School Shootings Vs. Ebola: Who’s Hitting Harder?

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How, exactly, did Ebola become a political cause? How did it become politicized at all? I haven’t the foggiest notion, but even in my disconnected-from-Facebook state I’m being constantly made aware of left-leaning people downplaying the danger of the Ebola virus, usually with a smug statement to the effect that only “ignorant” people — meaning white people who didn’t vote for Mr. Obama simply because he has an African father — are concerned about it.

Here’s a typical cartoon:

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Just as a side note: Is it permissible to draw anybody but a white man like that? I’d suggest that it is not. But the talking points are clearly defined here: fat white hick Americans are all worked up about Ebola but they are grossly mis-estimating the danger compared to the things that are already killing them. Got it. When it comes to Ebola, Americans in general and Republicans in particular are just stupid and ignorant and stuff.

A factoid that is circulating around Facebook tells you that your risk of getting Ebola is considerably less than your risk of being bitten by a shark. Given that I live in Ohio, I can tell you right now that said factoid is incorrect, at least when it comes to me personally. But let’s look at how they’re calculating it. They are dividing the American population of 330 million by the nine or ten people who have been recently diagnosed and coming up with a one in 30 million rate, well below the one in 3.5 million rate for shark attacks.

So far, so good. But are shark attacks contagious? Can shark attacks create a pandemic of shark attacks? Not unless there’s a combination of Sharknado and vampirism. If I go swimming in the Gulf and the guy next to me is attacked by a shark, nobody needs to quarantine me until it can be conclusively demonstrated that I am not going to suddenly suffer a shark attack and/or pass shark-attack on to others.

For that reason alone, then, it’s silly to compare Ebola to shark attacks. It’s instructive, however, to compare the way self-styled progressives treat Ebola with how they treated AIDS back when it was still called GRID. Those of you who are older than fifteen years old or so will remember how we were all breathlessly told that anybody can get AIDS at any time through any kind of sexual behavior. Let’s take a look at the chart:

statistics_basics_HIV-Infections-2010_520x436

Although straight white women outnumber gay men of all types by at least ten to one, they are diagnosed with HIV just one-twentieth as often, for am infection risk approximately one-two-hundredth that of gay men. Straight white men? They aren’t even on the chart, because they are statistically insignificant.

That’s right, boys: your chances of getting HIV through sex with a woman are down there in shark-attack territory. Is that something the media has ever bothered to tell you? Or have they instead told you that you are at continuous risk for HIV? Have they told you that anyone can get HIV? Well, they lied.

Why spread lies about the risks of AIDS and Ebola? Well, whenever you see that the facts don’t match the behavior, it’s time to look at “morals” if the person is right-wing or “social justice” if the person is left-wing. It’s clear that the “social justice” narrative intends to protect gay men and Africans from being stigmatized by association with HIV and Ebola. This is a worthy cause on the face of it: under no circumstances should Americans of any preference or background face discriminatory behavior because of their increased risk for HIV or Ebola. But that message should be spread using truth, not convenient lies.

Still, even HIV among straight white men is more common than Ebola, even if the CDC doesn’t actually bother to give us the numbers for it because there aren’t enough numbers to report. Common sense tells us that more than eight straight white men caught HIV from women in 2014. Or does it? Well, let’s just assume that it does for now. Anyone can get it, even teens. Right?

Is there a phenomenon that is just as statistically rare as Ebola but which the progressive media has declared an “epidemic” in the same way that they refuse to call Ebola in the United States an “epidemic”?

Of. Course. There. Is.

School shootings are an epidemic! But how widespread is this epidemic? So far, and including the recent incident that is dominating the news cycle, seven students have been killed in school shootings in 2014. Two non-students were also killed, for a total of nine people. While there have been a couple of dozen “school shootings” this year according to Wikipedia, some of them didn’t kill anybody, some of them didn’t involve any students, and one of them only involved a knife.

