Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dead Men Don't Wear Birkenstocks

As you may have noticed, people in Portland live a little differently than people elsewhere. They die a little differently, too.

One annual piece of good news for our fair city is that not that many people are murdered in Portland. Last year, there were 29 homicides, up from 21 the year before. Still well below the rate of most major U.S. cities.

If you want to live more dangerously, move to New Orleans, which has a murder rate of 52 per 100,000 residents. Portland’s rate is just a tenth of that. Other high-murder cities include Detroit, St. Louis, Baltimore and Chicago. These cities average more murders per month than Portland has in an entire year.

Now for the less rosy picture: in 2010, 13% of Portland’s homicides were committed by our police force—and that figure goes up to 22% of the African-Americans killed. Nothing surprising there. We all know that Portland cops have a penchant for shooting people, especially black people. Or mentally disturbed people. They’ll shoot your in your car, they’ll shoot you where you live, they’ll shoot you on the street or when you are in the park.

Best thing to do is avoid the police, because they’ve been getting away with murder for decades and nobody at City Hall has the brains or guts to do something about it.

Nevertheless, in Portland, you have a .00005% chance of getting murdered. About the same as winning at Powerball.

If, however, you want to reduce those odds even further, there are several things that could work in your favor (other than being polite to the police).

  1. Take your meds and don’t hang around people who won’t take theirs. Two of the people shot be the cops were, according to witnesses, behaving in a mentally unstable manner and four other victims were killed by mentally disturbed assailants.
  2. Be white. Forty percent of the homicides were committed against people of color, usually by people of color (except for those shot by cops).
  3. Learn knife defenses, which are taught in many martial arts schools and self-defense classes. Seven victims—about a quarter of the total—died from knife wounds. Portland’s rate is far higher than the national average of 14%. On the other hand, just over half of Portland’s murders were committed by firearms, while the national average is 70%.
  4. If you are a woman, don’t get involved with an angry, obsessive or jealous man—and if you do and want to leave him, you may want to spike his cocktails with a few drops of methyl alcohol. The reason for this precaution is that of the seven women murdered last year, five were killed by their husbands or boyfriends (two after they had become estranged).

This last factoid is a recurring nightmare, worse even than cops killing black folks. In previous years, the number of women murdered by crazed ex-boyfriends or husbands has approached massacre levels. I can only guess at why it happens so much. Some men have a “master” complex and when a man sees his slave leave him, his ego is humbled. He can’t let it go and get on with his life, because a big part of his life is mastery over another human being. So he tries to bring her back home. And if that fails, he kills her.

Restraining orders are futile against crazy men. I propose a law that says that whenever a woman takes out a restraining order against a man, the man has to wear a GPS bracelet for a sufficient period of time, which would allow the police to make sure the ex is not getting too close to the object of his desire, or if he is, to warn her.

Either that, or methyl alcohol (methanol). If administered in just the right amount (about 10 mL), it will lead to blindness, but not kill him.


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