Daily Archives: February 14, 2015

American Gulag

I think Facebook is bad for people. It’s banal, boring, and jejune. You can get yourself in a lot of trouble using it. But I did not know to what extent that was true until I read that prisoners in US jails can go to solitary confinement for performing something as innocuous as a status update. And I’m not talking a week. I’m talking years, lots of years.

It is true we are the most prison-loving people on the planet, bar none. And I think we send people to jail for some very dumb reasons, like low level drug offenses. Prison is big business, and unnervingly, we have no problem turning it into a revolving door system for that very reason. This issue needs reform, and badly. For egregious offenders like rapists and malicious murderers, I have no problem sending folks to jail for a long time. But I worry that we are skirting perilously close to cruel punishment when we put people in solitary for long stretches of time. We have already removed the offending individual from society by imprisoning them-must we, should we risk driving our inmates slowly insane? For what? Facebooking? I mean, I get solitary if you can’t get along in gen-pop, where you are a menace to your fellow inmates, but Jesus, let well-behaved fuckers social network. No harm.

I think we have lost touch with what it means that something is “American”. That used to stand for something-liberty, freedom, happiness, something good. How sad it is when our actions as Americans are… un-American.

 

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