Rule of Rules: the Unseen

There is a great, empty space in our minds, and it’s right in the middle of everything. It’s a place we cannot enter, but we must go to all the other places, so we’re always going around it, unaware. We live in curved space, we say, there is no straight line to anything; the quickest route is always an arc, around this unspeakable void in the centre of everything. The straight route is just around the next corner, always.

Of course, this meme works for many scenarios. The forbidden place can be the loss of God to an evangelist, the unconscious to an analyst, etc. I think to evolutionary biologists and many psychologists, when they must insert this void into their writings – a “black box” exercise, the trick of gleaning what you can from observing a thing in a system when the thing’s function is unknown – I think, to these modern scholars it is “aggression.” It’s a variation on the Man’s sinful nature theme, an unexplained, blanket value judgment right in the middle of our earnest attempts at understanding, science, psychology, everything.

Two paragraphs, that’s all the tension I can build, I don’t make you wait. I’ve worked it out, or I worry that I have, I mean, I’m not happy with my answer either, but I also haven’t changed my mind since yesterday: it’s abuse, or rather the mental and emotional pain of abuse. I’ve looked at rules and punishments, and while I understand the concepts of deterrent and control, the narrative about civilization and majority rule (as recently expounded/expanded by Richard Wrangham), I also understand some things that should place all that in some perspective.

First, the same suite of scientific thinking about humans and their origins that includes this majority morality places us as still being that proto-hominid, that ape, just under our skin, and all the glory of modern civilization, in another but parallel conversation doesn’t add up to spit, it’s a veneer and we are constructed of the same wood as chimpanzees. To talk about our moral accomplishments is an odd, puffed up stance that fits better in church or politics than in science.

Second, I did a thought experiment along the lines of one of Kant’s (OK, the only one I recall, the first part of the book I haven’t finished. He’s tough) about time and space where he decides that he can imagine space empty of things, but no things not in space, or time passing without anything happening, but nothing happening without time passing while it does, and so space and time to Kant were properties of the mind, since his mind could not operate without them. My point, the analogy is, rules and punishments are endlessly variable – “Thou shalt not kill” has its correlate in many times and places among nearly all people when thou shalt absolutely kill or be shunned, reviled or killed yourself. In a less extreme and more accessible vein, different societies have different rules, and things forbidden in one place can be ubiquitous elsewhere, some societies generally are more permissive than others – but all have rules, all have punishments.

No one rule is sacred, though some are more universal than others, and no penalty is sacred, though we say they all are, they change, new rules are created with new technologies, etc., – but we can imagine a completely alien set of rules and we perhaps cannot imagine a society with no rules at all. We can perhaps imagine a completely foreign set of punishments to go with a given set of rules – but can we imagine no punishments at all? Wow, I started the Critique nearly forty years ago, this analogy may have figured hugely in my approach to this.

Mama, can this really be the end?

No. Rules serve a purpose, one we all know – but no particular rule serves this purpose, none are indispensable, yet the purpose exists, so we are able to accomplish it with a set of rules that I assume I’d need some proof to call random, but that can certainly be variable, enforced with a set of penalties that are, shall we say, also an opportunity for some human creativity. So here’s the game: pick your rules, pick your penalties, we don’t care which ones, but you have to pick something from each bin. What does this accomplish, when we’ve ruled out the contents of any given rule?

The first, easy biology answer is of course, dominance. If the content of the rule doesn’t matter, then it’s who writes it, and who forces it upon whom, and clearly, that is absolutely what’s going on, all over the place, no question. The discriminating aspect of rules are all about our human groups, about who has to follow the rule and who doesn’t or who is forgiven and who isn’t.

But don’t even our most egalitarian dreams have rules and punishments, don’t our socialist or democratic fantasies about majority rule still include some built-in idea about rules and punishments, like time and space? Even in our utopian dreams, remove the alpha, the king, we still need rules, right? He was just taking advantage of our older habits, using the rules to his advantage. So, dominance, yes, but not being in that game myself, I don’t place a lot of priority on it. Again, perspective: we ain’t all alphas. That the minority dominants enjoy the situation doesn’t explain why you I and Kant can’t imagine no rules at all, ever. I think, when the excrement has flowed downhill, and the alpha’s bad mood today reaches the zeta man-ape and he turns to beat his wife and/or children for it, I think to call the zeta’s reactive violence “dominance” isn’t right, he’s defined as lacking it, and punching down is not how you acquire dominance, that requires punching up, to climb the ladder. To me it makes more sense to define these transactions as happening at the more basic level, not some highly developed concept of social dominance as much as just the cause and effects around social and physical abuse. A by-product, if you will, if you want to fit this into a worldview about civilization, about organization and dominance. Yes, he learned the rules, and yes, he knows his place.

My concern is that his lessons pissed him off.

And that, I worry, is the deeper point of them. Rules come and rules go and penalties are subject to changing times and to whom they are applied, but there must always be some set of rules and somebody must be penalized – the details don’t matter. You all know this. Here’s a story, names forgotten to protect the innocent (except mine, so it’s all knowable).

In my kid’s elementary school, some kid wrote some nasty gossip in the girl’s bathroom, and people had ideas about who did it but no proof, the school wasn’t bringing in handwriting experts to prove the matter. It was probably kid A, but there was a strong case about for kid B doing the deed knowing it looked like the work of kid A. Honestly, I can’t remember who got the punishment, a call home, maybe a suspension, I was already anti-punishment, I didn’t want to see any child punished, but they picked one and punished – knowing they had a fifty-fifty chance of punishing the right kid – actually something less than fifty-fifty, because there were other possibilities besides the main two kids. A message had to be sent, no crime goes unpunished! This function was served, despite that justice had less than an even money chance.

