Car violence

Every American boy's dream

I’m not a huge fan of euphemisms as they are generally employed to shift blame, deny responsibility, or mask all out lies. The phrase “gun violence,” which has been used in the media for many years, disturbs me greatly. This particular euphemism shifts the blame of taking a human life away from the perpetrator of the crime to the method or tool used to commit it. Such a deceptive use of language keeps us focused on the manner in which people are being killed as opposed to analyzing the root causes of why one might commit murder (drug policy, poverty, mental health services, ignorance, etc).

Far more people die every year in the United States in auto accidents than due to “gun violence.” I was not able to find statistics for the same period in my quick Google search, but here’s a sampling of data to back up my point (the annual death toll from cars and guns does not vary greatly from year-to-year, so please accept my laziness for the sake of argument):

2005 Auto Deaths – 42,636

2006 Firearm Deaths (including suicide which accounts for about 30% of gun deaths) – 29,569

2005 Auto Injuries – 2.9 million

2006 Gun Injuries – 64,389

With this particular sample of data there were almost 30% more automobile-related deaths than gun related deaths. The comparative injury statistics are not even in the same universe. Yes, you read that right, there were 2.9 MILLION auto injuries compared to 64,389 firearm injuries for a similar period. When somebody is shot in America the gun gets the blame and editorials about the epidemic of “gun violence” flood the newspapers. When somebody dies in a car it’s simply labeled an “accident.” There’s no moral outrage of any kind.

If we’re going to euphemize away the reality of tough situations, we should at least apply the rules evenly. From now on I will not refer to motor-related deaths and injuries as “accidents” and will instead refer to them simply as “car violence.” Cars certainly deserve the title if the much maligned firearm does.

Our absolute blindness to the sheer carnage caused by motordom is demonstrated in our language. We demonize and euphemize things that we hate. If any single product was injuring millions and killing thousands of people per year it would likely be banned (perhaps with the exceptions of alcohol and tobacco) . Not so for the lovely and innocent car. Our love affair with passenger vehicles has made us blind to the death and suffering that they enable. Much like “gun violence” perhaps we should be talking about “car violence” and “car control.” The numbers don’t lie.

One response to “Car violence

  1. Bad comparison. Consider the usage of the tool, car or gun. You need to look at accidental deaths due to guns compared to accidental deaths due to cars. A death by gun is more likely to be intentional than a death by car. Not saying that there are no unintentional car deaths but unintentional deaths are usually considered death by accident or at least by irresponsible behavior.

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