Thursday, May 6, 2010
Out of Control
trying to herd the un-herdable
I’ve been thinking about control lately. Yesterday, the news featured a story where a seventeen year old was running around (like many goofy attention-seeking people have done) at a baseball game. Instead of running him down and pulling him off the field, the police face-planted him with a taser weapon. It seems a few in the audience thought that was a bit of an over reaction, but most thought the kid deserved it. He was “out of control.”
Then there was the hideous piece on Raw Story about fitting disabled kids with electronic devises that produce strong electrical shocks to children who piss off the staff for one reason or another:
”The rights group submitted their report this week, titled "Torture not Treatment: Electric Shock and Long-Term Restraint in the United States on Children and Adults with Disabilities at the Judge Rotenberg Center," after an in-depth investigation revealed use of restraint boards, isolation, food deprivation and electric shocks in efforts to control the behaviors of its disabled and emotionally troubled students.
Findings in the MDRI report include the center's practice of subjecting children to electric shocks on the legs, arms, soles of feet and torso -- in many cases for years -- as well as some for more than a decade. Electronic shocks are administered by remote-controlled packs attached to a child's back called a Graduated Electronic Decelerators (GEI).
The disabilities group notes that stun guns typically deliver three to four milliamps per shock. GEI packs, meanwhile, shock students with 45 milliamps -- more than ten times the amperage of a typical stun gun.
A former employee of the center told an investigator, "When you start working there, they show you this video which says the shock is 'like a bee sting' and that it does not really hurt the kids. One kid, you could smell the flesh burning, he had so many shocks. These kids are under constant fear, 24/7. They sleep with them on, eat with them on. It made me sick and I could not sleep. I prayed to God someone would help these kids."
I worked with emotionally disturbed kids in residential treatment for sixteen years, and this story almost made me physically ill. I don’t’ care if the kid is Hannibal the Cannibal, you just should not do this to anyone. Period.
“Pain aversion therapy” is what they call it. Sounds like torture to me. Abu Grabe torture. Guantanemo Bay torture. The kind of tactics apparently promoted on propaganda programs (pogroms) like “24” on television. I assume this, as I have never been able to sit through an entire episode. Is it still on? Whatever…. The damage has already been done.
Between television programs, movies, and video games that “entertain” the greater populace with portrayals of institutionalized pain inflicted by authority figures on the non-compliant, people by the millions have become desensitized to the suffering of others, and anesthetized to any sense of outrage. It probably helps that so many are also on anti-depressant drugs – or maybe it’s the fluoride in the water.
Somehow we have become convinced that everything needs to be controlled. So now we can have surveillance 24/7 of our whereabouts, our e-mail, or conversations – even our thoughts. New gadgets that can read our minds, “smart dust” nano-technology (see cryptogon.com) that will be dropped all over the planet and monitor virtually everything. Oh, that makes me feel so much safer… go ahead and spray mace into the eyes of tree-hugging protesters who are already kneeling with their arms handcuffed behind their backs. Fuck them and their stupid trees. They are out of control. Go ahead and search my luggage, pin-point me with my cell phone, put an rfid chip in my drivers license (or my inner arm), stream advertisements into my head in the department store. Read my mind. Disrobe and X-ray me. Whatever.
“Inalienable rights.. to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”” You’ve got to be kidding. That is so, like, pre-nine eleven…
I continue to be haunted by the movie, “The Lovely Bones.” I don’t want to spoil it for you by telling the whole plot. But, suffice it to say, that it concerns the excruciating process of dealing with a horrible and tragic murder of a child. It points to a larger concern – how do we react to a hideous situation that we cannot control, cannot make right, cannot make go away, cannot change? It seems for most of us, we try to control it with ever escalating tactics. More and more power, money, muscle focused and used to get our way and make it happen. More and more drugs and surgery or debt to stave off old age and death. More and more hardware, weaponry, manipulation, lies, whatever we can think of to maintain the status quo.
Until it just doesn’t work anymore. Then what? Eventually, you throw your hands in the air and surrender. “I give up.” Death, at that point, doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, it may be benign – wondrous even… a new direction. A better possibility than we have considered. And, the left behind, might just come back to what is rather than what could have been. Starting from “what is” may turn out to have its own sweetness in time
All this brings me back around to what is going on with the larger issues that we cannot control and must eventually come to accept and learn to make the best of. If we are not able to do this, we will become more monstrous than the threats that we perceive.