Looks like Ebola and school shootings are running neck and neck for the coveted title of Most Breathlessly Reported Statistically Invisible Tragedy Of 2014. Taken together, school shootings and Ebola will probably account for about twenty-five deaths in 2014. This means that they are approximately as deadly as cases of Parkinson’s Disease in the state of Alaska. They don’t come close to “Pneumonitis due to solids and liquids” in the state of Delaware, which typically claims about sixty Delawareans a year.

So where’s the social-justice angle on school shootings? They’re done with guns, duh — and they’re also usually carried out by Asians white people like Eliot Rodgers and, um, Seung-Hui Cho. School shootings are a good way for people to push for more gun legislation while using a non-Black face to make the point. The majority of homicides in this country are, of course, African-Americans killing other African-Americans. But you can’t push for gun legislation on the basis of black-on-black crime because you run into two kinds of racism. Progressives balk at associating African-Americans with violence, which is a bizarre yet very real form of racist thought, and conservatives are often less concerned with urban crime victims of color, which is also a very real form of racist thought.

Thus we see how the progressive media considers Ebola a non-issue and school shootings an epidemic, even though they appear to be about equally deadly. Fox and Friends, meanwhile, continues to blast Mr. Obama for his remarkably vague actions on Ebola while remaining tactfully (and tactically) quiet about school shootings. Are there any lessons we could actually draw from this?

  • Treat fast media (CNN, MSNBC, Fox, television in general, Gawker, DailyKos, FreeRepublic) with the same suspicion you’d apply to a roadside hot-dog vendor.
  • Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.
  • There’s always an agenda that means more to someone than the available facts do.

And we can end with this, courtesy of MS Paint:

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35 Replies to “School Shootings Vs. Ebola: Who’s Hitting Harder?”

  1. jz78817

    “Treat fast media (CNN, MSNBC, Fox, television in general, Gawker, DailyKos, FreeRepublic) with the same suspicion you’d apply to a roadside hot-dog vendor.”

    well, I’ve never associated with a roadside hot-dog vendor, and I treat “fast media” the same way 🙂

    “News as entertainment” has basically ruined the traditional media outlets. The internet has countered it with a bunch of arrogant idiots with blogs who think that just because they can bellow their opinions at everyone, that makes them serious journalists (and here I’m thinking of that prick Hamilton Nolan at Gawker. I’ve not seen too many self-absorbed, bossy, know-it-all assholes like him in my life.)

    Reply
    • Ken

      I miss the 60 Minutes of my youth where serious journalists asked hard questions. Too bad political correctness and agendas have even ruined that news program.

      Reply
  2. MrGreenMan

    It’s always scary when Kirstie Ally makes more sense about closing travel. When faced with plagues that you can’t cure, you have to quarantine and let it play out and die out in the quarantine zone. That’s what other African nations have done, and they have kept the ebola outbreak contained.

    I remember hearing Michael Savage screaming on the radio 10 or 15 years ago that political correctness would kill us, and I thought he was just trying to gin up an audience. Then I heard the CDC director suggest with that smarmy wink-wink, nudge-nudge that, only troglodytes would suggest the USA do what Ivory Coast has done to protect itself, and then throw in a little subtext through his surrogates that only racists believe in closing borders, and if this were a European flesh eating virus, we’d be down with Sven coming in to visit.

    When the British, then the Canadians, and then the US had mad cow, the world put the kibosh on that by stopping the movement of beef and cattle. It worked. The problem is, if we could stop ebola coming to the US, we might be able to stop other invasions, like the large number of non-Hispanic guests and friends coming across the southern border from places like Syria, which would put the lie to the pose of impotence the federal government has taken to border security.

    Reply
    • Marc

      Give me a break, more Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died from ebola…

      So now that there ARE ebola outbreaks in the US, you would clearly not mind if other all other countries completely banned flights and/or trade with the US right, its the right thing to do to prevent ANY outbreak from reaching their shores, no? Or lets say if a future outbreak originated in the US, you would be the first to shout for self-quarantine right? Irrelevant of what happens to the US and global economy? But why stop there? Why not quarantine the people of Dallas and NYC and prevent them from leaving for other cities…? If you are for zero tolerance when it comes to quarantining outbreaks I say we quarantine Dallas and NYC so they can “let it play out and die out in the quarantine zone”. Its only fair to everyone else…

      Reply
      • everybodyhatesscott

        If other countries banned travel to or from the US for 21 days until we got this ebola thing sorted, I’d bet we’d get this Ebola thing sorted.

        Reply
        • Marc

          That is really not how it works. If you cut America off from the world (and 21 days is nothing, it would need to last for months after the global outbreak- now in month 6, is contained to be effective http://onforb.es/1njZOub), you have no idea what kind of havoc that would wreak on the global economy. Watch your 401k and value of your house drop in half (again lol) just for starters.

          Moreover, the idea that you can “quarantine” an entire country simply by shutting down air traffic is a total fantasy, especially in W. Africa where there already tons of mechanisms in place for the smuggling of people. All that would accomplish is losing track of the movement of infected people.

          Literally everyone who has any expertise in the subject from the Red Cross to the CDC has stated unequivocally that travel bans would not only be ineffective but that they would almost certainly exacerbate the risk of ebola spreading to the US through undetected channels.

          http://fxn.ws/1t5xFcY
          http://reut.rs/10wTpSA

          Reply
          • JackJack Post author

            With that said, I think other countries are far more willing to impose no-travel and no-import sanctions on us than the reverse. Not sure if that means they’re right, or we are.

          • Marc

            Don’t worry Jack, America’s leading role as the world’s mightiest empty shipping container exporter will continue if cooler heads prevail

          • MrGreenMan

            Marc, your straw man makes me laugh and your knee-jerk defense of the US government is laughable in its predictability. Of course I didn’t say what you’re claiming as you charge at shadows. 4,000-8,000 deaths and a potential exponential growth curve is not the same thing as four people. But good try. Further, I like how you pretend that the Ivory Coast and the other African nations didn’t succeed with quarantine. We can’t learn, only repeat history, right?

            I gave you a recent historical example where an outbreak started here with Mad Cow. Yes, the rest of the world quarantined our beef and our cows and our farm animals. I expect the rest of the world will engage in whatever is in its best interest in the event we invite bad things to happen to America.

            Africa quarantined and Africa appears to be winning this. The Ivory Coast closed the border. Other nations closed the border. You assume I don’t know people on the ground in government and in missionary agencies; they have been quarantining. If you look at the curve, the quarantine is what broke the exponential curve on new deaths because they stopped migration out of the ebola regions.

            But just try to pretend that prudence is something it isn’t, or that your man didn’t make the wrong call, or that there wasn’t a CDC more interested in not looking “racist” than doing what a lot of other nations did and cut off visitors from those areas.

          • Dan Shepard

            The whole thing got politicized because people like you are letting facts and reason get in the way of good old fashioned fear mongering.

            Trying to completely quarantine/shut off West Africa is impractical, and certainly globally quarantining every country with an ebola case is absurd. A strong global response to cutting this off at the source is the best thing we can do to prevent it spreading further.

      • Gert Frobe Body Double

        Risk-Reward, dude. No need to turn your brain off.

        Banning travel from infected countries (those ones with thousands of cases) affects almost nobody and benefits us (at least in the context of ebola) a lot. Banning travel from Dallas and NYC affects a lot of people and benefits us marginally. Banning guns affects half the country and would probably be a net loss, but maybe that’s just me being biased. Anyway, it’s not an injustice that some policy would inconvenience some people more than others, that’s just normal. It’s idiotic when we put everyone at greater risk so that we can avoid inconveniencing a tiny minority (travelers from Ebola Republics).

        Reply
        • Marc

          That is just not how it works, again everyone with any expertise has come out and said banning air traffic from ebola-infected countries would INCREASE the risk of an eventual un-containable outbreak of ebola (see links above) spreading to the US as you cannot simply build a wall around West Africa, especially given they are already experts on illegal emigration.

          Also, going back to your utilitarian argument (and putting aside for a second the idea that you explicitly value American lives more than global lives considering continued travel for foreign aid can save thousands of African lives for every 1 American it puts at risk… but fair enough…), it *is* very much a risk-reward calculation. But the point is the risks are *greatly* exaggerated. How many people have died in the US from Ebola? One. One person.

          In fact there are more dangerous diseases already *in* America right now that the entire world should quarantine the US for on the spot according to your risk-reward calculation: http://bit.ly/1vMnWqI.

          The human race has to deal with a couple of diseases and outbreaks once in a while, Americans need to stop being such ‘exceptional’ pussies and deal with it. Its part of evolution.

          Reply
      • Dan Shepard

        Also, could we reframe this to say that Kim Kardiashian has killed almost as many people as ebola in the US? Just, you know, going along with the trend to sensationalize things.

        Reply
        • Marc

          I like the way you think. Let’s go with: “Ebola death toll of US citizens still tied with Kim Kardashian mass shooting fatalities, scroll past the jump for more celeb baby pics”

          How’s that?

          Reply
  3. MrGreenMan

    And to answer – when did a virus become political and get a lobby? – I remember thinking it was another throw away line, “the personal is the political”, but, in a Marxist frame, indeed, every single decision is a political one. Of course a public health emergency is a chance to score points when we’ve got an unending election cycle and whether I go to Panera or Starbucks is a political statement about guns.

    Reply
  4. VTNoah

    Seems like it’s all to drive ratings. Gotta create a new crisis for people to watch so the networks can continue to rake in those ad dollars. Regarding gun control / school shootings, I live in Vermont which surprisingly has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the country, we also have one of the lowest gun violence rates in the country. Figure that one out.

    Also, here’s a halfway decent article from Cracked.com (yeah I know…cracked isn’t exactly a hub of journalistic integrity) but it actually brings up some decent points about the gun industry.

    http://www.cracked.com/article_20396_5-mind-blowing-facts-nobody-told-you-about-guns.html

    Reply
  5. Marc

    The interesting thing is that Ebola is blown completely out of proportion- so far barely 5000 people out of 10,000 infected have died (and most of those in Africa with zero medical care).

    For comparison- do you remember that H1N1 virus a couple of years ago (where I don’t seem to remember everyone shouting hysterically to ban all flights)- that killed hundreds of *thousands* including 17,000 in America:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/26/h1n1-pandemic-killed-10-times-more-than-thought/3758711/

    So yeah its a bit tough to argue that “ebola virus” sounds scarier because it comes from Africa, and who knows what kind of outbreaks those dangerous Africans are constantly cooking up (we are lucky its not SUPER-AIDS)…

    As far as school shootings, one could make the case that the outrage is that it is a couple of dozen kids every year in perpetuity (whereas ebola is expected to go away once the outbreak is contained). Unfortunately for liberals, they seem to be unable to face the fact that they have lost the moral outrage war, because America as a whole has unequivocally decided that a couple of school shootings per year is a more than acceptable price to pay for the 2nd amendment and this was clearly proven in the nothing storm that followed Sandy Hook.

    Reply
  6. -Nate-Nate

    I’m only 12 miles from the Ocean as the crow flies ~ does this mean I have to worry about shark attacks ? .

    -Nate

    Reply
  7. Matt

    Jack, well said. I used to be amazed that this type of bias in “journalism” wasn’t completely obvious to everyone. Now it just makes me sad that it isn’t.

    Reply
  8. Felis Concolor

    The CDC itself needs to be quarantined, the better to protect the USA from its particular brand of hysteria. The director’s failure to pick up the phone and call Medecine sans Frontieres before the first case appeared in North America indicates both complacency and incompetence; ignoring the only group that’s been dealing with ebola for over 4 decades demonstrates a level of irresponsibility that will be amply rewarded by any administration when it’s time to switch jobs.

    On the plus side, the current situation has done a great job of silencing the whole “firearms are a disease” line that group has been spouting for many years.

