Why The Wall Street Journal is Full Of Shit On Chicago

Argh! Occasionally an article comes a long that is dumb enough that it must be addressed immediately and at length. “How Chicago’s Streets Became the Wild West” published today on the WSJ’s opinion page is one such example. It’s another entry in the Wall Street Journal’s crusade to blame homicide in the US on the Black Lives Matter movement (A crusade they share with the FBI, and the New York Times, who are also trying to push the idea of the “Ferguson Effect”). There are a couple massive problems with this article that would keep it from being published in a real newspaper.

A: There is real suffering in Chicago, and there were more murders in 2015 (488) than there were in 2014 (432). But there were less than there were in 2012 (513) and the numbers are consistently around half of what they were in the 1990s. There are real problems that must be addressed in Chicago, but this idea that the city is going to hell in a bucket is media-driven hogwash. The propaganda value of the article would be de-fanged by any honest look at the figures though, so they are not included.

B: On the topic of those real problems: Mostly because she can’t avoid it, the author of this article mentions the fact that a police superintendent had to resign in 2015 over a video tape of the racist murder of an unarmed black man in 2014. (This isn’t one of the ambiguous ones, an officer is on trial for murder). The author concedes the awfulness of this event, but then goes on to assert that it has nothing to do with the broader culture of the Chicago police department. She then spends the rest of the article whining about the Mayor’s attempts to improve the police department’s culture. The Superintendent’s resignation is a one-off, nothing to see here, the Chicago PD is just being victimized by BLM and those nasty ACLU Social Justice Warriors…

There’s a simple data point here, that kind of destroys her entire argument. In 2007, another Chicago Police Superintendent, Philip J. Cline, had to resign over video-taped police brutality. So two of the last three Chicago police superintendents had to resign over police misconduct. Gawrsh. Maybe the culture of the Chicago police is something that we actually should be looking at. Maybe the Black Lives Matter movement should be praised for raising these issues rather than condemned. Maybe if the Wall Street Journal had any interest in adding to the conversation on urban crime they’d have tried to paint a vaguely accurate picture of Chicago.

Sadly, this isn’t the first WSJ article on this topic and it’s certain that it won’t be the last. The powers that be really want to make the “Ferguson Effect” a thing. If you’re interested I’ve put together a couple videos to combat that effort. The author of this article, Heather MacDonald is the “Ferguson Effect’s” head propagandist. I made a video on her deeply warped view of the world and statistics a couple weeks back. Even if this effect exists, which is nowhere near proven, blaming protesters for this is abjectly amoral, as I pointed out in another video I made last year. I’ve also got a whole playlist on the problem of racial justice in the US, that lays out the problems we should actually be addressing if we’re serious about keeping people safe.

750 Words… | January 2016 Update

The year began on a family holiday in Malta. Getting a cheaper flight from Rome to Istanbul meant waiting a couple days after the new year, so I holed up in a hostel by the Termini train station in Rome. This time was spent working, and occasionally leaving to check out a forum or to eat some of the Asian food which is surprisingly hard to find in Istanbul. I was sharing the hostel with my sister, who made a tremendously useful suggestion. As a sort of joint resolution we undertook to write 750 words a day, every day. This has had a fairly revolutionary effect on my productivity this year. Every day I have to write something. Sometimes I really don’t want to do it, but I often get it done. My performance hasn’t been flawless. Five months into the year I’m about a month behind, but I do it more often than not. This has yielded some great videos, a lot of progress on new essays, and the fact that I finally seem to be catching up on these blog posts. It’s a great thing all around.

Finally having an apartment of my own again is fricking fantastic. It made for some healthier living, and allowed me to produce seven videos in January, some of which were quite ambitious. The first video of the year was “The BBC Is Full of It 2 | Chinese Aircraft Carriers“. I like this video. There’s not much to it, but it deals with the format cleverly. I like the acting out of the internal monologue. I also like the turn-around time. I saw the headline, it matched nicely with the previous video complaining about the BBC, and I was able to quickly bang it out. The joys of that speedy Malta internet. “3 Awesome Things Happening in 2016, Cuba, Colombia and Iran” is an attempt at a positive list video that hasn’t gone very far. It reminds me how far behind I am on these contemplated Syria videos. I wanted to do something positive before producing them, but five months later I still haven’t gotten them out yet. Argh!

Iran V. Saudi Arabia, the One Thing You Need To Know…” was the first video produced in my new bedroom, ahem, I mean studio. I’ve gotten better at these set-ups, but I think this one comes out alright. The mix between animation and on-camera is one that I like, but a mix that I haven’t quite perfected yet. “Watch Me DESTROY Donald Trump’s Campaign Ad” does exactly what it says it does. It is amazing how little this man is offering to the American people, especially his supporters.

The next week featured what is perhaps my favorite one-two punch ever. “Why Do Terrorists Kill People” was my first attempt at filming something on location. The sound is awful, but I really like the way my visit to the scene of an Istanbul suicide bombing works. It was also a nice fraught introduction to a sad fact of journalism: “Oh Look, an atrocity! Let’s find a way to look cool in front of it!” The next day I followed it up with “Why the Cold War Must Be Remembered” one of my favorite videos ever. I’m a huge history dork, and I’m quite proud of what I’ve accomplished here. In seven or so minutes I tell the story of the Cold War, and argue why it’s so important to study it. The next week I got even more ambitious, attempting to put together a video that told the entire post World War II story of the oil industry. I failed to produce that video in January. That Tuesday I was mucking about with After Effects when the power went out. So I decided to bang out “Why Bloomberg For President Should Make You Happy“, with a speed that should be pretty apparent in the production. I kind of like the Chiaroscuro effect forced by the candle light though.

Looking at these videos, it’s pretty clear that I’ve switched to longer ones over the past couple months. I think this may be a side effect of the 750 word pledge. I traditionally aimed for under 500 words a video, but now I aim for 750 to make my quota. This has upsides and downsides. YouTube now prioritizes watch time over views. They are obviously both still important, but this means YouTube likes longer videos. Does that mean that my content is less likely to be clicked on because of its longer times? Probably. It also make for less disciplined videos. Reviewing videos from this month, and from previous years, I’m sometimes kind of amazed by the amount of stuff I manage to cram into three minute running times. Something to consider.

Views continued their upward trend in January 2016, up to 16,224 from 13,939 in December. None of the top five, and three of the top ten videos in January were produced in January. Two of the seven videos crossed 100 views on their first day. Five months later, all seven have topped 200 views, and of those four have also topped 300. At the end of January 2016 we had 142 videos, all but four of which were viewed in January, 70 of which were viewed 10 or more times, 22 of which were viewed more than 100 times, and four of which were viewed more than 1,000 times (FATCA, John Oliver, Hillary Clinton, Putin-Estonia).

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