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Prison Rape February 10, 2009 4:54 AM   Subscribe

Another goddamn prison rape thread.

This is a thread for people who are pro prison-rape and who can't seem to not talk about it despite cortex's request. Have fun!
posted by Optimus Chyme to Etiquette/Policy at 4:54 AM (149 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I'm kind of curious, now. I know our prisons are abominable. Who, on the world stage, are considered the most humanitarian jailers, and how to they succeed? I suppose not jailing a whole number percentage of your citizenry would be a good start, but where do you go from there?
posted by maxwelton at 4:59 AM on February 10, 2009


mmmmmmmmmm... prison rape. Sign me up!
posted by gman at 4:59 AM on February 10, 2009


Are prison farms being used to manufacture biodiesel?
posted by chillmost at 5:11 AM on February 10, 2009


Oh oh I'm pro prison-rape, do I sign in here?
posted by nola at 5:17 AM on February 10, 2009


I'm kind of curious, now. I know our prisons are abominable. Who, on the world stage, are considered the most humanitarian jailers, and how to they succeed? I suppose not jailing a whole number percentage of your citizenry would be a good start, but where do you go from there?

I think the Danes and other Scandanavians are usually in with a good shout.

AFAIK British jails are terrible by European standards but in comparison to those in the US are models of Utopian enlightenment.

Also, isn't it the case that you get jails that are run for profit in the US? I can't think it bodes well for law and order when there is a commercial incentive to jail people.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 5:21 AM on February 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


AFAIK British jails are terrible by European standards
oh yeah? try breaking the law in slovakia.

I double dare you.
posted by krautland at 5:24 AM on February 10, 2009


Every time I get bothered by prison rape jokes, I just remember that most of the people telling them are outwardly heterosexual, a bunch of "tough guys" who are simply expressing for (what they believe to be) our benefit their innate, repressed desires to be dominated and taken. It's their childish, jokey way of relieving the tensions of their self-imposed sexual imprisonment. Just come out of the closets, guys!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:26 AM on February 10, 2009 [16 favorites]


I'm tempted to ask for clarification on what this is about, but the details sound ugly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:44 AM on February 10, 2009


I hate these jokes and urge you to join me in supporting the group formerly known, with admirable directness as, Stop Prison Rape.

That being said, I am not sure what this thread is for.
posted by shothotbot at 5:46 AM on February 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


AFAIK British jails are terrible by European standards

Has France fixed up their jails? They were infamous for being awful.
posted by smackfu at 5:51 AM on February 10, 2009


I'm with you Optimus Chyme, but just as I clicked this link, Rubber Bullets by 10CC came on the office radio.
posted by Jofus at 5:54 AM on February 10, 2009


Metafilter rape.
posted by gman at 6:02 AM on February 10, 2009


Generally in the UK the comparison is to Scandinavian jails when it is made in the media.

The presentation in the media is usually thus:

Scandinavian: model of enlightened attitude to prisons and consequent reduction in recidivism

American: sadistic guards, electric chairs, tattooed guys doing weights.

Thai: Bangkok Hilton.

Obviously, this is over-simplified guff but generally our jails are portrayed as somewhere between the American and Scandanavian model. The Daily Mail/Sun wants it to be more like America, the Guardian/Independent want it to be more like the Scandic model.

The Thai model is only usually discussed when some hapless backpaper has been caught going through Don Muang airport with a bongo drum stuffed with smack.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 6:05 AM on February 10, 2009


This thread is ridiculous--how could a person ever rape a prison?
posted by DU at 6:08 AM on February 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm not pro-prison-rape, but I'm not pro-death-penalty either, and I'm afraid that voltairemodern's "proof by holier-than-thou assertion" failed to convince me that the former was worse than the latter. The right not to be subjected to torture is "a basic, inalienable human right", but the right not to be killed isn't? And that's so obvious that disagreeing means your morality isn't "serious"? Of course not.

Punishment might be immoral unless it "rehabilitates" criminals? Please. At best, imprisonment itself just punishes convicts and removes them from society long enough for age to rehabilitate them; "remove them from any positive role models, give them a peer group full of convicted criminals, and give them years to interact" would be a pretty foolish rehabilitation method.

And anyone who can use the Golden Rule while defending one kind of punishment but condemning another is just wearing blinders! Of course I wouldn't want someone to rape me; I wouldn't someone to execute me or even imprison me either! "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is consistent with "turn the other cheek" when someone hits you, not with "lock the guy up". Once we've already decided to do unto criminals something that we wouldn't want them to do unto us, we're going to need to pull out a different moral theory to decide on what specific somethings we want to do.

Personally I don't think punishments should be disproportionate to the crime or administered so randomly, and when meted out by fallible humans I don't think they should be as psychologically or physically irrevocable as rape or execution. I also don't think many of our prisoners (most? haven't looked at the consensual crime stats lately) should be locked up at all. But, of the often unfair things that sometimes happen to them, if I had to choose between illegal rape and legal execution I'd have to go with the rape.

Somehow I suspect everyone else here would too. Anyone disagree?

Of course, making logical arguments may be wasted here. Optimus replied to someone's post of "NO. I am NOT for prison rape." by making a "pro prison-rape" thread to send him to. Did hal_c_on previously write a "Hey, guys, I'm seriously in favor of prison rape!" post that got deleted? Or did I just wander into the "let's make up a fun straw man to attack" room by mistake?
posted by roystgnr at 6:10 AM on February 10, 2009


oh yeah? try breaking the law in slovakia.

I double dare you.


Sounds like a good story, krautland.
Care to elaborate?
posted by chillmost at 6:10 AM on February 10, 2009


Prison rape jokes are disgusting. cortex's over-wardening just makes them more visible. Instead, let the jokers' fellow mefinmates bend over and ream-out the punk-ass bitches making these jokes.
posted by orthogonality at 6:13 AM on February 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


krautland and smackfu, it is possible for more than one European country to have prisons which are terrible by European standards, you know...
posted by Dysk at 6:14 AM on February 10, 2009


The offending comments have already been removed... right? Because I'm sort of confused.
posted by taz at 6:28 AM on February 10, 2009


Of course, making logical arguments may be wasted here.

Then, you should try making one and see what happens.

Because, "As long as the death penalty exists, prison rape might as well be allowed to continue" isn't logical.
posted by pineapple at 6:36 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


if I had to choose between illegal rape and legal execution I'd have to go with the rape

This is never a choice that anyone has to make, so what's the point of making the comparison?
posted by burnmp3s at 6:40 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


it is possible for more than one European country to have prisons which are terrible by European standards

I suppose, but if there's so much variation between countries, it doesn't really sound like a standard at all.
posted by smackfu at 6:44 AM on February 10, 2009


Just for the record "I hope soandso gets raped" is generally speaking out of bounds for MeFi, whether it's someone talking about Ann Coulter or some particularly noxious criminal. Usually we'll just elide the one-off "lol buttsecks" jokes but sometimes people just can't stop making them.

