Ma$tering Word$, Not Deed$
Robert H. Outman, Prisoner P-79939
Semantics is the study of word meanings and usages. In California's penal system, there seems to be little conformity in semantics. Words are used as a means to an end, political correctness, and political machinations. For example, prison officials call their system the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), promoting and emphasizing the word rehabilitation. To the mind of an average person, this sounds great. The prisons are rehabilitating prisoners. However, if a curious person looks behind the curtain, he will find the words do not match the deeds. Since approximately 70% of prisoners are recidivists, rehabilitation is almost nonexistent. A return rate of anything over 50% would have to be deemed a failure. Would you buy a product or service that was advertised as "only 50% are returned"? No consumer with half a brain would spend good money on a product with such a reputation. Yet, California taxpayers fork out an astounding $14 billion a year to operate CDCR. Could it be that rehabilitation sounds much better and more productive than punishment, as a semantic device to patronize the electorate? Who would want to think his tax dollars were being used to punish old men to death? So, rehabilitation is used to explain why 70 and 80 year old men, with a multitude of health and physical problems, unfit for any meaningful employment, are in fact punished to death or, to be politically correct, rehabilitated to death.
Semantic devices are ubiquitous. Prisoners are inmates. You will not find a trusty. They are called clerks, porters, and workers. No one goes to the hole. It's Administrative Segregation, but it's still a form of punishment upon punishment or, to be politically correct, a rehabilitative program. A prison cell is your house but it's still a cell. There are no cell blocks. They are buildings now. Draconian sentences are longer than at any time in history, but the semantics are softer and more politically correct. The public is assured that CDCR is doing a good job, and is a humane place.
Then, there are the guards, or correctional officers, as they prefer. Officer is a title that denotes a professional person, a person of high standards and trust. An officer would never maliciously mistreat or abuse a prisoner. An officer would never bully elderly, defenseless human beings, or leave a pepper sprayed prisoner to die on the concrete floor of a prison cell. An officer would never force a helpless old man into a cell with a known violent prisoner who would murder the old man. An officer would never cause a prisoner to suffer needlessly. An officer would never compromise his ethics to conform with a group of bullying guards. An officer would set a standard of excellence. Such officers exist, but they are few and far between. Could it be that officer, instead of guard, is used by the union to present a professional image, and justify why CDCR correctional officers are the highest paid guards in the world, and why California is the only state that pays its guards more than it pays its school teachers?
Refined verbiage, like a Potemkin Village, can conceal reality for only so long. The reality is that California operates the most costly prison system in the nation, yet it holds the highest record for prisoner suicides, murders, and natural deaths. When hate, indifference, and resentment are cultivated like a farmer cultivates his crops, there should be no surprise in such records and in the staggering level of recidivism. Rehabilitation is virtually nonexistent. No statistics are available as to job placement of prisoners who received rehabilitation in prison. No statistics are available as to parolee unemployment, after release.
When the media are denied access to prisons, allegedly for safety and security, one has to question if this, too, is a semantic device. Ignoring or palliating the facts does not make them less factual. The electorate has to understand that it's not what the prison officials say. It's what they do. The electorate has to question the wizard and look behind the curtain.
For additional reading, I suggest my article War of Words, on page 2 of the December 1994 issue, and Milam's Dictionary of Distinctions, Differences, and Other Odds and Ends, in The Sovereign's Library.
Sam Aurelius Milam III
When I was young, my father told me about a statement that had been made to him by a director of the Federal Reserve branch bank, in San Antonio, Texas. I don't know why Poppa was talking to the director but I do remember the statement. The director said to my father, "You people out there think you're free. You're not free. You're regulated at every turn." That was sometime during the late 1950s or the early 1960s, more than 50 years ago.
Most of the time, people don't have much to say to me about the path that I've taken through my life. Occasionally, somebody will remark that my situation is my own fault, because I chose to do things the way that I did. I hesitate to suggest that such a person is a complete idiot, but it is tempting.
A man will choose to jump from the top of a burning building, but that doesn't mean that he wants to do it. If the options are limited to burning or jumping, if escaping isn't among them, then he'll jump. Somebody who believes that such a jump is voluntary might very well be a complete idiot. At the very least, such a person has a distorted understanding of the idea of choice.
In January of 1972, I joined the Naval Reserve, but that doesn't mean that I wanted to do it. The options that were available to me at the time were to refuse to cooperate with the authorities and probably go to prison, to get drafted and probably go to Vietnam, or to join something. Later, whenever I complained about my situation in the Naval Reserve, some naval "superior" would remind me that I didn't have any right to complain, because I'd joined voluntarily. Maybe such "superiors" were complete idiots. At the very least, they had a distorted understanding of the idea of choice.
There were countless other situations in which I was constrained by the authorities to choose from among the options that were available to me. In every case, those options had been limited in advance, by the authorities, in such a way as to manipulate my choice in favor of whatever the authorities wanted me to do. I'm not in my present situation because I chose to be. I'm in my present situation because I was manipulated and coerced. The only options that were ever available to me were to either submit to the police state, and be controlled, or to refuse to cooperate, and be marginalized or maybe even punished. There was never any other option.
All governments limit people's options. The so-called representative governments additionally deceive people into believing that their options aren't being limited. You people out there think your free. You're not free. You're regulated at every turn. The statement echoes down the decades. It's as true now as it was more than 50 years ago, when a director of the Federal Reserve System uttered it to my father.
Rest in Peace
Sam Aurelius Milam III
There are three categories of behavior in the United States today: prohibited behavior, required behavior, and regulated behavior. If the authorities catch a person engaging in prohibited behavior, then they'll punish him. If they catch a person failing to engage in required behavior, then they'll punish him. If they catch a person engaging in regulated behavior in violation of the regulations, then they'll punish him. If he refuses to submit to the punishment, then they'll initiate the use of force against him. If he tries to resist the use of force, then they'll escalate the use of force. They'll continue to do so until either he submits to the punishment, or he's dead.
Anybody who reads this, and who's in doubt about it, can easily test the idea. Just refuse to cooperate with the authorities. If such a person somehow manages to survive the test, then he can send me his new address, and I'll start sending the newsletter to him in prison. Otherwise, requiesce in pace.
Letters to the Editor
—Tom, of Redwood City, California
Thank you for recent Frontiersman [May 2017], & always for publishing my humble little pieces....
Original Source Unknown.
The three bears awoke from their hibernation.
Poppa bear went outside to do what bears do in the forest. He returned and announced, "My instincts tell me it's gonna rain."
Momma bear went outside to do what bears do in the forest. She returned and announced, "My instincts tell me it's gonna snow."
Baby bear went outside to do what bears do in the forest. He returned and announced, "My end stinks too, but it don't tell me nuthin."
My thanks to the following: SantaClara Bob; and Betty.
Blonde Bell Ringer
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— Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor