Tuesday, October 04, 2005

It might surprise you to learn that a conservative blogger has made a misleading statement in order to support a dubious thesis...

The "Anti-Strib" is saying that "Minneapolis is reporting
a 23% increase in rapes this year". Interestingly, the
source they link to doesn’t say that at all. What that
article actually says is that there have been 23% more
rapes in downtown Minneapolis this year than there
was last year as of September 27. It might seem like a
fine point to these people, I know, but I think if someone
really wants to show our cruelly-biased local daily what’s
what, they ought to be a little more careful with their facts.

This feels like fishing to me. If someone wants to criticize
the smoking ban, God knows there’s enough ways to do
it already. They don’t have to go dragging in horrible sex
crimes to make their point. Especially when "the evidence"
for this proposition is fairly speculative:

Still, drinkers need to monitor themselves and
their friends, Sexual Violence Center Executive
Director Gail Emerson said. Don’t over-imbibe
or leave drinks unattended.

City and county smoking bans may even contri-
bute to the problem, Emerson added. A bargoer
who can’t bring her drink outside to smoke either
"gulps it down"–problematic in its own intoxicat-
ing right–or leaves the cocktail unattended, which
is more dangerous, she said.

Note the "may" in the first sentence of the second paragraph.
Note also that "the problem" is "over-imbibing" and leaving
drinks unattended, not–which I think the Anti-Stribber im-
plies in his posting–the problem of rape itself. What’s more,
we are told of no incidences where someone was
raped due to these behaviors and, from there, that those be-
haviors were the result of the smoking ban. We’re simply
told it could happen, which is true enough (and, it need not
be said, terrible enough), but still this is not the same as actual
evidence that it does happen, and it is happening more than
before now that we can’t smoke in bars. People leave their
cocktails unattended when they go to the bathroom or when
they go outside to talk on the phone, after all. They gulp their
drinks for any number of reasons. While it may be correct to
warn that the smoking ban encourages women to do these
things to a greater degree, that still doesn’t give its op-
ponents the right to use a frightening statistic to stoke out-
rage against their disliked policy. To do so is highly irrespon-
sible, an abuse of the facts in service of an agenda.

Of course, given the quality of the discourse over there, I
have to admit I’m not too shocked.