Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Debate Narrative

The media and democrats underestimate normal people. I don't think very highly of the average person but I do at least know that everyone has been in an argument. Everyone can see when one party is rude and obnoxious and patronizing. The media, however, doesn't believe this. They think the average person wouldn't see Romney's yelling and awkward style as losing so the headlines today will be "early victory for Romney" or "Obama slammed in first debate."

While Romney supporters will take loud and interrupting asshole as a win, they don't matter. They are authoritarian morons and count just being able to breathe a win. If moderates and undecided voters actually watched the debate they would see one calm, adult man debating a petulant, sneering asshole. People aren't that stupid. They are, however, stupid enough to not check the story behind the headlines. Most didn't see the actual debate so their only look is the headlines. Most won't even read the articles. Had they watched or if the media would report honestly as if their audience were adults then the whole narrative would change drastically.

Good headlines would read "Romney interrupts moderator, flip flops on key issues, avoids answering questions" and "Obama defends obamacare, tax plan, economy." Instead they will declare a winner based entirely on how little they think of Americans. They will declare victory because they don't realize that people can tell when someone is an asshole, when they are just being loud because they have no points. People aren't very good at fact checking or logical analysis, but they are good at socialization, they are familiar with arguments. The only ones who think Romney won are either blinded by being on his side or too arrogant to think other people notice the BS. Maybe if the media didn't treat the undecided voters as dib children they would show a greater interest in the campaign.

Not that it matters much anyway. Undecideds didn't watch and won't make a decision based on a debate or policy, but entirely on their feelings about a candidate. Had they watched their feelings might have been influenced, seeing Obama be calm and mature would boost confidence in him, but they will only see the patronizing headlines.

Logic Priest

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Antiquated Crime and Punishment

As time goes on we all like to imagine some progress or other, and one of the biggest segments of society we love to wave over the heads of "backwards" cultures like the Islamic theocracies popping up around the world is how we treat and define crime. Things which don't hurt other people are gradually decriminalized and punishments become less harsh. Supposedly we have moved from punishment towards rehabilitation, and we have tried to remove punishments for behaviors which hurt no one.

This is obviously all bullshit. We may not execute people for blasphemy but in the US we have used the prison system as an institutionalized club to keep separate black and latino populations from the working class. From the arrests to the courts to the harsher prison sentences, black and latino men and women are singled out by a system claiming to be built around justice.

We have criminalized free speech if it crosses a corporate copyright, or if it comes from someone with an islamic sounding name. We have criminalized drugs that non white communities tend to use and we send rich white kids to "rehabilitation" while we send poor black and latino kids to jail for the first offense. Three strike laws turn smoking pot in your own home three times equivalent to rape. Judges and juries and prosecutors overwhelmingly single out black men and women, regardless of actual guilt.

The prison system itself seems to still be built around dark ages ideals. We throw people into chaotic private prisons with abusive guards and slave labor. Pot heads and petty thieves are thrown in with hardened rapists, murderers and career criminals leaving them little choice but to become violent themselves to survive. When they do get out after long terms of isolation from society with no actual rehabilitating therapy or job training, they then must convince employers to hire them over white people with no criminal record. When this fails, they turn back to crime and end up back in the slave labor and abuse built privatizing penal system.

Most states in fact still have executions. State sanctioned murder still exists in the US, even as we mock the third world for barbarism. We have made distributing a copy of a work over a century old a crime that can land you in the same prisons as the violent criminals, let loose in the jungle of gangs and abusive guards. We execute mentally ill and damaged individuals for crimes they didn't even know they committed. We still electrocute people, a punishment which sometimes results in death after minutes of screaming agony. We as a people know the numbers, the facts about racial makeup and the criminalization of actions which hurt no one, but we ignore and allow it because it only affects "others," that is non whites. A rich lawyer in California can run over and kill a man and never be charged, while an inner city high school student can be sent to jail for a decade for being caught with marijuana.

The entire prison system shifts towards longer sentences for increasingly harmless "crimes" under the watch of for-profit corporations using the inmate populations as slaves while barely caring for them. Approaching two centuries out from the end of slaver in the US we have found a way to bring it back. Nothing is more important than the profits of the gentry.