Saturday, February 19, 2011

"The Degree of Civilization in a Society Can Be Judged by Entering Its Prisons"

Thus spake Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky; one wonders what the great Russian would think of contemporary American prisons and society, as described here by Lance Tapley and Anna Clark respectively — Mass torture in America: notes from the supermax prisons and Why Does Popular Culture Treat Prison Rape As a Joke?

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9 Comments:

Blogger Matt@Occidentalism.org said...

Prison rape is how our society punishes prisoners. Rape, and beatings by deliberately putting prisoners in the same cell with other prisoners when the guards are sure a beating is going to take place. Needless to say, our society is sick.

8:01 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Yep. Pretty barbaric. Our ancestors would be appalled.

What makes it worse is that we think ourselves the pinnacle of human history.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

The prison system in the United States is an ongoing scandal and a gross abuse of fundamental human rights. The violations of natural law that occur within our prisons -- sexual assault primarily but also other crimes against the human person, dehumanization, etc. -- are systemic. Along with abortion and the collapse of the family, the state of our prisons is an example of how sick and decayed our society has become.

3:33 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Your comments prompted me to add that first article to the post.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Kevin J. Jones said...

There is reportedly a significant racial component to U.S. prison rape, which would explain why the subject is so taboo (in addition to American vindictiveness towards convicts).

Some prisoners join racially supremacist gangs as a form of protection.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Or they pay off prison gangs for protection if the prisoner in question has any money. But most of them don't, so they wind up joining simply to survive.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

An American prison is probably a pretty good approximation of what Hobbes' state of nature would look like.

1:32 AM  
OpenID d147cd88-3ea2-11e0-bb6b-000bcdcb2996 said...

Western:

I have always been interested in the stories of inmates and their lives behand bars. I recently read Dostoyevsky's "House of Dead" and Solzhenitsyn " One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich". Neither of these accounts mentioned rape or sex among inmates. My first thought was maybe this kind of activity was taboo in Russian society and therefore not spoken or written about(even though it happened). But on second thought maybe this was so against the natural law that Russians(even the hardest criminals) would never cross that line. What is your opinion on this lack of rape talk in these Russian writers?

I will say that even though the prison life in 19th century Russia and Communist Russia was brutal in many respects(corporal punishment, severe cold), it seemed more humane than the stories you hear about the current US prison system. If I had to go to prison I would rather be worked on a chain gang all day so that all the prisoners would be so physically exhausted there would be no thought of such physical attacks on another inmate.

Thanks

Gordie

1:43 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I'm reminded of what I've read of prisons in Victorian England; conditions were harsh, but never cruel, and few returned.

Like you, I'd take hard labor over even the remote possibility of gay rape.

11:44 PM  

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