In a memo to federal prosecutors nationwide on Thursday, James M. Cole, the deputy attorney general, erased some uncertainty about how the government would respond to state laws making it legal to use marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.
I bumped into this article from Ioan Grillo in the New York Times today (I read his book a while back. It was very informative but I don’t really like disjointed narratives, I’m more of a linear thinker):
“As we enter 2014, we are in the midst of a fundamental shift in thinking on drug policy across the Americas. It’s the biggest change in direction since the region started down the road to prohibition with the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. That U.S. law kickstarted the Latin American drug trade in the form of traffickers smuggling opium poppies north from Mexico’s Sierra Madre.
As the American drug market grew through the hippie Summer of Love and the cocaine disco generation, the U.S. war on drugs became more intense, as did the pressure on Latin American governments to fight supply. Subsequent generations of cartels became ever more violent; we went from talking about a war on drugs to drug wars, culminating in Mexico’s bloodbath, which is perhaps the most costly drug war in world history.
But the discussions on the issue are shifting course at breakneck speed. For decades, any talk of drug legalization was viewed by politicians across the hemisphere as a toxic vote-loser, pooh-poohed by pundits as a nonstarter. Now, active or former presidents of Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala, Colombia and Mexico are all calling for a rethink of prohibitionist policies.”
Which may have to do with this (from an earlier article):
“The International Centre for Science in Drug Policy said its report suggested the war on drugs had failed.
The report, published in the British Medical Journal Open, looked at data from seven international government-funded drug surveillance systems.
Its researchers said it was time to consider drug use a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue.
The seven drug surveillance systems the study looked at had at least 10 years of information on the price and purity of cannabis, cocaine and opiates, including heroin.
The report said street prices of drugs had fallen in real terms between 1990 and 2010, while their purity and potency had increased.”
The report is here. Some of their results below.
I find it interesting that there is an uptick in price right when the recession started in the US.
And as I discussed a while back, Portugal seems to be leading the way in terms of decriminalization (unless imposed austerity messes it all up).
And for the deleterious social effects of the war on drugs, see this older post as well.
Now, as I always tell my students, when a public policy seems to be a failure and yet, discussing this failure and potential policy changes is out of bounds, ask yourselves, who benefits. Who were the main beneficiaries of the war on drugs (and still are), and if one finds groups with big political clout, this is the answer to why failing policies are not changed or repealed. In this case, the beneficiaries are rather obvious: the prison-industrial complex (especially private prisons), various law enforcement agencies (which is reminiscent of the way these same agencies went from enforcing prohibition to creating a moral panic about marijuana, including, the awesomely awful old film, Reefer Madness), politicians (both federal and state), as well as anyone whose job is connected to the enforcement of the war on drugs, such as probation officers, etc.
But it is certainly interesting to see an ever-so-subtle tide changing.
Barbara Garson‘s Down The Up Escalator – How The 99% Live is part of the non-fiction sub-genre of “the human face of [insert socioeconomic trend here]“. In this case, the trend is the precarization of the American workforce. This book is not dissimilar from Louis Uchitelle’s The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences. On both cases, the focus is on the precarization of workers whose jobs are not supposed to be precarious: they are not part of the uneducated employees of Walmart or fast food joints.
Garson’s book depicts the latest consequences of the 2008 recession:
“For all my intellectual grasp of the downward trends for American workers, I just can’t believe that these four generous/selfish, mellow/excitable, unique/ordinary, and highly employable individuals will simply remain the long-term unemployed. Even though they might.” (Loc. 660)
Indeed, Garson’s book is a series of vignettes about people who thought their lives were relatively secure only to have the rug pulled from under their feet either because of unscrupulous mortgage lenders, the lay-offs following the recession, or just plain bad luck. These people never thought they would face precarization first-hand so fast. Most of Garson’s interviewees are educated, have been connected to the labor market for a long time. Heck, several of them are part of the much-vaunted creative class. This was not supposed to happen to them. For those, they did not go underwater quickly as their previously high-paying jobs gave them savings, and some margins that allowed them to have expenses that could be cut back. But things are not looking up for them.
