Monday, June 08, 2009

Soapbox: Prison, and "cruel and unusual punishment"

OK, it's time for me to vent about something that doesn't have anything to do with any particular current event, or something in my own life lately, or anything like that. In fact, that might be part of the problem with it, for prison rape pretty much never gets a mention in the news media. It seems to be accepted in U.S. society as just a constant in the background, something we pretty well know is going on, hence the surfeit of jokes and other alleged humour about it, but out-of-sight, out-of-mind, it never makes the papers.

For a rather unpleasant sample, there's a song by some Bob and Tom team called "Prison Bitch" (tasteless, disturbing YouTube video warning).

What I really loathe is how society as a whole seems to just accept this state of things in prisons, and treat prison rape as though it were merely part of a just and deserved punishment for the inmates. As Ezra Klein wrote a few years ago:

We've decided to tacitly accept rape in our prisons because we believe deeply and firmly in the guilt of all who enter -- this is just further punishment. Better yet, we're not the executors -- that such barbarism occurs behind bars is further confirmation that those we incarcerate are monsters. The assaults make us feel better, they vindicate our sentencing. And we can countenance them because we never face their horrors:...
However, we do, after all, have that pesky 8th Amendment "cruel and unusual punishment" clause, after all. And, if one considered this part of the punishment, I'm pretty sure it would qualify on both counts.

I don't take much stock in playing which-is-worse oneupmanship, but if I had to pick the more vile between this and waterboarding alleged Al-Qaeda-linked persons, I just might call the prison rape system worse, largely because the "punishment" is completely uncorrelated to the crime for which they've been convicted. Indeed, the HRW report linked below suggests that the worse offenders (prior to incarceration) tend more often to be the rapists, and the victims tend to be those who've committed lesser crimes, along with a few other factors unrelated to the severity of their crime.

Related sites and articles:

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A Little Something More Serious

In reading on Dr. Tiller's death, a good and compassionate man murdered by a zealot, I wonder if these forced pregnancy people have any kind of empathy at all. Birth defects and fetal deaths are not uncommon, even in this day and age. Miscarriages aren't rare either, come to think of it. I really wonder what these people think...on second thought, no, no I don't. I wouldn't want to be in their soulless minds, picking on strangers to make themselves feel better, faking compassion and concern trolling abortion clinics so that they can prop up their fragile egos for a few more minutes.

People can think that abortion is murder. That is their opinion; they are entitled to their own opinions on things, though they may disagree with me. We will just agree to disagree. People can even be uncomfortable with the idea of abortion. What cannot be done, however, is curtail the rights of other people to obtain legal medical care. If we go down that road, there is nothing to stop your doctor from not treating you because you're overweight or obese, smoke, eat an occasional hamburger, or drink. Had a heart attack? Well, you rarely exercised and your primary care physician recommended it, so why should you get that bypass surgery or angioplasty? You should have thought of that before it became serious enough that you had the heart attack. Oh? You haven't had a check up in years? Well, tough for you. Maybe your doctor could have warned you that your blood pressure and cholesterol were high. Didn't think of that, now did you? Well, if you don't die, then you're just going to have to live with the consequences. Too late for you now.

And it's not just that part of it. The other part is medical costs. Abortion costs far less than pregnancy and delivery, in terms of medical care, even at later stages. And if we talk about high risk pregnancy, and throw in a very ill baby, then the costs can be huge. Let's say that abortion is outlawed. It's not cheap to keep a premature baby alive. And many, many things can go wrong during a pregnancy. What if the mother has a complication of pregnancy that led to a stroke and she's still carrying the child? They have to keep her on life support in the hospital. But then they notice something wrong with the baby and they have to do an emergency c-section...and the baby is premature. And they have the baby on life support as well, because the child is alive but just barely. If you think that all of this medical care for both mother and child is cheap, you're delusional. Oh, maybe they have insurance, even just catastrophic coverage, and with this scenario, they've pretty much blown through their deductible (if they had one) if not on the first day then at least in the first few days. And what happens if they don't have insurance and can't pay? If mother and child are in the hospital for a month, I'd expect that the claims for it would be very high. One high claim will not necessarily hurt a large group. But we are talking about forcing all women to go through complications (leaving out the emotional turmoil of fathers for a moment), regardless of insurance or ability to pay. If you have several women, even in a small group plan, and this happens every few years or so, the premiums will be astronomical. Actuaries calculate premiums based on the likelihood of particular diseases in classes of individuals/groups; one claim may not affect premiums greatly but repeated claims will. And that's not even counting the struggle that dad has - both baby and wife are confined to the hospital, and that's really heartbreaking. Worse, even if they live, they now have a lot of medical bills to pay, not just the hospitalization but also follow-up appointments, surgeries, durable medical equipment that may be needed (like oxygen tanks or monitors).

