In “A Clockwork Orange,” Alex, the violent anti-hero, is captured and subjected to a brutal re-conditioning process to stop his enjoyment of raping, beating, and killing. Unfortunately, the disturbing images he is shown as part of his treatment are accompanied by the works of his favorite composer, Beethoven. Alex begs his captors to stop the treatment saying “It’s a sin! He did no harm to anyone! Beethoven just wrote music!” At the end of his ordeal, Alex is released, and whenever he tries to commit an act of violence he gets so sick that he wants to die. As an unintended consequence of his treatment, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony has the same sickening effect on him, so Alex can no longer listen to the composer he loves.
The process that ruined Beethoven for Alex is a basic cognitive dissonance scale exercise.
Linking music that is high on Alex’s scale to images and experiences he finds repulsive or upsetting, along with pain and discomfort—these are all are low, in negative territory— inevitably brings Beethoven down to the point where he can no longer experience pleasure from his compositions.
Many great and popular works of music have been damaged this way, most recently this Christmas in Nashville, when a strange man named Anthony Quinn Warner blew up a city block and died in the blast.
Moments before it blew up,Warner’s parked RV broadcast Petula Clark’s iconic 1964 hit “Downtown“:
When you’re alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go
When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know,
Then the explosion came, ripping through a downtown Nashville block, injuring at least eight people and damaging more than 40 buildings.
In Minnesota, Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, Abdullahi Mohamud Yusuf, and Hanad Mustafe Musse pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS. The defendants charged last April following an investigation into a network of young Somali-Americans involved in ISIS recruitment in Minnesota. ordered the four to undergo an evaluation by a visiting German scholar, Daniel Koehler, director of the German Institute on Radicalization and Deradicalization Studies in Stuttgart. His evaluation of the men will factor into Davis’ sentencing decisions, and will form the basis of a “de-radicalization program” to rid the men of their radical ideology.
The Star Tribune reports that the program will be the first of its kind in the United States. (Well that’s a relief.) Apparently such deprogramming treatments are used to “cure” radical recruits in Europe, as hundreds of young people have left to join Middle Eastern militants.
Wait, are anyone else’s ethics alarms ringing like crazy? Mine just busted an ear drum. Continue reading →
“We fail to see any reasonable connection between this defendant, his conviction more than a decade ago, his failure to fill out paperwork, and the government-mandated measurement of his penis.”
—- The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, rejecting as “extraordinarily invasive”a Vermont sex offender treatment program that required David McLaurin, who was convicted of producing child pornography, to submit to “penile stimulation treatment” as a condition for supervised release. He was shown child pornography images as the blood flow to his penis was measured.
Cheer up, Alex…it could be worse, You could be in Vermont…
McLaurin was arrested in 2011 for violating the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which requires offenders to register and keep current their address information. He received a sentence of 15 months imprisonment with five years of supervised release.
“The size of the erection is, we are told, of interest to government officials because it ostensibly correlates with the extent to which the subject continues to be aroused by the pornographic images,” the opinion states, dryly. The testing was apparently developed by a Czech psychiatrist and used by the Czech government as a way to identify and “cure” homosexuals.
Peter Moskos is about to publish a book entitled “In Defense of Flogging.” He’s not really advocating a return to the Cat O’ Nine Tails, however, but engaging in a so-called “thought experiment”, which Moskos, an assistant professor of law, police science, and criminal-justice administration at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, summarizes at the end of his article on the topic (in the Chronical of Higher Education) like this:
“So is flogging still too cruel to contemplate? Perhaps it’s not as crazy as you thought. And even if you’re adamant that flogging is a barbaric, inhumane form of punishment, how can offering criminals the choice of the lash in lieu of incarceration be so bad? If flogging were really worse than prison, nobody would choose it. Of course most people would choose the rattan cane over the prison cell. And that’s my point. Faced with the choice between hard time and the lash, the lash is better. What does that say about prison?”
I’ll answer that: it says that imprisonment is a better and more efficient punishment for serious crimes than flogging, and who didn’t know that? Continue reading →
Delaware and Pennsylvania, facing state budget deficits that would require political courage and citizen sacrifice to address, has taken the craven route of other states (with more sure to follow) by legalizing casino gambling.
In Pennsylvania, State Republicans, the majority party in the state senate, had opposed the expansion of gambling , but capitulated when faced with the reality of having to choose between cutting jobs and services or raising taxes. Instead, the Republicans joined with Democrats, those champions of the weak and powerless, to victimize the poorest people in the state for profit. Continue reading →