Friday, November 16, 2007

More statistic manipulation

Read Japan's police see no evil to learn the secret behind Japan's low murder rate. Bad things don't happen if we ignore them.

People are literally getting away with murder.
Police discourage autopsies that might reveal a higher homicide rate in their jurisdiction, and pressure doctors to attribute unnatural deaths to health reasons, usually heart failure, the group alleges. Odds are, it says, that people are getting away with murder in Japan, a country that officially claims one of the lowest per capita homicide rates in the world.
On this side of the world, a rape occurred at our local community college. A female student was grabbed from behind and raped at knifepoint as she left a class. Read El Camino College student assaulted. In the news story, El Camino College (ECC) Police Chief Steve Port said [that] there had been no sexual assaults on campus over the last three years.

"I've talked to sergeants and they can't remember when or if this has happened over the last 10 years, so this is very extraordinary," Port said.

That's another tricky statistic. A former student there told me that men would grab and grope her as she left class there. The men wait outside the classrooms for the women to exit. She fought them off and reported it to the campus police. They told her that boys will be boys. They also told her that, with her figure, she should wear baggy clothes. Of course, they did not take down a report. Once, she was assaulted in this manner while a campus police officer watched and did nothing.

Does being grabbed from behind and being groped while leaving class every day count as sexual assault? In how many ways does the ECC Police condone violence against women? Did the 'boys will be boys' environment that the ECC Police fostered help lead to an escalation of violence against women? Were there more unreported incidents because women knew they would get no help from the police?

No sexual asssaults on campus in the last three years indeed.

"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."


  1. The article says that apparent suicides in Japan are accepted uncritically. I wonder if that is connected with suicide being more "socially acceptable" in Japanese culture. Maybe committing suicide carries less social stigma than being murdered.

    In Western culture, at least historically, suicide was shameful and there was a bias towards finding that actual suicides were "accidental deaths" (cf. James Cain's Double Indemnity).

  2. So, to get away with murder in Japan, one need only make it look like the victim committed suicide? What about the cases when someone has multiple stab wounds, bleeds to death, and the death certificate says heart failure?

    I am not so convinced that suicide does not carry a stigma in modern day Japan. That might have been true in an earlier time, but much less after WWII. E.g. in Yasunari Kawabata's Thousand Cranes, Fumiko, seeks Kikuji's help in finding a doctor to cover up her mother's death by suicide. Why would that be necessary unless there was a social stigma against suicide?

    Your second observation would lead to artificially low suicide rates and high accident rates in the west. It shouldn't have much impact on the murder rate.

  3. The campus blinders, unfortunately, don't surprise me. My alma mater is very good at covering such things up so as to not scare away students and potential donors. Victims were made to feel that they were in the wrong and every incident was handled "in house" as much as possible without municipal/state/federal involvement.


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