Dehumanization

solitary_confinement

Shane Bauer writes about an Atlantic article on life in prisons that neglects to interview a single prisoner. Perhaps it is the way we dehumanize prisoners as a group that allows journalists to avoid seeing how unacceptable it is to neglect their side of the story. Our willingness to countenance outrageous “jokes” about events that happen in prison is another manifestation of this dehumanization, which lets us avoid activating our sense of injustice. As Bauer writes,

When you have two sets of people, like inmates and prison administrators, who each have interests in misrepresenting each other, you make every effort to verify their claims about each other. Those are the ground rules of journalism.

One last thing. Jokes about things in prisoners’ asses are not funny. In a presentation for Wood, a gang investigator likens gang leaders to 1980s Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca. As an aside to us readers, Wood quips, “I have found it impossible to look at a picture of Iacocca without imagining him stuffing his cheeks and rectum with razor blades.” It sickens me that I am meant to laugh at this.

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