31/03/2010

Someone should have told Rod Liddle - when you're in a hole, stop digging - UPDATED

Rod Liddle has written his reaction to the PCC's adjudication against him for inaccurate statements about the amount of crime committed by young black males, and it really does fit in the 'if you're in a hole, stop digging' category. His new blog post is 'A bizarre and incoherent adjudication' and at least one of the statements in it would deserve another complaint to the PCC.



It starts badly. Liddle's earliest defence of his statements is:
I was referring specifically to a number of crimes for which there are not published police records
Great. He was referring specifically to crimes with no published records. How, then, did he know he was right?

Here are his figures that apparently show he was right:
Two years ago Metropolitan Police Inspector Steven Tyler, who worked for Operation Trident, stated that 75 per cent of all shootings in the capital involved a black victim and a black perpetrator. These are the only figures we have right now, or at least the only ones I could find.
One unsubstantiated quote from someone in the Met about shootings from two years ago. Two points:
  • There is more to gun crime than shootings - including armed robbery, posession and so on.
  • It would have been easy to try to substantiate this with an FoI request. Liddle relies on a two year old quote rather than try.
Next:
Street Crime Robbery: Again, the only figures we have to hand come from a report in The Sunday Times a little over a year ago in which it was reported that 71 per cent of people accused of mobile phone theft were young black males.
Robbery is only one type of street crime, and mobile phone theft is only one type of robbery.  *UPDATE* He's misrepresented what he said here.  He didn't say 'street crime robbery', he said two separate things - street crime and robbery.  Robbery is the only one he really has a case with.

Next:
Knife Crime: A confidential report leaked from Scotland Yard in 2008 suggested that of those convicted of knife crime, 55.1 per cent were young black males.
I've covered these figures numerous times, and they most definitely do not show that young black males were convicted of 55.1% of knife crime. They show that young black people were proceeded against (i.e. they may have not been convicted in the end) in either 16.75% or 32.25% of the 741 people accused of knife crimes that had someone accused of, depending on whether you take the cut off point for 'young' as 18 or 29. Liddle is using 18, which makes him way, way out.

The Mail article only said that black people under 18 made up 55.1% of people accused of knife crimes with someone under 18 accused of them. Liddle is clearly factually incorrect with his interpretation of the figures, and another PCC complaint might be successful here.
The report added that the “overwhelming majority” of victims were white, although I did not make this point in my blog. These figures were reported in the Daily Mail.
The police report did not add that the overwhelming majority of victims were white. The Daily Mail article did, and falsely. It later revealed that the overwhelming majority of victims' ethnicity was unknown (and claimed that one explanation was that they were black gang members who wouldn't co-operate with the police).
Sexual Violence: The information for this comes from a black journalist, Sorious Samura, who worked for The Independent. Discomforted by a suspicion that young black males seemed disproportionately responsible for gang rapes...
Gonna have to stop you there. 'Gang rape' does not equal sexual violence. There are lots and lots of violent sexual crimes that are not gang rapes.
Caveats: are these figures definitive? I wouldn’t say so. But they are the only figures we have for those particular crimes, or at least that I could find - and I would argue that they are at the least indicative. I suppose I could have qualified my statement by saying “an overwhelming majority except in the case of knife crime where it is merely a substantial or clear majority”.
The first bit is right, the rest is rubbish. They're not the only figures we have for those particular crimes, and the complainant offered figures for 'violence against the person' and 'sexual assault' that demonstrated Liddle was wrong. The 'except in the case of knife crime', as we have already seen, is also wrong.
But given the only figures we have, and which the PCC was not able to contradict (nor did it try to do so), my original statement seems to me accurate.
The PCC did not have to contradict the figures, because the complainant already did in one case and in the others, by his own admission, there are no figures.

He carries on as if this woeful display (seriously, the guy's meant to be a serious journalist - that you read it in the Daily Mail is about the weakest defence you could ever give for anything, ever) actually proves his point. He says:
Is it unfair to concentrate on these specific crimes when the majority of crimes overall cannot be laid at the door of any particular group?
All he's got so far is an unsubstantiated quote about shootings, some figures for mobile phone theft and some for gang rape. A fraction of what he started with.
I have no hard evidence for this but my guess is that there is a link between the crimes I have mentioned and the educational under-achievement of young black boys
Heh. Gotta love those first five words. Especially when the tabloids are often up in arms because working class white boys show lower educational achievement than black boys. But you've got to focus on the black boys and why they're so criminal. Except they're not, outside a couple of categories and even then you have to favour that interpretation of the figures over whether they just disproportionately get caught.

And finally:
There is one more peculiar thing about the PCC ruling. At the end of my brief blog I made reference to multiculturalism having given us rap music and goat curry.
Wrong again. In his blog post, he was quite clearly referring to 'the African-Caribbean community' only offering rap music and goat curry. Not multiculturalism.

Saying nothing would have been the better option. Depressing how many are still talking about whether the truth was racist. It wasn't the truth.

Commented on the piece by mentioning what the Mail article actually showed.  It hasn't appeared yet.   *UPDATE* Has now.

4 comments:

Larry Teabag said...

It's a valuable public service you're providing here, thanks 5cc.

Ach, Liddle's such a dildo, it pisses me off.

Matthew said...

Great post.

Question: Liddle seems here to mention his references to 'goat curry and rap music' as (patronising) mitigation. But in the original article, I interpreted that statement as reductive, sarcastic and negative.

So am I missing a point? Or is he digging the hole even deeper by saying that?

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I will point all the defenders of Liddle and there are plenty, esp. frequenting the hallowed halls of Lib Con, who are using this as another excuse to trot out racist lies and spurious accusations.

It will be lost on them because it is not about facts and evidence, it is about prejudice.

Fine post though.

Five Chinese Crackers said...

Cheers people. Agree with Larry's second sentence there.

Matthew: Liddle mentions the goat curry reference because he's surprised the PCC didn't mention it (because he says it could be misinterpreted by ignorant people rather than being just chuffing racist in the first place).

Maybe this is because he thinks his pissweak defence is actually effective - but he seems to have missed the point of the adjudication. The point is that what he said was inaccurate, not because it was racist.

The racist aside about the contribution of black people probably wasn't taken as a statement of empirical fact in the same way the rest was.

Daniel: Thanks for that. I've been reading the Lib Con thread and I have to say it's not surprising to see the amount of 'but what if he'd said something else' defences going on there.