Tuesday, June 12, 2007

ONLY CONNECT

Over on the Revealer site there’s an article by Alexandra Boutros about a new Creationism museum … in Canada (“Creationism in Canada”, www.therevealer.org/archives/feature_print.php?printid=2859). Sigh. One had sorta hoped that the Canadians were immune to this type of thing. Ah well.

There is fear that the public will be duped into thinking that the whole world was indeed created in 6 days 6000 years ago and that dinosaurs did indeed cohabit the newly-Created earth with Adam and Eve and were even taken – in their dyads – aboard the ark by Noah (which must have made for a mighty big ark indeed … far larger than the Navy’s largest nuclear aircraft carriers … all of them … put together).

You have to ask yourself: is it conceivable that a nation that commands (for the present, anyway) the military destructive power that this nation commands … is it possible that a nation thus armed could be so clueless – so intellectually deranged – as to depart from any semblance of seriousness and thought so as to believe that dinosaurs were on the ark with Noah and that it all happened less than two thousand years before the rise of the First Dynasty?

And if it is fearful enough that such persons do exist in organized groups (called ‘the base’), it is even more fearful to think that their intense concentration on their ‘truth’ will overwhelm large numbers of mind-flat, gum-chewing, cell-phone tapping ‘moderates’ who are so enswamped in the Flat but frazzled ‘life’ of American culture that they cannot muster the mental energy, let alone skill, to evaluate the possibility.

The question arises: How can such people be The People? Because if no People, then no Republic.

Or is there indeed a ‘silent majority’ for this age: neither balkanized into hating and fearing all who do not think like them, nor living merely out of fear and hate, nor relying on the least-developed parts of their brain to comprehend events and shape a self and a life, nor seeking false security in phantasmagoria and caricatures of the unfamiliar, nor so fecklessly surface-bound as to be sail-less and rudderless on the sea of events and meanings.

Was Lincoln’s insistence on The People a result of what he had experienced, proven to him by those he had encountered in his life? Or was it a gamble that at least enough folks were willing and able to rise up to take a place among The People? Or was it a hope that had little basis in observed experience but appeared essential if the American Experiment were to continue? And if it was only such a hope, then wasn’t it a species of the Hitlerian insight that LBJ quoted to MLK in 1965: that if you tell folks something long enough and consistently enough and confidently enough, why then they’ll come to believe it – whether its’ true or not … ?

Or is it – somewhat in the best Catholic mode – simply to be accepted as an article of faith that this Vessel of Ours is what God has given Us and We go with it as very best We can until we die or It sinks or the world ends … ?

We need to answer this question, each of Us and all of Us. Because We are reaching a hugely dangerous point in Our national existence where We appear to have ‘options’: a Unitary Executive, a private mercenary Executive Army, a Congress enwhored to the continued personal success of each of its Members and nothing else, a more ‘efficient’ and ‘responsive’ police state benevolently destroying strangeness and otherness and unfamiliarity along with Evil and evil and crime.

Few of Us recall the siren allure of the middle-‘30s: here We were over here shuffling around, scuttling to get out of the way of the shiny box-like limos while searching for a way to keep bread on the table … the great American Promise betrayed. Meanwhile, over there in Germany, legions of sharp, fresh young faces put themselves to the task of implementing their Leader’s vigorous and demanding Order, busily constructing authobahns and steel and houses and looking like a million bucks. Hell, even the Italians – the Italians! – were looking pretty sharp with their Leader and on-time trains and their army of seven million bayonets. Maybe, the voice whispered in Our ear, there needs to be a change around here.

The question is being put to Us again … and – this is the great treason of Our age – it is being put to Us by Our own government. There are now real dungeons and almost-real dragons … no need to find them in games.

Can folks who think there were dinosaurs on the ark muster the skill to preserve the Republic by preserving themselves as The People?

Nor are We only at risk from the dinosaur-base. Over on Salon Patrick Smith in his regular “Ask the Pilot” column raises a thought-provoking point as he discusses airplane/airport security (www.salon.com/tech/col/smith/2007/06/08/askthepilot235/print.html).

He refers to the craze of three summers ago where some woman, uncomfortable at the presence of a group of 12 sorta Middle-Eastern-looking males having a good time on an aircraft, got it into her head that they were a terrorist special-ops team on a dry run to repeat the outrage of 9-11.

Now this site has gone on at length about the confounding obliviousness with which this country enthusiastically slid into the slough of the very obviously over-hyped sex-offender mania. At least the Communists of the 1950s actually existed as a world-wide, or world-aspiring, organization, and they had those rockets. The sex-offenders were manufactured out of whole cloth … overnight as it were, like the proverbial Biblical dinosaurs.

But where the actual unfolding pattern of the sex-offender lunacy was spread over so wide a swath of events that it was hard for the average citizen to keep a close lock on the alpha-stream, on the key dynamics and significance of the thing, yet in the confines of an aircraft fuselage, over a short and clearly delineated period of time, it’s easier to observe the dynamics of the syndrome.

Reason could not help stop her anxiety: why would a covert special-ops group collect itself and proceed enmasse to create a situation where its presence would be clearly revealed to its ‘enemies’ or its potential targets and its mission compromised? No no no no no. There were terrorists somewhere, these men agitate me, ergo they must be terrorists – call the captain! Don’t argue with me because my agitation is dispositive proof of their guilt! Or are you one of them yourself … ? And of course at this point, even St. Peter had to say No. Three times. Thus is Truth betrayed in the face of frenzy.

And when Truth is betrayed, then reality is also betrayed. And then consequences will flow to the betrayer(s) in a Flood.

In today’s “sensitive” world a plane-full of balanced and quiet folks cannot hold a candle to the influence that a fear-addled singleton must be allowed to wield. In today’s “responsive” world an attempt to calm the screaming rather than grant the demand is taken as form of outrage and crime itself. It’s as if the two-year-olds were able to write the handbook for how to handle tantrums. But then again, ‘adulthood’ is merely an oppressive construct; and anyway, it’s those whom society deems unwell who are really well. Or so some book said.

On such grounds, indeed, a ‘sensitive and responsive’ Unitary Executive did feel Our pain and stretch forth its hand to smite somebody so as to alleviate Our pain. If in the process far greater pain has been caused, well … We are to appreciate its good intentions; and anyway the pain it caused was somebody else’s. If We flinch from the pain now irrevocably caused on Our behalf, then – as another world Leader once said as things went south – “if the people cannot muster the will to follow my vision then they are not worthy of me … and should disappear from the face of the earth”. Ach ja! He would have done for them himself, except that his own nemesis was approaching him at the speed of a T-34, steady and relentless. But they wouldn’t soon forget him; the whole world wouldn’t be able to forget him.

And how did We come to this? How have We lost so much capability over the past decades? Another piece in the puzzle of causation is occasioned by the ending of “The Sopranos”. In his blog at Buffalo Report (www.buffaloreport.com/2007/070610.jackson.shrink.html), Bruce Jackson discusses a book he reviewed when it was first written 30 years ago: Yochelson’s and Samenow’s “The Criminal Personality”.

These two ‘experts’ asserted that there is a thing called a “criminal personality”; that it is the ‘criminal personality’ that taints everything an individual does with the stain of criminality and indeed constitutes an essence (getting kinda medieval here); that such criminality is a choice and it is a willful choice made at a very early age (before puberty); and that very few ‘criminals’ can be talked out of their choice; because by the time they’re first caught they’ve been committing crimes for years, and will continue to commit crimes unless they are forcibly and effectively stopped; and a criminal who commits any type of crime is capable of committing any other type of crime and probably will, so that a bank-robber will easily rape and a car-thief will easily burgle and no matter what the crime the same ‘criminal personality’ underlies them all, and cannot be reformed.

The diagnostic symptoms of the inner criminal (interchangeably called the ‘psychopath’ and the ‘sociopath’) include children who expect their parents to meet their needs. Such insight. There’s not much actual scientific fact in the book (a pair of volumes, actually), but lots and lots of anecdotes – remembered stories told by clinicians about this or that patient.

But there is a unique thought process that is the core of their ‘criminal’. The ‘criminal mind’ doesn’t want to take responsibility for his actions and tries to distance himself from them; he practices deception to avoid detection; he says what he has to say to law enforcement and therapy personnel in order to get free; he is incapable of thinking correctly. So far this sounds like the unique markers said to apply to sex-offenders; and surely describes the behavior of recently deposed CEOs and … come to think of it, is pretty much the Standard Operation Procedure for the Executive and Legislative branches of the government. And the authors assert – remember – that this type of person is not reformable.

As to ‘numbers’, the authors have figured (in ways they don’t quite explain) that the average ‘criminal mind’ commits 187 crimes in a year. Now a) you have to ask how the hell they came up with a number like that and b) how does that compare to the number of crimes the average person commits … but then, of course, if you’re not convicted or caught then you don’t qualify as having that ‘criminal mind’. If you can follow that.

