Monday, January 29, 2007

THE FREE WORLD

Just a bit more on this sex-offense Script and the doctrine that underlies it. Robert Jensen has an article on the Atlantic Free Press site (http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/) entitled “Media reform should include critique of sexual exploitation media”.

The pornography trade should be stopped. He notes, rightly indeed, that seeking to reduce “toxic” pornography is no different from seeking to eliminate toxic foods. It is harder, however, to assess the exact effects of pornography on the mind and to ascertain the pathways through which those effects are created. We are in the intangible realm of mind, not the physical and material realm of food and physiology. This is the scientific problem that faces us in these intangible affairs.

Worse, of course, is that an attempt to rapidly address the problem, and through policy and – even more gravely – through the alteration of criminal law and – even more gravely – through the alteration of fundamental requirements of Due Process … such an attempt, based on such presently meager knowledge, is not wise. In the related area of sex-offender law and policy, as noted else where on this site in the review of Eric Janus’s new book “Failure To Protect” (see "Prosec Nation" on this site), huge changes have been wrought on the basis of what even that well-disposed author acknowledges is very little knowledge indeed.

To apply the analogy of palpable problems to these intangible matters is bad science. Of course, if we assume that we are dealing here not with a scientific inquiry but rather with a revolution, and that consequently we are not dealing with principals who are seeking objective facts and actual knowledge, but are rather seeking to ram home an agenda using science as a fig-leaf to ease the sensibilities of a putatively rational public … then we can see how such large errors in formal scientific inquiry can be so widely effected, and by many whose education and profession should lead them to know better.

Equally ill-advised is the next point Jensen makes: that a “civil rights approach” to pornography is an appropriate “legal strategy” through which to address the problem. Do we have a “civil right” to be “free” of pornography? Of unhealthy – but not tainted – foods? Are we then to give the government the power that would be necessary to ensure a “risk-free” world and life for ourselves?

And as proposed by Jennifer Pozner on Alternet (“A Culture of Rape”, www.alternet.org/module/printversion/35514) “… American culture and law needs to find real solutions for punishing serial rapists or, more importantly, preventing men from perpetrating such criminal behavior in the first place”. Her thoughts raise some substantive questions.

Does not ‘American science’ need first to find out as much as it can? Have we not always had laws against rape and serial rape? Do we not have the punishments? Didn’t we have those punishments in place before the wide-ranging sex-offender laws? Weren’t – according to the government statistics – sexual assaults on a downward turn since 1976, a full 20 years before the great sex-offender push of the mid-1990s.

And if we are to explore the possibilities for American culture’s “preventing” male criminal behavior, do we also deploy the awesome criminal-prosecution power of the government to “prevent” crime? Do we start down that dangerous road? Indeed, we are already well along it, and such ‘prevention’ and – let’s say it – ‘pre-emption’ has now infected foreign policy and the military posture of the government, and has led to the current ominous mess in Iraq.

Can we ‘prevent’ crime? Can the Constitution bear such an awesome load? Can we punish all crime? We have already started down that road, through the unholy alliance of revolutionaries of the Left and the neo-Puritan furies of the Fundamentalist Right. Now them Kathliks, they never figured to ‘prevent’ crime (or sin); they figured it was ineradicable – which was why it was called Original Sin. Their ethos was woven from a certain patience with the inevitable and a clear-eyed awareness that if crime or sin were to be totally stamped out, the population of the entire world would have to be imprisoned, if any government could stand long enough to implement such a program. The fact that the U.S. now holds one-quarter of all the imprisoned convicts on the planet suggests clearly that this road of criminal-law and imprisonment will take us to a very dark place. If the actions of ‘men’ are to be singled out, then almost half the citizenry is theoretically liable to imprisonment. And if the government is empowered to deploy itself against ‘men’ today, then what is to stop it from deploying against other ‘enemies’ down the road?

To ‘inform’ the American “culture” is certainly an excellent goal, if the citizenry be accurately informed and then allowed to deliberate a course of action. But that is not what is being suggested by the relevant Advocacies and it has not been their gameplan so far.

They are not pure ideologues. They are very rightly aroused by the crimes that are being committed. But anger and outrage, no matter how compassionate or in what good cause, are no basis for policy, let alone for law.

To exercise prudence in the awefull matters of the criminal law is not “insensitive and insulting to the victim and to all women”. It is the responsibility of the government to deploy its terrible power prudently against its citizenry and – in this matter – against half that citizenry. The mollification of outrage is not all there is to Justice; to imagine that it is constitutes a massively inadequate conception of the situation and such a lack will lead to monstrous consequences, as we are seeing in Iraq now.

None of this is to condone rape or any sexual violence. And ‘boyo’ behavior, and the cultural foundations that support it, do indeed need to be accurately assessed so that they can be changed. It is not only women who suffer from it; the ‘boyos’ themselves are hugely diminished and deformed by such behavior and such cultural presumptions, and so are We as The People, and so is all the world that can be reached through the levers of power that such ‘boyos’ control.

