Smart people saying smart things

William deBuys: “The least sustainable city: Phoenix as a harbinger for our hot future”

Phoenix’€™s pyramid of complexities looks shakier than most because it stands squarely in the crosshairs of climate change. The area, like much of the rest of the American Southwest, is already hot and dry; it’€™s getting ever hotter and drier, and is increasingly battered by powerful storms. Sandy and Katrina previewed how coastal cities can expect to fare as seas rise and storms strengthen. Phoenix pulls back the curtain on the future of inland empires. If you want a taste of the brutal new climate to come, the place to look is where that climate is already harsh, and growing more so –€” the aptly named Valley of the Sun.

Rachel Barenblatt: “3 Nisan: Slavery”

When you sit down for your beautiful Pesach meal, be conscious that slavery wasn’t just what (might have) happened to the Israelites in ancient Egypt. It isn’t just a shameful American legacy. It’s something that still happens, in a variety of ways. Our people’s central story holds that we were slaves to a Pharaoh in Egypt but our God brought us out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. It’s our job to be the mighty hands and outstretched arms which will free those who are enslaved today.

Chauncey DeVega: “Slavery Was Good for the Blacks: At CPAC Angry ‘Disenfranchised’ White Men Are the Real Face of the Tea Party GOP”

A political party is a type of brand name. It signals meaning and values to its members on overt, implied, and implicit levels. By example, if “Honda” or “Toyota” signal “reliability” to their buyers, “Tea Party” and “Republican” signals “white” and “whiteness” to the American public. The latter signal is heard by supporters and opponents of the Tea Party GOP. The racism of the Tea Party GOP is not a dog-whistle. It is an air raid siren. And until the Republicans can learn to mute its klaxon they will continue the slide towards political obsolescence.

Dan Wetzel: “Steubenville High School football players found guilty of raping 16-year-old girl” (trigger warning)

“It wasn’t violent,” explained teammate Evan Westlake when asked why he didn’t stop the two defendants as they abused a non-moving girl that Westlake knew to be highly intoxicated. “I always pictured it as forcing yourself on someone.”

That was part of the arrogance.

Arrogance from the defendants. Arrogance from the friends. Arrogance within the culture.

Arrogance based on the fact that this night, witnesses testified over and over, wasn’t strikingly different than any other night in the life of a Big Red football player.

Joan Chittister: “Who are the people who were waiting for Pope Francis?”

People are weary of hearing more about the laws of the church than the love of Jesus.

People are weary of seeing whole classes of people — women, gays and even other faith communities again — rejected, labeled, seen as “deficient,” crossed off the list of the acceptable.

They are weary of asking questions that get no answers, no attention whatsoever, except derision.

They suffer from the lassitude that sets in waiting for apologies that do not come.

There’s an ennui that sets in when people get nothing but old answers to new questions.

There’s even worse fatigue that comes from knowing answers to questions for which, as laypersons, they are never even asked.

 

  • LMM22

    I don’t think they’ll ever be contrite, because I don’t think they’ll ever realize what they did, because even now, society has no real interest in teaching them.

    Really? After seeing the girl sobbing in court? After seeing the public reaction to their atrocious behavior?

    They knew what they did was wrong. They might not have known it was rape (though I think their Twitter feeds tell us otherwise), but they knew to hide their involvement once she realized that something happened.

    At this point in time, I *am* reading you advocating ‘social change’ as objecting to criminal involvement, because, unless they’ve been raised by cavemen, these *men* — these *rapists* — knew what they did was wrong.

    I don’t think they’ll ever be contrite because I think they’re both sociopaths.

