Re: virus: prisons, male rape and oppression

Date: Sun Jul 28 2002 - 11:58:00 MDT

On 28 Jul 2002 at 3:26, Walpurgis wrote:

> Joe wrote:
> "Let me get this straight; my original example was of an adult male who
RAPES AND MURDERS a five year old girl, and you would NOT EVEN
INCARCERATE such a person!! Whaddaya wanna do; issue him a
parking ticket and hope it's an isolated offence?"
> I fear rational conversation just flew through the window as loud and
graceless as the corpse of a 5 yr old.
> "We indeed have nothing more to say to each other on the issue, for
there is nothing further I can say concerning the issue to a person who
holds and defends such a "beyond the pale' position."
> Your distortion of my position was quite amusing, but will get us
> Small steps Joe. A radical overhaul of our justice system and how people
understand crime and punishment is a long way off. For now it is only
possible to make small changes. The first kinds of changes can begin with
improving prison conditions (especially where sexual assault of inmates is
concerned). Brutalising criminals (or should I say *possible* criminals!)
The brutalizers are most definitely criminals at the moment they begin to
brutalize other inmates.
the inside breds resentment, fear, pain and more brutality. It should be
evident to anyone familiar with recidivism rates and crime rates that prison
does not act as much of a deterrent, nor does it reform. However, it most
certainly punishes; for many it tortures. Prison appears to be little more
than a way of avenging a victim by perpetrating more victimisation.
No, it is a method of protecting the populace at large, by isolating criminal
threats from them, so that the criminals do not victimize that populace
> Regarding the problem of oppression you said that:
> "I still hold the opinion that I voiced in my comparison of 'gender' and
> 'nature' ecofeminists; that dominance/submission paradigms are
> imprinted during childrearing, and to eliminate them, we must discover
> noncoercive ways of raising our young."
> I would agree with this. But I do not understand why such a practice
could not be extended to social interaction generally.
> The spirit behind this notion also informs criminal rehabilitation. Taking
revenge on the criminal only puts the person is a worse position. Taking
revenge is the result of the visceral feeling we have when someone harms
us. Taking revenge does not account for the social complexities and
impoverishment of circumstance or conscience that are involved in the
making of a criminal.
Isolating the murderer/rapist of a five-year-old from civil society via
imprisonment protects the rest of that society's preteen girls from the
murder/rapist's likely subsequent predations. We should be even more
concerned with the rights of innocents not to be subsequently raped and
slain by a proven murderer/rapist than we are with the 'rights' of that
murderer/rapist to subsequently walk and stalk among us. I certainly am.
> When criminals meet their victims (in what is known as an "encounter")
they have the chance to understand how their actions have harmed real
people: "for offenders, hearing the victims’ story not only
humanizes their victims but also can change the offenders’
attitude about their criminal behavior." The whole point of this is to deal
with the feelings of hostility both criminal and victim feel and move towards
reconciliation. It is important to understand that though it is difficult to
isolate exactly how responsible a criminal is for his/her actions (due to the
complexity of socialisation and life-context), the criminal must consider
him/herself accountable. For more see:
> The principles of restorative justice have been applied to schools; see:
> Restorative justice would need to be supported by policy and institutions
which support its methods and that competently deal with the causes of
> Perhaps prisoners can have their sentances reduced if they choose to take
part in "encounters" with their victims. Maybe eventually, we can be rid of
prisons and their deleterious effects on humanity.
Surely you are not suggesting that such a policy could work with the
sociopaths among us, people such as Dahmer, Bundy and Gacy! They
look upon other people as things, to be used and abused for their own
pleasure, and rather than such encounters humanizing them (as if
encounters with their corpses, or in Dahmer's case, what was left of them (I
would hope they would feed him first!) - could), it is much more likely that
they, and many others, would attempt to 'game' such a system to win their
release so they could resume their predations. And of course people who
did what they did for ideological reasons and have nothing but contempt
for the manner in which we are presently politically, economically and
socioculturally constructed, such as Mcveigh and Kaczynski, would most
likely approach such a system in the same way.
> I am not in any position to plan a society with less prisons, where prisons
are only used for cases which seem to be beyond reform (which probably
count for your rapist/murderer example). However, one possible option for
