Categories Of Thought

You might call it self imposed slavery, but it’s not exactly that, in the sense that it is not entirely self-imposed.  Partly, not entirely.

One of the dangers of over-criminalization is that once some form of conduct is defined as a crime, those who engage in it can be delivered into the hands of a governmental institution – law enforcement and the courts – that collectively thinks about the whole phenomenon in a very rigid and largely unimaginative way.  It’s all dressed up in “procedures” that both lend some objectivity while at the same time limiting the issues and the manner of presenting or discussing them, and this is what ultimately restricts even the manner of thinking about them.

In the majority of the cases this works reasonably well, subject of course to the usual failings and foibles of the human beings who administer the “process”.

What sometimes happens over time, though – often so much time that cause and effect become obscured and difficult to discern – is that the habits of thought become ossified, the process gets abused (intentionally or not) and the whole intellectual structure begins to break down.  It winds up doing not what it was intended or designed to do, but rather increasingly commits perversions and inversions of it.  Then some people notice, usually young people who have not yet become comfortable in, or rewarded by, conforming to the pre-assigned categories.

This is one reason it is important to keep the heart of a child even in manhood.  Because when the young notice you have to pay attention; but typically, this early warning of trouble ahead is met with disdain and disparagement by those whose hearts have become too grown up, too set in their ways.  To them the question of whether the categories themselves require revision or revisiting is off the table.  If there is a problem it resides in the complainers.  The whiners.  The slackoisie.

Generational wars are nothing new.  When they erupt, the fault lines between those who are over committed to the status quo and those who see the problem quite differently are exposed.

One thing that helps in these situations is:  keep your sense of humor.  The break down of thought categories, while overall a very serious matter, does have its amusing elements.



Filed under financial crisis, Judicial lying/cheating, Striking lawyers, wrongful convictions

3 responses to “Categories Of Thought

  1. Pingback: Categories | People v. State

  2. jackson

    “My hands are tied.”

    That is the phrase that one hears–from the police officer (zero-tolerance), the prosecutor (has a duty to make a case), the judge (mandatory minimum), the bailiff, the prison guard– as one is unjustly and unreasonably arrested and imprisoned.

    “You got a raw deal, but my hands are tied,” they all say.

    And then, once you are inside, you find out they said the same thing to at least a third of your fellow inmates…

    There sure are a lot of “raw deals” being created by our criminal justice system.


  3. You know that one-third figure has been my personal, anecdotal estimate for a long time, and I keep hearing it from others. Conrad Black seems to figure about the same thing.

    Isn’t that just god-awful? I think the police just left to their own devices would do a better job. They’re generally right, more or less, about 75-80% of the time.

    It’s like the whole court system of lawyers and judges and juries and appeals and collateral proceedings only makes matters worse. Instead of correcting errors it compounds them.

    What a failure it’s become. What an embarrassment before the whole world that we lock up so many people at all, to say nothing of the fact that such a large percentage don’t even deserve it.

    Some days I hate even thinking about the human suffering so needlessly and gratuitously inflicted on people. And what often amazes me – truly amazes me – is how indifferent most people are. It makes the cost of caring so high for those that do.


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