“The Kennys may indeed have failed to grasp opportunities that would leapfrog them over others. But their basic economic mistake was to assume that salaries, house prices, and savings would gradually increase over the years. In other words, the Kennys fell behind because they didn’t fully grasp that they weren’t going to get ahead.
But adjusting to downward mobility would have required a midlife course correction that’s inimical to Americans of their generation. As I’ve said, down is an un-American direction.” (Loc. 1193)
By following her subjects over a period of time, Garson can see the progressive destabilization that marks these people’s lives as things do not improve for them. Sure, a few of them make mistakes along the way, but this is what happens in Bauman’s liquid society where individuals are supposed to find their own solutions, on their own, to structural problems foisted upon them. And, especially for the African American and working class (often overlapping) subjects of Garson’s book, there is no margin for error. To find individual solutions to systemic problems is no easy task. As several of Garson’s subjects show, it takes time, perseverance to face a mortgage modification system that is downright Kafkaesque (and full of very shady people).
“To most underwater homeowners, the word “modification” referred to an ineffective government program meant to keep people in their houses. But there are many ways to modify the terms of a mortgage. Litton Loan Servicing is known among consumer advocates for offering mortgage modifications that fail and leave homeowners owing more than ever. This is how that works out profitably for them: Normally, a mortgage servicer passes along all of the interest and principal it collects to the banks or investors who own the mortgages. The servicer earns its money from regular service fees, late penalties, and special charges like the ones involved in modifications. But a mortgage servicer normally can’t offer a modification (a change in a loan’s basic terms) without the consent of the loan’s owner. This, as we’ve seen, can be hard to get. But Litton and its associates buy up delinquent or otherwise malodorous mortgages at a discount. With the original investors out of the picture, Litton is free to grant modifications in its own interest.
During the course of most Litton modifications or “trial” modifications, the homeowner’s payments can consist almost entirely of fees and new interest. By offering one likely-to-fail modification after another, Litton can collect payments like Alice Epps’s $4,939 a month for as long as the homeowner can pay. The company is free to raise or even lower the payments if it decides that’s the best way to squeeze out a few last drops. But since almost none of the money goes to paying off the mortgage debt, the recipients of Litton modifications often wind up owing more than they would have if they’d never been granted the favor. When they’ve paid all they can, they lose the house.” (Loc. 2576)
This would perfectly fit what Charles Derber describes as part of the sociopathic society (the title of his latest book):
“A sociopathic society breeds routinized, institutionalized pervasive and fierce sociopathy that chips away at its own foundations.
Sociopathy is antisocial behavior by an individual or institution that typically advances self-interest, such as making money, while harming others and attacking the fabric of society. In a sociopathic society, sociopathic behavior, by both individuals and institutions, is the outcome of dominant social values and power arrangements. A sociopathic society, paradoxically, creates dominant social norms that are antisocial – that is, norms that assault the well-being and survival of much of the population and undermine the social bonds and sustainable environmental conditions essential to any form of social order.” (3-4)
Even though the book, for the most part, is a series of individual stories of downfall and getting stuck, Garson is not ignorant of where this is all coming from. And so, the book marshals statistical trends correctly putting the blame where it belongs: Reaganomics. The unraveling of the upper-middle and middle class we are witnessing is the end point of policies that started 30 years ago.
“When factories started closing or moving abroad in the 1970s and 1980s, we were told not to worry. Yes, some blue-collar workers might have to be pensioned off. But the rest of us would become “information workers” in the “postindustrial society.” The important thing was to acquire the skills of the future.
Something bad has been creeping up the occupational ladder. First it hit blue-collar workers like Duane; then it hit pink-collar office workers like his wife. The college educated appeared to be keeping a couple of rungs ahead of it. But starting in the late 1990s, real income has been falling sharply for people with college degrees—so far excluding PhDs. You might say that the Pink Slip Club members were a generation and a half behind (or ahead) of the people in Evansville. But it was catching up to them even before the downturn.” (Loc. 1213)
And this is the important part of that story: this is not something that just happened in the magical realm of economic markets, something that few superior humans can comprehend and no one should tamper with. This was by design. Hence the sociopathic society.