And what about the ‘criminal mind’ in a CEO or a politician or somebody in the Justice Department? How many crimes do they commit compared to the average person? But of course the ‘average’ person is by definition not ‘criminal’. And We must accept that this goes for the average CEO and politician. That still leaves us a couple-three more things that We might choose to believe before breakfast.

But to end on an upbeat note: this all means that if you incarcerate 2 million folks (roughly what our prison population is now) then you’ve – presto! – prevented 374 million crimes each year. No wonder they like this inside the Beltway. And – surprise! – in short order Samenow was appointed to Reagan’s task force on crime victims (because each of those crimes had to have a victim, and each victim can vote … presuming the crimes and thus the victims exist in the real world).

Worse, it is ‘the criminal personality’ that pre-exists any particular ‘crime’. Once a person is convicted of a crime, then it must be assumed that he is – and always has been – a criminal personality; thus one can go back through his prior life secure in the assurance that everything bad he did proves that he will irreformably continue to do bad, and every good he appears to have done was merely a proof that he has always been shrewd enough to cover his evil and nefarious tracks (until, of course, our glorious security forces shrewdly exposed him). Conversely, if you haven’t been convicted of a crime then you don’t not have – nor have you ever had – a criminal personality.

But of course, that can change, can’t it? In the twinkling of an eye. One could be convicted of anything, and suddenly find that one is now guilty of everything, past as well as present, potential and future as well as actual. And thus once convicted, one may be added to a list of those exposed and ‘tagged’, like cattle branded. Added to a list? Added to a Registry? Ah … that’s logical.

As Jackson notes, they think “the only adequate program for habilitating (you can’t “re-“ what was never there in the first place) the criminal to noncriminal life … requires 3 hours of group therapy every day, sexual abstinence, unquestioning acceptance of Yochelson’s and Samenow’s definitions of criminal attitudes, desires, needs, and behaviors, thorough self-disgust, and abandonment of criminal thought and work.” This may be a set of objectives (and dubious ones at that) but such a wish-list does not constitute a coherent set of methods and steps to achieve those objectives. And it wouldn’t take a college-degree for some potential therapee to entertain a few doubts – which of course would reveal him as ‘in denial’ and refusing therapy. All in all, a standard toxic brew of everything that distinguished Mao’s re-education camps as cutting-edge educational praxis. Packaged now as trew-blew American ‘science’. Yah.

It stuns. But the ballet of ideas-and-events that followed is exquisite in its symmetries and evolutions. 1978: the gender revolution has been waging its war on “masculine culture” (and – it would consequently have to be admitted – “men”), but it hasn’t yet figured out a way to harness the vast police power of the government in its cause. Rules of evidence, statutes of limitation, and other oppressive tools of masculinist ‘reason’ are impeding progress, perpetrating further outrage, revictimizing the victims. “Men” are inherently rapists, claims the vanguard thought of the revolution, but how exactly get the government to accept that assertion and deploy the police power and the criminal law in the service of your vision and your agenda? As it stands in 1978, the revolution appears to have bogged down in ersatz psychologizing and panglossian self-help and plaintive whining in sympathetic media outlets. What then is to be done?

Meanwhile, on the exactly opposite end of the ranch, the Fundies are trying to figure out how to distinguish the marks of Good and of Evil, so that Evil ones can be identified and exposed and fought and conquered by those who are clearly and permanently Saved and – thereby and therefore – Good both now and forever. And is it possible to actually stretch forth the collective Fundamentalist hand and wrest control of the wildly careening Culture of this country from the whackjob ‘libbuls’ who want to change all that is American and Good into Evil?

Along come Samenow and Yochelson with a theory that essentially creates something for everyone: an objective class – the criminal class – that is permanently dangerous and permanently evil and easily distinguished and can be permanently tagged; and against which permament and irreformable and willfully chosen Evilness anything may be done by those who are permanently and by nature Good because no matter what the Good have to do in order to do what it takes, that action that is taken is always and ineffably Good.

These two re-created at a stroke both a form of the old revolutionary “objective class of enemy” and an easily recognized and perfectly hate-able Manichean ‘Other’ against whom the purely Good might lustily wage ceaseless and no-holds-barred war.

The feminists get a justification for the bending of the criminal law against “men”; the Fundies get a justification for the marshalling of the criminal law in the service of enforcing their vision of the Pure and Perfect America; the law enforcement and criminal justice systems get a huge dose of respect and the justification and authority to do things the way they want to … and a budget to make it work. And they all are suddenly provided with an added, but from a PR standpoint indispensable, element: a class of Victims, who can be displayed (perhaps even prepared) for the cameras.

And so, as at Santa Anita, they were off.

