8 votes

Days after El Paso and Dayton mass shootings, Amnesty International issues travel warning to US

13 comments

  1. [13]
    imperialismus Link
    Now, like most people on Tildes, I think the United States has a serious gun problem, and its high levels of homicide and suicide by gun compared to other countries is indicative of a serious...

    The organization urged travelers “to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the country due to rampant gun violence.” It added that gun violence is “so prevalent in the United States that it amounts to a human rights crisis.” [...]

    “People in the United States cannot reasonably expect to be free from harm – a guarantee of not being shot is impossible,” Coverson added in the statement.

    Now, like most people on Tildes, I think the United States has a serious gun problem, and its high levels of homicide and suicide by gun compared to other countries is indicative of a serious unresolved problem. But! This "travel advisory" by Amnesty is rather intellectually dishonest and seems more like a desperate attempt to ride on the coat-tails of tragedy to gain publicity. I mean, "a guarantee of not being shot is impossible" is a statement that is true of every country on earth. "People in the United States cannot reasonably expect to be free from harm" suggests that traveling to the US is like traveling into an active war zone. It's not. Most people who travel to the US will not be the victims of gun violence.

    In 2017, 14 thousand people died of homicide by firearm in the US. Most of those not by mass shooting. Meanwhile 37 thousand died in traffic accidents.

    Venezuela and Uruguay issued travel warnings of their own to their citizens following the mass shootings.

    I mean, you are about 3 times as likely to be shot and killed in Venezuela as in the United States. These travel advisories are not sober, rational assessments of statistical risk, but politically motivated statements.

    13 votes
    1. [4]
      Loire Link Parent
      While I don't disagree with the rest of your assertion, comparing gun violence/homicide to traffic accidents is intellectually dishonest. Taking a life with a firearm is usually a choice. Someone...

      2017, 14 thousand people died of homicide by firearm in the US. Most of those not by mass shooting. Meanwhile 37 thousand died in traffic accidents.

      While I don't disagree with the rest of your assertion, comparing gun violence/homicide to traffic accidents is intellectually dishonest. Taking a life with a firearm is usually a choice. Someone must aim the wealon and pull the trigger. Traffic accidents are accidents. Intention to murder versus no intention. Nearly everyone in this country requires a vehicle to survive. Hundreds of millions need to file onto the roads at least twice a day five days a week putting themselves in harms wau be necessity. Almost no one requires a personal firearm. One is a necessity, the other an addiction hobby.

      It's not comparable just because the end result is a corpse for both.

      11 votes
      1. [3]
        imperialismus (edited ) Link Parent
        The context is what danger you are in if you travel to the United States. In the context of "how dangerous is it to travel to the United States", there is no difference. The end result is the...

        While I don't disagree with the rest of your assertion, comparing gun violence/homicide to traffic accidents is intellectually dishonest.

        The context is what danger you are in if you travel to the United States.

        It's not comparable just because the end result is a corpse for both.

        In the context of "how dangerous is it to travel to the United States", there is no difference. The end result is the relevant measurement.

        I do agree that in general, traffic accidents are not a relevant comparison. But when it comes to this particular context, it's a necessary corrective. Chances are much greater that you will die in a traffic accident than that you will be killed with a gun. And you might say that the traffic accidents occur in all countries (although traffic deaths are also higher in the US than in most of Western Europe), but firearms deaths occur at a much greater rate in the US. But I would counter that traffic accidents present a rather even distribution almost regardless of where you are, as long as there's a road. It's much easier to avoid neighborhoods plagued by gun violence than it is to avoid roads where traffic accidents occur.

        Note that this pronouncement was inspired by mass shooting, which could occur anywhere and can't really be avoided by reasonable precautions. But they represent only a tiny fraction of gun-related violence.

        If we are evaluating how dangerous it is to your personal safety to travel to a country, you gotta considert all significant statistical causes of grievous injury or death.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          spit-evil-olive-tips Link Parent
          This is flat-out not true. Rural roads, mile-for-mile, are more than 20 times more deadly than urban roads.

          But I would counter that traffic accidents present a rather even distribution almost regardless of where you are, as long as there's a road.

          This is flat-out not true.

          there was a risk of 19.6 fatalities per billion traveled miles on rural roads, for a risk of 0.79 fatalities per billion traveled miles on urban roads

          Rural roads, mile-for-mile, are more than 20 times more deadly than urban roads.

          4 votes
          1. imperialismus Link Parent
            Ok, that makes sense, and was poor wording on my part. But assuming you're actually in an urban area, some cities, and some districts within cities, are far more dangerous than others. You can...

            Ok, that makes sense, and was poor wording on my part. But assuming you're actually in an urban area, some cities, and some districts within cities, are far more dangerous than others. You can find some neighborhoods with violent crime rates nearly 20 times the national average. Others have practically zero violent crime. The two biggest factors in traffic accidents are speed limit and level of road maintenance. Speed limits tend to be pretty much the same within cities, whether they are violent or not, and maintenance is generally better (and not as much of an issue when you're going 30mph as when you're going 60). The chances of getting into a traffic accident may not be exactly equal in every city in America, but they are far more evenly distributed than the chance of getting shot and killed.

    2. [4]
      TheJorro Link Parent
      While you're not wrong that this is an exaggeration, I think you are off summarizing this as "rather intellectually dishonest and seems more like a desperate attempt to ride on the coat-tails of...

      While you're not wrong that this is an exaggeration, I think you are off summarizing this as "rather intellectually dishonest and seems more like a desperate attempt to ride on the coat-tails of tragedy to gain publicity". They're not riding the coat-tails to gain publicity—they're an activist organization. They don't do things like this for publicity's sake to grow their brand. They're one of the most famous activist organizations already, and this is what they do. They get into the news cycle and bring attention to issues they campaign around.

