Projection and Discrimination

The reason I'm posting a lot about criminal justice stats recently is first because I find it interesting but also because I'm working on a piece about German (and perhaps also French) coverage of crime in the USA. 

Specifically, and not to put too fine a point on it: (1) the fact that German reporters, out of ignorance or prejudice, use bogus statistics to exaggerate claims of discrimination in the American justice system; and (2) the reason for this is projection: ("a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in themselves, while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude.").

Specifically, the thesis is that German and French journalists are (whether consciously or not) distracting their readers from the problems in their own criminal justice systems by projecting discrimination onto the USA. I don't know, that formulation's pretty edgy, but sometimes edgy is fun!

Still in the research phase, but I'll let you know if I can get a German press outlet to publish it.

3 thoughts on “Projection and Discrimination

  1. Mixing (1) verifiable facts (“German reporters use bogus statistics”) with (2) unverifiable allegations (“the reason for this is projection”) may not be the best idea — that’s the method usually found in conspiracy theories.
    You could just ask: “What’s the reason for bogus statistics in mainstream media?” and leave the answer to the reader.

    I also wonder why you’re only including German and French media. I read a lot about this at The Guardian ( they even have an own counter for people killed by the police in the US because they don’t trust offical data).

    This theme is actually a big theme everywhere in the blogosphere, and there are also many US bloggers speaking about discrimination.

    If you would leave the answer to the reader, my answer would be: it has something to do with the great expectations at the beginning of Obama’s presidency and the disappointment at the end of his presidency. But, of course, these are also unverifiable allegations, maybe I’m only projecting my own disappointment onto others.


  2. By pointing out that German reporters are playing fast and loose with the facts in order to sell newsprint, you will be entering dangerous territory. “Edgy” may be fun, but it can get you into a lot of trouble, too.

    The cranks in Germany who are obsessed with American failings–many of which, alas, do exist, but there’s more to America than what they choose, exclusively, to see–will roast you on a spit, slowly and contemptuously, and take malicious delight in your every yelp of pain.


  3. @noribori: Mit Verlaub, Mein Herr, I think your comment, while apposite in many respects, sort of confirms my thesis, assuming you’re a German reader. Once again, you concentrate exclusively on conditions within the United States, a country separated from you by a gigantic ocean whose criminal justice system is, as a practical matter, irrelevant to your life.

    What I am inviting Germans and French to do is to actually pay attention to problems in their own countries which they might be able to fix, before pointing the finger thousands of miles away. If you want to improve conditions for ethnic minorities, you can do nothing for American blacks, but you could theoretically do quite a bit for the Serbs, Turks, Albanians, and Macedonians who are hugely over-represented in German prisons. You could visit them. Learn about what made them criminals. Investigate the justice system to see whether they were treated fairly.

    You get my point.


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