The Untold Police Bias

INTRODUCTION

People are now rightly horrified about the Tuskegee experiments, where blacks with syphilis were left untreated. Of course, one could hardly miss the current coverage about blacks killed by police. What goes unmentioned, is that all of the victims of the Tuskegee experiment were men. Nor is there concern that the great majority of those killed by the police are male.

On the Titanic, it was the women and children first, not the white people first. Is there evidence that concern for men has increased from that time of the Titanic? In the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson” emergency plane landing, it was still women and children first. In fact, I can recall no media discussion of this life and death sexism in the exiting of the plane. So, while we have made considerable progress regarding the safety of blacks, the same cannot be said for men

POLICING AND MEN


For the year 2020, the data shows 432 white people were shot by police and 226 blacks. Clearly, the chances of a black person being killed by police is far higher than that of whites. I hesitate to give an actual percentage by population, until the 2020 census data is revealed. As for sex, 961 of those killed were male, while 38 were female, or 25x more male than female fatalities. From the table on the next page, one can observe that by far, the variable that most correlates with being killed by police, is being male. While blacks are killed 2.4 times more than whites, men are 19 times more likely to be victims of being killed by police than women.

Unquestionably, male deaths by police are being minimized by the media. For instance, the September 15th broadcast of the PBS program, “The News Hour”, writer Hannah Drake gave her reasons why the tragic killing of Breonna Taylor by police had not received proper attention. She noted: “I have always said that Breonna Taylor had two things working against her. She’s black and she’s a woman.” While many other have said similar things, it has no basis in fact.

A more plausible reason for hearing less about black females than black males is found on the chart. It shows that from 2013 and 2018, black men were 26 times more likely to be killed by the police than black women. In reality, the shooting of Taylor does not meet the criteria of the cases of black men killed by police highlighted by the media. Rather than an unarmed individual being bullied by the police, Breonna Taylor was shot by the police responding to a gun shot. Still, her family was awarded the highest monetary settlement ever paid by the city of Louisville Kentucky.

Lifetime risk of being killed by the police

Between 2013 and 2018, about 51.7 in 100,000 men and 2.7 in 100,000 women were killed by police in the U.S.

Breakdown by race:

Men Women
Black 96.0 3.7
American Indian/Alaska Native 54.7 4.2
Latinx 52.7 2.2
White 39.1 2.7
Asian 14.4 0.6

The data in the chart is from 2013 to 2018, a time when male deaths from police were a mere 19 times that of females. I selected it because the data is a more complete listing of racial groups than one usually finds. Asians are usually categorized under other. The “Washington Post” has the most complete data on people killed by police. Their data starting in 2015, found men are 21.5 times more likely to be killed by police. So most likely, the table somewhat underestimated the gender difference in those killed by police.

Despite the fact that the chart shows that it is men who are by far the most likely to be killed, the article is titled, “Police Are More Likely to Kill Men and Women of Color.” In other words, MALE DEATH BY ITSELF IS NOT WORTH TALKING ABOUT. The Washington Post data is presented similarly. The heading under race is titled, “Black Americans are killed at a much higher rate than White Americans.” In the body of the text, they note that blacks are killed over twice the rate of whites. The heading under gender reads: “Most victims are young males,” In the text they give a more accurate description. They explain: “An overwhelming majority of people shot and killed by police are male over- 95%.” Donald Trump, received a lot of negative feedback for saying whites are more likely to be killed by police than blacks, while omitting the higher percentage of black people being killed. Why then, is distorting the much higher percentage of men being killed than women, not only okay, but ubiquitous?

The September 4th Washington Post article, “Nearly 250 Women Have Been Fatally Shot By Police”, notes the far lower percent of those killed being female (they state “about 4%” are female). The three-page article was placed in the most prestigious place in the newspaper, the front page, right side, above the fold. It then went on to discuss why more attention needed to be given to the killings of black women and claimed bias against women by police. Despite their data that about 96% of those killed by police were male, it was predictably not of concern in the article.

One of the gems of the article, was the statement that: “About 31 percent or 77 of the 247 women shot by police since 2015 had mental health issues, compared to 22 percent of the 5,362 men.” Notice the number of men with mental issues killed was unstated. The article then went on to explain how anti-female bias led to the higher likelihood of females with mental health issue killed by police. However, 22 percent of 5,362 men, adds up to 1,180 men with mental health issues being killed, or over 15 times more than women killed with such issues. Neither the three people who collaborated on the article, nor any editor, stopped this ridiculous reasoning from being seen in print. Why though didn’t a reader write in to correct it, you might ask? In fact, I did write in and received no response.

INTERLUDE, WHAT ABOUT THE DANGER FOR THE POLICE?

With all the attention given to violence by police, the safety of police has been given short shrift by the mainstream press. Obviously, this includes male, female differences. I have heard both male and female officers observe that men are placed in the most dangerous police work. The numbers seem to bear this out. According to 2019 statistics, 12.8 percent of full-time officers were female. As far as those killed on duty, in 2019 there were 45 men and 3 women killed during felonious assaults, or 6 .25 percent being female.

In reality, with most women having less running speed and strength than men, under similar circumstances, women should be more likely to be killed. These physical differences are augmented by many police department having lower physical requirements for women.

