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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Norwegians Goons, Gangsters, and Other things that go bump in the night

In my last post, I, briefly, touched on the idea of crime here in Oslo.  In talking about it, I didn't go into detail about the (mis)perception of safety issues here in the Norwegian capital.

Look at the chart above.  

Oslo is approximately at 1.77 murders per one hundred thousand people, leaving it in the middle of the pack.  This might seem troubling (and no doubt the sensationalist, Norwegian media presents it as such), but, in actuality, it's not that bad.  

First, let's compare that number to American cities (I know, I know... bare with me).  Looking at population alone, Oslo is most comparable to Tucson (9.9 homicides per one hundred thousand).  A look at only demographics makes Colorado Springs (6.1) the match.  While a comparison of both gives us Seattle (3.2) still nearly double the homicide rate in Oslo.

Secondly, when compared to the seventeen, other European cities on this chart, it's important to note that of the cities with lower murder rates, seven of them have less than 120,000 people.  Which makes them more like suburbs than major cities, even if they hold such a place in their respective countries.  Furthermore, eight of the other cities remaining have almost double the population of Oslo, which means that for their murder rates to be similar, they have almost twice the number of total homicides.  In a city of roughly 500,000 (like Oslo), 1.77 means roughly 9 murders a year.  In a city of one million, that would equal 18. 

That's right, Oslo got boats... no word on if the Norwegian Jimmy McNulty was ever assigned to it

Murder isn't the only crime happening and while crime, as a whole, has been on the rise, it is important to denote which crime.  According to the link, environmental crime, drugs, and violence are the categories which saw an increase over the past few years.  Not to trivialize the damage of pollution, because environmental crime can mean a lot of things.  To me, Oslo has a distinct lack of trash cans in public and those that are sat out are much too small unless trash is picked up more frequently.  

Anyway, my point wasn't to offer a symposium on crime in Oslo, but to address the ways in which it has affected me.  

At least once every other time I find myself out at a bar and my Americanness becomes common knowledge, some Norwegian will approach me and articulate how "real" he keeps it.  Which, sounds hilarious (and, I assure you, the first few minutes are 99.9% of the time) but is reminiscent to my youth growing up in the suburbs.  Where me and my friends would run around with red bandanas and talk about being thugs.  The difference being that these guys who approach me have ink (shout out to homemade tattoos!  But, no matter how many daggers, "Haugestua" doesn't sound hard) and are at an age when they should realize that claiming such a status has repercussions (it's like people watch the first 3/4s of "Scarface" and then fast forward through the end).  

However, its not like you can't go to American town X or Belgian town Y and not find the same thing.  

As such that there are countless citizens of Oslo perpetuating this "thug life" (which, is only present in very select few.  I don't want you to think that waves of Vanilla Ices are surrounding me when I go out... Also, as it should be noted and will be explained in a future post, all of these guys are both ethnic Norwegian and from East Oslo), there are also countless people believing the hype.  There have been countless people who recoiled in horror when I informed them that I hung out or walked through a certain neighborhood at night.  It is so easy for people to take isolated incidents (it's so American Pie to start off about how one time your friend had something happen to them...) and make them the norm.  That's not to say there aren't dangerous people and situations that can occur in this city (trust, I always keep my head on a swivel), but it tends to not happen to people not associated with the life.

With the exception of the startling number of female assaults that happen here.  That's insane and deplorable and really needs to stop (Sorry, I can't find an English version that doesn't say "Don't let the brown people in!!  They are rapists!!" but, in general, the number is, statistically, almost double the expected number for a city of this population).


- I am straight in love with the fact that it's been 10 Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) for the past ten days straight... As Mr. Bell will eloquently remind you, no one cares about 40 degree days

- I also am a huge fan of all the state holidays here in Norway.  I told you about Adult Spring Break, but now there's Labor Day (May 1) and next week Ascension Day (May 9).  Civic Pride (no Honda!)


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  1. Hello Anthony. I'm Nikolai.

    I would like to publish a guest post (with one link) on your great blog - Could you please give me the price for the placement of it?

    Thank you and I look forward to your reply.

    Have a nice day.

    1. I appreciate you reading the blog, but there isn't a "guest post" option. Sorry. Have a good one.