This may go along with the "hey really bad people deserve really bad things that happen to them, so whatever" mentality we see here from time to time which I also personally find pretty apalling and feel, stupidly, like I have to say "that's not our perspective and we don't support that perspective in any sort of admin way whether someone's saying it about a MeFite or someone in prison"

I also know that jokes are people's way of blowing off steam and dealing with difficult issues and all the rest, but we don't think we're removing an important social/psychological outlet by saying "hey please don't make prison rape jokes here"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:46 AM on February 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


This thread is ridiculous--how could a person ever rape a prison?

I was new in town, I was still stung by being let down by the Chrysler Building. I was looking for some action and there he was, just asking for it. You don't go out in publick with all that shiny razor wire hanging down without expecting to get some stares, yeah, that was when I decided I was going to make Sing Sing my bitch, if he wanted it or not...
posted by Pollomacho at 6:49 AM on February 10, 2009


American prisons give lip service to rehabilitation. They're really about punishment. If a dog piddles on the carpet, you don't throw it in a big steel cage with some other angry, naughty dogs and throw lit ladyfingers at the cage hour after hour, then open the cage and expect to have a good dog come trotting out of it.

As long as you realize that, prison rape is a feature, not a bug. It's an mostly-unspoken feature, but it's a heck of a selling point to the descendants of people who thought they were sinners in the hands of an angry god.

With that in mind, it's a symptom; you can expect that prison rape commentary will be going on for a few more generations, or until the root cause is fixed.
posted by adipocere at 6:49 AM on February 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


You don't go out in public like that either.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:50 AM on February 10, 2009


On average, the average prison is... average.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:00 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am opposed to prison rape
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:12 AM on February 10, 2009


Well, I wasn't going to say anything more about it, but I should make the point clearly.

I don't advocate the death penalty, I do think that it is also morally wrong. But again, there is a difference between the death penalty as meted out in trial-by-jury, and the "death penalty" as meted out by a lynch mob.

What we're talking about is an instance of the latter, of punitive measures effectively being performed out of sight of the law. When a person thinks this is a good thing, it might be a helpful to ask, "Do you think this form of punishment should be put on the books? Should some particular crime be punished by sexual violence?"

I think most American adults will say no to this question. That reason is probably that we recognize it to be wrong as well as counterproductive -- it would, in general, make rehabilitative efforts much more difficult.

As to roystgnr's points,

I'm not pro-prison-rape, but I'm not pro-death-penalty either, and I'm afraid that voltairemodern's "proof by holier-than-thou assertion" failed to convince me that the former was worse than the latter. The right not to be subjected to torture is "a basic, inalienable human right", but the right not to be killed isn't? And that's so obvious that disagreeing means your morality isn't "serious"? Of course not.

As I just said, in no way was I condoning the death penalty. However, I would love to see a coherent moral theory that justifies anal rape, just as a matter of curiosity.

Punishment might be immoral unless it "rehabilitates" criminals? Please. At best, imprisonment itself just punishes convicts and removes them from society long enough for age to rehabilitate them; "remove them from any positive role models, give them a peer group full of convicted criminals, and give them years to interact" would be a pretty foolish rehabilitation method.

You have two points. One is that punishment may be moral even when it doesn't rehabilitate criminals; the other is that imprisonment is not effective in this way. The first point is probably false -- what good does it do us to punish people when it won't change them for the better? Is it pure catharsis? Or is justice about eye for an eye? Then surely we should have stricter penalties than imprisonment.

The second point, though, is a good one. hal_c_on even pointed to something like this in the thread when he claimed that I must be naive to think there were better options available, and so should stop dreaming (or something to that effect). There are plenty of better prison systems imaginable, but our starting point is what it is. I'd be happy with the first step of preventing illegal sexual assault wherever it occurs...we can maybe worry about the rest after that.

And anyone who can use the Golden Rule while defending one kind of punishment but condemning another is just wearing blinders! Of course I wouldn't want someone to rape me; I wouldn't someone to execute me or even imprison me either! "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is consistent with "turn the other cheek" when someone hits you, not with "lock the guy up". Once we've already decided to do unto criminals something that we wouldn't want them to do unto us, we're going to need to pull out a different moral theory to decide on what specific somethings we want to do.

Yes, yes, this was a bit rhetorical. I don't think the golden rule is the best principled basis for morality, but lots of people believe in it. But maybe a way to motivate the point is this: if you were consistently doing something morally wrong, but didn't know it, wouldn't you want to be helped to change? Maybe not, in which case this sort of theory has a hard time motivating punishment of any sort. But I think the idea is that we should treat others as morally responsible agents, and work with the understanding that if they make a mistake, they would want to know about it.

Personally I don't think punishments should be disproportionate to the crime or administered so randomly, and when meted out by fallible humans I don't think they should be as psychologically or physically irrevocable as rape or execution. I also don't think many of our prisoners (most? haven't looked at the consensual crime stats lately) should be locked up at all. But, of the often unfair things that sometimes happen to them, if I had to choose between illegal rape and legal execution I'd have to go with the rape.

If you're thinking of the number of "criminals" who get locked up for possession or other drug-related crimes, then I agree that many/most American prisoners shouldn't be doing time at all. At any rate, I don't think that we should be thinking about this as a choice between illegal rape and legal execution. A better way to think about the situation is this: because we think that these people need help to be productive, reliable members of society, we have removed them from society for a time in order to teach them what they need to know. Ideally, when we put them back into society, they'll be able to find a place. Obviously, our system falls far short of this ideal. But what this reveals is that these people are in our care, and if they're getting sexually assaulted under our watch, we're failing.
posted by voltairemodern at 7:15 AM on February 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


The offending comments have already been removed... right? Because I'm sort of confused.

I removed a bunch of stuff last night, starting with a comment that while structurally slightly ambiguous was in context pretty hard to read as other than "man I hope he gets fucked in the ass by his cellmate", and including the ensuing "don't do that", "no i meant something else", "hey let's talk about prison rape vs. the death penalty" cluster that followed from that. Left a note, watched the thread for a few minutes to see if any stragglers were going to come in late because they were composing while I was deleting. Didn't see anything, got ready for bed.

I could have waited longer; voltairemodern's response to one of the deleted comments was longish and so was probably high-latency example of that composing-during-cleanup things I was hoping I'd avoided above. After that, hal_c_on came back with two replies, gman made some random shitty comment to hal_c_on that I have now deleted (hey gman, cut that shit out), and OC sent this here.

There was also some sort of weird "censorship lol" metacommentary complaint from Flex1970 (who made the original derailing comment) that should have gone here, not in the thread; looks like vacapinta got that one overnight.

It looks like the re-derail petered out after that, so mission more or less accomplished on that front.

What would be nice:

1. If you end up doing the crossing-in-the-mail thing with some cleanup from an admin and you realize you've just left a comment doing exactly what they, unbeknownst to you at the time, just asked everybody to not do, it's helpful to take the initiative and drop a "oh, hey, didn't see that when I wrote my previous, so let's drop this here" comment to get the ball (to stop) rolling. It can work pretty well.

(Better yet, preview before posting and be willing to chuck out your comment in the first place on preview if you see that there's been an attempt to put on the brakes.)

