Friday, February 29, 2008

America Imprisoned

This is the kind of story I hate to see:
Don't ask the U.S. prison system if this is indeed "the land of the free."

For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report tracking the surge in inmate population.

The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said.

Using updated state-by-state data, the report said 2,319,258 adults were held in U.S. prisons or jails at the start of 2008 -- one out of every 99.1 adults, and more than any other country in the world.

By contrast, in mid 2002 the ratio was 1 in 142, with the prison population surpassing 2 million for the first time. Report: 1 In Every 99 Americans Now Behind Bars

A couple of weeks ago we went around and visited people getting signatures for the anti-transgender petitions. I know they try to portray it as harassment, but in most places we talked with the people holding the petitions and had good, interesting discussions. One thing that came out in conversations with some of them is that they really believe the world is a terrible, scary place, full of dangerous, evil people. That's why we have to allow discrimination against transgender people, because there are so many bad people that some of them are sure to take advantage of any loophole that may be created if transgender people are treated fairly.

So, like, if it was legal for a man to go into the ladies room, there are so many bad, dangerous voyeurs and exhibitionists and predators-and-pedophiles that you just know one of them will go into the ladies room and ... do something. (Of course, it's always been legal to go into whatever restroom you want, but that fact doesn't seem to appear in the syllogism anywhere.)

I'll admit, I can't relate to that kind of thinking. I like the world and the people in it. I suppose something bad can happen to me, but I don't dwell on the possibility. And most of the time decent things happen, good things.

But when you believe the world is a threatening place populated by dangerous people, you have to be careful all the time, because anybody might do anything to you. There is always proof that the world is bad and people are evil, there's always somebody hurting somebody or doing something wrong, and Good People have to do everything they can to keep it under control.

From that point of view, it seems reasonable to lock Bad People up.

So now more than one American in a hundred is imprisoned.

Here are some not-surprising facts:
"For some groups, the incarceration numbers are especially startling," the report said. "While one in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars, for black males in that age group the figure is one in nine."

The nationwide figures, as of Jan. 1, include 1,596,127 people in state and federal prisons and 723,131 in local jails -- a total 2,319,258 out of almost 230 million American adults.

The report said the United States is the world's incarceration leader, far ahead of more populous China with 1.5 million people behind bars. It said the U.S. also is the leader in inmates per capita (750 per 100,000 people), ahead of Russia (628 per 100,000) and other former Soviet bloc nations which make up the rest of the Top 10.

The "leader?" Now there's something to be proud of.

One black guy out of every nine is in prison or jail. Sounds like there are two general explanations for that, either a whole lot of black guys are Bad People, or the group that is in power locks up the group that is not. Talk among yourselves.

There are people -- lots of them -- who think that too many criminals are running free, that there aren't nearly enough Bad People locked up. You can't run for office in this country promising to free people who have been convicted for victimless crimes, on bad evidence, whatever, you can't say in a speech that sentences are too long or that our system of punishment for misdeeds is insane and needs to be thought through from the beginning. If you actually intend to get elected you have to promise to be "tough on crime," e.g., to lock up even more people.

Imagine where that goes, if you let it go on indefinitely. Eventually everybody will be locked up except a few little clusters of self-righteous people, people who live lives so uninteresting that nobody can find a reason to incarcerate them.


Blogger Priya Lynn said...

That really is shocking to see such a high incarceration percentage. Even worse, a large percentage of those people are in for victimless crimes like smoking a little marijuana

February 29, 2008 12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Responding to my eulogy to William F. Buckley, some readers noted that Buckley had written a notorious column during the 1980s calling for AIDS victims to be tattooed on their rear ends. For one responder this was eerily reminiscent of Nazi policies.

Actually Buckley was no Nazi. On one occasion Buckley appeared on a late-night program with the writer Gore Vidal, and Vidal accused Buckley of being a "crypto-Nazi." Incensed, Buckley called Vidal a "goddamn queer." Both men ended up suing the other. Buckley won his case, because he was able to show that his opinions were never sympathetic to the Nazis, "crypto" or otherwise. Vidal lost his case, because, well, truth is an effective defense in a libel case.

So what about that AIDS column? Let's remember that not much was known about AIDS in the early 1980s. In particular, there were competing theories about how AIDS was actually transmitted. Little more was known than the fact that AIDS seemed to be concentrated in the homosexual community.

