Making a generalization about an entire population is usually frowned upon. It’s the tactic of demagogues, racists and men over the age of 55. There is no such thing as “positive” racism or “helpful” sexism–even if it helps an individual attain something. However, there are certain facts about populations that can be studied as systemic issues.
I don’t think Americans, in general, have a great thirst to commit gun violence, but they are part of a system that propagates gun violence at a higher rate than anywhere else. Being boring and frugal isn’t coded into the DNA of Norwegians. They live in a boring and expensive country. The smugness of Danes is yet to be understood systemically and, if it turns out to be genetic, I will be the first to add that fact to the list of things that science discovered.
On April 4, 2016, approximately 22,000 people descended to the front door of the Icelandic Parliament, The Alþingi, to protest some banking thing from Central America. Luckily, we’ve found out everyone was doing it, so it’s no longer an issue and the dethroned prime minister can stay on as the head of his political party and, hopefully, return as a force in Icelandic politics. The protest did have one positive effect: it gave us a chance to analyse roughly 7% of the population at one time. I observed what I will from now on call a fact:
Icelanders, in general, can’t throw.
While protesters hurled bananas and skyr at the front of parliament, nearly two-thirds of the attempts didn’t make it onto the front of the building, which was roughly 20 metres away. To put that in perspective, the distance from the pitching mound to the home plate in baseball is 18.4 metres. 20 metres is roughly the distance that children stand apart when playing catch in a park. Not only that, but the distance from the crowd to the politicians entering the parliament was roughly 45 metres. I am here to tell you that not a single politician did a press conference with even the smallest morsel of banana on their person.
I believe this must be a systemic problem. Icelanders, from what I have seen, appear to have normal arm length proportions–excluding possibly 13.4 percent of women on Tinder whose profile photos are either purposefully close up or the result of a birth-defect burdening them with short arms and large heads. (I’m not on Tinder. I’m married. My single friends sometimes show me the wonderful exciting world of modern dating to make me “jealous.” Also, a friend of mine has shown me that Grindr is populated with swarms of headless men.)
So what can we do? Start a baseball league for children to help combat this issue? Or maybe create menntaskólinn american football teams? Increase scholarships for women who compete in shot put? No matter what we choose to remedy this, the question is simple: In 10 years, at the next protest, will the grounds keeping at parliament cost more or less than the dry cleaning bill of corrupt politicians?
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