This is an info graphic that I think shows some pretty interesting trends in our criminal justice system. I think that our criminal justice system is horribly racist… well, let me rephrase that. It’s not so much racist as it is devastatingly prejudiced. It’s not like it’s run by the KKK or anything but it’s run by people who think with their emotions and when they see a black person they just think criminal because it’s been drilled into our society. This prejudism can happen to anyone, regardless of how much they are opposed to racism.
But what I wasn’t aware of was the rates of foster-care kids who enter prison. I’ve never seen these statistics before. My whole life I’ve had a hard time accepting people who make babies of their own when there are so many children living on the streets and in foster homes because I feel like foster kids totally get the shaft in our society and nobody really notices. I once argued with a pro-lifer about this issue and he just rolled his eyes and told me that foster kids turn out just fine.
The problems here are not all the fault of the criminal justice system. There are many other things at play here, but I think these statistics should tell us that dealing with people as though they are people, giving them loving homes, and a supportive community is going to be far more effective at preventing wrongdoing than throwing them in prison.
Yesterday I posted a couple new pages, a short anarchist article about how we should appreciate what criminals have done for us, at least here in America. It’s so strange to me how criminals are so frequently the heroes of our movies and stories, and in our history books, but when normal people see others with actual criminal behavior, we automatically forget all that and decide that all criminals are evil.
The other page I posted is a short story I wrote maybe a year ago called Canned Air, Hannah Montana and the Purpose of Life, about a foul-mouthed fourth grader and his inhalant addicted mom as they avoid a funeral to go see a Hannah Montana Cover band. This was kind of an experimental story, my first attempt at comedy, though people tell me it’s not that funny 🙂
It’s definitely not my favorite creation, but beyond the failure at comedy, I think it does have a few interesting points to make about parenting, about finding your way in life, doing what you feel is right instead of what you’re told and just being yourself. Also some stuff about war and how humans get along in society.
The story is full of Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana quotes, though I figure the kinds of people reading this aren’t going to be familiar with those lines, so they are probably going to be lost. And the last line is even a song reference that I worry no one will get.
But behind all the different things going on in this story, one of the reasons I wrote this one instead of one of my numerous other story ideas was because I wanted to come out of the closet as someone who enjoys Miley Cyrus. I’m sorry, but she just has some really fun, catchy songs that I find enjoyable to listen to. As you may guess, this is more difficult to be open about than being a bisexual kinkster or an atheist. I still feel very hated by society because of my anarchism, because I don’t see police or soldiers as heroes, but as far as the normal things that people supposedly hate and discriminate over, the things that liberals want people to be legally protected for, have never been an issue for me.
Nobody has ever seemed judgmental because of my abnormal sexuality, and while it is offensive when Christians talk about how I’m going to burn in hell, I’ve always gotten the impression their ultimate goal was to save me, and I’ve never felt any genuine discrimination for my atheism. I once worked in a company where I was the only person who was not a church-going Christian and I never felt unwelcome. I was very overweight most of my childhood, and while I did get picked on quite frequently as a kid, I can’t recall a single instance of the fat shaming that everyone seems so concerned about these days.
But for some reason, people tend to get real nasty about the music others listen to. If you look up Miley Cyrus videos on YouTube you’ll find a notable number of commenters saying really nasty things that would get them instantly banned if they were based on race or sexuality. Because it’s relating to music, for some reason it’s not seen as an issue, it’s not seen as real hate. You might say this is because there’s no history of violence from musical tastes, but most homophobic people have no more violent intentions as the musical snobs do when they say they want to kill Justin Bieber.
It just seems strange to me that I know so many liberals who talk about equality and get all bent out of shape whenever a conservative says something insensitive, and whine about how they feel judged because of their sexuality or beliefs, then they turn around and tell you there’s something wrong with you because you don’t like the same music they do.
If we want to claim to be open-minded and accepting, we need to be open and accepting on all levels, not just the legally-mandated ones.
Anyway… I think that’s kind of what I was trying to say with this story.
I’ve seen Ron Paul getting attacked for his view that businesses should be allowed to discriminate and the government shouldn’t intervene and enforce anti-discrimination laws. When you first read this, it sounds awful. Your gut reaction is to think he doesn’t support equality, and that he won’t stand up for minorities, and I totally understand why it would seem this way. However, I’ve been opposed to these kind of laws for a good decade now, though I have not been vocal about it because I think there are far more harmful laws that need to end first and because it’s a little harder to point out the counter-productive nature of anti-discrimination laws. Perhaps they are helpful in the short term, but legislating social interactions in the long-run is never going to turn out well. It’s totally fair if you disagree with that but what’s unfair is for people to paint Ron Paul and others with this viewpoint as though we’re monsters who want to go back to segregation and white’s-only bathrooms. When you’re voting you have an obligation to dig a little deeper, do your due diligence and do your best to understand what the so-called “crazy person” is really trying to say.
So there’s a number of reasons why I think anti-discrimination laws do slightly more harm than good.
First, I don’t think it’s a good idea to entrust our equality to a massive bureaucracy which has been responsible for things like banning gay men from donating blood and starting racist wars (would anyone consider going to war with Iran if they were doing all the exact same things but happened to be Christian?). Our government wiretapped, and according to some, assasinated Martin Luther King. They drive the war on drugs, disproportionately incarcerating minorities, which has contributed significantly to Mexico’s rates of violence. Why would we want to trust a system with this kind of track record on equality?
These type of laws also don’t address the real problem. If there are bigoted attitudes in our society, we need to address them directly, by changing attitudes. Many of us do not want to simply place a band-aid over our social problems and prefer policies that help us address real change. Doing things by force is not going to change any minds.
Another issue is that these kinds of laws only protect certain segments of the population, and indirectly cause the public to not be concerned about other groups who might not have official protection. People with piercings or tattoos are not protected, even if they are for religious purposes. Marijuana smokers and other drug users most certainly are not protected (a few months back I had a very liberal, pro-equality “friend” tell me I was not actually a person because I smoke pot and I’ll admit its still bothering me). People who don’t have automobiles aren’t particularly protected. Young people get little to no protection, and in fact, are explicitly discriminated against in a multitude of ways by the very government we are expecting to protect us from discrimination. (I can’t possibly be the only one who thinks it’s wrong to practically ban young people from live music simply because they might be around some alcohol.)
These laws also only apply in certain situations, specifically where jobs or money is concerned. What about relationships? People discriminate in their friendships and dating lives. Why is that not just as wrong? I can’t count the number of times I’ve talked to a so-called liberal who claims to be devoted to equality, talks frequently about feminism, gay rights and the way we treat immigrants, but then when I ask them what they’re looking for in a date, they have this whole list of types of people they automatically dislike. They will openly discriminate on all sorts of things like clothing, hair style, religion, and it seems that even with race it’s open season for discrimination when it comes to dating. I’ve seen extreme anti-discrimination liberals state flat-out that they will not go out with a member of a particular race or religion. I try to call them on the hypocrisy, and they seem baffled, like I have no right to judge, because the dating world is all fair game. I think this is indicative of the fact that bigotry runs deep, and in countless flavors that may have nothing to do with our standardized protected sets, particularly in many of the individuals most staunchly opposed to it. Just as homosexuality tends to flourish among those who wish to write laws opposing it, I feel those who hate bigotry the most passionately are often the ones who have the most deep-seated bigoted attitudes. However, bigotry is not such a horrifying thing if we are allowed to be open about it and allow our attitudes to be examined and addressed in an open and free manner.
Another issue is that these laws discriminate against people who don’t believe in vengeance and force. In our current society, when someone suffers discrimination, we expect the law to take care of it, essentially by punishing the offender. But what if the victim doesn’t believe in getting back at the person or company? What if they would prefer government spend that money trying to change the attitudes of the offenders instead of punishing them? What avenues do non-vengeful people have under our current system?
These laws also have the affect of stealing the credit for the progress we’ve made as a society. To claim that it was the federal government who granted the African-American community equal rights is an insult to Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, and the countless demonstrators who fought for those rights. They did the work. They deserve the credit. It’s not the government that makes these things. It’s the power of the human spirit that does it.
The final issue is simply that the laws aren’t particularly effective. Employers can still discriminate based on sex or race, or whatever they want. The only major difference is they aren’t as honest about it now… but sometimes they actually are honest. Twice in my life I have been denied a job, specifically because I was male. Once for a cashier position and once for a bartender position. Both times the manager specifically told me they had a policy of not hiring males for customer-facing positions. I saw the same kind of hiring policies in most of the restaurants where I’ve worked. Men were kept in the kitchen and women were given the higher-paid (because of the tips) waitress or bartending positions. If you look at any customer-service based industry, you’ll see this pattern, though in other industries it may be the customer-facing positions which are lower paid. The government has no power to stop this.
There needs to be solutions other than writing laws and using force. There should be a long-term, peaceful, communication-based approach to these problems that involves individuals standing up for their rights rather than expecting the government to come solve everything for them.
This is not an evil perspective that Ron Paul and myself hold. You can argue that it’s naive. You can argue that it’s not practical; but please don’t try to argue that it’s motivated by blind bigotry without first reading about the ideas and really thinking about them. Remember how much the protected groups and minorities deserve an equal playing field? Well so do political ideas and philosophies. Our beliefs deserve to be judged by what they actually are and they deserve the right to be taken within context.
