Save the Children

With the latest school shooting in Florida, the atheist activists joined the “Ban the guns to save the kids” chorus. Here are just a few examples.

PZ Myers wrote:

We are allowing kids to be slaughtered and traumatized so the gun industry can make more profits and so the NRA can prosper. When will we wake up and shut those ghouls down?

Hemant Mehta couldn’t wait and posted this the very day of the shooting:

Another mass shooting. Another round of Republicans offering their thoughts and prayers while doing absolutely nothing of substance to prevent these tragedies from occurring again.

And Dawkins went on a twitter storm:

I am not interested in a gun control debate, as this is not a political blog. But I am interested in the sincerity of activists. I’m quite skeptical that the outrage from Myers, Mehta, and Dawkins is rooted in a deeply sincere concern for the safety of children. It could be sincere in a fleeting, superficial sense, but I’d bet the outrage is just part of the whole propagandistic package they are always selling.

Why would I be so cynical? If one is truly and sincerely concerned that we need to take action to prevent any more deaths of children, then why is it that these same activists don’t have, and never have, the slightest hint of outrage when it comes to children being killed because of…….alcohol.

Let’s pull out a napkin and run some numbers.

First, how many children have died in school shootings? According to the NYT:

When a gunman killed 20 first graders and six adults with an assault rifle at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, it rattled Newtown, Conn., and reverberated across the world. Since then, there have been at least 239 school shootings nationwide. In those episodes, 438 people were shot, 138 of whom were killed.

That’s 138 deaths over six years. Not all were children, but let’s assume they were. That would amount to about 23 deaths per year. Yes, 23 too many.

But let’s look at the effects of alcohol.

From this report:

During 1997–2002, a total of 9,622 child passengers died in motor-vehicle crashes; 2,335 (24%) were killed in crashes involving drinking drivers.

Two thousand three hundred and five deaths over a period of five years. That would amount to 467 deaths per year.

Alcohol is involved in another form of child death:

Alcohol misuse was implicated in 37% of cases of a child’s death or serious injury after abuse or neglect between 2011 and 2014, the study found.

So how many children are killed by abuse?

According to this report:

That approximation of the number of daily child maltreatment fatalities is based on information provided to NCANDS and represented in the Child Maltreatment report. In 2015 there were an estimated 1,670 child abuse and neglect fatalities (~4.6 per day), an annual rate of 2.25 per 100,000 children — the highest since 2008.

“We know that the number of fatalities is higher than reported by NCANDS,” the Commission explained in its ultimate report, “Some researchers estimate that the actual number is more than double the NCANDS total, but at least 3,000 children per year.”

In the first report, we’ll treat the 37% number as all deaths, but we’ll balance that by choosing the lower estimate of number of deaths – 1,670. That would then amount to 618 deaths per year.

The end result, while 23 children are killed every year in school shootings, 1,085 children are killed every year because of alcohol use. Forty-seven times more children die because of alcohol than school shootings.

To put that number in context, for school shootings to kill as many children as alcohol each year, you would need 64 Florida-type shootings per year. That would mean a Florida-type school shooting every 5.7 days.

Or let’s try to visualize it. Assume each death represents one foot and we erect two monuments to memorialize the victims each year. For the victims of school shootings, we’d have to erect a monument 23 feet tall and for the victims of alcohol, it would need to be 1,085 feet tall.

The school shooting memorial would be about the size of this rock wall:

25-foot-rock-wall-3-lanes-preview-2

The alcohol death memorial would be about the size of this skyscraper:

chrysler

Perhaps you can see why I am both skeptical and cynical about the atheist activists concern about children dying. They are outraged by the rock wall and demand action, but say absolutely nothing about the skyscraper. Why is this?
This would seem to be a very serious inconsistency to me. For example, when Dawkins tweeted:

Fair point. But the rejoinder fails when it comes to banning alcohol. What is its function that is so crucial it costs over 1000 child deaths a year? How would Dawkins respond?

He wouldn’t.

ea3bd77f3b4cb260e784a174a184906b-christopher-hitchens-richard-dawkins

 

Or we could take PZ Myer’s words and make some slight changes:

We are allowing kids to be slaughtered and traumatized so the alcoholic beverage industry can make more profits. When will we wake up and shut those ghouls down?

251px-pzmyers2

Okay, I think it’s now clear why the atheist activists would never support the banning of alcohol to save thousands of children from death.
Drink up. So much for their concern for the lives of children.

