Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trend or Isolated Incident? Depends.

"Some polling suggests that Americans view high-profile shootings as isolated events, not evidence of a broader problem in American society," quotes an article in the Washington Post.

This quote illustrates the point that, in a hierarchy, it makes a difference whether criminals are from a low group or a high group.  If there are some undesirable behaviors, real or perceived, among some in a lower group, most often this problem will get spread to all members of the group. But when there is detrimental behavior from members of a top group, it's not perceived as specific to a group, but as individual, unrelated instances.

Here's an example. If one person who is a lesbian or gay molests a child, all of a sudden there is a widespread cry for all lesbians or gay men to be banned from teaching school. Anita Bryant led a coalition called "Save our Children" that stirred up a nation-wide panic.

We've heard no one suggest that white males should be banned from teaching because they are most likely to bring a gun to school and shoot the students. Hierarchical position does make a difference in how we in this country perceive criminal behavior.