Monday, November 02, 2015

Further Comment on Galileo’s Middle Finger

My previous post did not do justice to the Alice Dreger book Galileo’s Middle Finger. Here are a few additional comments.

Intersex people. Intersex infants, children, and adults, formerly referred to by the pejorative “hermaphrodite,” are born with ambiguous genitalia—for example, with external penis and vagina, usually of different sizes, or with an external vagina and internal testes but no uterus or ovaries.

Dreger’s doctoral dissertation focused on late nineteenth and early twentieth century hermaphroditism. Because such sexual differences were seldom ever talked about, most intersex people in that period lived relatively normal lives, presumably because they assumed that everyone else was built the same way. As Dreger put it, perhaps a little surprise on the doctor’s face when examining the patient was the only awareness anyone had of the medical issue!

Sometime during the twentieth century, doctors decided they should do something about the “shameful” condition. They decided, usually only telling the parents that some infant surgery was necessary, to play God and change intersex infants into boys or girls, based entirely on their judgment of which way the infant should go.

In recent times, it seems doctors have become more transparent by telling parents what they are doing . . . but rarely, even today, have doctors or parents told their patients and children what was done to them as infants.

“Shame, secrecy, and lies” is how Dreger describes the attitudes and behavior of doctors and parents. And it is this shame, secrecy, and lying that has incensed the human sexual identity activists. Intersex people are individuals with rights just like everyone else, but they have been denied honesty, have been discriminated against, and even denied choice—over which way they want to go, or whether to go at all.

Several early chapters of Dreger’s book detail her own activism to get the medical profession to fess up and change its ways. The stone wall she hit is part of the reason she felt the depression mentioned in my previous post.*

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Another stone wall was hit and described in the latter chapters of Dreger’s book. A doctor in New York City has made a career of administering dexamethasone, a powerful steroid, to in utero fetuses to prevent the formation of ambiguous genitalia and other sexual anomalies that can result from this inherited disease.

Dreger tallied a number of problems with this medical practice and lobbied hard, but failed, to stop it. The off-label drug—many drugs are so used—must be administered before there is any evidence the fetus is developing in an anomalous manner.

Dreger’s math found that only one out of ten such treated fetuses stood to benefit from the drug. On the other hand, the risks? Only one study—and only one—has been conducted to discern long-term consequences. The findings of that study indicated a significant minority of the sample suffered retardation, memory difficulties, and growth disorders; as a result, the study was shut down.

The controversy centered around informed consent, much of which seems not to have been given, and bureaucratic approval to proceed with such a treatment.

At one point, charges of fraud for phantom research projects were brought up, but the whistleblower, like many operating in bureaucratic environments, was attacked and threatened with psychiatric treatment. The Feds, responsible for protecting the public from risky medical practice, did little to stop a prestigious and well-established doctor.

Dreger lost the battle.

Social justice. Dr. Dreger views herself as an activist fighting for social justice. This has pushed me to clarify in my mind the difference between social and individual justice. “Social justice” has a long history, so it is not unique to Karl Marx, but today’s advocates use it in a distinctively Marxian flavor.

Is Dreger an advocate of social justice? Not really, though I’m sure she would disagree with my interpretation of her work.

Social justice, as I define it using today’s Marxian flavor, is the virtue of fairly and accurately judging oppressed classes as underprivileged and granting them restitution in the form of additional wealth, education, employment, along with other favors that they otherwise have not been able to attain. The underprivileged include anyone who is deemed unsuccessful, but especially African Americans, women, and LGBTs. This is the collectivist definition.

Individual justice is the virtue of fairly and accurately judging individuals—oneself and others—according to the standards of honesty, integrity, courage, independence, and especially productiveness. This is the individualist definition.

I think Dr. Dreger, because of her uncompromising commitment to facts, is closer to practicing the latter form of justice than the former. This, I would say, is why she could not accept her Marxist colleagues’ epistemological relativism. Yes, African Americans, women, and LGBTs have been badly discriminated against, even enslaved, but each individual must be judged on his or her own merits. No “class,” to use Marx’s terminology, owes any other “class” anything, especially when restitution is made at the point of a gun.