We are also ignoring the behavior of criminals. I remember a television debate on the show “Firing Line”, which included William Buckley and Michael Kinsley. Buckley cited a criminal who had shot a male police officer and said if the officer was a woman, he might not have fired the gun. So perhaps, anti-male sexism of criminals needs to be factored into the data. Regardless, the death while on duty gap persists and its lack of discussion once again shows the lack of concern for men compared to women.

CORRELATIONS, CRIME AND GENDER

While blacks are more likely to killed by police, controlling for violent crime they are actually less likely to be victims of police killings than whites. Gender differences are a different story. Based on the self-reports of victims of violence, women account for about 14% of violent offenders”, or 1/6 that of men (Women Offenders – Bureau of Justice Statistics 2000). While the statistic sounds somewhat dated. I chose it because it’s a self-report by victims. I think this is considerably more accurate gauge of crime than arrests. The data strongly suggests the gender gap in crimes committed has narrowed from the year 2000. According to “Wikipedia Sex Differences in Crime” from 2003 to 2012, the arrest rate for women went up and that of men went down. As far as total arrests for violent crime, men were 80.4% of those arrested in 2014, the most recent data listed in the Wikipedia site mentioned above. So, despite the narrowing of the arrest rate, the arrests of men in 2014, is over 30% greater than the rate of the victims of crimes committed by women in the year 2000.

Based on the 21.5x greater killing of men by police, one could conclude gender discrimination against men to be greater than what I believe it is. I think to accurately assess how much bias exists, would take a great deal of writing space, time and research. Instead, I will attempt a more inductive approach in why one would expect anti-male bias.

MEN AS VICTIM

Research found black people receive a 10 percent greater sentence than whites for the same crime. Certainly, this is justifiably a reason for concern. However, the same researcher found that men serve a 63 percent greater sentence than women for the same offense. Meaning being male, leads to more than 6 times longer sentences that being black (Estimating gender differences in Federal Crimes, Sonya Starr).

I am not contending that people do not care about men being killed. More accurately, it Is that people are routinely less concerned about the welfare of men than women. In addition, people accept that it is the way things are supposed to be. The following examples, are a few of many that typify this less empathy given to men, that I believe leads to among other things, unnecessary greater aggressiveness to men by police.

  • A while back, NCFM member Francis Baumli, wrote about talking to a police officer who bemoaned the fact that 5 out 6 people killed by a perpetrator were women. (“Feminism and Chivalry” Aladdin’s Window Issue #12). Baumli noted the officer expressed these sentiments, “In an offhand way.” Imagine the equivalent. A black police officer feeling it clear enough that white people being killed was worse than that of black people, that he offhandedly mentioned it to another black person.
  • We hear a lot about subconscious bias against blacks. But imagine a poll where people said it was worse to commit violence against whites, than against blacks. As far as males and females, we don’t have to imagine. A department of justice poll found: “Americans rated a wife stabbing her husband to death as 41% percent less severe than a husband stabbing his wife to death (The Myth of Male Power, Dr. Warren Farrell, page 214 Simon and Shuster 1993).
  • Farrell noted, that even some hired killers will not kill a woman. (ibid, page 279). Are we to believe police are less chivalrous in this regard than hit men?
  • While we hear all the time about the issue of bias against black men receiving the death penalty, the gender question has been, should any women ever again receive the death penalty? In 1988, the public answer became affirmative, when Kaye Faye Tucker was executed. Still people remain unconcerned about the bias against men regarding the death penalty and many even believe it is the way things should be.
  • At the end of the last century, “Time” magazine named “The Simpsons” the best television program of the twentieth century (and there wasn’t much good TV in the 19th century). They noted: “The Simpsons have surpassed the humor, topicality and, yes, humanity of past tv greats (The Best of the Century-Time, Dec 31 1999).” By the year 2000, among many other incidents of physical suffering by male characters, Homer Simpson had choked his son Bart in episodes on numerous occasions. I believe that if some of the chokings happened in real life, they easily could have been lethal. Imagine a show where a female child had been choked numerous times, being called humane. Yes, even a cartoon.
  • Andrea Yates, who killed her five children, was “found not guilty by reason of insanity” in 2006. Years earlier, writer Anna Quinlan seemed to suggest instead, that’s Yates was understandably overreacting to the typical stresses of motherhood. Quinlan observed: Every mother I’ve asked about the Yates case has the same reaction. She’s appalled; she’s aghast. And then she gets this look. And the look says that at some forbidden level she understands (Playing God on No Sleep, Newsweek July 1 2001).” These comments are not even mentioned in Quinlan’s Wikipedia biography. Compare that to sportswriter Bob Ryan, who suggested a woman should be smacked, based on her insensitivity to her child. He was suspended for a month without pay. In this case, it was included in his Wikipedia biography. Or, imagine a husband slaps his wife one time. A male columnist responds, “every man I’ve asked says I don’t condone it but I understand.”
  • CONCLUSION

    Knowing little to anything about the perpetrator, the media immediately presumed George Floyd’s killing was due to racism. Even with more information now available, there is still not enough information to definitively understand all the reasons that lead to the tragedy. However, I do not find it difficult to imagine a white man being treated with the brutality in the way Floyd appeared to be treated, with people watching on. I do find it difficult to believe a woman would be treated that way. Can you? Could gender be the most influential variable. Does anybody care?