No Exit

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Huis clos is the French equivalent of the legal term in camera and the name of the Jean Paul Sartre play that brought us the line, l’enfer, c’est les autreshell is the others, or hell is other people.

What’s sounds like a straightforward declaration of misanthropy is, in the context of the play, something else entirely, for the premise of the play is that damned souls find themselves locked in a room together — with no devils to torture them, because they’ll do that job themselves.

This is what I thought of as I read Christopher Glazek’s truly bizarre piece, Raise the Crime Rate:

Crime has not fallen in the United States — it’s been shifted. Just as Wall Street connived with regulators to transfer financial risk from spendthrift banks to careless home buyers, so have federal, state, and local legislatures succeeded in rerouting criminal risk away from urban centers and concentrating it in a proliferating web of hyperhells. The statistics touting the country’s crime-reduction miracle, when juxtaposed with those documenting the quantity of rape and assault that takes place each year within the correctional system, are exposed as not merely a lie, or even a damn lie — but as the single most shameful lie in American life.

From 1980 to 2007, the number of prisoners held in the United States quadrupled to 2.3 million, with an additional 5 million on probation or parole. What Ayn Rand once called the “freest, noblest country in the history of the world” is now the most incarcerated, and the second-most incarcerated country in history, just barely edged out by Stalin’s Soviet Union. We’re used to hearing about the widening chasm between the haves and have-nots; we’re less accustomed to contemplating a more fundamental gap: the abyss that separates the fortunate majority, who control their own bodies, from the luckless minority, whose bodies are controlled, and defiled, by the state.

Glazek argues that it’s unjust for us to subject criminals to the predations of other criminals, because we should accept our fair share of the risk.

What was that about the high-IQ lacking common sense?

AnomalyUK cites another puzzling passage:

Certain breeds of urban dwellers benefit, too. In gentrifying sections of Brooklyn, for example, steep drops in crime, combined with the virtual depopulation of entire city blocks, has underwritten a real estate boom. In neighborhoods like Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, wealthy people with children have reaped the benefits of climbing land values from apartments they never would have bought had it not been for the removal of tens of thousands of locals from adjacent areas.

Yes, reducing crime does benefit the law-abiding citizens of a city. This is morally suspect?

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