Even the perpetrator is interchangeable! Just so long as someone gets hurt. Dominance, sure, that principal over those kids, grownups generally over kids – but really, only an even money chance, if she got the wrong kid, a case can be made for the guilty kid’s dominance of everyone there. If she got the wrong kid, it was pure abuse for that kid, the whole world of grownups throwing in with the other kid’s dominance. Of course if she got the right kid, then the principal’s (and adults’ generally) dominance and the child’s experience of the penalty are all things we all agree with – but I submit we have still pissed that kid off. She may learn the lesson, but another kid may learn the same lesson in a nicer way, and if so, these kids’ life histories will be altered in different ways (statistically), both have the lesson’s knowledge, but one has a distasteful experience and memory. Deserved, didn’t “deserve,” this is not the point, the changes are the point. A different society, different set of rules, different crime, maybe a whole different “deserving” dynamic – same changes, this is the point. Doesn’t it sound like some white kid version of a super-villain back story, the unfairness?

What affects us is pain, not some long-winded construction about what the pain is supposed to accomplish. Pain is simple. Any idiot can cause pain and make changes in the world, especially if they’re actually trying to cause it. I know I’ve caused plenty while trying not to, but if I had been trying all these years, I think I could have done worse. I’ve been working all this out for myself and finding concepts I thought I had to name – I said “mimic meme,” and I switched to the generic sounding “useful fiction,” but if I’m talking biology, I’ve just heard “adaptive fiction,” so I guess that’s the term. At some point, though, at some level, if our adaptive fictions are pervasive enough, they become our adaptive truths, self-fulfilling prophecies.

I want to call this rule, that there must be rules and penalties and so pain, regardless of the particulars, one of our foundational adaptive fictions except that once we have adapted to it so completely, “fiction” doesn’t quite get to it; if it is inescapable in the human world, a case can be made that it’s an adaptive fact. If it’s our rule, and we make the rules, then this rule is factual enough for you, something like that? I think in reality it’s a fiction, just maybe not for us.

But it will need to be if we’re ever going to take the next step.

 

Jeff

April 28th., 2019

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Forgiveness VS Morality

Forgiveness is how you and I feel good, and it’s how our people never have to worry about goodness. I know the Hallmark/Psychology Today definition of forgiveness. It’s something like acceptance, at least acceptance is the component I agree about, it’s the good part, and the folk part of the theory is that we can have no peace without it – and you know what, bare-bones like that, if we say, no value judgments attached, I’ll agree also. But because all things can be judged this way, I will say: your sense of peace in this matter, while it may signify an alignment between your life and your predispositions, is only as objectively good as those predispositions, and when we find peace by accepting terrible crimes we are terrible people. If morality is defined by an attempt to lessen crime with punishments and deterrents, then forgiveness is morality’s very opposite, and the peace we feel is the freedom from the tension of moral strivings, acceptance of the world as it is, warts – and war – and all. And child abuse.

I sort of get we forgive a soldier, we ask them to murder, we already know they represent us, like it or not. But if the victims of extreme child abuse also need peace, eventually? The way we talk about it, the victim’s peace is on the other side of a wall and that wall is allowing whatever happened, albeit after the fact, so in what looks to me like a simple logical equation, a victim’s path to peace goes through accepting the crimes visited upon them, as though it were all fine and necessary if it had perhaps happened to someone else.

Which, of course, Chinatown calculation, game theory, Mafia-style logic, these days dragged into the sunlight for all to see and fear, is that’s how you win, by allowing your guys to do anything, anything at all. Those who will not use the carpet bombs or the landmines, or some plague are going to lose to those who will, if the police are bound by the law, the gangsters will win every time. So, forgive. It’s what Jesus would do for the war effort, isn’t it? Again, aside from that last ironic headbutt, it’s all very logical and if I wrapped it up here, I’d be one more evil evo-boy crowing macho from his bunker, this is what I was made for! All fine and good, can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs.

Again, if it were happening to someone else.

Of course it’s not just someone else. If it were just someone else, we wouldn’t have people to forgive personally, we wouldn’t have been taught to forgive, pretty much each and every last one of us.

Perhaps we think of forgiveness as the opposite of punishment, the opposite of retribution, and in a sense it is – but that does not indicate an inverse relationship between the two in a group or a society, it’s a direct one. The more rules there are means more things to punish and more things to forgive. The more punishments handed out, the stricter and more punitive the society, the more we must forgive the punishers; punishing is all fine and necessary. Of course the first person we ever have to forgive, and sometimes the last, is Mom or Dad, and the first crime we ever forgive is usually child abuse.

Well she is only three years old, and that’s a real fine way to start.

That’s badly out of context, but I can’t stop listening to Led Zeppelin these days.

But if she can forgive that, whatever it was, she is going to be a fearsome hominid. You want her on your side, because she will do anything, anything at all. Now blink once, she’s your mom, and you had better forgive her, because with that history, you don’t want her to be thinking of you as one of her problems.

Basically, I’ll believe there are peaceful religions when I see a peaceful society, but if my local church is going to forgive me no matter what I do, where is the pressure to behave? What selective forces are going to restrict crime, violence, and war when all is forgiven? It would seem that the idea of the Church as an opiate, pacifying the masses was a scientific blunder, that it is exactly the Church’s gift of forgiveness and acceptance of the warrior and warrior society that enables violence and chaos by restricting the society’s ability to punish and control its own worst elements. Again, too easy to see and say in Twenty-Nineteen, look what the evangelicals can apparently forgive.

We could forgive a little less, is all I’m saying.

 

Jeff

April 2nd., 2019

Kissing Up to Bob

I lived, partially educated, happily deciding for myself how things worked, and then some alt-Right internet swine put me on to a couple of biology sorts of books and my mind exploded, I had an insight and a meltdown. A part of my dabbling in biology was that I learned that I was in interesting company for having had that experience, and maybe there’s a syndrome, but the person I heard it about and from was Robert Trivers. Of course nothing about me compares, except maybe the meltdown. I learned about him during that period, and not altogether in my right mind, I learned the great man had an email address, like a person.

That is Dr. Trivers, by all accounts, and I can corroborate: the most human of humans. He teased me a little, or at least gave me the leeway to tease myself, the first time I approached him it was late evening here on the west coast, so it was early morning on the other coast and he sounded a little intrigued by my idea, so I started talking to him, sending him updates and asking him questions, like I couldn’t figure out that there were a hundred tiers of learning between him and I. I sort of failed to notice he only answered the once. I should have moved on with my own learning and writing and just prayed for a chance to one day say to him, “Hey, I emailed you that one time, remember?”

But I was not well, I was manic and it seemed as though my dreams were coming true with his positive first hint. I forget how many things I sent him, blogs, partial blogs, looking for some feedback, somehow imagining his fan mail doesn’t arrive in truckloads, maybe half a dozen, maybe a dozen? Finally it was enough, he either felt the need to fend me off, or he saw my need, that’s more how he spoke, and he phoned me. He gave me solid, untheoretical advice on dealing with my mental struggles, and I did feel some real connection with that. He dismissed my insight in seven syllables, “Seems kinda wacky to me,” and if you’re talking to some nobody, that’s not saying anything, but when Bob says “to me,” then that’s a trip or several to the library. He’s already said it.

It’s not that I didn’t have the data, so much, it’s the usual, I just wasn’t processing it, and frankly, I’m a youngest, I may have a unique point of view, but I’m very much in the habit of asking for and getting help, if someone else knows, why don’t I just ask them and why don’t they just tell me? Again, I got grade twelve equivalency, and I’m going straight to the top, and the top can tell me, but I won’t get it, will I? I think I get it at the most basic level now. My theory is humans abuse their kids on purpose, that being a tough, capable troop defender is the very same thing as being as being a crazy, violent, asshole criminal, but I was talking about parents and children.

Basic social theory, social relatedness theory, has it that the person a child need fear the least is their parent, gene interest and all. Parents, in theory, would not threaten the lives of their own for conformity or such, that we all want our genes to survive and thrive. So I’m pestering Bob, ignorantly trying to refute his first theories, the ones that made him who he is, and who TF am I? (I wasn’t, I’m not refuting social relatedness theory, of course not. That just seemed to be blocking my refutation of child discipline and punishment in general.)

For one thing, I’m the same grandiose idiot I was two years ago, and also, not completely over my meltdown. So I think I have an answer!

My answer is, humans have “socialized” their child-rearing, child education.

We farm that shit out.

To less related adults in the modern world, or to less related children in the more aboriginal children’s group, thus working around social theory. Surely some later Trivers ideas are also involved, evolved deception and self-deception.

I’m not going to be looking Bob up again, I hear he’s out from Rutgers, where I had found him before, and I made a point of losing his phone number from when he called me, I didn’t want to have it if I was just going to keep getting crazier. I don’t think I am, and I’ve learned my lesson, but just in case . . . if anybody out there talks to him, maybe this response will be of interest . . . of course anyone else, perhaps from some tier between Trivers and my homegrown, daydreaming self, who would like to chime in, maybe correct me, maybe help me work this out . . .

 

Jeff

Oct. 31st., 2018

Dark Social Matter

This will be a sort of a spitballing session. I’m just working through this false social meme thing still. So, Dark social matter.

It’s ninety percent of the social matter in the human universe, the invisible majority of what is going on in our lives, and the reason our equations don’t add up.

Knowing I’m holding back some clarity on this point, I will say that statutory abuse, the abuse we mostly all agree is abuse, meaning abuse over a legal line, is only ten percent of all abuse. The rest is either abuse we don’t see or abuse we don’t mind, like parental or criminal punishments, or wars we condone. This is the dark abuse that we are socialized to, this is the stuff of our antisocialization.

To draw a line between the two, this is not science, and this is the failure of social science, to imagine that only those with documented statutory abuse have been abused and that this premise has any basis. For a science, negative experience must be the measure, not some socially determined list of experiences that are accepted as such. If a stimulus is ubiquitous, then it matters, ubiquitously, we don’t simply reset our base! This sort of relativism is self-imposed, a self-fulfilling meme. If everyone is abused, everyone is abused, it shouldn’t matter to an actual science that we like it this way, it’s a fact, dislike it or not. Every human is ninety-seven percent water; we don’t ignore water in our science.

What I want to do here is a list of examples, how this blindness to dark social matter causes so many of our biggest misunderstandings, how it makes things seem impossible to understand at all. I’ll mine my Twitter feed:

 

maura quint‏Verified account @behindyourback  39m39 minutes ago

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love to live in a world where men complain female ghostbusters ruined their childhood memories but finding out Cosby’s a rapist didn’t

 

Rape, like all abuse is antisocializing, meaning it produces bad feelings and generally feeds the antisocial forces in society, gearing us all for war. As long as our society feels a threat and is geared for war, abuse generally and rape in particular aren’t going anywhere.

 

John Harwood‏Verified account @JohnJHarwood  1h1 hour ago

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Cosby mistrial

Cop who shot Castile walks

young woman convicted for boyfriend’s suicide

 

Rape, as above.

Police killing of unarmed blacks being apparently legal shows the prioritization of antisocializing (terrorizing) the citizenry over the appearance of fairness or justice. This follows the basic ratio of dark matter generally: we get ten percent apology (words) and ninety percent intimidation, who kills who. That they never prosecute a cop shows that good will is meaningless against the dark reality. This scenario terrorizes, angers, and drives people mad, exactly what is desired for a wartime population.

Antisocialization Theory has it that if we are a straight-up warrior society, this young woman has strengthened the tribe by taking out a weak link – but women winning these fights, women being in control, perhaps that is more dangerous to the war effort in the long run. I don’t feel that overly, though, I admit. Maybe this scenario runs counter to the general trend, she did what warrior society boys do maybe, but because she’s a woman she just doesn’t get a pass from the law.

 

Vice President PenceVerified account @VP

Follow

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It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to @POTUS Donald Trump – a man devoted to American ideals.

 

  🌈ProvaxShill 🗽 ✌🏾‏ @ProvaxShill  24h24 hours ago

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Replying to @VP @POTUS

You’re the VP for the people, not the POTUS. This servile obsequiousness to the president is a mockery of the Constitution.

 

Here’s an example of people not simply not understanding antisocialization or abuse, but power generally. When a man prostrates himself like this in public, suffers this sort of humiliation, it is not indicative of his free will, and for us to spend our energy criticizing the victim in this bullying incident shows a deep misread of things. This goes a step bigger still: this is how we talk about corrupt politicians generally, as though corruption is rare and voluntary. * This is victim shaming – a staple of antisocialization, of warrior societies. Have we ever broken it down, analyzed it? Or is it another false meme? Here’s what is perhaps this meme:

“Bad powerful people use their money to influence the world and our lawmakers, and some politicians are corrupt, just in it for the money.”

What is missing: bad, powerful people have always engaged in war and conflict. They do not simply offer money, they also make threats, irresistible threats. What does the meme suggest – that if no politico takes the money, they just shrug their shoulders and wait for the next election, maybe we’ll get a scumbag next time? I simply feel that this is not a thing we could misunderstand about politics unless we misunderstand power generally. The salient point is that victim blaming is extremely stressful and antisocializing.

 

Hmmm.

Maybe that’s enough for this Saturday morning. I imagine I’ll be appending this, as my Twitter feed demands.

 

Cheers,

Jeff

June 17th., 2017

 

* This is the signature of dark social matter at the macro level: corruption is rare, paedophilia is rare, physical abuse is rare, suicide is rare. Of course, in reality, societies that are free of corruption, and families that are free of serious abuse and suicide, these things are in the minority.

AST– A Better Metaphor, Part Seven – the ‘Abuse Truth.’

Here’s the way I’ve been expressing what I consider to be the dominant social construct/metaphor/meme around our parenting:

. . . that story, about what must happen and how consequences make it happen and about how what must happen might never happen without our consequences . . .

And I’ve tried to make the point that each of the myriad of things we humans learn are not all survival/genetic continuance issues and that the true function of the consequences is not to teach which fork to use for which part of the meal, but to create a general antisociability, that this enhanced aggression is or was a mechanism for human reproductive success in our aboriginal competitive group situation.

I’ll repeat the bit from Part Five: the causality goes from ‘discipline to make us civilized humans as opposed to wild animals’ to ‘abuse to make us crazy and violent beyond how we are may have been in the wild,’ the change in the text reflecting a change from the meme to something closer to the reality. Hmmm . . .

I began this blog with the goal of describing a new meme, the ‘abuse meme’ and translating it into the form in which I have the old one, but that’s not going to be it, is it? If I feel I’ve penetrated the first meme, then I am living in the ‘abuse meme’ and I can’t see it, perhaps, or more to the point, memes are self-deceptions. We don’t format our truths in the same way.

So. OK. I think I’ve spent enough time in theory, we get the idea, right? I know, I’ve been trying to play you all to some degree, trying to lure you in with cold language and talk about our distant past, I’ve been trying to get you to buy into the theory structure and hoping not to scare you off with the content. Where the rubber meets the road with this theory things get personal, because nothing can be more personal. Basically, AST is the theory that we are all child abusers, so it’s not going to be instantly popular, but here’s what it means: the whole world is upside-down and backwards.

It means that when we bring the consequences, people get meaner.

It means when we try to spank our kids into “being good” we are hurting them in such a way that they are more likely, not less, to wind up in the criminal justice system.

It means that the “consequences” of the criminal justice system will statistically increase convicts’ antisocial feelings and behaviour rather than ameliorate it.

It means that the more we try to control our children and so ourselves by these means, the more antisocial we become and the further away our ostensible goals of peace and “civilization” get.

It means that somewhere right around half of the time, your “good” kid started the fight, because you made him that kind of good.

Don’t think I think I’m offering something simple or possible here. I’m not clear on what can ever be done about it. It describes a détente, right? The Persians had best keep beating their children if they want them to be tough enough to fight the Americans, who make no secret that they’re beating theirs. So, it’s problematic – but it’s closer to the truth and that’s my social group, truth. It doesn’t keep you warm and there’s no safety in its numbers, but then, it doesn’t require that you kill the members of the other groups either, only their lies and misunderstandings. And this is what I think is the truth, despite that it leaves me out of every human social group on Earth: what is “good” and what is “bad” can change depending who you are and what your circumstances might be. Our consequences – beatings, mostly throughout our long history and pre-history – don’t make our children “good,” unless the sort of good we’re after is what the only evidence shows it to be: antisocial feelings and behaviours, an increased capacity for violence.

To perhaps conclude this series then, upside-down and backwards and all:

We know the obvious truth, deep down, that we are born among family and so, born pre-disposed to loving and caring for those around us. We know, in our heart-of hearts, that Christian original sin or any version of it is part of a meme, a false origin story for our species, that no-one really believes it, yet we live inside the consequences metaphor which would seem to require that we are “better” as hurt, angry, beaten children or adults than we would have otherwise been. Of course, this ‘how we might otherwise have been’ idea is un-thought, it’s in the realm of fantasy, where we don’t have to imagine exactly how we might all be “worse” without our beatings, and of course, where it can be “worse” than any specific thing we might imagine. I would ask this fantasy, the idea of us, even worse: really? Worse than some of the stuff the beaten children of the world have brought us, war, persecution, genocide? What could be worse?

Not rhetorical for a change. What’s worse, the fear is not of different things, those scourges are bad enough for anybody. What would be worse is only that we are too nice, that we are unbeaten and so un-tempered and we suffer the genocide rather than performing it. That is our worry, that is really what this consequences stuff is about. It’s also why America is not signing onto the Rights of the Child and why stopping “corporal punishment” is impossible, it’s game theory, a disarmament thing. Again, a détente, but more to the point, it adds up to a sort of a choice. Our strategy to never suffer genocide is to be geared towards committing it instead, and childhood for humans is an inoculation against passivity. There’s no hope in game theory, and I am not a proponent of it or of the ‘deep roots of war’ narrative. * The hope for me is in this, that I think I’ve at least figured it out, and if we can know that antisocialization is what our consequences gets us, then we are at the start of a long climb – but at least we have a real mountain and not a boundless, unconscious one.

It must be a global thing, and I think any such movement to react to this truth will need to take some good science on, something better than either psychology or the life sciences have come up with on their own. This is me, trying to start that, trying to start something.

