Junk politics

Alex Himelfarb considers the revolution in crime policy that is about to pass the House.

Our greater openness to these “tough on criminals” policies and the reluctance of the opposition to take them on may reflect a more profound debasing of our politics, what the American critic Benjamin DeMott  has called “Junk Politics”.  In his articles and books, DeMott is not calling for more civility, politer politics; he doesn’t mind a good fight, it seems.   His concern with contemporary politics is bigger than that; it resides in its refusal to lead citizens to higher ground, to challenge us, to inspire us to find our better selves.  Instead, he says, it  panders to our worst sentiments.  personalises everything, derides experts and evidence, tells us that we are great as we are, that we have every right to feel morally superior.  It divides the world up into good and bad, black and white.  Nuance kills.  This world, to paraphrase sociologist Orrin Klapp, is destructively divided up into heroes – “hard-working, law-abiding tax payers” ; villains – criminals, terrorists and would-be terrorists; and fools – all the elites and so-called experts who are soft on crime and soft on terror.  This view gives not much space to idea of redemption or, for that matter, to compassion and brooks no debate on what the evidence might tell us or about the costs of punishment.




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Junk politics

  1. ‘tells us that we are great as we are, that we have every right to feel morally superior’

    And this is how the west will be lost…that refusal to change or move forward….and we’ll do a great leap backwards instead.

  2. This is it exactly. And Harper is the master. I have never heard one reach up toward inspiration or hope from Harper that that wasn’t tied to the debasement and hatred of some other person or group.

    • Yes, Harper is bad and evil.  Burn the witch!

      • Harper may be a lot of things, but a leader he is not.

        • It must disappoint you that your personal internet anti-Harper jihad has so far failed to catch fire.  But I’m sure if you make an additional 1 million posts on these and other comment boards, you will turn things around and eventually vanquish Evil Lord Harper.

          • It must disappoint you that your personal internet ‘Harper-hater’ meme has so far failed to catch fire. But I’m sure if you make an additional 1 million posts on these and other comment boards, you will turn things around and eventually make Harper beloved by all.

          • I don’t want Harper to be beloved; I personally don’t care for him all that much.  But I find people who fixate on him as though he’s the fount of all evil, etc. to be pathetic and delusional.  Ironically, it amounts to the same sort of black-and-white reasoning that many of these people claim is the exclusive preserve of the conservatives they loathe and mock.  Pot meet kettle.

          • Well as you’ve been told many times, I don’t hate Harper….I don’t even know him. I hate his backwards policies….and since Canada is still a democracy it’s quite legal for me to do that.

          • Exactly. It’s the policy and authoritarian way of implementing it, not the person. Nice wife. nice kids, nice gut, lots of friends who think he’s a great guy. Don’t disagree with any of it.

          • I don’t think Harper is bad or evil, and I don’t hate him. Nerdy child that I am, I’m impressed watching his gears go round and round. It’s almost hypnotic.

    • I’m not sure what it means to “reach up towards inspiration or hope” that’s “tied to the debasement and hatred of some other person or group”. Maybe some examples would help.

    • He must be evil!

      He is a monster!

      All the good people must gather together to defeat him!

      Some people watch too much Star Wars!

      • And some people’s hats are too large.

  3. Alex Himelfarb: ”Surely one key test of any society is how we treat the most vulnerable and, even more particularly, the most despised.  Justice policies offer a glimpse into the soul of a nation.Before getting to the substance, let me admit that a very significant part of my public service career was spent in the justice sector, in what was then the Ministry of the Solicitor General (now Public Safety), the Justice Department and the National Parole Board.”

    The most vulnerable of society are babies, we murder them here in Canada, and I am certain Himelfarb doesn’t have a problem with that but he does seem to fret endlessly if we are treating paedophiles, murders and the like in appropriate way. 

    We have been listening to bureaucrats and criminologists for forty years and look where it has got us. Himelfarb is saying the system people like him have created is terrific and it is the people, electorate, that are the problem because we don’t want to be led to ‘higher ground’.

    Why should people want to be led by Himelfarb types – murder babies, worry about the treatment of murderers, paedophiles and think it’s great to have justice system where 90% of victims of sexual assault don’t report it.

    ———–
    The Sun, Feb 2011 – “By comparing police data to the self-reporting of crime by a representative sample of Canadians, StatsCan has estimated fewer than one in three crimes (31%) are today reported to the police, a 16% drop in the past decade alone.” 
    —–
    Ian Lee – Myths & Urban Legends concerning Crime in Canada:”Statistics Canada commenced the recording of police-reported crime statistics in 1962.  An examination of the Statistics Canada table on Page 19 record that 221 violent crimes per 100,000 were reported in 1962.  This figure increased year by year, doubling by 1970 to 480 per 100,000, increasing again to 636 per 100,000 by 1980 and finally peaking at 1084 per 100,000 by 1992– a 500% increase in 30 years or a third of a century. 
    ——-
    Maclean’s article from May, 2008 - How B.C. became a world crime superpower - Forget forestry or fishing. B.C.’s big, multi-billion-dollar growth industry is crime.
    ———
    Ian Lee – Myths & Urban Legends concerning Crime in Canada:

    For example, the percentages of the violent crimes not reported include:
    - 92% of sexual assaults not reported
    - 61% of physical assaults not reported
    - 46% of break-ins not reported
    - 54% of robberies not repored

    • Ah yes, another libertarian who believes in liberty so long as it isn’t for women who’ve had sex.

