Thursday, August 29, 2013

CATATONICALLY SPEAKING: The Perks and Perils of the Dual Narrative on Crime

I am no sociologist, but I do view myself as a very amateur cultural anthropologist. Not because I covet that title or any sort of prestige, because in all honesty I am too lazy, introverted and jaded to seek any kind of academic fame. Rather, I see myself that way because I enjoy studying people and their behaviors as it relates to culture and socioeconomic status.

I am a particularly keen observer of society and people as these things pertain to income levels. And though I myself have not experienced extreme poverty, I have had brushes with it when I was unemployed and underemployed. And, of course, unless we are working in an overpaid job reaping untold amounts of capital on the backs of others, the vast majority of us (the ubiquitous 99%) are becoming more and more squeezed economically, working our fat (or emaciated) asses off at jobs that pay us paltry salaries that barely keep pace with inflation.

But it's all very obvious to me, as it should be to anyone who possesses a functioning facility for logic, that since crushing poverty causes all manner of problems, such as want for adequate nutrition and shelter, that it can and does often lead to crime. It's just cause and effect; there is no moral dimension to it. If you're hungry, you're gonna do what you have to do to survive. Any of us would resort to that in urgent situations.

And furthermore, when you are poor - and again, this is just the logic of PHYSICS - and you are not eating properly and receiving the proper emotional support and incessantly worrying about money - you are more likely not to give too many shits about what you do to other people.

So, germane to all of this, there seem to be two narratives on crime: one, which calls for more police protection and stricter jail sentences in the face of hoodlums rampaging our streets, and another, which calls for compassionate PREVENTION of crime, recognizing that when people are well fed and cared for, they tend to make saner, safer choices; they can eventually ascend to self-actualization, as in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs above.

I understand both narratives and sympathize with both and can even see the merits of both. But naturally, I am going to lean toward the latter as my preferred narrative. Why? Because it's the only one that will ulimately solve the problem. More police, bigger jails, tougher sentences - these things don't even temporarily solve crime. They shuffle things around a bit: more police in one hard-hit area means the criminals may retreat to another area; larger jails means more room for new criminals; tougher sentences means the criminals will stay longer in jail but exit eventually to commit more crimes since jail does not rehabilitate, but exacerbates...

So how do we compassionately prevent crime?

Well, it's no coincidence that crime spikes when the economy is faltering. So if we infuse a more socialistic economic structure into our system, while still retaining the elements of democracy that we all treasure, this will drastically curtail poverty and as a magical result contain crime!

It's already been done in Scandanavian and certain European countries to great success, so NYAH. You cannot accuse me of being a utopian socialist; it's called Social Democracy, and it works. And to some degree the United States already implements elements of it, but our brains have been so indoctrinated AGAINST socialism that we balk at the very utterance of it, not understanding its deeper implications.

Naturally we can and should have an adequate police force.I am not suggesting we should not. I am also not suggesting that those criminals who are repeat offenders or egregious offenders should not be confined. What I AM suggesting is that the narrative on crime that delineates ONLY police-state solutions and does not include compassionate prevention as its central thesis is flawed and untenable.

But of course, it's a radical proposition, compassionate prevention of crime. Humane solutions are always seen as dangerously upsetting to the mainstream way of things.

This issue of Clockwise Cat is suffused with talent both poetic and polemical. The polemical tends to be overtly rebellious, while the poetic is more subtly subversive. Either way, both brazenly denotate the orthodox order of things, and I am proud to feature such sizzing scribblings in this here humble zine.


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