And the sociopaths are still around:
“This wild mortgage lending wasn’t dictated by masses of poor people storming the banks demanding credit. It was fueled by a relatively few people with large piles of money that desperately needed to be invested. Hedge fund owners, pension fund managers, and European bankers are among the folks who bought mortgage-backed securities. But like others charged with great piles of cash to invest, they can reasonably blame the money itself.” (Loc. 2738).
And they blamed the underwater homeowners as well, the poor, the African Americans, etc. This still speaks volume to the dominant ideological climate created over these past thirty years, mainly through the conglomeration of corporate media.
But what comes through loud and clear from Garson’s book is the corrosive nature (to paraphrase Richard Sennett) of the current system as precarization creeps up the social ladder. As Garson herself notes,
“None of the recession sufferers we spoke with in Down the Up Escalator were hungry, and only one was truly homeless. But most of them couldn’t be sure where or when they’ll work, how long they’ll be able to stay in their homes, whether they’ll ever be able to retire or to have a baby, and more generally what will happen next.” (Loc. 3494)
Welcome to the liquid society or the risk society or the sociopathic society. Take your pick. Either way, it is a pretty gloomy scenario.
This is overall an engaging and accessible read that really goes into some details of these individual stories, which reads like old-fashioned journalism. At the same time, it does take in the big picture without being to wonky. This is clearly a book for the general public and one hopes it gets wide diffusion.
Here is a video of Barbara Garson on Bill Moyers:
For the few of you who followed the Global Sociology Blog, you know that Zygmunt Bauman is one of my favorite sociologist. His liquid modernity thesis has long fascinated me in the context of the global risk society, characterized by individualization as neoliberal policies progressively dismantle the social safety net.
Social risks become all the more prevalent as states lose their ability to provide stable and secure living conditions. States are now “spaces of flows (p. 135).” Arjun Appadurai (1996) delineates these flows (or “scapes”) as part of the process of globalization. These scapes are independent of any particular nation-states. They comprise mediascapes (flow of information through the mass media, television, the Internet), financescapes (flow of capital through the global financial system), technoscapes (flow of technology or flows made easier thanks to technology), ethnoscapes (flow of people, immigration, refugees, tourists), and ideoscapes (flow of ideas such as consumerism, market, democracy).
Such flows shape individuals’ lives both positively (greater access to knowledge and information) and negatively (insecurity generated by financescapes, precarization of work), each scape creating its own type of risks. The solidity of the state is undermined by the “liquidity” of flows since they are transnational, transborder phenomena. This is what prompted Zygmunt Bauman (2000) to describe the first modernity as heavy or solid modernity, as opposed to the liquid late modernity, which is the condition of globalization.
As Bauman indicates, in liquid society, power now is related to the capacity to travel light and to uproot instantly. This creates a new form of inequalities: to paraphrase Bauman, those free to move without notice rule. A new principle of social division is not just related to wealth versus poverty but to mobility versus immobility. This discrepancy between a free, mobile, volatile capital and a tied-down, territorial labor partly explains the current state of weakness of organized labor. There is no longer a mutual dependency or mutual engagement.
As Bauman puts it (2000), “capital can travel fast and travel light and its lightness and motility have turned into the paramount source of uncertainty for all the rest. This has become the present-day basis of domination and the principal factor of social divisions” (p. 121). Therefore, the current logic in corporations is downsizing and phasing out. Correlatively, the modern nation-state, being territorial by definition, becomes equally powerless to control let alone shape the global flows or scapes defined above. Liquidity and scapes are not simply phenomena affecting the large-scale aspects of the social structure. They also have deep impacts on people’s lives, mostly through the process of individualization.
In his analysis of liquid modernity, Bauman (2000) asserts that two features characterized liquid modernity. One is the end of what he calls an “early modern illusion:” the idea that history had an end where society would achieve a stage of perfection, the expression of the good society (p. 29). This assumption was present in early modern social thinkers such as Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer and Karl Marx. Liquid modernity involves the end of such notion of collective progress.
