This is what the front page of Huffington Post looks like right now:
I was curious to see what the hell hell looks like — in a statistical sense — so I decided to do some back-of-the envelope calculations. I started by Googling the population of Iraq, and immediately ran into an obvious problem: the casualty rates are from May 2013, while the most recent numbers date back to 2011 — and especially given their trajectory, I’m almost certain that figure is no longer accurate:
But I figured 450 was a floor (and therefore not perfectly accurate either), and I’m really just interested in an order of magnitude, so 2011 will have to do. Add a few more murders if you’d like to account for the “+”, and compensate by increasing the population, and the number shouldn’t look too different from what I came up with: about one murder per 73,000 people per month.
Now, for the sake of context, I ran the numbers for Chicago. According to the Google, the city’s population in 2011 was 2.707m — and that year, 433 people were murdered there. These numbers come out to one murder per 75,000 people per month — in other words, just a tick better than the number I calculated for Iraq. Best-case scenario: Chicago is – at best – one step removed from Iraq’s circle of hell.
But it gets worse.
The numbers for Iraq came from what the Huffington Post describes as “the most sustained wave of violence since U.S. troops left in December 2011.” For Chicago, I just picked 2011 because — like for Iraq — that’s the population data Google served up, not because the city saw some uptick in violence. In reality, 2011 was a particularly good year:
And the best part: it’s not like Chicago’s the American city with the highest murder rate; it doesn’t even crack the top 10.
So yeah, for all the hype, parts of America are more dangerous on any given day than Iraq at its worst. If only the deadly, well-regulated militia would end its occupation, our country’s crippling civil war and sectarian insurrection could come to an end, and Americans might once again be safe on their streets.
But no need to worry, gun lobbyists: there’s not a chance in Chicago hell.