2. If someone fails to do the above, please for god's sake don't be the next link in the chain. hal_c_on managed to not only fail to do this but did so twice, and that sucks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:15 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank you jessamyn, policies like that are part of what make MetaFilter different than 95% of the internet, and it really is a relief in the long term to know you guys enforce stuff like this.
posted by hermitosis at 7:19 AM on February 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


looks like vacapinta got that one overnight.

*waves*

nope that was me!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:23 AM on February 10, 2009


Looks like vacapinta...removed a double comment from an unrelated thread overnight, rather.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:33 AM on February 10, 2009


Sounds like a good story, krautland. Care to elaborate?
oh hell no. I am guilty of nothing unless you have a video.

krautland and smackfu, it is possible for more than one European (...)blahwubs
did you miss that line about everyone needing a hug? it's at the very bottom. so go hug yourself.
posted by krautland at 7:35 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wishing for bad guys to be raped in prison is just lazy. I prefer to hope that they are infected with Dracunculiasis, that their sores become septic, and that a septic embolism damages their pain-processing neuromatrix, causing them to die, quite literally, from the pain. I then wish that they rise from the dead as finicky zombies, who (still in constant pain, mind you) feed only on the flesh of other bad guys. I then wish that Milla Jovovich will come along and kill them all (again) just before they reach critical mass.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:31 AM on February 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


However, I would love to see a coherent moral theory that justifies anal rape, just as a matter of curiosity.

"love" definitely sounds like the wrong word, but I get what you're saying.

And the coherent moral theories are the ones you're missing here:

what good does it do us to punish people when it won't change them for the better?

Because it can change other people for the better. Speaking of moral theories, too many people operate on the theory that "If it only hurts people other than me, that's fine", and knowing there's a penal system out there allows them to still operate as non-sociopathic members of society.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punishment for a few other non-rehabilitative reasons for punishment; you might find it valuable in general, even if there's not much that could apply here. You can argue that the deterrent effect of prison rape isn't worth it, and that retribution isn't a good reason for such extreme punishment, and I think you'll be right, but that doesn't mean there can't be self-consistent moral theories that would disagree.
posted by roystgnr at 8:35 AM on February 10, 2009


I'm seeing a lot of assumptions that the only way that punishment can be of value (or moral) is if it somehow helps the punished individual become a better person or a better member of society. Dangit, someone's gotta speak up for the deontologists!

If you accept that there is something innately valuable about being a person, an individual capable of making rational choices that influence one's life and the lives of those surrounding one, then you're probably going to like the idea that all persons should be respected. All persons--those entities capable of making choices--should be respected, as choice-makers.

So, you have people who can make choices. And you have a moral duty to respect the choice-making capabilities of people. So, then, we come to an issue: how do you show respect for a choice-maker who does something that cannot be allowed? When they do evil? When they disrespect other choice-makers? Since you have to respect their decisions to make choices, this means that you have to show respect for their ability to make bad choices. Just patting them on the head and saying, "Auw, you'll do better next time!" or something certainly wouldn't show respect for the fact that they made a heinous choice--it just brushes off the fact that they chose to do wrong. This would be to disrespect them as a person, because it means that we are disregarding the fact that they chose to do evil and, instead, making excuses for them.

So, what then can we do? We are faced with a person, a being that we have a duty to respect, who has chosen to do something morally impermissible. Well, the only way we can fulfill our duty to respect them as a being capable of choosing their own actions is to acknowledge the immorality of their actions--the wrongness of their behavior. We cannot ignore what they have done, and we cannot just outright forgive it. No, instead, we must provide punishment. It is only by offering an appropriate punishment for a wrongdoer that we can fully respect that wrongdoer as a human being, equal in their capacity to make decisions as you and me.

So, if you accept that people, as people, deserve to be respected, then legal punishment can be justified. (Kinda, sorta. I'm not saying that the few short paragraphs I've put up offer complete justification. I'm not an expert on this or anything.) Retributivists would argue against heinous punishments, but they would also argue against too much leniency. Instead, a punishment must meet its crime, and, if an appropriate punishment is given to a wrongdoer, this is a moral good on its own. The whole idea here is of moral desert.

With all that in place, it's then possible to see how someone could possibly support the death penalty but be entirely against the blind-eye the jail system generally gives prison rape. One might say that the death penalty is, at times, wholly warranted. If a choice-maker has made such horrible, terrible choices that their wrongdoing fully requires that they cease to be, then it is appropriate for us to kill them. By killing them, in this case, we are respecting them as a human being. But, even while maintaining this, one could still claim that prison rape is never an appropriate means of respecting an individuals choice-making capabilities. Rape is degrading. To rape a person is to disrespect them, to treat them as less than human. So, if you allow prison rape to occur, then you are allowing people, who (as I've said oodles by now) deserve to be respected as people, to be disrespected.

So, someone who accepts what I've said above (or, more accurately, better justified and more carefully expressed theories that I've just been way handwavey about here), could rationally support the death penalty while being appalled by the occurrence of prison rape.

But I'm not coming out and waving a retributivist flag or anything. I'm just sayin'. I'm not going to spend my day (when I should be doing work) arguing for a position I don't actually hold. So I guess this is like drive-by pseudo-philosophizing. Sorry.
posted by Ms. Saint at 8:39 AM on February 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


Because, "As long as the death penalty exists, prison rape might as well be allowed to continue" isn't logical.

It's also not an argument I made, but that's okay. It's easy to end up reading too fast when the topic is sensitive enough.

On the other hand, for all I know, you're accurately paraphrasing a now-deleted argument that hal_c_on made; if so then someone else can try to defend that without me.
posted by roystgnr at 8:49 AM on February 10, 2009


By killing them, in this case, we are respecting them as a human being.

That whole argument seems to be a way of contorting the word respect to mean something different than what it generally means, in order to make a hand-wavy moral justification for executions. It's not clear to me why the decision of punishing someone would inherently respect their ability to make choices, while forgiving them or simply not punishing them would not.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:08 AM on February 10, 2009


I'm not pro-prison-rape, I'm anti-prison-sexual-repression.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 9:34 AM on February 10, 2009


roystgnr said: "It's also not an argument I made, but that's okay. It's easy to end up reading too fast when the topic is sensitive enough."

OoH BURNNNNNNNNNNN!!eleven!!!
posted by pineapple at 9:45 AM on February 10, 2009


It's Raining Florence Henderson, why do make everything about Milla Jovovich?
posted by Mister_A at 9:49 AM on February 10, 2009


because the real Florence Henderson got a restraining order?
posted by pineapple at 9:53 AM on February 10, 2009


I am in favor of fake prison rape in porn.
posted by desjardins at 10:27 AM on February 10, 2009


I admire Milla's sense of now.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:29 AM on February 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


I see what you did there. 2 points to Flo!
posted by Mister_A at 10:35 AM on February 10, 2009


Yeah. That makes me wish for a special Favorite. Like instead of a +1 you get a little picture of Groucho Marx's head.
posted by pineapple at 10:37 AM on February 10, 2009


It seems to me that prison rape would always be an amateur activity. I can't imagine how someone could go pro.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:43 AM on February 10, 2009


Politics
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:50 AM on February 10, 2009


signing up for the please don't foist prison rape bs on mefi, its an eyesore.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:02 AM on February 10, 2009


If prison rape is something criminals deserve, as some Americans seem to feel, why is it left to random chance? Why not include it as a part of the sentencing in a structured and officially sanctioned way?
posted by Meatbomb at 11:20 AM on February 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm in favor of prison rape, but only for rapists and Bernie Madoff.
posted by mullingitover at 11:29 AM on February 10, 2009


If prison rape is something criminals deserve, as some Americans seem to feel, why is it left to random chance? Why not include it as a part of the sentencing in a structured and officially sanctioned way?

