The last known victim of the Jack the Ripper killings was named Mary Kelly. Kelly was a prostitute in the East End Whitehcapel neighborhood of London, killed and mutilated by an anonymous attacker. But the most surprising aspect of the killing was not the barbarity; it was the fact that a passerby heard her screams and turned away all the same, assuming it was merely domestic violence.
By and large, our safety threats are from driving vehicles or walking near them, and behind that they are work safety hazards, and behind that are finally the very people who love us (or know us) who ultimately kill and assault us. By comparison, random attacks are rare.
We almost accept our problems with safety and violence as just the way it is.
The statistics don't reflect that idea. The statistics show that different places and different times show far different rates of the problems that plague us. Americans are roughly 5 times more likely to be a victim of a homicide than in many European and Asian nations. We don't have to be satisfied with where we are at.
We don't have to let a bystander culture be maintained, where intimate partner violence is routinely shrugged off or silenced.
Ask yourself how complicit you are. Ask yourself what you will do to help.
We don't have to settle for mediocrity when it comes to the safety of our society.
The murder rate of England and Wales in 1900 was 0.86/100,000
Today, America's number is 5.3/100,000.
In few things do we backslide so egregiously and pretend it is normal.
It can be difficult to conceptualize violence and all of its different correlated concepts in society to build a realistic picture, but this is necessary. If you asked me to provide a solution to violence in our community, I would point to the Human Prosperity and Equality and Justice Committees; I would point to every committee of ELSB because it is all intimately connected.
To illustrate how deep cultures of violence or non-violence can go, I ask you one question:
Is it possible that dining etiquette has a real, and perhaps causal, correlation with violent murder and assault?
This question is explored in the book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker, and the rest of this note is a paraphrase of an important section. Forgive the lack of citations throughout; the information is cited well within the analyzed text.
In traditional Medieval European society, table etiquette would be considered by today's standards verging on uncivilized. Large forks and jagged knives used for food preparation likewise appeared on the table. There was no specified way with which to hold these potential weapons, or any enforced method to consume your food. Food would be eaten with your hands directly, the fingers diligently cleaned with gusto by the tongue.
As feudalism shifts into a period of consolidation to higher powers such as kings and emperors, large political hierarchies return to enforce rule on the previously and relatively ungoverned holdfasts and Duchies.
It becomes important for Kings to entertain noble guests for the purpose of establishing alliances and fealty. The transpositional concern for lesser nobles is to impress their kings, queens and other lords at court. The King's Court is a place of dining and political maneuvering, and it's important how one is perceived in this arena. This is how we get the word courtesy. Cue dining etiquette.
Erasmus, the great humanist scholar, published a guide of etiquette for nobles. Among the rules in this guide included things such as Refrain from using the knife the push your food onto the fork. Use it only for cutting. Many of these rules are cumbersome and take discipline to enforce on yourself or others.
Over the next few hundred years, the discipline of etiquette began to take over European culture even to the middle and lower classes as it became important for their own pomp and posh civility. Today, Western European is the most peaceful place in the world, along with Canada, at a homicide rate of approximately 1 in 100,000 deaths, or even less.
Well, it isn't entirely due to eating habits that the world is more peaceful than it used to be. There are numerous connectors such as democracy, economic interdependence, and intergovernmental organizations, that bolster a humanist and rational inclination towards peace. A part, not a symptom or result, but a necessary part of all of this, is etiquette.
If you can train society to use a knife for only precise ends even when it would be beautifully convenient to break those rules, you can then also train society to have the moral discipline to restrain their weapons while in the streets.
That's just the European story. In East Asia, they use chopsticks, the ultimate exercise of discipline and restraint. And the trends of violence follow.
Despite their people having generally much lower incomes and comfortability (which are the usual predictors of violence), China actually shows much lower rates of homicide than even American. As of 2011, America ranked in at 10 in 100,000 deaths as violent, while China came in at 5 in 100,000 deaths.
Though poverty is a major player in causes of personal violence, it apparently does not explain all.
Civilization, it turns out, has been a grand inhibition of dark instincts and a bringing-out of the better angels of our nature. Thus, our world is much safer than it used to be, and you might start thanking your overly strict parents, and their parents, for the change.
This Friday, the Public Safety committee will be hosting an open forum to give students the opportunity to ask the ULPD Police Chief, Gary Lewis, questions and let him know what we as students would like to see from our Campus Police.
From several conversations with peers, safety is a huge concern for several of our students. Students receive RAVE alerts frequently about sexual assaults or robberies on campus. This should not be normalized. Please share this and comment with your thoughts, concerns and suggestions so that we can feel more safe on OUR campus. If we don’t express it, we will see no change!
Here are a few tips to follow to stay safe on campus:
1. Use the L-Trail
2. Sign up for the Rave Guardian Safety App
3. If you see something, say something. Call ULPD at (502) 852-6111 for suspicious activity.
4. Call 911 for all emergencies needing police, fire or EMS
5. Lock your parked vehicle
6. Don’t leave items in plain view in your vehicle on campus or shopping
7. Store items left in the vehicle in the trunk
8. Lock your housing unit’s doors and windows
9. Know who is at the door before opening your door
10. Lock your bicycle with a good lock such as a “U” lock (not a cable or chain)
11. Do not meet unknown people on and off campus to purchase or retrieve items
12. Maintain control of your purse, wallet, backpack, laptop, cell phone and your credit card
13. Stop and look before crossing any street or parking lot
14. Don’t be so consumed with your cell phone or music that you are not aware of your surroundings
15. Walk in groups or pairs
16. Use the shuttle system
17. Use escorts; these are available between dusk and dawn
18. If you are riding a bicycle, obey all traffic laws
19. If you are driving a vehicle, look for pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles
Contrast is the smiling yellow dog against the oil-stained pavement
You focus on the image which is meant to preclude all discomfort,
Your caption isolates the quality of appeal,
a tenuous pretension of goodness and betterment
And yet do the cracks and blemishes loom out of focus,
does the dream of perfection contrast with the crude realities
Like a snapshot of a smiling child buried in a burned scrapbook,
Do the dormitories and halls house people or violations of human dignity
Or is that not the caption we desire?
When you get to campus you feel the excitement all around you
Contrast is when you conveniently forget how cold it is out there
Contrast is when you walk off campus and fear
When you can feel the desperation in the air
Do we want to live in one Instagram story of safety and happiness,
Or realize how close we are to the bolded lines of danger?
When it is cold outside, do you hide away
or do you bring warmth for the cold?
As a freshman, I began involvement on campus with Freshman LEAD. By getting exposed to so many great mentors and opportunities, I started to become involved in the Green Initiatives committee which helped me to reach out to the University of Louisville campus, but also the greater community in getting involved in Louisville Grows as a Citizen Forester. Always having a great gratitude and love for ELSB, I decided as a rising senior to apply for a position and get involved in a bigger way on the issues I care about.
I’m interested in the things that might endanger students and others, and I am especially interested in ways to make those things less prevalent. I am honored to work with Elanna Carr as her Associate Director in helping to make the campus and community a safer place by spreading knowledge and activism.