Friday, December 16, 2005
Blood Breeds Blood
Lenin makes the entirely reasonable point that, given the absolute disgusting state of the US prison service and indeed criminal justice system in general, and in particular the way in which inmates are systematically abused, it's hardly surprising that American soldiers have been torturing detainees in Iraq and elsewhere, and he has videos to prove it. This brings to mind Andrew O'Hagan's article in the LRB from a couple of months ago, which I meant for precisely this feature to mention at the time, but couldn't find any more general hook to hang it on. O'Hagan basically hitch-hiked with two somewhat dissheveled and disorientated, but not spectacularly so, men who decided to go to the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Katrina to try and help, but what struck me about the article was not the devastation that a hurricane could create in an unprepared and horrifically unequal society so much as the systematic violence, much of it sexual, of the discourse of the two men. Topics of idle conversation between the two seem to have included whether one would hold a woman down whilst the other raped her or not. That's f*cked up: that's just not an acceptable topic of idle conversation. Where violent rape has become something that gets talked about in the same way as what snack food to buy for the next day's car journey, I'd say that attitudes both towards violence and women aren't as enlightened as they might be. Countries where that is an acceptable topic of idle conversation between apparently broadly social functional people will, I predict, and I feel I'm really going out on a limb here, tend to not be so great when it comes to their citizens resisting the temptation to abuse those in their power. Like I say, going out on a limb.