Sunday, September 18, 2005

US Prisons

Christopher Hitchens has become such a stock character for anti-war leftists that we forget that he can sometimes turn out a damned fine article.

His most recent Vanity Fair article takes a hard look at rape in US prisons--a phenomenon that, shockingly, has become so accepted in mainstream American culture that it has become a banal joke for sitcoms and even commercials. Hitchens reminds us that rape is rape, and just as murders in jail are prosecuted as murders, so rapes in jail should be completely untolerated. In US prisons as in Abu Ghraib, it would be stupid to claim that a few bad seeds are to blame: the responsibility for the outrageous rates of prisoner rape lies also in the institution, and in the complacent culture that sustains that institution.

In US prisons as in Abu Ghraib: Hitchens buries the lede somewhat by reminding us about halfway through that two of the prosecuted offenders at Abu Ghraib were former US corrections officers and that a widely muttered excuse for the scandal was that conditions were similar to those in US prisons. That circumstance should remind everyone to be shocked anew, if the stories and statistics about rape weren't awful enough. Apparently they haven't been.

Good on you, Mr. Hitchens, for writing this article, for bringing attention to one of the most appalling abuses within the US system of justice. More like this, please.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous:

Jackmormon:

I popped over for a visit, and I'm glad I did.

I've never jumped on the anti-Hitchens bandwagon despite his blowhardiness.

He has the guts to take on rough issues with passion and eloquence.
Even his support for the invasion of Iraq was grounded on a long-term commitment to the plight of the Kurdish minority -- which, in my opinion, at least had the virtue of not sharing the rank cynicism and contempt we received from the White House.

Plus, I expect he would favor a modern, universal, taxpayer-funded public health policy for the Kurds, the Shiites, the Sunnis, and the young women in Texas suffering from septic shock as a result of the direction of abortion policy you so eloquently expressed in the later post.

10/06/2005 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Sorry.

I happen to know that John Thullen posted the above comment because I am in fact John Thullen.

10/06/2005 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Jackmormon:

Hi John Thullen! Welcome aboard.

I was truly impressed by the prison article, and, as you point out above, it reminded me that not all human rights justifications for toppling the Saddam Hussein regime were disingenuous. (So many were...) Hitchens has lost some of my respect, for not thinking through all of the consequences of this way and for sticking to the malignant gang of idiots in charge of it, but he's not entirely or consistently wrong.

What was that bon mot of Hilzoy's the other day, something the need to mature beyond contrarianness for its own sake?

10/06/2005 03:14:00 PM  

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