Next...on the Rape Channel! American Justice!!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:36 AM on February 10, 2009


Why not include it as a part of the sentencing in a structured and officially sanctioned way?

I bet that would have a lot of support. People really don't like criminals.
posted by smackfu at 11:47 AM on February 10, 2009


I think the Danes and other Scandanavians are usually in with a good shout.

Yeah, if I have to serve time, I'm electing to do it in The Netherlands.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:59 AM on February 10, 2009


It looks like the re-derail petered out after that, so mission more or less accomplished on that front.

Not quite. I responded to one of hal_c_on's comebacks before I noticed this. Feel free to delete at will.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:01 PM on February 10, 2009


I am anti prison but pro rape.
posted by Curry at 12:01 PM on February 10, 2009


I am in favor of fake prison rape in porn.

I am in favour of Japanese 'Women in Chains' movies, that don't usually have rape in, but usually include lots of... oh, dammit..

BOYZONE!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:03 PM on February 10, 2009


There are Japanese versions of Caged Heat? Did you know that Jonathan Demme directed Caged Heat? I just found that out thanks to imdb.
posted by Mister_A at 12:08 PM on February 10, 2009


okay i flagged curry's latest comment but laughed a little in spite of myself at its absurdity
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:14 PM on February 10, 2009


I AM RAPING A PLATE OF BEANS.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:19 PM on February 10, 2009


the main problem with the pro-rape contingent is -- what do you do when half the prison is infected with HIV and people get let back into the community?

Or were we just going to execute them after raping them?

Maybe we could just skip the raping and just execute them straight away?
posted by empath at 12:19 PM on February 10, 2009


I think it's abominable; the way the prisons feed the inmates canola instead of better quality oils.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:26 PM on February 10, 2009


ubu: LOL

the main problem with the pro-rape contingent is -- what do you do when half the prison is infected with HIV and people get let back into the community?

Interestingly, I would beg to differ. I think the main problem with the pro-rape contingent is THE RAPING.
posted by pineapple at 12:27 PM on February 10, 2009 [11 favorites]


okay i flagged curry's latest comment

Yeah, seriously, when people post shit that is gonna get deleted and they know better and do it on purpose anyway, that kinda makes my day a little crappier. Please don't pull that shit.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:31 PM on February 10, 2009


Oh, it's a whole Japanese pinku eiga sub-genre that precedes Caged Heat. See the Female Prisoner Scorpion series, from 1972 onwards, and stuff like Death Row Girls from 2004 and Chain Gang Girls aka Woman Prisoner 42 from 2008.

It's not all tentacle sex over there.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:33 PM on February 10, 2009


please don't foist prison rape bs on mefi, its an eyesore.

Yeah, not only is it morally repulsive, it's coarse and it degrades the overall quality of the discourse here.

Seriously, it's Fark-esque. It's the kind of shit bored office workers would post on Gothamist.

"HURF DURF YER NOT GONNA BE SMILING WHEN THEY PUT YOU IN THAT CELL WITH BUBBA ON RIKERS!!!!eleven"

MetaFilter is supposed to be better than that.
posted by jason's_planet at 12:40 PM on February 10, 2009


Isn't all sex rape at some level?
posted by plexi at 12:40 PM on February 10, 2009


plexi: you're doing it wrong.
posted by aubilenon at 12:45 PM on February 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Isn't life a prison at some level?
posted by fleacircus at 12:51 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Isn't sex a prison at some level?
posted by fixedgear at 12:54 PM on February 10, 2009


I'm in favor of raisin pimps.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 12:55 PM on February 10, 2009


Isn't Metafilter Fark at some level?
posted by dersins at 12:58 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm in favour of praisin' gimps.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:58 PM on February 10, 2009


Raisin pimps leads to prison grapes.
posted by fleacircus at 1:00 PM on February 10, 2009


No, grape pimps become prison raisins.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:02 PM on February 10, 2009


(at least, that's my currant theory)
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:03 PM on February 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


If prison rape is something criminals deserve, as some Americans seem to feel, why is it left to random chance? Why not include it as a part of the sentencing in a structured and officially sanctioned way?

I would think that many of those who think criminals deserve to be raped would also believe that the government shouldn't step in and interfere with the free market, which is working quite well. Mob justice, lynchings, prison rape, etc. are free market justice, whereas imprisonment is socialized justice.
posted by ssg at 1:07 PM on February 10, 2009


It's not all tentacle sex over there.

Color me disappointed. I guess I'll just sell my passport to Osama Bin Laden now that I have no further need of it.
posted by Mister_A at 1:13 PM on February 10, 2009


and they wine about it
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:13 PM on February 10, 2009


I blame the pruno.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:16 PM on February 10, 2009


This reminds me of what we used to say back home about rival fans:

When interviewed 74% of Chelsea fans said that they enjoyed sex in the shower.
The other 26% have never been to prison.
posted by ob at 1:17 PM on February 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm in favor of spending more days outside.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:19 PM on February 10, 2009


Finally, a chance to break out my "No To Rape, Yes to Whiskey" protest signs again.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 1:22 PM on February 10, 2009


I don't feel strongly enough about it to start it's own thread, but while we're on the subject of Metafilter and the America justice system ... Good Lord, another goddamn cop thread. They sure are ugly.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:10 PM on February 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


voltairemodern: similar to Ms. Saint's explanation, there's a "coherent" moral theory of punishment that says that the protections of society are contingent upon one's following the laws of society, and once one stops following the rules, they don't get the protection anymore. I don't believe it, but it's a coherent argument.

I also like to think of myself as not supporting any purely punitive aspect of the penal system, but I know that ain't really the truth in a lot of cases. The (kind of obvious) thought experiment my Crim Law professor gave for it was: If Hitler were found still alive in Brazil or Argentina or wherever today, 120 years old, decrepit and demented, would you thin that he should face prosecution?

You might prove me wrong, but in generally almost everybody says, "yes," because of course he should be prosecuted. But he's not going to be rehabilitated, he's no longer a danger to anyone else, and his prosecution wouldn't really act as a deterrent to anyone thinking about following in his footsteps. So why do you prosecute? Because it's fucking Hitler, and certain things just don't stand, and sometimes society needs to make it clear that actions have consequences. These are purely punitive arguments, but that doesn't mean that they're necessarily barbaric, either.

