Friday, August 23, 2013

Droogs and Public Safety

A while back in correspondence with a person who did not want to be named publicly, I had reason to reflect upon violence and social dysfunction perpetrated by young savages.

This conversation (about an accused white supremacist who is--surprisingly--not white) came in the context of Trayvon Martin aftermath, so any mention of "savages" needs to be immediately defended against a false charge of racism. If you want to dismiss me as a blatant racist, here's your excuse. You may now retire to your cocoon now.

I don't think being black or white or yellow makes you more or less likely to be a savage. 

Yet, how do we explain all that crime without being willfully blind to the statistics? And when you get down to individual cases, I'm thinking about the Australian baseball player murdered by youths who happen to be black.

The two competing narratives on right and left are: this is a racially motivated crime vs this is just bored kids acting out. I will go with the lefty narrative because it is more interesting.

At first, I thought the violence commonly reported in the black community (particularly black-on-black violence) was a bitter legacy of slavery. Though the peculiar institution ended over a hundred years before any of the perpetrators were born, it is nevertheless conceivable that dysfunctional social patterns of criminality fitted to slavery persist to this day.

Supposing, as many would prefer, we believe (despite one perpetrator's tweets) this murder is a modern day reenactment of the Leopold and Loeb case, or the Hitchcock movie Rope that Leopold and Loeb inspired. If so, where did this savagery come from?

The disturbing image of Malcolm McDowell came to mind. Consider the savages of A Clockwork Orange. They have their every need provided by a generous and beneficent State. The droogs are all lily white and the story of their violent criminality is utterly believable. No racism here boyo.

If race does not cause savagery, then perhaps welfare causes it. 

Earned accomplishment is the source of happiness. Leopold and Loeb were trust fund kiddies, as were the privileged antagonists of Rope. When opportunities for earned accomplishment are limited, or social forces discourage or sabotage it, people act out. When every material need is provided without effort boredom becomes a problem. 

The savagery that we find so offensive may not be the legacy of slavery, but an unexpected consequence of Santa Claus. Maybe you do should dismiss this line of reasoning as mere racism. It's less threatening than an attack on Santa Claus.


  1. There are certain fallacies in your statement.

    1) In the Christopher Lane killing, the "youths" do not all "happen to be black". As is seen in the article on the CNN homepage (and elsewhere), one of the three is white (a second is likely to be of mixed race).

    2) In discussing "A Clockwork Orange", you say of the "droogs", "They have their every need provided...[by the state]." Really? In the film there are plenty of scenes of a distressed society: a ruined theater, slums, the homeless (one of whom Alex & Co. victimize), and others; these scenes are presented by Kubrick as common to the era of the film. If "every need" is provided by the state, why is Alex's hometown in such distress?

    And as far as crime in the black community being a legacy of slavery, this is naiive. Poverty is most often the cause of crime. And poverty in the black community is mainly the result of prejudice (_white_ on black), and greed (same).

    1. If I'm advancing an argument that racism was not at the root of the crime, the fact that some of the youths are not black works in my favor.

      one can live within distressed hometown surroundings whilst having one's every need provided. properly swept up theaters are neither food, shelter, clean water, or health care. clearly, the government of Clockwork Orange has prioritized the droogs over the public works you cite.

      as i was arguing against the legacy of slavery, the fact it is naive is hardly on point.

      Supposing a causal link that you posit between crime and poverty borne of prejudice, then it follows that a time and a place with greater poverty and greater prejudice should reasonably have a higher crime rate. Like, say, the South during the Depression.

      finally, this word fallacy that you use does not seem to mean what you think that it means. Thanks for playing.


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