Monday, July 21, 2008

AMBER DAMPER

I want to give some credit where credit – a modest but very real bit of it – is due. In Sunday’s ‘Boston Globe’ they’ve got a chewy article entitled “Abducted” (http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/07/20/abducted/) on how ‘amber alerts’ aren’t really very effective although they are great for getting the public worked up. Some of “the only outside scholars to examine the system in depth” have done a study. Which, by the by, says without saying it that most of the ‘science’ and ‘statistics’ given to Us previously were from ‘scholars’ who were benefiting from the system, or at least who were ‘advocating’ for it, it being such a good thing and all.

This ‘outside’ study finds “the statistics” that are usually given out to be “highly misleading”. What they do is to “create a climate of fear around a tragic but extremely rare event, pumping up public anxiety”. My my. Like creating – well – a stampede, maybe. This is treating the public, the citizenry, The People, like cattle. This ain’t American. Very un-American, actually. Kinda Reich-ish, if you get my drift. Ja?

In fact, the study calls it “crime control theatre” and says that “it fits into the wider complaint of some criminologists about crime-fighting measures – often passed in the wake of horrific, highly-politicized crimes that originate from strong emotions rather than from research into what really works.” Emotions such as fear and vengeance, I’d figure.

“Whether it’s child sex offender registries or ‘three-strikes’ criminal sentencing rules, these policies, critics warn, can prove ineffective, sometimes costly, and even counterproductive, since they heighten public fears and distract from threats that are at once more common and more tractable.” Such “politically expedient solutions … look good but do very little to solve the problem.” Kudos to the scholars and to the reporter, Drake Bennett. Although I’d add that the process of American justice (and it is a great Gift to the world) is still not a certain finder-of-truth on its best days, and during times of stampede the chances of its making mistakes are greatly increased.

And, I guess, if you’re really sure your pacemaker is up to it, imagine such stampedes taking place in the military system, where Outcome trumps Process as a matter of very very well-enforced institutional philosophy. Oy. That’s the same military justice system, by the by, that is creeping into actual Constitutional justice-process as We speak.

I’d also add that those “child sex offender registries” are actually registries for anybody convicted even of taking a wizz in the woods. It has always been a cagey stratagem of the thing that while ‘children’ were store-fronted, the actual machinery in the back was casting a much wider net.

The genuine academic criminology folks - as opposed to the make-a-buck, surf-the-wave, cottage-industry, 'expert' crowd - are quoted at length and substantively. When you read such documents as Amicus Briefs you find that they’ve been reporting their work all along, but the media have for the most part ignored them, very selectively, in favor of the faux-‘experts’ who help enable the stampede. This fake 'science', by half-trained 'professionals' with their own 'think tanks' has helped fuel wayyy too much of the revolutionary agenda, feminist and victimist.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (a mouthful, no?), clearly unused to actually having to defend any of these programs (it also oversees the sex-offense registry), bleats "If an Amber Alert saves any child, don't you think it was worth it?". This particularly classic wheedle of the victimist Advocacy has been around a long time and has a lot to answer for. An appeal to emotion, it is irrational in its essence; it is the if-even-one enticement. If only one child's life could be saved by outlawing private motor vehicles, shouldn't we do it? If only one Iraqi kid could be saved by regime-changing Saddaam, shouldn't we do it? But life is a series of hard choices (ask those eerily mature boy-soldiers who fought the Civil War) and the ur-fantasy of the feminist-victimist gameplan - that this world can be made as safe as a doll house for the little dollies - is worse than utopian.

And when the price to be paid for it is the erosion of Constitutional process and protection and - even worse - the corruption and the stampeding of The People, the calculated reduction of public opinion to emotion and then the stampeding of that emotion down a chosen path ... that price is too high. And to say that 'the price of even one child' is worth the integrity of the Constitutional grounds of Our very national genius and existence is to demonstrate in a single question the vast danger posed to America by the feminist-victimist Advocacy. And it is a question that up until now they have been very successful in shouting down.

Its defenders include not only government apparatchiks who get paid to administer it but radio stations that can combine ‘public service’ with a great ratings-booster. They note that “it doesn’t cost anything”. Ummm … Engorging public fear? Running the risk of vigilantism if some well-meaning citizen tries to ‘stop’ a vehicle that is being sought? The article goes on to note that and other concerns. (And an impressive piece of actual reporting it is, too – it would be ironic if the Globe were to get a Pulitzer for starting to draw Us back from a dangerous path just as it had helped pave that path for so long. Go figure. But We, brethren and sistern, are in a heepa trubble, and can’t be picky about the small stuff.)

A ray of sunlight. And I’m sure as heck thankful for it. We face very tough times, and We have to muster the chops for a heepa “blood, toil, tears, and sweat”.

And not just Us. In all the discussion about how Iraq was invaded at least partially to ‘save the children’, nobody has ventured to ask whether Saddaam ever managed to kill or maim or render-orphan even a fraction of the number of children being thus handled currently in Our name.

To paraphrase Victor McLaglen’s cavalry top-sergeant in “Fort Apache”: ‘Tis an adult’s work We’ve ahead of Us today.

So let’s get to it then.

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