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June 03, 2003


American readers may be amused by the following as an example of cultural diversity between genetically similar populations.

Here in Britain, there has recently been a survey of a major group of public employees on their attitudes towards guns. 78 per cent of the group said they would be opposed to routinely carrying firearms during their work. 59 per cent said they would actually resign if required to carry guns.

So who are these pinko cheese-eating pacifists?

Why yes, of course, the Police!


Posted by David B at 03:00 AM

IMHO guns seem to be a uniquely American obsession not found in the rest of the Anglosphere. Part of the reason may be for instance that the American colonists actually used guns to repel rulers they were unhappy with in not too distant history, thus when the Americans talk about guns being important to freedom they actually have a historical memory of it not too far in the mists of time.

Posted by: Jason Soon at June 3, 2003 03:39 AM

Toronto has a very large black/pakistani/sri lankan/indian population, but low crime rates.

It's not ethnicity (as the lack of success of Australia's Lebanese pop shows, contra US/African/South American Lebanese), its class.

Maybe you should be a godless communist!

Posted by: Ikram Saeed at June 3, 2003 06:36 AM

Ikram -
top four minority groups in Toronto: Chinese (10.6%), South Asian (10.3%), Black (8.3%), Filipino (3.5%). No one would claim that racial composition is a perfect predictor of crime rates, but
- three of the abovementioned groups are not know for high rates of crime
- the percentage of population that's black is not very high by comparison with other North American metro areas (I can try to dig up this data if you like)
- there is also no hispanic population mentioned

So trying to use Toronto as a counterexample to racial theories of crime rate prediction is actually not very compelling.

Posted by: bbartlog at June 3, 2003 07:33 AM

Ikram, where were you last summer when there was an explosion of violent gun crimes among blacks? The toronto star even reported crime stats indicating that blacks were responsible for commiting a disproportionate amount of crime (It was something like they make up 12% of Toronto's population, but account for 23% of crime - I may be wrong on the exact numbers, so if someone has the precise data, please post). They even broke down the crime rates by ethnicities, including East Indians (who had lower crime rates than whites). I did a search on thestar.com but they only provide free access to their archives for the past 14 days. The star then went and did their own analysis that in their opinion, police were racially profiling blacks. The police services hired experts and this is what they've come up with: http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/publications/2003.02.20-review/pptpresentation.pdf

Posted by: the alpha male at June 3, 2003 10:04 AM

Also, a disproportionate amount of the violent crime that is committed in Toronto is committed by Jamaicans. The newspapers usually avoid mentioning the race of perpetrators but if there's a shootout at a party in Scarborough or something it's you can bet they're Jamaicans.

Posted by: John Purdy at June 3, 2003 10:04 AM

As far as attributing crime rates to race as a causal factor, you have to control for the ridiculous drug laws which, besides complete idiocy like imposing harsher penalties on C17-N-H21-O4 in a crystal form, impact blacks far more than whites as far as arrests since street level marketing and distribution (and dispute resolution therefrom) are delegated to blacks. In the majority black city where live, the black crime rate would drop severely if drug laws were rationalized.

Posted by: martin at June 3, 2003 10:15 AM

I found the article i was looking for:


John Purdy writes:
"Also, a disproportionate amount of the violent crime that is committed in Toronto is committed by Jamaicans. The newspapers usually avoid mentioning the race of perpetrators but if there's a shootout at a party in Scarborough or something it's you can bet they're Jamaicans."

The article mentions stats to back your statement up:

"The numbers show that 48.6 per cent of charges in violent crime cases are laid against people born in Canada. The second largest category is made up of residents identified as being born in Jamaica.

Those residents are listed in 12,777 charges, or 9.5 per cent of total cases for violent offences. Census data indicates Jamaican-born residents comprise 2.4 per cent of the population. While instances where blacks have been mistakenly identified by police as Jamaican-born have occurred, it is highly unlikely such errors could account for the large discrepancy."

"The report also found the unemployment rate for Jamaican-born Canadians, at the time the report was published, was nearly twice Toronto's overall rate of 11 per cent."

Other Quotes of interest from the article:

"The same analysis of a massive police database also reveals that a disproportionate number of blacks were charged with violent crimes. These include homicides, attempted murder, sex assaults, gun-related offences and assaults. These are cases where officers, due to the serious nature of the charges, have little room to exercise even a subconscious bias."

"The data show that accused black people represent nearly 27 per cent of all violent charges; this, although the latest census figures show that only 8.1 per cent of the population list their skin colour as black. "

"Although community leaders have long complained that young black men are sometimes "singled out" and discriminated against in situations where officers have discretion, arrests classified as "violent" are different. Police officers are usually responding to an emergency situation, or 9-1-1 calls, rather than generating arrests from random stops or searches. Any potential for racial bias is limited."

Posted by: the alpha male at June 3, 2003 10:41 AM

I would like anyone who lives in Toronto if they have noticed that most TV news in the area will not mention a person's "race" as part of a description of a person wanted in connection with a crime.

They will always mention name (if known),sex, build, weight, age, hair colour, eye colour, Tattoos etc.., but rarely ever the race of the wanted person. Race seems like an extremely important descriptive piece of information that one would need to have in order to recognize if they man they saw on the subway could potentially be the man police are looking for.

It seems like PC has run amok in Toronto and this is an example of but one casualty.

Posted by: the alpha male at June 3, 2003 10:57 AM

It's not ethnicity...its class...Maybe you should be a godless communist

I am uninformed about Toronto crime, but I would predict that black crime would be disproportionate to white crime at all respective economic levels. And that the same relationship would be found for the white/east asian crime levels.

No one denies the relationship between class and crime Ikram. But class is, in some non-trivial part, related to genetics (confirmed through double-blind adoption studies along with other experiments/deductive inferences), and in some part not. Communists can't admit that, rational people can.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at June 3, 2003 11:36 AM

it would be interesting to eliminate theft crimes and focus on 'random-acts-of-violence,' since poverty would be less of an incentive.

i tend to agree that context matters. not to be cliche, but people kill people, not guns.

i know, i lived in a town of 12,000 where EVERYONE had at least one gun (at least judging by the fact that all males disappeared for "huntin' week" from all my classes). this town also had 1 murder per generation.

change the context to a crack-ghetto or meth-zone and guns could be a serious problem.

my main problem with gun laws is the same one i have with affirmative action-they are cheap band-aids over underlying problems. a prosperous and educated populace has fewer "social problems" to solve-period. libertarianism, socialism, all the "sms" are possible options in that context.

Posted by: razib at June 3, 2003 12:07 PM

I think a stronger correlation would be between IQ and crime than race and crime (albeit lower IQs may cluster in certain races). Things can change certianly. See
this article::

"A hundred years ago and more, Manhattan’s tens of thousands of Irish seemed a lost community, mired in poverty and ignorance, destroying themselves through drink, idleness, violence, criminality, and illegitimacy. What made the Irish such miscreants? Their neighbors weren’t sure: perhaps because they were an inferior race, many suggested; you could see it in the shape of their heads, writers and cartoonists often emphasized..."

Posted by: martin at June 3, 2003 12:25 PM

Thanks for the link to the "Why Britain Needs More Guns" article -- I emailed it to one of my pro-gun-control Anglophile professors to irk him. :)

Posted by: Jacqueline at June 3, 2003 01:26 PM

GC-you are correct that some CBC members supported the 1986 legislation, although it's a little rich to picture it as the CBC passing it over the protests of Reagan and the Republican Senate. CBC members do tend to the stupid side. In any event-the CBC-paricularly Maxine Waters- is now leading the attempt to repeal these unscientific and grossly disparate sentencing guidelines.

Posted by: martin at June 3, 2003 02:15 PM

Drawing a comparison between 19th c. Irish and current "minority" crime rates has often been done and bears consideration; however, as Hasia Diner (a remarkable American Jewish scholar of eclectic interests) points out in "Erin's Daughters: Irish Women in the 19th Century," strikingly few Irishmen committed crimes of sexual violence. Other immigrant groups, (esp. Slavs for some reason) were more into that sort of crime. But Irishmen were way too inhibited. The criminals among them were drinkers, brawlers, rioters, and spreaders of cholera. Also, I am not sure if the murder rate among them was anything like today. Are there stats around? Crime in Ireland itself was quite low. English visitors spoke of being able to walk the countryside unmolested, something one dared with more risk in England. I also hear that Northern Ireland's crime rate is one of the lowest in Europe because the paramilitaries blow the kneecaps off known criminals, which makes further criminal endeavor difficult.

Posted by: MaryClaire at June 3, 2003 05:47 PM

Alpha male,

You neglected to quote a significant statistic from the Toronto Star article you referenced to:

"The Toronto police database contains information on 800,000 criminal and other charges that were laid between late 1996 and early 2002 and was obtained under a Freedom of Information request. It lists skin colour in nearly 95 per cent of violent cases.

The data show that people with white skin, who the 1996 census says make up 62.7 per cent of the population, were underrepresented — accounting for 52.2 per cent of violent charges. People classified as having "brown" skin accounted for 15.9 per cent of the charges, while those in the "other" category were charged with 5 per cent of violent offences. In most cases "brown" is used to refer to people of South Asian descent while "other" mainly represents people of Chinese and other Far Eastern origin. "

...Now if what bbartlog's numbers above are accurate and South Asians comprise 10.3% of Toronto's population, but account for 15.9% of violent crimes, this would indicate that South Asians commit violent crime in disproportionate numbers.