To use a reductio argument against the Marxists one might say this: Ayn Rand wrote that the individual is the smallest minority on earth. Turning the thought around, can we not say that the group or “class” of individuals is the largest “class” on earth? And therefore the largest “class” on earth that has been discriminated against and oppressed??

Individuals of the world should unite! And fight off their oppressers!!

Marxists should be advocates of individualism if they are seriously concerned about justice for the oppressed.

Free speech at Northwestern. An unwavering defender of First Amendment rights, Dreger has, since the publication of her book, performed a little flipping off herself. She has resigned from the Northwestern University Medical School over her dean’s attempts to censor the content of a faculty magazine she edited. The content? About sex, of course, but also possibly “offensive” content—to the hospital’s brand name!

Sigh! As a marketing prof, I have to make one last comment. Bureaucrats, whether in academia or government, have no clue what sound marketing, including branding, means. They think the usual BS that marketing is just that and that a brand image is something made up and pawned off on the helpless, unsuspecting public. This is just good Marxist thinking about business.

Sound branding—that is, product identification—of a first class hospital should run something like this.

We use the latest, most advanced knowledge and techniques to treat and cure our patients. In the process we entertain and examine all ideas—the wilder and more offensive the better.

The better because we will then know that we have left no stone unturned in order to come up with treatments and cures to do justice [there’s that word again!] for our patients.

*To the sheltered, like yours truly, this was an eye-opening read. It also struck me as the perfect “borderline case” in the philosophical problem of universals. The existence of intersex people (and animals) demonstrates that there is no intrinsic maleness or femaleness “out there, in the thing” as the intrinsic theory of essences claims. It also took my teenage daughter to explain the difference between gender, which is social, and sex, which is biological. Now I understand!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Galilean Personality vs. Wall-to-Wall Marxism and Human Sexual Identity

Medical historian and bioethicist Alice Dreger, in her provocatively titled book Galileo’s Middle Finger, provides a variety of descriptions of what she calls the Galilean Personality:
It consists of “men and women who are smart, egotistical, innovative, and know they’re right” (p. 180), who “tend to believe that the truth will save them, and to insist on the truth even when giving up on it might reduce their suffering” (181). Such personalities are “pugnacious, articulate, [and] politically incorrect.” Like the namesake of their personalities, they believe they are “right in the fight but never infallible” (185).
Confidence, independence, integrity, and, above all, commitment to facts. These traits apply equally to Dreger, as to the several heroes she chronicles in her book.

The title, as some reviewers have noted, is a bit misleading, because the book is not a history of scientists from Galileo’s day to the present who rebelled against dogmatic authorities. Nor is it particularly about Galileo’s middle finger, though after observing the scientist’s mummified digit in a Florence museum Dreger did get inspired by the thought of Galileo flipping off the Pope.*

Galileo’s science that confirmed the Copernican revolution, as Dreger observes, asserts that human identity is not what we thought it was, because humans, as consequence of Galileo’s work, can no longer be understood as occupying the center of the universe. The Pope took exception.

Similarly, scientists today who assert their research outcomes on human sexual identity find themselves engaged in battles with the dogmatic authorities of sexual identity politics. This theme became central to Dreger’s book.

“Wall-to-wall Marxism”** refers to the activist intellectual context in which Dreger operated while researching and writing the book. Dreger would probably describe herself as a “moderate liberal,” but it was her Galilean commitment to facts that got her into hot water with the radical Marxist left. They didn’t like what she said and wrote, let alone what the scientists she wrote about had said and written.

In fact, in one depressed moment during her research—depressed because of the hostility and, at one point, threat, thrown at her—she captured the essence of her modern Marxist colleagues and reported her feeling in the book:

We have to use our privilege to advance the rights of the marginalized. We can’t let people [like two good guys] say what is true about the world. We have to give voice and power to the oppressed and let them say what is true. Science is as biased as all human endeavors, and so we have to empower the disempowered, and speak always with them. (p. 137)
These are Dreger’s words describing the way her Marxist colleagues think. The two good guys are J. Michael Bailey and Craig Palmer.