The other feature is what Bauman (2000) calls “deregulation and privatization.” Any improvement to be made in living conditions is no longer seen as the job of the modern state but is more and more left to the efforts of individuals. The end of a progressive conception of society means that any idea of the “good society” has shifted to the idea of “human rights,” from the social realm to the individual. The result, for Bauman, is that, if individuals are freer to determine their own idea of happiness, it is also entirely up to them to achieve it and any failure will be attributed to their own shortcomings. In this sense, any notion of emancipation is no longer a social project to be achieved collectively but an individual task, with new experts (life coaches, therapists and counselors of all sorts, such as the omnipresent Doctor Phil) to guide individuals along the way. Furthermore, individual fulfillment will involve some form of consumption. Paraphrasing Peter Drucker, Bauman (2000:30) puts it this way, “no more salvation by society” (p. 30).
As presented in Aldous Huxley’s (1936) Brave New World and George Orwell’s (1948) 1984, solid modernity dystopia depicted the loss of individuality as the major source of fear. There inherent totalitarian tendencies of solid modernity have not materialized. In fact, just the opposite seems to be occurring. Bauman (2000) contends that it is the emergence of individualization rather than the totalitarian nightmare that is the mark of liquid modernity. Individualization means that members of society can no longer count on social safety nets or the welfare state to negotiate the impact of risks on their lives (such as a job loss, loss of pensions and savings to the insecurities of the market). Liquid modernity leaves them “free” to figure out solutions on their own. Individuals are left to deal with societal and systemic conditions as part of their own individual life-projects. As Bauman (2000) writes, “risks and contradictions go on being socially produced; it is just the duty and the necessity to cope with them which are being individualized” (34).
I think Kevin Moore‘s great toon perfectly captured this set of interrelated ideas:
Roy was one of at least 40,000 Americans who took their own lives that year and the next, the two-year span (1937-1939) that suicide rate spiked to its highest recorded level ever: more than 150 per 1 million annually. They are forgotten people, mostly men, and mostly brushed out of existence by a generation preoccupied by World War II and the post-war boom. Three-quarters of a century after Roy’s death, I sat across from an old family friend, a woman in her 90s, who was eager to share stories of that monumental past – except when it came to my great-grandfather. When I finally asked her point bank if she had known him, her blue eyes focused.
“He killed himself, didn’t he?” she asked, but it was more of a statement than a question. “Every family had a story like that. We never spoke of them. Why would we?”
While those of us who read and study suicide know that the highest levels ever recorded were during the Great Depression, what is surprising about this article is the level of shame and almost denial many families were in then and are still in today about the people (mostly men) who killed themselves during that era. And how in many aspects, not much has changed today.
As I began to look deeper into the story, I carried a couple of assumptions with me. First, I assumed there were likely to have been previous suicide attempts. Second, that Roy’s suicide was linked to the economy. Neither assumption is correct enough, as I learned by talking to Alan Berman, the executive director of the American Association of Suicidology. People see being suicidal as a long-term state of mind, but most people who survive a suicide attempt do not later die by suicide.
Being suicidal is better understood not as a permanent state but as an acute mental crisis. In the cases of public suicides the people committing the act are probably in the grip of magical thinking.
“They think, ‘I will get attention in a world where I am feeling not attended’. What becomes magical is that they are dead; they will never feel attended,” Berman said.
An article I read brought this point home. The handful of people who survived the leap from the Golden Gate Bridge told interviewers that as soon as their feet left the bridge, they regretted the act.
I wrote about the article he mentions more than five years ago in this post.
My second assumption, that “the economy,” had somehow triggered Roy’s act, was not specific or concrete enough. When it comes to understanding suicide (or maybe anything), specificity is important.
Detailed studies of individual cases, or “psychological autopsies,” might help researchers draw conclusions about causes, but autopsies have not been done in large enough volume. So correlations are the best we can do, but they need to be as specific as possible. Suicide is not strongly correlated to the economy, but to unemployment. In the modern era, for every 1 percent increase in the unemployment rate, there has typically been an increase of about 1 percent in the number of suicides, according to Steve Stack, a professor at Wayne State University.
Men still, more than women, define their self-worth by how much money they make and their occupations. That partly goes to explain why the suicide rate is three times higher among men than women.
