Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Folsom Cell Block National Culture

Via Memeorandum, Scott Johnson (a good read in itself), and Fausta Wertz, be sure to check out Victor Davis Hanson's essay at Pajamas Media, "Thoughts About Depressed Americans."

I read
the essay earlier this morning. Hanson discusses the Obama administration's disastrous handling of the economic crisis, as well the rapidly collapsing level of trust Americans have in political and economic institutions, But I was really struck by Hanson's comments on the general courseness of our society, what I interpret as part of our larger social breakdown:
I was always an advocate of informality, of casualness, but now when on a plane, in a restaurant, at Starbucks, I am struck by the rare well-dressed person who does not crowd. How odd the extra-polite woman, who conducts herself with charm and grace at the counter, or the gentleman who opens doors, says excuse me, and whose intelligent conversation I enjoy listening in on—like a dew drop to someone thirsting in the desert. In contrast, when the punk walks by, with radio blaring, mumbling obscenities, flashing the ‘I’ll kill you’ stare,” it all leaves me in depression.

Worse still, on the opposite end of the scale, is the master of the universe who elbows his way onto a plane while he blares on the telephone and blocks the aisle. I feel creepy after walking through an electronics store and seeing some of the video game titles and covers.

In short, I don’t want to hear any more Viagra or Cialis ads, no more douche commercials—please no more talking heads about penises that are enlarging, hardening, stimulated on the public air waves.

The sum of these foul parts is smothering us. I don’t want to know that there is a new sex clinic opening in Fresno, or hear another ad about how I can skip out on my credit card debt, or that some sort of food is stuck to my intestinal walls like spackle and paste unless I buy some gut cleansing product.

At some point, we need to say enough is enough, and try to find some sense of honor and decorum in these times of crisis. My god, the entire country has become some sort of Rousseauian nightmare, as if the Berkeley Free Speech Area circa 1970 is now the public domain, as if the culture of the Folsom cell block is now the national ethos.
That's makes for a pretty good line: "The Folsom cell block national culture." Indeed, I was thinking about that cell block culture this morning.

I exchanged e-mails with my friend
Lynn from Virginia. She asked how it was going out West? I told her that I'm doing okay, but not all is well in California, especially in our darkened social-breakdown milieu.

I referenced a couple of stories at the Los Angeles Times. One is the tragedy of 18 months-old Emma Leigh Barker: "
Mother of dead toddler found in Sylmar says she dumped body, authorities say." The baby's mother, Stacy Barker, claims her daughter died "accidentally." My money says that's baloney, of course, but check the comments at Free Republic for some skepticism. The second story is out of Oakland, where three police officers have been killed, and another is near death, after being shot during a routine traffic stop last night: "State mourns three slain Oakland police officers." And get this, the suspect, Lovelle Mixon, was killed in a firefight with police, but the kicker is that he "was wanted on a no-bail warrant for violating his parole on a conviction of assault with deadly weapon."

So, here we have a woman, Stacy Barker, who has concocted a web of lies to cover up the likely murder of her beautiful 18 month baby, and we have Lovell Mixon, who just killed three police officers with an "assault weapon" who at the time of the shooting was out on parole for a previous conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.

So yes, "the culture of the Folsom cell block is now the national ethos."

And here's this from Folsom State Prison's homepage, "Originally designed to hold inmates serving long sentences, habitual criminals, and incorrigibles, Folsom State Prison quickly gained the reputation of being the end of the line." I think there's some double meaning there, as we're certainly at "end of the line" for the historical restraints of traditional moral conservatism.

2 comments:

Jan said...

Donald, ironically, my husband and I were discussing this very thing last night, and we were saying that it is hard to believe that our country has come to this, and what happened?

Well, we know, of course, what happened, and we know, again, 'of course' why it will continue to get worse.

It's just sad.

Donald Douglas said...

Thanks for commenting, Jan!