Buckley noted in his column that in previous epidemics, such as the syphilis epidemic of the early part of the twentieth century, America quarantined people who contracted the disease. Buckley argued against quarantining victims of AIDS. Somewhat light-heartedly, he suggested that a better alternative might be to have some insignia warning off potential partners. He came up with the admittedly strange idea of a small tattoo on the AIDS victim's rear end. Not surprisingly, the column caused immediate controversy.

At National Review, however, the controversy was of a different sort. The big question that arose among the editors was not whether there should be a tattoo but rather what the tattoo should say. Several entries were submitted, and the contest winner was my own English professor Jeffrey Hart, a senior editor of the magazine, who proposed the line emblazoned on the entrance gate to Dante's Inferno: "Abandon all hope ye who enter here."

February 29, 2008 8:06 PM  
Blogger BlackTsunami said...

i fail to see the humor in that.

February 29, 2008 11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



March 01, 2008 1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me."
- Emo Phillips

March 01, 2008 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't work that way either.

What you need to do is get the government to pass a law saying that if your neighbor's parents bought him a bike, it would be discrimination if they didn't buy you one too.

March 01, 2008 9:57 AM  
Blogger BlackTsunami said...

Loud or quite, it's still an ugly thing to say. it kinda exemplifies how AIDS was allowed to spread. It was funny when it was affecting gay people wasnt it? Then folks realized that diseases don't ask about orientation.

March 01, 2008 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alvin, they were two factors in the spread of AIDS. One was the persistence of random promiscuity with a multitude of partners among gays. The other factor was a desire among gays to circumvent traditional methods of attacking disease out of concern for their privacy.

Remember, AIDS surfaced about the same time that homosexuality had become acceptable in America for the first time. Not a coincidence.

March 01, 2008 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When I was nine, my parents moved to Downer’s Grove, Illinois. When I was eleven, I found them."
- Emo Phillips

March 01, 2008 10:55 AM  
Blogger BlackTsunami said...

sorry anonymous, that simply is not true. AIDS has been traced back to the 1950s. However the general consensus is that its origin is unknown.

Now there are many societal factors that contributed to the spread of AIDS. None of history's calamities such as the Black Plague or the Potato Famine took place because of one factor. In this case, one must factor in how society treated gays like pariahs.

To do blame gays solely for the spread of AIDS is not only irresponsible but is indicative of the atmosphere that allowed AIDS to spread. Just like saying nasty comments about gays, anal sex and AIDS.

March 01, 2008 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"sorry anonymous, that simply is not true. AIDS has been traced back to the 1950s. However the general consensus is that its origin is unknown."

Look back. We weren't talking about origins, we were talking about spread.

It spread at the very time society, in the late 70s, when homosexuality became socially accepted and hit first in those places where it was most open.

Don't fall into the trap of denying historical facts to suit your bias.

March 01, 2008 1:24 PM  
Blogger BlackTsunami said...

i think that is what you are doing, i.e. ignoring parts of history that don't suit your claims. I also think we have been through this dance before.

Again, you ignore the societal factors that led to the spread of AIDS. Comments like yours lead to stigmatization of communities. And stigmatizing communities leads to many negative things, including the spread of disease. Because if you stigmatize a community, you give them reasons not to trust you, even when you claim you come with good medical information.

March 01, 2008 1:42 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Sorry, don't mean to do a "hit and run" but I have a few more chores to do...including buying a new bicycle for my daughter and perhaps get in a short bike ride (I received word that I made the Ride the Rockies lottery and I am now registered to ride this tour in June, and if you are curious, the website is here,

Anyhow, I thought you might all be interested in this article from one of the Denver papers.


March 01, 2008 4:11 PM  
Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

March 01, 2008 4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A bit off-topic, but I think it's time to inject some humor and useful information into the conversation:

Add these to your list of "Dumb Questions."



March 02, 2008 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bad Questions to Ask a Transsexual
"After years of teeth-grindingly ignorant and insulting questions, Calpernia Addams finally snaps and shares her list of Bad Questions which you should never ask a transsexual. These are all real questions from real life!"
Thanks Cynthia.

Very funny, scathingly condescending too, I loved it.

Then I clicked on her video "Stunning" - Calpernia's New Song

She's hilarious, I gotta check out what else she's got.

