Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Just a bit more as things continue to come out in this Wikileaks ‘sex offense’ brouhaha in Sweden.

Under some pressure (see below) the Swedish police are back to questioning Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks – whose site has published those 92,000 US military reports that indicate how wrong things have been going in Afghanistan.

At this point, the focus is on the charge that he “mistreated a woman”. I notice how much less than ‘rape’ or ‘sexual abuse’ this ‘mistreatment’ is. And from what I’ve seen of the SO Mania dynamics, when this sort of thing happens then you can be sure that if ‘advocates’ could in any conceivable way make their target seem more sensationalistically ‘evil’ they would certainly try to do so.

But they can’t, I think, and yet still want to keep the thing alive.

Apparently, if you read the article linked-to above, it is now said that the two women “befriended” him the night that he gave a seminar in Sweden on the Wikileaks-related stuff. Then, “six days later” the two women “filed their complaints together”.

We already know that they didn’t quite do that: they slyly went down to the police station on a drowsy weekend like a pair of innocent Goody-Two-Shoes and “asked for advice” – which (I can’t imagine that they didn’t know this) under SO Mania regime laws as they exist in Sweden required the police to immediately open a ‘sex offense’ case, which led to a trip-wire warrant by the weekend-duty prosecutor, which was then recalled within hours by a more senior and experienced prosecutor.

But, alas, the Swedes aren’t Americans. When the case was considered as a ‘molestation’ matter (which is not a sex-crime and not a felony in Swedish law) they still couldn’t find much.

The women’s attorney (who in previous bloggers’ Comments was identified as feminist-friendly – and I wonder if the women had visited the attorney BEFORE they dropped by the police station to ‘ask advice’) complains that (in best SO Mania style) that the women were dis-respected by the legal system and still wants both of their complaints re-opened as ‘sex crime’ investigations.

So now “a separate prosecutor’s office is investigating [the attorney’s] complaint”.

Of course, it is perfectly plausible that the US government – foreign affairs division – is behind this as a “smear campaign”. After all, as I’ve said before, if the government has gone to all the trouble and expense of creating the SO Mania Regime, then it sort of has a right to get its money’s worth on the investment: multi-tasking SO charges so that they serve the purposes of foreign-affairs and assorted types of international ‘security’ skullduggery would be a two-fer ever dear to the Beltway calculations.

But as I’ve also said, it’s quite possible that the US government – feminist and/or sex-offense advocacy divisions – could also be in on this. The Mania is self-sustaining (and self-licking, as in ice-cream cone) and once a match is put to any wood, then the fire will feed itself, granted there’s enough surrounding oxygen (meaning: a manipulated and stampeded public opinion and outrage).

And quite possible the SO Mania is operating along its own dynamics, but simultaneously fronting-for and masking the larger governmental purposes of squelching a class targeted by the government: whistleblowers.

After all, the SO Mania was initially designed to strike terror into parents and families so as to mask its original and core ‘feminist’ campaign against males. Then ‘the children’ were raised up as the poster-victims to front-for any ‘feminist’ elements of the thing that might scare off allies on the Law-and-Order Right who wouldn’t want to be seen lending their creds to any merely-feminist agenda.

And after all, the SO Mania was itself constructed as a way of squelching a class (‘men’, re-scripted by advocacy central-casting as monstrous, incorrigible, recidivist committers and perpetrators of ‘sex’) so squelching a selected target is just what the program was designed to do in the first place.

Which also make you wonder if this gambit would ever have been tried if Assange were an … ummm – OTM (other-than-male).

Anyhoo, I want to re-affirm what I said in previous Posts: it must be taken as a vitally significant fact that in all the commentary – official and mainstream and by bloggers and Commenters and Letter-writers to assorted sites – nobody is discussing the Sex-Offense Mania Regime itself. Even though the allegations were for ‘sex offenses’, all the discussion is limited to foreign-affairs angles.

Which leads me to say again to the SO community: it is profoundly strange and significant that the SO Mania, even when it is officially involved in a ‘story’, remains invisible to Americans: it’s as if they had trained themselves not to see what’s right in front of them, AND EVEN clearly labeled as such.

I have always been interested in the history of the First and Second World Wars, and – History being what it is – I have found certain themes and tropes and dynamics that occurred back then to be occurring now (in altered form) nowadays.

I am not trying to go for a ‘Nazi trump’ point here when I observe that all of this reminds me of the German people (NOT all or mostly Nazis, by any stretch) who saw the Jews with their Yellow Stars being paraded in front of them on the streets and yet managed not to ‘notice’.

Which was a self-serving and self-protective and self-forgiving gambit that came back ,eventually, to bite them with verrrry big teeth indeed.

I have two final thoughts then.

First, that the SO Mania Regime is quietly recognized by many Americans as being repugnant and repellent, so much so that they dare not even think about it – let alone comment about it. While in the short-term this serves the interests of its ‘advocates’ and indentured political and judicial official supporters, yet in the long-term this is an ominous harbinger indeed. Because when it finally becomes clear to the American people just what a lethal and corrosive scam has been pulled on them, they are going to be verrrrry displeased (nor will it be able to be dismissed merely as ‘backlash’).

Second, that when public opinion and public discourse are so deformed that they are partially blinded to realities well within the purview of public matters, then the public itself – The People – is profoundly weakened in its competence as governors-of-the-government.

So the SO community’s Resistance against this increasing Occupation of American public discourse by the dark forces of Ignorance and Manipulation must continue.

As the club-goers sang in the face of Major Strasser’s goons that eternal evening at Rick’s Café Americain: “Allons enfants de la Patrie! Le jour de gloire est arrive!”

Monday, August 30, 2010


There is another issue that is garnering an unusual amount of Comment: the existence of America’s Surveillance State.

What caught my eye was attorney Glenn Greenwald’s piece on the Salon online magazine site: you can access it here, and follow that page down to Greenwald’s entry for Thursday, August 26th, entitled “Debating America’s Surveillance State”.

This piece quickly drew two lengthy rebuttals from attorneys or law school deans, one of whom is a close associate of John Yoo (the ‘torture lawyer’ of the Bush administration). Those responses are linked-to in the Greenwald piece.

There have been so many comments on the Cato website (where it was first published) that its server has been overloaded for a while.

And even on the Salon site there are almost 300 Comments/Letters, which is high indeed for that site.

I am bringing this up to the SO community because: A) ‘surveillance’ is nothing new to SOs; B) nobody that I’ve seen so far has drawn a connection between the SO Mania regime of the past 20 years, and instead seem to think that this all started after 9-11 only nine years ago; and C) I think it’s vital that the SO community realizes just how this dangerous surveillance dynamic has now migrated into much larger national issues where it is creating visible (to the average engaged Citizen) problems AND – encouragingly – generating significant pushback in the Comments/Letters … the SO task is now clearly intertwined with much larger, more ‘discussable’, but also vitally important and dangerously mutating public matters.

In this Post I am going to make just a few comments on the Greenwald piece itself, and then just a couple of points gleaned from the Comments/Letters that follow the article. I am not going to go into the two lengthy responses, which you can read by following the links in Greenwald’s article, reading them – I would recommend – from an SO community perspective. The demon Greenwald and many of the Commenters suddenly find themselves confronting is the demon the SO community has been battling for decades now.

So to Greenwald.

The topic problem is that surveillance supporters are using America’s present and alleged “state of war” as pretext and justification for increased surveillance.

First, the ‘surveillance State’ is based on fear-mongering. And the SO community knows that; one of the hallmarks of the SO Mania regime has been its creation of the ‘Sex Offender’, an almost script-like vampiric or zombie monster(and almost always a male) from central casting: a weird and depraved stranger, driven by perverse and violent and uncontrollable lusts and urges, incapable of rehabilitation or self-control or self-mastery, capable of the most sublime and calculating subtlety and/or the most repulsive and hideous violence, hiding behind the goodwill and civic openness and Constitutional protections to wreak his wrack upon unsuspecting families and children (the ‘women’ part shrewdly downplayed for fear of driving away ‘allies’ on the Right who are averse to ‘feminist stuff’).

Second, the definition of “war” in the surveillance State is elastic. We need the surveillance, its supporters argue, simply because the country is “at war” (note that there is no mention of the sex-offense pre-history of ‘surveillance’). But there is huge and valid question as to whether whatever state of military operations We are currently in can actually be defined as “war” in the Constitutional sense.

The Constitution simply requires a Congressional declaration of war – forthright and so simple that it can legitimately be only one sentence long.

But the SO community knows the definition-demon: elastic, expansive, vague, increasing the size of its grip by sacrificing any solid Shape of Definition, it oozes in ever-widening pools to infect and ensnare more and more persons. ‘Molesting’, ‘abuse’, and even such seemingly clear sub-terms as ‘battering’ and ‘rape’ are softened into toxic mush, the better to spread them like rancid butter.

And who can forget the always-queasy but increasingly tenuous distinction between ‘regulatory’ and ‘punitive’ legislation?

And with the problem of Definition goes the problem of Duration: if this is a ‘war’, then how can it be so if – as even Obama says – there will be no surrender ceremony to certify its ending, and the country will most likely be waging it one year, five years, ten years from now.

And yet a state or permanent or semi-permanent ‘war’ is precisely the graveyard of democracies. AND it was precisely what the Framers sought to avoid: some sort of Genghis-Khan-like ‘war state’, or Rome towards the end when its overwhelming military commitments turned the Citizenry into merely a troglodyte life-support system for the legions (and the imperial court).

But the Framers have been ‘overtaken by events’ and by ‘progress’ and they and their vision and maybe even their Constitution are “quaint” and unequal to the present challenges and perhaps the Constitution really serves merely as an ‘obstruction’ to the progress now urgently demanded by the ‘emergency’.

The SO community has heard all of this before. This is exactly the web of excuses deployed in the service of the Sex-Offense Emergency 20 years ago (and the Domestic Violence Emergency just before that). And all this crapulence was given benefit-of-government through enshrinement in grossly inaccurate legislative Findings and the Opinions and Decisions of courts high and low.

Third, there is the ominous reality – now – of Obama’s (!) proposed “preventive detention” for persons who ‘cannot be brought to court’ but ‘are still too dangerous to be allowed to be at liberty’. Surely the SO community has been struggling with this demon since ‘civil confinement’ raised its queasy, sleazy head over a dozen years ago.

Fourth there is the “hyperbolic enemy”, an ‘enemy’ so exaggerated by the official and sensationalist-media ‘spin’ that it appears to be a ‘natural’ predator of almost supernatural abilities and ‘evil’. There is supposed to be facing Us an enemy as dangerous and potentially capable as the Axis combination of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany at the height of their powers and as omnivorous in their evil objectives (‘world domination’) – a characterization of Imperial Japanese and Nazi war aims that was inaccurate even back in the days of the Good War.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that such an ‘enemy’ automatically makes those who oppose it ‘Good’. And who doesn’t like to play that role in Life’s and History’s script? In a society where ‘feeling good about yourself’ is supposed to be the ultimate salvation; in a culture where such a condition is now presumed to be a ‘status’ and not an ‘achievement’ of personal excellence and civic participation; and in an economy where significant material ‘success’ is no longer on the table for most folks … well, every little bit of ‘feeling good about yourself’ helps, doesn’t it? Especially if such a status doesn’t require any heavy-lifting (maturity, say) but rather merely requires that you declare yourself or consider yourself ‘against’ the ‘enemy’.