So I think I’ve finally jumped the fence and turned into a Ron Paul supporter. It feels kinda weird. I don’t like the idea of voting Republican. I thought I would never even consider that, but the more I watch of him, the more I realize he is not like other republicans.
I will admit the initial reason I started looking at Ron Paul over Obama is his stance on marijuana legalization. I have since found a long list of other reasons to support him, but Ron Paul supporters are often accused of just wanting to get high, as though marijuana legalization is some stupid side-issue that only affects a few hippie stoners and we’re just stupid and selfish for choosing a candidate based on this issue. I particularly resent this attitude.
If a politician refused to acknowledge that women have equal rights, would you really blame women for not voting for him, even if he were the perfect candidate in every other way? There are countless gay people who make their voting decisions based on gay issues. Do their fellow liberals say condescending things about them and accuse them of just wanting to have butt sex? Why are marijuana smokers belittled and treated like our issue is not important when we are the most persecuted group in America? For every gay person who wishes the government would give him a piece of paper acknowledging his marriage, there’s a dozen pot smokers who fear going to prison, losing their jobs, their homes, getting beaten by police, and having their families torn apart. Not to mention the sick and dying patients who need it to lead a normal life. The government, as a matter of policy, blatantly lies to our children about who we are and how we behave, hides scientific evidence and manipulates its people into looking down on us. There is no social group in America that faces as much misinformation, hatred and discrimination, so I would feel justified making my decision based on this issue. Ron Paul claims that he’s never been in the same room with someone smoking marijuana and has never known a user, yet he still sees us as human beings and respects our choices. This, to me, is indicative of a deeper intelligence. If the liberals cannot produce a candidate who sees me as a human being and respects me as a person, then sorry, I’m gonna go to the other side.
It seems odd that, as an anarchist, it took me a long time to warm up to Ron Paul, mostly because he’s a capitalist anarchist, which in my opinion, won’t work long-term (for the simple fact that someone has to print the money and there’s no way to ensure they won’t become corrupt) though I do think it would be preferable over our current system. I’m not a fan of money, so putting it in charge of everything scares me, so I understand why Ron Paul scares so many liberals, but again, I think it’s preferable to our current system. At least money works more consistently and with less bias than politicians. I’d prefer a world based on love, kindness, team-building, common goals, and peace, but I’d settle for a world that’s not based on insanity, and Ron Paul is the only one who has a plan to make that happen. It seems like most politicians and their supporters, both liberal and conservative, seem to be on the same basic page about many things. Everyone seems to feel like we have to keep the status-quo and just make the best of it. We’re in Iraq for better or worse. Let’s just make the best of it. Education is failing, but lets just try to tweak the current system because there couldn’t possibly be a better way. Our transportation system is in shambles, but lets just try to revive the auto industry. The banks are failing. Let’s just bail them out and move on. Ron Paul, though I don’t agree with everything he says, is the only candidate who has the balls to call for real, long-term change.
So Ron Paul is accused of wanting to “gut education”. At first when I heard this, it rubbed me the wrong way. My instinct is to say that there’s no way we can cut spending on education and just leave the next generation hanging. Now I’m thinking that’s unfair to assume that’s what Paul has in mind. There’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t want a transitional period and there’s no reason to believe that because he doesn’t support federally controlled education he doesn’t support education. The federal government has been doing an awful job with our education system so far. It’s so massive and inflexible that, as much as I hate corporations and capitalism, I think a dynamic, money-based system would leave fewer kids behind than our current system. It’s not my ideal, but it would be better than what we currently have or anything the liberals have suggested.
He’s also accused of being a racist. I think this is unfair as well, because when it comes to the bottom line, what really matters is do the policies that he supports benefit minorities and help them to live more equal lives? Perhaps there were a few newsletters that had some inappropriate language (BTW – how can liberals call pot smokers petty for voting based on our desire to smoke when they’re asking us to discredit a candidate over some wording in a couple newsletters he didn’t even write?). However, I think the fact that Ron Paul has the courage to speak out against the two most racist entities in America: the drug war and the death penalty is pretty good evidence that he’s not particularly racist. He also doesn’t want to blow people up just for being Muslim. Ron Paul actually changed his opinion on the death penalty because he learned how crazy racist it is. But the drug war is really where the racism lies in The United States. If you look at the actual statistics of how much marijuana is consumed by minorities versus how many are in prison, it’s pretty easy to argue the drug war is ludicrously racist. Ron Paul is the only one with the courage to speak out against this so I think it is tremendously unfair to accuse him of being racist.