I wish we could have the Danish system, and I sure as shit wish we could get rid of the death penalty and do something about the prison-rape problem. (Step one could be as simple as redefining the standard of liability for guards and workers in terms of safety from other prisoners. As it stands it's nearly impossible to get a suit off the ground. The guard would basically have to be watching and cheering in order to be held liable.) But anyway, there are some other arguments for your consideration, even if I don't buy into them much myself.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:17 PM on February 10, 2009


Good Lord, another goddamn cop thread.

Those are really starting to veer into cat declawing territory aren't they?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:20 PM on February 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


Good Lord, another goddamn cop thread. They sure are ugly.

Different day, same shit.
posted by smackfu at 2:23 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Fark At Some Level?
posted by kingbenny at 2:33 PM on February 10, 2009


It's not clear to me why the decision of punishing someone would inherently respect their ability to make choices, while forgiving them or simply not punishing them would not.

So, think of the people we don't think should be punished. Young children, the mentally ill, the mentally handicapped... People who don't have the capacity to rationally consider the choices available to them, people who lack the ability, for whatever reason, to understand the full consequences of their doing. They lack something that average adult people, the people we deem ought to be punished, have. So, we just brush off their misdoings because they couldn't have known better and we can't expect them to make good decisions.

But, me? I'm an adult, I have no mental illnesses, and I am not mentally handicapped. So, suppose I rob a bank. This means that I had the capacity to understand the full meaning of my actions. I know what I did, I know it was wrong, and I know why it was wrong. So, if you catch me but then go, "Whatever. It doesn't matter. You just go on in your life, Ms. Saint. We'll ignore it." Well.. You're ignoring the fact that I made the choice to behave in an immoral, unacceptable way. To brush off my crime and let me go unpunished is to say that my capacity to make decisions does not matter. But I, a person, a rational choice-maker, DO matter, specially BECAUSE of my capacity to make decisions. If you brush off my crime and let me go unpunished, you are devaluing that capacity of mine that makes me (along with all people) valuable and morally significant, my capacity to make decisions and behave in certain ways.

If that doesn't get your "this certainly does sound like respect!" intuitions going, allow me to offer an analogy... Suppose you're the leader of a country. You're walking throughout your wonderful land one day when you overhear a spy from an enemy land making plans to murder you! Quickly, you have your guards rush to the spy, get information about this plan, and then (probably) kill everyone involved in the plot and (just to make the point clear) put embargoes on that enemy country's goods or something. Why? Because you took the threat seriously. But then, another day, you're walking through your land and the Village Idiot shows up and says, "Doy hoy hoy! I'm gonna kill that king!" ...before jumping around on a foot while bonking himself on the head. In this case? The need for quick, harsh response isn't as necessary. You don't see the Village Idiot as a real threat to you. He is beneath you, less important than you, and somehow unworthy of your consideration. It would at least make sense for you to just walk on, without acknowledging him, because he does not really count as a threat to you.

So, you respected the spy, as a threat to your life and power. But you disrespect the Village Idiot by not taking him as a threat to your life and power. Granted, the spy probably doesn't want you to kill him, but you at least react to him as a threat worthy of your respect, whereas the Village Idiot is allowed to go free simply because you think of him as unworthy of your respect.

In the same way, if you let a wrongdoer go unpunished, you are disrespecting the capacity of theirs to make rational decisions that led them to do wrong. If you punish the wrongdoer, you may end up doing something to them they don't want, but you are not disrespecting them.

Now.. Forgiveness is a tougher issue. And it's controversial. I am even less knowledgeable about issues of forgiveness than I am the rest of this stuff, but at least I can offer a thought experiment that's meant to express why punishment is required even if we want to forgive the person in question:

Suppose a person is kidnapped, tortured for weeks on end, raped repeatedly.. In general, made to suffer horribly at the hands of another. But then this person escapes, although with countless emotional, psychological, and physical scars. This person's life will forever be worse because of this horrible ordeal they encountered. The police are called in, and they find the evildoer who is responsible for all of this pain and suffering on the part of the innocent. But then the victim says, "No, no, it's okay. Don't worry about it. Let my torturer go freely; I offer him my forgiveness."

Well, in this case, it might be psychologically valuable for the victim to forgive his torturer in that way... But many people still want to say that there's something wrong if we just let the torturer go his merry way after doing something so terrible. The torturer did something wrong, and, in an important way, he deserves to be punished. The choices he made were horrible and evil, and they merit punishment.

..Or, at least, I think. Like I said, I don't actually know what I'm talking about. Whee!

Of course, I'm just talking about the general theory of retributivism, which is just a theory of justification for why punishment, of whatever kind, is appropriate in some situations. It's another step to then say that, in certain cases, even the death penalty is deserved and thus must be administered to show respect for the decision-making capacities of wrong-doers. There are retribustivists who do not support the death penalty. But at least, I hope, you can see how that argument for the death penalty goes, and why it would allow one to rationally support the death penalty and condemn the allowance of prison rape.

And, yes, I did get a lot of work done today and now I'm taking a break from it, thankyouverymuch.
posted by Ms. Saint at 2:47 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Um, reprinting email you get from other users is against the rules as is harassing other users over email, can we plase have a do-over a day from now?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:17 PM on February 10, 2009


Good Lord, another goddamn cop thread. They sure are ugly.

I'm gettin' too old for this shit.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:10 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Outragefilter.
posted by LarryC at 4:16 PM on February 10, 2009


Isn't all sex rape at some level?

Not tentacle sex.

Well, not unless you happen to just be purposely swimming through the Pacific Ocean, looking somewhat dishevelled and helpless because you've just escaped from a pirate ship, when all of a sudden you notice that you've caught the eye of a disreputable looking Octopus, and he's started to follow you with a look of lustful intent in his eye...

Damn, I've got to stop checking out that Japanese porn.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:41 PM on February 10, 2009


Finally, a chance to break out my "No To Rape, Yes to Whiskey" protest signs again.

I can't believe you ever put yours away.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:48 PM on February 10, 2009


Ms. Saint, you raise some good points, but this example stood out to me as odd:

Suppose a person is kidnapped, tortured for weeks on end, raped repeatedly.. In general, made to suffer horribly at the hands of another. But then this person escapes, although with countless emotional, psychological, and physical scars. This person's life will forever be worse because of this horrible ordeal they encountered. The police are called in, and they find the evildoer who is responsible for all of this pain and suffering on the part of the innocent. But then the victim says, "No, no, it's okay. Don't worry about it. Let my torturer go freely; I offer him my forgiveness."

Well, in this case, it might be psychologically valuable for the victim to forgive his torturer in that way... But many people still want to say that there's something wrong if we just let the torturer go his merry way after doing something so terrible. The torturer did something wrong, and, in an important way, he deserves to be punished. The choices he made were horrible and evil, and they merit punishment.


I think this example is flawed because there would be good reason to think the bad guy will be a repeat offender, especially if we just let him go! Forgiveness and punishment need not be connected to one another, at least not always.

