13 December 2002
Quick, now, who causes crime? If you said "criminals," go to the head of the class. If your first thought was "corporate hegemony," you've been hanging around the likes of Kenneth Tunnel too long.
Mr Tunnel, seven years ago, churned out something called "Silence of the Left: Reflections on critical criminology and criminologists" for the Spring 1995 issue of Social Justice. (I must have missed that while I was adding to my Entertainment Weekly collection.) Susanna Cornett, who came upon this screed in her postgraduate studies, was, I suspect, tempted to give the fellow a brisk fisk, but she apparently decided that he was best hanged with his own words. A sample thereof:
The media, and thus most Americans, simply dismiss progressive criminologists even though they may be the academics best-equipped to explain various social phenomena and especially crime, since they depart from behavioral interpretations and focus instead on the political economy of crime and punishment, the physical, economic, and symbolic consequences of corporate violence, and governmental activities that are both criminal and non-criminal, yet socially harmful.
For myself, I'm more inclined to believe that most Americans dismiss progressive criminologists because they persist in believing that violence in the streets can be blamed on all of us for our failure to adopt some socialist utopia, rather than on the actual perpetrators. Somebody shot in a drive-by? You voted for lower taxes, contributing to economic distress in the inner city. A woman is sexually assaulted by a thug? The patriarchy exercising its prerogatives. The 7-Eleven up the avenue was robbed? Corporate malfeasance leading to massive unemployment.
Yesterday, the state of Oklahoma executed an individual who held up a bank in the town of Geronimo in 1984 and killed four people in the process. Mr Tunnel will have a difficult task explaining how this is all our fault.
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