Civilization, unraveled

Photo by Denny Müller [on Unsplash]

Well, it had been at least a week since I’d heard that “prison should not be like a country club.” Luckily, the memes and talking points that most irritate the never-ending hell out of me are never far away, and I was glad to run into this one on Medium, before I spent even one day of my sunset years not puking into a waste basket and rhythmically clenching my fists.

Everyone needs someone to look up to, goes some song, somewhere.  And the corollary is that everyone needs someone to look down on and feel better than; in both cases, nature will unfailingly and unexpectedly provide. Nature abhors a throw cushion, often preferring instead just a big lump in the sofa that is an adaptation, a “just-good-enough” barely-useful approximation of what we really wanted. We settle. We make do with the lumpy approximation, smile politely as we retrieve the bitumen from our stocking and chirp, “Thank you, Santa!”

But there are times when only the real McCoy will satisfy, those rare occasions when we have the time or inclination to look down on and feel superior to in a more dedicated way. For these occasions we have criminals.  Criminals are, in one construct, the people who smoked pot before October 17th, 2018, the day on which the Canadian government waved its arms and made smoking pot something normal and legal and really rather uncool that you do with a product you pick up at a government-run outlet. 

“Get some ground beef, a couple of tomatoes and don’t forget to stop by the Ontario Cannabis Store!” Naughty but nice. It’s a long way from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) in the sixties, with the clerk handing you a brown paper bag containing the twenty-sixer of whisky, sanctioned but somehow illicit at the same time.

Sometimes criminals are not just a construct, a wave of the wand one way or the other. Sometimes we break serious rules, break down, inflict. Sometimes we do terrible, unspeakable harm. Or they do. Civilization unravels like sweatshop underwear when we spot the blood on someone else’s hands. Then it’s off to the fit punishment they go, but we do not trust that the punishment will be fit. Some snowflake, somewhere, will throw in a cooking class or a hot shower or an extra helping of if it’s brown, it’s meat.

Civilization unravels like sweatshop underwear when we spot the blood on someone else’s hands. 

We fret that prisoners will get food, shelter, education, coddling, and that they might forget for a moment that they are not in a country club, but in the best hell we can manage.

Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate! (Translation by Google: “Liquor Control Board?  I  haven’t even met her parents!”)

Here’s the thing. When we go to our country club — and I like to picture us driving there in our pink Cadillac with the white upholstery and tail fins, while I look out the opera window, and maybe wave at the crowd — we get to leave again, drive home in our pink Caddy, and lie by the pool eating our TV dinners.

But when we’re being “fitly punished”—

—and we’ll just for the moment accept the premise hat anyone caught up in, for example, the “war on drugs” and put away for life because of mandatory minimum sentencing is getting their just deserts —

Don’t misunderstand me, here.  I’m certainly not saying that prisoners should get dessert! They’re being fitly punished, not being served High Tea with scones and cake at the King Eddie! Some gravel on a plate, after they’ve been for their daily flogging with the cat o’ nine tails, is what I’m thinking, and even that sounds a little bit bleeding-heart-social-justice-warrior-snowflake-libtard-y, IMHO.

Dessert! Please! Any kind of joy or small daily treat or practical help or compassion or recognition of humanity must be stripped from those prisoners, and, personally, I would not give them so much as an unfitly-punishing handful of Smarties out of my hard-earned tax dollars—

—when we’re being fitly punished, we don’t get to go home, sit by our pool, and have our TV dinners.

Because our freedom has been taken away from us.

That is our punishment, and no daily Scrabble tournaments, sleeping on Porthault sheets with the government-issue comfort girls and eating lobster dinners, all on your hard earned tax dollars—no extravagant, five-star country club perquisite can entirely take the sting out of that.

But, let’s be honest. What’s a little freedom? The point is, how much does it hurt? We must make sure to up the ante with the pain scenario and punish those prisoners, right? Because if we can’t look down on prisoners as bad, broken, wilful sub-humans and deserving of our punishment how will we feel better about ourselves?

How will we make sure people know that we’re one of the winners through a sheer accident of birth, and not one of the losers who, operating, you can be sure, with the same balanced upbringing, societal position, economic advantages and psychological health as us, just threw it all away to be ornery old criminals?

Just imagine: They gave up their god-given right to belong to a country club — which, frankly, is the most incomprehensible of all their crimes, for what kind of good, upright, hard-earned tax dollar-paying law-abiding citizen would not exercise that right?

The answer is as inescapable as the sand trap at the 18th hole of the golf course at your country club: Only a loser!

So the point is not to rehabilitate these guys, or to help them get back into society or teach them skills or anger management or give them some education. I mean, if they even deserved that kind of tax dollar bonanza, they could probably have got all those things — at the country club!

A final suggestion or two, just off the top of my head, to really make sure those guys know that they are bad, non-hard-earned tax dollar-paying losers, I’m thinking: slave labor, solitary confinement and maybe even torture.

That’ll get the point across, eh? I mean, show me a country club with torture! 

Well, you know.

If you don’t count that endless wait between the vodka martini and the first course.


Tell us what you think. Keep it civil, yet interesting.