Bailey’s research reported that many men who have sex change operations do so for erotic reasons, not, as transgender political activists insist, because they are “born with the brain of one sex and the body of the other” (p. 9).

Palmer co-authored a book asserting that rape often includes a sexual component, meaning that rapists do not always rape solely for reasons of power and conquest, but also because they enjoy sex.

The activists fiercely attacked Bailey and Palmer, charging them, among other alleged crimes, with rights abuse of research subjects and falsifying data. One scientific journal, cited by Dreger, published an article saying Palmer and his co-author deserve to be hung (p. 116).

Dreger’s role in this, as a historian of fact, was to pore over everything relevant to the controversies, ranging from the works of the scientists involved to all of the various criticisms offered, some of them found in forgotten transcripts and archives.

Bailey and Palmer fought valiantly to defend themselves, which is why Dreger gave them the accolade of Galilean personality. Dreger’s work has cleared their names—at least, to anyone interested in reading the facts.

Bailey and Palmer are not the only ones profiled and defended in Dreger’s book. Napoleon Chagnon spent many years studying the Yanomamö tribe in Venezuela, describing them as a fierce, male dominated tribe that fought violently over females, practiced domestic brutality, used drugs ritualistically, and couldn’t care less about the environment.

This was not the right thing to say.

Chagnon’s enemies unleashed a torrent of character assassinations, from the usual charges of cooked data to hints and not-so-subtle hints of beliefs in eugenics and intentional use of a bad vaccine that infected the whole tribe.

Dreger’s indefatigable efforts to dig for facts also cleared this Galilean personality.

So what is Dreger’s conclusion from these stories? Facts don’t matter—to today’s identity activists, as summed up in her depressed feeling quoted above.

In a somewhat understated way, she does acknowledge that the activists get their motivating ideology straight from Karl Marx, but I would add: Marxist Polylogism is emboldened by our current atmosphere of post-modern epistemological relativism. Only the “oppressed classes” have changed.

The premise remains that opposition to dogma must be silenced. And Dreger’s book makes it clear that relativism results in the same authoritarianism as does religion.

* The book’s dust jacket shows half of an 1873 painting with Galileo sitting in front of a globe, his right hand obscured. A student to whom Galileo is lecturing was cut out of the picture and it is Galileo’s index—not middle—finger that is extended in the original painting.

**The phrase “wall-to-wall Marxism” is from the feisty and indefatigable Christopher Monckton, Viscount of Brenchley. Monckton was referring to the National Socialist Workers’ Party in Scotland and the Royal Society in England, but the words seem an appropriate description of our current cultural environment. Monckton is a prominent “climate change doubter,” as the Associated Press’s revised stylebook now prefers to call “climate deniers.”

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ayn Rand, of Course, Was Right

“It turns out, of course, that Mises was right.”

The quote is from that “worldly philosopher,” socialist Robert Heilbroner, in a New Yorker article in 1989 (see Skousen). It acknowledges that Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises correctly predicted the decline and collapse of the worker’s paradise known as the USSR.

Bureaucrats in planned economies, as Mises pointed out in 1920, have no God’s-eye view (that is, omniscience), capable of flawlessly determining who should produce what, in what quantities, at what price, and who should get what, in what quantities, at what price.

In other words, socialism is incapable of economic calculation.

Ayn Rand, unfortunately, has yet to find her Heilbroner. Someday, perhaps, a distinguished member of the philosophical profession will announce that “Ayn Rand, of course, was right . . . about many things, but especially altruism.”

Even a cursory reading of Rand’s writings makes it abundantly clear that she did not understand altruism to mean kindness and gentleness or, for that matter, that she did not think it altruistic—or wrong—to aid a deserving friend or relative or to help little old ladies across the street.

To Rand, altruism means self-sacrifice, the giving up a higher value for the sake of a lower- or non-value, the pursuit of a career to please one’s parents instead of the career one truly loves and wants. It means marrying a person one does not love—again, to please those “significant others” who may disapprove of your choice’s religion, social class, race, ethnicity, . . . or sexual orientation.

