Wednesday, September 06, 2006


2 impressions of 1 experience.

Brazil was amazing. I learned some things, I think. I saw natural beauty. I saw human beauty. I experienced human beauty. There were beautiful products of humanity's efforts.

Brazil was appalling. I saw fear. I saw hatred. I saw envy. I saw misogyny. I saw filth.

I don't mean to sound grandiose, it just fits to say that. It doesn't sound terribly original to me either. I expect that it's typical to have that experience wherever you go in this world. It seemed like a completely human experience to me altogether. These things, aesthetics, are all human. They're all ugly or beautiful, and all because of a human judgement; a comparison of sense data with values held.


*Em* said...

I wanted to point out something about your comment
"When you are poor, you have little care for ethics. If you and your family are starving, you will not care to consider whether what you are doing to provide sustenance is moral or immoral. You'll do whatever it takes to survive."
but it does'nt follow the discussion about killing and prison discussed then so I'll just paste it here...

Envy and frustration are reactions of the emotional kind-not actions. This reaction can cause people with temporary or permanent problems such as insensitivity to others, lack of inhibition, no sense of consequence to actions, etc. to act like you described. But people with fully developped brains, no matter how poor they get will still have enough moral sense to find ways to survive that respects other human beings such as eating from garbage, buying expired food at great reduction, picking up what was'nt havested in a field, eating wild roots, etc.

I can guarantee you that high immoral levels are spreaded equally in both camps. Typical rich moral distorsions includes thinking that everything is owed to you, that you deserve to be served to your all desires, that everything-or everyone can be bought. Most poor people have a very strong sense of what is theirs and what is'nt. People from all income levels have disorders that make them steal what is'nt theirs; don't underestimate envy and frustration driven actions-if you're unbalanced enough to steal, it does'nt matter how much you have. You'll always want more. The difference is that the people you see stealing or the ones without clever lawyers to get them out of trouble are on the street. You can't as easily see people who steal on a massive scale from their posh downtown offices.

Rocketman1200 said...

I don't think I ever said that rich people don't steal.

I also don't think that people NECESSARILY develop a sense of morality even if their survival needs are met.

I can appreciate your position with regards to people who have mental issues and their proclivity for immoral action, but I've said it before and I'll say it again:

Not all people who are poor steal, but most people who steal are poor. I do not believe that there is equality across class lines in this regard. Yes there are "white-collar" crimes, often with tremendous impact on many many people, but petty crimes far outnumber those.

Thanks for your comments, and please keep them coming!

*Em* said...

I also appreciate a heated "blogger debates" and I appreciate your posts very much. Like I said before, I get very worked up because they are good.

But I think that we are going to need statistics on this issue because that's the core;

In which financial bracket does the most crime happen? And it's a tricky data because of the different way that you enter the justice system in Canada-or pretty much everywhere with a decent tribunal system- if you have money or not. The best lawyers in town have lots of skills and contacts that will get your criminal record clean as a slate. So how do we figure out how many of those crimes are erased with money compared to the "petty crime thieves" that are the most obvious.

I keep my position that it's spreaded equally because posing criminal actions implies that your brain has gone wrong somewhere and that your sense of morality has not developped for various reasons; being mistreated in a poor environment is one that's a very common kind of oppression in the poorest classes, but there's a lot of other traumas that have the same effect on higher classes; lack of affection as a child, abuse, pressure to succeed, negligence due to absence of parents (that think work is most important)etc.

I think that we need a good criminologist's expertise on this.

*Em* said...

Here's a piece of an interesting study on juvenile delinquency that explores where criminal behavior starts and how it's handled differently in society...

"Evidence abounds that the legal system of the United States does not administer justice evenhandedly. It is well known that individuals in the lower classes are arrested more frequently than individuals in the upper strata, but they are not necessarily arrested because they commit more crimes than affluent Americans. To illustrate this point, we can look at some of the evidence on juvenile delinquency. Because reform schools tend to house lower-class youth, it is widely assumed that poor children are more prone to delinquency than other youngsters. The President's Committee on Law Enforcement expressed the view this way: "There is still no reason to doubt that delinquency and especially the most serious delinquency is committed disproportionately by slum and lower-class youth.

Studies of undetected delinquency--most usually questionnaire studies that ask respondents to report their crimes anonymously--give us reason to question the Law Enforcement Commission's assumptions. It appears that middle and upper-class youth are just about as prone to break the law as are the poor. The President's Commission reached its conclusion because it looked exclusively at official records of delinquency rather than at the law-violating behavior that the self-report studies measure.

If affluent youth are breaking the law as frequently as the poor, why are juvenile prisons filled with impoverished youth? The reasons are numerous. First, middle-class children caught in a criminal act may be reported to their parents rather than to law-enforcement authorities. Police officers may take such children home rather than press charges. When middle-class children are reported to the police, their parents sometimes are able to get them off the hook by talking to friends in power or hiring expensive, effective lawyers. In court (and at every stage of the legal process preceding the court appearance), middle-class offenders are likely to conform to the American image of ideal youngsters. They are likely to have caring parents, to speak well, to dress neatly, to present a properly contrite image, and to impress officials that, with just a bit of guidance, they could avoid further trouble.

Summing up a large quantity of research on juvenile crime, the following conclusions appear warranted:

1. Juvenile crime is extensive. Between 1932 and 1983, the arrest rate for people under eighteen increased almost eightyfold. The size of the youth population has been shrinking in the 1980s and as a result the rate of crime among youth has declined somewhat. These declines, though welcome, are not dramatic. Violent crimes by persons under eighteen are still up over 250 percent since 1960. Persons under twenty-five account for one in every two violent crimes, and three out of four crimes against property each year.

2. More young people commit crimes than are ever caught.

3. Our traditional assumption that the poor are more prone to crime is probably exaggerated. However, poor youngsters are more likely to be arrested and sentenced to reformatories than are their more affluent peers.

4. Most young people violate the law at one time or another, although only a minority do so frequently or commit serious crimes"
( )

Rocketman1200 said...

1. This study seems to make assumptions that things happen, even though they're not recorded. While that is possible, it is not a reliable foundation for an argument. Strong proof does exist, but it is not favourable to the claim that affluent kids steal just as much as poor kids. In fact, it only serves to reinforce the argument that poverty leads to crime.

2. This study speaks to all types of crime, I'm assuming including theft, but also including assault, vandalism, drug possession, etc. In itself, even if it proved that affluent kids do commit these crimes as much as poor kids, this study doesn't speak to my claim that most people who steal are poor. I'd imagine that affluent kids would be more likely to vandalize, beat each other up, or do drugs than to steal, as there wouldn't be much point for them to steal.

*Em* said...

Assumptions that things happen, even though they're not recorded is the point of this study! Poor people are arrested in greater number and it's a fact from a twisted statistic because there's a lot of theft that goes unrecorded in our justice system. Guess who gets that privilege?

Poverty does not lead to crime; lack of hope does.

Rocketman1200 said...

Your guess is as good as mine or anyone else's with respect to an unquantifiable privilege. My point about that study is exactly that it doesn't prove anything. It only infers, and at that quite weakly.

Poverty may not be the cause of all crimes, and that's not what I am trying to claim. I am pretty much just talking about theft here. However:

'Lack of hope' is a motivator for crime, that is possibly true. Given that, what do you consider 'hope' to be, with respect to values such as Aesthetics or Morals? If I could answer my own question, I'd posit that hope is the aspiration to some positive value like 'the good', or 'the right'. Emotional 'happiness' might be something to hope for, which could be the realization of some 'good' or 'right'. In that case, it is not contradictory to say that poor people have little care for ethics (the good) at the same time as agreeing with you that lack of hope leads to crime.

While poor people may more acutely feel a lack of hope, it's quite likely that you're also right that affluent people (with brain disorders) sometimes feel a lack of hope. Further, those affluent people could have a lack of a concept of 'the good' or 'the right' as well. But to assume that there is an equal distribution of hopelessness is to quantify some amount of hopelessness, and this study does not do that.

With respect to the motivations poor people have to commit petty crimes, I'd still assert that necessity is the main culprit, with complete lack of hope that they will attain 'the good', and only the innate value of survival will motivate them.

Rumpus said...

I thought I would take you down memory lane Rocketman. Don't you remember sitting in the Sev parking lot watching the store get ripped off again and again? I guarantee the vast majority of those kids were not poor.

Rocketman1200 said...

Again, I am not claiming that ONLY poor people steal, but that MOST people that steal are poor. In Steinbach where the Sev that you refer to is located, there aren't a whole lot of poor people. The demographics are too skewed there for your example to be relevant.

*Em* said...

Growing up poor is hard enough but it gets even worse as educated and privileged people start stating derogatory statement such as "most people that steal are poor". That's the best way to cultivate a negative stereotype that is so disrespectful that it's scary and it affects the underprivileged worse than their hunger.

The "lack of hope" that I am talking about is the moment you realize that people believe and propagand such bullshit about you, your neighbors and friends that were born on the wrong side of the tracks.

I am not guessing about an unquantifiable privilege. I am trying to remind you that we are talking about humanity, not numbers and facts.

There is no point for proofs and facts here; we are not at a tribunal and we are not opposants in a debate. We are friends discussing a topic that really you should handle with more empathy.

Rocketman1200 said...

1. So, do you mean that we are friends and that I should just agree with you?

2. We are in fact debating. That's healthy, and it helps us to develop and defend our own views. And yes, facts are quite important to a debate.

3. Here's an example of a stereotype: "ALL people who are poor steal". That is not what I said. I said, again, that "most people who steal are poor." That is not a stereotype, because to study this, as even your article will admit, is to find that the majority of proveable theft cases are committed by underprivileged or poor people.

*Em* said...

I'm sorry Jeremy but I am not interested in debating. It's the most primitive way to talk; it's stiff and airtight. I can discuss with you and that's a form of exchange where we can actually learn from each other.

Like I said, we are not opposants and I don't have to defend my views; I was writing here to share. If you're not ready for that: forget it.