 

Jeff

Mar. 16th., 2017

 

*AST suggests a control and a variability in our love of war that is more in line with the modern view of an enmeshed and interactive blend of “nature” and “nurture,” and in its most basic form, AST says we make ourselves more warlike, although it doesn’t postulate our default level of war if we didn’t punish our children.

Here’s the whole series:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/04/ast-a-better-metaphor-part-one/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/05/ast-a-better-metaphor-part-two/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/07/ast-a-better-metaphor-part-three/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/02/23/human-nature-or-let-me-tell-you-what-we-think-of-us/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/10/ast-a-better-metaphor-part-five/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/11/ast-a-better-metaphor-part-six-abuse/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/16/ast-a-better-metaphor-part-seven-the-abuse-truth/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/03/18/the-good-the-bad-and-the-reality-a-better-metaphor-part-eight/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

and a bonus nipple-twister:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2017/02/23/ast-and-child-sexual-abuse/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

Policing at a Crossroads

. . . same crossroads all things eventually reach when they start down the road toward humanism, or just plain exist, moving like the rest of us into the future. At some point in the train robbery, you have to commit to letting go of your horse and holding on to the train. The period where you still have both options is dangerous, so safety dictates it be short. I know, sorry.

I’ll go straight to it, but it’ll take a minute still – still sorry.

I caught a headline somewhere, most likely Twitter, some person got released from a wrongful conviction, and got paid some great amount for damages, which got me thinking. Of course, the first NPLP (something I’m trying to start – Namby Pamby Liberal Pussy. Folks like me.) thought is ‘Yes! Science has saved another wrongly convicted man from police machinations!’ and yes, there could be a racial aspect to the story, I mean of course, there always could be, but the picture was of a black fellow.

Then of course, I sort of globalized the concept, like I enjoy way too much, started to wonder, if there are say, a thousand such cases in a given place during a given period, then how many of the thousand were non-criminal innocents and how many might have deserved their sentences or worse for crimes they weren’t prosecuted for and/or convicted of? I mean, surely, if the police can be known to have railroaded an innocent black man into prison, then it is probably not beneath their morals to have set some heinous, dangerous criminals up for solid wrongful convictions either.

So, the first RWN (Right Wing Nutjob, something that’s a normal epithet on a site I play on, Thoughts.com) thought following that probably is, I hope somebody is reviewing which sorts of folks they’re setting free, like trying to make sure the newly free drug-related convicts really are only that or something. And, yeah, we always hope for some local knowledge, some attention to detail. Numbers games are always error-riddled.

But for me, again, trying to globalize, trying to see the social implications of all things punishment-related, this is it here.

That second practice must have felt pretty justifiable, if the cop knew, for sure, that his target’s incarceration would make the public a good deal safer, that if in short, the end really was justification for some evil means. However, technology, humanism and morality have moved on in this case, specifically, the old setup tactics are failing now because some humanists, someone who cares, have applied DNA testing etc. and caught the police cheating.

In the long term, each generation gets treated better than the last, and they each learn to expect to be. We expect moral circles to expand, and we are viewing moral issues in a more egalitarian, more logical way with each decade as well, and one result of that process is this. We want to hold our police to the law more than we perhaps have in the past. Police forces evolved because the wealthy found their prosperity to be more stable when the King tried and punished crimes, rather than living with the endless feuding produced by the previous vendetta sort of system where families looked after offenders to their interests privately. So police came into being long before modern democracies. Now, we are taxpayers and the police don’t work for the King anymore, they work for us. So the time honoured tactic of setting a man up to please the policeman’s employers, now, looks as criminal as it always did, except worse.

Worse, because the victim is supposed to be the boss. Worse, because it’s now our moral issue, because we’re the boss. Can’t blame it on the King anymore, it’s us. Now that it is, I think we think the police are supposed to do their jobs and somehow succeed while never straying across the line of the law themselves for the very good reason that when they stray, it’s sometimes against us. I don’t imagine anyone has escaped the image of an experienced cop’s disdain for the idea, and fair enough, I get it, I do. It’s violence for violence, the experience is real, the danger is real . . . but still. As true and undeniable as that is, it’s still, I’m sorry, not that meaningful, uh . . . scientifically, yes, even for social science. Anecdotal, to be sure, but not only that. The thing is, all that is life as viewed from the past, from horseback. Our societies, and our police forces are at the choice-point now, still feeling the ongoing trauma of our authoritarian ways of the past and still trying to keep a grip on it, but we also have one hand on the train of the future, where mass media and big data are starting to show us who we really are.

So when the King’s dragoons abuse their position, it’s a moral crime, sure, but he’s the King, he’s responsible and we’re not. When our tax-funded, public police do, it’s our moral crime, we’re responsible, and in democratic societies like ours we need to do something about it. That is our job, to vote intelligently and not support evil, law and order politicians.

For the police, that is the crossroads we’re at. Yes, we have in the past turned a blind eye to some over-stepping on the part of the police, but now here we are, taxed and paying for it. Any herd of herbivores tolerates the presence of the predators, perhaps, the wildebeests live with the lions as a fact of life – but I don’t think they would if they had to pay for it too. I think this crossroads perhaps adds up to a slight change in job description for the police, an acknowledgement of the democratic nature of our society and who’s working for who.

Specifically?

What if we did let’s say, refresh our commitment to the police staying on the right side of the law themselves? We the people might try to remember that the goal, eventually, must certainly be a lawful world where at least the police aren’t criminals too. Sorry, also not very specific. Let’s just brainstorm a bit, point form.

  • It might not be going too far to suggest that police need to lose a few more fights to regain public sympathy. Personally, I reserve my concern for the people who lose the vast majority of the fights. Today, the police don’t look vulnerable enough to justify their shoot first policies. I think non-lethal weaponry in the hands of the police would go a long way towards building some public trust for the police, and for that to happen, there has to be some sense that police casualties are indeed a negotiable thing, as long as there are so many more citizen casualties. As long as the life of a single cop is supposed to be worth more than any number of citizens, we’re going to be in conflict and in that sense, police are creating social problems rather than solving them.
  • I actually like the idea of this possibly fictional ‘Ferguson Effect.’ If the police are really engaged in a sort of work slow-down action to protest the growing public scrutiny of them or to avoid getting themselves into trouble, that might be a good thing. If they are not going through a door when their only possible security is to kill those folks on the other side, maybe that’s a good thing. Personally, I can imagine that there are ways in which even gang activity and drug dealing are less offensive than state-sponsored murder of criminals. I mean, if this is the conversation?