And in a country where being ‘for the children’ simply requires being ‘against’ ‘sex offenders’ (broadly defined) then far too many people can consider their civic responsibilities well-discharged if they merely go along with whatever new sex-offense legislation and ‘regulation’ is pushed their way by legislators who can’t seem to muster the chops to craft genuinely responsible and competent legislation.

Fifth, increasingly intrusive government oversight. While there seem to be no large sex-offender laws coming along at this point, there remain ant-hills of ‘local’ ordinances as well as occasional stabs at ‘international’ regulation. Although, happily, increasing numbers of originally SORNA-supportive folks – women even more than men, from the sound of the reports – are coming to realize just how many ‘regulations’ and how much ‘surveillance’ is wrapped into the life of any ‘sex offender’, and how much this, that, or another legislator or local government type would like to add on.

Sixth, Greenwald notes what he calls a “severe bar-lowering” in all of this. The bar of legislative integrity and the careful use of language and concepts is being lowered, and has been – the SO community knows – for 20 and more years. Was it Orwell who observed that the decline in the integrity of using language signals a culture and polity in decline?

And of course, in a nice double-entendre, the Bar itself is being lowered: attorneys – whether prosecutors or jurists or legislators with law degrees – are continually being corrupted, or more specifically corroded, by daily participation in such queasy and essentially rotted and unprincipled laws and procedures.

A couple of the many, many points raised in the Comments/Letters about this piece of Greenwald’s also strike me. (And reading all of them or a hefty sampling of them is a heartening and encouraging experience – though sex-offense sites don’t get this much comment-participation, it’s good to see just how much concern will reveal itself if given a chance.)

First, there is the pretext and justification of some British woman who was caught by a public surveillance camera stuffing a cat into a dumpster. THIS is supposed to be a justification for ‘the surveillance State’ (which the Brits, without a written Constitution, have had imposed upon them to a far greater degree than the Americans). I suppose the surveillance-supporters would have preferred having somebody (God forbid) stuff a child into a dumpster, but they had to go with what they had.

Second, one Commenter observes that the Surveillance State “is already a done deal” and goes on knowledgeably about that. But he doesn’t make any reference at all to the SO Mania regime.

Third, a Commenter wishes for a Wikileaks trove that might shed even more light on all of this. I can’t help wishing for a Wikileaks trove in the matter of SO Mania legislation. But of course, from the get-go, these Mania regime laws were shepherded (stove-piped is more like it) through the legislative deliberation process in such a way as to i) discourage any deliberation (there was so much to be skeptical about) and ii) prevent any legislator from having to have his/her support (and responsibility for that support) be on the record – where they might be held accountable if things went wrong, as they have. Short-circuiting committee-deliberation, forcing discussions on the floor, voice-votes (anonymous by their nature) … all these little legislative tricks and more were deployed to get these things passed by legislators who, apparently, had more reservations than We were led to believe.

Fourth, the surveillance State supporters are seen to be claiming that it’s OK to introduce all of this surveillance since America has such a strong civil-rights tradition that it won’t matter. BUT of course this is like saying that it’s OK to run Titanic into a berg-field since she is unsinkable anyway and no harm can come of it.

And of course, Our responsibility – as is the responsibility of every generation of Americans – is not simply to HAVE a democracy, but to KEEP it – which is a lot more work than many folks care to imagine. (Ben Franklin saw all this at the outset.)

And you don’t keep a democracy by figuring that you can do any amount of undemocratic stuff to it since, being a democracy, it can’t be changed into anything un-democratic. That’s childish mental processing from hell.

And thanks to decades of the SO Mania Regime (with the Domestic Violence regime and the Satanic Ritual Child Day Care Abuse Trials pushing things back to the early 1980s) this country does NOT any longer have so strong a Constitutional ethos as it once had. And from what I can see of what they’ve been teaching in the law schools, the recent and future graduates are not going to be deeply competent in preserving or restoring it either.

Fifth, the “war” imagery – as Greenwald also noted in the text of his article – is a huge warning sign with a long history that should leave no doubt as to what is happening. But again, no Commenter notices that the country has been “at war” against sex-offenses for decades; nor that the Mania regime is a complex and multi-rooted infestation that was put in place with the government’s vigorous connivance.

Sixth, and most telling of all, is that surveillance-State presumes THAT ALL AMERICANS ARE POTENTIAL ENEMIES OF ‘AMERICA’, which is – if I may allow myself the word – shocking. But isn’t this precisely the dynamic of the SO Mania: that just about anybody (male, anyway) can be and probably is a ‘sex offender’? The earliest formulations had it that ‘all sex is rape and ergo all men are rapists’ (except, I suppose for the males who don’t have sex, who are either lying or weird anyway).

Once again, a classic trope of the Sex Offense Mania now migrates to a larger arena of national affairs, creating an even wider swath of civic destruction, corrosion, corruption, and decline.

But I take heart from the number of persons who are motivated to speak up and speak out, and it leads me to think that there is still time and grounds for hope.

The SO community now possesses an expertise and familiarity gleaned over long decades of struggle against the infestation of anti-Constitutionality.

I think there are many more Citizens now who might be able to understand just what the struggle has been all about. And still is.



Saturday, August 28, 2010


I have a few more thoughts on this Wikileaks matter, where founder Julian Assange had a warrant for rape issued against him, and then quickly withdrawn shortly thereafter, by Swedish prosecutors.

You can refresh your memory here.

I have been reading national-commentators and there is a clear sense that this may well have been a US government put-up job. This should not be surprising to the SO community: one of the quiet and under-the-radar bennies accruing to the government (or any government) in the SO Mania is that once you have created such a ‘monster’, then it’s not very hard to discredit – and lethally – any person whom the government wants to neutralize.

But there’s another odd element, which becomes clear if you read the Comments to ‘Salon’ online magazine’s ‘Broadsheet’ section, largely overseen by feminist-writer Tracy Clark Flory.

The two accusing women were both, it appears, of a feminist bent. And the manner of their ‘reporting’ of their claims was most shrewdly cagey: they simply went to the local Swedish police and ‘asked for advice’ about what they should do. It is a given in Swedish (and most) SO regime regulations and laws nowadays that the police MUST treat every mention as a ‘report’ and open a file.

However, since the two accusers did not actually ‘file a police report’ then they are not technically guilty of Filing A False Report and of making a false accusation. Neat.

There was some question of the lesser charge of ‘molestation’ even after the rape-warrant was withdrawn – but that too apparently has gone away. And in Sweden – again, the SO community will not be surprised – the regulations define ‘molestation’ verrrrry broadly: apparently you don’t even have to have physical contact.*

But what strikes me most strongly in the Comments to Flory’s lament that the women are being dissed by the withdrawal of the warrant is that a number of otherwise informed and thoughtful commenters are presuming that the only reason this whole matter could have gone so far so fast in the first place is that there had to be US government ‘pressure’ (the CIA and that sort of thing) on the Swedish government.

But there is – as the SO community well knows – every possibility that the ‘charges’ went so far so quickly simply because of the now-normal trip-wire dynamics on which sex-offense law deliberately operates: once the charge is made or simply comes to the attention of the police, then things must happen quickly and the police have little leeway left in the matter.

This reflects the founding impulses of both the SO regime and the Domestic Violence regime: that either through ‘patriarchal’ condescension or official disbelief in the accusations or claims police and prosecutors would exercise their boots-on-the-ground discretion and refuse to mire the accused in the toils of the law.

The shrewd solution to that problem was for advocates to ensure that legislators blocked off that possibility by removing all discretion from police and even from prosecutors.

Later, as time went on and more feminist-law trained females entered the ranks of police and prosecution, an extra thread of trip-wire was added to the bundle.

Which seems to have been what happened here: the two accusers went to the police on a weekend, the low-level ‘duty-prosecutor’ was a female, and she quickly applied for the warrant merely on the basis of the situation about which the two accusers were ‘merely asking advice’.

It was only when a senior-level prosecutor (also a female) reviewed the justification for the warrant that she quickly withdrew it.

Perhaps in Swedish law the fact that there was no actual ‘report’ would have fatal consequences to a prosecution; perhaps the Swedish government realized that it was going to look complicit in some international skullduggery that had nothing to do with sex-offending at all; or perhaps it didn’t want to look like a chump.

This is not a problem that arises in the U.S. where almost by script-convention the prosecutors and police in sex-offense matters are looked upon as the cavalry heroes riding to the rescue of some besieged settlers. If mistakes are made and ‘peaceful Injuns’ are killed in the process, well that’s what Injuns are in Western scripts for in the first place. No prahhhblum!

I don’t know if a lot of folks realize just how frakkulous the regime laws are when it comes to ‘investigations’ of allegations.

And I think that many of them – even in a case where a rape is alleged – simply can’t imagine that the SO Mania regime would have any bearing on an international incident that is primarily about matters far removed from ‘sex’ (i.e. Wikileaks publishing the government documents about actual lack of progress in the Afghan operations and the government trying to quash the publication).

But the SO Mania machinery has been in place for quite a while and it’s now a tool available for any type of Beltway activity where somebody thinks it might be useful.

In this case, I don’t think it worked as hoped. Perhaps the Swedish government, or public, or media, or even that senior-prosecutor, simply weren’t as stampede-able as their American counterparts. Or still retain sufficient sense of principle and professional integrity to realize a bad job when they saw one.

Mr. Assange has been spared the full-treatment shrewdly and craftily constructed by the Mania-architects. Although his personal life has been turned inside out and all the Web-cached ‘news stories’ will shadow him forever now. In that sense he joins a long and large line of SOs and those accused of ‘sex crimes’.

Most of them will be lucky simply to escape the toils of AWASORNA. At least until such time as this entire repugnant regime can be rolled-back.

As Ike put it: “So much remains to be done”.


*Recall that in the new Internet SO initiative, one does not have to actually meet or request to meet anyone ‘offline’. Recall also that in the Domestic Violence regime, ‘battering’ has long been expanded to include being-silent in a conversation, including a long-distance phone conversation. This takes Thomas More’s reliance on the ancient legal maxim “Qui taceat consentire” (whoever remains silent, consents) to “Qui taceat percutere” (whoever remains silent, batters).

Thursday, August 26, 2010


A Catholic priest is in the news again – and the Cardinal that protected him from police investigation.

It hasn’t received a lot of play here though.

The man is long dead (1980) but that has rarely made a difference in current American media and legal praxis.

