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Criminal InJustice: Aileen

July 29, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Corrupt Judiciary, Criminal Defense, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Media Conglomeration, Police State, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights

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 CST

Aileen
comments by nancy a heitzeg

I’m in Chicago — at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting — preparing to speak later this week on the School to Prison Pipeline: Mapping Solutions. More on that soon.

In my absence, the Sociology of Deviance is watching and writing on Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer, the second of two documentary films on Aileen Wuornos by Nicholas Broomfield and Joan Churchill.

If you haven’t seen it, you should. It is a complex tragedy of victim become offender, of trauma and slipping sanity, of unending betrayal, of the possibility – at least initially — of self-defense. It is a story too of media sensationalism, of the social construction of a Monster who fulfilled the worst nightmares and the stuff of stereotypes — angry lesbian serial killer hitch-hiking prostitute whose victims also were sullied. It is a story of systemic corruption — cops on the take, snitches, inept attorneys, a death machine that overlooked madness in the lust for vengeance, and then Florida Governor Jeb Bush who cashed in the political capital.

There is more to say here — there is everything to say here – but for now, Say Her Name too.

Aileen.

Revelations: Mean Streets

July 26, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Eco-Justice, Intersectionality

alligator

Stray alligator found wandering the streets of New York City has died

“…people are enchanted by tiny alligators only to lose interest as they grow.

“There is this misconception that zoos will take them,” he said. “They can’t be released. They can’t be let go. It’s really sad.’ ‘

***

Criminal InJustice: Captivity, Control and Resistance

July 08, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Criminal Injustice Series, Eco-Justice, Economic Terrorism, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex

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

 

Captivity, Control and Resistance
by nancy a heitzeg

The so-called “Land of the Free” is a nation of cages. Our late capitalist economy is now based almost entirely on commodification, capture, and control of people, other species, the planet.

But this cannot stand. Repression breeds resistance and all life tends towards – not just survival – but freedom.

We will break out together.

Revelations: If A Tree Falls…

July 05, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Eco-Justice, Intersectionality

“Eco-terrorism” and the Green Scare, Green is the New Red

Criminal InJustice: To Break the Chain

June 24, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Gun Culture, Intersectionality, Media Conglomeration, Prison Industrial Complex

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.

 

To Break the Chain
by nancy a heitzeg

Charleston.  The latest USA edition of the “race-tinged death story”.

Although the racial motivations were clear from the outset (survivors told the tale), this did not deter mainstream media and invested policy makers from spinning the familiar script. Liberals pointed towards guns and debate erupted over which language of the carceral state to adopt — was this hate crime or terrorism? The Right feigned confusion or claimed that it was really just Christians who were under attack..

The white shooter, typically,  was both isolated and humanized – arrested without a scratch, fed Burger King, described as a lone wolf who may be mentally ill or exceptionally evil, ultimately unknowable. In the words of South Carolina Governor Nikki Hayley, “We’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another.”

Until we did. The discovery of Dylann Roof’s last racist screed laid bare the motives, and set off another round of spin. The fact that Roof named the Council of Conservative Citizens, as both source and inspiration, induced a panic-stricken flow of returned campaign contributions, the fine line between “extremist” hate and the GOP mainstay, erased.

Exposed now, attention then turned quickly to the Confederate Flag and calls for its’ removal as remedy. The flag, which should have never flown, was long embraced by slavers and segregationists, and served as key code in the deployment of the ostensibly color-blind “Southern Strategy”. But perhaps now the costs had finally come to outweigh the benefits. Perhaps too, in keeping with the climate of premature forgiveness and healing, it was time for rapid reversal from those who had ridden the undead Confederacy to power.

As Glen Ford notes in The Perils of the Politics of Symbolism:

The demand that South Carolina remove the “Stars and Bars” from in front of the state capital building is wholly symbolic, directly affecting one pole and one piece of cloth.  The state’s governor and top Republican legislators would never consider letting go of the flag if it had not already become as much a burden as an asset to the Party… “Reconciliation,” therefore, comes cheap – and, in fact, redounds to the benefit of the former offender. Whites in South Carolina will get the chance to feel as good about voting the Confederate-free Republican ticket, as white Democrats in Iowa felt voting for Obama. Power relationships are unaffected…”

So the Flag may come down – forever or just for one day. Or it may not. It may be banned from Wal*Mart and Amazon and eBay for as long as Duck Dynasty was off the air or more. Regardless, the effects of the performance of contrition and distancing will have been achieved for those who rose to power on this very white supremacist imagery and the blood money it raised.  And we will be approaching peak color-blindness, an entire uninterrupted landscape of racism without racists, replete with complete denial-ability but deep structures which remain, untouched.

The juxtaposition of last week’s news-maker, the “trans-racial” Rachel Dolezal, with the trajectory of the unfolding Charleston story is unsettling. The singular message is this: race and racism are individualized performances that allow for both white appropriation of Blackness when convenient and white supremacist denial of structural racism viz a viz its’ projection onto a disposable Symbol. Elusive; ephemeral.

The reality is, flag or no, the structural white supremacy that is the bedrock foundation of this country has never been redressed. The Civil War has never been over. Slavery has been unwilling to die, morphing via the “reform ” offered by the 13th Amendment into the prison industrial complex and the punishing state. And the promises of “due process”, “equal protection” and the franchise, continue to be denied.

Until there is that full accounting – in word, deed and reparation – that flag, even figuratively, will continue to fly.

Revelations: Laudato Sí

June 21, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Eco-Justice, Economic Terrorism, Imperialism, International Law, Intersectionality, Spirituality

Revelations: Meat is Murder, in Many Ways

May 31, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Eco-Justice, Economic Terrorism, Intersectionality

factory farm

Food and Water Watch Report 2015

 

It’s time to wean ourselves off the Fairytale Version of Farming,

“The way that meat, eggs and milk are produced is surrounded by one of our great silences, in which most people collaborate. We don’t want to know, because knowing would force anyone with a capacity for empathy to change their diet…

So now to the real question: how do they get away with it? How is it that we, who regard ourselves as a nation of animal lovers, accept such terrible standards of meat production? If dogs and cats were treated as pigs and chickens are, there would be a deafening outcry: in fact there are plenty of people in Britain who campaign against the raising of dogs and cats for food in Asia. But what’s the difference? Why is it acceptable to treat some animals – even creatures as intelligent and capable of suffering as pigs – so brutally, but not others?”

Radio Host Killing A Rabbit On Air Was Disturbingly … Normal

Allan

Allan

CI: The Ubiquity, the Banality of Mediated Policing & Punishment

May 27, 2015 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Economic Terrorism, Fourth Estate, Media Conglomeration, Prison Industrial Complex

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.

 

The Ubiquity, the Banality of Mediated Policing & Punishment
by nancy a heitzeg

“Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda.”Hannah Arendt

One of the many benefits of rarely watching TV is this: when you do turn it on, you are shocked anew by the uninterrupted routinization of policing and punishment, shook awake from the otherwise somnambulist gaze.

Certainly we have come to expect, with few questions, the demonization of  “criminals”, the fueled fear of crime,  the glorification of police, prosecutors, and prison as “appropriate” punishment. We have come to expect too the racialized framing that deems a 100+ Gun/9 Dead shootout with police in Waco a Kerfuffle, a mere “melee“, while 1 burned CVS amidst Baltimore protests constitutes a riot. This is the overt script for the “news”, the text of “reality” police and prison shows – LockUp, Jail and Cops –  the fodder for the serial glorification of Blue Bloods, Walter White(ness) and Dirty Harry/Die Hard/Mad Max marathons, and the premise of endless incarnations of Law and Order, CSI, and more.

Perhaps most insidiously, policing, punishment and prison pervades as subtext and unexamined backdrop. Our fears are subverted into twisted humor, often as prison rape jokes that float through even children’s programming, and are also used to sell us an array of consumer products. Here, most recently imagine my surprise at this — in the age of #Ferguson/#Baltimore/#Everywhere and any number of untold deaths by Taser – Dollar Shave Club razors.

Beyond the billions in profit churned  –  yes this too is part of the prison industrial complex — this cultural hegemony normalizes policing and prison as part of the everyday landscape. It is routine; it is to be expected. Policing, punishment and prisons are such blatantly recurrent elements of cultural commodfication that they are embedded as normative within our psyches and collective subconscious.

The hyper-visible atrocities  are, in effect, rendered completely invisible. They are so Everywhere that they are Nowhere at all.

And how do you dismantle a system of excessive repression that many can no longer even see?