Friday, December 02, 2005

Embarrassed In Virginia

BLOG NOTE: It has been recently been brought to my attention that the statistics highlighted in the article which spurred the following post were lifted almost word for word from an Illinois based website which has compiled similar statistics for thousands of cities across the United States. I will leave my previous post wholly intact, except to note that my short-lived hesitance to lay claim to my former stomping grounds has passed. Though I still object to the way in which the statistic in question is used on the City Data website, the Utah-based web developer is pretty much cleared in my eyes of everything but slothfulness and maybe some insensitivity.
__________________________

Occasionally a set of circumstances arises that makes you wary of admitting where you're from. I think it's probably happened to everyone at some time or another. Normally proud of your home turf, an unexpected (...or expected) turn of events makes you hestitate just a bit to lay claim for awhile. Take, for example, Chris Cannon's defeat of Bill Orton in 1996. Well, today was that kind of day. A good friend passed along a news story this morning that I found so beyond the pale it made my jaw drop... truly unbelievable. Just when you start to think that perhaps we've begun to turn a corner as a country (or a state), you get hit with something like this. So, for now, my humble response will be: Utah County... Where's that again?

43 comments:

Gargantus said...

The UC!!! Whoopdy whoop!!!

woo said...

I guess that's what happens when you use the internet as your primary source?

Marc said...

Hmmm... not sure I understand.

BA said...

All I know is that I am a good friend. Thanks, Marc.

woo said...

They just lifted that quote straight from the webpage, as he said. It may have been that he removed the other statements around that, which would have been even dumber, but my guess is that he lifted the whole paragraph with comparisons to the rest of the state. That is why it was in bold. He plagiarized. That is all I was saying. Sorry to have been so confusing.

Eagle Mountain compared to Utah state average: Unemployed percentage below state average.
Black race population percentage significantly below state average.
Median age significantly below state average.
Renting percentage significantly below state average.
Length of stay since moving in significantly below state average.
House age significantly below state average.
Population density significantly below state average for cities.

woo said...

To clarify further, I am basically saying is that the web guy should be fired for plagiarism, and laziness. It was not some subtle form of discrimination, there was no intent to "keep african-americans from living there". So get over it everyone. Fire the kid (for plagiarizing), don't do business with the company for not fixing it when someone first noticed it, not for being "racist".

woo said...

Oh, and it has been done before in case the NAACP wants to set up a few more lawsuits, or some journalist wants the next scoop.

Marc said...

To begin with, I thought the stat page you scoured up was a nice find in the first place. I also agree with your assessment of the web developer. My question was simply directed at how this might redeem the original statistic? If you note in my post, I do not point fingers at anyone in particular for overt racism (Bigg Homes, Eagle Mountain residents, or even the web developer for that matter). My only assumption is that someone in Utah County originally compiled these statistics (something I could be wrong about).

Where I apparently part ways with you is over my discomfort with that statistic as presented in the first place. All that I see your post doing is passing the buck to someone else. The statistic is is still objectionable. Taking the time to specifically note "Black race population percentage significantly below state average" is especially bothersome and difficult to justify when you see that the webpage already lists the racial breakdown... why do you suppose it took the time to note that the "black race population" (and only the "balck race population") was significantly lower that the state average? It's obviously seen as a selling point by some (perhaps whoever complied these stats to begin with). The fact that others have done this elsewhere does nothing to explain or justify the statistic's inclusion in my opinion. I'm uncomfortable with it every time I read it and can't see it as a statistic that was innocently compiled.

woo said...

Gotcha, all I was doing was "passing the buck". I think it is stupid that it became a news report about the home builder, or the web developer, or anything other than whoever it was (www.city-data.com) that compiled and chose to hi-light that particular statistic. That was indeed arguably a racist act, more likely an ignorant act, although the two are obviously intertwined. Although, it could also be that the statistics were originally done to help blacks to chose whether or not they would like to live in a particular city. I guess we don't know the companies exact motive. Crime rates would have been a more informative statistic, for a more general audience.

woo said...

My main point is that disowning Utah County over this is stupid.

Marc said...

As I stated before, I think arguing that this was an innocent or "ignorant" act is much too generous. Just the simple construction of the sentence bothersome to me (i.e. "black race"), not to mention the fact that it was the ONLY race highlighted. I'm aware of several acquaintances who have consciously sought to live in areas with lower minority populations, and I think that is easily the more likely explanation of the origin of this statistic. Sure there might be a few "ignorant" handlers along the way, but that doesn't justify it.

You might disagree, but in my view subtler, but still pernicious, forms of racism like this are much more prevalent than most of us would like to believe. Every African American who I know on a personal basis has told me they've struggled against it (and these aren't the type of individuals you could claim have 'victim' personalities).

While my disdain at this news report and the statistic in question are very genuine, my post was intended to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Moreover, no where did I claim to be "disowning" Utah... I said "hestitate just a bit to lay claim for awhile." My conclusion in the post was meant, again, tongue-in-cheek. I've read it again and I still think it comes off that way.

woo said...

So we agree, the news report was stupid. I have complete and utter disdain for the news report. I also agree that there is subtle racism prevalent in Utah County, and pretty much everywhere I've lived. It is indeed a real problem. I still think this was innocent. The damned kid lifted practically every statistic from the page. It just so happened that the controversial summary statistic was grouped with some useful and relevant ones. He was not picking and choosing. I guess the only solution to this is that you can move to Eagle Mountain with your newly adopted african-american twins, and the statistic can then be reversed. "...significantly above the state average."

Marc said...

Let me clarify. I appreciated the news report because it brings light to the problem that is oft ignored. I disdained the event the news story reported on and I disdain the statistic.

My point does not appear to have sunk it. That the statistic, regardless of whether it was written by "that damned kid," is racist. I do not think it was innocently compiled and am befuddled how the fact that the statistic was lifted makes it somehow unobjectionable.

I do not have the time or energy to track down where www.city-data.com gets their statistics from, but I think there is a good chance someone in Utah County was involved. I stand by that assumption and my post and I find it extremely odd how invested you seem to be in fighting the uphill battle by trying to portray the statistic as benign.

woo said...

You seem to find arguing very stressful when the other person agrees with you. I said "That was indeed arguably a racist act, more likely an ignorant act, although the two are obviously intertwined." I proposed that I didn't know their exact motives, but I did so for correctness... I don't. You don't know their motives either. I agree the statistic as used is unneeded and racist. There, I said it... again.

I never said the statistic was innocently compiled. I said it could have been, a bit tongue-in-cheek mind you. Again, I don't know people's motives. The web-designer, however, I would propose did do so innocently/ignorantly/lazily, not with the intent to keep black folks from moving there, or make racist white folks want to live there. That has been my premise from the beginning, and is what I was seeking to say, apparently insufficiently.

As for its source, the page states in the footer "This data has been compiled from multiple government and commercial sources." Not specific enough? Sorry, I would guess, like most census statistics, that it came from a census. So, of course people in Utah County were involved. They responded to the census questions. Even the African Americans are obviously involved, as they reported as living in Utah, or Eagle Mountain, etc. There were likely government officials and workers involved as well, as there are in any census. Statistics are representative numbers, and cannot themselves be benign or malign, so long as the facts that they represent are correct... (i.e. the census polled an unbiased representative sample). The choice of words "black race" obviously wasn't PC, and may have been proposed by a racist. The conclusion, that there are significantly fewer African-Americans in that city than in Utah as a whole, again is a statistical statement that the numbers deviate more than would be expected randomly. This again, if backed by the census numbers, is correct. The reason why this statement was picked as one of the hypotheses to test, (i.e. does the pop. in Eagle Mountain vs. Utah differ significantly) was the choice of www.city-data.com as far as I can tell, although it could have been done by those taking the census. Choosing that over all other statistics was their choice, they are an advertising/internet hosting business and thus, it can be assumed to be in order to make money, although someone's personal racism could have been involved, or at least their own personal desire to know that statistic. I DON'T KNOW THEIR MOTIVES. You are probably right, that it was for reasons of conscious or sub-conscious racism. Picking that statistic was objectionable to you, and the wording was too. That is fine. I agree, though I said that there are instances (excluding the choice of words) where that statistic could have been compiled/used for reasons other than discriminative racist profiling. It is likely done for the same reasons as Universities, or loan applications, etc.

Man, that was a long uphill battle, but here I am, waiting to catch a glimpse of the next hill!

BA said...

Be forewarned, I didn't read your argument/agreement; however, what I find racist is the fact that they'd known it was there for months and hadn't been concerned about removing it. If one of you said that already, then I agree with you.

Gargantus said...

nobody asked you, fagmo.

Marc said...

You want to have it both ways Woo. I am saying I think it far-fetched that the original composition of the statistic could be seen as an ignorant act rather than racist act. Which you seem to argue is the more likely explanation (but then later you say unequivocally is “unneeded and racist”?). I could be wrong, but I get the impression that you are more interested in contending with me, regardless of my position, than in any sort of actually meaningful debate.

