2007 November 29 Thursday
Just An Average Night Of Car Burnings In France

At Newsweek Tracy McNicoll says the latest round of Muslim riots (not that she uses the "M" word) are no big deal because 138 cars burned in one night is pretty close to average.

Early this morning, global audiences may have read wire reports lamenting a “third night of rioting.” But that is misleading. Indeed, the same police union spokesman who early Tuesday fed headlines by deploring rioters’ “urban guerilla”-style use of firearms said today that “nothing too nasty” happened last night and that no new shots were fired. That 138 cars were burned across France last night is actually nothing extraordinary--that’s about the average for any night. Violence may flare-up again when the teens killed in Sunday’s collision are buried. Or even before that. Or after. But the media covering the riots have the same responsibility police peppered with buckshot do--to keep the violence in perspective.

We don't need to see this as a new step in the decline of a civilization because the current rate of destruction of property by hostile Arab and African Muslims in France is already pretty high. No need to think things are getting worse. So things are great. This is how civilizations decay. Rationalizations.

To maintain a high quality civilization requires an attitude similar to that brought to maintaining a high quality industrial process: zero tolerance of decay. Whatever happened to Western societies that so disabled their ability to hold others to a high standard?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 November 29 11:03 PM  Civilizations Clash Of

John S Bolton said at November 30, 2007 1:58 AM:

Malice and power-greed maintained their ambitions, while discovering a weakness: they could choose their issues so as to position themselves to smear all objectors as moved entirely by racial or other hatred, which could be described
as being on a slippery slope to giant murder projects.
This was found by trial and error to be effective at getting everyone else on the defensive and keeping them there
and the snowballing immigration of hostiles was found to fit this procedure quite effectively. Once officials win dictatorship, the immigrants and minorities become useless and their special privileges and special pleaders will be out of favor.

Audacious Epigone said at November 30, 2007 8:47 AM:

In 2005, fewer than 50 cars were burned each day in France. In 2006, the number was just over 110. Now it's almost 140.

Stead(il)y (up) she goes! Nothing to see here.

kurt9 said at November 30, 2007 10:10 AM:

I believe the phrase is "an acceptable level of violence".

Randall Parker said at November 30, 2007 7:31 PM:


It reminds me of oil prices. Oil went up to $99 per barrel. So now that it has fallen to $89 per barrel it is cheap. This is the logic. Things get much worse. They get mildly better. Then, hey, where's the problem?

The Muslims in France clearly need to burn 1000 cars in a single night so that 150 per night seems really low.

Wolf-Dog said at December 1, 2007 2:13 AM:

The Muslims in France can burn more cars per night, but if the violence increases a lot more, there will be a _THRESHOLD_ which will cause a dramatic change in the current trend of tolerance. And since we are talking about France, let me mention that it was a French mathematician called Rene Thom who discovered that in nature, although there are infinitely many possible combinations of things, there are a finite number of equations that determine the structure of events, and that there are often very surprising sudden transitions from one trend to another. This is called "Structural Stability and Morphogenesis". But the Morphogenesis theory is also known as "Catastrophe Theory" in the mathematical literature, for reasons that will become clear if you read these two web sites below:
and if you buy this American book which makes it more practical:

It turns out that the transition from Bull Markets to Bear Markets are often sudden evens due to nonlinear internal structures in nature, and due to these quick transitions, these events are often difficult to predict. Similarly, the public attitude also often changes very quickly from one extreme to another.

Fox Bark said at December 1, 2007 5:33 AM:

Just what is it with car-burning?
As a form of expressing anger and contempt, it appears pretty unique to me.
Perhaps the idea is that it is a near 'victimless crime', in that the the motorists' insurance will compensate for the loss.
Perhaps even the car-burners work in cahoots with the 'victims'?

Audacious Epigone said at December 1, 2007 7:45 AM:


Like a frog in warming water, I guess. Amazing that the apology for such barbaric behavior is to simply point out that it is also standard behavior, so what's the big deal?

Fox Bark,

The car burnings figure lends itself well as a quantitative measure of destruction. I'm sure it proxies well for other riotous activities like vandalism, harassment, and petty theft, though, too.

Bob Badour said at December 1, 2007 4:51 PM:

You all are missing the point.

The US has 100 vehicle arsons a night, the UK has even more, and at one time Massachusetts alone had 14 a night:

Vehicle arson goes in cycles so it's not that big a surprise if rates increase or decrease substantially from one year to the next. The economy (and fuel prices) drive most vehicle arsons.

The fact that vehicle arsons get reported in conjunction with rioting will increase the chance that someone will look to arson to get out of an expensive vehicle payment while expecting the riots to deflect suspicion.

Audacious Epigone said at December 3, 2007 4:47 PM:


Adjusting for population size, that's comparable to about 20 cars per day in France. The French rate is now almost an order of magnitude more than that. Two years ago, at fewer than 50 cars per day, your explanation would be plausible. But the rapid rise, year-over-year, and the fact that it dwarfs the US vehicle arson rate (and France has fewer vehicles per capita and lower levels of overall violent crime than the US does), suggests something other than insurance fraud.

Bob Badour said at December 6, 2007 2:23 PM:


Don't be absurd. France with 63 million people does not have merely (let alone less than!) 20% of the UK's 60 million.


::rolls eyes::

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