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Old 01-06-2008, 07:33 PM
 
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I think I read somewhere that 1965 was the start of America's crime wave. That was the start of the hippie movement and crime started to go up with the breakdown in society connected with drugs, rock music and a lack of respect for authority. It has been downhill since then.

My parents said that before that year life was more peaceful, the crime rate was very low, families were stronger, illegal drug use was limited and kids behaved in school.

Historians: was 1965 the start of the downward spiral in American society?
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Old 01-06-2008, 08:22 PM
 
Location: Maryland
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I don't know, Christopher Columbus kidnapped slaves, maimed and disfigured people, killed, robbed, and generally was not a good role-model. As for currently, I think when they banned the Pledge of Allegience, prayers, and corporal punishment in schools. That's where I learned respect and character. Thank you teachers of the 1960s. Also, my role models were Micky Mantle and Neil Armstrong. Who would you choose as a role model now? Can't think of any off hand.
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Old 01-06-2008, 09:18 PM
 
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I dont think one can actually pinpoint an exact year when things "started to go downhill".

Drugs, crime, porn, sex outside marriage, etc...yeah they happened back in then but it wasn't discussed very much and kept behind closed doors.

My aunt has a history book on the year 1953. I couldn't believe how violent America was in that year. A man in Denver shoots 5 people to death in a bar. A young man in the Bronx poisons his rich parents with cycnide because they stop giving him his allowance( the man was 27 BTW ), a woman high on dope and her pimp husband kidnaps and kills an 8 year old girl. This wasn't 2003 were are talking about but 1953 !!!

I remember reading somewhere years ago that spouse-abuse was a far bigger problem back in the 40s & 50s than it is today mainly because many people felt it was their "duty" to get married and not because of "love". Forced into marriage in other words.
Plus child abuse was actually more accepted back then. My own grandparents have told me that they can remember some parents bursting into the classroom and beating the hell of their own children for the most minor of reasons. And this would happen right in front of the other students.

Music...true rockand roll always had received a bad rap. But it was hardly the first. Country music back in the 50s was considered by many "hillbilly trash" that made people drink ( EX: Hank Williams ), and the Andrew Sisters and even Frank Sinatra had their foes and churches had no problem bashing them either they same way they would do AC/DC and Judas Priest a generation later. I once saw an old film from the 30s featuring the then popular minister Billy Sunday who claimed that booze, cigarettes and "boogie-woogie" music will send you to hell. No rock music was not the first kind of music that was believed to send you down the highway to the fires of hell.

Role-models..back in the good ole days of the 50s and 60s, even the 70s this was one area many parants didn't really worry about even if these role models in question had their faults, example baseball 's Roger Marris was a HEAVY smoker, but one did not see pics of Roger smoking his Camels. Their images were protected in other words. Today thanks to TMZ and the tabolids plus the internet, we know more about so and so's private life and their demons even if we don't really want to know.

The wonderful 50s weren't exactly the good ole days for many.

Last edited by billybobwv; 01-06-2008 at 09:27 PM..
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Old 01-06-2008, 09:42 PM
 
Location: SE Arizona - FINALLY! :D
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Originally Posted by questioner2 View Post
I think I read somewhere that 1965 was the start of America's crime wave. That was the start of the hippie movement and crime started to go up with the breakdown in society connected with drugs, rock music and a lack of respect for authority. It has been downhill since then.

My parents said that before that year life was more peaceful, the crime rate was very low, families were stronger, illegal drug use was limited and kids behaved in school.

Historians: was 1965 the start of the downward spiral in American society?
As someone who's first degree was a BA in History I would say the short answer is "No".

The longer and more complex answer is well, longer and more complex.

For one thing, it depends on who you ask and what statistics you are looking at. Certainly if you are black in Alabama you have much more freedom, equality and opportunity now than you had in 1960.

I searched but have yet to come up with a really good set of overall crime statistics for the entire period from 1900-2007 (if anyone comes up with a good link I'd appreciate it). I have found statistics for various periods within that period and graphs which show stats for a specific crime (say murder) for most of that time, but nothing that covers all crime for the entire period.

The stats I did see indicated very high murder rates during the depression (other crime was likely higher too I would think). This didn't surprise me at all - remember this was the prohibition ("gangster") era. There was a drop off during WW II and in increase in the late 1950's and another drop in 1990's. In general, although crime seems to be increasing, it looks like it's still pretty low by historical measures.

Certainly during the 50's and 60's there did seem to be an uptic in crime, but it's hard to say how much of that was due to the drug culture of the hippy movement. Almost certainly some was, but it seems to me that the automobile culture that came about during this period may be just as much responsible. Consider back in the 40's when few folks had cars (and less money in general). Back then neighborhoods were tighter because people couldn't move about so freely and easily. Folks tended to live "in town" rather than the spread out suburbs (without cars you needed a trolley or busses etc to get to work). Folks also tended to stay put in the same location for longer periods of time. All in all we were all just a whole lot less mobile so everyone tended to know everyone else in the neighborhoods. Everyone knew who the troublemakers were and they all tended to keep an eye on each other.