      • Am I supposed to know what you are talking about?

        Who wants to stop women having sex? Certainly not me. 

        Liberty for everyone, not just for murderous moms.

        • Babies are despised? Pedophiles are loved? Are we on the same planet?

          • I don’t know, where do you live? 

            Would it be more accurate of me to say Canada, where we murder babies and give pedophiles benefit of doubt and let them molest repeatedly?

            It is tough to be baby in Canada, we let mothers murder them and then we let pedophiles wander unhindered and allow them do vile acts against children, repeatedly.

            Abortion In Canada: “More than three million unborn babies have died from abortion in Canada since 1969, when abortion was first decriminalized. Statistics Canada tables show a recorded total of 2,822,293 abortions between 1969 and 2005.”

            The Province, May 11, 2011 – “A convicted pedophile who preyed on male minor hockey players in the 1980s spent the past eight years working for a Victoria agency that helps vulnerable adults and youth.” 

            The Sun, May 8, 2011 : But community supervision didn’t stop Danial Todd Gratton, who has repeatedly abused kids, from doing it yet again, despite participating in ongoing therapy in Alberta Hospital’s sex offender program …

            Gratton was given a break. The assumption was that, with appropriate treatment, he’d be able to restrain his repulsive sexual impulses and live a fairly normal life.

            What a fantasy. In October 2008, only a few months after his prison sentence expired, Gratton kidnapped and sexually assaulted two girls. He was on parole at the time.

          • You can cherry-pick recidivism cases and all that proves is that prisons are criminal factories. You go in a criminal, you come out a criminal…in many cases a harder criminal. By all means insist on mandatory minimums and tough sentences. Just don’t expect them to work. Like Harper, you’re basing your belief system on what feels right to you, not what is reflected in reality. 

      • He’s not a libertarian. He’s a full blown, Fantino-like top-down authoritarian. They all THINK they’re libertarians until you read the fine print. 

        • ‘libertarian’ has become a deconstructed, reconstructed, semantically bleached term standing for something vaguely positive, like the word ‘nice’. If someone, a Glenn Beck, or whoever wants to make a good, if innocuous impression, they can always say:

          ‘…actually I’m more of a libertarian…’

          Of course, then, everyone can deny Glenn Beck is a ‘libertarian’, and feel fairly confident they are correct, and have punctured Beck’s bogus balloon.
          .

          • “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual”

    • - 92% of sexual assaults not reported- 61% of physical assaults not reported- 46% of break-ins not reported- 54% of robberies not repored

      So how do we know any of this took place? LOL

      • “Statistics Canada explains: One way to estimate the extent of crime that is not reported to police is through the GSS victimization survey. Because the GSS asks a sample of the population about their personal victimization experiences, it captures information on all crimes, whether or not they have been reported to police. The amount of unreported victimization can be substantial. For example, the 2004 GSS estimated that 88% of sexual assaults, 69% of household thefts and 67% of personal property thefts were not reported to the police. As a result, victimization surveys usually produce much higher rates of victimization than police-reported crime statistics.”

        • Oh…..estimates. Based on victim surveys.

          Yup, totally believable. LOL

    • Thank you for making Himelfarb’s case.

      PERFECTLY, I may add.

      • How so? 

        • Crime generally is plummetting in Canada. Demographics, social support networks and modernized policing all part of the mix. The one thing not in place right now? Tough on Crime (TM) policies, higher incarceration rates and punitive social policies.

          • “Crime generally is plummetting in Canada.”

            What is plummeting is people’s faith in justice system and they are reluctant to call police in first place because they know it is not worth their time because The State does not care about law-abiding private citizens. 

            For example, Justice system expects violent criminals to ask permission to leave their house. Like violent criminals are famous for following rules and asking permission before they do something naughty. 
            —————–

            Ian Lee – “Statistics Canada commenced the recording of police-reported crime statistics in 1962.  An examination of the Statistics Canada table on Page 19 record that 221 violent crimes per 100,000 were reported in 1962 ……  a 500% increase in 30 years or a third of a century.” 

            The CBC, May 29, 2011 – “Police in Abbotsford, B.C., are looking for a violent sex offender wanted on a Canada-wide warrant who left his home Friday without permission.”

            The Sun, Aug, 2010 – “Statistics Canada explains: One way to estimate the extent of crime that is not reported to police is through the GSS victimization survey. Because the GSS asks a sample of the population about their personal victimization experiences, it captures information on all crimes, whether or not they have been reported to police. The amount of unreported victimization can be substantial. For example, the 2004 GSS estimated that 88% of sexual assaults, 69% of household thefts and 67% of personal property thefts were not reported to the police. As a result, victimization surveys usually produce much higher rates of victimization than police-reported crime statistics.”

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