It means doing your job because it’s your duty, not because you enjoy it. It means giving birth to a child you do not want and enslaving yourself to a mistake or accident that occurred when you were young.

“Moral purification through suffering” is how the ascetic life is sometimes described. It is the motto of altruism.

Immanuel Kant did not not know the word “altruism,” but he did give us the essence of it: always act from duty, not inclination.

It was Auguste Comte who coined the word, and he meant every bit of the notion of self-sacrifice. For Comte, the golden rule is too selfish, as is Jesus’ prescription to love your neighbor as yourself. Suicide is selfish and so are rights.

Fortunately, George Smith at has read Comte’s “tiresome writings” that explain his theory in “excruciating detail.” In a five-part article, Smith demonstrates that Ayn Rand correctly understood the meaning of altruism.

Comte’s ethics, as quoted by Smith:

. . . never admits anything but duties, of all to all. For its persistently social point of view cannot tolerate the notion of rights, constantly based on individualism. We are born loaded with obligations of every kind, to our predecessors, to our successors, and to our contemporaries. . . . All human rights then are as absurd as they are immoral.
The agnostic Comte developed a secular religion such that our duty, harkening back to the devout Kant, is to all of humanity. As Kant said, our duty is to humanity as an end in itself; humanity is never a means to our own ends. Comte put it this way: “To live for others affords the only means of freely developing the whole existence of man.”

Rights, therefore, are out. The collective is in.

Does the individual even exist? No, says Comte. “Man . . . as an individual, cannot properly be said to exist, except in the too abstract brain of modern metaphysicians. Existence in the true sense can only be predicated of Humanity.”

So sacrifice the individual to the collective. On this, too, of course, Ayn Rand was right: altruism and collectivism go hand in hand.

And she was right that the unprecedented devastation of the twentieth century—between 100 and 300 million war deaths, depending on source—was caused by the two doctrines.

Kindness and gentleness are not what altruism is all about. Self-sacrifice is.

Postscript: The 1988 book The Altruistic Personality by Oliner and Oliner is sometimes taken to be the epitome of altruistic behavior. The book consists of a myriad of reflections by rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe. Fascinating reading, the book shows that there were many Anne Franks throughout the occupied countries and several Schindlers. The authors correctly identify Comte as coiner of the word “altruism,” meaning duty, selflessness, and not acting on inclination, but then they redefine it for purposes of their study as “rescue behavior,” which means anyone who has the courage to act in the face of considerable risk.

Ayn Rand said she would take a bullet for her husband. This did not make her an altruist, nor does the behavior of these heroic rescuers make them altruists!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Trigger Warnings

Jonathan Rauch, strong supporter of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and author of Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought argues sarcastically—but also seriously—that the following “trigger warning” should be put on the first page of every college catalogue:

At this university, students could be exposed, at any moment, without warning, to ideas, comments, readings, or other materials that they find shocking, offensive, absurd, annoying, racist, sexist, homophobic, discriminatory, or generally obnoxious.

We call this education.
I can think of a couple of other sarcastic warnings: “Most of the ideas you will hear at this university are 100-plus-year-old dusty variants of Marxism that have been well-demonstrated to be hazardous to your health, and, especially, to civilization’s health.”

And in my fantasies: “What you will hear and learn at this university will likely upset your foundational ideas, that is, everything you have been taught about the nature of knowledge, values, psychology, and political philosophy and economy. It will raise your consciousness in a way you never will have thought possible. You will be challenged to confront the ideas of such writers as Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises. Be forewarned!”

Trigger warnings are a new form of campus censorship in which professors are supposed to give notice to students, before anything is said, about possibly offensive or hurtful speech. In practice, this means ideas the students may not have heard before or, especially, ones they might consider to be a cause of pain.

They are called “triggers” because the ploy is packaged with post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Symptoms of PTSD can be produced or triggered by specific words, memories, or incidents.