    My statement that repentance would start with a *long* PSA and a state-mandated speaking tour is much lighter than my alternative, which is that we can tell that they (like *all* sexual predators) are not contrite because they’re not dead.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Of course they know what they did was wrong. What they have no sense of is why it was wrong. From their perspective, what they did wrong was that they “cheated”: they got sex without “earning it” — they’ve been raised to view sex as a sort of business transaction: they put in effort in certain forms, and are “paid” in sex. They know that they did wrong by gaming that system. That’s the disconnect: they think that what they did is wrong the same way that not paying a prostitute is wrong. Because the concept of consent isn’t something they understand. It would never occur to them that a woman has some agency to make decisions about the disposition of her own body.

    I’m not willing to just dismiss these two as having brains that work differently and wash my hands, say “Well, some people are just born evil. Too bad we can’t just have them put down like dogs.” I don’t think they’re sociopaths. I think they’ve been trained not to think of sex in terms of mutual consent but as a sort of business transaction, and therefore they don’t think of what they did as a violation of consent, but as a kind of sexual shoplifting.

  • LMM22

    I don’t think they’re sociopaths.

    I guess that’s where we’re going to differ, then, because if they haven’t learned now, they never will.

    I don’t want them to get the death penalty. I want them to take responsibility for their actions — and *that* means shame to the point of suicide.

  • Kirala

    Can someone formulate a term for people who CHOOSE to treat other human beings as things? Because we do abuse the clinical term “sociopath” when we use it that way – obviously, some sociopaths adhere to ethics despite lacking natural empathy, and some people seem to expend a lot of energy suppressing or destroying their natural empathy so as to enable them to seek their own profit at the expense of others.

    So what term shall we employ to refer to those whose lack of empathy is an act of will, rather than innate nature? Because somehow “evil” seems overly vague.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    There’s a difference between acknowledging that teenagers will tend to undertake riskier behaviors on average plus maybe lack judgement about things, and not absolving them of knowing the difference between right and wrong.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    They knew what they did was wrong. They might not have known it
    was rape (though I think their Twitter feeds tell us otherwise), but
    they knew to hide their involvement once she realized that something
    happened.

    And a dog knows to hide if its owner starts doing angry-human things. That doesn’t mean the dog knows how to make the connection between barfing up on the carpet and then 8 hours later getting yelled at.

    Some humans will in all honesty believe they deserve no blame for Thing Y and still be just aware enough to know to muddy the tracks when they get told later it’s not such a shit-hot idea.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Whenever I see/hear “race card” I know it’s gonna be some clueless white guy who thinks racism is like a Magic The Gathering game.

    I mean, really, CPAC? “trumping” a race card?

    This isn’t some goddamn bridge game. This is real people we are discussing here!

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’m white and I actually *gasp* rode the DC subway. I was not mugged or accosted. I simply went about my day, admittedly, being somewhat annoyed by the heat and humidity :P

  • LMM22

    That doesn’t mean the dog knows how to make the connection between barfing up on the carpet and then 8 hours later getting yelled at.

    So what? We just need to give them a nice ethics course and they’re realize the error of their ways?

    Do you *really* think the culture they were raised in is *so* toxic that they’re incapable of understanding that dragging a naked girl around and assaulting her is wrong? Particularly when they did so as *revenge* for her breaking up with another member of the football team?

    I’m seeing multiple people make the argument that the problem is that we’re just not *willing* to teach them that what they did is wrong. That the problem is that we’re just not *willing* to teach them to sympathize with the person they hurt instead of feeling sorry for their miserable lives. That all we need to do is work on a utopian vision of transformative justice and everything will be wonderful again.

    You know who else doesn’t understand that what they did was wrong? Wall Street bankers. The CEOs at Enron. The heads of Goldman Sacks and the other financial firms that brought down the economy. And the crimes they committed weren’t violent: They may have ruined lives, but there is no chance that they could go out and repeat their actions were they (say) a checker at a local grocery store. We don’t have to trust that they won’t assault someone else one night. We just have to make sure they’re not heads of a company. If we stop believing in punishment and simply want re-education, all we’d need to do is make sure all those executives work at a soup kitchen and are never allowed to work at anything other than an entry-level job again.