“Hey, Police! Stop shooting unarmed alleged criminals!”

“Hey, it’s dangerous out here! Do you want policing or don’t you?”

“Yes, but murder is a crime, so it is for you too!”

“Hey, it’s my security! Do you want this crime stopped or not?”

“Yes – THIS crime, but your crime too!”

“Hey, if you haven’t got my back, I ain’t working! If it’s my life at risk, I ain’t going through any more doors. See how you like it when we’re not out there killing criminals for you.”

This adds up to an immediate threat, a pressure play, but what if maybe we call the police’s bluff, what if we stop and think about it for a minute? I say we give it a try, see how it plays out. Whatever happens, we learn something. So here’s my response:

“Good idea. Let’s see how it works out. If everything goes to Hell, we’ll make changes again, but for now, yeah. Let’s see how it pans out.”

  • We need to stop arresting people for minor crimes, period. An arrest is an action that is an escalation compared to many of the “crimes” we arrest and detain for, and as such, worse. We need to mail out invoices for fines, and we need to help the miscreants pay the fines – not arrest them and start potentially deadly fights to do it. If we are trying to lessen crime, then we need to stop justifying larger crimes – confinement, violence – by using them to stop smaller ones.

 

So, this is getting long, I’ll stop.

Long and short? As a society, as many societies, we seem to have missed the change, we seem to not have noticed that democratic governments change everything, all the ancient social institutions, and that police forces today work, literally and officially, for the people, all the people. What was police brutality in the past and used to be a private act, the King’s goons working out on His citizens, is now insubordination. Eric Garner was a member of the consortium that employs the NYPD, a citizen, and he was murdered by his own public servants. Ironically, that should offend authoritarians everywhere as well as everyone else.

It stopped being us VS them when we established our democracies, Folks, it’s all us now. Let’s deal with crime generally, not just some people’s crimes. Ours too.

 

Jeff

Nov. 23, 2015

Punishment is a Crime

       Punishment is a Crime

It’s Sunday morning, the wife and I, over fifty, don’t sleep in past seven o’clock anymore so we’re up, each of us at our computers. On Twitter, I see, a Dr. Roger D. Jones has added one of my blog posts to his online psychiatry newspaper – that’s a great start to my day, but not for long. My wife is fascinated by all manner of tragedy, the bigger the better, and she’s reading about the Residential School scandal, the dark, most recent chapter in the story of Canada’s genocide of its Aboriginals. She tells me about a kid who, for the crime of speaking in his own language – a high crime for the genocidal – was beaten and thrown into a root cellar for two days and when they went in for him, they found he had died of his injuries.

An horrific story all around, and not at all rare and extreme as these Residential School tales go. The violence, sexual and otherwise of those schools seems to have been the fucking point of them. Perhaps that is where the church knowingly placed its most sadistic and evil staff, and the urban church scandals were perpetrated by priests who never made the cut for the big game against the still extant native North Americans.

Flatly disgusting. Personally, I would give Canada’s First Peoples half of Canada’s land, and not just the Barrens, either, the good stuff, the coasts, the farmland. When we are two strong nations – then maybe we can think about integrating, when it’s a merger of equals. Otherwise, with no balance of power, there can be no integration, only assimilation – the larger part of which is genocide – when you’re dealing with the aggressive, world-domination driven, white Christians of Europe. Yes, I know you don’t want to hear it, but that’s what we are.

This is not my field of expertise, however, those are opinions, and the revelation the story of that murdered kid gives is the point here. Apologies, but I have to scream it:

Don’t even tell me what the victim of abusive punishing did to earn it. If you beat a kid to death, I have no interest in HIS crime, we are talking about WHAT YOU DID, we are talking about YOUR crime.

Of course, I don’t deal in one-off situations, I don’t concern myself with random phenomena that require specific individual explanations; I like to think I deal in principles. Anyone who for whatever reason seeks to understand me had better know this, that on the very same principle,

Don’t even tell me what the object of punishment did to earn it. If you are treading on another person’s rights, if you are bringing pain and or deprivation to people intentionally, THEIR crimes are not subtracted from yours. We will deal with them and their crimes, meaning that we will work to solve poverty and ignorance and teach our children how to live – but we will also deal with you and your crimes. That means ‘correction’ will no longer be a moral defense for your crimes of punishing.

I know, I’m going after a basic tenet of our societies, the legal/moral point that criminals forfeit their human rights. First of all, not so much. Despite the baffling and inexplicable fact that no-one is listening to me, that is already improving everywhere. Of course, in the former First World, prisoners have a reduced suite of human rights, it’s not that they have none at all, at least in theory if not in practice. The state has to work very hard in America for instance, to strip you of your right to life. Still, it’s a weird definition for ‘rights.’ Certainly it makes our rights very alienable, whatever that means. Apparently, we reserve the right to suspend your rights if you misbehave – clearly a breach of our inherent human rights, which is a logical fallacy no-one would ever allow if it weren’t beaten into us.

I tell you now, this is not a logical conundrum humanity cannot escape, we can. We have to want to, of course, which means we need to understand it first. I think we have no idea of what we’re missing, I think a world where every crime doesn’t automatically replicate itself and become two crimes instead could be a much better place to live.

The Carrot and the Stick – The Irony of Deterrents Part #5

This series is intended to clarify the role and the efficacy of our use of deterrents, both in our households as a parenting tool and in society as a major premise upon which we have based our approach to criminal justice. Here’s the rest of the series:

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/10/22/law-and-order-the-irony-of-deterrents-part-2/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/06/the-irony-of-deterrents-part-3/

https://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/27/prisons-and-bad-neighborhoods-the-irony-of-deterrents-part-4/

(Part #1 sucked . . . you can find it on my blog, there’s a search button – but you’re not missing much.)