Stigmas, of course, only have the power we give them. The stigma of unemployment helped send Roy and thousands of other forgotten men to their deaths – and still has an effect today. The suicide rates have spiked again following the onset of the Great Recession, rising to 124 per million in 2010 from 115 per million in 2007. The stigma of suicide is in effect, too: Some of those people will be forgotten.
Of course. In that sense, the stigma, shame, and guilt that is associated with suicide hasn’t changed in 75 years. Or maybe ever.
On the numbers, while it is true that suicides have risen (both in real numbers and in rates) since the Great Recession began, it should also be noted that rates of suicide were rising before 2008 as well (up over 30% from 1999-2010). The author is half-correct in saying that suicide isn’t tied necessarily to the economy, but I think it’s a misnomer to assume that unemployment accelerated what was already an upward trend in suicide to begin with. As I pointed out in this post in May, suicide is up in age and various other demographic groups across the board (those too young or too old to work, among military veterans, the middle age, etc.).
We also need to be careful about assuming the “official” statistics are in fact just that. There are correlations to unemployment and economy, certainly, but no causal evidence.
Nonetheless, the point made by Alan Berman is sobering. Suicide is not a “long-term” state of mind, but in fact a very short, sharp reaction to an acute mental or social crisis (unemployment, divorce, rejection, and so forth). As Berman notes, almost every interview we have with people who have attempted suicide shows an extreme “remorse” about their actions and most will not eventually try it again or die by suicide. As the article from five years ago chillingly noted, almost from the moment people jump over the edge, there is instant regret at the decision.
In that sense, the cliche still stands: suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. As Berman notes, when we can “head off the pathways to suicide” and buy people more time (by restricting access to guns, god forbid, or making it more difficult for people to jump) the more lives will be saved.
As it stands now, we are bordering on 40,000 suicides a year in the U.S., significantly more than die by auto accidents, AIDS or homicide. In fact, at 40,000+, we’re getting into the range of cancer deaths.
And until we reconceptualize suicide as a cancer, we’ll remain powerless to stop the epidemic.
Cross Posted From: The Power Elite
The Justice Department on Thursday said it would not sue to block laws legalizing marijuana in 20 states and the District of Columbia, a move that proponents hailed as an important step toward ending the prohibition of the drug.
Citing “limited prosecutorial resources,” Mr. Cole explained the change in economic terms. But the memo also made clear that the Justice Department expects states to put in place regulations aimed at preventing marijuana sales to minors, illegal cartel and gang activity, interstate trafficking of marijuana, and violence and accidents involving the drug.
“Limited prosecutorial resources”…I guess that means because Holder is so busy prosecuting the white-collar criminals who brought down the economy four years ago, he doesn’t have resources to go after the potheads. Right?
I know…shut up!
Uh, while marijuana advocates are proclaiming a huge victory, the War on Drugs adherents are only beginning to push back.
The prospect that marijuana could be legalized after a ban of decades drew criticism from law enforcement and drug policy officials. They warned that the Justice Department’s decision would have unintended consequences, like more impaired driving and more criminal marijuana operations.
“This sends the wrong message,” said former Representative Patrick J. Kennedy, who is a recovering prescription drug addict and a founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a policy group. “Are we going to send up the white flag altogether and surrender and say ‘have at it’? Or are we going to try to reduce the availability and accessibility of drugs and alcohol? That should be our mission.”
Not sure what that has to do with prescription drugs, but ok.
The White House said last week that President Obama did not support changing federal laws regulating marijuana, which treat the drug as a dangerous substance with no medical purpose.
Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, said the president believed it was best to focus on high-level offenders like kingpins and traffickers.
Which would be a first. Literally. Because no “kingpins” are ever prosecuted in the war on drugs, only the street-level, penny ante dealers who are replaced in a nano-second when one of theirs ends up in the big house.
Nonetheless, I’ll grant you this was a significant announcement. I’m not sure if budget cuts are driving it or whether this is Holder/Obama’s end-game all along, but if it temporarily stops the unnecessary and wasteful arrest and prosecution of spliff heads in those states which have now said “dude, bring us your tired, your poor, your weed,” then so be it.