A better example might be something like this: Suppose a man comes home early from work to find his wife cheating on him with his best friend. Enraged beyond reason, he pulls the lamp off the nightstand and hits his friend over the head with it, putting him into a coma. A few days later, the man's friend dies, and the man is overwrought with grief -- he acted rashly, lost control, and feels the full weight of guilt we would expect someone to feel in that situation.

The man is clearly the agent of his friend's death, but he is otherwise a normal and productive member of society -- putting him into jail will not have any rehabilitative effect, since he already regrets what he did and knows that it was wrong to have done. Why bother to punish him at all, then, on a purely rehabilitative theory of punishment? Yet surely he deserves to be punished!

That seems like a stronger example for the sort of case you want to make. (There are problems with it, too, but I guess that's the way the game is played...)
posted by voltairemodern at 5:24 PM on February 10, 2009


I'm gettin' too old for this shit.

I am what I am, I do what I do. Some guys make shoe laces, others lay sod, some make a good living neutering animals.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:47 PM on February 10, 2009


Yeah, you're right, voltairemodern. That's a much better case.
posted by Ms. Saint at 5:53 PM on February 10, 2009


American prisons give lip service to rehabilitation. They're really about punishment.

They're really about profits. Everything else is secondary to that.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:01 PM on February 10, 2009


I'd hit it.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:03 PM on February 10, 2009


(Better yet, preview before posting and be willing to chuck out your comment in the first place on preview if you see that there's been an attempt to put on the brakes.)

That would require all y'all admins to finally see common sense, and remove the live preview "feature."

I don't feel strongly enough about it to start it's own thread, but while we're on the subject of Metafilter and the America justice system...

...lemme just say this: one of the bigger problems with America is that your citizens are (a) largely untravelled, and thus unable to witness alternatives to the environment in which they are perpetually immersed; (b) so pumped with rah-rah patriotism that generally, they're constitutionally incapable of admitting there are problems.

Prison rape? Hell, yah, it must be okay, this is America! We're the best! And anyway, at least we're not as bad as Liberia! No one's perfect! It's okay!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:09 PM on February 10, 2009


Oh! And we stereotype people from other countries!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:33 PM on February 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


Ms. Saint, how many serious crimes are committed in a fit of rational clarity? your theory sounds like it was dreamed up by an economist.
posted by klanawa at 7:45 PM on February 10, 2009


Oh, get off it. Are you going to tell me that Americans are relatively well-travelled in comparison to people in other first-world nations? It is a pure and simple fact that Americans are not well-travelled. Likewise, take a bit of a travel and tell me that other first-world nations are as over-draped in flags, Love It or Leave It bumperstickers, and frothing media heads declaring the nation's greatness. America fucking swims in patriotism like a fish swims in water.

Your knee-jerk reaction is typical. Reactionary outrage at the least criticism.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:51 PM on February 10, 2009


yeah, fff, actually it's this part:

so pumped with rah-rah patriotism that generally, they're constitutionally incapable of admitting there are problems.

that's eye-rolling. You can have the rest of it.
posted by pineapple at 7:58 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, wait. Now I get it -- you're frothy about shitty Americans in the Dymond Milburn thread too. It's just a perfect storm of "America = Antichrist."

Think I'll just stay outta your way till your blood pressure drops.
posted by pineapple at 8:04 PM on February 10, 2009


I have it on good authority that Americans are the worst people in the entire first-world. Any reaction to this statement other than fawning agreement will be seen as typical American patriotic bloviating. Unlike Canadians, who are so fucking perfect they're beyond reproach. Give me a fucking break.
posted by dead cousin ted at 8:22 PM on February 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think I've been overstating the role that making a single rational decision plays, compared to simply having the capacity to make rational decisions in general.

In completely unrelated news, Haagen-Dazs Reserve "Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle" ice cream is completely divine. This is just amazing ice cream. I mean, listen to this description: "Slivers of toasted coconut are steeped in rich cream and coconut milk and then blended with pieces of ginger-infused sesame brittle." Mmm! You all should go get some of this stuff.
posted by Ms. Saint at 8:36 PM on February 10, 2009


Good Lord, another goddamn cop thread. They sure are ugly.

I'm gettin' too old for this shit.


When you retire, you're not just retiring you, man! You're retiring us!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:40 PM on February 10, 2009


I did not expect the Prison Rape thread to devolve into a Canada's Awesome thread. Coincidence?

...

I think not.
posted by voltairemodern at 8:58 PM on February 10, 2009


Okay, I'll grant I went overboard with "generally constitutionally incapable."

you're frothy about shitty Americans in the Dymond Milburn thread too

WTFBBQ? I'd like some of what you're smoking.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:28 PM on February 10, 2009


Are you going to tell me that Americans are relatively well-travelled in comparison to people in other first-world nations? It is a pure and simple fact that Americans are not well-travelled.

I think that it's important to remember that:

i) Most other first world nations - read: Europeans - can visit several other countries with far less expense and travel time than Americans. Given the size and geographic disparity of the country, a domestic vacation makes a lot of sense.

ii) 32% of America's citizens are visible minorities - I'd be curious to see how the % of Americans who travel out of country breaks down, racially and financially.

iii) Although approximately 50% of Canadians have travelled out-of-country, as opposed to the <25% of Americans, 50% of those Canadians headed to the United States. Possibly for the flag over-draping, Love It or Leave It bumperstickers, and frothing media heads declaring the nation's greatness.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:51 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or to, you know, get a break from our igloos and pick up a pack of cheap smokes.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:57 PM on February 10, 2009


Haagen-Dazs Reserve "Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle" ice cream is completely divine.

Stop taunting us with flavours that simply aren't available to the rest of the world. Here in the UK, HD don't even sell Coffee, for Christ's sake.

When it comes to the range of available flavours of ice cream, the USA truly *is* number one.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:37 AM on February 11, 2009


A good friend of mine, during the waning days of the previous administration, approached me about his new performance art project: A stand-up comedy act composed entirely of prison-rape one-liners while dressed in a large orange prison-style jumpsuit with a black mesh bag over his head. I believe it was to call attention either to the phenomena of prison-rape, or injustices at Guantanamo. I'm pretty sure he didn't do it, for some reason he never discussed with me, because his next project was simply called "Big Baby Jesus," and included live Nativity scenes over the last holiday season (you can Google that one). While I am not in favor of forced sexual relations between inmates at any given prison, no matter where or who, his musings did produce one joke (barely) worth repeating, which I will share here, since this seems to qualify as the appropriate venue:

Q: What's the difference between prison-rape and Carrot Top?

A: Carrot Top isn't funny.

Sorry. I'll go now.

(Would it make you feel better to know that I'm essentially allergic to ice-cream?)

posted by Minus215Cee at 1:14 AM on February 11, 2009


People really don't like criminals.

They sure like rapists if they are happy about rape in prison. Every prison rape means another satisfied rapist.

And I wonder whether prison rape actually increases the number of rapes that occur outside prison? Do these guys (raper and raped) leave prison more likely to commit sex crimes than when they went in?
posted by pracowity at 3:57 AM on February 11, 2009


When you retire, you're not just retiring you, man! You're retiring us!

You're a loose cannon, Pileon! Learn to play by the rules or I'll have your badge!

This time you got lucky. Good job.