He was a member of a shadowy and indeed secret organization that rather fancied it a good thing to screw up lives, perhaps since in the Big Picture they were actually doing the work of the Lord.

The man’s alleged crimes certainly ruined the lives of nine victims. ‘Totally screwed them up” as no doubt might be said anywhere in the US these days.

His Cardinal got together with the police and they all quietly decided that the best thing would be to transfer him out of the country – and so they did. He died uninvestigated and un-charged. There will be, thus, no ‘closure’, as they like to say in these parts.

His alleged victims will never go to church again.

They are dead. He allegedly masterminded the IRA bombing that killed them in 1972.

It was in Ireland during ‘The Troubles’ that started in 1969 and went on for quite a few years.

The story hasn’t received much play here.

I think I can see why.

It’s been an elephant in the middle of the room around these parts that priests could easily be tarred with a metaphorical ‘killing’ through this, that, or another form of ‘abuse’ since – reliably – priests rarely really actually killed anybody and so there was no reality-principle to act as a brake on the incessantly trumpeted ‘soul-murder’ or ‘life-destruction’ said to result from this, that, or another form of ‘abuse’.

So it has been easy-peezy to play the ‘death’ card against ‘abusive’ priests, since there was never any real death on the field that would put the ‘abuse is death’ mantras in proportion: as being rather substantially exaggerated. Not to put too fine a point on it, if one is well enough to be taking nourishment and breathing with some regularity, one is not really dead. And claims to be so must be taken as the (perhaps well-intentioned) exaggerations that they are.

This embarrassing reality is clearly not ‘friendly’ to the cause of certain interests in the country these days, nor to their media enablers. Indeed it threatens to inject an irrefutable reality into a forum that has been somewhat prone to something other than reality: the exaggerated mantra itself, of course, and then the somewhat phantasmagorical reliance on ‘spectral evidence’ – I am ‘dead’ because I believe I am dead and you can’t tell me otherwise.

Which in any normal world would elicit, at best, counseling, and at worst, a bit of tough-love explication of just what ‘reality’ means.

Although then again, We no longer live in a culture whose elites value ‘reality’. ‘Facts don’t matter’; symbols are more useful than actualities; if enough folks can be gotten to believe something then it is ‘true’.

All of the foregoing are signs not of cutting-edge progress (no matter how ‘sensitive’) but of regression to more primitive forms of public discourse.

George Bernard Shaw once said that “all progress depends on the unreasonable man” – say “unreasonable people” if you like. There’s a bit of truth to it, real truth.

Although it’s exaggerated for effect, as all aphorisms are. The ‘unreasonable’ – like the nonconformist lemmings of the later Boomer generation – are helpful, indeed indispensable.

But they cannot be the policy-makers or the policy-drivers in a civilization. Especially in a remarkable civilization – the Western civilization – that was built on Reason and reasonableness. And especially in the American version of Western civilization, that was founded upon a politics of reasonableness NOT for the purpose of creating an idolatry of Reason – that was the French Revolution’s vision, that poisonous tree that also bore the fruit of the Leninist and Maoist revolutions – BUT for the purpose of ensuring a reasonableness in politics and a reasonable politics.

It was in that way that the Framers sought to avoid the dark and primal excesses that abide in the human self and were enshrined, one way or another, in so many of the world’s prior civilizations and systems of government.

It has not been ‘progress’ that unreasonableness has been enshrined here and drives far too much of the American government’s policy and the country’s politics, and has now for decades. It has been, rather, a monstrous regression to a more primitive politics and has resulted in a much more primitive and greatly weakened polity.

And that must change.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


(I put this Post up on my other site. The Post is primarily concerned with national affairs, but at one point I deal with the government use of victimist-type thinking to cover up its actions, and elsewhere in the text and in the last Note I discuss John Stuart Mill's Principle of Harm; both of these sections might be of interest to the SO community. I do not in any way seek to distract the focus of this site's readership away from matters of SO interest, nor do I put this Post up for any other purpose than to offer the insights mentioned above.)

Andrew O’Hagan has a short piece about the Wikileaks dust-up.

No doubt you’re familiar with the matter: European Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, published 92,000 pages of official military and government reports about how things are going in the day-to-day operations in Afghanistan.

O’Hagan has looked through many of them.

Most of the reports are laced with “thick, stubby acronyms and gamer-speak”. It’s not unusual to see a lot of acronyms – the military tries to convey a lot of info in the shortest possible way, and acronyms are one way to achieve that objective.

The “gamer-speak” is more worrying. It’s a way of distancing yourself from what you’re doing – especially if you or any normal person would otherwise find it unpalatable.

But whereas in the bad old days those in military service sort of came to the service with a decently formed conscience, and then ran into problems when there was nasty work to be done, the ‘gamer generation’ may well come into military service already far more ‘experienced in combat kills’ than Patton could ever have imagined. After all, a lot of kids spend dozens of hours a week for years (their most formative years, no less) in these interactive and wide-based online war games – kill games, might not be an inaccurate term for the things – and most have actually grown into late adolescence or early adulthood having fortified their sense of achievement through counting the blood-spatter they’ve caused on their screens.

Nor is there really anywhere near as much counter-influence (maturity, charity, decency, and all that sort of thing) available to them nowadays like there was before the country and its society and its culture started making so much of the ‘progress’ that is currently trumpeted by certain interests.

From his reading O’Hagan concludes that “you realize, first, that something much worse than we thought has been happening in Afghanistan, and, second, that journalism may never be the same again”.

I don’t need to take up time rehashing all the things wrong in Afghanistan; it’s ‘going south’ as the military likes to say, and that ain’t good.

I would like to suggest, however, that Our domestic situation is very similarly ‘going south’. And that a lot of folks don’t realize it any more – or even less – than they realize what has been going wrong ‘over there’.

I say this because when I read the piece today, I had a personal moment. Let me take a moment to share it. It came to me that in my Posts I might sound like Henry Adams – and nothing more than that.

Henry Adams, you may recall, was an observer of the American scene in the 1890s and the pre-WW1 era. He saw the America he knew fading away – which has been the case with almost all generations of Americans as they aged. So there’s that element in it.

But then he also sensed – especially after the high-level government skullduggery of McKinley’s era that used the ‘liberation’ of Cuba to cover the first-ever American overseas occupation (of the Philippines) – that the government was beginning to develop a much different relationship to the American People, not telling them the full truth and getting itself – and the People – involved in some mighty iffy business.

“Order becomes disorder” he said. Using the Second Law of Thermodynamics, he applied it to History and saw the country somehow declining or falling-off from what it had originally been – or perhaps sought to be.

I sense much the same thing. Only worse.

What has been happening in the past 40 years domestically has brought Us to a hugely dangerous place: We are economically undermined, and unless another world-changing invention along the lines of the Apple-Microsoft phenomenon of the 1980s comes along then this country is not bouncing back very soon, and it will surely not bounce as far back up as it used to.

Of course it was easy to miss (or ignore) the falling-off that Adams saw; for much of that new century (the 20th) the country improved economically and – especially under the stimulus of two World Wars (that nicely undermined the then-regnant governing Great Powers of the world) – progressively overtook its rivals to become the principality among the powers of this world.

No matter what else the government did or was suspected of doing, it was presiding over lots and lots of economic success, or at least a lot of money sloshing around.

That’s going away now. And as the blinding golden glow of endless cash dissolves, it reveals the actual goings-on that have been corroding as well as corrupting the whole American Experiment.

Unlike Adams, and for the first time in American history, We are a generation that will not see Our children do better. Or Our children’s children or their children (just on the basis of the national debt already incurred).

The ‘slackers’ were the canaries in the cage: sticking around home not simply because there was no room for ‘males’ in the knowledge-and-service ‘economy’ but also because the actual number of life-sustaining jobs (thus not barrista, leaf-blower, dog-walker, or nanny) were disappearing at an alarming rate. And you can add major glitz jobs in ‘the financial sector’ now as well. In fact – face it – as the general ‘wealth’ of the population decreases, there will be a declining need for lawyers, corporate honchos, bankers, and such. And if anyone is hoping that ‘the government’ will step in as the employer of last resort, then a) the government is already broke and that’s not getting better any time soon and b) a government that controls the employment and salaries of the majority of its Citizens is not going to be governed by those same Citizens and there goes the Constitutional balance and The People itself.

And if no People, then no Republic and – what the hey? – no need for the Constitution in any sense recognizable to the Vision of 1787. (Which is what the ‘progressive’ Revolutions have presumed – with the coy approval of the Rightists and Corporatists – all along.)

So I just want to say here that I see my only resemblance to Henry Adams being a concern to point things out while there still might be time.

That being said – and I don’t like injecting personal material into these essays – let’s continue with O’Hagan’s fine piece.

His point about journalism never being the same again ties in with the nature of Assange’s and the Web’s “potent new amateurism”: flouting the rules of journalism “because, by and large, it aligns itself with no commercial body, no political party, no ‘national security interest’, and no code of honor about who is more likely to deserve our protection”.

He’s writing in a British publication here, but what he says goes equally well for US journalism: it has ‘allied’ itself into irrelevance. The entire purpose of a “free press” in the Founding Vision was to provide accurate information to the governors of the government, i.e. The People.

But over time, papers developed ‘slants’. Which reduced objectivity somewhat, but there was still a cultural strength to Truth as a goal and a guide. And there were many independent newspapers (no radio or TV yet) even within one metropolitan area, so Citizens could compare and perhaps with some thought figure out what was going on.

But William Randolph Hearst’s decision to throw the weight of his entire publishing network behind fueling the run-up to the Spanish-American War (famously telegraphing to a reporter in Cuba “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war” – feast on the frakkeries of Yellow Journalism here) heralded an ominous change: corporately-webbed papers / deploying emotional and sensationalistic and selective ‘reporting’ / in order to manipulate rather than truly inform public opinion / among a population now having to judge vital national developments about which they had no personal knowledge / and under the eye of a government that was up to all sorts of major international skullduggery that it would much rather not have anybody know about.

Things were not improved by the ‘progressive’ Wilson’s insistence upon the passage of the Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1917 and 1918 respectively: even reporting by the mainstream press might be a criminal offense if it ‘reported’ the wrong things, and the laws were later used to suppress Labor in its efforts to achieve its goals.

But by the end of World War 2 the press – radio included and TV almost on the scene – had passed from the control of individual owners to corporate structure, and the bosses of the “free press” became part of the “elites” who had assumed control of the labrynthine and byzantine complex into which the Federal government had morphed.

Accommodating themselves to the requirements of a government now greatly concerned for ‘national security’ in the Cold War – headed up in the West by an United States that had supplanted the former Great Powers of Europe – the “media” also adapted themselves to a country now given less to complex consideration of issues and increasingly accustomed to the ‘sound bites’ and gripping (though shallow) images upon which television thrived.