    Yet somehow it’s the rapists we’re supposed to believe are redeemable. The men who can commit the same crime again easily, without anyone finding out about it. The men who could repeat their same actions *anywhere*, in any city or town or suburb, while holding any job. The men who commit a crime that is so underreported that we don’t have any good statistics on whether or not convicted sex offenders are likely to rape someone again. The men who commit a crime that is just as likely to not be punished as the CEOs who stole money from everyone else.

    And I’m going to stick to my original argument: Lynch mobs weren’t ended because everyone suddenly realized that black people were human. That took a long time. Lynch mobs stopped because the people involved knew they would be punished.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m not convinced lynch mobs have stopped. What’s his name, black gay mayoral candidate down south, found dead? Yeah.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    So what? We just need to give them a nice ethics course and they’re realize the error of their ways?

    Did you read the part after that?

    Where I pointed out that even if people don’t think they did anything wrong, they ARE canny enough to pick up that there are noises of disapproval and will try to work to blunt the impact?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    They knew. They were calling it rape at the time. They just laughed and thought it sounded like a good thing. Several sites make reference to someone laughing and uttering the words “She is so raped.”

    Making me wonder if it really isn’t that toxic in adolescent land nowadays…

  • LMM22

    Yes, I did. You’ve failed to answer my question: How do you teach them that they *raped* someone, if they’ve failed to learn that by now?

    Or, to put it another way: Is there *any* way you can think of educating them such that you would feel comfortable leaving them alone with your daughter? Because I can’t.

  • LMM22

    I’m not convinced lynch mobs have stopped.

    Right. But what’s the general reaction to that? It’s not “change the culture.” Nobody feels like any of those killers are redeemable. It’s “find the bastards and punish them.”

  • LMM22

    Thank you. I’ve been trying to say that and everyone is pretending otherwise.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    For what it’s worth, I think it’s more sensible to have a different term for people like me than to change the term for people like them. Their behavior is sociopathic in nature, even if they’re not legitimately diagnosed APD cases.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I dunno. “Evil” seems like a pretty good term to use here to me.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’m sorry, are you actually asking questions or do you just want to vent spleen?

    Because it feels to me like the latter more than the former.

    I have never said they should not be punished for their actions.

    But maybe, unfortunately, the very fact of jailing them will be the only way to teach them that what they did is wrong.

  • LMM22

    But maybe, unfortunately, the very fact of jailing them will be the only way to teach them that what they did is wrong.

    That is my point. And, honestly, until it *does*, I don’t think they should be released.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You seem very locked in on the idea that people are saying things they’re not saying. You’ve responded to more than one person talking about these men’s comprehension of rape as if we were saying that they didn’t think that they did anything wrong and you’ve responded to any attempt to claim these men are anything other than Just Born Evil as if we’re saying they’re not culpable for their actions or shouldn’t be punished.

    You also said that these criminals should be “shamed to suicide.” That’s not the act of a just system, it’s the act of a fucking bully.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Where do you get the idea that anyone is calling to “redeem” them? No one’s said that. I don’t want to “redeem” lynch mobs and I don’t want to “redeem” those two young men who raped that young woman. I want to fix the fucking system that did not just make those people commit those crimes, but encouraged them to become the sort of people who commit those crimes.

  • LMM22

    You also said that these criminals should be “shamed to suicide.” That’s not the act of a just system, it’s the act of a fucking bully.

    No, I didn’t. I never said that we as a culture should shame them. I said that they — as people who have grown up in a culture — should feel ashamed to the point where they commit suicide. They should not be able to live with their guilt. (Imagine if you ran over your child. Imagine if you accidentally shot your sibling. Now imagine you did that intentionally. That’s the level of guilt they should be experiencing. They should be groveling for forgiveness. They should be having nightmares at night. They should feel unable to show their face in public again. They should have turned themselves into the police.)

    They don’t. That, as far as I am concerned, makes them irredeemable.


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