I may be a liberal but I'm not heartless bastard. Oh, yes, it's a tragic situation, but it would also cost more than angioplasty. Now, if the woman in question had aborted the child when it was necessary (even if the child is wanted and it's late in the trimester), if the doctor and the patient came to this very hard decision, the woman would not have the stroke and be hospitalized, dad would not have to go through the possibility of losing everyone he loved, and the expenses to them would be less. The insurance may not pick up all of the costs but remember - claims totaling $1 million are different than claims totaling $6000, especially for smaller groups.

The thing is, forced birthers don't care. They don't care about costs, they don't care about lives, they don't care about suffering, they just don't care. They have no knowledge of how anything works - medical care, pregnancy, insurance, compassion - and they think that they're morally superior. Which is the other thing that gets me angry about the forced birthers...

Dr. Tiller was murdered in church. A man who was compelled to help women in the most difficult time of their lives, a man of compassion and dignity, murdered in a house of worship. A person who went to work every single day knowing it could be his last day on earth, all because he felt it necessary to provide the best care he could to expectant parents facing such a tragedy. And he was killed in church. In my opinion, Dr. Tiller was more of a Christian than his murderer.

Forced birthers don't even care about their own religion. Their bible must be pretty thin, what with leaving out the words of the Jesus.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Who Let The Dogs In?

While I understand the drive for creating something, I do at least recognize that I can't do everything.

I had this inspiration of doing like a youtube/podcast thing playing a demon who works in Hell. I'm still thinking about it, and how I would go about doing this as to make it pretty believable (still working on the script!).

However, I at least have enough sense not to be a conservative rapper. Case in point:

I damn near died laughing. They should have a warning on this, like "May laugh yourself to death" or something. The lyrics? Totally awesome. I'm glad that "the youngins" are trying to uplift the very same party that stands for sexism, racism, homophobia, robber barons, and rapid depletion of natural resources as well as religious domination and war. Because what's cooler than bombing some brown people? Torture! And Jesus!

The lyrics are a laughfest. Really. I think that they need a little help.

Thank you Miss Cali for reminding us of marriage
Can't support abortion, and call yourself a Christian
I support life, you're a puzzled politician

Translation: I like to keep the bitches down, yo. That's where they belong.

So, since I'm feeling generous today, perhaps they could use this as a guideline:

I keep down the the bitches and hos
kickin’ liberal hippies in the nose
chilin wit’ my bros
pressin’ red buttons
blasting them desert hos
straight into the sun
you know you wanna join the fun
of being a Young Con
not “convict” son
conservative man
worshiping Ayn Rand
savin’ precious fetuses
for the Lord Savior Jesus.

See? Not that hard to take awful rap and elevate it to half-assed. Yo.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Bitter commentary

Much of the response to the recent assassination of late-term abortion provider Dr. Tiller puts me in mind of this bit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I particularly have in mind the response from the likes of Michelle Malkin, about how we can't hold anti-choicers responsible for the act of this single lone gunman, and shouldn't take measures against future violence in the heat of the moment.

Please, please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who.

(Relevant section starts at about 5:04, key phrases at 5:48)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....

Just a little note that I'm finally active again over at my other associated blog, Class Wargames. I'm taking a macroeconomics class, and blogging on subjects that come up during it over there.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

On Means and Ends: Still Torture

In the midst of this also-otherwise-fine item from Juliet Lapidos of Slate, "There Are Four Lights! Revisiting Star Trek: The Next Generation's eerily prescient torture episode," is this key paragraph, as far as my own little obsession with means & ends goes:

The extended torture sessions take a toll not just on Picard but on his interrogator as well. The more time the Cardassian spends with Picard, the more he becomes fixated on breaking his prisoner. And so the supposed goal of torture—information—is sidelined, while the means by which the goal will theoretically be achieved—mental submission—becomes an end in itself. As Picard puts it, "Torture has never been a reliable means of extracting information. It is ultimately self-defeating as a means of control. One wonders it is still practiced."

Cf. On Means and Ends: Torture

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Best Email Ever

So I'm going through my email and cleaning out the junk box. For some reason, I'm on an email list for the Rev. Lou Sheldon at The Traditional Values Coalition. Most of the time I skip over those emails, as well as the ones from Wisconsin Right To Life (Right to Be Forcibly Pregnant, is more like it), but then this headline caught my eye:
Obamunist Nominee Gave U.S. Port To Communists
I had to see this article. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. There's only one line that address this issue. The first half or so of the article reminds us that Panetta worked for Clinton, and CLINTON HAD A BLOWJOB! DID WE MENTION THAT HE HAD A BLOWJOB? BECAUSE HE DID. No loony theories that China was going to take over the U.S., no speculation that Islamomarxofacist hoards are going to infiltrate the country. I really expected better.