Sunday, September 2, 2012
In this Post I will conclude my mini-series look at Roger Lancaster’s book.*
He concludes with the question: “Whither the Punitive State?” (p.227)
He further asks “Is the punitive turn winding down?” (p.227)
And then “If so, will the compromises of rights and procedures that dominated politics of the recent past be discarded or will they be incorporated into a reform version of the punitive state?” (p.227)
In partial response, he then notes that “the Republican ‘Southern strategy’, with its subtle and not-so-subtle appeals to racism, no longer packs an electoral wallop”. (p.227) Which may be true – although I would have to point out that that ‘Southern strategy’ did not simply concern itself with ‘racism’; with the Democrats in the very early 1970s having decided to go whole-hog for creating new Identities (each with its marquis ‘victimization’ and – of course – its own Necessary Victimizer) and then passing into law whatever dampdreams each of their organized advocacies could think up, the Republicans became by default the only Party of refuge for any voters who thought that somehow the Democrats had started the country down a very dangerous and potentially lethal road.
(The quickly-developed Correct come-back to that, of course, was that since most of the voters ‘just didn’t get it’, then the government didn’t have to listen to them and, indeed, had to change them or create policies that would sweep them – like the iconic Archie Bunker – into the new Correct American version of the dustbin of history.)**
And all that Identity-Politics (with its Gender war and all the rest, including the ‘war’ on men because of their ‘sexual violence’ that needs to be eliminated at the source) has done is to expand that ‘Southern strategy’ from the Left, embracing the new Identities as We now know them (as opposed to the old Southern ‘identity’ to which the old ‘Southern strategy’ appealed).
The politics of pandering to new demographic Identities by deploying government police power against each such Identity’s Necessary Enemy synergized tightly with the politics of fear that created the Necessary Enemy to begin with.
RL thinks that “the politics of fear is beginning to lose some traction”. (p.228) I’d like to hope so, but I’m not so sure. Both Parties are now addicted to that “politics of fear” – as well as not wanting to look like they’ve made some huge and perhaps lethal mistakes (such as, for instance, the SO Mania Regime).
And at this point, have the consequences of the past decades of ‘the politics of fear’- now erected into legislation and policy, as well as so powerfully amplified by the media through the sly manipulation of public opinion – become so entrenched that their effects are for all practical purposes not only ineradicable but irreparable?
It’s difficult enough to get legislation abrogated and major court decisions reversed. But how do you go about changing all the inaccurate perceptions that now constitute (an increasingly distracted and incompetent) public opinion? Especially since We have now had several generations of children raised with the idea that the SO Mania Regime is somehow ‘normal’.
It would be a cutesy sound-bite to assert that the Democrats are the Party of Regressives rather than the Party of Progressives. But that isn’t accurate because for so long both Parties have for their own purposes and using their own ‘justifications’ supported the SO Mania Regime.
RL notes hopefully that “the courts repeatedly swatted back against the [G.W. Bush] administration’s most egregious examples of executive overreach during the war on terror”. (p.228) Which is true, as far as it goes. But the SO Mania Regime is not simply a creature of the Executive Branch’s desires; it is based in the purposes and agendas of both Parties in Congress and established by legislation and – in still too many instances – major court decisions (including both the 1995 New Jersey Poritz decision and the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 Smith v. Doe decision).
Yes, there might be some hope in the fact that most of the subsequent SO Mania legislation – on both national and State levels – has had to be passed by voice-vote or other procedural subterfuge in order to protect what apparently are the many Members who really don’t want to be publicly on record as having voted for legislation.
And yes, there might be some hope in the fact that as the government itself runs out of cash to play with, then the vital enabling funding – feeding not only formal government enforcement but also the many remora-like cottage industries that have sprung up to suck down all that public cash – might dry up in the general scrum for funding in the increasingly strapped government budgets.
But I wonder if We shall ever see the government reject this SO Mania Regime with the same intense publicity with which it embraced the Regime.
The budget and the courts seem the best chance, but I'm not the expert on that: perhaps the pols can be worked-with at this point.
RL notes that the government has been dialing-back its punitive approach to certain crimes, such as drug-use crimes – but I don’t think sex-crimes (however broadly and vaguely defined) are going to benefit from that tide: the radical-feminist advocacies have too much invested in the government somehow ‘suppressing’ males.
And yes – as RL notes – there has been some pushback as the government, at the behest of various organized advocacies and special interests, started up SO Mania attention on teen ‘sexting’ and such, including children (sometimes of grammar school age) having some form of overt sexual encounters.*** But is that likely to create sufficient movement toward dialing-back on the entire SO Mania Regime?
In the Salem Witch Trials the madness and mania finally got tamped down by the government when accusations were leveled at the wife of the royal governor himself. But in modern America – alas – most elected officials don’t seem to hold themselves accountable (or to be held accountable) to the very laws that they have passed. Few – even if they have been forced to resign office – have ever wound up on a Registry.
And while there is some movement toward a general look at reforming the entire criminal justice system, there is still some serious question as to whether such reforms – if they are recommended and officially acted-upon – will actually reach a dismantling or major reduction in the SO Mania Regime.
We can certainly hope – with RL – that “key institutional actors are beginning to question the desirability of organizing social relations around panic”. (p.228) I would add that it is not only a matter of ‘desirability’ but of the ‘dangerousness’ – on the most vital and fundamental levels or the nation’s political life and integrity – that should be of concern (and even alarm). The SO Mania Regime comprises both the philosophy and the structural characteristics of a police state – and no republic can survive or even co-exist with a police-state government.
Being in his heart a ‘liberal’ – meaning that he tends to see so much of the ‘change’ and ‘reform’ of the past decades as ‘liberation’ – it is hard for RL to get beyond that mindset in order to see the Costs and Consequences that have accompanied so very much of all that ‘change’ and ‘reform’. But the probability of all those Costs and Consequences are very real and they were built into it all from Day One.
And those Costs and Consequences are here now.
And all that ‘liberation’ has led to a nation that now imprisons more of its Citizens than Stalin did in the days of the Gulag or that China imprisons even today. But no elite or mainstream political discourse wants to connect any dots to try to explain just how this repugnant and alarming situation has come to pass.
RL keeps coming back to the post-9/11 engorgements of government police authority. But as I have been saying, all of those engorgements were based on the prior and already well-established derangement of the Constitutional and Framing Vision’s first principles that had been corroded and undermined in the SO Mania Regime for a decade and more before 9/11. Those corrosions and derangements simply migrated and mutated even more virulently under the pressure of the 9/11 event.