Neither Communist revolutionary thought nor Old Testament war were ever going to be compatible with the American ethos and the fabric of the Constitution; indeed, they are positively toxic to it. And yet the Democrats needed voters and the Republicans needed voters. And politics were descending into “issues” upon which one must hold ‘the’ correct opinion regardless of anything else. And what the Democrats perfected the Republicans took and re-badged and put in a more powerful engine than the Democrats had ever managed and fueled it with a far less refined crude than the Democrats had ever dared. And here We are. Or, as Lincoln said that Spring day in 1865, with abyssal, ineffable sadness: “And the war came.” The Democrat would erode the Constitution to punish (male) perpetrators and the Republican would erode the Constitution to restore morality. The hope of neither could be answered fully; the consequences of each have been answered far too fully.

And the awesome police power of the government, carefully caged by the Founders, was set loose in the service of both ‘bases’ as 1980 saw an entrenched Democratic Congress and a wildly popular Republican Presidency. ‘Victims’ – of men, of crime, of evil, of Evil – could feel comfortable in either Party.

And within a year there were the pre-school dragon-sex-with-children cases. And then the drug-lords and the superpredator kids and then the abusive husbands and then the child molesters and then the sex-offenders and then the terrorists and then the Iraqis and now the Iranians. Democrats kept their feminist base happy criminalizing ‘men’ and Republicans kept their law-and-order base happy turning the police power loose on sex and drugs (rock and roll having gone away on its own).

Nobody needed to ‘think’, nobody was advised to ‘doubt’.

Of course, the huge dangers within the conceptual core of the Samenow-Yochelson universe have been ignored: anybody might be convicted at any time, thereby negating everything he had ever done and – the horror! – tainting everyone who had ever been close to him (and this was precisely the defining nightmare of every Soviet apparatchik).

For the unspoken beneficiary of the Yochelson-Samenow universe was the government power: if anyone can have his life utterly reversed simply by a ‘finding’ by the government power, and if that reversal might be occasioned by anything at any time, then the government became the all-powerful Source of success or failure, doled out in measure modest or immense, to be placated, obeyed, feared. And its police agents as well.

And Jackson notes that those police agents not only got to have their own Grand Unified Theory to justify their status as trustworthy professionals, but also got a theory that “reduced a great deal of complexity to a very trivial set of assumptions … that renders all punishment justified.” Which, come to think of it, is a pretty good description of the ‘thinking’ that led us to Iraq, our eastern front. The hell-hot ironies of how the Beltway hothouse takes a trendy idiocy from one area of activity and spreads it around to other even more significant areas. “And the war came.”

It was all well and good that this or that interest or coalition of interests rode high on the back of the tiger now; at any time any of those interests might itself be displaced and cast into the outer darkness, discovered to have a “criminal personality”. It set this nation on a course that was positively French in its potential for revolutionary, governmental Terror.

So much of what passes for ‘science’ in the assorted cries of the Advocacies is derived from this Yochelson-Samenow template. From 1980 through the still-erupting pockets of the sex-offense mania. And beyond – to the ‘terrorists’ who simply ‘choose’ to hate us, and are consequently evil in their very essence and thus against whom no perpetration can be deemed ‘excessive’.

As Yochelson-Samenow refused to consider structural factors as playing a causative role, so too the Imperium quickly spun matters such that the structures of historical events or geographical imperatives or even America’s own record of activities were considered irrelevant: as the feminists presumed “men” were rapists and the Fundies presumed that Evil is a choice that disqualifies the chooser from any further communion with the Pure and the Good, so too the ‘terrorists’, the inconvenient life-forms impeding American control of dwindling oil supplies … well, one can go on.

Yochelson-Samenow are no longer widely accepted as ‘cutting edge’, or even accurate. But their ‘bases’ are secure – especially in a law enforcement community that has waited far too long for its day to let go so soon. When ‘testilying’ and ‘framing the guilty’ are justified by two whole thick books (!) … you don’t just walk away from that.

Yochelson-Samenow have re-infected this nation with a primitive and simplistic conceptual scheme that has regressed Us back into the pre-Constitutional murk and slime. The philosophy of Muldoon of the Strong-Arm Squad, itself an importation from an older, darker world, was reintroduced: if a crime needs a guilty criminal, find one you figure is guilty of anything, frame him, and everybody’s happy and can get home to supper at a reasonable time. The dinosaurs walk among Us.

But that’s what the Fundies have been saying all along.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

1 Comments:

Blogger wayne fontes said...

Bobby the Brian Heenan of big time wrestling fame once said "the scary thing about wrestling fans is they can vote and they can breed". The same applies to creationists.

6:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home