If some comments in your post were meant a bit tongue-in-cheek, I missed it. I’ve read through them again and still don’t see it, but I apologize for attributing to them any unintended meaning.

As for your premise on the web-designer, I never contended with your “innocently/ignorantly/lazily” assessment and I still don’t. That does not acquit the person who compiled the statistics though. You miss the point in the footer you quote and you completely mischaracterize nearly all of my arguments. “This data has been compiled from multiple government and commercial sources.” Someone compiled the data from those sources and that person included the objectionable phrase that sparked this whole debate. The census bureau and the other commercial databases merely provided the statistics to someone who put that statistics page together. I never argued that the statistics themselves were malignant, I said the person who compiled them onto the Eagle Mountain fact sheet choose to highlight the black population statistic in an objectionable and racist way.

I’m unclear on how all of the background information on statistics you choose to include in your last post relates to any of my points. I don’t have a problem with statistics per se, nor do I have a problem with demographic statistics per se, nor do I have a problem with the fact that Eagle Mountain’s black population is .6% per se, what I find objectionable is the way the compiler of this census and commercial data chose to highlight the black population.

I apologize if I am being a little repetitive, but it is only because I feel that my points have continually been taken out of context and skewed merely, it seems, for arguments sake. I welcome your comments and appreciate your views Woo, but I would prefer to avoid this game of polemical semantics. Perhaps my impressions are wrong, but I feel as though, instead of throwing in a witty comment, taking issue with a particular topic or principle, highlighting an overlooked point, or inquiring as to my reasoning behind a post, you more interested in contending with me personally. It seems as though your real purpose is “pinning” or even inciting me. I want to underscore that I’m not in any way trying to dissuade an honest, open or humorous discussion of ideas, but I’d prefer that it be left at that.

woo said...

Bohn, I posted a link to where the information came from, you seemed confused, so explained my view of the news article. You weren't comfortable with my evaluation of what I thought had happened, and turned it into an argument. I don't want to argue, I just do because you keep spinning my comments just like I do yours. I don't have finals to study for, so I spend my time here. Sorry that my debates with you are unfulfilling. In the future, I will try to just agree with you right off the bat, not evaluate the article in a different light than you, or just never comment on your posts.

woo said...

Oh, and you were wrong about the statistics being likely compiled by someone in Utah County. I guess I should have just said that?

Marc said...

Woo... read through your posts. Most of them have a very contentious air about them. I asked for several 2nd opinions on this before I posted my last response, just to be sure I wasn't for some reason reading more into the posts than was there. I have tried to respond to the points which you raised in kind without distorting your position, I do not feel that you have done the same for my posts. Several of your posts ranged onto issues that they otherwise would not have had you not been misrepresenting my position. I'm fine with people disagreeing with me, and I enjoy energetic debates. I try to qualify my positions and and opinions as mine, and mine alone and I try to avoid broad generalizations. Perhaps I fall short, but I am trying. What wears on me though are, as I said earlier, discussions that amount to nothing more than polemical semantics. If you feel you were fair to me in your posts then fine. They came off as much more adversarial to me.

Also, if you have information as to who gathered the data from the Census bureau and the other commercial data sources and composed the statistical fact sheet in question (including the objectionable "Black race" stat) I'd be very interested to see it. I said early on that I was making an assumption that that individual was from Utah County, and I still think it likely, unless you have information that shows otherwise.

woo said...

Marc,
1) I love you.
2) I don't hate you.
3) My main issue with this post was the association with the racism and Utah County, based on the article.
4) I apologize for sounding argumentative.
5) Why would you assume someone from Utah came up with a statistic to hi-light, for an Illinois based website that uses the same exact statistic for 145,000 other non-Utah cities? If you can give me a good justification for that, I will recount. I was wrong, one cannot rule out that it was a UCite, but I think it equally presumptuous to assume it was, since the company posting the data is headquartered in Illinois.

woo said...

6) as for singling out that one objectionable statistic. That was probably the only significantly different race related statistic for Eagle Mountain, hence others were not mentioned. Hispanics, Institutionalized, and Foreign born were also apparently hi-lighted in other cities*.

*This does not make it right...

Marc said...

I appreciate your diligent research in this area and will adjust my original post accordingly.

For the record, I've always loved you and hope my posts haven't led you to believe otherwise.

I want to stress that I never objected to your questioning of the validity of the article I posted or my interpretation of it, and I am grateful to have any and all residents of Utah County acquitted with regards overt racism in this incident (The only "crime" appears to have been lazyiness, plagerism, and perhaps insensitivity and maybe a little more laziness for failing to remove it in a timely matter after being notified of the objectionable statistic).

As for my small hesitance to lay claim... it has passed. Though I'm sure I'll feel that way again (but hopefully not for anything along these lines involving Utah County). I have felt that same hesitance about a lot of things... I think it's normal. You just may not label it hesitance. Take for instance the beloved BYU Professor, I hesitated claiming BYU momentarily after that one... and when I heard my brother's dog was on doggy Prozac, I thought about hesitating. No big deal... just part of life.

woo said...

Marc,
You probably weren't trying to spin this differently, but you missed my point.

As for my seemingly different view of the statistic in question:

Compilation of the statistic was not necessarily racist, any more than it is racist for Universities to assert what percent of their student body belongs to a given demographic. In my opinion. You may disagree, but I don't think we can ascertain their motives.
As used (i.e. on a real estate website), the statistic was racist, we agree here. That is why I said "as used" not in an unequivocal fashion.
Love,
Woo

woo said...

Maybe we need to cyber hug?

Marc said...

I didn't miss your point Steve... I addressed it by saying that I was not opposed to demographics statistics, per se. What I objected to was the way in which this statistic was and is highlighted in all of the City Data webpages.

Marc said...

I don't think we have ever disagreed that the statistics themselves are benign, wholly dependent upon how they are used for context. I simply pointed out that you seemed more willing to accept that a non-racial motive might be behind the orginal compiler's drafting of this statistical page. I have never ruled out that I could be wrong on this, but I still think it much more likely that the author was conscious of the potential inferences here.

Marc said...

To show my consistency on this point, see my 2nd reponse, 8 posts from the original.

"Where I apparently part ways with you is over my discomfort with that statistic as presented in the first place."

woo said...

okay, I don't think I differed on that point prior to your saying that I did, I just chose to mention only the point over which I thought my opinion differed. So, having been labeled to believe as you stated, I tried to reason why one might believe such, ie that the statistic was compiled innocently. While you are probably right that whoever decided to create those stats, sought to discriminate, I am not completely convinced that it was malignant. However, regardless of his/her intent it is apparent that they can and have been used in inappropriate ways.

Marc said...

As you will note, I qualified my assertion with "apparently." The emphasis of your early posts seemed to focus on how the statistic was not racist, so one can understand how I made the inferences I did. Your later posts clarified that you were, indeed, only defending the web-developer and the Construction company against those charges and reserving judgment on whomever originally compiled the statistic information. Thanks again for the subsequent updates on the origin of the statistics. Finals preparation has severly hampered my internet surfing opportunities (aside from responding to you I haven't had much time to do anything else online).

woo said...

Oh sure, a blog note and I am not even a good friend? Sheesh, I don't know what a guy has to do these days... or do I?

Marc said...

Yup... but unfortunately you're not close enough to satisfy those needs.

tigerfoxbear said...

Holy shit. Will you promise to argue this much if I can somehow get on the news by doing something as offensive???? I'll only be doing it for "polemical semantics" though.

Marc said...

Is this your way of trying to admit you've done something offensive?

Maui said...

Long live Eagle Mountain!

Marc said...

In the context of this discussion... whatin the hell does that mean?

Gargantus said...

just that eagle mountain probably has low crime and will keep it's property value, at least that's what i gather from looking at stats.

Anonymous said...

Who in the world has time to read this interminable thread to understand the "context of the discussion"? Not to mention the tens of other too-long-to-be-called-lengthy blah-blahs here and on "the site."

SiS

Anonymous said...

Where's the investigation into this "city-data.com" stat machine and what they decide is important to list for EVERY CITY?

Anderson compared to South Carolina average:

# Unemployed percentage above state average.
# Black race population percentage significantly above state average.
# Foreign-born population percentage below state average.
# Renting percentage above state average.
# Institutionalized population percentage above state average.

Same bolds as Eagle Mountain Utah whenever saying "above" "below" "significantly above" or whatever.

-can't remember my blogWord...

Gargantus said...

Sounds like you're the winner on this thread. I will probably be buying up properties at eagle mountain now.

Marc said...

The coward who doesn't even dare to use his real name, the winner?

Never was my intention to try and talk anyone out of buying at Eagle Mountain. It's probably a little boring and family-ish for your blood though. Not sure how thriving the single scene is out that-a-way.

woo said...

Single Scene? Who cares, they don't call him T. "Homewrecker" A. for nothing...

Marc said...

The problem with his post is that it is repetitive and says nothing that was not addressed in earlier posts. Call him T. "whatever the hell you want" A.