I’d still like to see data from Oregon and Washington state about the effect that legalization has had on other social barometers like property crime, worker productivity, violence, etc. But for now the “state’s rights” argument on this issue seems to be carrying the day in D.C.
Cross posted from The Power-Elite
The decision by the Missouri Supreme Court to allow propofol, the same powerful anesthetic that caused the death of Michael Jackson, to be used in executions — coming at a time when Texas, Ohio, Arkansas and other states are scrambling to come up with a new drug for their own lethal injections — is raising new questions about how the death penalty will be carried out.
“The bottom line is no matter what drugs they come up with, despite every avenue these states have pursued, every drug they have investigated has met a dead end,” said Deborah Denno, a professor at Fordham Law School who studies execution methods and the death penalty. “This affects every single execution in the country. It just stalls everything, stalls the process.”
Hell, just Beat It.
With manufacturers now refusing to supply corrections departments with the drugs they had been using for executions, some states, like Georgia, have been resorting to obtaining drugs from unregulated compounding pharmacies — specialty drugmakers — which death penalty opponents say lack the proper quality control. Other states, as they run low on their old stock of drugs and are unable to replace them, are turning to new, untried methods like propofol or simply announcing that they are searching for a solution.
I realize this may sound Off the Wall, but if you want to read an excellent article on the lengths Georgia is going to obtain these drugs, and the extraordinary effort to keep it all a secret, read this.
On July 18, one day before he was scheduled to die, Warren Hill, a mentally disabled prisoner on Georgia’s death row, was spared from the execution chamber when a Fulton County Superior Court judge granted him a temporary reprieve.
It was not the first time that Hill, who has been diagnosed as having an IQ of 70, had faced imminent death. One year earlier, on July 23, 2012, Hill ate his last meal and said his final goodbyes as he prepared for an execution that was halted ninety minutes before he was supposed to die by lethal injection. Seven months after that, Hill came within thirty minutes of execution—he was sedated and strapped to the gurney—when a stay was granted. And on July 15 of this year, he was granted another temporary stay with less than four hours to spare, only for a new date to be set, for four days later. All told, in just under a year, Hill has come within hours of execution four times.
Smooth Criminal, eh? In fact, while much of Hill’s ongoing appeals focus on mental retardation, another line of appeals is zeroed in the constitutionality of Georgia’s Lethal Injection Secrecy Act, which is an actual thing the Georgia Legislature passed this past spring.
Under a new Georgia state law called the “Lethal Injection Secrecy Act,” the names of pharmacies that manufacture the chemicals used in lethal injections are now kept secret from the public.
Proponents of the law say it is there to protect the pharmaceutical manufacturers from protests and attacks. But at least one judge is questioning whether this new law is constitutional.
The proposed law, which Corrections officials sought, would make the identities of those who make and supply the lethal injection drug a “state secret,” which means Georgia would have the discretion to hide the information.
The proposed law also makes a state secret the names of prison staff who carry out executions. For decades, the Georgia has kept the names of security staff secret. It would now shield the names of private doctors the prison system hires to carry out executions.
Won’t see Behind The Mask anytime soon. Back in the old days, we just gave the executioner a hood. Now we give them “state secrecy” protection.
But don’t worry, the get tuff all types are fighting back (hey, the kid is not my son).
“This drug issue is a temporary problem that is entirely fixable. It is not a long-term impediment to the resumption of capital punishment. It’s an artificially created problem,” said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which supports the death penalty. “There is no difficulty in using a sedative such as pentobarbital. It’s done every day in animal shelters throughout the country. But what we have is a conspiracy to choke off capital punishment by limiting the availability of drugs.”
Shorter: pet tested, vet approved. You Wanna Be Starting Something, chump?
On Wednesday, the Missouri Supreme Court decided to allow executions using propofol to move ahead in October and November. There is no question that it would kill, but since it has never been used in an execution, death penalty opponents say, there is no way to say how much pain might be involved or what dose should be administered.
Well, if the dude springs up off the gurney, grabs his crotch and starts singing “You Rock My World, Mizzou” you’ll know it’s all good.
Funny how much Michael Jackson and these states scrambling for drugs like junkies came to mirror one another…Man in the Mirror, Dangerous…I could go on.
Cross Posted From The Power-Elite
So, the Pew Research Center produced a report today regarding what issues are considered moral issues by Americans, with the following paragraph:
“Regardless of their views about the legality of abortion, most Americans think that having an abortion is a moral issue. By contrast, the public is much less likely to see other issues involving human embryos – such as stem cell research or in vitro fertilization – as a matter of morality.”
Illustrated by the following chart:
Not surprisingly, views on these issues are related to religiosity:
I’m interested in this which, I think, gives the game away:
“However, a majority of those who think abortion is morally wrong consider embryonic stem cell research to be either morally acceptable (23%) or not a moral issue (29%).”
And they also do not object to IVF.
This basically that the whole “pro-life” thing is a sham. Opposition to abortion is not based on destroying life, or opponents to abortion would picket IVF clinics and places where stem-cell research takes place. So, what gives? Since these practices involve “destroying lives”, from their point of view, why would they consider one more morally objectionable than the others? It’s not a matter of embryonic development since the majority of abortions takes place in the first trimester.
Look again: abortion, IVF, stem cell research… only one involves a woman controlling her sexuality. That is what makes it objectionable to abortion opponents. Not IVF, which does destroy embryos. Not stem cell research, even though it involves using cells that have “potential for life”, as it is claimed. But neither IVF nor stem cell research involves the direct control of her sexuality by women. No, the big difference, and what makes abortion objectionable, is that abortion allows the sluts to avoid the punishment for their sluttitude… being stuck with a baby (and it deprives the deserving but infertile parents from a potential child), hence the related opposition to contraception (which does not destroy embryos).
So I was playing around with Statwing on some basic suicide data and Statwing spat up two histograms.
The first one, for the US (interactive version here):
And the second one for 91 countries (interactive version here):
So, why does the US one look kinda normal and the global one look right-tailed?
This may be one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time.
As David Carr points out in the NYT, this kind of parody is usually only seen on Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. To watch an actual MSNBC show and host mock itself is both refreshing and obviously troubling.
Following the shameful verdict in the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, cable news outlets were filled with angry white men discussing what “we” can do about the “black criminal culture” that is “so obvious” but that “no one will talk about.” Not only does the video parody this kind of knuckle-dragging thinking, it also changes labels and throws Wall Street crime under the same banner as “white” street crime.
That so many people watch cable news shows and assume what they’re hearing is the truth is not surprising. News (and reality, for that matter) has atomized along racial, ideological and political lines. If you’re liberal and Democratic, you go here, if you’re conservative and Republican you go there. If you’re white, you watch this, if you’re black you watch that. You get to hear exactly what you want, confirming every prejudice you already have, without any shred of disagreement in the process.
But are we really that polarized, politically anyway? Worth reading is this latest column (“The Stench From the Potomac”) by Frank Rich. From a meta analysis, he explains why the politics in D.C. isn’t broken or gridlocked or hopelessly dysfunctional. It is in fact, working extraordinarily well and in harmony, just as Mills envisaged 50 years ago under the rubric “the power-elite.”
The larger point being: the appearance of discord keeps the masses distracted. Whites scapegoat blacks, the poor stay at war with the middle class, men are from Mars women are from Venus, ad nauseum.
And while you’re pounding your fists, standing your ground, red-faced with “outrage” at this or that group, the power-elite picks your pocket and laughs all the way to bank.
Cross Posted to The Power Elite (fittingly enough)
If, like me, you find the concept of power central to all sociological thinking, then, you are already familiar with Michael Mann‘s work. If not, Polity Books on Youtube has a nice series of short comments from him. Playlist below:
Goran Therborn is, in my not-so-humble opinion, one of the greatest contemporary sociologists around. I wish he was more famous outside of sociology. So, here is a good way to introduce him to audiences of students and others that might not have heard of him: a series of 10 short videos put out by Polity Press (Therborn’s main publisher, and a favorite of mine). The full playlist is embedded below. Polity also has a great Youtube channel that you should all subscribe to.
Enjoy and share: