Author Archives: kimberleymcm7

Russian law on homsexuality

As it relates to the Russia, in particular the recent law enactments regarding the homosexuality, is that it creates the social problem and reflects homophobic attitudes that have been significant against the LGBT community.  As of late there is an increased presence of the LGBT community, throwing concern over to the ousting of some individuals and the retaliation from the general community.

Originially the lack of discussion on sexuality stems from the soviet gulag.  But many artists authors paint homosexuals as relating to the loss of virility.  Putting homosexuals into two camps, young men who have become enamoured of western ways and turn to homosexuality as a fashionable and older influencial men who pray upon those younger men.  Overall, Russian saw conversations about sex having its origins in western culture and are thus to blame for its alien influences.  But with Putin, there was a rapidly shirking birth-rate and in order to increase, he needed to use traditional family values [Healey 2010].  The relation to the ban on homophobia is not that much of a stretch.  “gay marriage, and gay pride parades are denounced as un-Russian, a danger to the birthrate and to morality, and adherence to reforms like these—and the visibility of homosexuality they herald—increasingly distinguishes “Europe” from “Russia” as political constructions.   A cultural battle is underway to establish how far an open homosexual identity is compatible with Russian citizenship” [Healey: 211]  British Communist Harry Whyte’s question to Stalin about the status of the homosexual in 1934, and ask, “Can an open homosexual be considered a person fit to be a citizen of the Russian Federation?” [Healey: 211].  Although homosexuality became decriminalized in 1993, they were still used as a scape-goat for anything.  And in combination with the church’s hostile attitude towards homosexuals and the Russian authorities denying “registration to gay civil rights organizations “on moral grounds.” In the electronic media they are usually portrayed as caricatures or in hostile ways” [Kon: 20].  Through the new Russian laws that ban homosexual propaganda there is much that can be considered propaganda such as holding hands, walking with your family, what would not be considered propaganda?  Because their very lifestyle has become illegal, although the act has been decriminalized, there is no offered support, no services and no programs.  This allows problems within the community to magnify and to be held up as an example of gay life.  With an increased nonchalant take on homosexual life in Russia, this law is at odds in how it was created.  But it does correlate to a change in Russians thinking towards homosexuals as more othered and with increasing violence and distaste.

References

Healey, D. (2010). Active, Passive and Russian: The National Idea in Gay Men’s Pornography. Russian Review, 69(2), 210 – 230.

Kon, I. (2010). Homophobia as a Litmus Test of Russian Democracy. Russian Social Science Review, 51(3), 16 – 37.

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The Welfare State

Mosher explores the welfare system as a bias, sexist and set up for fraud by not allocating enough funds to families or one-parent households, encouragement of snitching and the dehumanizing and intrusive aspect of the both the welfare system and the legal system.  A’s remarks  about how the system is set up for “dependency and fear” fit in with Mosher’s statement on welfare reforms.  Reforms created and maintained a “vulnerable class of low-wage workers desperate to take up…work” [Comack207].  A’s later statement involving her children and the harshness of trying to provide for her family on such low money while being labelled as a ‘monster’ because of perceived notions of a welfare family.  Women, especially single mothers work is usually relegated to the domestic sphere where it is marginalized and minimalized.  “Women have experienced a form of second-class citizenship because the caring labour performed in the home overwhelmingly by women has never been given the same material rewards…or the same degree of respect and validation that paid employment has received” [Comack 214] With the necessity to attend programs that do nothing but reinforce the idea that people on welfare are incapable of providing for themselves by it focusing on how to take care of themselves rather than dealing with employment training or job seeking skills.  Women encounter sexism in the system by workers inquiring about a male counterpart.  About the father, believing that a father will provide without legal intervention.  Other domestic partnerships, romantic or otherwise, are problematic for single mothers.  A person may live with their cousin for three months and be in a domestic partnership [personal communication November 6, 2013].  Or a woman may be in a relationship but the partner offers nothing towards the children.  The welfare state may still decrease the money afforded to them.  The three month rule, enacted in October of 1995, cut off some 10,000 people; 89% female and 76% were single mothers.  Welfare fraud can constitute four things.  One, that the person was unaware of the fraud.  The welfare system is purposely difficult to understand and navigate without a guide.  But said guide can also reduce the benefits based on others fraud which only constitutes about .1%.  Two, that the person was aware of the fraud but needed to provide for themselves or their families.  Many families procure jobs or work ‘under the table’ to supplement the money from the welfare office.  Three, that they are fully aware of their actions and are purposively circumventing the system to get money.  As mentioned before fraud like this only constitutes .1% of welfare receivers yet because its impact on the other receivers and its sensationalization in the media it has become synonymous with the welfare system.  And finally, the malicious reporter.  This could be a controlling/ abusive ex-partner, an annoyed neighbour, a bad landlord or someone that does not like the recipient.  This malicious reporting can hurt a recipients use of the system by reducing their already meagre benefits to, if convicted, being banned from services from anywhere from 3 months to life.

Neoliberal societies follow a market approach, in that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  Using techniques such as; less wages for the poor, less taxes for the rich and less money for public services [public transportation, medical, legal aid {especially in non-criminal matters}].   Marxist would say about the welfare system is that the embodiment of class divide.  “When propaganda and conditioning fail and working-class people and even sections of the middle classes oppose the ruling class, the ruling class use the police, the courts, the law and sometimes the army to defend their profits and power” [Smith and Marshal].  The amount of money also devalues the work done by the person, dehumanizing them and decreases the worker’s force.  Feminism is concerned with the relation between a women’s involvement with a significant other and children.  “Women’s entitlement to benefits was strongly tied to judgements about their moral character and in particular their sexual chastity” [215].  And by controlling the ‘family’ life [as women are more likely to be the care-givers] the welfare system is a position to propagate views on how women are perceived.  And creates the next generation infused with their socially constructed views on what females should do.  This is quite like sui generis – what women ought to do and what women are doing.  This is further expanded upon in the case of Kimberly Rogers who pleaded guilty to welfare fraud.  The judge “declined…a community service order…because Rogers was pregnant she would soon be required to devote much time and attention to the care of her child…he hoped in a way that will instil the values that [she] appears to be missing…” [Comack 224].

References

     Comack, E. (2006). Locating law: Race/class/gender/sexuality connections (2nd ed.). Halifax, NS: Fernwood Pub.

     Smith, K., & Marshal, W. (n.d.). What Is Marxism? What is the State? Retrieved November 13, 2010, from http://marxism.org.uk/pack/state.html

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State of Exception – Laws, Rights and Social-History.

States of exception are discussed and how they interact with persons by recreating them as bare life, a mere biological identity rather then a legal one.  Such examples may included internment and concentration camps.  Aside from defining such an area, it is also shown how these states came into existence.  Like the World War, the October Crisis of 1970 and contemporary Guantanamo Bay.  The legal status of the exception people bleeds into the issue.  Like what, if any did they have?  How where they seen?  Received?  Why?

States of exception are exactly as they sound, an exception from the rule.  These can be a mixture of a physical space and/or temporal space.  Meaning that it can be linked to a geographical area like Guantanamo Bay, or just be installed temporarily like internment camps.  In it a person is stripped of their rights as a citizen and re-catalogued as a biological identity.  As Agamben describes it, a person is involved in two spheres.  A biological sphere containing their domestic life and their so aptly named political sphere (Pavlich 2011).  These people there have no rights under the law, although they are people the courts, cannot or will not identify them as being a particular type of person.  Be it citizen, foreigner, etc.  To do such would have to apply rules of interaction and association with them.  Such as citizen, to not be under indefinite dentation, to not be tortured or otherwise abused.

How these states came into existence is mainly through sovereign power and legislation.  As to sovereign power it is the rulers who decide what will be the exception in so far as to when to suspend law and when to create the areas of exception from law.  But mostly it sprouts from necessity.  Marshal Law and War Measures Act are some legal responses to such a perceived  necessity.  During World War II, internment camps. where created for those of enemy descent.  Meaning those who were determined to be of the same heritage of those of which the war was against, like Japanese and German.  Both mobilized the military as an occupying identity, suspended civil rights and the lines between police and the military blur as military authority was enhanced allowing the police to investigate. The mobilization of war production (tanks, military, guns).  By doing this it allowed normalizing means of enforcement in the streets and the rounding up of those believed to be enemy emigrants.  Also allowing guards at doors and public areas, censorship of the media through the rationale of jeopardize of state secrets and home moral (personal communication November 16, 2012, Law and Society Crim 3305).  This is important because by suspending rights and having means of war production on the streets enforces the authority of arresting officers.  Those opposed to this would have little to no recourse depending on their legal status.  Labelling theory also applies here.  By further interacting with a particular group of people it serves to re-enforce the idea that the people they are detaining are criminals.  This helps the public to other the detained people by associating with a criminal element.  By censoring the press the amount of information about the existence and of how they were treated.  Like the scandal with Guantanamo Bay.  Although there is proof of erogenous acts committed this is a publication ban on the remaining pictures that had not been circulated.

Why these states of exception come into being are usually to degrade, isolate and sometimes get rid of a person all together, like a concentration camp.  These camps where created to house, what many saw only as biological identities.  They striped German citizens of any and all legal standing before the courts and created an exception within the camps.  This is usually the case of isolating the person in preparation of doing ‘crime’ to that person.  As the person is stripped of their rights they are not people under the law, they have no standing in law.  This creates a unique space for them.  As they are described as ‘animals’.  Because as animals, they cannot commit crime and inversely crime cannot be committed against them.  For instance, tiger mauls a person.  The tiger is not put on trial for assault.  A person mauls a rights-stripped biological identity, they are not brought against the law, because the person is not recognized under the law.  As to sovereign power involvement, it is they who decide what will be the exception in so far as to when to suspend law and when to create areas of exemption form the law.  As well as how the excepted are dealt with.  But as Prof. Larsen states, “these states of exception are not places of lawlessness”.  No, they are just the opposite.  “Steeped in law” (personal communication November 16, 2012, Law and Society Crim 3305).

States of exception are born out of a perceived necessity, a response to an ‘emergency’ situation.  And are used as a warehouse to store biological identities, those stripped down to bare life.  Inside these areas they are not recognized as people by law and through law.

References

Pavlich, G. (2011). Michel Foucault: The Power of Law and Society. In Law & society redefined (pp. 136-151). Don Mills, Ont: Oxford University Press.

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Foucault and the Classroom Panopticon

Prof. Kim attempts to thwart digital distraction by limiting the use of such devices in his class at the York University’s Schulich School of Business.  The professor has his students sign two contracts.  The first is not to use technologically adversely and the second is to alert him if they find another student is breaking the first.  “There’s not an ounce of scientific evidence that students can actually multitask” (Brown 2012).

Prof. Kim’s classroom seems to mimic Betham’s panopticon.  The panopticon was designed with a larger outer circle to hold the prisioners and a smaller inner circle where the guards would be stationed.  The circular architure allowed for the inmates to be viewable at all times, without the inmates themselves being able to discern when they were being viewed.  This also lead into efficiency, as Professor Larsen explains, two guards can observe hundreds of inmates (personal communication November 9 2012).  Foucault insinuates that Betham laid down the “principal that power should be visible and unverifiable” (Pavlich 144).   Like the panoptican, Prof. Kim’s students are now the guards.  “Perpetual gaze…[creates] constant self-awareness…[the observed become] complacent in their own surveillance (Pavlich 144).  Meaning that they become used to being observed and curtail the perceived deviant behaviour.  For example, a college classroom.  Laptop/cell-phone usage is on display to others around the user.  By incorporating the classmates as guards, he has effectively created multiple panopticons throughout the classroom ironically run by the inmates. Which is quite ingenious.

He is retraining their behavior by offering by dangling a carrot in front of them.  An illusion of a reward.  A retelling of rule.  Like the food pyramid of yesteryear.  The wording of the pyramid suggest a simple, straight-forward answer to being overweight, assorted illness, etc.  Healthy doesn’t take much work, all you need is 5 servings of fruits and veggies.  Snitching doesn’t require much effort.  It’s for the embetterment of your scholastic career.

In 1757 Damiens tried to a assassinate King Louis XV (15th) by stabbing him.  The punishment for this transgression, he was sentence to torture and executed.  It was orringally supposed to last less then an hour but it carried on for several hours.  The tortures used hot pinchers to peel the flesh from his skin and pour hot oil and other noxious heated fluids.  The offending hand was to be burnt with oil and sulphur.  But in actuality it barely scorched his hand.  Four horses were used to draw his limbs for quartering.  But because of the horses inexperience two more were added to the team.  Several attempts where made to detach the limbs while Damiens was still alive (personal communication November 9, 2012).  The point here is the ceremony created in this draconian display.  A sovereign is vastly outnumbered by their subjects.  They use ceremony of the execution to show the majesty of the sovereign.  To make an example of the person.  If you go against my rules, this is the punishment you will suffer.  Earlier executions where a community event.  Children where brought and food was sold.  There were stories of people arriving hours before hand to obtain prime viewing spots.

In conclusion, Prof. Kim created a panoptic-esque in his classroom by proffering broad rewards, rephrased to make them more appealing and ‘sensible’ to the student.  Constant observation is believed to make the observed self-control their own behavior after a fashion, because they did not know when they were not being observed.  Though this type of constant surveillance is linked to several mental disorders, that once release would make it almost impossible to reenter society.  Damiens was held as an example for those who dare to trespass against their rulers wishes.  The ceremony is almost more important then the crime.

Reference

Brown, L. (2012, November 2). York University prof enlists student snitches to battle digital distraction. Toronto Star [Toronto].  Retrieved November 10, 2012 from http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/education/article/1282225–york-university-prof-enlists-student-snitches-to-battle-digital-distraction.

Pavlich, G. (2011). Michel Foucault:The Power of Law and Society. In Law & society redefined (pp. 136-151). Don Mills, Ont: Oxford University Press.

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Crime: A must have!

Who would have thought that Communism and Homosexuality would have something in common?  Like extensive surveillance and misconceptions on security and blackmail.

Because of the secrecy surrounding homosexual identification the RCMP felt that they would be more susceptible to communist insurgents.  The secrecy was mainly because of societal pressures and especially the negative pressure by the RCMP.  The RCMP’s reasoning was that because they had something to hide, etc. homosexuals could be blackmailed by communists because of character defects (Hainsworth 2011).

According to Durkheim, crime is a normal part of society and is necessary and universal (Pavlich 2011).  But what does this mean?  Crime is the othering of some of its community members. “Commie, pinko, fag” (Kinsman and Gentile 2010) where what the author described his experience of othering during his schools days.  “A type of cutting out operation” (Kinsman and Gentile 2010).

For instance, a murder is committed.  Because murder is deemed outside of majority holder’s social norms there is a punishment attached to the commission of the perceived crime.  In layman’s terms – because the majority deem murder as ‘wrong’ those who murder are brought to answer for their transgressions before the law courts.  Now these are only viewed as ‘criminal’ because such action is taken.  Take the attempt to legalize marijuana in Canada.  Since many law enforcement officers have not charged those carrying the drug it has helped with the acceptance in the community by the general community in conjunction with the changing prevailing attitudes concerning its consumption.

Durkheim’s terminology of mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity could also be applied here.  With mechanical solidarity, Durkheim means “a social solidarity…which arises because a certain number of sates of consciousness are common to all members of the same society”, as quoted by Palvich (Palvich 2011 pg. 77).  The main religion from the 1950s till at least the 1980s in Canada was some amalgamation of Christianity: Catholics, Presbyterian and so forth.  There is strong opposition in the Christian community against homosexuality (Kantor 2009).  Because of similar beliefs different influential community members banded together and instigated belief that to hide something is more a chance of blackmail.  Organic solidarity is now introduced as “interdependent systems” (Palvich 2011 pg. 77).  Meaning that everyone is dependent on other systems for support.  Take, for example, the computer your reading this on.  To use this computer, you first had to get to it, via transit, car or walking.  The store intern relied on trucks to ship the product to their store, employees to open and prepare the store and the systems can interconnects at miniscule levels.  Essentially someone else is relied upon to help complete their task or to make the items that helps them to complete their task.

As McCarthyism rose in the States, the thoughts of an unknown person who could be manipulated to the communist’s side was frightened to the RCMP and other officials.  So in addition to what was explained above there was also a ‘brain drain’ (Burrows 2010).  Those with technical knowledge and skills where forced out of their jobs.  Howard Mackenzie believed that this “affected policy formation regarding the Soviet Union” (Hainsworth 2010).  “In their research, Kinsman and Gentile found repeated tales of surveillance, illegal searches, interrogations and attempts at blackmail by police who attempted to force queers to out others so they could be targeted as well.” (Hainsworth 2010)  By 1977 an openly gay woman, Private Barbara Thornburrow, was discharged from the army.  The armies excuse, she was “not advantageously employable” (Hainsworth 2011).  Thornburrow poigently counters with “if I’m open about it, how can I be blackmailed?” (Hainsworth 2011).  A few years later Gloria Cameron, part of the navey, was discharged after an 9 hour long interrogation where she was found to be loyal to Canada but still discharged because she was gay.  “Despite the admissions you have made openly and notwithstanding that your loyalty to Canada has not been questioned, a potential hazard to security remains,” Dextraze said.” (Hainsworth 2011)

References

Burrows, M. (2010, March 18). Gary Kinsman’s book Canadian War on Queers takes on gay issues in government | Vancouver, Canada | Straight.com [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.straight.com/article-298209/vancouver/book-takes-gay-issues-government

Hainsworth, J. (2010, January 1). How Canada tried to purge its queers [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.xtra.ca/public/Ottawa/How_Canada_tried_to_purge_its_queers-8065.aspx

Kantor, M. (2009). Homophobia: The state of sexual bigotry today. Westport, Conn: Praeger.

