Tag Archives: Social breakdown

Hoax Epidemic

Scene outside of Charlottesville High School yesterday. Photo credit: Daily Progress

by James A. Bacon

In the latest sign of spreading social disorder, Virginia underwent a plague of school hoaxes yesterday. According to media reports, incidents included:

  • The Loudoun County sheriff’s office and Leesburg police were notified of acts of violence at Loudoun Valley and Loudoun County high schools. The reports were false.
  • In Arlington County, officers responded to a false report in a 911 call of a possible act of violence at Washington-Liberty High School.
  • The Culpeper County school system placed all schools on lockdown after a 911 caller reported an “active shooter.”
  • A 911 caller told the Charlottesville police that there was an active shooter at the Charlottesville High School. (Eleven days ago, Albemarle County police had responded to a threat to Western Albemarle High School made through social media.)
  • E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg was placed on lockdown after a 911 caller alerted authorities to someone potentially being inside the high school with a gun.

There’s nothing new about shooting and bomb hoaxes. What is new is the epidemic-like frequency with which they are occurring. Apparently, the practice of reporting violent incidents in school buildings has reached such a critical mass that it now has a name — swatting. Continue reading

There Is No Socially Engineered Solution to Drive-by Killings

Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

by James A. Bacon

In a protest that will never make the national news, an estimated 75 people turned out for a weekend march in Richmond to denounce the latest killing of a child in a drive-by shooting. Fifteen-year-old Tynashia Humphrey was walking to the store from her grandmother’s home near the infamous Gilpin Court housing project when she was struck by a stray bullet. “Stop the killing! Save the children!” the marchers chanted.

“My baby had only been 15 for two weeks,” Karen Cheatham, the girl’s grandmother and guardian, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “She was walking to the store. She was out of my hands for two hours. She was supposed to return back to me at 9 o’clock to get ready for school…. Hold on to your babies and hold on to them tight because tomorrow is not promised to none of us.”

The march, I fear, is totally in vain. I see no sign that city politicians, General Assembly legislators, or the media have any inkling of why killings have spiked in the past two years, much less what to do about them. As a society, we are flailing ineffectually as we continue to apply the same bromides that never contained much truth to begin with.

One of the politicians to attend the rally was Delegate Dolores McQuinn, D-Richmond. Her words are worth quoting at length because they mix the failed conventional wisdom with flashes of insight. Continue reading

Meanwhile, the Homicide Rate Keeps Climbing

From January to June this year, the seven largest localities of Hampton Roads have seen 115 homicides — up from 88 the same time last year, a 30% increase. Newport News and Hampton experienced a dip, but homicides have surged in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Suffolk, reports The Virginian-Pilot.


Where Does the Buck Stop?

by Jon Baliles

The rise in crime across the region and especially the City is naturally a cause of concern. A rise in crimes against deputies and other inmates in the Richmond Jail is flat-out disturbing. The Free Press went to the City Council Public Safety Committee meeting — that was attended only by Councilwoman Reva Trammell — who discussed the issue with Sheriff Antoinette Irving.

“Just since last Friday, July 22, according to information provided to The Free Press, a female deputy was punched in the face, three inmates suffered serious stab wounds and two inmates had to be revived after overdosing on illegal drugs.”

That followed another “savage attack on a female deputy July 7 that had left the woman with a broken jaw and other injuries.” Continue reading

Is D.C.’s Loss Virginia’s Gain?

Boarded up store in Washington, D.C.’s chi chi Georgetown district. Photo credit: Washingtonian

by Bruce Majors

Mayor Muriel Bowser — elected to a third term in a June 21 primary where only 27% of registered voters voted, and only 14% voted for her — is lamenting the bus loads of illegal immigrants that Texas politicians are shipping to D.C. Apparently DC homeless shelters are full.

Maybe she should be happy though?

Walking along M Street NW from the Ritz Carlton Hotel in West End, past the Four Seasons in Georgetown, to the Francis Scott Key bridge that takes one to Arlington, Virginia, was usually a pleasant stroll through one of DC’s most upscale shopping districts.

But if you take this walk today, one thing you will notice is that every fourth or fifth storefront is closed, for lease, papered over, or boarded up.

When the city was still mask-mandated and locked down – and other towns and cities were on fire, marred by rioting, or occupied by “autonomous zones” – this might have seemed normal. D.C. isn’t locked down anymore. Yet Georgetown and other areas remain surprisingly vacated.

D.C. is shrinking. Continue reading

Let’s Hope This Kid Isn’t Going Back to School Next year

School days, school days
Dear old golden rule days.
Readin’ and ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hickory stick
     –Gus Edwards and Will D. Cobb (1907)

Virginia schools don’t use hickory sticks to impart discipline anymore, but they do have jail. And that’s where 18-year-old Elijah Schneider is heading after assaulting a fellow student at Strasburg High School.

Schneider pleaded guilty to assault and battery, possession of a weapon on school property, and use of profane language over an airway in a plea deal with the Shenandoah County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. He was sentenced to six months in jail with time suspended.

Here is the account of the incident provided by Northern Virginia Daily: Continue reading

Crime, Asians, and “Whiteness”

Source: Crime in Virginia 2021

by James A. Bacon

In his classic treatise on race in America, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Thomas Sowell advanced the argument that African-Americans inherited a cultural propensity to violence from the rural Southern, White-dominated culture in which they were immersed. When Blacks migrated to northern cities to escape Jim Crow and pursue jobs in the booming manufacturing centers, they brought that undesirable proclivity with them. So did the hillbillies of Appalachia, says Sowell. Locals looked down upon both groups with scorn and prejudice.

Southern Whites and African-Americans, traditionally at odds with one another, are far more alike than they commonly recognize. I am reminded of this every time I watch football, an enjoyable but indisputably violent sport, on television. I see a lot of Black football players and a lot of White football players. I rarely see a single Hispanic or Asian on the field, even though those two groups now comprise a quarter of the U.S. population.

Sadly, we can see this cultural brothers-by-a-different-mother phenomenon in the Virginia crime statistics. Yes, as many observers point out, Blacks commit a disproportionate number of homicides and aggravated assaults. But criminal behavior is rampant in Virginia’s White population, too. Though drowned out in all the discussion of systemic racism and White privilege, there is a large White underclass in Virginia in which broken families, substance abuse, and criminal behavior are widespread. Whites commit a majority of violent crimes in Virginia. Continue reading

The Mental Mismatches of Modern Society

by James A. Bacon

In his book, The Story of the Human Body, Daniel E. Lieberman, chair of the department of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, recounts how the human body evolved over six million years from its rain forest-dwelling ancestors in adaptation to changing evolutionary pressures like climate change, and then explores how human bodies are maladapted for contemporary life. Modern man has seen the rise of numerous chronic diseases that once were thought to be the inevitable result of aging but increasingly are regarded as the product of post-industrial lifestyles from insufficient exercise and excess consumption of carbohydrates (heart disease and diabetes) to the wearing of socks and shoes (fungal infections and plantar fasciitis) and squinting for endless hours at books and computer screens (myopia).

In the few hunter-gatherer societies remaining on the planet, Lieberman contends, once people have made it through the gauntlet of early childhood, they routinely reach their 70s, and do so without the scourges of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and other afflictions of modern society. Our medical establishment, he suggests, treats symptoms. We must turn our attention to underlying causes.

I find Lieberman’s case highly persuasive. But, then, I’ve always been fascinated by human evolution, and I’ve always believed that the emotional substrate of human behavior has been heavily influenced by our Stone Age, hunter-gatherer ancestry. If I could wish one thing of Lieberman, it would be for him to entitle his next book The Story of the Human Mind, and devote it to showing how contemporary lifestyles are maladapted to our psyches, which evolved to maximize evolutionary fitness in bands of hunter-gatherers. Continue reading

Toxic Brew

by Chris Saxman

Okay. Buckle up. I am sharing with you several graphics that should lead, hopefully, to some serious discussions about the toxic blend of violence in movies, marijuana, smart phones and social media use in our youth — especially young men. First this article from the WSJ on how the use of widely available pornography can impact the development of teenage brains. Maybe rewire neural pathways? Yikes.

Look at the time lines of these (smart phone use, violence in movies, marijuana use – focus on the year 2010) and now add in the intensity/addiction of social media use.

Continue reading

Richmond Politicos Getting Serious About Crime

by James A. Bacon

Virginia recorded its highest murder rate in two decades in 2021, reports WTVR. Other than noting that homicides hit the murder mark of 90, however, the article reported no specifics.

I don’t know how the Richmond television station came by those particular data points. The Virginia State Police has not yet published its 2021 Crime in Virginia report, although it will be made public any day. I expect that key bottom-line findings are circulating in the Youngkin administration, which has made crime fighting a top priority.

“We have a crisis in Virginia right now. We’ve got to go to work right now. We are absolutely going to make Virginia safe again,” WTVR quoted Governor Glenn Youngkin as saying.

The Governor has launched a violent crime task force. Part of the solution, he said, is to increase police pay, presumably to reverse the exodus of officers from local police forces.

WTVR also quoted Attorney General Jason Miyares as pledging to use the authority of his office to get violent repeat offenders off the street. In an initiative he has dubbed Project Ceasefire, he plans to bring back parts of the federal Project Exile initiative, which sentenced criminals convicted of using illegal firearms to a minimum of five years in prison. He also plans to create a fund to invest in crime reduction strategies, training, and equipment for police and other organizations. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Murder and Mayhem Update

Little Chicago. Three people were killed and one critically injured in a shooting in Portsmouth this morning, reports The Virginian-Pilot. No details are yet available. The incident follows a day of mayhem in which four people were shot, one fatally, last week.

Refund the police. Also from The Virginian-Pilot: “Norfolk is set to receive $1 million from the Virginia state budget to help stop gun violence in the city, while Portsmouth will get $500,000. A total of $8 million is in the budget for gun violence prevention, of which $1.5 million is earmarked for ‘localities with disproportionate firearm-related homicides.’ Norfolk and Portsmouth are receiving the money ‘to support crime intervention and prevention through community engagement,’ according to budget documents.”