With the mass availability of the automobile a mobile culture developed and neighborhoods as we knew them began to break down. People moved about (sometimes clear across the continent) and towns and cities began to become far more anonymous, with people coming and going far more frequently than they used to. It seems to me that anonymity brings with it a likely increase in crime since one of the deterents to commiting a crime is the potention disfavor of your friends/neighbors/family and the shame you would bring upon them. When you don't know your neighbors (or care what they think of you) I think you are lot more likely to prey upon them. As mentioned, the development of this mobile car-based culture of course moved along at more or less the same time as the rock culture (actually started in the 50's and continued into the 60's) so it seems to me that it too can take part of the blame.

You also have to keep in mind that you have the actual statistics and then you have the public perception. It seems pretty clear to me that whatever the statistics say, public perception is that crime is pretty bad. Personally I think a lot of that can be blamed on the media. Afterall, listen to your local news and if you live in a large/medium sized city almost certainly the first 3-4 stories each evening will be about murders, rapes etc. This gives the impression that it's commonplace because we hear about it so often. It also gives the impression (either correctly or incorrectly) that crime is much worse than it used to be. The fact is, such crimes happened in the 30's 40's and 50's well, but the media coverage was not so widespread or sensational as it is now.

Think about it. A girl is kidnapped in Georgia (or whereever) and it leads the national news (how many times have you seen a similar news story?). You live in Chicago, or Seattle or LA and the national news is telling you about a kidnapping half a continent away. WHAT does that really have to do with YOU? Is the kidnapper a possible threat to you and your kids? Not really. Is it really news that affects you? Not really. Are there more important national stories that you should hear instead? Of course there are. But the media feeds on sensational stories and nowadays a single incident occurs 1,000 miles away and somehow the kidnapper is a threat to you and your loved ones. People naturally tend to react as if it were much closer to home and the impression people are left with is that such crimes happen all the time everywhere. I'm not trying to minimize the horrific nature of such crimes, but the fact is your loved ones are FAR more likely to be killed in a car accident than taken by a kidnapper half a continent away. In any event the point I'm trying to make is that constant media exposure creates a climate of fear which is not really justified and gives the impression that crime is lot worse than it used to be when that is not necessarily true (it's merely being reported more often and in a more widespread manner).

Ken
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Old 01-07-2008, 03:53 AM
 
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Default Thanks Ken for some great ideas

I thought Ken (the last poster) had some really great ideas about the subject.

Though there was some crime in 40s, 50s and early 1960s the amount of crime was significantly lower than today. I do agree much of our fear of crime today is based on the media. For example, after the Virginia Tech kills many parents pulled their kids out of college thinking THEIR KIDS would be shot soon. Now many people are living in fear on college campuses since the event.

My question had more to do with the start of the breakdown in the social structure in America due to permissiveness, drugs, crime, the family structure, dirty movies, the media, popular culture, etc. Many people who believe in a more formal organized society look back to the 1945-1965 period as America's greatest period. 1965 was the start of today's culture. Look at Television and how much the shows were different from 1960 to 1970. It showed a huge change in the permissiveness of our culture. Agree?
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Old 01-07-2008, 07:22 AM
 
Location: Turn Left at Greenland
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Pure speculation, but during the 60's, the baby boomers, post WWII babies, were coming of age, and there were a lot of them. They grew up with tv, images on a screen, where their parents grew up with voices on radios. They had images in their heads of what life was like outside their towns and honestly, with the advent of rock and roll coming out of black culture, it gave teenagers a much more distinct identity from their parents and the parents were outnumbered. Then there was Sputnik. Teenagers were faced with global anhiliation, they practiced bomb drills ... kind of gives one a live for today because we may all be blown to bits tomorrow kind of outlook on life. And then came Vietnam ...

Media and world events is what I am getting at.
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Old 01-07-2008, 07:51 AM
 
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Originally Posted by questioner2 View Post
Historians: was 1965 the start of the downward spiral in American society?
Unless they are an apologist for some interest group - no historian will answer a question that is so vague and biased.

You would first have to prove that American society is in a downward spiral and pinpoint the reasons why. Personally, I don't agree with your parents' assessment. History is much more than a series of downward and upward spirals determined by how "permissive" a society is.
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Old 01-07-2008, 07:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by questioner2 View Post
I thought Ken (the last poster) had some really great ideas about the subject.

Though there was some crime in 40s, 50s and early 1960s the amount of crime was significantly lower than today. I do agree much of our fear of crime today is based on the media. For example, after the Virginia Tech kills many parents pulled their kids out of college thinking THEIR KIDS would be shot soon. Now many people are living in fear on college campuses since the event.