My premise is this:

When a deterrent works, when someone chooses not to engage in ‘naughty’ or criminal behaviour, then that’s terrific, it’s all good. A child may feel some betrayal at hearing that his caregivers are prepared to hurt him, and in a better world that would be a problem to solve, but in this world we have bigger fish to fry, namely the actual hurt that happens all too often.

It is when the deterrent fails that needs to be looked at, because actual, real world punishments have been shown to increase childhood misbehaviours in the longer term, and it follows that this is also the case in the world of adult criminality. In fact, our “legitimate” punishments cause the very same suite of damages that we all know illicit abuse causes, and so the failure of a deterrent isn’t simply a failure and the lack of a positive outcome, but a net decrease in the quality of life in our families and in our society. It’s a negative.

Our punishments are hurting us. Sounds like a no-brainer when we say it like that, doesn’t it?

We like to talk a lot about rehabilitation, the non-liberals consider that its success rate isn’t good enough and that as such, simply means a waste of money and resources, while the liberals consider it to be important, and if it gets a few percent of people out of the criminal life and the criminal justice system, then we owe to all criminals to try it. I’m here to tell you that rehabilitation isn’t what is failing.

What is failing is not the carrot, but the stick.

If someone wants to explain to me why giving someone an education or a trade won’t work, they’ll need to do something.

They’ll need to show that rehabilitation, when administered alone, without being accompanied by abuse, is failing. We know what abuse and fear does do people, and what it does, how to put this . . . what it does is not this: make people happier, less violent, less addicted and smarter. Personally, I see all punishment as abuse, but for this argument, I’ll settle for this: prison is abuse. Prisons are violent, terrifying places where there is danger in every shadow. We mostly think that’s a good thing, because that is where the deterrent lies, but this being my point in this series: when it’s a threat or a promise, it’s a deterrent. When it’s reality, it’s abuse, and damaging to those living in it.

Rehabilitation is an attempt towards improvement in a person’s performance in society; the abuse of life in prison is almost a guarantee of no such improvement, in fact, as stated in the film “Blow” as well as everywhere, prison is Crime University. That is the education many convicts get, along with the abuse that we know is the best way make people meaner and less interested in the legitimate life of lawful society. So these two ideas are diametrically opposed: if we really wanted to rehabilitate anyone, we wouldn’t abuse them before, throughout, and after their rehab program. Think of it in terms of how the kids in school with the most abusive, violent parents don’t all grow up to be the doctors and leaders, how abuse and corporal punishments have been shown, over and over, to negatively impact cognition and grades. In that sense, the hard-liners of public policy are correct: doing both of these things is mostly a waste of our money and time. It’s just that it’s not the rehab that’s at fault. It’s not the carrot that’s eating all of our resources. It’s the stick.

All that money we’re spending on abuse, and it’s creating crime, making criminals worse, because that’s what abuse does. If we want to see what can be done with the carrot – with an offer of a life for these people – we need to give the carrot without employing the stick at the same time, rehabilitation OR abuse. We need to make our prisons safe for our inmates, is what I’m saying. Sure we need to lock some dangerous folks up, but let’s spend that money a little smarter, and lock them up in such a way where they have a chance to improve themselves, make them safe from one another, more space, individual quarters.

Sure it’s more money, but it’s money with a return. The money we’re spending now is only creating crime in the long run.

Updated! Shows of Strength and Presenting a United Front

. . . are short term, things, of course, is where I’m going. It was never my plan, in raising my kids. We’re playing the long game. We are traitors and pariahs in the world of breeding couples, my wife and I; if you’re disciplining your kids, we don’t have your back. We’ll have no part of it.

Same for the police, and Team America, Team Israel, and the vengeful God of Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition.

If you’ve never read me before – and the odds that you’re one of the few who have are not good! It’s not like my message is the type to go viral – you may not know that this is a pattern with me, the family and then the society, the micro and the macro, the model and the mass production. I see things as fractal, as we do in our nuclear families, so it goes in society.

In my little corner of suburban Canada, in my mainstream life of the middle and lower classes, the adults have a cartel on what is allowed for kids, over what is done and what is not. It’s public school, public play, large public markets and entertainments, and everyone knows what is expected of kids, and apparently we all know exactly how to insure that, and so we all know exactly what is expected of parents too. Of course, that means discipline and control. God forbid your kids should create any problems for me, and vice versa. We all know when a child goes bad and causes problems who is to blame; it’s the parents. Somebody isn’t with the program. Don’t they know that we are all depending on each other to maintain total control of things?

Well, we took a chance, opted out of the cartel, and guess what? Our kids aren’t causing any problems for anybody. I’m not saying it’s all of the kids – but the kids causing problems were raised in the cartel, in the group where all the adults are backing each other up, where the adults are presenting a united front. When as kids we see that dynamic, when we see that it’s a military tactic and it’s directed at us, that hurts our feelings. And when it’s total, when there is no crack in the wall presented by the authority of the adults, when no adult dares break the line and side for the kids, well then we can lose hope. Then desperation may set in.

This united front, this show of solidarity and strength, it’s authority’s answer to everything, but it’s an affront to those of us who were operating under the illusion that we were all on the same side. So it’s a shock and an insult to us when we’re kids, and the grownups who in nature would be our caregivers, the ones who would love and protect us close ranks and say, “No, kid, it’s us against you. No-one who matters, no-one with a vote is on your side.”

That is the Dark Side of Alice Miller’s famous assertion that the presence of one enlightened adult can be the difference in a child’s life. Yes, believe it or not, Dr. Miller was sugar coating it for you. She also let us all think we could undo the damage afterwards with therapy, or she did with her first couple of books anyway.

So, on to the macro part.