The Civil Rights Movement agitations of the 1950s started to lure those media into not simply ‘reporting’ on events but helping to ‘shape’ them, dimly but surely reflecting a growing sense in theories of communication and of philosophical epistemology that there really was no way to be ‘objective’ about ‘facts’ since all such ‘facts’ are ‘constructed’ by the observer to begin with.

But it was a ‘good cause’ and the media came to feast upon the role of ‘shaper’, now not simply an objective and detached observer reporting to The People but rather part of the elites who ‘shaped’ ‘public opinion’.

With the agitations of the later 1960s, and the whole-hog importation of French Deconstruction theory by radical-feminism (already surfing the wave created by the second and Revolutionary, Black Power phase of the black Civil Rights Movement), the media were now given benefit-of-philosophy for their mutation.

The French elites were horrified by the effects of mass-movements in France and Germany during the era of World Wars 1 and 2. The French Rightists and Leftists waged ideological war upon each other as early as the Dreyfus matter of the 1890s; the populations of all the European nations were whipped into a frenzy as the Great Powers slid frakkingly into World War 1; and the Nazis had taken the manipulation of public opinion to horrific heights and depths.

Better, the French intellectuals thought after 1945, to simply keep everything as divided up and stymied as possible, to prevent any unanimity of public discourse, since unanimity seemed inevitably to lead to ‘totalizing’ and totalitarian governance.*

And this fed into American Identity Politics after 1970. (Along with a heavily Marxist analysis of American society and culture that injected profound suspicion of ‘majority opinion’ as well as profound hostility to ‘patriarchy’ and an insistence on an Identity that was not in any working sense ‘American’.)

And in a too-infrequently noted cumulative effect, the Black Power Identity was joined not only by the ‘feminist’ Identity, but by other follow-on Revolutions, which were then themselves given benefit-of-philosophy by the newly-minted movements (they can hardly be called ‘philosophies’) of Multiculturalism and Diversity.

And of course, being ‘government-friendly’ in ‘liberal’ administrations ensnared the media into being equally so in ‘conservative’ administrations.

And the band played on.

And the Beltway signed on, whole-hog. Perhaps, as I have been saying for quite a while, in an effort to forestall American shock at the end of postwar American economic primacy through distracting culture wars but also by Deconstructing the America and Americans who had achieved that primacy, replacing them with newly ‘valorized’ Youth and immigrants who would have no memory of what was being Deconstructed, as well as the numerous ‘liberal-progressives’ such as radical-feminists who were absolutely sure that their dampdreams would lead to broad, sunlit uplands of gender-Utopia and ‘justice’.

(Nor did the Republicans long remain out of this mud-hole, once it became clear that Wealth could benefit hugely if quietly from this Deconstruction of an America that was too Labor-friendly.)

So, thus, O’Hagan says much when he observes about Wikileaks’s Assange that “he is a believer in the truth for its own sake”. The Western mainstream media no longer believe that: either because – in the accents of Pilate – they no longer believe that there is such a thing as ‘truth’ or ‘Truth’, or else because – in the accents of Goebbels and Goring – they believe that ‘truth is whatever we think is good for the (German) people’. And, of course, ‘truth’ is no longer where the profits are.

Assange is “techy” about the objection – shrewdly raised – that “the leaked war reports would put US and coalition forces in danger”. This is a verrrry shrewd objection. It attempts to surf the regnant American predilection for ‘victimism’: the troops over there are ‘victims’, and will be ‘victimized’ by the dangers that might be inflamed by the Wikileaks.

Assange – not bound by American sensitivies and predilections – asks the acute question as to whether categorizing troops on active service as ‘victims’ or ‘potential victims’ doesn’t undermine any examination of military operations at all.

Because it is an axiom of victimism that ‘the victim cannot be doubted or questioned’ and that to do any such doubting or questioning is to ‘re-victimize the victim all over again’.

But if the government now tries to cover its activities under the mantle of ‘victimization’ – and using the troops themselves as ‘fronts’ like a bank-robber trying to get out of a surrounded bank by holding hostages in front of herself – then effectively and for all practical purposes We are back to Woodrow Wilson’s insistence that NOBODY, not even the Citizens and The People, can question the actions of the Federal government.

And THIS in the context of Our current hugely dubious and failing national military misadventures – which are themselves possibly in contravention of every principle established at Nuremberg and even Westphalia .

Assange states that “he is all for ‘victim protection’ but soldiers, as he sees it, represent the national security state”. Which is hardly a surprising revelation, except perhaps to a lot of Americans.

O’Hagan doesn’t get into it, but there is also the huge and ignored elephant-in-the-middle-of-the-room Question: has the government victimized its own troops (and on Our authority) by sending them into such a frakkulently mis-conceived, mis-justified, mis-conducted set of wars to begin with? Is the government the Prime Victimizer in all of this?

I’m not sure where O’Hagan stands on this, but he acknowledges with what seems a personal note that “Some of us believe that soldiers are basically poor guys from Blackpool [a poor English city] who aspire to a better life but don’t have many options. Some victims wear battle-fatigues”.

I can see where he’s coming from here and it’s not inaccurate or unjust of him to make the point.

But there’s also the problem that these “guys” (and upon them be peace) are now in the position of having to find a life by signing up to conduct invasive and preventive wars, military occupations, and God-knows what horrific duties or – alas – malfeasances that, on top of frakkulent strategic blunders and government deceptions, condemn them not only to the risk of physical maiming but place them on what can only be charitably described as ‘the moral low-ground’.

THIS is the core problem, and Wikileaks isn’t the cause of it. Government is. The very same government that now wants to somehow suppress the news about what’s been going on ‘over there’.

This is a moral catastrophe that screams to heaven – even before you factor in the consequences and effects rained upon the human beings and populations caught in the middle ‘over there’ (upon whom be peace).

Of course, given that Politically Correct doctrine refuses to admit the possibility of any dimensions of human existence that could be described as ‘moral’ or ‘Moral’, then We are all in the position – and not simply in terms of military operations – of having brought a knife to the proverbial gunfight. We are being battered on a dimension of the ‘battlespace’ that We don’t’ even know exists.**

Funny how the Cosmic night moves.

Lastly, O’Hagan refers to one of those types (linked-to in O’Hagan’s piece) whom perhaps might best be characterized – and with no gender disrespect intended – in Victorian terms as “kept women”: ‘thinkers’ employed by lobbyist ‘think tanks’ precisely to provide intellectual cover or grounds for whatever ideological position they are paid to shill. This particular fellow (it could as easily have been a woman) brays and bleats that Wikileaks has “muddied the waters between journalism and activism” and with “little regard for the hard moral choices and dearth of good policy options facing decision makers”.


First, this is the exact type of thing that with Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the so-called ‘Pentagon Papers’ in 1971, mainstream journalism mostly leaped upon as being indeed a very valid exercise of the officium of “a free press”. Something has gone verrrrry wrong subsequently (see my thoughts above) since American journalism no longer sees its role as digging up vital and accurate information to be provided to The People.

Second, “moral choices” is a tad insufficient here. A choice for an immoral action is not most accurately characterized as a “moral choice” … while you were originally confronted with a choice in the moral realm, the choice you actually chose was immoral, and thus the actual essence of what you finally did choose to do is best characterized as ‘immoral’. (Precisely, by the by, the type of gambit many say is now ingrained into liberal-progressive praxis through the efforts to ‘spin’ abortion, by odd coincidence.)

The Correct come-back to this, of course, is that ‘my’ morality is not the same as ‘your’ morality so if I think it’s ‘moral’ then there’s nothing you can rightly say about what I do. But then what is morality based upon that would make it Morality, i.e. a capital letter concept that has compelling universal validity as a guide to human action?***

And if there is no such Morality, then what remains to distinguish doing the ‘moral’ thing from doing-what-I-want?

And if governments can do what they want then … what’s left to judge them and their actions? Was the only reason that the Nuremberg trials were held that the Allies had won the war and thus could physically enforce their Way of looking at things? If the Nazis had won, and they and all Germans mostly agreed that what the Third Reich had done was moral, then would that mean that what they did was indeed ‘moral’? (This is what happens when you try to anchor Morality in the human dimension itself; you can’t establish an Archimedean Point within the quantum that you’re trying to lift – you need to establish it outside of – or ‘beyond’ or ‘Beyond’ – the quantum that you’re trying to lift or you’re simply going to tip yourself over disastrously when you start applying pressure on the machinery – as the Engineers saith.)

Third, if there is indeed now such a “dearth of good choices” then HOW did We come to this terrible pass? And I don’t pose this question to try to assign blame as much as to assert that whatever was done to lead to this pass may still be a dynamic factor in the continuation of this frakkish situation and We need to know what’s going on under-the-surface (see Note ** below about the Long Lance torpedo).

I still say that there is a future in this country for The People as conceived at the Framing, and that there are enough folks still capable of mature and deliberative thought (despite decades of government-empowered efforts to Dilute same) to justify getting real information out to The People.

While there is still time.


*You will find clear echoes of this in Martha Nussbaum’s recent philosophizing in support of Identity Politics: that ‘majoritarian’ interests must not be allowed to interfere with ‘minority’ ‘rights’ – widely and vaguely defined. Thus, she asserts, ‘politics’ and democracy must not be allowed to interfere with the ‘rights’ agenda she wants the courts to impose and enforce (apparently she senses that legislators – shades of Autumn 1944! – are beginning to get a little nervous and are starting to think about ‘consequences’).

**An analogy from World War 2: the Japanese early developed the Type 93 ‘Long Lance’ torpedo, which could travel three times the distance of American torpedoes, packed twice the explosive power, and was fueled in such a way that the thing left no tell-tale trail of bubbles on the surface that would betray its path. Thus, for quite some time, American warships were taking defensive measures that presumed Japanese torpedoes operated within the same parameters as American torpedoes, and were being hit, holed, having their entire bows blown off, or sunk by what American naval commanders assumed must be mines or un-detected submarines. Meanwhile, Japanese warships and submarines could stay well outside the too-small American detection and protection screens, and blow up capital ships with unnerving accuracy and frequency. And for quite a while, the Americans didn’t even know what they were actually up against.

Or again: imagine that immediately upon hitting the berg, Titanic’s command staff ordered all the passengers locked below decks, and told them that things weren’t so bad and if everybody would simply ‘stay positive’ and perhaps pray (you can’t suggest this nowadays) then everything would be OK; the only thing to fear was fear itself (with all respect to FDR, whose use of the phrase was apt in 1933, but not today). Folks would thus continue their activities, perhaps with increasing reliance on champagne or rot-gut likker (depending on your Class) to dull the sick-making awareness that things were increasingly not-on-the-level.

***For the philosophically-minded: the Correct come-back to this point is that John Stuart Mill said that you can do anything you want to do as long as it doesn’t harm anybody else.

This was Mill’s way of trying to preserve the widest individual liberty, yet maintain the coherence or reliability of human society, while simultaneously NOT involving God or any metaphysical principles (Mill was a good Liberal, after all).