My question had more to do with the start of the breakdown in the social structure in America due to permissiveness, drugs, crime, the family structure, dirty movies, the media, popular culture, etc. Many people who believe in a more formal organized society look back to the 1945-1965 period as America's greatest period. 1965 was the start of today's culture. Look at Television and how much the shows were different from 1960 to 1970. It showed a huge change in the permissiveness of our culture. Agree?
I still wouldn't say though crime was a lot lower back int the 40s-60s than it is today though. Ever get a chance watch a local TV newscast from that period of time. Its very different than what we see today. Crime wasn't reported very much. A few years back I saw online a 1962 newscast from Baltimore's WJZ-TV. Top story: a new ride is being built at a local amusement park followed by some swim meet at a local YMCA. And this was Baltimore we are talking about. A city much much bigger then as it is now. Today its a different story...most newscasts start off with one crime story after another and little is left for the "good news". Can't answer why TV or even radio at the time avoided crime stories for the most part though I have heard in the past that back then many broadcast stations were controlled by newspapers and the crime stories were left for print not for broadcast.

Television changed in 1970/1971 with the Mary Tyler Moore show and All in the Family. Before 1970, the networks when it came to ratings, it didn't matter who was watching but how many. Then some network ( I think it was CBS ) did some study that showed those in the big cities spent more money buying goods and services than their country counterparts. A lot more money plus with that came the fact that most viewers in those "big cities" were younger. The birth of demographics. CBS saw this and quickly cancelled such shows like Green Acres, Family Affair,Beverely Hillbillies, Hee Haw, Mayberry RFD, Gomer Pyle even Lassie and Ed Sullivan was taken off the air and was replaced by shows that catered to that crowd such as Mary Tyler Moore, All in the Family, MASH and Maude. The young people who matter so much didn't want to see Ed Sullivan's "really big shoe", they wanted to watch Saturday Night Live. And since those shows dealt with topics of the day such as politics, thats when many viewers heard about things like abortion discussed on TV for the first time. So it really goes down to money and of course this trendd continues today not only with TV but with radio as well. Notice why so many large cities no longer have a radio station that plays Elvis Presley or the other oldies?

I agree TV has changed but its more a demographic thing than a social thing.

Last edited by billybobwv; 01-07-2008 at 08:06 AM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-07-2008, 08:19 AM
 
Location: SE Arizona - FINALLY! :D
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Quote:
Originally Posted by questioner2 View Post
I thought Ken (the last poster) had some really great ideas about the subject.

Though there was some crime in 40s, 50s and early 1960s the amount of crime was significantly lower than today. I do agree much of our fear of crime today is based on the media. For example, after the Virginia Tech kills many parents pulled their kids out of college thinking THEIR KIDS would be shot soon. Now many people are living in fear on college campuses since the event.

My question had more to do with the start of the breakdown in the social structure in America due to permissiveness, drugs, crime, the family structure, dirty movies, the media, popular culture, etc. Many people who believe in a more formal organized society look back to the 1945-1965 period as America's greatest period. 1965 was the start of today's culture. Look at Television and how much the shows were different from 1960 to 1970. It showed a huge change in the permissiveness of our culture. Agree?
Greater permissiveness? Yeah I'd agree with that.

More widespread drug use? Can't argue with that either.

Stronger, tighter knit families? Yeah, that too - though keep in mind my comments about the affect of the automobile. Because of the car, family members are much more far-flung than they were then and that has an effect on how close-knit (emotionally) they tend to remain.

As mentioned, increase in crime - partially true. For example I just read where last year NYC had it's absolute lowest murder rate EVER. As I mentioned, there was much more crime back then than people realize - it was just not as widely reported in the media so it seemed a lot less. Also, as mentioned by another poster, things like spouse abuse and incest were probably a lot more frequent but remained "out of sight" because few dared to talk about it. Though crime seems to have been lower in the early 50's (and did surge after that) .After that, the murder rate seems to have peaked about 1980 or so. Even that rate may have been lower than the murder rate of early 1900's or the 1930s however (depending on which data you believe).

So, overall, yeah you probably can make a correlation between all the things you mention - keeping in mind however than along with the bad things that came about then, some good things arrived as well (specifically an increase in freedom - especially for minorities). These were not really legal changes in freedom, but cultural changes in freedom. Any increase in freedom brings with it an increase in responsibility - and there are always people who are unable or unwilling to accept that responsibility.

And again of course (not wishing to sound like I am beating a dead horse, but this IS important) there is the difference between what was reported as going on back in the 50's versus what was REALLY going on. I tend to think there was a LOT more bad things going on back then than was generally reported. Just as today crime is over-reported, back then a lot of things were simply not reported at all. Doesn't mean it wasn't going on.

Ken
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Old 01-07-2008, 11:50 AM
 
Location: Turn Left at Greenland
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I remember when I was a kid, listening to Walter Cronkite start off his new casts with the number Americans killed in Vietnam each day. That was a radical and considered un-American thing to do back in that day. It put a human face on the war and turned the tide as far as the media being white house friendly. Kind of like how this government didn't want the pictures of the coffins coming back from the middle east ...

And LordB is right. Lynchings, cross burnings all over the place during the Jim Crow years but weren't reported on.

Maybe we can generalize and chock all of it up to a shift in information?
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