March 02, 2008 3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you enjoyed it Emproph. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that she still manages to have a sense of humor at all -- especially considering how brutally her first boyfriend was murdered. If you haven't seen "Soldier's Girl," ( it's a sobering look at some of the fear, hatred, bigotry and violence surrounding anything "T". Of course, "Boys Don't Cry" doesn't have a happy ending either.



March 02, 2008 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still waiting for you to take that Hiatus, AnonFreak. Looks like you can't keep your word. Not shocking from someone like you. All you people do is lie, lie, lie... NOT shocking.

March 02, 2008 9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon said: Don't fall into the trap of denying historical facts to suit your bias.

BlackTsunami said: i think that is what you are doing, i.e. ignoring parts of history that don't suit your claims.....

Again, you ignore the societal factors that led to the spread of AIDS. Comments like yours lead to stigmatization of communities. And stigmatizing communities leads to many negative things, including the spread of disease. Because if you stigmatize a community, you give them reasons not to trust you, even when you claim you come with good medical information.

Anon responds: BT, I'm not sure but I think you're saying here that even though promiscuity and privacy concerns caused the spread of AIDS, these factors were caused in turn by societal stigmatization, which would then be the real cause. You could argue that, I guess, but you'd be hard pressed to then explain why it was in the very areas where gays were most tolerated that AIDS first became widespread.

At least you seem to be getting closer to accepting the truth.

March 02, 2008 10:16 PM  
Blogger BlackTsunami said...


you are attempting to turn the truth on its head. But the truth cannot be turned on its head.

I take it you are saying that social stigmatization had nothing to do with the spread of AIDS because it "started at in areas where homosexuality was accepted."

Since when did AIDS start on Mars?
Just because there were gay communities in New York and San Francisco does not mean that gays were "accepted" in New York and California. Gays did go to enclaves where they could have some degree of freedom and why is that - social stigmatization.

But we seem to be arguing insignificant points. You seem to be claiming that gays recklessly and selfishly spread AIDS, ergo the anti-gay industry lie of gays being diseased oversexed individuals.

And to make this claim, you ignore other factors that led to the spread of the disease. Not very honest my friend.

March 03, 2008 3:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Just because there were gay communities in New York and San Francisco does not mean that gays were "accepted" in New York and California. Gays did go to enclaves where they could have some degree of freedom and why is that - social stigmatization."

Gays were elected to the government in SF. Have you heard of Harvey Milk? The whole gay promiscuity scene was part of society in both SF and Marin County. They were embraced by the population there.

"You seem to be claiming that gays recklessly and selfishly spread AIDS"

Yes, I am.

"And to make this claim, you ignore other factors that led to the spread of the disease. Not very honest my friend."

Well, could you tell us what these factors are and explain how they spread AIDS?

March 03, 2008 6:56 AM  
Blogger BlackTsunami said...

Gays were still stigmatized in the U.S.:

And Anita Bryant was able to get an anti-discrination law dismissed by comparing gays to pedophiles in Florida

Councilman Briggs was nearly able to keep gays from teaching in California. The only thing that stopped him was Governor Reagan coming out against it.

Harvey Milk was assasinated by some homophobe who got less time than he should have because of some stupid "twinkie" defense.

And when AIDS weaved its way into the public conciousness, people like Pat Buchanan blamed it on gays. The general consensus was that those "filthy gay people deserved it." - This played a huge part in the spreading of the disease.

Paul Cameron came on the scene and was able to exploit people's ignorance about homosexuality.

Public reaction to AIDS was ignorance and fear, which the government did nothing about until much too late.

March 03, 2008 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm assuming that the quote the anonomite posted at the top of the comments is from Dinesh D'Souza. He mentions Jeff Hart. I'm not surprised that Jeff Hart would win such a contest; he was kind of a fascist.

BTW, he has the quote from Dante wrong. It's not "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here," it's "abandon hope, all ye who enter here." Sloppy work on D'Souza's or Hart's part.

March 03, 2008 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your comments that AIDS was cause by intolerance of perversion is ridiculous.

I remember you were offended by D'Souza column that was posted a few days ago. Apparently, you weren't the only one. Here's his response to his critics:

"My most recent posting on "That Notorious Buckley AIDS Column" produced a torrential response, including some wild attacks on me threatening to beat me up and even sue me if I didn't take the post down. My intention was to keep the post up for a day or so, but when I saw this response, I decided to let it stay up through the weekend. Some of my critics are real goons, and it's important to teach these thugs a lesson in free speech.