Now get out of my sight.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:10 AM on February 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


five fresh fish said: "WTFBBQ? I'd like some of what you're smoking."

Yeah, on review, less frothy than it looked in Recent Activity. I saw this + this and it looked like "WTF USA" (well, which it was) plus "Canada isn't perfect but at least it self-regulates, ergo CANADA RULES, USA DROOLS".

When you're making a meringue, frothy is good. Frothy cocoa can be good too.
posted by pineapple at 7:25 AM on February 11, 2009


I want to make some sort of Santorum joke, but my ideas are all shitty.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:29 AM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's been years since I saw a "Love It Or Leave It" bumper sticker. Maybe they hand them out at the Canadian border. Flags, though - sure are a lot of them. What's the largest US flag you've seen? It was at a car dealer, wasn't it?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:32 AM on February 11, 2009


The largest flag would be a gas station flag. USA! USA! Cheap gas, Yeah!
posted by readery at 9:05 AM on February 11, 2009


Are you going to tell me that Americans are relatively well-travelled in comparison to people in other first-world nations?

Probably not, but I'd like to point out that one can, in point of fact, travel quite a bit and not leave the country. The distance between our two most significant metro areas-- New York and Los Angeles-- is roughly equivalent to the distance between, say, London and Baghdad.

I'm just sayin'.
posted by dersins at 9:17 AM on February 11, 2009


The distance between our two most significant metro areas-- New York and Los Angeles-- is roughly equivalent to the distance between, say, London and Baghdad.

The physical distance, maybe, but that's not what matters, is it? The cultural distance between New York and Los Angeles is roughly equivalent to the distance between, say, London and London.
posted by pracowity at 12:28 PM on February 11, 2009


The physical distance, maybe, but that's not what matters, is it? The cultural distance between New York and Los Angeles is roughly equivalent to the distance between, say, London and London.

That has not been my experience.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:33 PM on February 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


The physical distance, maybe, but that's not what matters, is it?

I don't completely disagree (although anyone who thinks there's no cultural distance between New York and LA probably hasn't spent much time in either place), but that's not really my point. My point is that if you're in, say, London, you don't have to travel very far to be well-traveled, whereas if you're in, say, Grand Island, Nebraska you can make almost the equivalent of a trip between London and Istanbul in practically any direction and not have left the country.
posted by dersins at 12:48 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


The cultural distance between New York and Los Angeles is roughly equivalent to the distance between, say, London and London.

Yeah? Try telling that to Tupac. Or Biggie.
Or Woody.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:54 PM on February 11, 2009


The cultural distance between New York and Los Angeles is roughly equivalent to the distance between, say, London and London.

Um, no. In some few ways yes, in others it's more like London and the moon.

Really, sometimes I think that people (particularly Europeans it seems, though I shouldn't restrict my thought to Europe) still, after 200 years don't really get the United States as a place or a concept even. They still seem to be thinking of the US as a single nation, and thus make comparisons to a single nation, when we are more comparable to the EU as a whole. Take this thread for instance, you get comparisons between the perception of US prisons based on a stitched together composite of the worst of the worst of the 50 States most secure, hard-core prison facilities and they are put up against a conceptual average for just the UK and Scandinavia. Lo and behold guess what? The US sucks in comparison! What a shock!

So, yes, the USA do have a loose confederation and are governed in some part from a central Federal government. We do face the world as a single nation in matters of diplomacy, immigration, war, and trade, but we do not have a single standard of criminal justice. An instance of prison rape at a prison in Alabama is a problem for Alabama, not one to be governed or solved by New York or Iowa or Alaska andy more than the conditions in Polish prisons are a matter for the governments of Germany or Spain or Ireland.

Then there is the issue of prison types. A minimum security prison such as the California Institution for Men's Minimum Support Facility doesn't even have walls. It is not the 24 hour lockdown, gang war, riot prone, black hole of Calcutta that is being compared to the Swedish penal system. It's more like a college campus than a prison, except inmates can't leave or go to frat parties.

What we see rather than a fair comparison between an average for all States and an average for the entire EU is a selected sample of the wort of the US and the best of Europe. We see these comparisons all the time and frankly it shows what little understanding the rest of the world actually has of the United States. Education seems to get the worst of them. We take the average of all US public school students' test scores vs. German Gymnausium graduates. To be remotely fair you'd have to throw in Hungarian trade school drop-outs to begin to find an average to compare.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:01 PM on February 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't mean to belabor the point any more or to sound any more like some sort of pedantic uber-patriot, but really, we've got Alaskans and Floridians, Guamanians, Puerto Ricans and Hawaiians, New Yorkers and Mississippians and you think that we are a singular entity?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:06 PM on February 11, 2009


I live about 1500 miles from Mexico and 700 miles from Canada. I have never left the US, but it's not because I didn't want to. It's because, for even the lower middle class, it is financially incredibly difficult to do it. For example, it would cost about 15% of my entire family's income for us just to travel to Poland, where you are, pracowity.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:07 PM on February 11, 2009


And, really, if you think the only differences in culture to be found in the US would be between LA and NY, you're kind of forgetting about a whole dang lot of the US. Maybe people outside of this country might not spend too much time thinking about the cultural norms in Oregon compared to North Carolina, say, but they're significant.
posted by Ms. Saint at 1:45 PM on February 11, 2009


The cultural distance between New York and Los Angeles is roughly equivalent to the distance between, say, London and London.

The example I would choose is London and Benidorm. Different countries, same people.
posted by smackfu at 1:56 PM on February 11, 2009


When people can write books about the culture clash of Flatlanders* and Woodchucks,* it's kind of ridiculous to pretend that the US is homogeneous.



*These are people who live in small adjacent states.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:12 PM on February 11, 2009


My point is that if you're in, say, London, you don't have to travel very far to be well-traveled, whereas if you're in, say, Grand Island, Nebraska you can make almost the equivalent of a trip between London and Istanbul in practically any direction and not have left the country.

Quoted for truth. If you're in central London, you can get to Paris or Brussels in a couple of hours by Eurostar. There are train/ferry packages to Amsterdam for 110 Euros. Easyjet (and other discount carriers) offer cheap flights all around Europe.

It's just easier for Europeans to travel.
posted by jason's_planet at 4:20 PM on February 11, 2009


The cultural distance between New York and Los Angeles is roughly equivalent to the distance between, say, London and London.

You have never been to New York or Los Angeles, clearly, to have made this erroneous comparison.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:38 PM on February 11, 2009


*These are people who live in small adjacent states.

A close as, say, London Bridge and King's Cross. It's like all those dialects in Wales where people are from different sides of the same hill and sound different.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:39 PM on February 11, 2009


Hell, just going from Dupont Circle in DC to Anacostia in DC is a pretty massive cultural shift.
posted by empath at 6:10 PM on February 11, 2009


The point is not how easy it is to travel, but that in traveling one encounters customs, ideologies, religions, languages, politics, and expectations that are radically different than those back home. And that in experiencing these differences, one can gain insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the way things are done back home.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:14 PM on February 11, 2009


Yes, the British in particular are known for their sensitivity to the cultures they encounter while traveling, and the insight it brings to them as individuals and to British society as a whole.
posted by dersins at 6:24 PM on February 11, 2009


"And anyway, at least we're not as bad as Liberia Britain! No one's perfect! It's okay!"
posted by five fresh fish at 7:54 PM on February 11, 2009


Hell, just going from Dupont Circle in DC to Anacostia in DC is a pretty massive cultural shift.