many prisoners is illustrated by recent experients with electronic tagging,
allowing prisoners to live outside their prisons, with family and friends, and
to carry on working and earning, while under surveillance to moniter
Ankle bracelets could deter neither murder nor rape; they could only aid in
establishing guilt a posteriori. Even a chastity girdle allowing
urination/defecation but preventing intercourse could not deter
'resentment' assaults with surrogate objects. And of course there is always
the danger of removal. By small steps you seem to be assuming the same
position I previously decried; that of letting these human time bombs tick
among us.
> Criminals aren't usually monsters. Usually they need help with financial,
social and psychological problems. Your case of the rapist/murderer is
certianly unusual and extreme, and as such, the criminal would not likely
benefit from restorative justice. However, he would also certainly not
from prison violence.
One cannot jargonically medicalize all moral lacunae; this was Szasz's
(widely missed) point.
> Benefit!? But he's a violent and cruel criminal!? Why are we discussing
benefit!? Becuase it is the only rational option. Increasing this criminals
misery does nothing but make this dangerous person more dangerous. It
also reinforces the violent behaviours of those prisoners that would choose
to rape and beat him. Treating him with respect and giving him the chance
to improve opens up possibilities for constructive and positive actions or
thoughts by the criminal, or to at least minimize the cycle of violence and
reinforcement found within prisons currently.
Isolation and execution are the only options that protect society at large;
the very danger that inmates present to each other richly illustrates the
dangers they pose to innocent, trusting, peaceful and in many cases
weaker civilians (much easier marks). If they must be isolated from each
other for mutual protection, must surely they must be kept isolated from
> Male rape in prisons expresses and reinforces deeper oppressive social
and psychological structures.
> "By turning some men into 'women' these inmates use sexuality to
dehumanise and degrade fellow inmates." (Sim, J. - "Men in Prison", in
Newburn, T. and Stanko, E. (eds.) Just Boys Doing Business? , p107). The
example of male rape illustrates two points. First of all it is indicative of the
ideology of male supremacy that is core to the ideology of masculinity.
is indicated by violently forcing other men to be in the position of
Other”; that is a woman or homosexual. These Others are outside
and subordinate to the dominant male heterosexual hierarchies, thus
another man into this lower category, forcing another man beneath him,
illustrates the rapist’s power and gain.
> The second related point is that men must emasculate each other to some
degree so as to gain status, to rise above, by knocking another down. This
competitive vampirism need not be violent (though in an institution like the
prison or army barracks it is more likely to be), it can take more subtle
according to the institution the hierarchy is embedded in, like public
humiliation, demonstrating how less cool or tough another male is, gloating
over winning a game, intellectual browbeating, sexual conquest at the
man’s expense and so on. In this way, masculine identity is always
subject to erosion or even destruction, it is constantly under attack and
be defended by reciprocating these attacks within the given hierarchic
frameworks by gaining status by whatever means are acceptable. " 'Man' is
an ideology which all men are striving to achieve and has to be
accomplished." (Brittan, A. - Masculinity and Power, p36. Also see
R. - Masculinity in Crisis and Jefferson, T. - “Theorising Masculine
Subjectivity” in Newburn, T. and Stanko, E. (eds.) Just Boys Doing
Business? , p13).
> However, the violence and competition inherent in masculine ideology
ensures that failure can be catastrophic for a man and those around him.
Men like Peter Sutcliffe, better known as “The Yorkshire
Ripper”, felt that he was not a “real man”, and
murdered women to prove that he was in fact a man. The deeper misogyny
and fear that permeates masculine ideology is exemplified by these
revealing the psychotic tendencies that define it. (Horrocks, R. -
in Crisis, p125-128).
Violent criminals did cruel and vicious things to be incarcerated, so it is no
surprise that they would continue to do so once imprisoned. Of course,
they would also continue to do so if freed, and given a choice, I vastly
prefer them doing such things to each other than the alternative of
allowing/permitting them to have the subsequent opportunite to once again
do them to US. If this disturbs or distresses our delicate sensibilities too
much, then massively raise taxes and build isolation cells for all violent
criminals in order to protect them from each other, and face the fact that
such isolation will itself be considered cruel by some.
> Walpurgis
> ----
> This message was posted by Walpurgis to the Virus 2002 board on Church of Virus BBS.
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