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We’ve gathered some of today’s hot-button talking points and dispelled some common misconceptions about complex political subjects that may come up in conversation with friends and family as you gather for the holidays. Download our handy guide to help navigate this season’s sticky conversations.
Keep reading, below, for the full text in an accessible format, as well as source links and additional reading.
The Holiday season is upon us, and that often means connecting with loved ones. It also often means uncomfortable conversations about sensitive or difficult topics. Sometimes these conversations can become heated and devolve into shouting matches and end in misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
This guide empowers you to have productive conversations, rather than arguments, with loved ones and provides you with talking points to debunk some common myths about a few hot topics this season.
- Get curious about why this issue is so important to this person. Instead of arguing about who is right, the goal is to share one another’s stories and earnestly learn the interests, emotions, and experiences that motivate their position.
- Begin with shared interests and values instead of arguing your positions. A position is something someone has made a decision about. Interests are the why, their motivation. When people take positions, they are invested in defending themselves instead of being receptive.
- Authentically listen to learn, not argue. Paraphrase to clarify, and acknowledge what they are sharing. People will not be willing to understand your perspective unless they feel understood.
- Ask questions genuinely to understand their values and share yours. Knowing that you are pursuing the same goals, just that you might disagree on how to get there, can diffuse tensions.
- Stay in-tune with your emotions and theirs. Even when you disagree with what they are saying, acknowledge and validate their feelings.
- The goal is not to convert someone. Instead, it is to better understand what motivates and is important to the person you are talking to, and for you to share your perspective with them.
- Listen to receive – as opposed to mentally preparing your next attack or argument
- Don’t lead with with statistics. Instead focus on storytelling and sharing the experiences that motivate your perspective.
- Don’t put people down, judge or attack their perspective. You can disagree while being loving and kind.
Common Myths About Organized Retail Theft and Crime Rates
Myth: We are spending more money on police to stop organized retail theft and snatch and grabs because they are the most harmful thefts happening in our community.
Fact: If police resources went to the most harmful thefts, we would see a lot of companies facing consequences for wage theft (when employers underpay their workers). Employers steal more than $2 billion dollars per year from Californians. Wage theft is a larger problem, but doesn’t get the same attention from law enforcement because the victims are low wage, vulnerable workers.
Myth: Retail theft is causing stores to close because it is not profitable to operate in our community.
Facts: Most missing inventory in the retail industry is referred to as “shrink,” because it is often stolen by employees and others within the supply chain between the manufacturer and retailer. Shoplifting and other theft make up less than one percent of the value of total retail sales. For context, shrink costs less than a million for every billion retailers make.
Myth: Crime rates in urban centers, including Los Angeles, have increased across the board.
Fact: LAPD’s own data shows that most violent crimes have been decreasing over the past few years.
Common Myths About Cash Bail
Myth: Without cash bail, “Violent” or “Repeat” offenders will be free to continue to commit crime without any consequences
Fact: Research shows that people who spend even a short period in jail, as opposed to being released pretrial, are more likely to commit a future crime. Additionally, the elimination of cash bail does not mean that judges are not able to detain those they deem to be a risk to the community or who are likely to flee.
Myth: Without cash bail, there is no incentive to appear in court.
Fact: In places where cash bail has been reduced or eliminated, rates of missed court appearances are comparable or better for those released pretrial. This is because many people who miss their court dates are not “on the run,” but face barriers that make it difficult to attend court such as being unable to afford transportation, find child care, or take time off work.
Myth: Without cash bail, crime rates will increase.
Fact: Research shows that crime rates actually decrease in jurisdictions that have eliminated cash bail. Any increases, such as in New York, are unrelated to the reduction in the use of cash bail.
Myth: Cash bail is a punishment.
Fact: The purpose of bail has historically been meant as an incentive to return to court, not a punishment. Additionally, People who are arrested and eligible for pretrial release (whether through cash bail or other mechanisms or release) are legally presumed innocent and cannot be punished until they are convicted of a crime.
Common Myths About Substance Use & Mental Health
Myth: Only certain kinds of people misuse substances.
Fact: Substance misuse is prevalent among all walks of life no matter their race, socio economic status, gender, etc. However, many people who use illicit substances may be doing so to self-medicate untreated mental health needs. In fact, one study found that almost 25% of individuals with depression used substances to relieve or manage symptoms.
Myth: People who misuse substances are criminals and should be treated as such.
Fact: Most of the time, the only person harmed by substance misuse is the person who’s using them, yet at least half of all people who are arrested suffer from substance use or mental health conditions.
Myth: The only way to reduce substance misuse is incarceration.
Fact: Incarceration as a result of substance misuse does not translate into lower rates of substance misuse, arrests, or overdose deaths. People who misuse drugs are not best served in jails or prisons. Evidence-based and voluntary treatment of substance misuse disorders is effective in decreasing substance misuse, crime, and recidivism and has been shown to be more cost-effective than incarceration.
RESOURCES & ADDITIONAL READING
Retail “Crime Wave”
- When employers steal wages from workers
- A closer look at California’s $267 million war on “organized retail crime”
- Businesses keep complaining about shoplifting, but wage theft is a bigger crime
- Retail Theft and Robbery Rates Have Risen across California
Substance Use & Mental Health