Soul Logic

I fail to understand people who think they have a soul and insist that they are going to enjoy some sort of afterlife, probably with a few good friends and family. But they won’t remember who they were once they’re there, for the same reason nobody remembers what happened before we were born. If the soul’s really eternal then we should have plenty of past-life memories, and it shouldn’t matter if I were a fly, or on an entirely different plane of existence. But we don’t remember, nor will we remember any of this because that requires a brain, not a soul. Yet, I see people wasting their life, thinking they’ll just make up for it in another.

Nobody Wants to Talk About This But We Have To

A few weeks ago Louis C.K. put SNL viewers through the most awkward monologue, guiding the audience through a joke about pedophilia. To say the least, it got mixed reviews. But despite whether you like his joke, the point he made (as I took it), and the way the listeners reacted compelled me to investigate. I knew I’d obviously turn up terrible statistics, but there was a lot of other compelling information I simply didn’t expect to find, from semi-legal “hospitals” to a potential cure.

I’m not excusing pedophiles for the crimes they’ve committed, I’m condemning the systems that are failing miserably at managing people who suffer from a mental disease. It stands to reason that putting away violent offenders in special hospitals and keeping non-violent offenders as far away from children and a computer as possible would start to reduce crimes involving child pornography and prostitution. But the exact opposite is happening.

Child pornography is one of the fastest growing businesses online, with estimated annual revenue of $3 billion,” writes child advocate Dr. Mary Pulido, and, “Of P2P users arrested in 2009, 33 percent had photos of children age three or younger and 42 percent had images of children that showed sexual violence. ” It gets worse. On top of the 300,000 cases of sex abuse reported annually, at least 100,000 children are forced into prostitution every year, and if they get arrested they’re tried for prostitution crimes and treated like criminals.

After arrest a pedophile can end up in a couple of situations. Depending on whether or not the crime was violent, they’re released with a new set of life complications like finding a place to live from from kids, and mandatory GPS tracking–that’s if they stay alive through their sentence. If they committed a violent crime then they’re sent to “hospitals” commonly called civil commitment centers in a legal limbo, where they’ll likely spend the rest of their lives unless deemed safe for society.

There are 19 of these barely functioning pedophile islands, staffed by underpaid and unqualified employees throughout America. So, although it’s really upsetting that Arizona released 81 pedophiles, it’s not at all surprising that their records gave no reasons why. Many of the men in these institutions are old, or sick, and it costs $200,000 per year per “patient”. Civil commitment programs have been in place since 1990–a long with many other terrible prison reforms which helped turn it into the machine it is now.

It’s natural to hate anyone that would do harm to a child, and to be filled with so much disgust we forget that people, including pedophiles, don’t choose what they’re sexually attracted to, and some have undergone various forms of castration to stop the desire–it doesn’t work. But there is a pill called Lupron, and it has a great success rate, the problem is getting access to it.

Next in Part 2:

The Stigma of Mental Disease and Access to Medicine



Race News

It’s no coincidence we all have stories and woes from family members’ racist, shameless commentary and jokes. Ronald Reagan’s media campaign on drugs brainwashed an entire generation into thinking that black men are criminals, and women “welfare queens.” In the midst of this brainwashing we were also told that racism doesn’t exist anymore because of the success of the civil rights movement and suppression of blatant racism. Because of these things I believe many are blind to their privilege, blind to the subliminal racist language we use daily. The most obvious one today in the news is the code word “thug.” When black people respond–correctly–to systemic oppression it’s called a riot; thugs are starting another riot, when it’s a bunch of white guys lighting cars on fire and breaking windows after a sports game they’re called some stupid name by media and made out as innocent and casual, these normally kind men where just emotionally unbalanced, intoxicated and caught up in the moment. The media perpetuates racism, and ultimately fails at even maintaining–if it ever did–the true brilliance that is the freedom of speech.

When we think about dismantling the systemic racism in this country we tend to tackle the things that are right in our faces. The prison system, laws, and language–which all need attention–but time has put so many pages between us and those before, and in the process, tucked away and twisted outright racism so the not-so-obvious racist aggressions go unchecked. Some believe racism is buried away in history, but I hear its music every summer.

Summer Update

It’s been a long spring quarter, and I’m glad it’s over. It’s getting up in the 90s here in Portland so everyone’s in their underwear dancing around beer fountains as the smell of pot fills the sunny air. And though the smell is better than the B.O. or Patchouli which normally wafts though the air, Portland city council decided to ban all smoking in parks and nature areas.

I’ve been busier than usual, so I haven’t been able to write as much, but I think that’s been good. “Less is more” is the cliché. And the essays I’ve posted lately have had higher readership than years past. Plus, I haven’t had much time to read anything other than a textbook and some chunks from The New Yorker during my lunch at work–if I’m not reading, I’m not writing. And while the articles have been great I’m very happy I’ve finally found a book to read.

I wanted to dedicate part of this summer to breaking down misconceptions and bad thinking surrounding prison systems, specifically here in Oregon. So to kick off my research (and potential future blog) I’m reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. Last year someone attacked my friend while he was out drinking, and he opened fire, wounding his attacker, but because of Oregon’s mandatory minimums he’s forced to do time in prison–while his attacker received no sentence. Sadly, mandatory minimums have overwhelming support, so it’s going to take a lot of work to change people’s minds on prisons. I firmly believe a shift from typical incarceration to mental and social rehabilitation will benefit everyone–except the companies who use prisoners as labor.

In between summer reading and researching I’m also working on communications for Retail Workers for a Democratic Union (RWDU). We came together after some of our grocer union’s best representatives were “laid off” by upper leadership a couple of weeks before this last Christmas because of their protest against our union president’s priorities–none of which are relevant to the members. When we gave the president the vote of no confidence petition we spent the past winter collecting signatures on, he sarcastically applauded us out of the room. That was after spending over an hour trying to awe us over our mediocre dental and prescription plan, drooling over the prospect of pot money, and making every effort to dodge or dismiss our questions about our contracts and bargaining. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

It would be a terrible time if summer were entirely work, which is why my wife and I have purchased tickets to see Modest Mouse at the Waterfront on August 23, and we’re also attending the Rose City Comic Con. I plan on having a box set of Nightmare on Elm Street signed by celebrity guess Robert Englund. And sometime in between all this I hope to squeeze in a camping trip to the coast, then it’s back to school.

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