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6 Responses to Save the Children

  1. Zachary says:

    I’ve researched that guns kill about 30,000 people a year in America, and over 18,000 of those deaths are suicide. Further research reveals how many loves guns save a year. The FBI estimates anywhere from 200,000-3,000,000 lives are saved in America each year because of guns, and I wonder how many of those had children present, such as a home break-in.
    Now we can compare this to alcoholic beverages. Around 88,000 people are killed by alcohol related causes in America each year. That is almost three times higher than gun deaths. How many lives are saved? I couldn’t find numbers, so I am good to assume it is 0, since I cannot think of a valid way that alcoholic beverages saved people.
    So yeah, why are these people so quick to ban guns, which save more lives than they take, but hesitant to ban alcohol, which kills far more than it saves? I guess their ranting has nothing to do with The Children.

  2. Zachary says:

    That picture of Richard Dawkins, was that taken after his stroke? Because if so, he isn’t making the rational decision to drink more, since alcohol consumption has been linked to strokes. It could also be possible that his drinking was the cause of his 2016 stroke.

  3. TFBW says:

    This post makes a fair point, which I would summarise as, “what we see here is not an attitude prompted by the effect of the thing so much as an attitude towards the thing itself rationalised by selective reference to the effect of the thing.” So they hate guns. Guns are horrible, they say. Children die because of guns. They don’t hate alcohol, though, so no harping about how more children die because of alcohol than guns. No clamouring to reinstate the 18th Amendment (a.k.a. Prohibition).

    So yes, rationalisation rather than reason on display again. If it were reason, one would be more anti-alcohol than anti-gun, given the stated reasons for being anti-gun. But why are they so anti-gun in the first place? Why is that a position which needs to be rationalised? It’s not because of the dead children, or they would be anti-alcohol too, or at least come around to that point of view when presented the evidence for alcohol-related deaths.

    I’ve been pondering the political divide which comes up in spades in the wake of every shooting (and it is a clearly political divide along the Left/Right axis with the usual caveat that the categories are not always clear-cut and exceptions exist). This may be a little off-topic, but I did reach a conclusion which I found helpful, and I’d like to share.

    The folks who make loud anti-gun noises after atrocities like this are not really anti-gun. It’s a little more specific than that, since they are fine with police, the military, and security professionals being armed. This is particularly seen in Dawkins’ tweet about the silliness of banning trucks: he says, “military rifles are designed & used for nothing other than killing,” but that doesn’t mean he wants rifles banned outright — he just wants them limited to use by sanctioned professionals. After all, the legitimate use of a “military” rifle (like that’s even a clear distinction) is by the military.

    What these folks really hate is that private individuals can be well-armed, without belonging to some appropriately-sanctioned collective. And why is that? I theorise that it is because these people lean towards wanting outside protection more than they want the power to protect themselves. They want their protection to be someone else’s responsibility. They feel like they have a right to safety, and it’s someone else’s responsibility to ensure that said right is fulfilled. They don’t want the responsibility associated with gun ownership, and they want the guns taken away from all the unsanctioned individuals who are not tasked with protecting them. Those people are nothing but a threat to them. Atrocities like this reinforce that view.

    This makes sense in the Left/Right division, since the leftward direction involves placing more responsibilities in the hands of the State, and the rightward direction places the same in the hands of the people.

    I hope you folks find those observations more insightful than inflammatory.

  4. Michael says:

    I need to rewrite this blog entry. From the CDC:

    Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year, and cost the U.S. $24 billion in economic costs in 2010.

  5. hikayamasan353 says:

    At least, many religions ban alcohol. Might be another of their arguments against religion.

    But what science does really say about alcohol? It’s a poison. It’s addictive. Alcohol dependence is a very common but horrible disorder leading people to mindlessness, craziness, violence and some people even die because of it.

    I only wonder, will ever a science fan – especially chemistry and medicine fan – be against alcohol ban. I myself would rather kill everyone who drinks alcohol, but this is just as silly as these. We need to be better than those activists. While I am glad there is such thing as legal drinking age, but even with legal drinking age, people still become crazy and experience horrible hangovers. While legal drinking age is one of the forms of alcohol ban, does anyone think there should be more things than legal drinking age, legal punishment for drinking in public and public transportation bans or drunk people?

    I am telling you that alcohol is not just banned in many religions – especially Islam and Buddhism, it’s a poison from scientific point of view.

    So says a sober one.

  6. Kevin says:

    I’ve never been drunk a day in my life, and never will. That atheists think Christianity is a bigger scourge than alcohol shows both their bigotry and their inability to reason.

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