Something is Happening in Austria
By now, of course, everyone has heard the story of Elisabeth Fritzl and the seven siblings/children she gave birth to while her father Joseph imprisoned her in the family’s basement. This is the third such case revealed in Austria in the past three years. In all, at least eight younger Austrians have spent long stretches of time imprisoned in home basements.
Plenty of thoughtful commentary–like this piece from Spiked Online’s Brendan O’Neill dismisses the idea that there’s any kind of trend going on. Overall, I agree with O’Neill: “there are not Josef Fritzls lurking everywhere.” For the world, he’s right.
But, ultimately, I do think that the case says something–I don’t know what–about Austria itself. According to the census figures I could find, there are just about 500,000 Austrians between 15 and 24. In 2005, it appears, that at least eight of them–about one in 62,000–was imprisoned in a basement. Thus chances of an Austrian youth being imprisoned in a basement for more than a year are greater than an American’s chances of dying in an airplane crash (1 in 9 million), having been murdered on 9/11 (1 in 300,000), dying in Iraq (about 1 in 250,000), an American female’s chances of being murdered in a year (about 1 in 250,000). They’re pretty similar to the yearly chances of a non-drug-trade-involved males’ chances of being murdered in his lifetime (about 1 in 50,000). I don’t know what it means but it does, indeed, say something about Austria.