Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Might and the Right - and the WRONG

There is a presumption among those who are not well educated, those who take a traditional, often conservative approach to social problems that more violent responses or harsher punishment is the correct solution to everything from misbehaving children to adults who engage in criminal or destructive behaviors, including self-destructive behavior.

That failed theory includes the idea that if someone enters your home, armed or unarmed, the solution is to shoot them.  If someone breaks a law, the solution is to put them in prison, for a longer period of time, under the harshest possible conditions.  In some cases this includes not only physical deprivation, but humiliation.  The death penalty - applauded by supporters of Texas Governor Rick Perry's execution record at a Republican debate earlier this year - typifies the extremes to which people are willing to carry their 'common sense solution' theory, in the face of all the evidence that shows emphatically that their theory of punishment does not work.

If prison worked, we would have the lowest crime rate in the world; as the so-called 'land of the free' we have the highest population of not-free incarcerated people in the world, at a huge cost to our various levels of government from local through federal levels.  We have criminalized activities which were never previously crimes, often at the felony level.

Conservatives, including especially religious conservatives, condone harsh treatment of children, including harsh, violent punishment - see the video below.  Conservatives are the group who more than any other favors lethal force in the form of more lenient, lax Castle doctrine laws.  My colleague and co-blogger Laci refers to them quite correctly as 'license to kill' laws.  It tends to be conservatives far more than moderates or liberals who favor making lethal violence more readily available to individuals who want to take deadly force into their own hands, often without either a good grounding in the law, or safe practices.  Such changes in carry laws are often opposed by law enforcement for the reason it makes doing their job more dangerous and more difficult.

The right wing, including many of those who promote the arming of people to enable and encourage lethal violence is consistent with the trends to right wing authoritarianism, including that identified here, at the University of Manitoba site about Bob Altemeyer's "The Authoritarians".   Authoritarian criminal laws, authoritarian parenting and education, authoritarian politics DO NOT WORK. It is the opposite of freedom, it is the opposite of independent people, it is the opposite of a democracy.

To quote the opening paragraph on Authoritarianism from wikipedia:
Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and democracy. In politics, an authoritarian government is one in which political authority is concentrated in a small group of politicians.[1]
Authoritarianism does one thing, and only one thing.  It makes those who are naturally fearful, who need obsessive conformity to feel safe and comfortable, feel better by forcing others to conform, however costly, however costly and ineffectual the actual outcome of that force in achieving the intended goals.

We need to hold people more accountable for the bottom line, for the effectiveness of their policies and laws.  We must require RESULTS driven objective policies and legislation, not the right wing 'because it feels right' so-called common sense solutions that are not sensible and that do not solve anything.

We need to BE the land of the free, we need real freedom, not right wing lip-service to restrictive and intrusive fear-based laws and policies.

Violence begets violence.
Mahatma Gandhi proclaimed

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”

American novelist Mary McCarthy wrote words which are true of us not only as individuals, but as a nation:
“In violence, we forget who we are”
And the author Isaac Asimov very correctly observed:

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

Every time I read of someone claiming we just need more guns to commit more violence, or more harsh treatment to solve a problem, it is greater incompetence, failure to understand and educate, forced conformity, and brutal authoritarianism.

Some of the wisest words that came from civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. were these, an expansion of the concept that violence begets violence from the biblical new testament gospel of Matthew:
"Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. ...
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. … Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that."


  1. So the violence perpetrated by the US against Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, etc., is just fine and dandy. We see this stuff on the news everyday. Where in the world do you think people get the idea that violence is okay?
    Cops beating peaceful demonstrators, busting into homes dressed like Darth Vader, killing peoples' pets, blowing off the heads of unarmed innocent people. Why would anyone wonder wear the violence and use of force comes from.
    Armed cops walking the halls in schools, schools giving students Class A narcotics, expelling children for being children, cops using force and handcuffing 5 year-olds. Yes, where in the world does the lesson of violence come from?

  2. And yet, you are equally authoritarian. You just prefer to cloak it behind the worst appeal of the tyrant: safety. A person who breaks into my home has already committed a violent act. I need to know nothing else. If I can respond with less than lethal force, so much the better, but that's only if I can do so. You may quote Gandhi and King all you want, but that doesn't change the reality of the world. Nor does quoting one of Asimov's characters. What we see here is that emotionalism and arguments from literature is fine, so long as it's on your side. This all still comes down to the fact that you distrust free people.

  3. Anonymous@7:01PM:

    I'm not sure if you're for or against any of these things or how they relate to the post.

    Greg Camp:

    You've been reading way too much in the sensationalist fiction aisle. Try some porn, instead, it'll prolly help. I mean porn other than Soldier of Fortune, though.

  4. Democommie,

    I don't post under Anonymous, so that comment isn't mine. Address your remarks to whoever Anonymous is.

  5. Excuse me? The one that has your name at the top isn't yours? You'd best call the intertoobz poleece to report that your names been stolet.

  6. Democommie,

    You seemed to be addressing Anonymous, especially since you mentioned sensationalist fiction, something that I don't read.

  7. "I'm not sure if you're for or against any of these things or how they relate to the post."

    Of course you don't because you're a stupid POS.

  8. Two posts by "anonymous".

    The first seems a bit, well, confused. The second seems to be a tad angry, but it's hard to know if it's because their first post was unclear or because they're just a sockpuppet whose sole purpose in commenting is to let us all know that they are PISSED.

    This is the problem with sockpuppets, you never know which one of the people who boycott Mikeb302000's site are being the cowardlybullies that we know them to be.

    Of course the other thing about sockpuppets is that their words carry as much weight as their signatures.

  9. Yes, the signature of some idiot who goes by the name democummie carries a lot of weight - dead weight that is.

  10. GC writes:And yet, you are equally authoritarian. You just prefer to cloak it behind the worst appeal of the tyrant: safety. A person who breaks into my home has already committed a violent act.


    By your definition, my stepbrother sneaking into our house was committing a violent act justifying shooting.

    You have just once more demonstrated that you don't know the significant difference in threat levels that justify shooting someone.

    You are an idiot, and what is more a DANGEROUS idiot.

  11. Dog Gone,

    Your stepbrother was a member of the family and had a good reason for entering the house (well, he belonged there, even though he was sneaking in to avoid detection). I've made clear before that one should always identify the target before shooting. But since I have to speak by the card with you, it's a violent act when an unauthorized person breaks into my house. In Arkansas, the presumption is with the homeowner in such a situation. Are we clear now?

  12. dog gone there has to be balance. The polar opposite of an authoritarian society is anarchy.

    Say what you want about conservatism. As far as I can see, liberalism has dominated this country's public policy, justice system, educational system, and budget since the early 1960s. Whatever is happening now is a result of liberalism. Was life so horrible in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, and 1950s prior to this liberalism?

    Do you want to know where liberalism puts us? Researchers trying to find a link between DNA structure and violence rates. No absolutes -- everything is relative to some nebulous standard of majority opinion. Under liberalism, slavery was okay in the U.S. in the 1700s and 1800s and is illegal now but could be okay once again if enough people want it. Under conservatism, slavery always has been and always will be wrong, PERIOD. Call that authoritarian if you want.

    You want stable children that behave and grow up into productive citizens? Give them simple, clear boundaries. Call that authoritarian if you want. I call it good parenting. And the same thing applies to society as a whole.