It is a new year, and many people may already be thinking about the travel adventures they will have in 2014. I know a handful of people who have locked in a Disney trip, and others who are planning trips to the coasts. But what about the middle of our great country? After all, good things usually happen when people meet in the middle.
Huh. I just heard on the radio this morning that St. Louis, Missouri is the third most dangerous city in the world. You heard me correctly…the WORLD. The home of the World Series Champion Cardinals is nestled between Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We also safely beat out Mogadishu, Somalia (#5); Grozny, Chechnya, Russia (#8); and Muzaffarabad, Kashmir, Pakistan (#10). That’s right. My city is more dangerous than one embroiled in the Afghan war.
Wow. So I guess the fact that I have safely survived thirty-four years without so much as mace in my purse means I have way more street cred than I ever would have imagined.
Or this could simply be a case of irresponsible journalism. Surprising, I know.
I was curious to see this report that one of our local radio stations broadcasted as I drove my daughter to school this morning. I apparently did not realize how lucky I was to have made the trip without encountering a car bomb or a car-jacking. So I typed in the keywords, expecting to see a rash of trustworthy news sources citing some legitimate study done by a governmental statistics agency, or something along those lines. Instead, I got one result at the top of the list from a website called Urban Titan, whose tag line is “All Things That are Weird, Bizarre, Strange and Unusual.” And the article about the ten most dangerous cities in the world was written by “Nataly.” Just Nataly. Apparently she is such a renowned expert that she does not need a last name.
That is just for starters. The “article” was riddled with typos. And when I was finished reading the “article,” I could click on one of the numerous ads on either side to educate myself on the ten most controversial cartoon characters, the five most bizarre deaths during sexual intercourse, and how drunk girls like to “experiment.” This is hard-hitting journalism, folks.
Not only that, but as part of the explanation of why St. Louis, Missouri is on the list, the author claims that 65% of our crime occurs in East St. Louis. Hold it. East St. Louis? You mean that city that shares our name but is a completely different city? The one with its own mayor, and…oh yeah, its own STATE? As in East St. Louis, ILLINOIS? Granted, I will admit that East St. Louis is considered to be within the family of “the St. Louis area.” We certainly claim its successes for our own, such as Ike and Tina Turner and Miles Davis. But when taking statistics for something like the most dangerous cities, it can only seem fair to include the stats strictly within the city limits, and East St. Louis does not fall within those limits. If they are going to be lax about parameters, at least throw in the stats from suburbs like Manchester and Frontenac to give our median a fair picure of the area. Even still, I would question if East St. Louis as its own entity would be able to keep up with some of the world’s most violent places.
But I think what bothers me the most is that some of our own St. Louisans brought this story into the limelight by discussing it on their radio show without really checking the validity of the story. The original article on Urban Titan was posted in January of this year, which means it went virtually unnoticed in our media for almost a year. Why? Because had it been a legitimate study, it would have made news. But it’s not. And now our own fellow citizens are perpetuating an idea that St. Louis is really worse than it is…which really is not that bad at all. I am not denying the fact that we have crime, and more crime than we should. But it seems that polls like this one and the recent Men’s Health poll on the saddest cities in America (in which we came in sixth) do nothing but create overall unrealistic images of cities which can be a danger to tourism and commerce. And for what?
I guess the only thing we in St. Louis can do is hold on to the fact that we know we live in a great city with a rich history. The Gateway to the West. The home of the Arch, interesting architecture, fabulous museums, copious and tantalizing restaurants, cozy neighborhoods to raise families, Forest Park, ground-breaking music, the eleven-time World Series Champions, and some damn fine beer, among many, many other things. Oh, and the best tasting city water in America (see: http://www.stlwater.com/bestwater.php).
As far as I’m concerned, the rest is just fuzzy math. Then again, most math is fuzzy to me.