I guess the law-abiding brown folk image no longer holds true, atleast in Toronto.

Posted by: Sen at June 3, 2003 07:53 PM

a few points

* brown people tend to be a "problem minority" in malaysia too....

* there is a common perception and this is repeated in non-specialist literature that the muslims of south asia are EITHER foreigners or converts from the dalits/lower castes.

this is a simplistic story. "india," or now, south asia, is as big as western europe, so there are wide regional divergences. for instance, when the europeans came to calicut in kerala they noted that "the hindus ruled and tilled the soil" while the "muslims were the wealthy merchants." this alludes to the mopilla community of kerala, which though pretty much the same now genetically as other keralans (caste differences corrected for), come from founding lines of arab traders. the mopillas are not in this caste low caste converts. in fact, in kerala and other parts of south india and sri lanka fishing villages of lower caste individuals converted to roman catholicism. christians of "syrian" origin (as syrian as the mopillas are muslim arab in blood at this point) are not low caste.

in places like sindh, western punjab and far eastern bengal where over 90% of the population is muslim, the elites, the middle classes and the lower classes converted to hinduism-there was simply a whole switch-over. a personal example, during the caliphate controversy my brahmnin great-grandfather (my paternal grandmother's father) converted to islam to minimize friction with tenants that were being mobilized by their religious leaders. this sort of behavior occurred in ancient rome-where the senatorial elite abondaned paganism only after the of the populace was under the control of christian clerics (though not necessarily fully christianized). some of the ethnological literature suggests that muslims in western bengal were often derived from the middle-castes.

in places like uttar pradesh i wouldn't be surprised to see a bi-modal distribution genetically of alleles, where the elite are heavily mixed with persian & turkic peoples, while the lower classes are from the dalit and sudra masses. muslims in india are poorer than hindus-but that is partly due to the fact that wealthy muslims fled to pakistan. the hindus of bangladesh, and especially pakistan, tend to be sudras or dalits, because the wealthy hindus decamped to india.

theodore dalrymple has spoke in CITY JOURNAL that the main 'problem' segment in the UK asian community are the muslims. this could be a socioeconomic problem rooted back to the home country-but whatever initial differences there are, his articles make clear that the tension between islam and a post-christian culture are higher than that between the sikhs and hindus from east africa, because the latter groups have long internalized a minority mindset and tend to be less adversarial with the mainstream british culture.

i believe that toronto has gang warfare between tamils & sinhalese btw....

Posted by: razib at June 3, 2003 09:12 PM

"isn't Britain's crime rate skyrocketing?"
- probably not, but it depends what sources and definitions you use. The one thing that is certain is that homicides in general, and gun-using homicides in particular, are far, far, far lower than in the US.

"aren't private security services - with large guns - becoming more commonplace?"
- there are private security services, but they are unarmed.

The reluctance of the British police to carry guns (as a routine matter) is quite rational. Outside a few local areas it is still very rare for criminals to use guns. The average policeman is therefore at little risk of being shot (maybe one or two a year out of many thousands). If a suspect has been identified as likely to be armed, an Armed Response Unit with specialised training will be deployed. So the average policeman has little to gain from being armed, and quite a lot to lose: time wasted on weapons training and regular practice; extra bureaucracy; and the significant risk of accidentally shooting someone (or shooting the wrong person), with adverse career consequences.

However, if significant numbers of criminals were armed, a 'tipping point' would come where policemen (and others) would find it necessary to be armed to defend themselves. This point may have been reached in some areas where Yardie-type gangsters and their imitators control the drugs trade.

Posted by: David B at June 4, 2003 02:32 AM

A ratio of 3.5 to 1 still seems pretty high to me.

You discreetly avoid mentioning the rate of gun-related homicides. According to data published in the Sunday Times (London) earlier this year, with source listed as Department of Justice, Canada, gun-related murders in 1999 per 100,000 population were 4.08 in the USA; 0.54 in Canada; and 0.12 in Britain. That's a ratio of about 40 to 1 between the USA and Britain, which I think justifies my description of 'far, far, far lower' in Britain. And that's not counting other gun-related deaths, which according to the same source were 14.24 per 100,000 population in the USA and 0.5 per 100,000 in Britain.

I don't deny that some categories of crime in Britain have been increasing rapidly, particularly the kind of offences committed by low-achieving young urban males with a drug/rap culture (join the dots for yourself). But crime generally probably isn't increasing: the British Crime Survey (which is generally considered a more reliable indicator than crimes recorded by the police) shows a fall in most categories since 1997.