But while his effort looks good on first glance, it won’t float once out of the constructor’s dock and into the water. He’s forced to adopt a verrrrry narrow definition of ‘harm’: an act of ‘harm’ has to be clearly established as such and it has to become manifest quickly enough to justify or indict the person who perpetrated it.

BUT a) you therefore have to restrict your definition of ‘harm’ to something which can be established as such. There are dimensions of existence – the moral, the spiritual, the psychological – where ‘harm’ cannot be easily established, leading your theory to either i) overlook large swaths of harmful action or ii) accept what amounts to ‘spectral evidence’ as ‘proof’ of an alleged ‘harm’ (this is the gambit that Victimism has tried to enshrine: if the allegedly harmed person says s/he has been harmed, then that claim must be accepted as true even though there is no way to independently corroborate the claim).

And b) you have to presume that all harmful consequences will make themselves manifest in a short-enough period of time after the alleged harm has been perpetrated. But some consequences might not manifest for quite some time. An action that might not seem harmful in the time-period X after the act has been committed, might manifest harmful effects in the time-period X-plus-Y.

I’d also add here that Mill must restrict himself to non-metaphysical harms, since his theory does not admit the relevance or existence of the metaphysical plane. But suppose that all humans are linked in a great Web of emotional or mental or spiritual bonds; if THAT is so, then an action perpetrated by one person might indeed radiate out to have harmful consequences – much as if on a very large waterbed, the action of one person in one corner of the mattress would be radiated out to impact upon all the persons on the mattress.

And that’s without bringing God or His commandments or Morality into it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010



I apologize for putting up two Posts almost within minutes of each other but I think it’s important.

Early today I came across a story that the Founder of Wiki-Leaks – the folks who published documents exposing the failing US military effort in Afghanistan – had been accused of a sex offense (and rape, at that) and that Swedish prosecutors had issued a warrant for his arrest. By lunchtime a breaking story reported that the warrant had been withdrawn as baseless.

You can see this link for the story and this link for a shorter piece that has several useful internal links.

It stuns to see how quickly this trip-wire Sex Offense Mania regime can be deployed against anybody whom the US government finds to be ‘problematic’. If nothing else will stick, call him a Sex Offender.



I Posted this on my other site, but I think it might be of some interest here again as well.

I’ve Posted on this before* but the material now comes (with a new twist but still the same gravamen) in a book review by the Irish author Colm Toibin and in no less a venue than ‘The London Review of Books’, so I am going to briefly say it all again, with some attention to the new twist.

Toibin is setting himself a difficult task in this review of a book entitled “The Pope Is Not Gay”: he has to keep his liberal-progressive creds by going along with their agenda, while also adding this new spin of being ‘gay-positive’.

The ‘gay-positive’ bit means that he has taken it upon himself to somehow make ‘gay clergy’ not-look like the folks responsible for all the sex-abuse (and in this I agree with him and support him) while also making gays – even gays in the priesthood, even ‘active’ gays in the priesthood – look good in and of themselves.

It makes for some interesting twists and turns.

The first point, then, is to point out the massive and fatal incoherence in the liberal-progressive agenda: using the ‘sex abuse crisis’ (with or without the ‘gay’ bit) as a reason for doing away with both clerical celibacy and a male-only priesthood in the Catholic Church.

Serious sex-offense studies have established that a huge percentage of all child sex-abuse occurs in families, perpetrated by family members or relatives; much less than 10 percent is perpetrated by the now-classic cartoon of the ‘slavering and monstrous and incorrigible stranger’.

Therefore, the liberal-progressive effort to propose a married clergy is not only inaccurately grounded but also – in light of the actual known dynamics and demographics of sex-abusing – places a child in more rather than less danger.

Whether a non-male clergy, married or otherwise, might be any ‘safer’ would depend on just how much females engage in sex abuse, whether they are straight or lesbian. Curiously, there is little statistical information to go on here; nobody seems to be tracking it, although all the male-related possibilities in sex-abusing are heavily explored in the research.

Which segues rather quickly into his derisive recitation of the many comments by Church functionaries and supporters that the Catholic Church is being somehow singled-out. I can’t see how you can avoid that conclusion: the presumption of sex-offending in its classic formulation is that all males are prone to this (indeed some radical-feminist thought holds that all sex is rape and all males are potential – and probably ‘probable’ – rapists simply by virtue of their sex-drive).

Yet little coverage, comparatively speaking, is given to clergy of other faiths, or to such other functionaries as teachers, counselors, and assorted care-providers.

The reasons for this ‘singling-out’ no doubt range along a spectrum: outside the Church, the liberal-progressives are engaged in a major struggle to either supplant or at least discredit the Church’s moral stands against such major elements of the lib-prog agenda as abortion, the sanctity of marriage, the importance of the Family, and in general a stubborn bearing witness to the authoritative role of any Higher Law or Law-giver, the authority of Which (or Whom) can stand in judgment on human laws and practices.

The Rightist, nation-worshipping Fundamentalists (more or less Protestant) seek to supplant the Church’s moral authority as it stands against ‘preventive war’, torture, and many other elements that have now become Standard Operating Procedure by a government that in the Fundamentalist view is pretty much God’s Deputy and therefore authorized by Him to ‘do whatever it takes’ and to do so with His full support and approval.

Within the Church there is a strong ‘liberal’ (as the term is used nowadays) tendency against celibacy, against males as priests, and against hierarchy in general. (Although whether such an aversion would survive if a Popess were to be on the Throne of Peter is an interesting question.)

So, given the confluence and synergy of both Leftish and Rightish objectives, inside and outside the Church, you can see that there is more than enough richly-manured earth from which a selective focus on the Catholic priesthood and hierarchy might indeed spring.

As always, I am NOT saying here that no sex-abuse (however that term is defined) occurred NOR am I trying to smuggle in any sort of approval for the imposition of sexual-experience on any human being by any other human being.

With Church supporters, there are – as Toibin notes and quotes – ‘conservative’ or ‘traditional’ elements who insist that the whole problem stems from ‘gays’ in the priesthood. And – queasily – there are some in the hierarchy who are quite happy to go along with this ‘explanation’ if for no other reason than to offer up some sacrificial lambs to stave off further incidents of the aforementioned selective obloquy. In fact, you might almost say that some hierarchs are trying to use the gay-clerics much as Chamberlain used the Czechs: as sort of an appeasement to the monster, acceptable collateral damage because – and this was feculently untrue even when Chamberlain uttered the phrase – they were “a people of whom we know little”.

The Catholic priesthood, as Toibin notes and quotes, has a rather substantial gay contingent. He observes that in his own experience he saw a large number of what he describes – very nicely and vividly – as “male flutterers” who were given to doing a lot of “male fluttering”, swanning about with swishy and sequined vestments.

Indeed, in a nice by-the-by, he lets it be known that when in the mid-2000s the Archbishop of the US military forces conducted, on orders from Rome, a serious survey of American seminaries, he reported that anywhere from a quarter to a half of all seminarians and priests were gay (whether ‘out’ or ‘closeted’ is left un-discussed by Toibin). I don’t know how much of the Sisterhood (the nuns, that is) is lesbian, and that matter wasn’t examined … a point I raise here only to note that a female priesthood might well include quite a few ‘gays’ itself.

Anyhoo, Toibin then gets on to the current Pope and to the hierarchy. He reports himself shocked, shocked, that whereas in 1991 he observed mostly nuns helping prelates take their liturgical vestments off at large religious events, more recently he has noted that it is mostly good-looking males attending to the prelates.

This is a stretch that exposes a queasy elasticity. If there are gays in the Church they were surely there in the early 1990s. Indeed, he quotes one highly-placed Church source as saying that such stuff has been “going on for centuries”. So Toibin’s effort here to establish his creds as one of the Shocked is too much of a muchness.

It’s true that there are stories alleging that the late Cardinal-Archbishop of New York, Spellman – much like his contemporary Lavrentiy Beria, head of the NKVD and Commissar for Internal Affairs under Stalin – used to troll the city streets late at night in his official limo; the difference being that the Commissar was looking for young girls.

Which might put paid to any fantasies – however pious – of a Golden Age when all priests were Bing Crosby or Barry Fitzgerald (also contemporaries of the Cardinal-Archbishop).

I have no definite information on the late Cardinal-Archbishop. And while just about any excuse would have done to justify the erasure of Stalinist Communism from the earth, I don’t recall anybody suggesting the erasure of the US Congress or the Pentagon when this or that Member or official is entangled in sexual crimes or misadventures.

But Toibin is going for the gayness-of-the-hierarchy here, as part of his effort to not-disapprove of even those gay priests who consider themselves “more free to consult their consciences and break the rules of celibacy should they see fit”. Which he apparently considers a laudable exercise of conscience and individual freedom.

So, building on his ‘1991’ trope, he observes that even the current Pope himself has a stunningly handsome younger friend, a 40-ish priest from the same part of Bavaria as the Pope himself. I’m not sure about the “handsome” part; one man’s handsome is another man’s ‘beefy’, and surely the classic Enlightenment image of male beauty – that florid, well-fed type bursting out of its satin breeches – proves that beauty is in the eye of the beholding era.

Two points come to mind though.

First, it’s an established point in military history that generals have often chosen good-looking young officers as their aides-de-camp. Grant had one such on his staff, and Shelby Foote recounts a story of Lee playfully pulling down toward his cot a young aide who had come in with a late-night message from some commander on the front lines. I am making no innuendoes about Grant or Lee or anybody else in that rank and capacity, but it seems to be a typical human trait to enjoy the presence of physical beauty, especially youthful, in any form, especially by older members of the species.

Second, there is that under-appreciated (and highly ‘transgressive’) possibility that the Greeks considered females insufficient soul-mates for an adult male, who required the close companionship of another adult male for such soul-sharing. (The sex stuff was only between teens and early 20-year-olds, perhaps as a sage nod to the fact that among the young, biology pretty much dictates some form of sensual element to any relationship.)

Were the Greeks accurate in their surmise as to soul-mates? Was their ‘solution’ effective? Questions too big for me to resolve, but to suggest or imply that the Pope must be gay because he has a close and younger male friend (half his age, but with the Pope at 80-plus a friend half his age is still well into adulthood) does not at all convince.

But Toibin also notes that the Pope favors Prada for the red leather pumps required to go with the white-cassock that is his uniform of the day. Yes, some types of gays – and Imelda Marcos – are into the lotsa-shoes thing, but unless the Pope has a hundred or so pairs of pumps in an expensive closet where he retires to admire them late at night, I’m not impressed by the ‘evidence’.

And for that matter, the Pope may simply have the typically Germanic concern for good uniforms. Teddy Roosevelt, let’s not forget, prepared for the rigors of field command in the Spanish-American War by ordering a specially-designed uniform from Brooks Brothers, with very picky instructions on quality of cut and tailoring and on the amount of gold-bullion and rank insignia and so forth. And most gentleman officers of the era did exactly the same thing. And who can forget George Armstrong Custer with his personally-designed uniform that featured gold braid up to his elbows? Grant, in contrast, was a model of sartorial sobriety – although there was the matter of the youthy aide-de-camp. And Sherman, come to think of it, was said to become notably goo-goo in the presence of early-adolescent females visiting with their parents. And Lee had both gold-braid up to his elbows (as did all Confederate officers) and that come-to-my-cot moment. Go figure.

It is repulsive that Toibin would use as a closing flourish the statement to the effect that Alas, it hurts and stuns to think that “many of us who were brought up in the Church now know that we once listened to sermons about how to conduct our lives from men who were child molesters”. Yet even at the height of the 3rd Phase of the Catholic Sex Abuse Crisis (initiated in early January 2002) the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in its official Report on the matter, could only point to 4 percent of all the priests in the United States who were accused of some form or other of the widely-elastic ‘sex abuse’, and the vast majority of putative victims were not children even at the time of the alleged incidents.

And this was with a stampede-driven loosening of rules of evidence and statutory limitations and other classical legal protections. Nor can one presume that all were guilty, since there were very few trials (such as could be fairly conducted under the conditions imposed) and many hierarchs took the prudent way out by simply settling civilly with huge amounts of cash to forestall the even greater expense of individual trials for each accused priest (those, that is, still alive).

So I don’t think that a whole lot of Catholics grew up learning their religion from “child molesters”.

Lastly, he covers the conventional ground conventionally, claiming that Ratzinger’s refusal to prosecute a priest who was close to death (and subsequently died) for child sex abuse offenses is proof-positive of a cover-up. I don’t think that would stand as the primary or only motivation for such a decision: after all, when you are firmly convinced that a) there is a God and that b) He will judge far more surely than any earthly court, and that c) given the certainty of (a) and (b) there is little to be gained from subjecting an old man’s dying-time to an ecclesiastical trial for matters that happened long before, especially when – again in light of (a) and (b) – the old gentleman is going to be facing a Judge far beyond (to use Lincoln’s phrase) “our poor power to add or detract”.

But this of course reveals the darkness at the heart of so much of this abuse-crisis material: somehow the existence of God and Judgment and Hell doesn’t seem to be an operative factor in the views or calculations of an awful lot of the folks who otherwise claim themselves such good Catholics.

There are many possibilities for that fact, but I leave those in your capable hands.


*See, for example, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Elias tries hard to objectively and comprehensively examine the ‘victimization’ issue – when, that is, he hasn’t got his ‘advocacy’ hat on instead.

He discusses ‘Shaping Public Opinion’ (p.40) and here it’s sobering to realize that he’s writing in 1986, less than half a decade before the first official steps in the SO Mania regime.

“What forces shape [public] opinion?” he asks. (p.40)

While noting “neighborhood networks” and word-of-mouth, he insightfully opines that the “fundamental sources might lie considerably deeper in the American consciousness” and that Americans might “unwittingly absorb them. He quotes – with impressive objectivity – the then-popular conservative commentator and writer Russell Baker, who observes that in a trip across America the place seemed to him “a booby-hatch for the criminally insane” because there were “campaigning politicians clamoring for use of the electric chair, the gallows, or the gas chambers as devices for restoring public civility” and that “everywhere one was confronted with … a national obsession for more … security” and that houses often had guard-company warning placards stuck in their front lawns and that “very little of this ‘security’ existed 20 years ago [i.e. in the 1950s] but now it is a national passion”. (p.40)

Two large American social trends seem relevant here. First, the Boomers – that huge birth cohort – were blossoming into their teens in the 1960s, and precisely as – second – society and culture were ‘loosening up’ under the pressure of the failing ‘adult’ performance in the Vietnam, the ‘cultural revolution’ spirit that seemed to be succeeding so gloriously in Mao’s youth-based Cultural Revolution, the excitements and agitations loosed by the Civil Rights Movement, and by the general Boomer rejection of ‘grown-up conformity’ in favor of Luv and Change.

And this was all BEFORE the 1970s saw the first steps in the actual Deconstruction of American culture and society (family and parent-guided, white, working-class, industrial, and ‘male’) under the pressure of a more organized ‘revolutionary advocacy’ – adopted almost whole-hog by the Beltway in its desperate pursuit of sustainable electoral viability.

A citizenry that had gotten through the 1950s ‘Cold War’ with just the occasional craze for backyard bomb-shelters was far more addled by the prospect of domestic criminality and anti-social behavior. Not surprising, when you think about it, but nobody realized at the time just how much the government was not only surfing the waves of this anxiety but was actually stoking those waves.

Elias even allows himself to wonder if “in addition to crime causing an obsession with security, an obsession with security might also cause crime”. (p.40) And yet what isn’t so clearly noticed a possibility is that the government would actually seek to stoke such an obsession for ‘security’ from ‘crime’.

And don’t forget: this is before the radical-feminist movement managed to get the Beltway’s acquiescence in declaring the American home as the nation’s largest ‘crime scene’ and the nation’s fathers as the nation’s largest body of incorrigible and un-reported perps. Even as the actual crime rate was declining.

Elias notes that other socialization forces than social networks are active in shaping public opinion: officials, educators, professionals, researchers, commissioners (I can’t quite figure that one), are among those who also shape attitudes.

Ominously – though the point seems lost on him – he immediately opines that “their views might actually be similar and reinforcing”. (p.41) I think what he means here is that the views of all those types might BE MADE TO BE similar and reinforcing; and if you as an ‘advocacy’ could do that (the Beltway’s sustained and clear support would be a big help) then you could take a huge step toward ‘shaping’ public opinion. And as I have often mentioned, since the days of Josef Goebbels, the line between ‘shaping’ and ‘manipulating’ public opinion has become verrrrry blurred indeed.

But “perhaps the greatest influence … comes from the mass media”, since it is a “mediator between the government and the public” that “substantially (and selectively) conveys and translates official statistics and statements into public perceptions”. (p.41)

Notice the conflict in approach: Elias adds that “(and selectively)” fully aware as an objective observer that the media don’t always tell it like it is; yet of course as an ‘advocate’ he is going to want to take advantage of that very characteristic.

You also notice that the media here are not envisioned as the Constitutionally-envisioned ‘watchdog’ over the government, the traditional American justification for a ‘free press’. Rather, it is a ‘mediator’ – sort of an unofficial government mimeograph and stenography organization – which, if they have secured great influence over the government, any dedicated ‘advocates’ will want to make full use of.

Surely what Elias sees in 1986 came to awful fruition less than 5 years later: Happily raking in bucks with sensationalist (and very ‘selective’) recounting of ‘stories’, the media merely amplified the ‘findings’ that the Beltway decided to make under the influence and pressure of the concerted victimist advocacies.

But Elias is truly tormented here. He legitimately bemoans the “sensationalized, misleading, and often inaccurate cover stories” of such major organs as ‘Time’, ‘U.S. News and World Report’, ‘The New York Times Magazine’ and ABC’s TV series ‘Crime in America’. He accurately observes that “the problems are many”. (p.41)

But, being a committed Victimologist, his concern is only that the government is limiting itself to “seven ‘index’ crimes”, and not expanding its definitions to cover the vast body of un-reported and under-reported ‘crime’ – that alleged ‘dark figure’ – and all the concomitant ‘victimization’. In other words, he’s bothered NOT actually by all this ‘sensationalism’ BUT RATHER that all the ‘sensationalism’ and ‘inaccuracy’ is too narrowly based on a few ‘traditionally-defined’ crimes, rather than on the vast unruly and dark ocean of as-yet-unacknowledged victimizations (and – necessarily – the ‘crimes’ that cause them).

And, by the oddest coincidence, within a few years there arose the Domestic Violence regime – based on the amazingly rapid re-visioning of the American Home and Family as the nation’s most vicious and frequent crime scene – and the Sex Offender Mania regime – based on the assumption that ‘men’ are incorrigible and predatory sexual assaulters and must be tagged and confined as such.

He bemoans how the media so often “sensationalize” crime, “pandering more to unique angles than to reality”. As an example he notes that “stories about bailed or paroled prisoners who commit murders … provide ‘good copy’ yet these situations rarely happen.” (p.41) Within a few years – and I’m not saying Elias consciously envisioned it – the American scene would erupt with the stranger-sex-offender sensationalism, on which rare and mushy basis the SORNA regime was justified (as so often, you can re-read the 1995 New Jersey Supreme Court Poritz Opinion to see how it all played out).

Remarkably, he singles out offending phrases that had become media mantras: “the curse of violent crime is rampant”, “we live in a reign of terror”, “our attackers are increasingly brutal marauders”, they are “mean, antisocial people with macho complexes”, and that “we have been held hostage to the irrational acts of a relatively small cadre of career criminals”. (p.41)

We know him well enough to realize that what’s upsetting him is that all the public ‘opinion’ is being wrongly (in his view) focused on just a few ‘traditionally defined’ crimes. But within a few years these handy media mantras will be applied in both the Domestic Violence and Sex Offender regimes.

Although, neatly and soooo selectively, that last bit about “a relatively small cadre of career criminals” will be re-jiggered to be a huge bunch of incorrigible (but still ‘macho’ and therefore ‘male’) lifelong criminal whackos. In the lurid Beltway kitchens, the committees of pols and ‘advocates’ will make certain changes to Elias’s recipe-book, with results that are now, finally, becoming undeniably clear.

He even bemoans the mantra that considers “plea bargaining as threatening justice-for-the-victim”. (p.42) That isn’t going to sit well with the American crime-focused variant of Victimology: the advocates of that approach will indeed consider that plea-bargaining is just such a threat, although they will also consider due-process Constitutional protections as nothing but ‘obstructions’ that provide ‘cover’ to perps. (In case you ever wondered where the Bush-Cheney team got the idea by 2002 that the Constitution was “quaint”.)

Now plea-bargaining is indeed a threat to the integrity of the justice system as well as to the Constitutional rights of the defendant: you can be induced to enter a Guilty plea that doesn’t apply to you, simply to avoid the greatly-inflated charges that prosecutors bring precisely to induce you and your attorney to take the lesser of two evils (i.e. a guilty plea in exchange for a guaranteed reduced charge). And in a prosecution-heavy environment, a defense attorney might be well-advised to urge you to take it, if the goal is not to ensure Justice but simply to keep you from the semi-demonic realm of prison.

But advocates far too often oppose plea-bargaining NOT out of concern for the integrity of the justice system or the Constitutional rights of the defendant, BUT out of Victimology’s (rather dubious) vision of the rights of the ‘victim’. They don’t want to clean up the justice system, Constitutionally speaking; they want to take that now fouled and rigged instrument and simply put it to their own use, i.e. to guarantee the ‘closure’ created by the defendant’s almost certain conviction. Which is precisely what both the Domestic Violence and Sex Offense regimes’ legislation was designed to do. (And in the process further corrupting the Constitutional integrity of the justice system and so many of its officials, and the legislative system as well).

