The State’s Selective Criminalization of Violence

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The estimable Dr. Paul Craig Roberts has written a bittersweet essay
describing how the State ruling us has effectively criminalized unruly adolescent masculinity.

He begins by describing a recent incident in which two students were hauled away in handcuffs for fighting at recess. The students were seven and eight years old. (Yes, the police are equipped with kiddie-cuffs for dealing with “perps” that age.)“I wonder if the kids now have felonious assault records that will cancel their Second Amendment rights when they come of age,” writes Dr. Roberts. He then describes his own experiences as a student, and occasional playground combatant, in the America of not that long ago. That was a culture in which guns were plentiful, ammo was sold at gas stations, school shootings unheard of, and it was expected that a healthy young man would know how and when to use his fists.

His essay reminded me of an incident I wrote about a couple of years ago in which the entire local police force was mobilized to arrest our teenage neighbor, who had gotten into a fist-fight with a kid his own age. We live in a town of about 8,000 souls in western Idaho.

As a high school student in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I witnessed several episodes in which the faculty arranged for kids to have it out in a controlled environment, generally in the wrestling room. At the time this wasn’t considered abusive or even that unusual; today it would be fodder for an entire week of breathless, scandalized media coverage and a whole raft of lawsuits.

The apparatus of suppression that criminalizes adolescent male fistfights is an appendage of the same State that bombed Christian populations in the Balkans, wiped out entire neighborhoods in Baghdad, and incinerated the Branch Davidians. Obviously, the people running it see nothing wrong with the use of pitiless lethal violence — as long as it’s sanctioned by the State and consecrated to the State’s greater glory.

This principle is underscored by the coda to the incident recounted above involving my next-door neighbor. He was able to arrange probation for the supposed crime of winning a street fight by volunteering to enlist in the Marines, so that he could go kill hapless Iraqis trying to defend their homes from the world’s most powerful bully, the Regime headquartered in Washington, D.C. Had that young man not done so, as Dr. Roberts points out, my neighbor most likely would be saddled with a criminal record forever debarring him from the ownership of firearms.

7:10 am on April 22, 2009
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