[Paleopsych] prison

Michael Christopher anonymous_animus at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 16 18:00:58 UTC 2004

>>Even if the U.S. Supreme Court shortly finds that 
the sentencing guidelines are constitutional, THEY

--Who said the goal of the prison system was to deter
crime? I'd say it performs a narrative function, like
a TV show. The good guy gets license to hurt the bad
guy (this also requires the labelling of a "victim"
who must stay in the role and not forgive), and
there's no follow-up about whether other bad guys are
deterred. Indeed, bad guys must continue to appear, in
order to justify the hero's vengeance. The narrative
can't survive if the hero, the victim and the villain
are all human and beyond labels in their essence. None
is allowed to be a whole person, and each depends on
the others to define his or her role. Society involves
similar narratives or games, in which those who
transcend their role threaten the balance of
relationships, whether it's the victim who forgives,
the villain who changes, or the hero who is also a
victim or villain in other contexts. Is vice and
virtue a zero-sum game? Was Christianity on to
something when it said "love the sinner and hate the
sin", or in more trendy language "love the carrier of
the meme and hate the meme"? 

The function of prison is to inflict pain or
intolerable mental chaos on the socially marginalized.
The homeless and mentally ill, regardless of their
ethical integrity, are another class of people who are
designated to carry the "toxic ghosts" of society,
giving the rest of us the ability to keep our
psychological demons in line. Whether it works
indefinitely or has a time limit, we'll see.


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