Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Truth or Consequences

¡Hola! Everybody...
I am a day late with this, but if you care about living in a just society I would suggest you go here, read the particulars, or watch the two-minute video, and sign the petition. Troy Davis, a 42-year-old man who has spent the last eighteen years of life on death row, will most likely be executed for a crime he very likely didn’t commit. No physical evidence. No murder weapon. Another man implicated.

Yet we’re (yes that’s “we” as in you and I) are going to kill this man. That’s me with an event volunteer for yesterday’s NYC rally for Troy Davis.

Which brings me to today’s post...

* * *

-=[ Consequences ]=-

“Complexity is the destiny of thoughtful individuals, from which they will never be rescued.”

-- Leon Wieseltier

[Note: I’m rambling a bit today... ]

Recently two women, unaware I could hear them, were talking about me . The first woman, a Latina, said, “He thinks he’s so fuckin’ smart!” My crime? I suggested that a statement she made (in front of large gathering) was incorrect (it was). Her friend, a white woman, chimed in, “Yeah, who the hell does he thing he is talking like that? Using those big words?!!” My crime? Speaking as I do in everyday life. The issue at hand? A public forum on children, education, and policy at City Hall.

I could care less what these women thought of me, this is about our children, get your shit together, or get the fuck off the pot. Secondly (and this happens a lot), if I say or write something that you think is “smart,” that is your estimation, not mine. In other words, it’s your shit, not mine.

It’s called projection, click the fuckin' link. I get that a lot: “You think you’re so smart!” Translation? What you wrote/ said made me feel inadequate; therefore, I’m going to project my feelings of inadequacy on to you.

I don’t suffer fools easily -- now that’s one crime you can rightfully pin on me. “Thinking” I’m smart? How the fuck do you know what’s inside my head. LOL!

OK! I got that out the way! LOL BTW, if you think this is about you, it isn’t.

Back to my post...

Not too long ago, I wrote about a mindset that dominates our approach to social policies. Bluntly put, we live in a culture of blame:

Poor? It’s your fault!

Functionally illiterate? It’s your fault and your parents’!

Racism and classism don’t exist because we all know that there’s no relationship between individual motivation and larger oppressive societal forces.

The state of education has everything to do with the stupid little meanies -- the over-sexed, willfully ignorant children of today. It has nothing to do with the adults that don’t have the will, nor care for a coherent education policy.

We all know it’s all on the individual, therefore, if individuals from your family/ community are going to prison at higher rates than others, it’s, yup, your fault. It has nothing to do with systems.

Yup, the new (and improved racism) is clothed in the language and myth of rugged individualism. If we made it without any "handouts," some seem to be saying, then you're inability to break into the mainstream is your fault and your fault alone. I guess the irony of a nation built on land stolen and then freely given away is lost on such people. Or the fact that the vast portion of social giveaways, go to the middle and upper classes.

But logic has no place at the core of a social movement marked by a resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, as well as some common psychological factors such as: fear and aggression, dogmatism and intolerance of uncertainty, among others.

Do you believe that a microscopic clump of cells in a Petri dish possesses the same rights you possess?

I first became interested in public policy during an undergraduate course in Metro Studies. I had the kind of teacher we all love: passionate, knowledgeable about his subject, and able to communicate complex concepts in ways that were both enlightening and easily understandable.

I was immediately drawn to the issue of consequences and public policy. As with everything, there are intended and unintended consequences to the public policies we implement. For example, declaring a “drug war” and taking a punitive approach as a response to addiction/ drug problem had the unintended (?) consequence of exploding our prison population to the extent that we now incarcerate more people per capita than any other nation in the world.

The drug war also had the unintended consequence of draining resources away from programs such as education (there’s a direct correlation between increased prison spending and decreased education spending), and early enrichment programs, after school programs, etc. In fact, we went from a nation seeking a Great Society to a nation of prisons.

Do you believe public schools should actively teach children to doubt the scientific theory of evolution?

The point being that while it may sound nice to get up on your cyber soap box and yell out stupidity such as “tough on crime!” these sentiments, so prevalent today, hold dire consequences for all of us. I think we like to stand apart from others and pass judgment. We de-fund education and then stand apart to chastise our young. We make it almost impossible to for poor single mothers to get ahead and then pass moral judgment on them. We sit back apathetically, while a right-wing religious fringe movement advocates “abstinence-only” programs that empirical research has shown to be at best ineffective, and then pass judgment on the resulting mess -- rates of teen pregnancy and abortions rates that are lead all developed nations.

Do you believe legally available contraception is producing a “culture of death” in the United States?

It’s as if we all have decided to live not as a society, but as millions separated nuclear entities, where the rule is the law of the jungle: get yours and fuck the rest.

Our social policies are the result of a nation of people who have been hoodwinked into choosing the very policies that do them the most harm, because, as global warming shows us, we’re all inextricably connected. What happens to you and to me and everyone else, affects us as individuals and as a society.

Do you believe that the United States should be a Christian nation?

As for the questions in italics? The answer is yes for many, many people. And that, not the fake bogeyman on CNN or MSNBC, should scare you...




What say you?


[un]Common Sense