National Security simply adapted the corrosions and derangements that had been imposed in the name of – if I may – Sexual Security.
So at this point – especially as We now see a hotly-contested election in which nobody but nobody on the political scene wants to point to the SO Mania Regime as an example of their Party’s ‘success’ and instead there is a remarkable public and official silence about the whole Thing – I think it becomes clear that this lethal and Constitutionally noxious and toxic system of laws and cultural presuppositions demonstrates by that very absence from public discourse a) just how deeply bad this whole Thing has been for the country and b) just how deeply almost all the political elites and players as well as the Citizenry itself realize that stunning reality.
But nobody dares to speak about it. Titanic has been ripped open like a tuna can, yet the general awareness and discussion of shipboard matters excludes that vital and primary reality from consideration.****
RL will discuss (pp.229-230, as one example) the situation of African-American prisoners, so often imprisoned on drug-charges. But that race issue is one of the marquis and still discussable elements of the half-century old ‘liberal’ agenda; the SO Mania Regime – which is far more lethal in its corrosions and derangements – still remains untouchable in ‘liberal’ discourse (or in putatively ‘conservative’ discourse as well).
RL comes to realize that something is going on here, and that’s a good thing. But if even he can’t take this lethal bull by the horns, then it’s open to question just how much better a job the responsible political and commentator elites will be moved to do so.
He acknowledges – and rightly so – that “the apparatus of punitive government … is not a fragile regime” but rather “has put down deep roots in far-flung institutions and social organizations”. (p.230)
One thinks of the same strategy deployed in the post-WW2 Pentagon strategy of placing its defense industry facilities all around the country, and expanding its reach into universities through the generous distribution of national-security research grants and funding. This strategy hardly differs in its fundamental dynamics from drug-lords’ strategies for creating and continually intensifying addiction to their ‘product’ and ‘services’ among the general population.
And he rightly asserts that “the sex panics treated in this book are an important part of the picture; they constitute the frontier where the punitive state’s line of march seems least obstructed”. (p.231)
Yes. They seemed such a good idea at the time (to those not looking or thinking carefully enough about just what the hell was being constructed).
He also describes how ‘successive waves of sex panic have kept sensational crime stories in the news, produced new victim (and villain) identities, legitimized the political expression of rage, spun elaborate webs of legislation eroded rights of the accused and other norms of democratic law, and driven a culture of fear deep into established institutions such as the family and the school system”. (p.231) Not a bad list at all. It should be the cause for great public alarm.
Further, he says, “by tying together institutional and popular thinking about such esoteric subjects as life, innocence, and risk, sex panics have fostered new social norms and supplied a reliable and reproducible set of tropes for the production of other panics in many domains.” (p.231)
This rightly takes things to a new and deeper level of analysis and possible comprehension of the SO Mania Regime. What are the philosophical (and I also mean vital political and cultural and social philosophy here) implications and conceptual fundaments of the SO Mania Regime?
What does it say about Our ‘new’ approach to human beings that such a cartoonish Good/Evil vision of Our fellow Citizens can come to drive how they are treated by the government coercive authority?
What does it say about Our commitment to the first principles of the Framing Vision and the Bill of Rights that We can not only allow but approve such official and formal corrosions and derangements of fundamental Constitutional rights? (Recall that certainly since the early 1970s, but rooted back in the original Progressives’ approach a century and more ago, the entire Framing Vision and the Constitution that was based upon that Vision were considered by up-and-coming ‘knowledge elites’ to be outmoded and insufficient to Ground and Shape the ‘progress’ of a mighty new nation in the modern age.)
What does it say about Our fundamental approach to conducting a human life itself that We not only seek a risk-free environment – no matter what the Constitutional cost – but also look to the government to ensure it? This is not – as used to be said – the spirit that built the country. (It is evident even in military operations, where ‘force protection’ is now the primary concern; where would Lincoln have been had his generals seen their primary task as protecting the force rather than engaging in the awful risks of necessary battles that would win the war?)
And again, and again oddly and even weirdly, so much of the past half-century of ‘liberation’ has led to a police-state government that takes upon itself to guarantee that there will be zero-tolerance for ‘risk’ of any kind. Yet in a world where human beings are imperfect, how can a risk-free life be guaranteed by any earthly power? Is it even maturationally and existentially healthy for an entire citizenry to seek – let alone achieve – a risk-free life?
RL also notes the role of the “endangered innocent child” in the sustaining and intensifying of sex panic. (p.232) Once again, this is a devilishly difficult topic to discuss: children were slyly put forward almost like baby harp-seals to lubricate this monstrous slide into a police-state. Where Lenin and Stalin and Mao (among a thousand other lesser dictatorial demons) would impose their regimes on behalf of ‘the masses’ or ‘the fatherland’, the American variant of the police-state will impose itself ‘for the children’. And who can be ‘against’ that?
That Question deserves more serious and sustained critical thought than it has received.
As a result of the ‘sexual liberation’ agenda of the past half-century, RL sees that “sexual anxieties” have been greatly intensified. (p.233) People may fear the whole trend from a philosophical point of view (is ‘sex’ that important and will its ‘liberation’ necessarily lead only to a ‘better’ quality of self and life?); or they may fear their own society and fellow Citizens whose approach to ‘sex’ is somewhere to the left of Yaaa-hooooo! There may well be a widespread and deep (but unrecognized or unacknowledged) fear of a Shapeless society where anything goes if you feel it supports your ‘right’ to ‘liberation’ and ‘freedom’.
All of these Questions and concerns were present from the get-go half a century ago. But you don’t make a ‘revolution’ – or a whole mess of revolutions – by asking and answering questions or Questions, or by thinking-things-through. You have to act – and for the Progressive mentality in its core that means that the government, informed of course by its benevolent and oh-so-knowledgeable elites, must act. In that belief, both super-guy Republican Teddy Roosevelt and professor-preacher Democrat Woodrow Wilson fully concurred. And things have gone on from there.
And now look where We are.
Thus, RL continues, (p.235) ‘sex panic’ and the fear of crime blended together like two poisonous streams, their hydraulic pressure intensified and amplified by government and – I would add – so very many of the usual-suspect ‘elites’ in media and academia, quoting thoughtlessly from that pandemonium of entrepreneurs who have battened onto this whole Thing.
