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|Facts Find Sept. 11 Myths Misleading|
|01/16/02 at 20:43:58|
Facts Find Sept. 11 Myths Misleading
By RON KAMPEAS, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Call this particular illusion the ``after''
After Sept. 11, says Laura Bush, divorce is down, weddings are
up and ``families have come together.''
In fact, fewer folks are taking vows and more are splitting up,
says the available data, and hounds are twice as likely as husbands
to get wifely attention.
After Sept. 11, says Colin Powell, secretary of state and once
the nation's top soldier, more Americans want to be all they can
Maybe, if they can be right where they are. Enlistment figures
After Sept. 11, are more Americans finding religion? Definitely,
people tell pollsters. Are they going to church more? No, say the
After Sept. 11, says just about everyone, Americans got a little
Except for that murder spike in Washington, D.C.
And the shoplifting in Denver.
And the looming crisis at the charities.
And the baby boomlet? Urban mythlet.
Hope, it turns out, is the thing without legs.
First, Mrs. Bush's wedding-divorce inversion.
``Divorce cases have been withdrawn at higher rates, and more
people are buying engagement rings and planning weddings,'' the
first lady told a group of New York women.
Mrs. Bush was referring to a news report out of Houston that was retracted four days before her
talk. In fact, the federal
government hasn't tracked divorce and marriage on a monthly basis
since 1995. The only information is on the county level.
In Reno, Nev., the self-proclaimed ``marriage capital of the
world,'' Washoe County Clerk Amy Harvey rattled off numbers showing
an 11 percent drop in marriage applications after Sept. 11.
``The numbers don't lie,'' Harvey said, launching into a sales
pitch. ``We're available and accessible from 8 a.m. to midnight,
365 days a year.''
No wonder she's anxious. ``This is our industry,'' she said. ``I
field calls from wedding chapel owners every day, asking us for
numbers. The lobby's empty. My staff are taking breaks!''
In Leon County, Fla., divorces for the September-December period increased from 389 in 2000 to 415
After Sept. 11, ``maybe people understand the importance of
staying together a little better,'' said Richard Albertson of the
Tallahassee Community Marriage Policy, a Christian counseling
service that monitors its success by counting divorce dockets in
the county courthouse each month. ``That doesn't mean they have the
tools. It takes more than a crisis for that.''
Are families that are staying together coming closer together?
Maybe, if you count Fido as a dependent. Market research
conducted by advertising network Euro RSCG found that, post-Sept.
11, 36 percent of American women who have dogs said they were
spending more time with them. Less than 20 percent were spending
more time with their husbands.
``We've got children, we've got pets,'' Euro RSCG's Marian
Salzman said as she reviewed her most recent polling, which has a
margin of error of 3 percentage points. ``I don't know who's
enjoying time with spouses.''
And don't even talk about the baby boomlet. Hospitals and
doctors are ethically bound not to give out that information until
about June 11.
What about the call to arms? Powell said last month that
``people are now stepping forward to join the military in greater
Not quite. It's true more people are asking, but once they learn
details - the conditions, the salary, the lifestyle - the same
number are signing up.
That's OK, says Douglas Smith of Army recruiting - the idea has always been to recruit what the
branches set as their need, and
that has yet to rise appreciably.
``The level of success prior to Sept. 11 continues after Sept.
11,'' he said. For the Army, that's between 6,000-7,000 recruits a
More religion? A November poll by the Pew Forum found 78 percent of Americans - the highest in
four decades - believed the role of religion was increasing, more than double the number who said
the same thing in March. Yet the same respondents, only a month after
the terror attacks, said their church attendance had not changed
from four in 10 Americans going once a week.
``When you settle back down into what people are doing, measurements have more in common with what
there was before the attacks,'' said Melissa Rogers of the forum, which monitors belief patterns.
The surveys have a margin of error of 3 percentage
What about the America two in three respondents told a
Washington Post-ABC News poll had ``changed for the better'' after
Consider these changes: In Washington, D.C., the murder rate
spiked 47 percent after Sept. 11; in Denver, shoplifting went up by
The National Association of Convenience Stores sent its members
a crimestoppers tip sheet, anticipating a steady increase in crime,
and the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that many charities
anticipate shortfalls when 2001 numbers are crunched by the end of
No one is blaming any of those phenomena on the attacks - the
busted economy presaged an upturn in crime and a downturn in giving
months before September.
It's just that the conditions creating the bleaker outlook are
beyond the influence of the attacks and their aftermath.
``A lot of shoplifters are stealing for specific purposes, like
drugs,'' said Diane Stack, the detective who runs Denver's
shoplifting unit, where the sharp rise reflects national trends.
``Those are old habits.''
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