      Something I haven't seen mentioned in various articles about this travel advisory: Amnesty International doesn't do travel advisories. There's no section for it on their site to look up a country and find out if it's safe to visit. Their page on the US doesn't have mention of travel advisories right now. A search on either amnestyusa.org and amnesty.org don't bring up any other travel advisories. I can't find anything in Google News archives from June 2010 to 2019. But they have one now, for this specific purpose.

      And it's from their US branch specifically, even their international site is using the US branch as the source. I think it's safe to say that it's not so much a travel advisory for would-be travellers, but instead a sort of statement of position from the organization on the issue of gun violence in the US. This is basically like when someone edits the FBI Piracy text before a consumer copy of a movie to make a statement about piracy. It's not being intellectually dishonest, it's purposefully adopting a format to make a statement.

      Here's Amnesty's "official travel advisory". They're pretty clear that this explicitly an activist move because there's no way that last paragraph is a a simple caution for travellers. It's interesting that the various articles I've read about this really tone down how blatantly activist of a move this is, with many of them passing it off as a normal travel advisory.

      Perhaps the real takeaway is the mentions that other countries really have issued similar warnings for the US, though probably in more objective and proportional recommendations instead.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        imperialismus Link Parent
        That's certainly interesting information. However, I disagree that twisting facts and stoking irrational public fear is not intellectually dishonest just because it's activism. Activism doesn't...

        That's certainly interesting information. However, I disagree that twisting facts and stoking irrational public fear is not intellectually dishonest just because it's activism. Activism doesn't need to be dishonest, and the ends don't justify the means.

        It's interesting that the various articles I've read about this really tone down how blatantly activist of a move this is, with many of them passing it off as a normal travel advisory.

        This is something that Amnesty's PR team must surely have realized would happen, even counted on happening.

        Perhaps the real takeaway is the mentions that other countries really have issued similar warnings for the US, though probably in more objective and proportional recommendations instead.

        There's nothing objective and proportional about Venezuela, a country that has 3 times as much gun violence (excluding suicides), advising their citizens not to go to the US because they might get shot and killed. In reality, Venezuelans are far safer in the US.

        The thing is, I largely agree with Amnesty's stance on gun violence and respect them a lot as an organization. I simply don't like manipulative and dishonest campaigns. I think they do more harm than good: they give fuel to political opponents, mislead the public, and erode confidence in the media. And there is no need for it. There have been plenty of sober critiques of America's pathological relationship with guns. Alternatively, go full-on the Onion. But Amnesty doesn't do satire. It's not a good look for them and trying to adopt that, people will assume they are 100% serious because they usually do not exaggerate for effect.

        2 votes
        1. KapteinB Link Parent
          The travel advisory from Venezuela is a purely political move. The US is supporting the opposition government of Venezuela, and so the ruling government does what little it can to delegitimise the...

          There's nothing objective and proportional about Venezuela, a country that has 3 times as much gun violence (excluding suicides), advising their citizens not to go to the US because they might get shot and killed. In reality, Venezuelans are far safer in the US.

          The travel advisory from Venezuela is a purely political move. The US is supporting the opposition government of Venezuela, and so the ruling government does what little it can to delegitimise the US. I know very little about the relationship between Uruguay and the US, so I don't know if that's another attempt to get the US to mind their own business or not.

          2 votes
      2. Greg Link Parent
        Most travel advisories I've seen in any context are wildly over-cautious, overtly political, or both. On the one hand, that means this piece from Amnesty is more in line with what governments put...

        Perhaps the real takeaway is the mentions that other countries really have issued similar warnings for the US, though probably in more objective and proportional recommendations instead.

        Most travel advisories I've seen in any context are wildly over-cautious, overtly political, or both. On the one hand, that means this piece from Amnesty is more in line with what governments put out than one might think; on the other hand, it means that I've long since been desensitised to these kind of warnings even when they do come from a reliable government.

    3. [2]
      Deimos Link Parent
      I don't disagree, but if you think it's a dishonest attention-seeking action, wouldn't it be better not to help spread it?

      I don't disagree, but if you think it's a dishonest attention-seeking action, wouldn't it be better not to help spread it?

      4 votes
      1. imperialismus Link Parent
        I'm not in general a believer in the idea that there's no such thing as bad publicity, or that discussing dishonest sensationalism is never useful or warranted. There are some cases where the goal...

        I'm not in general a believer in the idea that there's no such thing as bad publicity, or that discussing dishonest sensationalism is never useful or warranted. There are some cases where the goal is clearly to become notorious where I think not spreading something is the right thing to do. Not repeating a terrorist's name more than necessary, for instance. I do not think that's Amnesty's intention here, though, so I don't think talking about their campaign in a critical light is necessarily advancing their goals.

        I'm introducing a topic for discussion. I may be wrong. I may be insufficiently nuanced. There may be interesting nuances, context or solutions introduced in a discussion topic that I haven't thought of. And the media is already spreading this; if Amnesty issued a press release that nobody in trad-media paid any attention to, I wouldn't bring it up. But Amnesty is an organization that does a lot of good work and trades heavily on a very good moral reputation, so how it disposes of that influence is a relevant question.

        Besides, it's very hard to discuss the idea of unreasonable attention-seeking without any concrete examples, and concrete examples are always gonna "reward" attention-seeking with attention, although not always the kind of attention desired.

        For all these reasons, I think talking about stuff like this is worth it.

        5 votes
    4. [2]
      Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
      That link isn't working for me.

      In 2017, 14 thousand people died of homicide by firearm in the US.

      That link isn't working for me.

      1 vote