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Posts Tagged ‘punishment’

Of “Nostalgic Spasms”

May 21, 2014 Leave a comment

In Taming Lust, a brief study of the prosecution of bestiality in early America, Doron S. Ben-Atar uses the phrase “nostalgic spasm” to refer to a sudden shift in social norms that looks back in light of changes. Such “spasms” come in times of social change, he suggests, and demonstrates with his book how in moments of social change an older generation can grasp its power in a last-ditch attempt to stop oncoming change. It is a process we see repeated throughout history: moments of social shift occurring but only after actions of incredible bigotry and cruelty. With each change in social perspective an old view is tossed away.

Critical to these shifts are the individuals involved in making new ideas reality. Too often we look only at the actors involved with the winning side. History is, they say, written by the victors and such limited consideration is evidence of its truth. Who creates the change? Both the actors whose new ideas become enacted and the losers whose old, out-dated ideas are discarded.

In changing our social norms we look away from old ideas. In transitioning to new ideas we discard old views and shift power from those who held these views to those with new ideas. Abstraction may lead us to only view these changes from the perspective of the idea: the women’s right to vote became enacted or civil rights were extended to African-Americans. Changes, yes, but abstract ideas that only become reality when people work (and often die) to make them reality. Human beings move ideas from abstract ideas to actual policy.

Often people claim an “evolution” of thought with new ideas. The right for same-sex couples to marry is a contemporary issue where people often cite an “evolution of perspective” in explaining their delay in drawing conclusions. President Obama is one individual who has cited such evolutions. Herein is the older generation gradually coming to terms with new ideas. For some this evolution is difficult, but for others its simply too much. For those whose perspectives cannot accommodate a change in norms the “nostalgic spasm” might seem critical. Rapid action to block a social change often occur in areas where values are deeply embedded in the community. Severe punishments for crimes typically treated less severely or the creation of new, more strict rules and punishments reveal the spasm in action. Moral panic might explain their actions, but in their works we see both reaction and change. Though their fight to keep things the same hurts many, time cannot control the change. Unfortunately our greatest social changes come with painful baggage. Before we have great change we have the panic of the powerful whose last grasp for power provides them with the ability to instill a brief, painful period of suffering. Such actions are dual symbols: the older power fading and the dawning of the new ideas to come.

 

 

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(Please Don’t) Live Forever

October 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Might one indicator of adulthood be the loss of interest in living forever? For the young and optimistic, life is rich with opportunity: fame and  fortune are but a day away and paradise awaits. For others, a career and responsibility have transformed one’s days to a series of chores and tasks. Weeks become less collections of opportunities and more extensive lists of needs and chores to do. When life becomes a gigantic list of tasks these is little to look forward to.

For the workers, desire shifts to rest and, if one is capable of imagining a life beyond the flesh, a world of unlimited pleasure while still desired exists beyond the human life. When this becomes the accepted state, a life that does not end is nightmare.

No matter how one sees paradise, it is the future that holds the happiness. To the young this place remains reachable in a human life. “I’ll be famous when they know” or “one day I’ll be rich” are legitimate possibilities. To the rest a life becomes a burden before death. Gifted with the possibility of heaven, some think” In heaven, I’ll be happy” and toil day-to-day with a sense of future pleasure as the goal. Potential shifts to punishment and paradise lifts higher and higher.

No matter what the age a world of bliss and endless pleasure is the goal. For some this state is within reach while for others a more ethereal destination holds the key. We all want the endless candy bars and fields of vegetation. The only grand distinction lies in how: is it here within my reach or just beyond my life. If its death that gifts desire than an endless life is just delay and one that does not end a confounding source of terror.

More Hallowed Halls

July 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Beyond the walls of a court room the human mind remains the final bastion of justice. Whether one is falsely convicted or released despite a crime, he or she must come to terms with such results. Within the mind one must face the dialogue of personal responsibility. Might one’s guilt be greater if the individual is never forced to publicly acknowledge it? There is a sort of catharsis provided by a public conviction. Though innocent until proven guilty, one “does the time” for “doing the crime” and afterwards is released.

A prison sentence is a limited proposal- go to prison for X years and then be released. And yet while complications always follow such sentences, society largely sees the conclusion of a prison sentence a time of redemption. No matter what occurs following a public trial, the individual must face the mental conversations of these results. Whether guilty or innocent we will never know, but deep within the mental universe of every individual lies the truth. Perhaps the worst form of punishment comes for those denied a conviction. Released despite a crime leaves one to face the mental conversation of unjustified freedom and the sneaky itch of “getting away with it.”

Proactive Punishment

July 18, 2012 Leave a comment

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky Penn State scandal , some have called for additional punishment of the college. The decision on how to punish Penn State should come from the victim’s of Jerry Sandusky. Based on their perspectives the legal system should design a plan of intervention that guarantees crimes like those committed by Jerry Sandusky cannot happen again. One is best served by considering the purpose of the punishment. What is the goal of punishing Penn State?

If one aims to prevent similar crimes than proactive actions are the only effective means. The best plan would be to require Penn State to create a service for victims of sexual abuse worldwide. Working to assist those who have suffered at the hands of figures similar to Jerry Sandusky, the ideal punishment builds to better solutions.

The best punishment for Penn State provides both victims and perpetrators to move forward in a way that serves the entire public. Additional pain and suffering accomplishes nothing and serves only to out-bully a bully. Work together, make a quality program and transform Penn State’s focus from one of shock and disgust to an active focus on fixing problems.

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