Monday, March 31, 2008

Morality On Parade

I suspect that my lifelong tendencies toward both cranky cynicism and hopeless idealism accounts significantly for what must appear to many to be symptoms of schizophrenia. Nevertheless, I have never had the slightest problem with the co-existence of science and religion; I see nothing mutually exclusive about either and I don't have much difficulty distinguishing between the two. Still, I very much enjoy P.Z. Myers' smackdown of the phony "science" of creationism, even if I don't fully buy his take that "greater science literacy leads to an erosion of religion."

I should give a "H/T" to someone for this very good editorial by Ezra Klein about prison rape but I don't remember who pointed me to it. Money quote:
Morally, our tacit acceptance of violence within prisons is grotesque. But it's also counterproductive. Research by economists Jesse Shapiro and Keith Chen suggests that violent prisons make prisoners more violent after they leave. When your choice is between the trauma of hardening yourself so no one will touch you or the trauma of prostituting yourself so you're protected from attack, either path leads away from rehabilitation and psychological adjustment.

And we, as a society, endure the consequences -- both because it leads ex-cons to commit more crime on the streets and because more of them end up back to jail. A recent report released by the Pew Center on the States revealed that more than one in 100 Americans is now behind bars. California alone spends $8.8 billion a year on its imprisoned population -- a 216% increase over what it paid 20 years ago, even after adjusting for inflation.

That's money, of course, that can't be spent on schools, on job training, on wage supports and drug treatment. Money, in other words, that can't be spent on all the priorities that keep people out of prison. Money that's spent instead on housing prisoners in a violent, brutal and counterproductive atmosphere. And there's nothing funny about that.
This really is an excellent editorial, and I should probably point out that I also have a propensity for making jokes when I'm uncomfortable about something, a tendency which has gotten me in no end of trouble, so I found this article to be a good reminder that this is something I need to keep working on.

Jill addresses the Virgin Club at Harvard (#5 is my favorite) and so does TBogg, both with typical elan, but the comments at TBogg's should not be missed. And Amanda has written yet another great post, this one about cohabitation.

So what's new in your part of town?


Mike Thomas said...

Pink Elephants on Parade! One of my all time favorite Disney songs!
My kids are really into Dumbo right now.

"greater science literacy leads to an erosion of religion."

Tell that to my wife with the Ph.D. in chemistry. She also has two bachelor's degrees, one in chemistry and one in biology.

I've always said that a little education will lead one away from religion, but after further reflection and even more education one tends to come back to religion at a higher level of understanding.

AnnPW said...

Well put, Mike, and I couldn't agree more.

"Dumbo" may be my favorite Disney movie of all, and "Pink Elephants" is definitely one of my favorite Disney songs, though "Bippity Boppity Boo" is up there too. Funny though, I never could get my boys very much interested in "Cinderella"....

heydave said...

I don't know about finding religion "again" but maybe that's my path.

All I know is Ann is sending us to some wildly varying sites/concepts these days, yo, fo' shizzle.

AnnPW said...

Enjoy the ride, heydave!