Philly Blunt

Freelance writer. Editor and web-video producer. Former Atlantic City Press and Philadelphia Weekly staff writer, City Paper managing editor/columnist and Dougherty for Senate campaign manager. Comments welcome here or emailed to brianhickey9 [at] hotmail. Now on: Facebook (Brian Hickey, in Philly) Twitter at Flickr at Be sure to check out Hickey on Divorce Court:

23 February 2006

And finally all caught up

Feb. 9, 2006
By Brian Hickey

It's gonna be a busy weekend around the Hickey household. Here's the to-do list: Up-armor the Toyota. Buy a Tec-9 or five. Train the dog to attack faces indiscriminately. Install a panic room in the basement, fill it with canned goods and hole up till things even out.
Yep, I got survival on my mind. The way people are getting mowed down in these killing fields, it's irresponsible even just to walk along a city street without figuring you're about to get mortally shot. Disagree? Guess you haven't seen the news lately. It's all murder. All the time.
I wouldn't exactly say all the attention being thrown at last year's homicide-rate increase constitutes murder coverage most foul. Each and every one of our 380 citymates who lost their lives to violence in 2005 represents the tragedy of a shattered family. But the fact that everybody's fixated on a simple statistic, one that loses a bit of its magnanimity when put in its proper context is, well, foul murder coverage.
That context? While 2005 brought the most city homicides in the past eight years, it's nowhere near 1990, when 503 were recorded. Nor does it touch the subsequent seven years, in which Murdadelphia had a 435-homicide average. And if we're on such a slow march toward civic implosion why, then, can Commissioner Sylvester Johnson accurately state that just in 2002, the city recorded its lowest homicide rate since the pre-crack era?
That's simple: Statistics can be used to make any case. Which is why we need to forget about the number of homicides, and start talking about the deep-seated cultural explanations for why people kill. After all, it's easier to produce a two-minute Dead-Dead-Everywhere! news segment than to jam up the gun lobby or force absentee birth fathers to man up and raise their children.

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