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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Terror?

The word at the root of "terrorist" is "terror". I'm not terrified. I'm not even slightly scared. I don't really know how other people feel, but I don't think they are either. One of the enduring images of the recent London attack, was a man moving briskly down the street away from a threat, carefully carrying his pint of beer.

So why am I not terrified? And why isn't anyone else?

Because it's small.

Let's start with the latest attack. A man attacked a policeman with a hammer, in Paris. A hammer? Hasn't he heard of knives? Ladysolly has some pretty sharp knives in her kitchen, they aren't exactly hard to find. And he got shot in the chest for his efforts.

Then there's London Bridge. Seven dead, 60 injured. Weapons used - a hired van and knives. The police were called, and within 8 minutes, all three were dead in a hail of 50 bullets.

Manchester; a bomb, killing 22 and injuring many more. It isn't actually easy to get the resources to make a bomb, and it isn't easy to make one without killing yourself at the preparation stage.

Westminster bridge; again, a vehicle and a knife. Five killed (plus the attacker), 50 injured.

All this might be worrying, but now let's look at another statistic - people killed in accidents on our roads. The figure was 1732 in 2015, and it's been steady at that level for a few years. That's 33 per week.

You are *massively* more likely to be killed in a road accident, than by a terrorist, especially when the best they can come up with is cars, vans, knives and hammers. And yet we get into our car and drive to work, or for fun, without a moment's thought about the possibility of becoming one of those 1732.

Even water is more dangerous! In 2016, 300 people drowned, and 77 of those weren't even intending to get into the water, they were out walking or running. But that isn't going to deter me from walking or cycling. And by the way, 113 people were killed on bicycles in 2014.

Let's look at an extreme situation - the Blitz, in 1940/41. 40,000 civilians were killed, and even that didn't change our minds about the war against the Nazis, it just made us more determined.

More recently - I worked in London at the time of the IRA bombing campaign. 600 civilians were killed by the IRA, and the main difference it made was that rubbish bins were swapped from made of metal to polythene bags.

I was also commuting to London at the time of the Kings Cross fire - 31 killed, and that had a couple of long term effects - smoking was banned on the underground, which I was very happy about, being a non-smoker.

Another big thing when I was commuting - the Moorgate tube crash. As far as we could see, the driver of the train, drove headlong into a dead end, killing 43 people. At the time, Moorgate was the station I was commuting to! That could have been me. Again, the main long term effect was a new safety system that wouild stop the train in such a situation even if the driver didn't.

Shit happens. Sometimes big shit happens. The terrorists are shit, but they're not  medium shit, they are not even small shit. They are just arseholes.



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