He takes a swipe at “Puritanism” as a cause. (p.235) In a smaller sense, I might agree. But in a larger sense, the Puritan insight was that it was a risky world because human beings themselves were risky amalgams of good and evil and the Puritans preferred not to take too many chances: they would create a solid Shape and structure to society and to people and thereby they hoped to reduce some, or a whole lot, of the chances and risks.
Sounds familiar. The Puritans did it by erecting a religious theocracy in the New World. The Progressives derided the Puritan theocracy and instead sought to have the government set up an authoritarian, we-know-what’s-best/just-do-what-you’re-told regime. But the basic game-plan remained the same, and remains the same even unto this day.
The result, as RL notes, is a “system of social control”. (p.235) And worse: some amount of control is necessary in every life and every civilization and in every society. But the genuine and originating American idea was that people would be the first sources of their own control through self-control. A self-control buttressed by religious and traditional ways of leading a life in society.
But instead of such an interior-based self-control – once the whole idea of self-control and self-discipline was kicked to the curb half a century ago – the government (which had greatly abetted that kicking to the curb) stepped in to provide control of the self and of the society from the outside, imposing such control through criminal laws and policies. Again, precisely the enabling dynamics of a police-state.
RL goes on to note “paranoia about strange outsiders [and] enactment of dramas of peril and rites of protection”. (p.235) Yes. And all of these primeval human fears and sensibilities were played upon and manipulated skillfully by the government and the story-desperate media in the construction of the SO Mania Regime. Abetted by various special-interest organized advocacies who sought both the deconstruction of any ‘oppressive’ Shape to society while also demanding Total Security from the inevitable consequences of such deconstruction.
And thus We wind up with the dynamics of an endless feedback loop: the more ‘liberation’, the more ‘risk’ and thus the more need for externally-imposed Shape and Boundaries by the government.
No democratic republic can long survive this type of dynamic.
This constitutes what RL will call “the new authoritarianism”. (p.239) In appearance it is not the more ‘classical’ jack-booted and uniformed authoritarianism of Lenin and Stalin and Mao and all the rest of that demonry. Instead it is ‘sensitive’ and ‘liberating’ and concerned (not for a genuine public morality or sense of self-discipline and personal responsibility but rather) for a risk-free and zero-tolerance police state regime cloaked in those ‘sensitive’ and ‘liberating’ costumes and pretexted by ‘victims’ who are voraciously fore-grounded by the cameras.
RL notes that “a number of social critics, not all on the Left, used the term ‘fascist’ and related vocabularies to describe the alarming usurpations of power that occurred under the Bush-Cheney administration”. (p.239)
I can only add here that you would be rewarded by a look at Jonah Goldberg’s book which I discuss a bit in Note ** below. Goldberg raises the vitally interesting point that Fascism was a movement from the Left: Mussolini and Hitler saw themselves as ‘revolutionaries’ of the Left who would unite ‘socialism’ and ‘nationalism’ for the purpose of controlling capitalism’s effect on the masses of their citizenries. Recall that Hitler insisted loud and often that “there will be no further revolution in Germany for a thousand years”.
It is Goldberg’s contention that while in the (now almost totally unremembered) prewar years, Mussolini and even the early Hitler were considered paragons of efficiency not only by the actual Left but by the American Progressives as well. It was only after the war and its revelations of the Holocaust that the Left focused on the militaristic and nationalistic elements of Mussolini’s and Hitler’s regimes, thus tarring the Right with the monstrosities of those regimes.
But from 1922 (when Mussolini got started) up until the outbreak of the war, the Left and the Progressives looked approvingly on the programmes, agendas, and methods, and human costs, of the putatively marvelous and thorough and efficient government ‘reforms’ that Hitler and Mussolini enacted.
After the war, there was still Left and Progressive admiration for Stalin and his approach (although the dawn of the Cold War tamped that admiration down at least in its public form). As late as 1978 when Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn berated American ‘liberals’ in a Harvard address for supporting the Soviet and especially Stalinist regimes, he was received cooly and with distaste by the assembled high-elites because he not only embarrassed ‘liberals’ by bringing up that by-then buried sore point, but even more so because he had suggested that the Russian state and people had to return to some genuine and profound spirituality – precisely as the American Left and ‘liberals’ were trying to secularize American society and culture in the name of ‘liberation’.
But perhaps I digress.
RL proposes that “something went terribly wrong in American society during the first decade of the 21st century”. (p.239) I would say that it went wrong far earlier, but certainly as early as the first ‘sex panics’ of the very early 1980s (the McMartin Pre-School Ritual Day-Care Satanic Abuse cases) or the mid-1960s and the first formal enactments of ‘victim-friendly’ legislation (in California; when former CA-governor Reagan became President in 1981, he quickly made ‘victimism’ a national initiative, and as I have often pointed out, formally enabled the synergy between the law-and-order Right and the radical-feminist Left with its simultaneous demands for women’s sexual ‘liberation’ and for the suppression of males’ ‘violent sexuality’ … all of which was simply put into super-charged overdrive when the Clinton administration came to power in 1991).
RL concludes his book with a call for “a sounder public discourse”. (p.243) I can only strongly agree. But you have to wonder how much possibility remains of recovering such a discourse since “the public” has over the ensuing decades become so incapable of sustaining attention and serious critical analysis and thought; and since there are now, as I have mentioned, several generations that have been raised with the idea that what is actually a punitive carceral state and an apparently unending SO Mania Regime are ‘normal’ or at least ‘necessary’ and generally Good things.
But RL offers some starting suggestions (p.243-4): Take a deep breath; Always insist on hard evidence; Demystify; Be wary of biopolitical monsters; Return to basics; Forget; Try retrofitting; Accept some risks; Change the political discourse.
By ‘Forgetting’ he means growing away from the sustained re-ignition of old ‘rage’ about face the present and the future. This refers to Victimism’s (in its American mutation) unending demand to focus on past victimizations – genuine or otherwise.
By ‘Retrofitting’ he means trying to find some other and more constructive and less corrosive use for all of the cottage-industries and government bureaucracies and political strategies that have grown up around ‘sex panic’.
But this is going to be a nation-sized task of essentially weaning addicts off addiction.
So much, then, remains to be done.
*Lancaster, Roger. Sex Panic and the Punitive State. Berkeley: U/Cal Press (2011). ISBN: 978-0-520-26206-5 (pb). 246pp plus Appendices, Notes, and Index.
**This general vision of the role of the government – knowledgeable and benevolent ‘elites’ who would advise the government on how best to shape the demos, the masses (formerly known as The People in the Framers' and Lincoln’s vision) – wasn’t all that new.