What’s good for Virginia is good for the country. Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner are pushing the “Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence” to bring to the federal level changes the General Assembly enacted in 2020, reports the Virginia Mercury. The legislation would impose background checks for private gun sales, require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms, limit handgun purchases to one per month, and boost penalties for leaving guns accessible to children.


Discipline Meltdown in Prince William Schools

Prince William County School Board Chairman Babur B. Lateef

by James A. Bacon

The adults are losing control of Prince William County public schools. Fighting and alcohol/drug-related violations increased 20% during the first three quarters of the current school year compared to the same period in the pre-COVID year of 2019-20.

In the third quarter alone, middle and high schools recorded 515 alcohol/drug-related violations, up from 344 in the second quarter. The division recorded 722 fights, up from 463 the previous quarter, according to a presentation to the schools’ Safe Schools Advisory Committee obtained by InsideNoVa.

Prince William teachers are raising an alarm that social issues stemming from school closures, coupled with staffing shortages in schools, are making the job of educating students more difficult, InsideNoVa says.

What’s interesting about this article is that school officials (1) are acknowledging they are having huge disciplinary issues; but (2) are blaming the rising level of fighting and drug abuse on the shift from in-school to at-home learning during the COVID epidemic. No one quoted by InsideNoVa expressed concern with the impact of the “restorative justice” paradigm for dealing with disciplinary issues. Indeed, school officials are doubling down on the “progressive” prescription for disorder in schools. Continue reading

Lord-of-the-Flies Crimes

by James A. Bacon

Mass shootings have become so common in the United States that incidents with only five or six victims warrant no national attention and are soon forgotten even in local media. A barrage of gunfire Friday night at a graduation party in Chesterfield County, which left one dead and five others injured, falls into that category.

More than 50 shots were fired. Police have identified four different calibers of shell casings at the scene, indicating that four different guns were used, and suggesting that up to four different assailants might have been involved. The shooting victims were all males. Two females were injured when struck by a vehicle as they fled the scene, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The party held for a Thomas Dale High School student attracted between 50 and 100 people, including many underage, from the Richmond and Petersburg areas. Police inquiries found that, prior to the shootings, two separate “fights or disturbances” had broken out between females. The shots were fired very shortly after the second fight.

Most media attention focuses on incidents in which the mass-shooting perpetrators are isolated, alienated loners, often suffering from mental illness. As mental illness is on the rise, this phenomenon is a legitimate source of concern. But the Chesterfield incident was of a different type — indiscriminate shooting by young people getting into heated arguments — that gets far less commentary. Continue reading

Reminiscent of the Crack Epidemic… But Without the Crack

Quite the lively time in Little Chicago, er, Portsmouth, yesterday. According to WCEV:

A woman was shot on Seventh Street Thursday morning, two men were shot near The Connelly apartments sometime in the afternoon, a woman was shot on Staunton Avenue around 9 p.m., and lastly, a man sustained a life-threatening injury after a shooting near Alden Avenue and Emmons Place.

I’m baffled. I keep hearing from the smartest people that “violent crime” is down in Virginia…. And if it’s not, it’s the fault of too many guns.

Yeah, guns are part of the problem, and I’m open to hearing what we can do about them. But there’s a lot more going on here. Social order in Portsmouth is collapsing. It’s like the days of the crack epidemic… except we don’t have crack to blame it on.


Plundering ORCs

Whoops, wrong kind of orc.

by James A. Bacon

Is California-style organized retail theft coming to Virginia? I have been making the argument, based upon admittedly anecdotal evidence, that it might be. While one must be careful extrapolating from individual incidents, which might be outliers, it struck me that the type of retail crime being reported in Virginia was undergoing a phase change. We’re seeing crimes the likes of which we’d never seen before. Furthermore, I suggested that the trend may be aided and abetted by several progressive commonwealth attorneys in Virginia declining to prosecute crimes that offend their social-justice sensibilities, as has been the case in California.

In a column this morning, Dick Hall-Sizemore counters that some of what we’re seeing — the recycling of “frequent flier” petty larcenists through the criminal-justice system — has been around for years. I thank Dick for presenting an argument based on facts. Others attack my argument by attacking me. Bacon, you see, is one of those conservative curmudgeons pining for the good ol’ days when crime barely existed, therefore his observations can be dispensed with no need for further argument!

But it turns out that others are seeing a trend. Yesterday Attorney General Jason Miyares convened a working group to take a look at Organized Retail Crime (ORC) in Virginia. Retailers are reporting that pilferage is a growing problem. Thieves are getting more brazen, and they find a ready outlet for their goods as illegal resellers — in the old days, they were called “fences” — who exploit online marketplaces.

“We saw in Fairfax last month, over 20,000 eyeglasses frames were stolen just in Fairfax,” Miyares said, as reported by Virginia Public Media. “Arlington detectives recovered over 89,000 stolen goods from just T.J. Maxx alone.” Continue reading