And – by the oddest coincidence – note the stunning (it should have been verrrry ‘alarming’ as well) lack of concern for valid ‘evidence’ in the Beltway’s later run-up to the Iraq War. It wasn’t just the shocking governmental disregard for truth and accuracy in the reliability of the evidence it presented, but even more so the government’s apparently accurate gamble that most Americans were so used to the degradation of the concept of ‘evidence’ that they either wouldn’t notice or wouldn’t care.

Nor will I accept the suggestion that years and years of the official corrosion of the concept of ‘reliable evidence’ in the above-mentioned regimes had nothing to do with that; on the contrary, once invited back* into the American ‘house’, the vampire of anti-Constitutional disregard for facts and evidence did not limit itself to the ‘domestic affairs’ room but proceeded to rampage into the foreign-affairs and military affairs rooms as well. And much much blood has been spilled in consequence.

Elias then notes disapprovingly the “superficiality” of most media treatment. (p.42) He’s right, of course, but he is again undermined by his Victimology-‘advocacy’ stance: what irks him is that the media aren’t focusing widely enough on the many ‘unreported’ or ‘self-reported’ victimizations. And the SO community is well aware of the superficiality – and in most cases downright inaccuracy – of ‘evidence’ and careful analysis in SO cases and in the very Findings of legislatures when they enact the enabling legislation itself.

And while he bemoans the media characterization of “blacks as naturally violent” and “minorities as naturally criminal” (p.43), he will soon be blind-sided by the radical-feminist and ‘governance feminism’ characterizations of husbands and fathers (Domestic Violence) and ‘men’ (Sex Offender) as being naturally-sexually-violent in the respective regimes that were enacted in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Even more so, he objects to the “extraordinary” media portrayal of “violence”, in both news reporting and TV shows and films, which induces the citizenry to imagine that the country is awash in violence and which “desensitizes” children (92 percent of kid shows contain some form of violence, he notes). (p.42)

Such portrayals, he says, generate “fear, anxiety, and an identification with the unrestrained and violent forces of the law”. (p.43) Strong stuff indeed. Yet again, he will be blind-sided by the stunningly selective and inaccurate portrayals of ‘violence’ that will be alleged to underlie and comprise the majority of ‘sex offenses’, and the alleged ‘natural’ violence of males, in the sensationalistic and cartoonish characterizations of the afore-mentioned regimes.

And – ominously – the public has indeed for so long been induced to approve the removal of all traditional Constitutional and jurisprudential restraints when dealing with SOs. And indeed, the public now has become “desensitized” to such removals and such ‘legal violence’ – which, as I said, was a point not lost on the government when it created the run-up to the wars in Southwest Asia.

He raises the interesting possibility of the public’s “vicarious victimization” (p.43). By this he means that members of the public will feel themselves at risk and – even more – will actually respond as if they themselves had personally experienced the ‘victimizations’ reported so sensationalistically in the media. If he’s accurate here, then emotionally large numbers of the public are in the same agitated and angry state as the actual victims, seeking revenge quickly and clearly as a form of ‘satisfaction’.

Psychologically, he notes that the “media imposes or reinforces simplistic notions through superficial psychological appeals” and analyses. (p.44) Surely, a review of the Poritz Opinion, among many many others, and of the legislative Findings underlying the laws that courts have reviewed, supports his concern.

Such reports, he notes acutely, “may mystify instead of clarify, especially in a society generally adverse to critical thought”. (p.44) And THAT is a stunning observation, and alarmingly painful. Most folks don’t give ‘news’ much serious thought; and that unhappy and disconcerting reality is intensified when you have the corroboration of such a seemingly wide bunch of ‘experts’, some with serious professional status though many have merely ‘popular’ standing as paperback writers and others are ‘experts’ who stand to make a lot of government money from the Mania.

Worse, “people may simply accept the first credible guidance they receive and ignore any subsequent cues … or, if confronted … with conflicting information, they may accept views that support the most easily digestible symbols”. (p.45) Precisely what is seen when the first ‘symbols’ the public confronts are the slavering-monster-incorrigible-sex-offender. Although at this point it must also be noted that legislators now cannot admit to having made mistakes, even when confronted with increasing amounts of sober research indicating how wrong they have been. After all, they have their own status to consider, as well as the pressures of various groups to whom they have for so long and with such great financial largesse pandered.

Which brings him directly to “Government Motives” (p.45) “We cannot assume that the government wants to convey an objective account of crime and victimization”. (p.45) He quotes, nicely, H.L. Mencken: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the population alarmed (and thus clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins”. (p.45) This is a temptation facing any government, though one which the Framers sought to short-circuit by insisting on careful Constitutional protections for any accused.

In what now seem the innocent days of 1986, Elias observes that “if nothing else, state officials seem caught between wanting to portray crime as a minor problem to reinforce their legitimacy and effectiveness, and wanting to portray a major crime problem to justify various enforcement measures and an aura of restricted freedoms, and state power in exchange for greater security”. (p.45).

Notice his reference to “state” officials; he could not imagine that the Federal government would need to – or dare to – get into the criminal-justice role Constitutionally reserved to the States.

But in the SO Mania that is precisely what happened.

And where the American variant of Victimology shrewdly played upon the politicians’ abiding desire to be perceived as “effective” and “legitimate”, it also forced them to adopt, neatly, BOTH prongs of their dilemma: they created a monstrous ‘threat’ and then demonstrated their ‘effectiveness’ and ‘legitimacy’ (and responsiveness and sensitivity) by brushing aside Constitutional concerns and erecting the SO Mania regime. Having created ‘the Injuns’, the pols could then put on the mantle of John Wayne and ride to the settlers’ rescue. As American as apple pie – but grossly anti-Constitutional.**

Elias concludes this section with thoughts on “Media Collusion”. (p.46)

“While the media pursue their own separate agenda, largely related to making profits, we cannot discount their relationship with government, and the symbolic interactions they routinely pursue for mutual purposes”. (p.46) And then: “Some argue that what promotes state power and legitimacy will often simultaneously sell newspapers” while “Others argue that, intentional or not, we can hardly discount the ‘social production’ of the news and the orchestrating of public opinion through official statements and dutiful media acquiescence, if not encouragement” and that this is especially true when media “readily allow officials to manipulate the news through symbolic appeals, often lacking in substance yet free of critical media review”. (p.46)

I don’t know if you can put more succinctly or accurately precisely what happened in the run-up to the SO Mania regime and in the sustaining of it.


*The Framers clearly had royal and tyrannical governments’ manipulation or outright disdain for evidence in mind when they framed the Constitution; and no doubt they also recalled the American colonies’ own Salem Witch Trials and their ‘spectral evidence’ of less than a century before.

**Alas, most Americans get their ‘history’ and even their sense of America from sources other than careful knowledge of the Constitutional vision and the machinery carefully constructed to preserve it. You may recall John Ford’s cavalry western film “Rio Grande” (1950), starring John Wayne. Baffled by a group of Apache who strike over the river from Mexico and then retreat back over the river into Mexico and beyond the reach of his cavalry, Wayne’s colonel is prohibited by ‘government policy’ from taking his force over the river to finish them off. Then he is visited by General Sheridan, his old Civil War commander who now commands the frontier. Sheridan gives Wayne an order – off the record and not in writing: chase them into Mexico and if you fail you may rest assured that all the officers sitting on your court-martial will be your old buds from the Civil War, handpicked by me.

In the setting of the film’s script, it seems like a neat little solution, and likable because Wayne and J. Carroll Naish (who played Sheridan) are likable and trustworthy to the film viewer.

But while it makes for a nice little film, it is hell-and-gone from the way Americans need to conduct their government. If Nixon allegedly invaded Cambodia in 1970 the morning after watching the newly-released film “Patton”, I wonder if a lot of pols watched “Rio Grande” before agreeing to the proposals of the American branch of Victimology and passing the legislation that enabled the regimes mentioned above.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


We continue reviewing the 1986 book entitled “The Politics of Victimization” by Robert Elias, then of Tufts University.*

Elias can always be relied on to cover the proper bases; in that he’s professional. But he’s also an ‘advocate’ type of researcher/scholar, so you can never tell when his predispositions affect his analysis of an otherwise important sub-topic.

He rightly gets to “Measuring Victimization” and he’s going to look at the sources. (p.37) “These figures can tell us many things about victimization … [and about] how much victimization we suffer … [and] significantly affect public policy and perceptions, and thus we must closely analyze how they are derived.”

The SO community, going back to the initial stampedes of the ‘classic’ SO Mania era in the early 1990s, is well aware about how significantly public policy and perceptions are affected. You can, given the (im-)proper dispositions, start yourself a lethal if useful stampede by waving statistics in concert with selective and sensationalistic ‘reporting’ and ‘stories’. As many people walked around believing the country was swarming with slavering stranger sex offenders bent on kidnap-rape-murder, just as before long (by the oddest coincidence) the country started walking around in the sure and certain ‘knowledge’ that Saddam had WMDs.

And he speaks with an eerie foreshadowing (he’s writing in 1986) when he then says that “Our so-called ‘crime waves’ may reflect the ebb and flow of police and organization imperatives rather than actual crime”. (p.37) I think he’s trying to say that sometimes the official (and at that time not-victim-sensitive) law enforcement priorities are driven by forces other than concern for the victim; but it also works very well in reverse: in a ‘push’ initiated by politicians at all levels including the Federal, ‘forces’ can be generated that will equally (if not worse) skew and deform law enforcement in favor of Victimology.

In fact, when you think of it: when a crime is committed, its consequences ripple out for a certain distance into society. But when a type of crime is selectively raised up as a national ‘emergency’ and ‘crisis’, and then law enforcement and jurisprudence are deformed - even on the level of Constitutional integrity – in order to meet the ‘emergency’, then the bad consequences of THAT are not rippled-out (like a pebble dropped in water sends out waves) bur rather transmitted-out and amplified like radio waves. They don’t ripple out toward the citizens but rather rain-down upon them, passing through walls and seemingly solid objects. And that can’t be good. Especially when sustained over decades.

Elias notes the Uniform Crime Reports complied by the FBI. He notes that they indicate certain major categories of crime rising “an average of 350 percent” in the past twenty years:” (i.e. since the 1960s). Although in an aside he mentions that “we may have reached a peak sometime in the mid-1970s”. (p.37) Of course, this may have reflected the large number of Boomer youth coming of age, on top of that cohort of young kids during WW2 whose lives and families were disrupted by war and then possibly by a move to the suburbs right after it … lots of room for troubled and under-Shaped kids growing out of all that.

