Sam Aurelius Milam III
The article presented below, Civilized Society, was written on April 15, 2015. I never got around to using the article and, sometime in late February of this year, I realized that it was way too old to be useful. So, I dropped the paper copy into my recycle basket and deleted the file from the internal drive in my computer. Happily, I don't empty my recycle basket very often and I have a lot of backup copies of the contents of the internal drive.
Here's what I realized about Civilized Society, before it was too late. The information that I continue to receive from prisoners gives me the impression that the circumstances addressed in Civilized Society haven't improved in the two years since the article was written. So, if my impression is correct, then the article hasn't been rendered useless by time. Indeed, its age is what makes it relevant. The article tells us that things haven't improved. Yesterday's article is still reporting today's news.
Robert H. Outman, Prisoner P-79939
The federal court ruled on elderly in prison.
Yet, old and sick prisoners continue to die in California's prison system.
The U.S. Supreme Court had to rule in 2011 that California was conducting cruel and unusual punishment by overcrowding prisons, before the state begrudgingly began to reduce the population of its 34 prisons. Rather than follow the hint of the federal court to apply insight and revisit their obsession with draconian long sentencing, our guardians of the public trust took another approach. Like an obstinate child ordered to clean its room sweeps dirt under the rug and just rearranges its clutter, the state basically did the same. To pacify the court, prison officials and legislators set to store 9000 prisoners out-of-state, engage in costly leases of private prisons to warehouse prisoners, build more prisons, pump billions of dollars to counties to stack prisoners in jail cells, and institute feckless legislation giving the illusion of "reform". PRESTO! The population of the original 34 prisons is reduced. Never mind the duplicity and multi-billion dollar cost to the taxpayers, or further erosion to a civilized society's soul.
Through political smoke and mirrors, cruel and unusual overcrowding merely shifted to county jails. The feckless legislation proves to be more rhetoric than substance. Prisons are loaded with thousands of old prisoners in wheelchairs, using walkers and limping about with canes. The officials' answer to this uncivilized condition is that prisoners over the age of 60 years (except life without parole) and who have served 25 years straight will be considered for parole. As of March 2015, the Associated Press reported that, of the thousands of elderly and sick prisoners, 111 have been granted parole but the governor has denied 20 of those grants and 17 are uncertain. So, the reality is that, of 8,000 plus elderly prisoners, maybe 63 [sic] will breathe free air before they die.
To continue to appease an insatiable appetite for punishment, the parole board, like a cat playing with a mouse, offers the opportunity of parole to old harmless prisoners, but ends up denying them on an average of 5 years. Such a denial to an old prisoner is basically a cruel assurance of death in prison. A rational person has to recognize this as more shameful than civilized.
California's prison system holds over 125,000 prisoners, at an annual cost in excess of $12 billion.
|Letters to the Editor|
Thank you for the Feb issue, my 2nd one. I really enjoy them. [Name withheld], a friend of yours for over a decade, exists in a nearby cell and recommended Frontiersman to me. He, like you, is quite an extraordinary fellow.
The article by Tom from Redwood City on the sales and marketing programs of Christians [Letters to the Editor, February issue, pages 1 and 2] is excellent and accurate. They fail to accept that after 2,000 years of energetic work, the world's population is only 13% Christian. Even the Crusades where thousands were murdered in Christ's name hasn't raised their acceptance. In fact, today, they are becoming a vanishing breed. As a new Western Buddhist, who never killed anyone over anything, I try to lead by example and wait for others to ask me why I am as I am. Of course, there may be rabid Buddhists out there no religion's followers are 100% perfect. As a whole, we're not a very evolved species.
The implementation of Prop 57 by CDCR [Letters to the Editor, February issue, pages 2 and 3] will be avoided as long as possible and will generate lots of court cases. They've never cared about the public's will beforehand, so there's no reason to think they'll change soon. Still, the legislation is a step ahead that will one day free a few. In the meantime, we must hold their feet to the fire and continue our fight for rehabilitation and stop warehousing people for sometimes endless decades.
I've heard the DNA story [Editorial comment, February issue, page 3] elsewhere and agree that it's only a matter of time before we discover that the government hasn't backed off on its campaign to control us all and has its fingers all over our DNA records. Like gun control, the mantra will be that it's done for the public's safety....
Jim, in Ione, California
The Crusades, the Bloody Verdict of Verden, the Inquisition, and other such acts of brutal Christian evangelism have, in general, promoted Christianity's domination of its enemies, but have not increased its virtue. Indeed, such things are probably good reasons why Christianity has so many enemies, and so little virtue.
Here's a Buddhist joke for you. A Buddhist walked up to a hot dog vender and said, "make me one with everything."
Hey Sam. Just wanted to let you know I've moved. I am now at [address omitted]. Just so you don't get any return to sender stuff. I'd sho' hate to miss any of your issues.
Thank you again Sam for keeping me on your mailing list. I/we do appreciate all you are doing brother.
Thank you & keep up the great job.
I must apologize for not responding earlier to my A.O.L. email problems [Amerika Off Line, February issue, page 1], and to your letter.