In the first decade of the 20th-century the American Progressives (who, whether Democrat or Republican, were for big and knowledgeable government, both for re-creating the lumpish American masses and for sending out the gunboats to bring the blessings of modernity to whatever peoples on the globe were sitting on some useful real estate) pretty much had the same idea: the masses didn’t really know what they were doing and needed to be led. Both Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson subscribed to this political vision, even though to all appearances the former was a macho and gregarious do-er, and the latter was a bookish and preachy think-er and so it appeared as if there was a major difference between the two Parties’ basic concept of government for 20th-century America.
Thus the Citizenry and The People – along with their 18th-century ‘democracy’ – weren’t really the most up-to-date Way Forward into the glittering 20th-century America.
If you are interested in American intellectual and political history as it bears on contemporary America (and on the SO Mania Regime) then I could recommend a look at Jonah Goldberg’s 2007 book, Liberal Fascism (Doubleday; ISBN 978-0-385-51184-1).
For a hundred years and more, the Beltway – Republican and Democrat – has been under the strong impression that it could and should do ‘whatever it takes’ because it is the only element in the country that knows what has to be done; and that in furtherance of its plans and visions and agendas it should not allow ‘the masses’ with their ignorance and their doubts and their ‘democracy’ to stand in the way.
This now-long established presumption is, I would say, yet another reason why the SO Mania Regime has been so resistant to what is now 20 years of evidence that it doesn’t work and that it constitutes a serious threat to genuine American democracy and moves the country ever closer to a totalitarian police state. But these Mania Regime laws were not originally passed on the basis of any demonstrably-proven rationality, and thus they are not going to be repealed on the basis of any demonstrably-proven rationality; they were politically opportunistic from the get-go and genuine ‘science’ and ‘rationality’ didn’t enter into the pols’ calculations at all.
To the Progressives, the then-new idea of the ‘totalitarian’ state – meaning a state that was competent enough and powerful enough to shape and guide and impose its ‘wisdom’ on the ‘total’ life of the country and the Citizenry – was taken as Gospel from the get-go. The Beltway would make and ‘improve’ people the way Henry Ford was making and improving automobiles (back then, the Model T).
Decades later, this presumption fueled and continues to fuel the SO Mania Regime. If the Beltway was ‘wrong’, then that would cause everybody to doubt the omni-competence of the government, and you simply could not allow that to happen.
***I point out again the incoherencies of all this over the past half-century: the flower-child Boomers were all for a culture of overt and for all intents and purposes formal or official ‘sexual liberation’ (which kinda sorta shades quickly into sexual libertinism in practice) while their radical-feminist sistern insisted on ‘sexual liberation’ as a vital necessity for ‘women’. That required a loosening of parental authority and that worked out to a ‘deconstructing’ of almost all social and cultural authority (with its traditional ideals of commitment and sexual self-discipline).
But then – quickly and hardly surprisingly – the replacement for the cultural abolition of parental authority in matters of sex (abetted by the government and the media as ‘liberation’) became the government’s own sovereign coercive police power. And thus one of the prime feeder-streams of the SO Mania Regime became joined to the ‘gender war’ agenda against males (pretexted as the male propensity to ‘sexual violence’ or even pretexted on the presumption that pretty much all (heterosexual) sex is rape) which has now mutated toward the official presumption that all sexual-experience is rape if the female at any point (including well after the event) decides she feels it was rape.
And while political programs aren’t necessarily noted for their coherence (rather: only for their political attractiveness to this or that demographic cache of votes) yet then this whole multi-headed dynamic was erected into law. And thus the watering down of evidentiary standards and the presumption of innocence of the accused that was built into the Bill of Rights and thus further the erection of the SO Mania Regime with its still-engorging Registration requirements.
Thus a culture built upon traditional ideals was a) swept away and b) replaced by government fiat through its sovereign coercive police power and through the civil and criminal law.
Leading inevitably and ineluctably to a national culture sustained not by the moral will and self-structuring of the individual Citizens but rather through the imposition of government police authority. This is a clear characteristic of an authoritarian or even totalitarian police state, where government coercive authority is the primary Shaping force of the ‘totality’ of the culture (as well as of the economy and so forth).
****This grossly unhealthy civic dynamic is especially evident in erstwhile ‘liberal’ commentary that now decries that National Security State derangements of the post-9/11 era, in both foreign and domestic government activities, yet never ever mentions the SO Mania Regime as one of the most influential and early sources of those now-florid derangements.
I can recommend a look at this interview with Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley.
He doesn’t mention the SO Mania Regime; he is focusing on the erosions of legality and of Constitutional first principles evident in both the Bush and Obama administrations in their ongoing pursuit of war on terrorism.
But he notes that a) in the Beltway there is no longer any concern for ‘principles’, but rather merely the overriding concern for the objective that the government has chosen to pursue.
And that b) there are thus no longer any “bright-line rules” which provide boundaries and which constitute a “Rubicon” which can never be crossed by the government power. We have seen this in the SO Mania Regime with its vague and ever-expanding definitions.
And that c) there is no longer any “clarity” – meaning that words and terms no longer mean what they appear to mean, and that descriptions of the actual actions taken are no longer meant to actually describe those actions accurately, but rather merely to spin them for the convenience of the spinner. Thus “due process” in the matter of the President’s ordering the execution or assassination of persons is nothing of the sort; it is now actually just the government claim that we have a due-process, but it’s a secret one, and you can’t know anything about it. Which is precisely the opposite of the public and highly-structured due-process guarantee demanded by the Framers.
And that d) in light of (c) the government is essentially just saying “Trust Us”. But Turley points out that the Framers erected the Constitution precisely because human beings are not angels and that therefore no government comprised of human beings can ever be so fully ‘trusted’ to remain benevolent and honest.
And that e) the primary Question facing voters and Citizens is not What Obama or the Presidency has become but rather What have We become? And this, I have often said, is the truly profound Question at the bottom of the SO Mania Regime: its costs and consequences for Our own integrity and the nature of Our stewardship and tenure as individuals on this earth and as Citizens of this Constitutional republic. And at this point – with Our government conducting so much violence around the planet, lubricated by the ‘normality’ of such egregious monstrosities as the SO Mania Regime – what responsibility We bear as the ultimate governors of Our government.