A masculinity that can produce a Washington and a Lincoln – to name but two among innumerable examples of matured manhood productively contributing to civic life, however inevitably flawed in one way or another – is surely an asset that the nation and The People cannot afford to waste. We are all flawed, male and female. It is the nature of our kind, if them Kathliks be believed. And the climb to maturity is a long, hard, staggery slog, no doubt about it. But it must be begun and sustained by all, and the more who are so engaged, then the more will mutually support the others.

This great project, this Old Frontier – this Ancient Frontier – cannot be reached through the lascivious application of the criminal law. As a matter of fact, it requires much of the resources – mind, spirit, Virtue, Truth – that have been disposed of by the very Theory that was embraced by the proto-Advocacies themselves decades ago, to the extent that any coherent and comprehensive thinking grounded their agendas at all.

So there is much work to be done, by all of Us. Nor is this a situation that can be undertaken with a certain leisure. So much of what has already been done has borne baleful consequences, in our domestic affairs as in our foreign affairs. We must fix the aircraft in turbulent flight, repair the ship while she is underway in heavy seas that will not calm any time soon. It is our rendezvous with Destiny, but a situation much of Our own making.

We must ‘own’ that, as we must ‘inhabit’ our Present and as we must People our nation. Only thus can we continue towards true freedom. But we will never reach ‘perfect’ freedom, hence never ‘perfect’ security. It is a fate we share with all the peoples of this earth. And it will be a first liberation to realize that, and a second liberation to accept it. And thus to climb together from there.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Davidco said...

One of the key differences between Calvinist and Katlik attitudes toward the operation of grace informs a difference in political outlook.

The evangelical has a 'born again' experience and from that moment forward is able to dissociate himself from all his past actions as a 'sinner'. He literally sees himself as no longer that person. His guilt is thus wiped away.

This new 'saved' person now has all the moral certainty of a deputy as he is now projecting all his currently sinful impulses onto the 'unsaved' whom he can hunt down and punish.

The Katlik too recognizes we live in a broken world but acknowledges himself as a sinner with grace building on his nature as such. There is much less certainty built into this life view. Fewer temptations to the hypocrisy involved in projection of one's sins onto others. The struggle is never really 'over' no one is saved definitively. The Katlik requests prayers for himself - even after he has died!

Calvinists refuse to pray for their dead. They see God as Judge and the verdict predestined. Certainty that one is 'saved'- indeed certainty about most things impairs reality testing and often leads to violence.

6:39 AM  
Blogger publion said...

Yes. You know, the fixed belief that you are ‘no longer’ in any relevant way whatsoever ‘the same person’ that you were yesterday or for years prior to this moment … that would get you some sustained attention in a psychiatrist’s office. And if you had committed something, and were in a state-mandated program, and said that you didn’t need to ‘deal with’ your past because you are no longer that person and end of discussion … that would get you even more attention. The current fashion is to call it ‘being in denial’. The object of any helping intervention would be to bring the person to a healthier integration of his/her self and even a more advanced maturity.

Stalin was on to something, maybe this: a single whackjob is a nutcase, a million whackjobs are an organization. Or: a single instance is madness, a million instances are a religious-belief. Something along those lines, although all of it subject to the fact that if there is one thing the Kathlik Vision handles very well (although not always well served by its official representatives), it is the sense that the human self is a Called, cohesive and yet deeply flawed entity, and that the Ascent to Perfection (so-called) is a long and hard one requiring maturity and Grace. For its Patience and for its Comprehensiveness, for its Nuance and for its demanding insistence on a sustained project of Maturation, the Kathliks were roundly abused by both the Flattening Left and the Fantasizing Right, and so much of this sex-abuse thing (the numbers do not crunch no matter how much honest math you do) is simply the handiest cudgel the Left and Right could find, mutually acceptable to both, to do the job.

8:14 AM  
Blogger Davidco said...

Just so. The APA's Diagnostic & Statistical Manual always places an asterisk on its descriptions of psychotic or bizarre belief systems to exempt the case of organized religion from the label of pathology.

The exemption seems to hinge on demographics ie. the smaller and more marginalized the cult, the greater the likelihood that its participants are engaged in collective folie. By the next edition, visions of UFO's and Elvis will probably have made the cut which limns the territory of 'normal limits'.

There is an entire school of thought which takes the position that such political gambits reveal psychiatry to be merely the latest priesthood which arrogates to itself the ability to define reality for the rest of us.

Like any priesthood, it can be coopted by the powers that be.

Thus, a dissident in Stalinist Russia expecting to be accorded 'bourgeois' economic and civil rights and registering sufficient outrage when these are not forthcoming, would be institutionalized for impairment of reality testing functions.

10:28 AM  

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