Sunday, May 09, 2004

Playing Tough

From Crooked Timber: Previous convictions: "I’ve just been over to Electrolite, where Patrick Nielsen Hayden has posted this stunning excerpt from the New York Times :

"… the man who directed the reopening of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq last year and trained the guards there resigned under pressure as director of the Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 after an inmate died while shackled to a restraining chair for 16 hours. The inmate, who suffered from schizophrenia, was kept naked the whole time. The Utah official, Lane McCotter, later became an executive of a private prison company, one of whose jails was under investigation by the Justice Department when he was sent to Iraq as part of a team of prison officials, judges, prosecutors and police chiefs picked by Attorney General John Ashcroft to rebuild the country’s criminal justice system"

Why should we be surprised? For the past quarter century or so most Americans have been convinced that tough will solve all out problems--if only in the long run when we're all dead. The hypothesis isn't falsifiable: if we get tough and things don't get fixed it shows that we haven't been tough enough; if things get worse it shows that have to stay the course to recoup sunk costs. Anyone who leaps off the tough train will get ground under the wheels because if things don't improve immediately--and they can't after years of destructive get-tough policies--he'll be blamed for derailing a get-tough policy that was just about to start working.

I don't think that Bush or his American supporters are really bothered by prison brutality as such--it's the kinky fun and games, prisoners on leashes, sodomized, made to simulate homosexual group sex that gets up their noses. I doubt that they would seriously object to a little sleep deprivation or good, clean flogging, in Iraq, Gitmo or in prisons stateside.

We got into this mess because liberals made no serious attempt to offer the America people a viable alternative. Home on the range there are only cowboys and wimps. The only alternative middle Americas see to get tough policies is the program of the "helping professions"--therapists, social workers, liberal ministers and the education profession.

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