Things I thought

Monday, 25 June 2012

Why David Starkey is 33 times more racist than the BNP

Footage emerged today of prominent Tudorphile and exemplary bellend David Starkey angrily haranguing oft-trolled bete noire of the right Laurie Penny at some sort of fucking function they were both at. The historian seemed rather tired and emotional as he attacked the reporter, cradling a glass of claret in one hand as he repeatedly jabbed a finger from the other in Ms Penny's rather startled face and accused her of requesting money in return for work.

What, you might wonder, had she done to so enrage the odious little tit? Ms Penny's crime - which was oddly not addressed in Starkey's rambling polemic - was to affirm David's status as one of Britain's foremost racists, a title I'd previously assumed he was rather proud of. On this particular occasion, Starkey had managed to use his appearance at an education festival to make a comment about a gang of pedophilic pimps having values that hailed "from the foothills of the Punjab" (as to whether those who live higher up the mountain ranges have better morals, Starkey remained silent).

While it should be clear to anyone with basic comprehension skills which side I'm taking in this fracas, I don't want to dedicate a blogpost to defending Laurie Penny, as she's more than fierce enough to do that herself. Instead, I'd like to dwell for a while on what an unspeakable prick David Starkey is, and why "saying the unsayable" (as he puts it) often translates into talking bollocks.

Those of you who weren't availing yourselves of the rich pickings on the high streets last year may have seen Mr. Starkey synonymise crime with blackness, and seemingly declare that those white people who took part in the riots only did so because they had "turned black", despite photographic evidence to the contrary. Understandably, most people was disgusted by this outburst, and many were left wondering why the police didn't use rubber bullets and tear gas against a historian who was clearly out of control. Fighting a courageously ill-informed rearguard action against common sense, Starkey eventually declared that "80% of gun crime is black!", waving his finger in the air like an out of work proctologist.

Most of you probably took the opportunity to pick apart Starkey's inglorious bollocks during August of last year. At that time I was somehow giving Her Majesty pleasure in one of her less auspicious properties, so was sadly alienated from the social melee. Bearing that in mind, please indulge me as I spend the next few paragraphs kicking seven lengths of cock out of this ugly myth.

Let's leave Starkey's grammarcide aside and assume what he meant to say was the 80% of gun crime is committed by black people. As just under 3% of Britons self-identify as black, this stat would be fairly astonishing if true and, like many such nuggets of statistical lore, it has a foothold independent of its veracity, echoing from sources as diverse as Diane Abbott and the BNP. So where does it come from?

It's hard to find anyone willing to go quite as far as Starkey in their claims - Abbott quotes the stat in relation to "black on black gun violence in London" and even the BNP only ascribe it to murders involving firearms (rather than all gun crime). Indeed, a little digging quickly reveals that only around 3% of UK gun crime results in death or serious injury (.PDF, page 11). At this point it's worth noting that the difference in scale makes David Starkey roughly 33 times more racist than the BNP*.

Starkey, Abbott and the BNP not only disagree on the exact nature of the statistic but all fail to cite any sources - indeed, for such an oft-repeated statistic, a source is hard to come by. The closest thing I've been able to find (and I admit this pure conjecture, as each party may just as easily have been picking numbers of the top of their heads) is a 2007 parliamentary memorandum from Trident, London's "black gun crime" unit, which claims that 79% of gun related homicide and shooting suspects in London are Afro-Carribean.

Assuming that this is where the original data eminates from, there are obviously a few problems. First of all, all coppers are bastards and cannot be trusted - doubly so when it's one of the most racist branches of the famously racist metropolitan police pontificating on the relationship between race and crime. Secondly, even if we do trust the Met's statistics, they only claim that 79% of suspects (rather than convicts) are Afro-Carribean. Anyone who's able to lob half a brain cell at this should find themselves unsurprised that, when a crime happens, the police often think a black person did it. By Trident's own admission, in only one in eight of their cases is a suspect actually found guilty.

All of which is to say that when a bad man uses bad statistics to make a bad point that's bad. It would perhaps be better if David Starkey spent a little less time excoriating Laurie Penny for her "exorbitant fees", and spent a little more time hitting the books to earn the ones he demands for himself.


* If the BNP are claiming that black people are responsible for 80% of gun related homicides, and these represent 3% of overall gun crime, the BNP is claiming that black people are responsible for 2.4% of all firearms offences. David Starkey meanwhile claims black people commit 80% of all gun crime, making him 33.3 times more racist than Nick Griffen's big bullshit bigots club.

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