Posted by: David B at June 4, 2003 11:20 AM


"The data show that people with white skin, who the 1996 census says make up 62.7 per cent of the population, were underrepresented — accounting
for 52.2 per cent of violent charges. People classified as having "brown" skin accounted for 15.9 per cent of the charges, while those in the "other" category were charged with 5 per cent of violent offences. In most cases "brown" is used to refer to people of South Asian descent while "other" mainly represents people of Chinese and other Far Eastern origin. "

I was intrigued by this stat as well as i thought i read another article that showed the crime stats for East Indians and Pakistani's to be low. I would like to see the actual numbers that specify crime rates for East Indians and Pakistanis - it seems like the authors of this story made an assumption. I thought there was another story (I originally read all this when it was first published, so my memory is a little hazy) in the star that broke down the crime stats concerning south asians and indians and pakistani's (if i recall) were underepresented in crime statistics. It may have been stats for another country. If i am unable to find the story, then i stand corrected.

Posted by: the alpha male at June 4, 2003 11:40 AM

Keep in mind that those classified under the "brown" category could also include Toronto's fairly substantial Indo-Caribbean (Guyanese and Trinidad "coolie") population as well as Arabs and Latinos classified as "brown", not simply East Indians or Pakistanis. But the article did state that: "In most cases "brown" is used to refer to people of South Asian descent"

Oh, and most of the South Asian gang "warfare" in Toronto tends to be intra-ethnic Tamil-on-Tamil violence, not between warring Tamils and Sinhalese since there's really no substantial Sinhalese population here to speak of. Fortunately, much of the Sri Lankan gang violence seems to have dissipated in recent years after the cops got tough and began deporting the goons.

Similarly, there was a problem with violence amongst Vietnamese refugees in Toronto back in the 80s, but this has also subsided subtantially as the paltry 5% Far Eastern violence figure would indicate. It may just be a part of a general trend - anytime you have a substantial refugee population influx, you are doomed to have gang violence amonst listless impoverished minority youth. With time the next generation studies, assimilates and prospers, and the cycle of poverty and violence ends. This is what has happened with the Vietnamese who came in the late 70s - early 80s and will happen soon with the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees of the 90s.

Unfortunately, the way it appears, prospects are grim for Caribbean islanders. The Jamaicans are holing themselves into a permanent racial underclass in Toronto:

"That report showed Jamaican Canadians are frequently from families with many children, but with fewer adults to care for them, living in impoverished neighbourhoods.

Commissioned by the city and released in May, 2000, it also found that more than 13,000 — or nearly 65 per cent — of all Jamaican Canadian children in Toronto were living in poverty. Nearly two-thirds had single-parent families.

Only children from war-ravaged African countries and Afghanistan fared worse in terms of poverty, according to the report. (However, their arrest rates for violent charges are low, demonstrating that poverty is not the sole factor at play.)

On the job front, Jamaican Canadian men were at a significant disadvantage. Ornstein found that many were in low-skill, lower-paying positions. Only 5.7 per cent of Jamaican Canadians hold an undergraduate university degree or higher, the second-lowest percentage of all ethno-racial groups in Toronto.

The report also found the unemployment rate for Jamaican-born Canadians, at the time the report was published, was nearly twice Toronto's overall rate of 11 per cent.

Steele says that poverty, along with feelings of helplessness, begets violence. "

...Oh does it really? Of course, in typical victimology fashion, the Jamaican Canadian association blames society for their problems: inequality, poverty, lack of opportunity, and of course racism. But perhaps there is something inherently deficient in their culture? Oops, that was racist! (I'm being facetious ;-) )

It'll be interesting to see how a once racially homogenous and egalitarian society as Canada handles this issue.

Posted by: Sen at June 4, 2003 01:51 PM

Sen -- Canada has never been racially homogenous (egalitarian --I'm not sure). The French, British, and Irish races (that's what they were always called) have traditionally been bitterly divided. Subdivided into Catholics. metis, aboriginal, Quebecker, franco-Ontarian. To an outisder, they might all be white, but within Canada, historically, the differences have been clear.

(They may be less clear now in navel-gazing Toronto. But T.O. is not representative of Canada)

To tkae an exmaple, Robert Campeau, the real estate developer, still blames the anglo prejudice against francophones for his business failures of the mid nineties. That's racial resentment betwen French and English.

Judging from the way the two solitudes continue to segregate and vilify each other (frex: The black book fo English-Canada), I doubt handling Jamaican-Canadian crime will be the biggest problem supposedly homogenous Canada faces.

(As for Jamaicans becoming the underclass -- I think in Canada that spot is occupied by aboriginals everywhere except in toronto. I would expect over time aboriginals to also occupy that rung in toronto.)

Posted by: Ikram Saeed at June 4, 2003 03:19 PM

does anybody know a know a percentage of crimes committed by immigrants compared to the rest of the population (in Florida)

Posted by: joe at June 9, 2003 11:27 AM