But then he observes, honestly enough, that what might be developing is not a ‘crime wave’ but rather a ‘crime reporting wave’. We saw this in the verrrrry curious phases and Waves of the verrrry curious Catholic abuse ‘crisis’: what surfaced was not so much a steady flow of reports of freshly-committed crimes, but rather a steady (indeed increasingly lurid) stream of reports about crimes long-past (assuming they were committed as described in the first place).

Then he gets on to “victimization surveys”, which are merely organized opportunities for persons to say whatever they’d like to say. After all, he says, “official statistics … apparently indicate only part of the crime problem”. (p.38)

The solution to that, he burbles proudly, was that “beginning in the late 1960s, researchers and later the government, began assessing crime through victimization surveys” – and, by amazing coincidence, these surveys demonstrate that “official statistics have underestimated actual victimization by 300 to 500%”.

Take a moment, if you will, to contemplate that.

If you haven’t got enough factual information to build your case (and perhaps its subsequent professional and advocacy ‘empire’) then you can raise up an entirely new source of ‘information’ and ‘statistics’ that is not bound by such inconvenient and limiting boundaries as truth, verification, and any objective assessment at all.

So, meshing nicely with the then-growing feminist assertion that women don’t so much process and relay information through abstract ‘facts, but rather cast their information in the form of ‘telling stories’, “researchers” (meaning either professionals who should have known better or non-professionals who figured that a pencil, some paper, and a couple-three leading questions made them professionals) started to ‘just ask’ certain types of folks.

And the result, as any 8 year-old could have told them, was a veritable Genesis Effect of ‘stories’, in this case – since the ‘research’ was skewed toward them – ‘victimization’ stories.

I am not saying that none of the stories thus gleaned were accurate. But a) there is no way to ascertain just how truthful and accurate such survey results really are. And b) there is thus no way that any prudent government, concerned for its legitimacy and integrity, could implement Constitutionally dangerous and broad policies based on them.

But the ‘story’ approach made great if shallow ‘reporting’ so the media eagerly signed on.

And – equally ominously – the “government” perked up its ears and its whiskers started twitching. Prosecutors could see huge hay to be made in conviction rates if you could i) point to this huge “dark figure” of an amount of ‘victimization’ quintuple the amount of official statistics: you could claim an ‘emergency’; you could put forth a telegenic ‘victim’ like a puppy or a meerkat or a penguin to ‘front’ your prosecutions; you could even – if the legislators and judges could be gotten on board like the media – free ‘prosecution’ from the ‘obstructions’ of Constitutional due process and factuality. ‘Victimology’ suddenly became verrrrry attractive to prosecutors who in a more ‘macho’ era simply saw law enforcement and criminal prosecution as a mano-a-mano between lawbreakers and cops, with a procedural ho-hum air to the settled rhythms of court process.

‘Victimology’, in a word, became ‘sexy’ and victimization surveys ‘sexed up’ the whole process, engrossing the public in lurid stories breathlessly ‘reported’, in which the law enforcers suddenly became ‘heroes’ (erasing in a quick swipe both the horror of Southern police beating up on civil rights marchers and the failures and atrocities of the Vietnam-era military). (And who can forget that in 2003 one British high official reported to Tony Blair that in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion the Americans were ‘sexing up’ their ‘facts’ in order to guarantee the rush to war?)

All of which caught the legislators like fish in a trolling-net. You could please a large and nicely mixed demographic of feminist advocates and law-and-order folks; make yourself look both ‘concerned’ and ‘effective’; build up fat bureaucracies filled with ‘jobs’ that would indenture fresh new employees and fund all sorts of ‘groups’ that would also be beholden to your control of the purse-strings; and also maybe distract lots and lots of voters from your inability to keep the Great American Success Story going. What was not to like?

And, of course, you would look verrrry ‘modern’ and ‘cutting edge’, moving American society toward the increasing government and police regulation you were going to need to ensure social order, since in other legislative policies you were Deconstructing the Family and Parents and Adult Authority and many many other institutions that had done the work of preparing kids to live a peaceable and orderly personal life in society. And since, instead, whole cohorts of kids were being raised according to a new philosophy that valued ‘total autonomy’ and insisted that limits, boundaries, and any sort of Shape to a life that you didn’t choose on your own merely constituted ‘oppression’. And, of course, it was as American as apple pie to hate ‘oppression’.

So a certain amount of police-state was built into all the new ‘reforms’; if there weren’t going to be all those ‘traditional’ forces doing the civilizing work in American culture, then the government was going to have to step in with the criminal law.

And if the Constitution was thereby rendered ‘quaint’, well – times change and so what? It would all work out, once people got used to things.

So the new national script would be that law enforcement ‘heroes’ would rush to the rescue of ‘victims’, manfully and heroically unhindered by namby-pamby concerns about ‘legality’ and the Constitution. In an odd way law enforcement put John Wayne’s classic movie approach to the service of the latest postmodern fads – and Victimology would be the benefactor, a theory and world-view rather very largely based, in the American crime-centered variant, on that huge ‘dark figure’ of crimes that existed only in those survey ‘stories’.

Elias is not bothered by the downsides. After all, he says, “many writers” came to the quick conclusion that the real reason for the ‘dark figure’ was simply that many ‘victims’ were “reluctant to report” their ‘victimizations. (p.38) Just how significant were the ‘crimes’ that made these folks feel ‘victimized’ is another question.

Nor, in the American crime-centered variant, was any attention going to be paid to citizens ‘victimized’ by government activity such as the improper use of military force against peoples around the world.*

Note also that the persons who ‘discovered’ or ‘determined’ that the main reason for non-reporting was simply ‘reluctance’ are not described by Elias as ‘researchers’ or ‘scholars’ but as “writers” – which opens up a whole new dark side to this thing: the explosion of ‘advocate’ writers, not professionally trained and/or not bound by the disciplines of objective research in service of actual facts. But of course, in an ‘emergency’ and in a Good Cause, ‘facts don’t matter’ any more than due-process ‘obstructions’.

What Elias talks about in 1986, and how he goes about it, will come to ominous fruition within half a decade.

Yes, he admits, some of those surveyed “might be inclined to overstate” what happened to them but “despite these reservations, most researchers place much more confidence in victim surveys than in official statistics”. (p.38) And then – who could be surprised? – the government saw a useful development and devised the National Crime Survey, thus combining governmental and Victimological interests into an ‘official’ survey.

Worse, he notes that “despite these reservations most researchers place much more confidence in victim surveys than in official statistics”. (p.38)

Again, he uses – and this is now typical – the terms ‘writers’, ‘researchers’, ‘scholars’, ‘thinkers’ and ‘experts’ interchangeably. And this, of course, opens the door to assertions and claims by many non-trained persons who are either sincerely ‘concerned’ but not trained in objectivity and actual research discipline; or are ‘advocacy’ scientists or scholars and feel that they have a higher purpose than mere (and ‘male’) objectivity and truth; or professionals who have to keep a weather eye on where their funding is coming from (i.e. the government); or entrepreneurs who stand to make more money the more extensive the ‘problem’ is.

All this on top of the fact that the ‘government’ whose statistics are relied upon – when they are relied upon at all – has clearly indicated that it wants this ‘emergency’ to expand.

You see where all this can quickly go. The SO community HAS seen it.

But then he adds other “indicators of victimization” (note ‘indicators’ thereof rather than evidence thereof): computerized records of prosecutors (new in 1986) (which will become a self-fulfilling circular dynamic as prosecutions are skewed by the political pressures); longitudinal studies that follow birth cohorts (“which follow the lives – and potentially ‘the crimes’ – of selected groups over long periods of time”); “self-report surveys” (We’ve already seen those above); archival data from sources such as police, hospital and insurance records; “experimental (laboratory and case studies)” (and We’ve seen what happens as soon as you have a bunch of ‘advocates’ of any sort conducting those); “anecdotal stories” (which are highly unreliable as ‘evidence’ as noted above); and “participant observations” (which are the raw reflections of persons involved in any of the above). (all quotes in this paragraph, p.39)

All of the foregoing constitute mostly ‘raw data’ which must be carefully and objectively examined before any accurate conclusions can be drawn. But such ‘detachment’ – like Constitutional due-process strictures – are merely ‘obstructions’ to any advocates for whom “facts don’t matter”, as is famously said.

And all of this came together in a monstrous and virulent goo to create the SO Mania (and to great extent the Domestic Violence Mania that preceded it).

While admitting that reliance on such a hash may result in the “indicators’ tending to “overstate the amount of people involved” yet he concludes that “even by official measures, we must be greatly alarmed by our crime level”. (p.39)

But the crime level has been declining (although the “reporting” – such as it may be termed – is, as he has said, increasing) and was trending in that direction even in the mid-80s.

It seems to me that having given itself over to the ‘advocacy mania’ approach by guaranteeing its receptivity to any ‘emergencies’ pushed its way by any ‘advocacy’ to whom it might profitably pander, the Beltway wound up moving toward a Regulatory State as well as a Nanny State. And a Regulatory State is a form of Benevolent Despotism, precisely what the Framers rejected as a possibility for their “American Experiment” – which, rather, depended on a daring trust that ‘people’ could be ultimately trusted to sustain their role in American government as The People.

But of course, if so many of the citizens are ‘oppressors’ and the rest are ‘oppressed’, then the entire Founding Vision becomes not only “quaint” but also unworkable, as the government must expand to be both Nanny and Regulator of everybody, who are either perps or victims.

And thus the erosion of any working reality called ‘Americans’ and ‘The People’.

This is what the SO community is working to correct through its efforts to rollback the SO Mania regime.


*My copy is the paperback version put out by Oxford UP in 1986. It bears the ISBN 0-19-503980-7. It will be unwieldy to include both Chapter Titles and sub-headings as well as page numbers, in case you have a different edition. I will stick to only using page references when I make quotations, but for especially important points I will do so.

**Consider what the impact is going to be at this point, for example, of having one in six Army troops on some form of officially-prescribed psychoactive drugs (don’t even ask about the illicit drug use); or of the effect of thousands of young men getting through their days in combat simply by reducing their ‘care’ to their immediate ‘buds’ and deriving their sense of life from shooting and being shot at, and the thrill of killing.

Try to tote up the many ways, direct and indirect, that American society and the American People are going to be ‘victimized’ in the near and further future.

Consider, while you’re at it, what happens to the troops who are not on psychoactive medications but the ones who are ruff-tuff and combat competent. This recent piece discusses troops (all male, by the oddest coincidence) assigned to a remote outpost in Afghanistan: they report – and happily – that they don’t know or care how the war will turn out, and that they live day-to-day for the intense high of focused bro-hood with their combat buddies and the thrill of combat (and killing). They do worry – and rightly, more than they know – about how they will adapt to the ‘down’ of civilian life when they return home. What will We as a society face, when thousands of these troops return, on top of the dozens of thousands who have been on psychoactive medications for months or years over there? If We are not going to be indirectly but most really ‘victimized’ – to use Elias’s broad definition of the term – then nobody is ever going to be ‘victimized’.