Thus, if a professor states in class that the average wages of men and women are virtually the same when adjusted for marriage and motherhood, or that several African American intellectuals have decried affirmative action because of its effect on self-esteem, he or she must let the poor babies—the students—know that their feelings might get hurt by what is going to be said!

Fortunately, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has nailed the issue: “The presumption that students need to be protected rather than challenged in a classroom is at once infantilizing and anti-intellectual.” The chilling effect on freedom of speech in the ivory tower is unmistakable, as the professors’ thought process becomes, “Maybe I shouldn’t discuss this issue or idea because it might be offensive to some students.”

Concerning the red herring of traumatic reaction, “The classroom is not the appropriate venue to treat PTSD, which is a medical condition that requires serious medical treatment. Trigger warnings are an inadequate and diversionary response.”

And, finally, the American Library Association has called the labeling and rating of ideas or speech, such as “hurtful” and “offensive,” “an attempt to prejudice attitudes” and “a censor’s tool” (quoted in AAUP).

“Trigger warnings” are the radical Marxist left’s latest ruse to silence discussion of anything that does not fit its manifesto. The proletariat in the industrialized world are no longer an oppressed class; today, they all drive SUV’s and live in four-bedroom homes.

The good campus Marxists, as a result, must now find other oppressed groups to exploit: women, African Americans, and the LGBT community.*

These “classes” constitute the new proletariat. Marxist ideology marches on!

*Though, of course, many in these groups—classes?—are not exactly downtrodden and oppressed, since they, too, drive SUV’s and live in four-bedroom homes.

Follow-up: Five studies on trigger warnings

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Not-So-Visible Gun: Government Is Not Our Friend

A relative in years past would frequently tell his children, when coming upon a representative of law enforcement, “See that policeman? He is our friend!”

The militarization of police forces in recent years notwithstanding, and trigger happiness of some cops aside, the police by and large are our protectors against the bad guys. They use self-defensive force to protect us from those who initiate its use.

But government per se? The 22 million or so elected and unelected members of federal, state, and local governments still hold the legal monopoly on the use of physical force. They can initiate coercion against the rest of us to do what they say, or what the law says, we ought to do, supposedly for our own good or to protect us from presumed bad guys.

Some writers have contrasted Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the marketplace with an alternative metaphor: the visible fist of government. While fists can do damage, the symbol of the fist usually indicates intimidation.

Governmental coercion is much more than intimidation.

 “Who Are We Going to Coerce Today?” is how I recently retitled a previous post, because coercion is the essence of governing in our mixed economy. A gun—initiated coercion—backs up every decision of the bureaucrats and law that they enforce.

The problem today is that not many citizens see or acknowledge the presence of the gun.

Special interest groups—and by that I mean not just “crony capitalists” but most significantly leftist intellectual organizations and their leaders—lobby hard to pass laws in the name of the “public good.” In fact, however, they are unabashed rent-seekers whose laws benefit the lobby at the expense of everyone else, often to the detriment of the very groups they claim to benefit.

There are too many examples to cite, but the supposed Robin Hood (redistributionist) principle of taking from the rich to give to the poor usually enriches the better off at the expense of the less well off. Wage controls cause unemployment and enhance the incomes of those who manage to keep their jobs. Price controls of the ceiling type cause shortages and price floors cause surpluses; they benefit the first dwellers, such as existing renters and farmers.

“But we are the government and we can change it,” the naïve might say. No, only the army of 22 million, mostly unelected bureaucrats constitute the government. And change? Maybe a tiny bit can be changed every two, four, or six years when we vote, but that often is for the worse.

Fight City Hall? Not easily, and with extremely rare success. Government prosecutors (1, 2) are often powerful and unaccountable.

The attitude and battle cry of many bureaucrats, unfortunately, seems to be: “We have the power. You don’t. So Get lost!”

That is the gun talking. And that is why government is not our friend.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Polylogism, the Right to Lie, and Serial Embellishers

The subjectivist belief that each class has its own logic, that is, that there is no universal logic that applies to all human beings, is an essential tenet of Marxism (1, 2, 3). Capitalists have their logic; proletarians have theirs. Communication between the two is not possible. Therefore, the capitalist bourgeois exploiters must be controlled and, in some cases, liquidated.