Besides, what were they getting so hysterical about? I got the idea for the post by reading responses to my Buckley eulogy on the occasion of his death. All I did was tell the full story about the famou Buckley AIDS column, reporting how it came about, what the reaction was, and giving an accurate account of a subsequent National Review contest about the column. My own account of Buckley's article was not uncritical, and to the degree that the humor was offensive the culprits were Buckley himself and his associate Jeff Hart. Yet I took the brunt of the abuse.

A little secret about me: I enjoy this stuff. When I was editor of the Dartmouth Review we used to tell the deans that taking on our student newspaper was like wrestling with a pig: not only did it get everyone dirty, but the pig liked it! I guess my Dartmouth experience has made me a little thin-skinned with regard to a certain type of attack. I always try to learn from intelligent criticism, but when I get outright obscenity and threats and name-calling, I sit by my swimming pool with a drink in my hand and laugh my head off.

Some of my pals who read this blog do periodically ask why some of my critics are so out of control. One of my friends even printed out a bunch of responses to my recent posts, handing me a sampling. I reproduce a few items to give you the flavor.

"Dinesh you should be executed."

"Dear Dick (I mean Dinesh)"

"We are stupid if we let this sand n*gg*r speak for us. Go home."

"This guy is a friggin' dot head."

"Hypocritical jerkoff."

"Go back to India you narrow-minded punk. You don't have a f*ck*ng clue, bitch."

"You have sh*t for brains. You are a moron too."

"I f*ck*ng hate the way Dinesh uses that stupid voice...I want to punch him in the face."

"Oh Double D (that stands for Double Douchebag by the way)"

"Dinesh is far and away the dumbest human being on this planet."

"It's asshole immigrants like Dineshit, an untouchable from India is why I am against immigration."

"Self-absorbed cretin."

"You only need to take a look at Dinesh to know something is wrong with him. He is the quintessential little ugly deformed fascist. Weird lower lip, sticks straight out, weird pink ledge. Goofy ears. Little weird looking fascist nerd with a barren intellect and an even more despitable soul."

"I hope you die. What a piece of crap."

"The only rational response is for me to tell you are that you are simply full of sh*t and need to pull your head out of your ass."

I've been examining these comments for valid criticisms. Maybe I am a little self-absorbed, although my critics seem far more absorbed with me than I am. Hypocrisy I plead guilty to: it simply means that I have higher standards than I can live up to. I have never claimed to be a handsome guy, although through some stroke of luck I managed to marry a woman who looks like a model: maybe she is partially blind. I doubt I am the dumbest human being on the planet although I may be--a) the dumbest guy to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from an Ivy League college, b) the dumbest guy to serve in his mid-twenties in the White House, c) the dumbest guy to have taught at Harvard and served as a scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, d) the dumbest guy to have written five New York Times bestsellers. Sometimes I wonder what I might have accomplished if I was a little smarter.

Now let's turn to these critics. It's striking that the cultural left, which wears the public face of tolerance and openness, quickly drops this cover when it's orthodoxies are questioned. Suddenly ad hominem epithets fly, and the intolerance and outright bigotry that is supposed to be the province of the right is quickly exposed as a distinctive feature of the secular left. I suspect that these folks are used to hanging out with people who share their political and cultural assumptions. They are not used to having these assumptions questioned. Unable to counter with facts and arguments, their only weapons are epithets and abuse. I have encountered this combination of left-wing and lowbrow on the campus, usually at second and third-rate universities. There occasionally I encounter a student who can do no better than yell "fascist" and run out of the room. In a way I feel sorry for him: his worldview has been shattered, and his abuse is simply an indication of the inner confusion he is experiencing.

To my friends and fans who keep encouraging me: No need to tell me to keep my chin up. It's already up. In fact, I feel blessed to have such irrational invective hurled at me. As long as my critics continue to reveal themselves as mean-spirited, foul-mouthed racists, how can I possibly lose the argument? Indeed such reactions from such people tell me that I must be doing something right."

March 03, 2008 10:22 PM  
Blogger BlackTsunami said...


it is easy to dismiss rather than refute.

and as far as Dinesh D'Souza, I really don't know what you are talking about. I did get offended by the nasty comment about AIDS, gays and anal sex if that is what you mean.

And that is what I addressed.

I never said a word about the D'Souza. I neither insulted him nor did I threaten him. I do not know if anyone else did but that is not my problem .

See, you used up a lot of space for nothing.

March 03, 2008 11:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home