell me to “Take this one in a million abortion clinic example and shove it up your ginger ass.” By my calculations, this clinic is closer to 27,000 in a million.