This is why, in reference to the House Un-American Activities Committee, Ayn Rand said, “What those goddamned communists wanted was the right to lie!”*

If you’re an enemy, facts don’t matter.

Today, polylogism is rampant and assumes that all kinds of groups based on race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, physical ability, etc., ad nauseam, have a unique logic that is consequently beyond rational understanding. White males in particular are typically targeted as enemies, but groups in a position of power can and do declare any other opposing group persona non grata and, as a result, conclude that they owe the other groups nothing but ad hominem attacks.

One moderate liberal, Jonathan Chait, recently acknowledged that his more radically left colleagues “borrowed” Marx’s polylogism to establish our current virulently absolutist climate of political correctness. However, Mr. Chait is mistaken. Political correctness is rooted deeply in Marxism and its proponents are the tenured radicals of the 1960’s!

This means moderate liberals, as well as conservatives—most people today, in other words—have uncritically and probably unwittingly swallowed the Marxist agenda of their professors. Have they bought into the “right to lie” part of the agenda?

Probably not, though there are plenty of “serial embellishers” in all areas of our present culture.

“Serial embellishment” is an interesting new phrase that has popped up to describe repeat BS’ers, such as the now less-than-esteemed NBC News anchor.

When facts don’t matter, fiction and fabrication become primary. The trouble with serial embellishment is that the embellishers intend listeners to take their words as true. And most listeners assume they are.

When the words turn out not to be true and the speakers are obviously not novelists or screenwriters, listeners will draw one conclusion: embellishers have adopted the right to lie.

Criminal psychologies are those that lie as a way of life. How should we classify serial embellishers?

*I am quoting from memory here, from the 1970’s. Rand was answering questions of a small group of students after a lecture in New York.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Defending Hate Speech and Satire against the Criminal Mind

Because the criminal suffers a far greater deficiency of self-esteem than anyone else—“I am a nothing, a zero” was a frequent confession to criminal personality researchers Yochelson and Samenow—and because the criminal cannot tolerate the thought of being injured or maimed . . .
A not uncommon fantasy is that of a grand flourish in which the criminal shoots everyone in sight and is then killed himself. (p. 260)
When criminals actualize their fantasies, they produce Columbine, Sandy Hook, and now Charlie.

The enemies of free speech are criminals who just happen to latch on to some ideology as a front, cover, or alleged justification.

Je suis Charlie.

On Hitting Dogs and Children . . . and Prisoners of War

The supposed aim of hitting dogs, children, and prisoners of war (POWs) is a change of behavior, which may include in the latter two the acquisition of information.

To be sure, change of behavior does result—cowering, rebellion, or a combination of the two.

The initiation of the use of physical force does not produce confident and loving dogs; confident, loving, and independent human adults; and accurate, reliable counterintelligence. The psychological principle is the same in all three cases. Talk, which means use reason, don’t hit. Advocates of torture, mostly Republican conservatives, seem to be the same ones who also have no qualms about kicking their helpless dogs or smacking their helpless children.

In the twenty-first century, considering what we know today about psychology, there is no excuse for the torture of incarcerated POWs.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The PhD Cop


The post below completes eight years of blogging once a month. Because I think I have a third book in me, I plan now to take a break from the regular 700-1100-word routine. Writing these posts has been fun and stimulating, but it also has become a distraction to thinking about a book. I probably will continue to write an occasional post, most likely shorter comments or follow-ups on previous remarks.

Writing a book is a lengthy process, so don’t expect anything anytime soon. I will say this: the topic I have in mind is independent judgment as the fundamental psychological requirement of a free society.

Thank you for your patronage.

The PhD Cop

As I have written before (1, 2), I am not terribly impressed by credentials, especially those granted by universities. Nevertheless, when a policeman earns a PhD degree, and does so from Harvard, I have to take note.