Finally, says Turley, it comes down to wondering when We as the voters and the Citizens say “Enough” and start making the government move back from the edge of the moral abyss to which it has brought Us all.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
I continue looking at Roger Lancaster’s (RL) book.*
RL begins his eighth (and final) chapter, entitled “The Victimology Trap”, with a quotation from Brit writer Margaret Atwood: “I know you’ve been told that this is for your own safety and protection, but think about it for a minute. Anyway, when did you get so scared? You didn’t used to be so easily frightened.” (p.214) She wrote that in her “Letter to America”.
Here RL is going to take a few bulls by the horns: “What is the connection between the punitive turn, with its expressly authoritarian politics, and the liberal political tradition with its emphasis on individual rights?” (p.214) I would answer here that built into the Beltway’s eager pandering to any demographic group that looked like it could promise electoral success, were three anti-democratic dynamics.
First, the government will have to selectively exalt that demographic and treat its agenda and demands with favoritism; and second, the government will have to impose upon everybody else that demographic group’s agenda and demands – including going-after that group’s Necessary Enemy; and third, the government would have to involve itself actively in both reshaping the most profoundly interior mentality of the Citizenry while also ‘pursuing’ the Necessary Enemy deep into every structure and sanctuary of the nation’s culture and society.
And then – of course – you have to factor in the cumulative reality: each demographic had its own Necessary Enemy so the government was simultaneously pursuing numerous classes of such Enemies.
The government thus in effect declared war on substantial chunks of its own citizenry, ostensibly merely on behalf of other, more ‘marginalized’ chunks of that citizenry, but once governments get the taste of this type of blood – so to speak – they are not often returned to their former non-feral and domesticated condition.
And, RL then asks: “How is the punitive state related to capitalism, especially the privatized, deregulated variant that has prevailed since the end of the 1970s and is known as neoliberalism?” (p.214)
Economically, the Beltway’s failure, starting 40 years ago, to keep American jobs here (lubricated by radical-feminism’s demand for the deconstruction of the ‘macho, patriarchal, hierarchical, sweaty, lunch-bucket culture of the Industrial Age) resulted in a general sense that the ‘Male’ as he had been traditionally conceived was expendable and no longer necessary to national success. Thus it became much easier to indulge in demonization of Him.
The many hundreds of thousands of Registered SO’s would also – even without a prison record – effectively be out of the job market and perhaps off the voting rolls, thus clearing jobs for the newly ‘valorized’ Identity-groups (had the Adam Walsh Act scheme worked as fatuously intended by the Beltway, the number of SO’s affected would have increased substantially).
And – as with any large government Initiative – numerous jobs at all levels of skill and pay would be created: whatever government bureaucracy was created to keep the files on SOs and whatever law enforcement agencies required more hires to pursue them and whatever government resources were needed to spin the whole Thing to the public and sell it to the State governments. While simultaneously, the government would make public tax monies available to an increasing pandemonium of cottage-industries and entrepreneurial efforts somehow connecting themselves to some aspect of this whole Initiative.
Before the TSA was erected in the period immediately after 9/11, a Sex-Offense demi-world of government hiring and funding had already been created, replicating ominously the purpose and shape of the old East German Stasi organization, the domestic elements of the old Soviet KGB (and its predecessors: the Cheka, the OGPU, the NKVD), and the marquis monstrosity of the Third Reich’s Gestapo. But – and this was the work of the slyly-constructed and presented Stampede – it all seemed to far too many Americans such a good idea at the time.
The German people – so roundly ridiculed for it in the later 1940s – made the same defense of what they had gone along-with in the 1930s.
It has to be admitted that Americans could no more imagine their own democracy deliberately and formally starting down the police-state path than the passengers and command staff of the Titanic could imagine that mystically marvelous modern vessel destroying herself on her maiden voyage. It was precisely this failure of imagination – which, actually, was enabled by a PR campaign that cheeribly oversold the vessel’s strengths and slyly ignored the dangers of early Spring crossings of the North Atlantic – that caused not only her passengers but her command staff to minimize the very real dangers she (and all of them) faced.
And if this country will no longer have the productive abundance to ensure her ‘economic independence’, and indeed may experience significant civil unrest greater even than the period from the 1880s to the 1930s, then the temptation for the government will be to set in place and to ‘normalize’ – by whatever pretext necessary – mechanisms by which hefty numbers of Citizens can be detained or tagged or imprisoned and/or ‘registered and tracked’, all on the flimsiest of evidence and on an emotional appeal to ‘the emergency’. This, I would say, is the still-unseen strategic consequence built-into the SO Mania Regime matrix of laws.
He acknowledges that “the dominance of a vengeance orientation today is linked not only to various forms of conservatism but also to a genealogy of liberalism.” (p.214) And that point can never be made too much – both sides of the political spectrum are involved in this. (Which is why, I think, in a hotly contested political campaign and race nobody but nobody – Democratic or Republican – talks about their Sex Offense ‘successes’ or the other sides Sex Offense ‘failures’: because there is plenty of evidence that both sides were in this mess up to their ears from the get-go.
And now, nobody wants to talk about it. What sort of ‘success’ has nobody who will acknowledge having caused it? The kind of success – I would say – that we call ‘failure’.
He mentions author Wendy Brown, who in her 1995 book States of Injury, speaks out against “the politics of victimology she sees inherent in modern liberalism, especially some of its feminist variations”. (And yet by 1995 Megan’s Law was already before the New Jersey Supreme Court, which would issue its now-ludicrous upholding in the Poritz decision.)
At this point neither ‘liberal’ nor ‘progressive’ would care to claim responsibility for the SO Mania Regime; nor would the law-and-order bunch. After all, in an election where each side is desperately trying to demonstrate that they can come up with workable solutions that are both intelligently conceived and effective practically, who wants to be tarred with responsibility for the SO Mania Regime?** Is there any larger Picture into which this dishonestly-justified and dishonestly continued and dishonestly sustained Program can conceivably fit to make it seem worth the effort and the damage it has cost?
It was built into liberalism’s embrace of victimism from Day One: if you were going to ally yourself with Victims, and those Victims demanded that you do whatever it takes to get the Perps who had victimized them, then liberalism was going to have to adopt the techniques of the police state, especially if you were going to try to give the impression you could “outlaw injury” or even just ‘prevent’ it, everywhere and all the time.
As RL puts it: “Freedom, defined as protection, comes to mean subjection”. (p.215) It’s going to be a hallmark failure of the recent 25 or 30 years that far too few on any side of the Question, on any point on the political spectrum, realized that soon enough to do something about it. What did people expect, as “fear” began to “colonize social spaces”. (p.214) [italics mine] We have been ‘colonized’ by fear in this country, in a way We never had been prior to the victimist-radical feminist Ascendancy of the past several decades. And that fear has driven Us to accept alarming amounts of government coercive intrusion, under the guise of ‘protection’ and ‘prevention’.
He notes that liberalism has an innate tendency to “justify government action narrowly as intervention on behalf of the weakest and most vulnerable” – but that actually results in a liberal government that “aims to correct the worst abuses, rather than address the logic of the system as a whole”. (p.215) In other words, in trying to put out the fire they pour on all the water from all the fire hoses they can bring to bear; and so they wind up flooding the ship and rather than burning up with fire it fills up with water from the fire hoses and sinks anyway. Such government. Such problem-solving.
This tendency to over-react and under-think and under-visualize on the part of the Beltway (now a bipartisan hash of leftists and rightists simply looking for their side to ‘win’) has resulted in the feminist-victimist ‘special interests’ being allowed to write their own agendas and dampdreams into law, and what that has led to is that they have adopted the techniques, tactics, panoply and pandemonium of a classic police state and made it all seem like A Good Idea and The Next New Thing.
Liberals, RL says, have proven disturbingly susceptible to the political seductions of “victimization narratives” and the concomitant “narrative of rescue” script. And even though liberalism is theoretically as traditionally averse to emotion as was its ancestor the Enlightenment, yet the not-always-subtle hysteria and histrionics of victimization and its narratives still quietly flood the foundations of American political liberalism. (p.215)
RL takes the bull by the horns and proposes outright that “victimist statutes, with their mania for exacting detection and excessive punishments, represent a disintegration or involution of political norms, not their extension”, resulting in the alarming reality that “liberal political traditions, for all of their shortcomings, now take abnormal and unhealthy forms”. (p.215) [italics mine]
And there were even more serpentine connections. RL quotes author Marie Gottschalk, whose research indicates a curious twist in the turn toward the punitive state: “As social services began to shrink in the 1980s due to the tax revolt, the recession, and the Reagan revolution, services for crime victims … expanded”. (p.223)
It seems to me that, in connection with political pandering to the agendas of the Victimist and Radical-Feminist advanced-level advocacies, the Beltway embrace and valorization of Victimhood also enabled the pols to keep up re-distributional pay-outs to selected Identity-groups, even as formal social-service funds were being cut: if you could (and it wasn’t difficult) establish your official status as a ‘victim’, then public monies would be made available to you either directly from the feds or through State-administered programs.
Thus the Punitive state – quite happy engorging and ‘normalizing’ its authority against this and that Identity’s Necessary Enemy – also serves as a hidden sub-support of the Welfare state. But what many don’t realize is that with their victim checks and victim status comes also the living specter of the police-state’s engorged coercive power. Which, further, once established sufficiently to stand on its own authority – instead of borrowing the authority of an ‘emergency’ or an ‘outrage’ – may well turn on anybody; as Clint Eastwood’s ex-gunfighter Will Munny says to an aspiring apprentice: “We all got it comin’, kid”.
Once again, it is a failure of the American civic imagination not to realize just what sort of a Vampire-power has now been invited into the national hearth. (It is a painful irony that a civic imagination far too easily able to conceive of Monster Stranger Sex Offenders Everywhere, was yet too weak to conceive of the imminent though well-established historical dangers of an engorged coercive authority and the clear procedural adoption of police-state dynamics.)
I will conclude this mini-series on Rl’s book in my next Post, with an overview of what he sees as the current condition of the Punitive State and its future potentials and possibilities, in relation to the SO Mania Regime.
*Lancaster, Roger. Sex Panic and the Punitive State. Berkeley: U/Cal Press (2011). ISBN: 978-0-520-26206-5 (pb). 246pp plus Appendices, Notes, and Index.
**I have noticed that even nowadays, as both liberal-progressive and conservative commentators are uncovering more and more evidence of government trampling on citizens’ rights with the cocky impunity of a police-state, and where commentators are trying to trace the causes of this alarming problem, yet nobody has traced the causes back to the SO Mania Regime nor so much as mentioned the term ‘sex offense’ in reams of commentary on How We Got Here.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
I continue looking at Roger Lancaster’s (RL) book.*
RL had concluded his prior section regretting how things had turned out, with so many “missed opportunities” as feminism mutated here in the United States. Feminism in other countries had taken other paths – allying with prisoners’ rights groups and remaining “aloof from the growing crime-control apparatus of the state” while supporting “a more consistent articulation of social-democratic principles”.
He’s a little too easy on “liberals” here, making it sound as if “liberals vacillated” because “as political tides turned, a punitive and increasingly conservative logic overtook” them. (p.211) I would not give so much away: feminism was overtaken by its own Radical elements – anti-male, hostile, grievance-based and demanding “redress”, aggressive, anti-democratic (since so many people ‘just didn’t get it’) and they had deliberately adopted assorted French anti-traditionalist and anti-foundationalist critical theories as well as Leninist-Gramscian political strategies and visions in order to give themselves a ‘solid’ philosophical grounding for their agendas and demands.**
And thus, fundamentally, the now-Radical feminist approach – which provided the core justifications and gameplans for all the other ‘liberations’ – was keyed from the get-go to require state suppression of the Necessary and Designated Oppressor-Enemy (especially when it came time to try the first wide-scale government suppression-and-control gambit that was the SO Mania Regime).
Radical is hell-and-gone from Liberal; the Radical Stance indicates a Content that is considered both fundamental and essential, and a Method that consequently demands immediate and complete implementation. To such a Stance, the partial and slow processes of democratic politics – persuasion and compromise until a sufficiently wide-based consensus is worked out – are merely obstructions and pacts with Evil. Thus, Jacobins in the French Revolution and Abolitionists in the antebellum era here and Soviets in Russia a century ago did not support ‘politics’ but rather sought to crush political activity in favor of overt revolutionary activities such as capture of the government power and deploying it to impose their agendas.
And so you can see how an SO Mania Regime that sort of seemed in the beginning to have wide ‘political’ support actually turns out to be resistant to all political efforts to change it: what had been driving it all along was not genuinely political but rather a manipulated and fake politics that was really masking a profoundly anti-political and anti-democratic source-vision and power-source.
And, of course, given what I said in recent Posts in this mini-series about Theodore Lowi’s exposure of the true dynamics of “interest-group liberalism” – that the pols let the interest-groups and Advocacies themselves write the laws and regulations, which the pols will simply rubber-stamp (in exchange for votes or cash) – then you can get an idea of what actually went into the writing of all the Bills in the SO Mania Regime that were then passed into law: every dampdream and overzealous excitement that the Advocates came up with was simply written into the Bill that would be sent to the pols’ offices for rubber-stamping. (I can’t help but think of late-night collegiate bong-and-beer sessions back in the day where eager ‘revolutionaries’ whomped up whatever ‘reforms’ to the curriculum and university administration appeared to their wobbly minds as The Very Thing that was oh-so-necessary-and-good.)
At this point, if anything is slowing it down, it’s the fact that the fuel of government cash is starting to run out. If you tried to fight it purely on principles and rational political persuasion, you would never succeed. (And – conversely – if they had tried to get it started simply by convincing you purely on principles and rational political persuasion, they would never have succeeded in erecting the Mania Regime in the first place. Which is why they didn’t even bother to try.)
This is what has been driving the SO Mania Regime, far far more than any rational assessment of the Problem and the emergency and the threat (or not) and more than any serious and careful legislative deliberation about what workable and effective law-making could address the situation.
And thus too I can’t agree with RL’s thought that it was “an increasingly conservative women’s movement” that embraced all this. The radical nature of the women’s movement was – all by itself – headed straight for a police-state government from Day One.
Indeed, no genuine ‘conservative’ could ever have embraced the grossly anti-Constitutional and anti-Framing Vision scheme that is and always has been the SO Mania Regime.
RL then asks – and rather bravely, given the atmospherics surrounding this whole matter – “is injury ennobling?” (p.211)
“The idea that injury empowers or gives insight to the injured has proved difficult to resist, even in scholarly works”. (p.211) How true it is. And it is a vital element in the Victimist presentation: you have to listen to ‘the victims’ not only because they have been victimized (and always ‘horrifically’) but also because victims now constitute the wisest and most insightful Citizens in the country today. Simply because they have been victimized.
He quotes noted radical-feminist writer Judith Butler (‘scholar’ would have to be used in quotes; like any good revolutionary, she only studies in order to ‘prove’ what she had already decided was ‘true’ before she began her research … which happens a whole lot in ‘advocacy scholarship’), who “wishes to preserve the central role of trauma in the leftist political imagination”. (p.211)
Even – he marvelously adds – “while disavowing its uses by the post-9/11 right”. (p.211)
And here RL draws a hugely useful line connecting some vital dots that the Beltway and the SO Mania advocates and the media would rather not be connected in the public mind: well before the Patriot Act the SO Mania Regime had already been set up, and its precedents and dynamics simply migrated and mutated and were adapted to suit the purposes of the Patriot Act.
He quotes Butler as she burbles that “to be injured means that one has the chance to reflect upon injury, to find out the mechanism of its distribution, to find out who else suffers from permeable borders, unexpected violence, dispossession and fear; and in what ways”. (p.212) [italics mine]
In a perfect world, or in an ideal working-out of the victimization experience, that may happen: the victimized individual gets a chance to reflect deeply and maturely on the nature of his/her experience. Look at how Boethius handled it, writing down his profound reflections in his classic work The Consolations of Philosophy (which he wrote, by the way, while in prison for treason because he wasn’t quite in sync with the government of his day).
But that’s all only a possibility, in an ideal world or in the ideal possible working-out of a victimization experience. You don’t have to look at many online comments or published news stories about ‘victims’ to realize that a very very large proportion – and perhaps the majority – don’t quite rise that high to the occasion. Instead, there is anger and outrage and a queasily obvious desire for vengeance, and most surely no serious consideration of any Larger dimensions of their experience than their own personal feelings and the hopefully retributive consequences that the government (and the eager pols) will impose forthwith on the alleged victimizer (or preventive consequences to be imposed on any future potential victimizer).
This type of reaction is understandable and certainly deserves some attention – and also requires some serious working-through efforts, in the therapeutic and personal-maturational forums.
But to demand an immediate response consisting of a dense skein of draconian laws and punishments, and preventive laws as well, at whatever cost to legislative and jurisprudential and law-enforcement integrity … this is too much to ask, let alone to demand. Let alone that the pols (and far too often, the courts) have been doing their best to satisfy such unripe and highly-fraught demands.
Look what happened following 9/11. Building on the ‘trauma’ that all Americans putatively suffered, the government sent out the military in a still-increasing strategy of (mis-)adventures all over the world. To prevent any further ‘traumatic victimization’, of course.
And – in a darkly marvelous reprise of the refusal to reconsider the faulty Findings that ‘justified’ the many SO Mania Regime laws – the government didn’t even care to reconsider when the allegations of ‘WMD’ and Iraqi involvement were demonstrated to have been very wrong indeed; nor – still today – does the government hesitate to fiddle with ‘definitions’ and to drone-bomb funerals in Afghanistan on the assumption that if we kill somebody we decide to define as a ‘terrorist’, then we can presume that only other ‘terrorists’ will attend the funeral. (‘Terrorists’ can now be ‘identified’ by such diagnostic ‘evidence’ as missing a finger, stockpiling too much food, or travelling a lot … mirroring precisely the unending plasticity of the definitions connected with sex-offenses and sex-offenders).
“The Left”, advises RL, “should reconsider its fixation on injury, its attachment to political strategies based on victimization”. (p.212) Yes indeed, although by this point a whole lotta investment has been made in the game: laws have been passed and courts – including the highest – have largely found ways to uphold them; entire cottage-industries of remora-like entrepreneurial types have been set up and have gotten used to cashing in on the huge amounts of government monies made available; the various media have made a lot of hay leading with ‘victimization’ outrage stories; and there are now an awful lot of voters who have pretty much defined their role, status, and purpose as human beings and as Citizens to be based on their victimhood.
And, of course, how can the pols now back off from what they have assured everybody was a very real and very urgent and very permanent Crisis and Emergency and Outrage?
And what happens if they back off, the aura of “inevitability” and Goodness wears away, and the public starts looking more carefully at what has been done under the cover of this whole Stampede? As one member of Lenin’s early governing council put it in a meeting (with an honesty he perhaps lived just long enough to regret): What happens when the people find out what we’ve really done?
“No less resistant to criticism is the idea that empathy with the victim is, or ought to be, the basis for ethical political action.” (p.212)
Here RL approaches the huge Question: just how far can the government go in legislating ‘solutions’ (especially ‘preventive’ ones) before it is no longer the American government – bound and limited by Constitutional principles and Framing-Vision presumptions – envisioned by the Framers?
No legislation and few jurists have dared to approach this Question. Nor very many in the media.
And yet this is the Primary Question that should be addressed in the deliberations about any proposed legislation.
He acutely considers the work of the late philosopher Gillian Rose (she died in 1995): she had examined “the forms of identification and feeling prodded by the early 1990s Stephen Spielberg movie Schindler’s List” and how it illustrated “how the innocence of the perfect victim is made possible by … ‘the sentimentality of the ultimate predator’”. (p.212)
I have mentioned in a Post on Adolf Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem in 1961 that the Holocaust was a made-to-order Victimist event: genuinely innocent victims, in their millions, horribly treated and killed, by monstrous Nazi executioners. But, I then pointed out, that the Holocaust was so unique in modern history that the way it was allowed to override usual legal protections for the accused should have been accepted as a huge (if justified) exception to legal process against victimization, rather than – as happened – being raised up as an example of how victimization should be handled by government justicial action.
The presence of “an ultimate predator”, Rose observes acutely, enables such “sentimentality” – meaning an overriding emotionalism – that people can feel far too ‘good’ about ‘doing whatever it takes’ to destroy such a perfectly monstrous predator. The Nazi was certainly suited to the role of such a perfect “ultimate predator”.
Rose, RL notes, then went on to draw a far more disconcerting conclusion: “It is my own violence that I discover in this film”. (p.212)
We humans are all of us violent. Our violence against others in the service of our feelings or desires, individually and acting in-concert, is an ever-present potential.
But then, how can a government, especially a democratic and Constitutionally-limited government, ‘eradicate’ this profound and deep-set human potential? Can it take the ‘criminalization’ path and yet avoid becoming a police-state of near-ultimate proportions?
And what deformations will ensue for a government that allows huge chunks of its own Citizens in this day and age to be characterized (even if only ‘metaphorically’) as incorrigible victimizing Nazis?
And what deformations will ensue for the political integrity and unity of a Citizenry so divided, permanently and profoundly, into sheep and goats, into totally innocent victims and totally evil victimizers?
He concludes that “injury ennobles no one; it makes no one any smarter; it gives no one insight beyond the simple experience of pain … at best, it leads to a blinkered view, in which the world revolves around one’s own pain; at worst, to the development of a perverse politics of identity, in which everyone is defined by exquisite experience of injury and acts politically to extort sympathy”. (p.212) [italics mine]
I would only add that the experience of injury in and of itself offers no magic-path to increased maturity. In ideal – and rare – cases, particular individuals can work an experience of injury into a powerful catalyst for increased maturity. But that’s in ideal – and necessarily rare – instances.
For the rest, there is a much lesser, more violently vengeful, and more self-crushingly centripetal impetus to cave in oneself and one’s pain … and then, as has been seen so vividly in the SO Mania Regime, to demand truly dangerous ‘responses’ to that pain, from government and law and courts and law enforcement and prosecution.
In that direction there lie, as RL concludes this chapter, only “punitive governance” and the “punitive state”, (p.213); a police state – I would only add – that begins to assume precisely the shape of the truly monstrous governments of recent world-history.
So much, then, remains to be done.
*Lancaster, Roger. Sex Panic and the Punitive State. Berkeley: U/Cal Press (2011). ISBN: 978-0-520-26206-5 (pb). 246pp plus Appendices, Notes, and Index.
**If any or most of this doesn’t sound familiar, then you now realize exactly how little mainstream media, political, and intellectual elites failed to analyze or at least disclose to the Citizens what was really going on in and what vital first principles were really at stake in the assorted ‘liberations’ and ‘preventions’ of American politics in the past four decades.
On the Truthout site there is an article by Chris Hedges discussing the lethal Constitutional dangers of the recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). And within this article there is a link to an article by noted author Naomi Wolf listing what she sees as ‘the ten steps to fascism’, many of which are already now operating in the United States.
I say again that the SO Mania Regime had already instituted many of those steps when it was erected more than twenty years ago.
I include here a comment made on that site in response to the Hedges and the Wolf pieces:
“I offer this thought to support what Wolf notes about how fascism creeps up (Justice Douglas once said something to the effect that it comes upon a country like the darkness after sunset, in a slow process of Dusk where things get imperceptibly darker and suddenly it's Night):
This country set up a sex-offense Regime that was comprised of many of Wolf's elements ... and it seemed like such a good idea at the time. Vague psychological and legal definitions; the creation in the public mind of a type of incorrigibly crazed yet diabolically clever Monster (a combination of Frankenstein's monster and Count Dracula); the whipping up of a Stampede in public opinion demanding action; the ominous mantra that some crimes are so 'heinous' that Citizens accused of them don't deserve Constitutional protections or that the danger creates such an 'emergency' and 'danger' that such protections must be overridden; the passing of draconian police-state laws so reminiscent of Gestapo and Stasi 'registration' files (now enabled by computer databases) and the tagging of an entire group with some sort of 'yellow star' on their 'papers'; enabling legislation that was based on Findings (20 years ago) that have since been demonstrated to be very largely inaccurate and exaggerated; a refusal by legislators to re-examine their assumptions when they passed the laws; the ongoing intensification and expansion of both definitions and restrictions; the legislative enabling of police-overstepping by formally excluding any 'good faith mistakes' from civil or even criminal liability.
As so often, such seemingly 'good' ideas contain the clear potential for setting lethal precedents in legislation and jurisprudence and law enforcement.
And the entire Stance or Attitude or Approach that these laws encourage, and the Method of governing through them, then also migrates into other areas of governmental activity and also mutates as it goes. (So the NDAA has some sort of an ancestor in the sex-offense regime legislation and the media and even jurisprudential support for it.)
And of course, using another of Wolf's categories, to doubt or disagree as to the wisdom of such a matrix of laws becomes a sort of 'treason' ... to 'sensitivity' and to 'potential victims' (in the prevention of whose pain any and all Constitutional deformities and overrides are instantly and indubitably justified).
Such a good idea it all seemed at the time, decades ago. And yet look - I submit - at how such a precedent has rooted itself, and migrated, and mutated.
Nor was all this done in some far-distant past or in some other country: rather, within the adulthood of most readers here and within the very framework of American Constitutional democracy and the Framing Vision bequeathed by the Framers.
Food, I would suggest, for much serious thought.”