Doing violence to prison statistics

November 15, 2017 § 5 Comments

Cane Caldo recently objected to my contention that violence is the besetting sin of incontinent men, citing federal prison statistics.  One problem with citing federal prison statistics — even stipulating the veracity of official methods which categorize various crimes proximate to violence (e.g. burglary) as as nonviolent — is that the federal prison population is not representative of the prison population in general:

Obama made this a key point in his NAACP speech: “But here’s the thing: Over the last few decades, we’ve also locked up more and more nonviolent drug offenders than ever before, for longer than ever before. And that is the real reason our prison population is so high.”

This claim, which is widely accepted by policymakers and the public, is simply wrong. It’s true that nearly half of all federal inmates have been sentenced for drug offenses, but the federal system holds only about 14 percent of all inmates. In the state prisons, which hold the remaining 86 percent, over half of prisoners are serving time for violent crimes, and since 1990, 60 percent of the growth in state prison populations has come from locking up violent offenders. Less than a fifth of state prisoners — 17 percent — are serving time for nonviolent drug offenses.

In other words, for all the talk about nonviolent offenders, a majority of our prisoners have been convicted of a violent act, and even more have some history of violence.

(Emphasis mine)

Burning old love letters

October 14, 2017 § 21 Comments

I first ‘met’ occasional commenter and current knight-of-the-blogroll Semiotic Animal in the comment boxes of the Acton Institute.  It appears though that the entire comment thread at Acton was deleted, at some point: at least I don’t see any comments when I call up the page.

That’s too bad.  That particular comment thread was an interesting exercise in schooling ideological free marketers on the actual medieval understanding of usury, as opposed to strawmen crafted through extremely selective curation.

An explanation for the disappearing comment thread is as mysterious and impenetrable as an explanation for the Las Vegas mass shooting.

UPDATE:

The Acton moderator replies:

Thanks for bringing that to my attention, Zip. I stand corrected. Not intentional. Probably a WordPress or Disqus issue created when we updated blog theme earlier this year and brought over comments. If you care to repost a comment and discuss specifically, feel free.

Mike T made the original thread available on archive.is.

Free speech means editing my comments

August 19, 2017 § 50 Comments

Just for the record.

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 3.54.43 PM

UPDATE:  I cropped the screen grab in a bit to make it more readable.

UPDATE 2: Two days in, all of my chopped up and modified comments have now been deleted from the Orthosphere thread, and from the earlier “PC” post. Comments are (hilariously) closed on the Free Speech post.

How to say trebuchet

July 24, 2017 § 113 Comments

Modernity defends itself through equivocation: by asserting the truth of some basic superficially unobjectionable doctrines and — this is the important part — rhetorically rationalizing that these doctrines are what distinguish good, distinctively modern societies from bad, distinctively regressive societies.  The whole point of these modernist doctrines is to set up oppositions: freedom versus rule by a monarch, equality versus aristocratic titles and privilege, sola scriptura versus distinctively Catholic doctrine and practice, feminism versus patriarchy, consent of the governed versus congenital positions of servility and authority, etc. etc.

Liberals diligently drowning priests and nuns, beheading aristocrats, and aborting unborn children in mass-murder factories while working hard to make sure that nobody so much as thinks about actually punishing the murderesses never stop to ponder if the doctrines they assert actually genuinely support the blood and bone distinctions being made in reality by the sharp implements employed.

One of the ways we can help bring clarity to the situation is to craft accurate descriptions of these superficially unobjectionable doctrines; descriptions we can set on fire and lob over the walls into the motte where modern conservatives (those who work hardest to conserve modernity) live, breathe, and have their being.  I’ll start with a few, and encourage folks to improve upon them or think of others.

  • Freedom means that a free society puts the right kind of people in prison for the right reasons.
  • Equality means that every aristocrat, commoner, criminal, slave, proprietor, debtor, trespasser, invader, disrespecter of royalty, savage, apostate, and heretic gets what he has coming to him.
  • Sola scriptura means that every true doctrine of the Christian faith is consistent with the Scriptures as assembled into the Biblical Canon and interpreted by the Apostolic Church established by Christ.
  • Feminism means that women are people too. Female people, who go into an irrational hormonal storm every few weeks and need men to look out for them and tell them what to do.
  • Consent of the governed means that nobody has managed to assassinate the dictator.
  • Minarchy means we want everyone to get along and play nicely with each other, and unicorns that fart fairy dust.

Feel free to suggest your own in the comments.

 

Everyone gets a medal in the motte

July 23, 2017 § 57 Comments

Any concept of political freedom capable of invalidating monarchical authority is rationally incoherent.

Any concept of equal rights capable of invalidating inherited privilege is rationally incoherent.

Any concept of sola scriptura capable of invalidating the distinctive claims of Roman Catholicism is rationally incoherent.

Any concept of mercy capable of invalidating the need to cease choosing objectively immoral behaviors is rationally incoherent.

The list can continue, but take note of the pattern. Modernity is all about selectively invalidating whatever parts of reality moderns happen to subjectively find inconvenient in the Current Year.

Now suppose you are someone who finds this critique of modernity in general, or one of the particular critiques, outrageous. You are convinced (say) that your non-nominalist concept of political freedom is perfectly coherent and unequivocal. You declare victory and plant your flag in triumph.

Have you noticed anything missing in your counter-argument?

Ignoble savage

July 9, 2017 § 361 Comments

J. C. Wright asks (via Malcolm):

Do those who yearn for inequality wish to be placed in the political order above me, to give me orders from an unearned position of authority; or do they wish to be placed below me, to take orders in an undeserved posture of submission?

In rejecting the very idea of nobility, Wright abdicates any natural nobility he might have possessed and chooses his own ranking as that of savage or rebel.

A commoner who accepts nobility stands above the savage, in the natural hierarchy of nobility.

So it is not that Wright’s nobility-friendly interlocutors wish to be placed above him in the natural hierarchy of nobility.  It is that they simply are in fact above him in the hierarchy of nobility, since Wright has chosen for himself the way of the savage.

They hate us for our unicorns

July 8, 2017 § 99 Comments

Define “unicorns” to be certain things we like about the politics of Country A, and only those things.

Define “not unicorns” to be certain things we don’t like about the politics of Country B, and only those things.

Declare that because “unicorns” as we have defined the term is perfectly coherent, a philosophy of government which pursues unicorns is perfectly coherent.

Declare that mass murder committed in Country A is not the result of pursuit of unicorns, even though the people committing the mass murder explicitly rationalize it by appealing to the pursuit-of-unicorns principle.

Have a good cry when Zippy points out that there are no unicorns.

Isn’t nominalism fun?

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