The Chicago Myth: Letting Your Brain Do the Work

Lately, Chicago is going through tough crime sprees and lawlessness. Days the city headed towards dangerous are behind; now Chicago moves towards disastrous consequences. The nation, with looks of horror, bear witness the brutal war zone when opening their laptops or watching television.  This is a narrative: (1) people desire it to be true  and (2) its based on misguided notions. The Chicago narrative is a perfect demonstration for how lay media providers redirect a viewer’s notions rationally and build them back to the same familiar desires. Especially in unexcited news periods.  I will convince and demonstrate: 

  • Chicago’s bad reputation does not reflect reality;
  • explanations for the current reputation’s widespread acceptance;
  • detailed examples showing the reputations use; and
  • demonstrate the media’s present ill-effect.

Ultimately, my goal is to prove lay news communications are capable of nuanced, deceitful misinformation strategy aiming the delivery their customer’s greatest needs and desires.


(1) Chicago’s brutal crime reputation is currently untrue;

According to the FBI, in 2012 Chicago ranked 19th in violent crime. Violent crime includes: intentional murders, forcible rapes, robbery, and aggravated assault. The opinion of “dangerous” Chicago, IL; Houston, TX (20th); and even Fargo accented Minneapolis, MN (21st), should be the same. p20 T1.

Actually, Chicago is headed towards her lowest homicide rate since 1967 and lowest violent crime rate since 1972. For most of Chicago’s 77 communities 2011-2013 are the best years yet. Over 20% of Chicago communities decreased violent crime rates by 25% in those years, and the year 2013 brought lower violent crime rates to 87% of Chicago. p20 T1. p3

Chicago’s crime drop is the national trend. The Midwest records substantially lower violent crimes per year than the wholesome American South (40.1% of American total) . Also, Chicago’s suburbs are faring just as well in decreasing violent crime and lowering property crime nationwide. In addition, until 2013 Chicago provided its better forcible rape statistics and worsening its violent crime rate nationwide and its public image

(2) The widespread belief in Chicago’s brutal crime reputation is logical;

Chicago’s traditions in music, criminal organizations, political corruption allow media to distort its image.

Moreover, characters such as Al Capone, John Dillenger, and “Machine Gun” Jack McGurg brought Chicago booze while Chicago PD was taking it away. And distrust of police is a “Windy City” tradition.

Also, Chicago gangsters arose from all cultural backgrounds. Quincy Jones once commented,

“I was raised in Chicago and I guess that was one of the special breeding grounds for gangsters of all colors. That was the Detroit of the gangster world. The car industry was thugs.”

Historically, Gangsters did more for Chicago than Chicago politicians and were straightforward with communities. Chicago did not have one mob culture. Every culture was a mob culture. Additionally, the mobsters were highly respected. Its not surprising people could believe Chicago’s streets birthed the first batch of unrestrained murderers.

Also, its political history is infamous.  “The Windy City” nickname is often attributed to its politicians and their convoluted dialogue; used to mask their rapacious intentions.

Illinois’ governors alone have been arrested 7 times starting in the late 19th century. Other examples range between 1895, Chicago’s Alderman earned the nickname “The Gray Wolves” (preying off the public), Chicago’s Water Department housing a heroine ring (which we never gave to Wonderwoman), or the “Hired Truck Scandal” of 2004.  The list goes on—Wiki it. A gangster-friendly environment known for government corruption could easily be the brutal Chicago depicted today.

A modern reason to believe the city’s criminal violence is its famous musicians. Chicago music stars reflect graphic, but common city conditions for America. Listeners base their attitudes of Chicago off the music. If Wilco, Andrew Bird or Smashing Pumpkins were the only famous Chicago musicians, its current media infamy could raise more eyebrows. However, Chicago’s poor communities launched international musicians like “Chance the Rapper” and “Kanye West”–among many others. Both are vocal describing poor inner city conditions and are specific to Chicago. Other cities have the impoverished conditions but lack the international musicians.

(3) The incorrect widespread belief is incorporated into political argument; and

First, the President’s hometown, run by his chief-of-staff –Rob Immanuel—is hosts strict gun laws. Water-boarding viewers using Chicago’s doom and deterioration flourish ratings. A “Liberal Failure” market exists and Chicago portrayed correctly taps into that market; insert Bill O’Reilly here:

“Why is Chicago silent about her abnormal violence?” Because it’s not abnormal. “Strict gun policies are responsible and Obama lacks focus on his home state’s problems.” He should focus on actual problems.

The Chicago narrative exists (it always has) and people eat it up because it concludes “Liberal Failure.” Likewise, Liberals are guilty too because a media market exists for “Republican Failure” and the infamous Chicago narrative arrives at “Republican Failure” as well. Insert Vice and The New York Times here:

If Vice did not coin “Chiraq” then it, minimum, boosted the terms popularity. Above, Vice ties the “Chiraq” narrative to failures of public housing demolition and lax gun control in Chicago’s surrounding counties: aka “Republican Failures.” My opinion is media grabs the most viewers it can, any way it can. Natural human violence scares people for boring day coverage. Political policy induced violence captivates people for months. All media communicates based on viewer’s assumptions and desires. Viewers flock to news channels that tie disasters to other people’s ideals. A random murder is a tragedy; unfortunately a murder connected to them is an outrage. Outrages draw crowds and attention.

(4) The political argument does not increase the viewer’s awareness

My last example is The New York Times. Here is a quote from Bob Herbert, New York Times author: 

“Two to three dozen school-age children are killed in Chicago every year. More than 150 have been shot in the current school year. And Chicago is hardly America’s most dangerous city.”

Why, Bob? Why reference Chicago? Why not go with America’s most dangerous city? You suck, Bob. Bob choose Chicago because the public knows Chicago’s narrative already. Bob’s statistics look better, are accepted easier, and have seemingly more importance against “Chiraq’s” public image canvas. Unfortunately, nobody becomes smarter for his tactic.

Lying is generally bad. In my opinion, assuring people of falsehoods is way worse. These falsehoods last longer than lies because the news confirms a thought people already have instead of teaching them  a new thought. Also, people are wasting their time attempting to become educated, however, they become more unaware of actual America.

Lastly, a media clearly not interested with informing their viewers–in my opinion–create extremism, distrust, and weaken America’s unity.


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