Kinsman, G. W., & Gentile, P. (2010). The Canadian war on queers: National security as sexual regulation. Vancouver, B.C: UBC Press.

Pavlich, G. C. (2011). Law & society redefined. Don Mills, Ont: Oxford University Press.

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Eugenics:keeping with the status quo

The question purposed this week was whether or not the purpose of law was to preserve the status quo.  In a nutshell status quo is the dominate ideal, process, practise, etc. held by a community, society or social group.  This can be expressed in numerous ways.  From the pledge of allegiance once held in American schools (and now deemed unconstitutional) to continued cases of misogyny: women’s eviction from the workforce back into the home after WW2.

But the most important example was the rising movement of eugenics.  Eugenics is the use of biology and genetics to achieve advancement for society as well as to eradicate disease and mental disorder.  The prevailing feeling was that because these types of people (often ‘sexual promiscuous’,  those with physical or cognitive differences or even those that were not deemed attractive) would create a drain on government aided programs and society because of the idea that they could not look after themselves and would dilute the gene pool with their ‘defective genetics’.    The movement at first had some supports but many did not agree with their position.    But as it grew it gained powerful backers like the United States government and Canada as well.  As the philosophy was written into law it easily became part of everyday life of the citizens.  With an enforceable code that promoted within its pages – racism and misogyny.  That the case of Buck v. Bell.  The players: Carrie Buck an 18-year-old woman, whose mother was “feeble-minded” as she and her newly birthed daughter, an product of a sexual assault from a relative, was seen as the third generation of this feebleness.  Following the legislation, action was brought against Miss. Buck for forced sterilization.  The supreme court reaffirmed the lower court’s decision in favor of the surgery.  The medical procedure of sterilization was not without its risks.  As many hailed the sterilization as a relatively safe procedure probably did not know or either chose to ignore literature about ,but not limited to, death, complications and life-long remints of the procedure (Pavlich 2011).

As Nazi Germany gained power, it looked to American eugenics to develop their own plan of ‘culling’ the population.  Though Nazism applied the philosophy a bit more stringently.  The groups targeted for this procedure where those who were readily recognized as non-Germans, even though there where German citizens.  This typology was not limited to citizenship alone but was also influenced by homophobia and theophobia (the fear or phobia of god(s) and/or other god(s)/religions).

Another mark against eugenics is the Tuskegee experiment.  Consisting of poor workers of African descent, this study spanned decades as the personnel involved pretended to provide medical care for ‘bad blood’ when in fact they were studying the course of STD’s like Syphilis.  Personnel also did not illuminate those afflicted with the disease which resulted in the STD spreading to the entirety of the family and to those outside the studied group.  The result of this experiment besides the broken trust, several generations of a family stricken with sickness and continued health issues but also the creation of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research in 1979.

The movement of eugenics lost face after the atrocities by Hitler’s use of eugenics were known to the world.  The American public horrified by that future generally did not hold any credence to the philosophy any more.  And as opposition rose against through better science and equality movements eugenics lost its legal footing in the 1970s.  Although like the pledge of allegiance and equal rights for woman are still hotly debated, just like eugenics.

Like the rise and fall of eugenics so to was it preserved by the status quo.  I propose that once a philosophy is embraced by the people, especially enough to create legislation, that its continued existence, even when support for it wanes, is achieved through the law itself via precedence and perseverance by those still within the mindset within position of power.  As Judge A joins the ranks he is a supporter of “A” philosophy.  The next judge he trains or mentors in might take up the mantel of his ideals with little change till a someone who challenges their way of thinking.  This might be Judge B, C or D and so on.

In essence the status quo being brought into law made it enforceable and forced society to adapt to its measures.  Without external ‘anti-status quo’ the law will continue their assumption of by acceptance of the people.  Whereas the ‘anti-status quo’ brings about a new status quo to protect and serve.  Like the law itself, this reasoning is circular, an end never truly in site.

References:

Pavlich, G.  (2011).  Law & Society Redefined.  Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

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