> But also because it's a matter of opinion, one on
> which you and I disagree, but on which a lot of
> other people do agree. One of the things that,
> *without exception*, every American who has visited
> me here in France has remarked on is the comparative
> levels of fear in the two countries. We're talking
> dozens of people, from all walks of life.
> Well, in my experience and in the experience of
> literally all of my American friends, one of the
> first things you notice in France, even in a big
> city like Paris, is the comparative absence of
> fear. In the general population, and in yourself.
> Five months later and the place was still empty. [from one bystander
> killing] That's the kind of fear I'm talking about, ... Americans
> are fearful about going to public places on a
> level that is generally unheard of in Europe.
> And it's quite a revelation to live without that
> constant threat of possible violence pressing
> down on you. It's like losing thirty pounds. I
> know that I can't convey this to you in words,
> but I had to try. America *is* more fearful than
> almost any country I have visited lately. And
> that's really sad, but I honestly believe it's
> sadly true.
Well personal observations of several cities are interesting, but are
antecdotal, hardly conclusive, nor the valid basis for sweeping
generalizations. I lived in urban France some years ago, and I felt
nor observed fear on the streets. But in that era, I didn't find fear
in the US either.
And I visited Paris for a week several years ago. I didn't observe or
feel fear much, even wandering streets at 2am (clearly off the
program.) But in visits within a year of two of that, I felt a
distinct feeling of safety in urbane Oslo -- something I did not feel
in a more neutral Paris (no fear, but no "mother is at home"). Also
parts of Thailand (Chaing Mai) and India felt quite safe -- as much or
more so than France.
In the last 7 years, I have lived in, or stayed extensively in, about
seven distinct locations. Two were right in the middle of large city
urban areas. Another is 5 miles from such. One was a heavily ethnic
neighborhood. In general, I didn't feel or observe fear levels much
different than what I observed in France. But it varied by area.
Generally, I felt safest in more rural and low-density suburban areas.
But in one high desnity urban setting I felt totally safe and walked
around late at night at times. Another urban area was the one area I
would be more aware of potential crime -- but was not fearful. It did
not prevent me from walking at night.
It seems to me that fear/caution/security/totallysecure feelings
correspond to crime levels in an area.. Such varies tremendously in
the US. Thinking of crime and fear in walking at night in my current
location is laughable. A loose very territorial dog might be my only
concern. But even there, its not fearful. Just a slight caution.
Overall, crime levels in the US are a bit higher than France, but not
a huge difference. 62 vs 80 total crimes / capital. Though auto
thefts are higher per capita in France.
Though interesting, Portugal -- which has a nice peaceful image for me
-- has a higher crime rate than the US.
Several reasons for lower crime rates. France appears to have way more
police per capita than the US. And the US is more youthful. Youth
cohorts are highly associated with crime levels.
And, these are national averages. There are many areas in the US with
substantially less crime rates than the national average. See the
following site for comparing cities with national average.
Though I just noticed that FF has almost twice the property crime rate
as the national average. So much for the ME effect. But it highlights
a point. Do people in FF walk the streets full of fear? Even with
higher than national crime rates?
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