The deal is similar with gay marriage. He believes the government has no right to dictate marriage, period. Regardless of what he believes about gay marriage himself, getting government out of marriage would be beneficial to the gay community. There are countless churches across the country who already perform gay marriages. Taking the issue out of government would put it square in the lap of the churches and the communities. The churches are not going to want to appear divided, the LGBT community is not going to back down, and the communities are not going to want to be assholes to people’s faces. It’s easy to be an asshole on the federal level. Much harder on the community level. Thus, gay marriage would flourish organically and people’s minds would change naturally, instead of forcing them into a perspective that would make them resentful of the gay community.
There’s a host of other issues I agree with him on, and I’ll hopefully be able to address those in upcoming posts, but it is worth mentioning that after watching many hours worth of Ron Paul speeches and interviews in the last couple weeks, Ron Paul still has not changed my positions on any single issue. Everything he’s saying, with the exception of the things I disagree with, are all things I’ve believed for over a decade. There are a few things I disagree with, of course. Abortion, for one, though he’s not a nut about it. He came to be pro-life because he cares about the rights of the person-to-be, compared to Obama, who is opposed to abortion because his religion tells him to be. Paul believes global warming is a myth, but again, he’s not the anti-environmentalist that people try to paint him as. Sure he considers creationism a possibility, though again, he’s reasonable about it and doesn’t see it as fact.
But all of these arguments pale in comparison to the real reason I’ve finally decided to support Ron Paul. Because he believes in peace. I’m thirty-three years old and this is the first time I’ve ever seen a serious political candidate who genuinely believes in peace. To me that’s more meaningful than anything else. He thinks aggression should be seen as an absolute last resort (this seems like common sense to me, but he appears to be the only one who sees it), and he’s consistent in this belief with his social policies, with the way he interacts with his enemies, right down to the fact that he didn’t spank his children. I’ve lived my entire life under the shadow of war, knowing it’s there, in the background, never being directly affected by it, but always wondering how truly horrifying it could be, but at the same time not wanting to know. I’m sick of knowing the rest of the world hates me because of the deeds of the nation where I was born. I’m sick and tired of seeing my tax dollars going toward racially and financially motivated, unconstitutional acts of worldwide aggression.
So the bottom line is I want a president who believes in peace and thinks I should be treated as a human being. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. In all fairness, I think Obama is the best president I could have hoped for out of any traditional candidates, but he’s not good enough for America. I want a man of peace in the white house.
But it’s not so much about the Presidency. Ron Paul isn’t particularly running for president. He’s running to present a new perspective, one which America desperately needs. He doesn’t stand much of a chance against Obama, even if he could beat Romney in the Primaries, so why not support his message of peace and freedom in the meantime? I don’t support everything he stands for, but the important parts are far too important to ignore, and I think the liberal community, and the world as a whole, would be well served to support, or at the very least, really examine his perspective.
“There’s something wrong when you’re more afraid of your neighbor than you are of your government.” – Ron Paul
Someone sent this around an email chain today, kind of as a joke about wanting to only work half days. This is an article about “decision fatigue”, the idea that if you make tons of decisions in a day you just kinda get worn out and your brain just doesn’t want to keep going. It’s an interesting idea, but my point has nothing to do with this.
The article is talking about a parole board in Israel who judged the prisoners, not by what they had done or how they had improved, but by what time of day they appeared for their hearing.
Prisoners who appeared early in the morning received parole about 70 percent of the time, while those who appeared late in the day were paroled less than 10 percent of the time.
Now think about that. This isn’t just one judge. This article is talking about a trend in human thinking, something that may be affecting all judges and parole boards all over the world. 70 percent versus 10 percent. That’s a ridiculously big difference, and when you’re dealing with human lives you’re talking about phenomenal levels of unfairness. If you compare black and white people going to parole boards I doubt you would see a difference that huge. Why is race-based unfairness such a horrible crime but time-based unfairness is just a light-hearted side note?
What I find amazing is that we can have these kind of articles and information printed for all to read and yet people still try to tell me that criminal justice is fair.
There was nothing malicious or even unusual about the judges’ behavior.
Seriously? Nothing unusual? And sure it wasn’t malicious but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s cruel, wrong, and makes a mockery of our sense of justice and fairness. (Upon re-reading this, I remembered that putting people in prison is inherently malicious. That’s the whole point. It’s designed to make people suffer.)
It’s funny too that the New York Times can start off an article describing a horrible injustice, but because it’s an injustice against criminals they just move on to the psychology and how it affects our lives, never stopping to care about the human lives. I think this really illuminates society’s total lack of compassion for anyone labeled, for whatever reason, a criminal. We don’t even see them as people. How can we seriously expect them to reform and have respect for society when we treat them like this?
KalinBooks.com is the ramblings of Kalin Ringkvist, a science fiction author with a passion for peace and freedom.