Boston. Benghazi. Terrorism is once again on America’s radar. And, just like after Oklahoma City and 9/11, we’re desperately looking for ways to protect ourselves from politically motivated acts of random violence. Which usually means more surveillance, more restrictions and spending tens of billions of more tax dollars.
But here’s the thing….
Since September 11, 2001, terrorists have killed an average 24 Americans per year, almost all of them in Iraq and Afghanistan. Which are war zones. The number of Americans killed by terrorists on U.S. soil between 2002 and 2012? Zero.
Now, if we really want to get serious about stopping deaths from weird, exotic sources, perhaps we should be focusing our attention and national treasure on these 10 killers:
1. Falling furniture. While being crushed by a falling safe or grand piano remains (for the most part) the stuff of Road Runner cartoons, falling TVs, book shelves and, yes, runaway pianos, remain a clear and present danger. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, 293 Americans fell victim to falling furniture between 2000 and 2010. Which makes Ikea even more dangerous than al Qaeda.
2. Insect stings. Killer bees! Killer bees! Killer bees! Despite the apocalyptic warnings of 1970s-era entomologists, America has not been overrun by swarms of homicidal Africanized honeybees. However, an average of 40 Americans die every year as the result of anaphylactic shock brought about by stings from bees, wasps and hornets.
3. Hot Dogs. On average, 70 Americans die every year from choking on hot dogs. One 28-year-old woman just died thusly at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Which makes Oscar Mayer Public Enemy Number 8 — at the very least.
4. Real Dogs. Fido kills an average 30 Americans a year. Man’s best friend indeed.
5. Deer. They look so sweet and, oh, I don’t know, doe-eyed. But they kill some 130 Americans annually, usually by jumping in front of our cars when we least suspect it.
6. Lightning. You’ve heard that you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist? Turns out, you’re WAY more likely. According to NOAA, lighting kills an average 51 Americans annually. The state where you’re most likely to be hit by a bolt from the blue? Wyoming.
7. Autoerotic Asphyxiation. It kills an average 500-1,000 American males annually. Should this happen to you, you will have no one to blame but yourself.
8.Bad Medicine. Forget airplanes, foreign embassies or crowded sporting events. The one place you’re REALLY likely to die is the hospital, where medical screw-ups account for an estimated 100,000 deaths annually.
9. Brain-Eating Parasites. According to the CDC, a microscopic brain parasite called taxoplasma gondii has infected 22.5 percent of Americans over 25. And it kills 375 Americans annually, eating their brains from the inside out.
10. Clowns. It’s not not exactly how many Americans are killed by clowns every year. The government is very tight-lipped with these figures. We know Chicago’s infamous bozo John Wayne Gacy killed 33 young men and boys back in the 1970s, and after that, the subject’s been off-limits to the mainstream media. Like UFOs and the Mothman. We may not be able to prove a cover-up, but it sure smells funny.
And Happy Mother’s Day!