The late Joseph McNamara was a by-the-bootstraps scholar and cop. He earned his bachelor’s degree attending night classes while walking a daytime beat in Harlem. He was granted a fellowship to Harvard in 1968 and wrote his dissertation on law enforcement’s handling of drug use before 1914. He became deputy inspector of crime analysis in New York, then served three years as Kansas City’s police chief and fifteen as San Jose’s. He concluded his career as research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Somewhere in that career, he found time to write five crime novels and many op-ed essays criticizing today’s police culture. He was called the father of community policing and hailed as twenty years before his time.

Though politically conservative, he vehemently opposed the drug war and militarization of the police. He advocated the legalization of marijuana and the end of mandatory sentencing.

Community policing operates on the assumption that even in high-crime areas, the vast majority of citizens are law-abiding and want the police to be there to protect them from criminals. It’s the “we’re on the same side” notion that the policemen and the citizens, paraphrasing the song from Oklahoma, should be friends, not enemies.

McNamara learned this lesson on the streets of Harlem and, as a result, insisted on dialogue and cooperation between cops and citizens in his two cities as chief.

Statistics don’t lie (usually)—crime decreased.

In 1991, after the videotaped beating of Rodney King, McNamara called for the resignation of Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates. His point? The viciousness of the beating could only mean that this was not an isolated incident and that the credibility of policing was called into question.

His last op-ed, written for Reuters on August 19 after the Ferguson, Missouri, shooting, is titled “Never an Excuse for Shooting Unarmed Suspects . . .” The cops’ primary goal, he maintained, is to protect human life and only shoot when confronted with imminent danger from a gun or knife.

In a 2006 Wall Street Journal op-ed, referring to two shootings of unarmed victims in New York, McNamara stated that in the two cases neither he, his father, his older brother, nor other relatives—all of whom had worked a cumulative total of 150 years in the NYPD—would have fired a shot.

Though in the Ferguson situation there may have been a justifiably perceived danger from an under-the-influence big man trying to take the officer’s gun away from him, the message from McNamara is clear. Police need to remember they are the citizens’ champions, not their intimidators or oppressors, garbed up in paramilitary, black-shirted outfits with weapons and explosives designed for the battlefield.

The phrases “soldier’s general,” “player’s coach,” “student’s teacher,” and “worker’s manager” describe someone in authority who worked his or her way up to that position but who also has not forgotten what it was like in the lower level.

Empathy and understanding, which is just another way of saying being nice, make respected and accomplished leaders. While there certainly are exceptions, many privileged generals, coaches, teachers, and managers who either do not work their way up to the positions of authority or who arrogantly and deliberately forget their pasts only become fixed-mindset bullies.

Dr. McNamara was the citizen’s policeman and chief. We need far more like him.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Bureaucratic Personality: Similarities to the Criminal Mind?

The criminal personality enjoys manipulating and intimidating others. Excitement from lying and getting away with the forbidden is a way of life.

Intimidation includes verbal abuse and physical harm (robbery, assault, murder), which means bullies are potential criminals, actual when they get physical. Power over others is what the criminal  thrives on. Lack of empathy for victims and lack of conscience are nearly total.

Criminals, according to Yochelson and Samenow in their fifteen-year study The Criminal Personality, get away with substantially more crimes than they are ever arrested for—200,000 for one offender over 40 years with the only arrest sending the criminal to a mental institution, along with a “no criminal record” statement in his file.

Criminality, the authors point out, is a continuum of irresponsibility ranging from hardened psychopaths to less extreme arrestable criminals to a category they call “non-arrestable criminals,” the type of persons who on the surface look like responsible citizens but under cover of family and job lie, cheat, manipulate, and intimidate everyone they come in contact with.

Non-arrestable criminals seek the same power over others the hardened criminals do, as well as the jolts of excitement from getting away with the forbidden (in this case, getting away with what is considered unethical, rather than what is illegal).

Given this description of non-arrestable criminals, a startling question arises in my mind. Does bureaucracy provide protection for criminal personalities and therefore attract them?

Creative Commons License Jerry Kirkpatrick's Blog by Jerry Kirkpatrick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. More information from licensor.