† Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.
Total Oppression/Total Liberation
by nancy a heitzeg
“Throughout the history of our ascent to dominance as the master species, our victimization of animals has served as the model and foundation for our victimization of each other..” ~Charles Patterson, Eternal Treblinka, 2002
Last week: The anniversary of the 300,000 strong California Prisoner Hunger Strike in protest against the excessive use of solitary confinement . The release of Raju the weeping elephant after enduring 50 years years in chains. The anniversary of the not guilty verdict in George Zimmerman’s trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Federal terrorism charges for two animal rights activists who allegedly freed 2,000 mink and foxes from fur farms. The release of Occupy activist Cecily McMillian from Rikers Island, after serving time for felony second-degree assault for elbowing a police officer who groped her during an arrest. Seaworld, desperate. Children, warehoused at borders, bombed and beyond.
Are some of these situations more urgent, more news-worthy, more deserving of our actions than others? That is for each to ask and answer.
But never forget: All oppressions are connected. Human/non-human animals – objectified, bought/sold, slaughtered.
The caging, the cruelty, the exploitation, the torture, the violence began, and must end. Together.
The Five Faces of Oppression, Iris Marion Young (1990)
“Oppression refers to systemic constraints on groups that are not necessarily the intentions of a tyrant. Oppression in this sense is structural, rather than the result of a few peoples choices or policies. Its causes are embedded in unquestioned norms, habits, and symbols, in the assumptions underlying institutional rules and the collective consequences of following these rules.. It names as Marilyn Frye puts it, “an enclosing structure of forces and barriers which tends to the immobilization and reduction of an entire group or category…”
“Oppression occurs through a steady process of transfer of the result of the labor of one [social] group to benefit another… the energies of the have-nots are continuously expended to maintain and augment the power, status, and wealth of the haves…”
“Marginalization is perhaps the most dangerous form of oppression. A whole category [of people] is expelled from useful social participation and thus potentially subjected to severe material deprivation and even extermination..”
“Domination in modern society is enacted through the widely dispersed powers of many agents mediating the decisions of others; … The powerless are those who lack authority in even this mediated sense, those over whom power is exercised without their consent; the powerless are situated so that they must take orders and rarely have the right to give them…”
4) Cultural Imperialism
“Cultural imperialism involves the universalization of the dominant group’s experience and culture, and its establishment as the norm…Given the normality of its own cultural expressions and identity, the dominant group constructs the differences which some groups exhibit as lack and negation. These groups become marked as Other….”
“Many groups suffer the oppression of systemic violence…Violence is systemic because it is directed at members of a group simply because they are members of that group… Violence is a social practice…
Group-directed violence is institutionalized and systemic. To the degree that institutions and social practices encourage, tolerate, or enable the perpetration of this violence, these institutions and practices are unjust and should be reformed.”
- Commodities and Cages
- LSP Angola Prison Rodeo, At the Intersections of Abuse
- Revelations: “the sea is another story..”
- Revelations: #Blackfish
- Revelations: Deus Ex Machina
- Animal Rights, Human Wrongs and the Limits of the Law