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Archive for August 10th, 2011

Any punishment that does not correct, that can merely rouse rebellion in whoever has to endure it, is a piece of gratuitous infamy which makes those who impose it more guilty in the eyes of humanity, good sense and reason, nay a hundred times more guilty than the victim on whom the punishment is inflicted.  –  Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade

Some people believe that truly horrific crimes are more common than they used to be, but others point out that while it is highly unlikely that humanity’s prodigious capacity for behaving in a monstrous fashion has increased, modern media undoubtedly publicizes atrocity stories more widely and efficiently than ever before.  Certainly the historical record reports many incidents equal to the worst committed by modern governments, police and serial killers, and our ancestors’ genius at inventing horrible means of torture speaks eloquently of mankind’s pronounced sadistic streak.  But there are more people on Earth now than there have ever been before, so even if the rate at which acts of senseless violence are committed has remained constant, the aggregate number of such acts is vastly greater than it was at any time in history.  And since cities are more densely packed than ever before, the chance of an atrocity occurring in any given place is greater than it was in the past.  And that’s only counting individual actions; when the criminals in question represent governments, the advantages conferred by technology must also be considered.  Modern industrial methods allow far larger numbers of people to be tortured or slaughtered far more quickly and efficiently than in pre-industrial times.  It’s unlikely that anything like the carnage of the “War on Drugs” would’ve been feasible prior to the late 19th century, and though the witch-hunts conducted by Germans of the 16th and 17th centuries (some of which ended in mass burnings) were easily as diabolical as anything their Nazi descendants did, those campaigns took many decades rather than a few years.

Indeed, it may be that most of those in power are not actually greater fiends than most of those they govern, but rather that they simply have greater ability to molest and torture a far greater number of people than those who lack an abusable position, not to mention a vastly greater ability to protect themselves from the consequences of their own evil.  So it’s entirely possible that the punitive mindset of the “authorities” in our society, who think nothing of locking people up for decades for breaking arbitrary rules which restrict what they’re allowed to do for pleasure, is reflected in the actions of the monsters in this Huffington Post story from July 29th; the only difference is that those in power are supported by sycophants and armed thugs who allow them to enforce their sick desire for control on grown strangers rather than their own children.

The family of a 10-year-old found dead in a trunk outside an Arizona home initially claimed the child died while playing hide-and-seek.  But investigators now believe Ame Deal suffocated after her family locked her in the box because she took a popsicle from the freezer without permission.  Phoenix police claim Deal’s grandmother, aunt and two cousins regularly subjected the child to horrific treatment, ultimately culminating in her July 12 death…[which] was classified as a “[cause] unknown” until July 28…after Deal’s cousin Samantha Allen, 23, and her husband, John Allen, 23, admitted putting the child in the trunk and padlocking it, authorities charged the couple with first degree murder…The victim’s aunt, Cynthia Stoltzmann, 44, and grandmother, Judith Deal, 62, were charged with child abuse and kidnapping after reportedly admitting to locking the child in the box on previous occasions.  Witnesses told investigators the child was regularly punished by being locked in the trunk.  They also saw the caregivers force Deal to eat dog feces as punishment, crush cans barefoot and exercise outdoors in “extreme measures”…Deal, who weighed just 59 pounds and was discovered in soiled clothing, died in a box that measured less than 3 feet long, 14 inches wide and one foot tall…Twelve children who lived at the residence have been taken into custody by Child Protective Services…The whereabouts of the child’s mother are unknown and authorities are currently trying to locate [her] biological father.

On second thought, there’s another difference; when ordinary sadists kill people by locking them up in extreme Arizona heat as “punishment” for breaking stupid, arbitrary rules, they’re charged with first-degree murder.  But when sadists with uniforms kill people in almost exactly the same way and for similarly absurd and pointless reasons there are literally no consequences whatsoever.

One Year Ago Today

The first part of “Regulars”, my column about repeat customers.

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