Walk through Queens sometime. Your head may never stop spinning.
posted by jonmc at 9:01 PM on February 11, 2009


The point is not how easy it is to travel, but that in traveling one encounters customs, ideologies, religions, languages, politics, and expectations that are radically different than those back home. And that in experiencing these differences, one can gain insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the way things are done back home.

Obviously, but that's not the point. The point is, Americans don't lack these things because they don't want them. They lack them because they're mostly hundreds or thousands of miles away from those other cultures. It's not a moral failing not to have traveled if you can't afford to do it!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:46 PM on February 11, 2009


I'll admit, it is expensive to get to another continent.

Do American high schools generally have school group trips to foreign countries? In my experience, it's usually the foreign language class that gets the opportunity, though some of the band classes also have the chance. The kids have to bust their asses fund-raising, but that's fair enough: not everything in life is free.

How about the post-graduation European vacation tradition? Is there one in the USA? Certainly is in Canada. Little farts always figure they're going to take off on a world tour for a year. Not all of them work hard enough to actually make it happen.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:48 PM on February 11, 2009


This is just my high school of course...

There were some trips like that at my school, but not all were paid for by fundraising. I know that the madrigal choir did fundraisers and traveled all over the place, including various parts of Europe.

The language classes sometimes had trips, but generally the students paid for them out of pocket, although they were likely to be cheaper than going by oneself. I had the chance to go to Rome with a group of Latin classes from several schools, but I couldn't have afforded it. I don't think anyone in my class went.

Many clubs and classes went to New York or Chicago for various reasons. From here in NC, those are 8 and 14 hour drives, respectively.

As for the post-grad thing: it's certainly idealized, but I don't know if it's common enough to be called a tradition. I know a few people who've done it. More common at my school is the semester abroad, partly because it's paid for by your loans/grants/scholarships.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:27 AM on February 12, 2009


Do American high schools generally have school group trips to foreign countries?

Yes, that was fairly standard in my experience 15 years ago on the East Coast. Not so much the Spanish class, but certainly the Spanish Club took yearly trips.
posted by smackfu at 6:16 AM on February 12, 2009


How about the post-graduation European vacation tradition? Is there one in the USA? Certainly is in Canada.

Maybe in your fancy-pantsy part of Canada. Mr. Fancy-Pants.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:42 AM on February 12, 2009


A better way to think about the situation is this: because we think that these people need help to be productive, reliable members of society, we have removed them from society for a time in order to teach them what they need to know. Ideally, when we put them back into society, they'll be able to find a place.

I think that takes a fair bit on premise. While those premises may not be exactly controversial here on MetaFilter, I'd argue that you can tell just from casual observation that they are not representative of how Americans actually envision their prison system, as evidenced by the way they vote and otherwise direct their elected representatives.

I think a fair number of people actually believe -- or at least act as though they believe -- that criminality is an inherent trait, and that there are two classes of people in the world: Good Folks and Scumbags. The legal system is merely a device for attempting to sort the Scumbags out from Good Folks, and the prison system is a place to stick Scumbags where they can't do any damage, and to punish them good and hard, because seeing Scumbags get punished is satisfying and reminds the Good Folks that they're not Scumbags. It's sort of a "there but for the grace of God" situation; it might even be thought of as a sort of secular/legal Calvinism. Good Folks cannot by definition become Scumbags (although they can make regrettable mistakes, in which case they should be treated lightly); they can only reveal themselves to have been crypto-Scumbags all along. The difference between a Good Folk making a regrettable mistake and a crypto-Scumbag revealing their true colors is a hazy one, and seems to mostly hinge on heinousness combined with past performance and some good old fashioned racism. (Upstanding citizen evades taxes? Good folk, probably a mistake. Kid from the ghetto steals a car? Scumbag; burn him.)

If you use this model, large parts of the American legal and prison system suddenly make sense. I'm not saying it's a consistent moral philosophy -- it's not, and there are fairly severe logical problems in it -- or even defending it in any way, or even saying that any individual actually thinks this way. But, as a model, it seems to predict a large swath of the public's reaction and behavior, whether any single people are willing to stand up and admit to believing that's how they feel or not.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:16 AM on February 12, 2009


Meatbomb writes "If prison rape is something criminals deserve, as some Americans seem to feel, why is it left to random chance? Why not include it as a part of the sentencing in a structured and officially sanctioned way?"

Could you imagine having that job on your CV?

Interviewer: "So Mister Lighting Refactory Period; it says here you were last employed by the Department of Corrections for two years. What were your duties?
MLR: "Uh, rapist mostly. I used my weird physical make up to administer 'justice' to as many as a dozen clients a day".
posted by Mitheral at 5:45 PM on February 21, 2009


Having successfully completed a 10-year sentence, incident free, for importing 75 tons of marijuana into the United States, I am now seeking a legal and legitimate means to support myself and my family.

Business experience: Owned and operated a successful fishing business -- multi-vessel, one airplane, one island and processing facility. Simultaneously owned and operated a fleet of tractor-trailer trucks conducting business in the western United States.... I also participated in the executive level management of 120 people worldwide in a successful pot-smuggling venture with revenues in excess of $100-million US annually. I took responsibility for my own actions and received a 10-year sentence in the United States while others walk free for their cooperation.

Attributes: I am an expert in all levels of security; I have extensive computer skills, am personable, outgoing, well educated, reliable, clean and sober. I have spoken in schools to thousands of kids and parent groups over the past ten years on the “consequences of choice”, and received public recognition from the RCMP for community service. I am well traveled and speak English, French and Spanish. References available from friends, family and the U.S. District Attorney, etc.

Please direct replies to
Box 375, National Post, Classified
1450 Don Mills, ON, M3B 3R5
Supposedly legitimate.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:12 PM on February 21, 2009


Come to think of it, a fellow like that could be essential in making a business like this succeed.

There's a lot of money to be made in sin taxes. It's a helluva great way for a government to fund the things that a society needs, by taxing things a society wants. Tax gambling, tax lotteries, tax alcohol and cigarettes and pot and, hell why not, coffee. Tax doughnuts and Cheezits and beer. Tax to attend a hockey game, but don't tax to use the facility for one's own skating desires; encourage participaction. Fund the things that make a society capable of being fit and educated and healthy and have the best opportunity to make themselves a functioning, contributing, useful member of society.

Tax sins to fund positive development.

Trust me, you're not going to run out of customers. It is literally impossible to overtax some sinful pastimes: that's why there's a wickedly wealthy, profitable underground gang-oriented supply chain network. It costs fucking lives, and yet it continues to thrive. Take advantage of that market by legalizing and regulating hell out of it.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:20 PM on February 21, 2009


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