While promoting his new children’s book on the TODAY show (VIDEO) Spike Lee was asked for his reaction to the Tucson shootings. I know what you’re thinking: Finally! America could barely go another day without hearing from Spike Lee on this!
Spike responded by saying that the shootings prove that the gun control laws need to be tightened in this country. While being careful to say this was “his opinion” he lashed out at the NRA and lax gun control laws for contributing to the U.S. being “the most violent country in the history of the world.”
Aside from that not at all being an opinion, but an attempt at a statement of fact, there’s one other small problem: it’s completely false.
Let‘s assume for a second that Spike wasn’t talking about bloody periods in history like the Spanish Inquisition, French Revolution, Holocaust or any of the other times when man tortured, maimed and killed each other in appalling numbers. Let’s instead give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he meant to base his embarrassingly idiotic "opinion" on some kind of actual data. In this case, I would assume that murders per capita would be a good place to start.
How does the U.S. rank? According to Nation Master (which pulls its data from the U.N.) the U.S. is 24th in the world. That means, in Spike’s mind, he could move to Russia, Venezuela, Jamaica, South Africa or Columbia and be SAFER than he is in his U.S. mansion. (Side note, if he moved to Columbia and filmed the experience it would be the first movie of his I've ever seen.)
If we want to give Spike even more undeserved leeway, let’s narrow the stat down to murders per capita through use of a firearm. The U.S. is 7th. (South Africa is first, with a rate 26 times higher than us.) Countries like Mexico also beat us, which makes sense to anyone who has paid attention at all to the fact that parts of Mexico are now seemingly run entirely by drug lords.
Look, I don’t really care what Spike Lee says. I really don’t. The problem is that when this kind of rhetoric is put out on our national airwaves it just might influence people to act on their misguided beliefs. Remember Spike, words have consequences.