    Reply
  9. MarkySparky

    People are notoriously bad at evaluating low-probability risks in a rational way, likely due to some very strong evolutionary pressures over the past 1000+ centuries. Airplanes are safer than cars per mile traveled, sharks are less dangerous than unfenced swimming pools, etc, etc… Ebola is extremely unlikely to cause disease/death in your social circle, but the exact quantification of risk is pointless. Humans cannot draw meaningful conclusions from the differences between lightning strikes and Ebola fatalities, because it is like predicting which Cheerio will end up in your 13th spoonful before buying the box.

    It is unsurprising that most of the noise on the issue of “filovirus epidemiology” is from people who view the world through a Team Red vs Team Blue lens. What useful insight that framing provides is beyond me…

    Reply
  10. Domestic Hearse

    My cycling buddy is the Director of Emergency Medicine at the largest suburban hospital in the Chicago metropolitan area. This MD, who has had to endure every sensationalized epidemic (SARS, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, et al) the be-afraid MSM has served up over the last decade laughs at the thought of an Ebola outbreak in the US. Preposterous. Impossible. Laughable.

    Were long-form journalism not dead in America, more people would understand why the good doctor, and thousands of other MDs, feel the way he does. But instead, as Jack points out, Fast Media. Five Reasons Why You’ll Catch Ebola on Your Next Bus Ride! Airports: Ebola Breeding Grounds! Traveler Vomits After Eating Taco Bell at DFW — Ebola Panic Ensues: News at 11!

    As for shark bites, I was an avid SCUBA diver for many years when I lived in Florida. Hundreds of dives. Many at night. Never once bitten by a shark. Did take a stingray barb through my foot, stigmata style. I was wading in three feet of water at the time, so it doesn’t count. That really hurt. In fact, it hurt so bad I couldn’t stand or walk. Carried out of the surf by a retired fireman. After that, how bad can Ebola be?

    Reply
      • Domestic Hearse

        Sixty-five, from New York, with tattoos on his arms and salt n’ pepper chest hair, my hero didn’t even mind that my foot was squirting blood with my every heartbeat. I have all his books.

        Reply
  11. Opaddington

    9 deaths as a result of school shootings in 2014. Chicago averages that many deaths per WEEK. Almost all of the victims are black and some are children. Compared to school shootings, the situation is a tragedy of epic proportions. CNN, MSNBC, and the NY Times should be reporting on it 24/7. Anything less has to be racism, right? Don’t the media elites care about black murder victims? Where are Obama and Holder on this? We have an Ebola Czar. Time for a Chicago murder Czar. Make sure it’s a political hack who has no knowledge of the subject over which he’s Czar-ing. That’ll fix it.

    Reply
  12. Snavehtrebor

    Sure, ignorant crackers in flyover country are paranoid about Ebola, but progressives in Brooklyn and Beverly Hills are willing to bet their children’s lives that vaccines cause autism.

    It crazy world, yes?

    Reply
  13. CGHill

    The roadside hot-dog vendor is trying to sell me one thing: a hot dog. Says so on his sweaty baseball cap.

    What the media are trying to sell me is analogous to that hot dog long after it’s been consumed. (If it’s too long, there’s always Metamucil.)

    Reply
  14. josh

    i seem to have a different take on this than other people. i think it’s been framed the wrong way. this is an actual homeland security issue. we have known about the possibility of an ebola pandemic for decades.. msf has been screaming that this outbreak is the big one since last march and the who and cdc didn’t wake up until august. classic bureaucratic incompetence.

    now because of this incompetence, millions of people in africa will most likely die. not our problem, some say. well, aside from the moral issue, it is our problem because we now have a new disease that will become endemic in the third world. that means even if we can control it here, which is far from a certainty, it will continue to popup sporadically as people from there bring it here.

    if we are lucky and we don’t face more infections here than we can handle in the next year or so, the next step will be a hastily issued vaccine here and a new industry of ngo’s fighting it there for the foreseeable future, just like we have with polio, etc.

    this was a real missed opportunity. the u.s. could have led the response early and stamped it out in africa last summer. it would have saved thousands, possibly millions of lives, prevented it from getting here, earned us some sorely needed good will and saved us money in the long run. to paraphrase winston churchill, the americans always do the right thing after they’ve exhausted all the other possibilities.

    Reply

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