Not parents, but the disciplinarians for the parents, and for the children as well, the police – they also like the benefits that come from presenting a unified front, plus they too have left the role of caregiver behind in favour of the bludgeon a little too often. These latest few high profile police slayings of unarmed black people put me in mind of the Hell’s Angel’s rules of engagement as detailed by Hunter S. Thompson so long ago: if one of them has a fight with you, they all do. Plus, as Thompson learned the hard way, it doesn’t matter that they pick the fight, or that it was accidental, the result of a stupid misunderstanding. You were simply unlucky, wrong place, wrong time. All right, on with it. Here’s the point:

We think that in order to keep control of things, we need to be strong, we mustn’t show weakness. Of course this is a self-fulfilling behaviour. If we establish control with strength – read force – then strength and force it must be, forever, because you have pissed off the objects of your control. Here’s the thing though. After some time, like two seconds after the first use of your strength, things like humanity, mercy, and kindness become synonyms for weakness, and that we mustn’t show, or all is lost. That is the nature of fantasy: the fantasized consequences for imagined actions are infinite, larger than life.

Clearly, what the authorities fantasize would happen if the police punished one trigger happy cop like they do every trigger happy private citizen is total anarchy, the end of their authority and civilization as we know it. Equally clear to some of us is that is really stupid. Of course what would actually happen, is it would be the beginning of some sort of respect. Humanity we can respect. Inhumanity we only fear.

It’s not humanity or weakness that is going to drive the people to rampage, it’s the opposite of humanity and weakness nobody likes, meaning of course, what the police are doing now, the show of strength. Here, perhaps the authorities and their police can take a lesson from parents. As much as parents are the model for this huge error, as much as parents are guilty of the same authoritarian methods, there’s a difference: kids grow up. Every parent sees the growth and steady increase of their kids’ power and the waning of their own that comes with age, and a great many parents can see their mistake in dealing with it and so change their ways.

Those that change, those that add humanity to their arsenal as time does its work, those who allow their dominance to slip and replace it with a real, human relationship, if they do it in its proper time, they are able to grow old, vulnerable and weak without unreasonable fear of their children’s vengeance. Their children also benefit greatly, having a more normal transition from childhood to adulthood, the gradual move from the small world of their nuclear family into the larger world beyond the family dynamic, learning to function in society. Those that cling to their strength and to their dominance live to fear coming under their children’s power – either that, or the children simply get as far from them as possible, possibly never to return. The people in the first group, the ones who relax their grip and show their humanity, those folks are growing up, maturing in a normal arc of learning. The ones in the other group grow stodgy, bitter, fearful of change, and live alone at the mercy of their negative fantasies. Some of the children from the second group manage to grow themselves up against the odds, but many spend far too large a portion of their lives trapped in the messed up power dynamic of their nuclear families. This extra time spent frozen in childhood in that sense, this what we call arrested development.

I’ve recently gotten out the old turntable and begun listening to vinyl records again, and one of the last few I’d bought, back in the day was the first offering from Tracy Chapman, remember it? ‘Talkin’ About a Revolution?’ I listened to the whole album last week, and it was depressing. That record is twenty-five years old and it could have been written and recorded yesterday.

The police, the authorities, they are in the second group of people. They are not learning.

What needs to happen, in order to satisfy Alice Miller’s minimum requirement for a difference in the lives of the people suffering under the dysfunctional caregiving of the authorities, is again, one enlightened adult. In this case though, a particular adult, one enlightened police chief, one enlightened prosecutor,  or one enlightened mayor. That’s something that could make a difference. In a bunch of lives.

A Conflicted Society – Rape #1

There’s this great, thinking-outside-the-box bit Louis C.K. did at least once, I saw it in the beginning stand-up bit on one episode of his TV show, “Louie,” where he aligns perfectly with me in the idea that punishing can backfire badly. I’ll paraphrase, I’m sure it’s copyrighted. He says something along the lines of ‘if we hated the people who have sex with kids a little less, maybe they wouldn’t feel they had to kill the kid afterward.’ The punch line is something like ‘so, rather than us getting a call that our kid is missing or has been found dead, we’d get a call from the child-rapist instead, saying “Hey, I just fucked your kid. You want me to bring him home, or should I just take him straight to soccer?”’

I guess the laugh comes from the shock and surprise, hearing something from the ‘things we never thought we’d hear’ file, but like a great many great jokes, it’s a stealthy way to express a great truth. Of course that would be a terrible phone call to get, but it’s clearly preferable to the other one. Louie, the genius, is telling us that our kids would be safer if we hated ‘people who have sex with kids’ a little less., that our desire for retribution is a part of the equation that puts the kids at an even greater level of risk.

Now if we can handle that example, the next one should be relatively easy: rape.

Is it possible that we hate rape too much?

I don’t mean it’s not that bad, don’t get me wrong. It’s all that bad and more. I’m just trying to help, and I’m wondering if we’ve allowed the word to get too big and too bad, so that no-one is willing to use it! Has it gotten so bad that men are unable to believe it about each other? So bad that we think of it as some sort of gargantuan mythical evil that is just too heinous to charge each other with?

Like Louie’s idea that if we hated the paedophile a little less his victims might be allowed to live, perhaps if we brought the idea of rape back into focus, back into the realm of human reality, we could prosecute it without feeling like we’re accusing the rapist of something akin to genocide or cannibalism. After all, as horrible as it is, and as devastating as it is for the victims, it’s clearly common enough, pervasive enough that we can think about it as normal, that is, as a normal enough crime that convictions for it shouldn’t qualify as extreme in anyone’s minds. Rape should be considered a normal crime, and should carry something closer to a normal rate of prosecution.

Obviously, we’re very split on the subject. Obviously, some men don’t think of it that way, and sadly, for some men rape is just business as usual. Part of the bitterness that the subject carries for women and innocent men must surely arise from the horrible irony of knowing the worst sort of rapist can escape prosecution partly because some other men think or pretend that rape is simply unthinkable. Maybe the rest of us men should stop being afraid to talk about our fear that these swine are laughing at us and make that part of the conversation, along with everything else we don’t like to talk about in regards to rape, sexual aggression and outright violence. For instance, why is it that the only people that want to talk about all the ways we’re conflicted on the whole subject of sex and all the factors that make rape prosecutions so problematic are policemen and defense attorneys?