Re: Better people

Jeffrey Fabijanic (
Fri, 11 Jun 1999 10:12:39 -0400

Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
>You could not be more wrong. Here, the cities where guns are most regulated,
>people are the most rude (NY, Washington DC, Chicago, Boston). Other cities,
>like Seattle, Burlington, Portland, etc people are very polite and freindly.

Um, not to disagree with your general point (especially since the temporary censure on the gun topic is in force), but I believe that you are quite mistaken about the relative "politeness" of people from the cities you mentioned. There have been many studies that have examined the behaviour of city dwellers and what most of them have found is in fact counter to your assertion.

It is true that people in the older, longer established, "east-coast" culture cities (which include many of the older, midwestern urbs) are less likely to smile or say hello. But they are much more likely to return dropped/lost belongings to passersby, much more likely to help lost strangers not just with directions but by acting as escort, and much more likely to intervene on behalf of strangers in confrontations with other citizens *or* police. Interestingly enough, they are also less likely to be pickpocketed, and more likely to spot a researcher as a plant. The sudies would seem to indicate that east-coasters are seasoned city-dwellers who are more *aware* of their surroundings, generally speaking.

It is also interesting to note that in the last quarter century, the greatest gains in US urban quality-of-life, measured by such things as reduction in crime, improvements to air and water quality, and access to public resources for *all* citizens, have taken place in some of the older, east-coast culture cities.

Personally, having spent no little amount of time in most of the cities you mentioned, I prefer the sometimes reserved (some might say 'aloof'), sometimes abrupt (some might say 'rude'), but usually *engaged* attitude of the east-coast culture cities to the outwardly cheerful but civically disengaged demeanor of the west coast cities. Something like the difference between living with family and living with strangers.

I believe that in many ways some of our more successful older cities have now leapfrogged their newer brethern and are much better situated to adapt and exploit the changes taking place into the next century. Many west-coast culture cities are still built upon a "gold-rush" mentality, without the very broad-based economies of the longer established east-coast urban centers. As example, look at the relative civic unease caused by the failure or impending failure of some of the fishing stocks along the Oregon coast compared to similar happenings along the New England seaboard. Both regions rely heavily on this industry, but although it is a major concern in NE, it is not considered a potentially lethal threat to the region's economy.

The same would be true for a manufacturing or hi-tech lull/fall-off. Such things would devastate the west coast economies, but the east coast cities have matured through several such bust cycles during the last couple centuries, and are now diversified to the point that they are less affected overall by such blowouts. Their civic cultures have similarly matured.

I'm all for freedom to bear arms - after all, I live in the city where blood was first spilled to preserve that right for Americans. But I think the differences you point to between cities have more to do with their relative heterogenity and age than the fact or no of public carriage of firearms.


|     Jeffrey Fabijanic              "Long as you're not afraid,
|  Designer, Tinkerer, Cook       nobody can run your life for you.
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