What-The-Hell is a Random Crime Anyway?

Seems MacLeans Magazine is now tackling crime with the same pin-point accuracy it handled university rankings. You remember MacLeans? With its annual The Best Universities in Canada issue? The Spring publication that struck fear in the hearts of college administrators across the country? (Do they still even do those ratings?) I think they stopped when everyone dropped out and they reached a sample size of N=3. They once rated McGill the top university in the country at the height of the separatist movement and a language crisis.

AnywhoMacLeans has taken its ratings and questionable survey methodology to greener pastures: Crime. That’s right, from the people who brought you The University of Kamloops: A Bargain In The Rough, its The MacLeans Magazine Most Dangerous Cities in Canada!

Toronto and Montreal? They don’t even rate, baby… the murder capital of Canada? Arthabaska, Quebec. I had to look it up. And I’m still pondering what sore-thumb outlier caused it to register on a MacLeans flunky’s radar. Canada’s most dangerous city? That would be the queen city, Regina, Saskatchewan (say it without stuttering? Cripes, say it without laughing!). Anyway, some folks are hopping mad. Check out University of Regina Department of Justice Studies professor, Hirsch Greenberg:

“The article is the worst form of fearmongering… Crime is not that random. The opportunity has to be there — whether it’s breaking and entering or killing somebody and the method to do it has to be available at the same time. That’s what’s missing from the article — the understanding that crime is not as random as it appears.”

And a big Who Killed Theresa? Attaboy to Professor Greenberg, again we come back to the utter pointlessness of the moniker, “random crime”. What-the-hell is a random crime anyway? In Chapel Hill we have the police arguing that a random crime is a criminal long-shot, something that rarely happens to anyone; yet MacLeans, it appears, has argued that a random crime is just the opposite: a chance occurrence that can happen to anyone, exactly the sort of thing that should scare the bejezzus out of you. Can we put a moratorium on the term “random crime” until someone figures out what it actually means?

But for the fact that these rating can mean big economic dollars to cities and towns competing for recognition on the tourism / growth map I would conclude that the MacLeans rankings are something, not to be angered by, but openly mocked. Ridicule them and hopefully they’ll lose all credibility… just like their arcane college rankings.


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