I guess this isn't any more surprising than Howard Stern making dickish comments about Lena Dunham for being a "little fat chick," but it is still horrible. Ann Coulter—who is really just a professional troll, except that trolls are cute and cuddly and have hair that doesn't look as processed as Coulter's does—was on Sean Hannity's show Monday morning talking about gun violence in America and said, "If you compare white populations, we have the same murder rate as Belgium. So perhaps it is not a gun problem, it is a demographic problem." Oh, I see. A "demographic problem." I mean, I'm sure that some of Coulter's best friends are demographics. Maybe she's even dated a demographic? Well, no, probably not that. But also, Ann Coulter hates demographics because they prevent America from being like Belgium. And Ann Coulter really, really wants America to be like Belgium.
But how can we be more like Belgium? This is something I—a noted Belgium-aficionado—have always wanted to know anyway. Except, no, I haven't. That was a lie. There are no noted Belgium-aficionados except Ann Coulter. I guess, to Coulter, the simple answer would be to change the demographics. You know, just kick the demographics out of the country and let America be an all-white paradise like it always has been, since the beginning of time. Because white people never kill anyone with guns. I mean, put aside the horrific tragedies in Newtown, in Aurora, and in Arizona, at the Gabby Giffords event. Those don't really count. Those sorts of things happen in Belgium all the time. That's the price we pay for getting to rid ourselves of those pesky demographics.
The whole reason Ann Coulter even brought Belgium into the equation is because she just returned from England and is stunned that so many Americans want to give up their God-given right to own assault rifles. A lot of Americans who are in favor of gun control point to Europe as an example of a place where guns are basically banned and where there is a very low murder rate. Now, a lot of people think that the low murder rates might have something to do with the fact that there are fewer guns available to murder people with. Ann Coulter wants you to know that those people are wrong. The problem is all the demographics with guns.
However, as is so often the case with Ann Coulter, she is totally manipulating statistics in order to make a stupid, racist point. The website AmericaBlog points out that, "Coulter is right, about Belgium — and only Belgium — but wrong about the rest of western Europe, which has a lot lower murder rate than even our 'white' murder rate." AmericaBlog posits that Coulter chose Belgium because it is such a tiny country that the murder rate might be inflated due to its small population. Even then, the only time in the last ten years that Belgium's murder rate even approached the "white" murder rate in the US was in 2002. If you average out the Belgian murder rate from 2000-2010, it about 18% lower than the US "white" murder rate, and less than half of the total US murder rate.
And if you look at the rest of Western Europe, the statistics make it even more clear that the anomaly is the US and that the problem is guns. The US has a "white" murder rate of 2.6 per 100,000 and a total murder rate of 5.5 per 100,000 (over the last ten years.) In Germany, that rate is 1.2/100,000. In Switzerland, it's 1.0/100,000. In Norway, it's 0.8/100,000. AmericaBlog points out that "67% of murders in the US (2003-2010) were committed using a firearm. That gives a non-firearms murder rate of 1.8 per 100,000, which is only slightly higher than the rate in the UK (1.5), which has strong gun control laws and a negligible firearm murder rate (0.1)"
It is easy to write Coulter off as a right-wing nut-job troll, and believe me, I do think that. But she is also representative of why it is so difficult to have a serious conversation about gun control in this country. By spewing her hatred and blaming gun violence in this country on "demographics" she is redirecting the very important conversation about guns and violence into one about race. She is also being willfully ignorant about why exactly those "demographics" have higher incidences of being both the perpetrator and the victim of violence. That is a worthwhile conversation and it has nothing to do with skin color and everything to do with poverty and other social issues and also, importantly, the ready availability of guns. There is a rational discourse that could be conducted revolving around gun control, but if Coulter is any indication of how the right-wing, NRA nut-jobs want to talk, then that won't be anything approaching a rational discourse. There will just be hate and incendiary commentary and, as usual, nothing will get done.
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