How to do it.

Today, class, we’re going to analyze how the rightwing nutjobs [RWNJ] manage to create a reality from their fears that cannot be dislodged with facts.

I came across this article from a video posted on Facebook—not to my timeline, needless to say, but on a friend’s—which I decided not to touch, involving as it did a retired admiral who doesn’t seem to be in full possession of his faculties.  One can only imagine the consternation at the National Press Club when he was invited to speak about the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood into EVERY INTELLIGENCE AGENCY IN OUR GOVERNMENT YOU GUYS!!!11!

I clicked through to the website, one Truth & Action dot org.  Merciful Cthulhu, people, it’s a fetid swamp out there.  This is where your drunk uncle gets all his info. All of it.  Here we go:

Texas Community Replaces Entire Police Department With Private Security – Crime Drops By 61%

There’s a headline for you.  Go read the article.  No, I don’t know why they didn’t just put the whole article on one page.  I suspect they think it’s classy/sophisticated/Web 2.0 to have a teaser.  (They may not understand the function of a “Read More” link and just have multiple pages instead.)

Here’s the quick and truthful version: the Civic Association in Sharptown, TX, let its contract with the constabulary expire and hired a private security firm instead to patrol its neighborhood in addition to the Houston Police.  Burglaries dropped from 304 in 2013 to 177 last year, which is a significant drop to be sure.  But 177 = 61% of 304; that’s not a drop of 61%.  The actual drop (127 burglaries) is actually 42%, which is still big, but continues to ignore the fact that that one category is not All The Crime™.

So let’s analyze.  It’s not easy to do so, since the article is a veritable Gish Gallop of assumptions, ignorance, and outright lies.

First things first: where is the article coming from?  Always click on the header/home page link to see what kind of website/source you’re dealing with.  Truth & Action doesn’t even try to conceal its leanings, so there’s your first clue: this is a rightwing haven, comforting itself that it alone dares to speak The Truth.  Ironically, none of the articles are signed.

Second: where did this source get the information for the article?  As I have outlined before, one thing to do when you are confronted with information that doesn’t pass the smell test is to Google that sucker and see where it lives in the wild.  Truth & Action does source the article to Infowars, but that’s just another RWNJ swamp.  Any reports on this from AP or Reuters or even the Houston Chronicle?

Not really.  Look at all those hits!  Look at how all of them are the usual circle-jerk of RWNJ swamps—they’re all quoting each other, indiscriminately, passing on all the misinformation as if it were truth.  (N.B.: This search is on Google’s Web tab.  Click on the News tab, and the citations drop to almost zero.)

The only actual news item, and apparently the source, is a news report from KHOU out of Houston.  Truth & Action embeds the video; they don’t seem to have edited it, and it does not exactly say what the post says.  The disparity between the post and the truth widens if you go to KHOU’s actual report on their website.  Right off the bat, notice the headline: “Private security patrols help control crime in Sharpstown.”

Hm.

Private security patrols help control crime in SharpstownTexas Community Replaces Entire Police Department With Private Security — Crime Drops by 61%

Finally: what is it the authors of this piece want us to believe?  This is tricky, because the embedded assumptions are strong with this one.  I’ll do a bullet list and then if anything just screams to be explicated, I’ll do that thing:

  • The private sector can always outperform the government: cheaper, more effective, betterer.  Always.  Hence the belief that Sharpstown “fired” the Houston Police—that’s not even a thing, folks—and saved $200,000, got more boots on the ground for their money,  and saw a 61% drop in “crime.”
    • This is like for-profit schools: how does that even work?
  • Worship of the military: SEAL Security… Really?  It’s Texas, so the cowboy/shoot-em-up predilection is ineradicable, I guess.
  • And yet they despise “government”: the police’s thug-like behavior is backed by red-taped Marxists.  Nationally, of course.  That one phrase tilts this website towards the libertarian, if not prepper, side of the political spectrum.  If we explored the site further, I imagine we’d find more than one Sovereign Citizen piece.
    • Full disclosure: I did not have the stomach to read any comments.  That’s probably where the preppers/SovCits lurk.  My need to know is not that great.
  • Simplistic solutions: one only has to eliminate bad policing to see a drop in crime.  Their citation is a hoot: the NYPD’s slowdown resulted in a drastic reduction in summons and citations.  As we libtards chortled at the time, the police thought they were showing de Blasio who was boss when all they were doing was admitting that most of their work consisted of arrests they didn’t “have to” make.
    • No, the liberals and the libertarians do not agree on this point: we think that a decent police force is necessary; they think a decent police force is a contradiction in terms.
  • Obscure sources/quotes: The first block quote appears to be from an interview with a spokesperson for SEAL, but the last one comes from… somewhere…  It refers to “a report,” but there’s no link, nor is the report identified.  Just conclusions that wave the magic Wand of Private Industry and reduce All The Crime™.
  • Elision: one Mr. Alexander of SEAL is quoted describing all the strategies they use to reduce All The Crime™, with the implication that the Houston Police do not do these things.  Notice that he does not actually say that the Houston Police do not do these things.  I bet he’s just comparing his company’s best practices to those of the private company they replaced.   Sure, that’s it.
    • Now that I mention it, if Private Industry is always better,  how come the company that Sharpstown employed before wasn’t cheaper and betterer?  Yeah, yeah, Free Hand of the Market blah blah blah.  This is really where us libtards go head to head with the libertarians.  Their position is that you can always pay someone to reduce All The Crime™ better and cheaper, blithely ignoring that a) the majority of the populace cannot afford anything of the sort; and b) this paradise is, as usual, supported by an actual infrastructure of actual police.  Our position is that everyone deserves protection from crime, not just those who can “afford” it.
  • Buried deep under all of this is a deep-seated fear of increasing crime rates.  Everyone knows that crime is up—way up—and [here we must whisper] you know it’s because of those people.  Not true, of course.  Crime in all categories has been dropping precipitously since the 90s, but this website firmly believes the opposite.
    • I think it’s interesting that they describe police brutality as “off the charts.”  That kind of language is usually reserved for criminals.

So here is this article about how a community saved itself from high crime by firing its police department and hiring a private security firm—only it’s a lie.  None of it happened the way they want their readers to believe it happened.  Fortunately for the website, their readers already believe all of this.  They must believe it, or they would have to question their entire worldview… and that ain’t going to happen.  They like having monsters under their bed, and shining the flashlight of truth and reason is not something they’re interested in.

I would like to state for the record that when a liberal website does something similar, i.e., start with a misleading and emotionally charged headline, I will read the article with a critical eye. If—and it happens occasionally—the author of the piece deliberately misinterprets the actions or words of a RWNJ, attributing malice where there is simply stupidity, or affirming the consequent when that is not what the speaker meant, then I make a mental note not to add whatever event they’re describing to my pile of evidence of the paucity of empathy or logic of the average RWNJ.  (I exclude, of course, the wondrous Wonkette; their gleeful savagery is just good, clean mean-spirited fun.)

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