Perhaps my view of the world is jaded. Maybe the prison experience has somehow made me a bit cynical. But why does it seem that the so-called free-world out there more and more resembles the world in here?
I’ve heard the comment that certain social fashions find their genesis in the prison experience. Such as, having one’s pants barely hanging off your ass, several days growth of beard, hair styles all helter-skelter (probably as close as whites can come to a nappy-do), and pockets and clothing worn inside-out or backwards–some simply simulating the behavior of 4-year-olds.
You may have more to consider… From the little I’ve witnessed out there, perhaps the prisons are merely a form of “proving grounds…”
Controlled movement, lock-downs, handcuffs and chains for the slightest unapproved behaviors or failure to obey the most arbitrary directions, thorough profiling, search and detection scans, ubiquitous cameras involving most movement, required possession of ID, even proof of residency and/or citizenship, required cooperation with authoritative inquiry and direction, etc. Used to be pretty much a prison experience. What’s next? Internal passes?
Who says the terrorists didn’t succeed? Small wonder the WTO wanted actual diplomatic status for their corporate “citizens.”
Given these past 20 years behind the razor-wire (more, if one wishes to include previous run-ins), and another almost 50 years of “free-world” experience—including international photog/journalism, investigations, and, for that matter, pilot-smuggling enterprises a la Ollie North et al. (except, I was on “the other side”)—I think I can make a stab at a couple of observations.
From my studies and perspective, there are basically two major expressions of related social psychology. In some respects, they transcend political identification. In others, they may well define the identification: One is the authoritative view, and the other is the free-thinking one.
The authoritative amongst us—of which prison staff are largely selected–have a high personal need for order, social structure, and certainty. They have an abhorrence of ambiguity, if not an outright pathology for obsessive and compulsive control.
Free-thinkers, inversely, have a tolerance for differences in the behaviors of others. Hallmarks of free-thinking includes empathy, and civic and social cooperation. They tend to view the role of gov’t, for instance, as a social contract of protection and empowerment. They assume that individuals are not islands unto themselves.
Is the prison system—the largest one on the planet—the source of this phenomenon? Or simply a bellwether?
But I suspect if you’re looking for causation, you won’t find it in here. Most of us are just your generic victims of arbitrary laws whatever their source. Some claim that gov’t is too big…too big for them, of course, never too big for the rest of us…
But then, that’s another story…or is it?