I don't think that I will change my email account. The reason is that I am going to start reducing my use of the internet, and other examples of advanced technology.
I resent advanced technology, because I see it as the great Trojan Horse/poisoned apple/Ring that binds them all, and it is reducing humanity!
Advanced technology is rapidly snuffing out the possibility of human liberty worldwide. I realize that this is an extreme statement, and that most people will disagree with it. I realize that I am likely to be called a hypocrite, because advanced technology has undoubtedly saved my life, and is keeping me alive. Nevertheless, I am moving away from it, as well as I can. Knowledge of science and nature is good in itself. How it is applied makes a big difference.
In a sense, a gun is neutral technology. A gun can be used for protection, or for aggression. However, in the context of authoritarian, hierarchical society, guns are not neutral. Guns and other weapons are mostly in the hands of governments, and aggressive criminal gangs. Therefore, in the context of governed society, guns are not neutral. They are weapons of authoritarian control, and the world would be better if they could magically vanish. Likewise, computers are bad in our social context. Computers and the internet are facilitating techniques of coercion and control that are more intense than the world has ever seen. Not only is virtually everything we do "online" known to security forces, but surveillance satellites and drones, GPS tracking, and microchips, make it possible for the authoritarians to know almost all of our movements. I live in Sili-
|con Valley, and here the current enthusiasm for
self-driving cars is disgusting to me. As you referenced in a previous
Question of Intelligence, January issue, pages 1 and 2], the blind
acceptance of cybernetic control as a form of freedom and empowerment is
the height of stupidity. Yet it goes on....
This brings me to another, slightly more benign way in which technology hampers freedom.
Let me give an example. To drive a car, a person has to have access to a car. A person has to know how to drive a car. A person has to have a license. The person has to adapt his or her behavior to the requirements of the car. The driver cannot safely be spontaneous and individual, but has to conform to the whole car system. Of course, it is possible to refuse to use a car, but if a person chooses to do so, various sacrifices have to be made. Modern, high-tech society is filled with other examples of pressured conformity situations in which people have to conform to mechanical/cybernetic systems, or suffer serious inconvenience. I think I've said enough to sketch in a brief way my reasons for resenting advanced technology. At this time, I am not able to completely go off line but that's my long term goal
For anybody who's interested in further consideration of Sir Donald's ideas, I can suggest two good places to start.
The Tomorrow File, by Lawrence Sanders, Berkley Publishing Corporation, Copyright © 1975, by Lawrence Sanders.
Industrial Society and Its Future, by Theodore John Kaczynski. It's available in The Sovereign's Library.
editorAttitudes and Consequences
Sam Aurelius Milam III
It seems that some people would rather fight about an issue than to resolve it. The death penalty seems to be a good example. For such people, the death penalty isn't necessarily the issue. Domination is the issue. For those people, the agenda isn't to solve the problem but to defeat the opposition. If the issue was resolved, then such people would search for another excuse to control other people. Here's a suggestion. It might not necessarily be a good idea but I'll offer it for consideration anyway.
Executions are already done with injections, but why use lethal injections? Instead, use injections that will induce comas. We could call it comacution, instead of execution. A comacuted man would be virtually dead. That might satisfy people on both sides of the debate. Comacution has another advantage. If a comacuted man is later discovered to have been innocent, then it might be possible to revive him. That isn't possible with an executed man.
With that advantage, why isn't it necessarily a good idea? Because comacuted people aren't actually dead. There are issues regarding such things as wills, the census, inheritance, divorces, and so forth. Also, would comacuted people get the care that's needed by somebody who's in a coma? Would such care be expensive for prisons, causing them to send comacuted people to county hospitals? Prisons already send prisoners to county jails. However, the most serious potential problem is that comacution might make the death penalty seem less heinous and, thus, make it easier to impose. That's more sinister than it might seem at first.
As already noted, the legal status of comacuted people might be ambiguous. Whether they're legally alive or legally dead might become a political issue. If they're deemed to be dead, then the consequences could be far reaching. People want to stay young forever. So, if the comacuted people are dead anyway, and expensive to maintain, and already in hospitals, then voters might come to view them as a treasure trove of healthy organs for transplants. Eternal youth is only a vote away.
The demand for healthy organs will always exceed the supply. As the supply provided by comacution dwindles, it might become politically necessary to increase the supply. There's an obvious way to do that. Comacution provides organs for transplants. When people are driven by their fear of old age and death, and they see the supply of replacement organs dwindling, who knows what minor violations might become capital offenses? Our society is already obsessed with prohibition and punishment. If making burglary, for example, into a capital offense will supply more organs, then let's "get tough on crime".
Maybe such things as capital punishment are merely the consequences of our failures. Maybe the real problems are our inability to understand the implications of our attitudes, to correctly predict the consequences of those attitudes, or even to care.
My thanks to the following: SantaClara Bob; Lady Jan the Voluptuous; Betty; Eric, of Ione, California; Jim, of Ione, California; and Sir Donald the Elusive.
It's Great to Be a Guy Because
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Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor