By Steve Adcock
It’s tough to watch the evening news, read the papers, browse virtually any news-related web site or listen to career politicians these days and come away with any impression other than that crime is on the increase. The more consistent the story is put out there, the more likely the people are to believe it. And naturally when people fear crime they are more apt to submit to government-mandated controls over their liberties and freedoms to combat the violence they’re hearing tell of. It’s true, the majority of people today believe that crime is on the increase. According to a Gallup poll, 68% of those questioned believe that crime is worse today than a year ago, but it’s not. In fact, crime has steadily decreased since the mid 1990s . . .
This data isn’t exactly a secret. The FBI routinely publishes crime statistics and crime throughout the country has been decreasing for decades. In 2010, the FBI announced that crime nationally had dipped to a 40-year low. And not only has violent crime in general fallen, but violent crime in schools has decreased as well, not that you’d know that in the aftermath of Newtown. According to the government’s own numbers, crime has fallen a whopping 65% since 1993.
The wall-to-wall coverage of crime from our nation’s media and career politicians would certainly have you believe the opposite is true. Gun control is hot and politicians are taking advantage of highly publicized crimes to build the necessary fear among the population to encourage people to swallow additional breaches of their freedom. If kids are afraid to go to school or walk the streets, government must do something. Violence must stop and according to President Obama, the government needs to act now.
According to the government’s own numbers, though, it doesn’t.
“The fear of crime is ever-present, even when crime isn’t,” wrote Radley Balko in a Huffington Post report published last year. ”I’m sure the cable news obsession with sensational crime stories and the emergence of tragedy vultures like Nancy Grace have a lot to do with it. Long-developing trends like the crime drop by definition aren’t daily news. Crime is, even when it’s down.”
People’s fear of crime is a threat to their own liberty, to all of our liberties as American citizens. When people willingly give up freedoms like the right to keep and bear arms in exchange for the promise of more security, we quickly begin to tip the scales of freedom and control in favor of the state. Public perception is a powerful tool and when used carefully by authorities can produce seriously threatening results.
Staying vigilant and questioning the “official story” is the key to resisting the media’s and the state’s attempts to restrict or remove more freedoms from the American people. The numbers are out there. The facts are known. All the people have to do is look. Stop believing everything you’re told.
The government and their media cheerleaders know that emotions are the primary driver for most people. Bad news sells, and they provide a nearly endless supply. Watch 10 minutes of the Sandy Hook massacre and your heart sinks straight out of your chest. Columbine, Virginia Tech, the Gabrielle Giffords shooting – all of these incidents are tragic. Americans are naturally affected by them. Any sane person would be.
The problem is our political class know this all too well and these images are used to tug once again at the public’s heartstrings and generate a sense of fear. Those powerful emotions can quickly subsume the human psyche. It’s the perfect mechanism to influence public opinion. History clearly shows this and when governments toy with the emotions of the people, rarely is it for the benefit of the people. Cui bono? That’s right, it’s the government. It always is.
Steve Adcock is publisher of smallgovtimes.com.