I have conflicting views, and I find that troubling. It’s not the first time it’s happened, and it certainly won’t be the last time it happens. My conflict has to do with crime rates and mass incarceration. I am against mass incarceration, but I like low crime rates, and, because the two are correlated, it makes me worry about a cause and effect relationship. Let’s delve deeper.
My memory for some things is awful. It’s a running joke at work, and my graduate students have teased me by admitting their strategy of coming back to me with a research idea that I dismissed weeks ago, with the hopes that I will have forgotten dismissing it, and will get excited about it the second or third time. I can’t say that this strategy hasn’t worked…largely because my memory can be pretty rotten at times. I don’t think it’s pathological, or a sign of early-onset Alzheimer’s. I think some things are salient, and stick, and others are easily dismissed, and forgotten. I also know that memories are quite flexible, and often we remember things very differently from how they actually happened. An article in Vox reminded me of this, and there are other excellent examples out there.
Fair warning, there’s a spoiler below, so if you haven’t listened to the episode of Radiolab called “Reasonable Doubt” and want to/plan to, you might not want to read below the fold just yet.
Politics has always had an ugly side. Although we often feel like we are living through the worst of it, it has clearly been really awful at other times also. CNN had a great piece during the Trump-Clinton election showing some of the awful things candidates said about each other. The current climate includes some of this, and plenty of name calling (our President excels in this artform), but what bothers me the most isn’t the attacks between those individuals, but the blanket demonization of people who vote a certain way or another. Both sides get blame for this, but circumstances seem to be having an impact on republicans (at this moment) more than democrats. I’m not saying that things couldn’t be reversed, and democrats would be the ones to talk about here, but right now, in current politics, the republicans are worthy of some attention. Specifically, I’m talking about what’s happening in Alabama and the continued support of the GOP candidate for Senate. For the party leaders, and many of their voters, democrats are so awful, and so evil, and so wrong for the country, that they would prefer to side with Moore, in spite of all the dirt that’s been unearthed about him, than let a democrat win the seat.
The outing of Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator has raised the profile of sexual harassment in a way that I hope does some good. Women are sharing their stories, and letting anybody who doesn’t already know, that harassment is a pervasive problem. I think this is all good, but I think we all need to tread carefully, and see some of the pitfalls that other similar social movements have faced. Also, as a caveat, I recognize that a white cis guy probably isn’t the best voice for this, but given that my maximum readership for any post sits at around six views, I still feel moderately comfortable using this as my diary, as a place to put some flesh on my semi-private thought skeleton. I also think I have a pretty good track record of being against sex discrimination and considering myself a feminist/equalist (see here, and here). So here goes.
The ways that people, particularly women, are mistreated has gotten a lot of attention in the wake of what many (including me) see as a horrible miscarriage of justice. A former member of the Stanford University swim team, Brock Turner, was found guilty on three felony charges: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person, and sexual penetration of an unconscious person. Late last week, he was sentenced to six months in a minimum security facility, called a “camp” on the facility’s website. No surprise, people were outraged. I was too. My FaceBook feed was (and is) covered with stories about the incident, statements by the victim, disgust over the statement by Turner’s father, who argued that 20 minutes of bad behavior shouldn’t negate a lifetime of him being a good boy (where’s the vomit bag?). On one of these posts, somebody I don’t know asked an important, but complicated question. Something that I wanted to explore, but didn’t feel like exploring so openly, making Hitting Bregma the perfect avenue.
So there’s the question, summarized as follows: what do we do about this?