Friday, December 31, 2010

New year's celebration of wiki leaks

Hal Pepinsky,,
December 31, 2010
No one questions that WikiLeaks are genuine, i.e., honest trustworthy. The controversy is over whether the public ought to know what diplomats and military are honestly reporting among themselves. It’s a question of whether the government ought to be allowed to lie to the people, of whether that threatens national security or supports it.
On my third try, I had a faculty who wholeheartedly supported my tenure. The college committee turned me down. I remember coming home to tell Jill the news that I would not become the next chair of the department, but would have to fight to keep my job. Happily, a colleague set me up with her senior husband who walked me through a successful appeal in 1980. Three years later, on appeal while I was in Sheffleid, England on my first sabbatical, I had counseled enough other candidates from dossier preparation through grievances and appeals that a majority of the campus promotion committee voted to give me tenure primarily for service.
I knew I had solid department support for tenure, but not even the chair could see the outside letters the college dean had solicited, let alone his letter of transmittal of the committee’s written recommendations to the campus level. I requested a meeting with the dean. He was very sympathetic and gave me what in writing would have amounted to a paragraph synopsis of the tenure committee’s report. I remain grateful to Howard Spicker for teaching me that the key to appeal was documentation of how my work had been cited, explaining that if my teaching evaluations were low (in evaluations more than one student called me a Communist agent), I was teaching controversial subjects, basically documenting every public activity.
When I got tenure in 1980, ten percent of the Bloomington faculty belonged to a chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. I joined and set up a “promotion and tenure counseling service” to help candidates prepare (or prepare to prepare) their dossiers, and to be their advocates when they appealed being turned down. I was elected to the campus faculty counsel, where I spurred an AFT campaign to open promotion and tenure records to candidates’ inspection. As union local president in 1981, I had a friendly local representative pass on a question to the state attorney general as to whether university financial records were public. The press called me to tell me the ag was on my side. I called him to thank him and he (a Republican) wondered why I thought I needed to ask such a no-brainer. In 1984, the general assembly amended the public records law to grant state employees full access to their own records. For several years, the campus faculty council permitted promotion and tenure candidates to waive access to their records, then repealed the experiment. I count these openings of information as my crowning academic service achievements in my 33 years at Indiana u.
I was on good terms with administrators at the time. I lobbied them for opening p&t records. I specifically remember the campus academic dean’s assurance that confidentially of outside letters and even college recommendations was necessary to keep evaluations honest. Bullshit. For one thing, I knew that asking my name and contact info to journal editors be passed on to authors had/has never inhibited my criticism. Being known to authors has encouraged me to make even my emphatic rejections responsible and constructive. Talking about people behind their backs promotes backbiting and distortion. It promotes covering what you are really doing and feeling in distortion and outright deceit. WikiLeaks draws our attention to the fact that in international affairs, as at home, at work (including academe), confidentiality of social business corrupts our relations at all social levels. Forcing a child to keep secrets about his or her relations with an adult is the essence of child abuse traumatization. At all levels, saying things behind people’s backs about them that you will not say to their face erodes the foundation of trustbuilding and maintenance of trust: open honesty.
My year as AFT local president, I had a slogan that still works for me: Fairness, Openness, Equity, FOE for short. This is the attitude that seems to work for me and mine.
WikiLeaks has revealed that US foreign policy is largely a matter of making fun and degradation of foreigners including publicly proclaimed important allies. The main threat of wiki leaks is not that adversaries find out low-level stuff they probably already have long since know. It is that the US government’s own people stop believing in government spin like, hey, we are winning the war in Afghanistan with the support of our Pakistani brothers.
Fact remains that the US is the world’s leading abuser of power. Fact remains that the greater our abuse by secrecy, the more we all are led further astray from one another. Hope remains that we can study and learn from the openness and honesty of leaks like wiki’s. Love and peace, and happy new year--hal

Thursday, December 30, 2010

more on being retired

It happened again more than once when Jill and I were in Durango with our (grand)children over Christmas: I was asked what I was doing in retirement. Now back home in Worthington, here is my answer as of this moment: I enjoy liberation from having to do any thing l&p hal

Hal Pepinsky,,, 209 St. Pierre St., Worthington, OH 43085-2262, 1-614-433-7386

Paging and Bottom Toolbar

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

murders throughout Iraq less than murder rate in Columbus, Ohio

Hal Pepinsky,,
December 30, 2010
I’m listening to the BBC report from “the most respected source” on civilians murdered each day throughout Iraq on average, 10 Iraqis are killed by an average of two bombs. I live in a suburb of Columbus, where on average about 10 residents are killed each month. Iraq’s civilian murder victimization rate is a little less than the rate in my neighboring city—11 per 100,000 vs. 13 per hundred thousand residents. So why isn’t my adjoining city openly recognized as much to be as great in Columbus as that justifying continuing US occupation of Iraq? Why is military funding protected while Columbus has had to raise its city income tax to avoid laying off their police?
The post-Vietnam US military-industrial complex went into gear when the Soviet empire collapsed, beginning with the invasion of Iraq timed to coincide with the Super Bowl. As the Project for a New American Century hoped for in its proclamation in 1999, we had a new Pearl Harbor occur on 9/11 (911, what a public relations coup) to launch the all-encompassing war on terror. It’s enough to give military industrialists wet dreams. The second sons of English property owners founded their nation in military-industrialism, including what Southerners who favored as secession essentially as a war by Northern textile mill owners to get Washington to maintain trade barriers with London. Political legitimacy for continuing and expanding conquest from those who lived in North America to post-WWI global military occupation and aggression, this nation’s existence and growth rests on the expansion of continuing warfare. The growth of the military-industrial complex collapsed in the Soviet Union in 1990. Twenty years later I can only wonder how the US winner of that contest will deal with the unaffordability of its own military burden. Our own wealthier corporations are already well along in disinvesting in US enterprise. US corporations who have received the benefit of government “stimulation” have on the whole invested the bulk of their bounty in laying off US workers and creating jobs abroad. We are headed in the same direction as Ireland and Greece: to having our world’s greatest indebtedness relative to income make even the Chinese government sell off its US treasury bonds. An irony of any growth of economic insecurity for all makes the rich make others suffer all the more to take and hoard what they can harder than ever. That is, as Jeffrey Reiman has labeled the phenomenon in the US, the rich get richer and the poor get prison.
Domestic and foreign US wars are symbiotic, and over time, synergistic. As the Soviet empire was collapsing in the late eighties, there was a great deal of scholarly/journalistic attention to how to undergo military-economic conversion. Simultaneously, expansion of the US prison-industrial complex began with a presidential crime commission and establishment of a justice department funding apparatus in 1968 as LBJ’s parting gasp, and in 1970 in New York with the Rockefeller Drug Law, ensuing proliferation of Nixon’s war on crime as he fell from grace and the US withdrew from Vietnam in disgrace. Since 911, private prisons have become gold on Wall Street. Imagine how I felt on these issues when leading challengers of the existing military industrial order, JFK, MLK and RFK, were shot down. JFK was my last political hero.
When I became one in the seventies, there was a standing joke among US criminologists that if we solved the crime problem, we would be out of business. At my first American Society of Criminology conference in 1968 (as luck would have it at the Southern Hotel in Columbus), I was one of 125 registrants. Now there are thousands. War and law enforcement remain the safest and most lucrative way to invest in the US economy.
From Nixon’s 1972 bid for re-election by declaring a war on crime (superseding his predecessor’s war on poverty), domestic police tactics have become global training grounds for what today is labeled anti-terrorism and counter insurgency (which government labels are parroted in Washington/New York/London journalism). I believe that in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are learning lessons that have led Columbus a dangerous a place to live as in Iraq, in both places, some neighborhoods are safer than others. Our neighborhoods and theirs suffer equally from Anglo-European foreign occupation. In all kinds of ways, we promote organized homicide (e.g., secular, gang-organized) resistance to foreign occupation, which disproportionately kills resident young men and women), by “growing” our military prowess as success.
Wars on gangs and drugs and insurgents and terrorists are self-destructive by whatever name. In the process, the richest are odds on to fall last as they fall hardest. When you think of insecurity in Iraq or Afghanistan, I invite you to think of insecurity in Columbus, Ohio, and about how we got here. To my friends around the world, I apologize for the toll we are taking as the US empire collapses. Here at home, the more softly and locally we can channel our losses and fears into locally owned and operated enterprise, the more security I believe that all of us in concert are set to weather our storm. Love and peace in the new year as we take stock of the old--hal

Friday, December 17, 2010

Making a Difference

Hal Pepinsky,,
December 17, 2010
It occurs to me that in a thank-you message to those about a recent talk, I was arrogant when I claimed appreciation for feeling that I had made a significant difference for the better in the lives of a couple of people at the talks in particular whom I asked to be thanked, one for telling me how much she had valued listening to me, another for spending a good chunk of time after the talk just following up in conversation. How dare I presume to know that they really got something significant out of my presence? How egotistical can I be?
Years ago students above all taught me just to say thanks to apparently heartfelt expressions of appreciations for times we had spent together. Such genuine appreciation has by now become my primary measure of the value of my human existence. I have long since learned not to demur but to say heartfelt thanks.
I recently received a lifetime professional award. Truth be told, the sentiments expressed at the award ceremony meant the world to this retired guy. The sentiments expressed by the two people at my recent talk meant no less. The pleasure and validation I get out of making a difference for the better in other people’s lives comes in small ways in everyday encounters. There is no aha I’ve made it moment to my sense of earthly salvation. I mourn the many times I see people who have done so much in their lives still struggling to get THE recognition that any single accomplishment in their lives justifies their early existence. The very idea that the significant differences we make in one another’s lives have to “solve” human problems in order to count in the cosmic scheme of things saddens me, not only for others, but for the toll this quest for salvation and validation takes in human lives.
I have no inkling as to whether those two people at the talk did anything more significant as a result of our encounter than honestly appreciate the moment and tell me so. For my sense of self-worth and belonging, those moments were nonetheless as precious as living moments get for me, and sustain me. As we turn the winter solstice moment on my part of the planet, I feel renewed and give thanks in this season of renewal. It only took little moments of other people giving me their time for me to feel as love as loved gets. Love and peace--hal

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Death and Taxes

Hal Pepinsky,,
December 16, 2010
At the age of 91, my mom’s body is deteriorating. So is her earthly connection to those her bodily self has known.
I’m just 26 years younger. Always have been in this my own corporeal lifetime. My mother was born to die. She bore me to die. I can attest that her life has been rich; I am grateful for our lives together.
I was born to die. That’s our lot. In human earth time, some of us have a few minutes in human company. Others live up to and over a century. All living individuals, from bacteria to whales to redwoods, are born to die. So I ask myself, why fight it?
I have chosen not to fight to prolong my bodily existence. I will certainly die some time, I hope suddenly but hey, that’s not up to me. I had minor rectal surgery to close up a fistula recently, and told the surgeon at first meeting, I don’t want a colonoscopy because if I have colon cancer, I want it to be stage 4 by the time I get my diagnosis. That way, I won’t get hassled by doctors and nearest-and-dearest if I opt for purely palliative—pain reductive—care. Given that my body has stood by my social toll on it all these years, why not let my body rest as painlessly as possible? I just give thanks to a body that has carried me through so many human lives in a single lifetime. I will not go out fighting to keep this body alive. I feel that my body deserves a more grateful, celebratory exit. That is my life and the death it entails.
While in my body, I hold heaven and hell on earth to be my sacred trust—to distinguish the two and share in the urge to give love of life precedence over urges to destroy life to save it…heaven and hell as I was born to live and die experiencing joy and suffering among my own kinds.
It is axiomatic to me that measures that make rich people richer at poor people’s expense are human hell at its fieriest. I was born in the USA, the global center of rich living off backs of poorer and poorer people at a global height. In my country, what is now called Wall Street collapsed in 1929. President Franklin Roosevelt pushed the Social Security Act through Congress in 1935. The idea that government would guarantee the money you put into a pension fund has been under attack since, the first time I remember being when Richard Nixon took office. Bush II’s first economic initiative in 1991 was to allow people to invest in Wall Street instead of in a government-guaranteed pension fund. Imagine if workers had converted their government social security funds into private hedge funds.
9/11 gave Bush an out from a sure-fire loss on convincing to adopt his privatization of national pension funds. In the current compromise between President Obama and Mitch McConnell, what workers have invested in a supposedly federally guaranteed pension fund has become subject to the same compromise that governs stock prices—economic expediency on the backs of the most socially vulnerable. And in the agreement, the haves get to pass on more of their corner of wealth on to their own chosen heirs. Wealth continues to become more concentrated at the expense of personal and social security. Love and peace--hal

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

my critcrim lifetime award, thanks Chris

Hal Pepinsky,,, 209 St. Pierre St., Worthington, OH 43085-2262, 1-614-433-7386
From: Christopher Magno []
Sent: Saturday, December 11, 2010 9:30 AM
To: Pepinsky, Harold E.;; Bantin, Philip Charles
Subject: Hal youtube video links

Hello Hal

I finally uploaded the videos. These are the video links:



Christopher Magno
Ph.D. Student
Department of Criminal Justice
Indiana University, Bloomington

"Nobody can say how he shall die, but everybody must decide how and for what he shall live." Jose Rizal

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Hal Pepinsky,,
December 14, 2010
The death of Richard Holbrook and ensuing media eulogies set me to reflecting on what diplomacy means to me. Holbrook was five years older than I. He became a steadily rising star in the US foreign service when I was in college dreaming of a foreign service career. Richard Holbrook, rest in peace. Your passion for diplomacy has been manifest, and in Dayton, you brought bloodshed to a halt in the former Yugoslavia. Wow!
The eulogies I hear get me back in touch with what the career diplomacy I dreamed of meant to me. I dreamed of going with sweet reason. Now, looking back on language I now use, I believe that I dreamed of gaining empathy in the midst of armed conflict. I have labeled “empathy” the foundation of peacemaking discourse. As I hear Holbrook’s life’s work dissected, I am thinking of a new way of saying what empathy means to me.
It was said of Richard Holbrook that his preeminent interest implied putting pragmatism and compromise ahead of academic moral principles of right and wrong. I share that attitude. For me then, the test of whether I am empathic is how well I convey to the speakers that I have put myself in their places, as in dealing with having a family member killed by a drone-launched missile. Where my country or person is involved, I gauge empathy by how much my reaction to what happens to US/me shows that me behavior, by word or other deed, responds so that I/we respond to those with whom we have issues while suspending retorts. It is not a matter of sympathy, as in “I hear you” or “I feel your pain,” but whether I/we can act as though what others think of us honestly have gotten through to us…as in, I respect your position, I am sorry for any pain I may have caused, do I get it?, what might I do next to reassure you that I am less of a problem for you. Tell me.
In my experience, this is how empathy transforms war/command-and-obedience into building trust, from violence into mutual understanding. Love and peace--hal

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Norwegian peace prize

Hal Pepinsky,,
December 13, 2010
Montreal aside, my wife Jill’s and my deepest friendships outside the US are with Norwegians. Collectively and individually, I owe a great debt to Norwegians for inspiring my faith that imperial cultures can transform into relatively peaceful societies. The children of Vikings stopped sending combat troops abroad in 1821 (although I wonder about their role in NATO in Afghanistan), and a generation later, dropped their incarceration rate from that of the US in 1960 by two-thirds at a level it pretty much sustains. The 17th of May is independence day (from Denmark—into the union with Sweden) featuring children’s parades from local schools to the King’s Palace…no guns.
My mother taught me that Alfred Nobel was the Swedish inventor of dynamite who dedicated his personal fortune to promoting peace. Ironically, as Norway became independent of Sweden’s sovereign foreign policy at the turn of the last century, the only Nobel Prize to be awarded outside Sweden was garnered—as a matter of national policy—to Oslo. The hall in which THE peace prize is given is in the centuries old original University of Oslo building, a block or two down the hill from the King Harald’s palace, on a promenade that ends at the Norwegian parliament building. The Norwegian peace research institute is (or at least was) just a couple of blocks and a few toward the parliament close to the end of the Oslofjord.
When I first lived in Norway in 1961-62, its population was about 4 million. When I returned in 1986 the population was nearing 4.5 million. Today its population is 4.8 million. Its reputation for peacekeeping (beginning in Cyprus) and peacemaking (as in giving the peace prize, or in being the home of the founding UN secretary general) is legend. Norway has gained amazing attention and respect as a peacemaker. The peace prize gains more worldwide media and political notice worldwide by far than any of the prizes awarded in Nobel’s native Sweden.
Being idolized as a purely peaceful society carries its risks, especially at global levels of political expression. I cringed as I listened to former Norwegian prime minister, present chair of the committee that selects the peace prize laureate, demanding (to standing applause) that the Chinese government release Liu Xiaobo, a year after awarding the prize to President Obama, who continues to cave to generals wanting to escalate bloodshed on two war fronts.
My political hero on this as on many occasions is Bolivian president Evo Morales. spent the week in Cancun at the UN climate change conference that NPR only reported last Saturday after the conference was over. played a segment of a press conference at which Morales explained why his was one country that declined an invitation to the Oslo peace prize ceremonies. How can his country, among peoples including those in China that have been imperialistically, culturally denigrated, honor an award that last year was given to the leading political figure in colonization of the Americas?
I had an overblown romance with Maoist Chinese law that lasted through the awful upheaval in lives of many Chinese during the Cultural Revolution. And so for instance I am familiar with the premise in Chinese law that police are duty bound to make arrests only when suspects are already proven guilty, and that courts are duty bound to rspect that premise. When in law school I specialized in studying Chinese law, the dominant theme of my education was that we Western bearers of the rule of law had to teach the Communist barbarians how to respect human rights and due process.
What Evo knows, and I know, and the Chinese know, is that Western legalism and international relations and colonization are built on hypocrisy. As the US wikileaks are showing, US diplomacy rests on duplicity. So is domestic politics. How on earth can my nation, with a quarter of the world’s prisoners who overwhelmingly have gone through humiliating guilty plea rituals just to get out of jail regardless of evidence, whose prison budgets are bankrupting states and local governments, whose prisoners are there because they are too young, brown and black to resist, condemn a country that was essentially colonized in the opium wars of the mid-nineteenth century?
Nobody deserves prison for speech. But it happens all the time, as for some in Guantanamo Bay even for things that were said about them, never mind whether they themselves said or did anything. Heck, there are people on national networks and in politics today saying that Julian Assange ought to be killed for telling true stories about US politics because the truth threatens national security. So when the Chinese legal system pronounces Liu Xiaobo a hazard because with US backing he wants Western legal knowledge/wisdom to prevail in China, I see it as just one national failure to deal with its own issues compounded by pointing fingers at someone else. I see in the Nobel peace committee’s awards in recent years as implicit sanctimony that we white folks in the global north know what the law literally means. I found Jagland’s interpretation of the Chinese constitution as literally true embarrassing, all the more so by the ahistorical, acomparative, airtime he was given.
Norwegian friends have commented to me that if I believe that Norway itself is less violent than for instance the US, I just don’t know Norwegians well enough. In my friend Per Ole Johansen’s book Oss Selv Naermest (roughly means “closest to home”), he documents that in the midst of Norway’s heroic resistance to German occupation in WWII, it was the Norwegian police who rounded up Jews for the Germans to send to extermination. I find this honesty refreshing, in contrast to the way this year’s Nobel peace prize was awarded. Love and peace--hal

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Imagine Honesty

Hal Pepinsky,,
December 1, 2010
Honesty is the bedrock of trust in any relationship. Secrecy in our relations is the bedrock of deceit, separation, enmity. In my relations with victims and survivors of private childhood sexual terror and torture beginning almost 20 years ago, I concluded that the essence of child abuse in any culture at any time is forcing a child to keep secret what an adult does with the child. Keeping secrets, that’s our social problem. I dream of a world where US diplomats would not say behind any foreign informant’s back or without the informant’s consent what the informant would not feel free to disclose her-/himself. This is a simple rule of maintaining trust in all human relations whatever the level.
To me, the current wikileaks pile on evidence that keeping secrets from the people promotes a culture of blindness to corruption of power by one’s own secret circle. May international diplomacy come to rest on open rather than on covert understanding and accountability. Open, trustworthy, credible honesty is the bedrock of peacemaking at all social levels. Love and peace--hal

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Frankness and Diplomacy

Hal Pepinsky,,
November 30, 2010
In the sixties as overt war broke out in Vietnam, there was a Washington-inspired cliché that if we knew all the secret things the president knew, we would understand why we had to increase troop levels to 500,000. At the time, my super-politically attuned mother, the one who still lives in Worthington, repeatedly pronounced that if all state secrets were suddenly revealed, it would make no difference in the Cold War or international politics generally. Now WikiLeakia offers us a test of her proposition.
I had a top secret clearance for my eight-week adventure as the summer 1967 intern in East Asian legal affairs in the US state dept. I concluded that my mother was right. The one top secret I was ceremoniously made privy to was the fact that we already had troops and bombs bursting on the ground in Cambodia, three years before the white house let us know that the bombing had started. I also learned that heads of state in Laos and Cambodia had agreed that while they would loudly condemn air attacks in their countries, they secretly had agreed to US security measures on their territory.
“Frank” remains a diplomatic term of art for saying and doing politically inappropriate, publicly illegal or unacceptable things under cover of security classification. I think my mom was and remains dead right. We are better off when frank diplomacy comes out of the closet. Frankness is, in my experience and in the leaks we now read, in my opinion a cover for public lies and manipulation.
When I appealed college rejection of my tenure and promotion in 1980 and 1983, I was not allowed to see anything colleagues or outside evaluators had said about me. I spearheaded an effort that eventually led the iuBloomington faculty council to rule that no candidate for promotion or tenure could even waive the right of inspection of what was said about them. Meanwhile, I was assured at highest campus administrative levels would impair the frankness of evaluations. Times changed.
Peacemaking rests on the synergy of honest, open exchange of information.
One week during my state dept internship state sec Dean Rusk us ten legal interns up to his penthouse suite for drinks on a Friday afternoon. He asked us how he could appeal to youth to support this Vietnam “war to end all wars.” I suggested that he might allow foreign office officers to respond to inquiries in the name of their individual positions—e.g., assistant secretary of state for east asian legal affairs—instead of having every message/letter/cable going out of Foggy Bottom have to be “cleared” with signatures from so many bureaucrats as to justify the fact that EVERY MESSAGE FROM THE STATE DEPT GOES OUT UNDER THE SIGNATURE OF THE SECRETARY, AND EVERY MESSAGE FROM ABROAD IN THE NAME OF THE AMBASSADOR.
From the first manuscript I reviewed for publication in the early seventies, I have requested that authors know who I am and how to reach me. I recommend rejection of mss on many occasions. I see no reason why we can’t be openly and frankly critical without being secretive and deceitful. My mama was right. The latest WikiLeaks indicate to me just how irresponsible and ill informed diplomacy becomes when frankness is classified. Love and peace--hal

Monday, November 22, 2010

Valuing Life

Hal Pepinsky,,
November 22, 2010
I remember walking across the Diag on my college campus in Ann Arbor late in the morning of November 22, 1963. I was right beside Angell Hall, the social science classroom building. The journalism department was on the second floor. When I heard people saying that the president had been shot, I joined others at the teletype machines in the second-floor corridor to receive ap news that the president had died.
I had volunteered to campaign for JFK; at his death at the age of 46 or 47, I lost all faith that any political hero could save me. The assassinations of MLK and RFK as I graduated law school only confirmed the communist anarchism that I continue to embrace, now under the heading of peacemaking. Still, President Kennedy, I grieve the loss of your leadership. Simultaneously, I celebrate that moment at which I moved from one of my lives in my lifetime to another.
Jill and I had Thanksgiving dinner yesterday at my mom’s nursing home. It is a small enough home not to need to be bureaucratic, and the staff there who freely exchange roles in something like yesterday’s dinner are a pleasure to watch with each other and to befriend myself, as in the singalongs I do with the home’s administrator, Kristine. The way nurses and aides give care is amazingly loving, patient and good-humored. I have been in many nursing homes, and this is the homiest nursing home I have known. My mom is extraordinarily lucky to be there now that she has run out of money to be cared for at home, and I feel privileged literally to be so close to her as our chronological time together draws to a close. Still…
I wonder what many of the residents I get to know are living for. Granted, I hope that if I end up there myself, I’ll try to pass my declining years appreciative of all of the love I have received and still grateful for the many, many lives—like Walter Mitty—that I have already enjoyed in my relations in a single lifetime.
I concur that life is precious, and that the prospect of individual bodily death is the ultimate fear we fear itself. We also live in a place and time in fear for our lives, individually and collectively, in fear for the very survival of humanity.
Humanity will survive in various forms far beyond our power to predict (thanks to Honest Abe for his Gettysburg Address). Meanwhile, global human population will stop exploding, and decline, and wherever we are, regardless of our passion for fairness, openness and justice, those who turn out to have less power will by definition die first and with most public suffering.
This leads me to my personal social control strategy. It is axiomatic to me that any strategy by which I get value and valued in my relations is a matter of HOW I relate especially in my daily relations rather than of what laws to enact and enforce. I figure that ultimately, the only thing I know about what works to enhance human life is what leads the people in my daily life to value our lives together. So if at the age of 91 my mom happens to land in a nursing home, I most value the quality of our relationships there. As in the kind of local food security programs Jill’s and my child Katy works, I believe that sharing knowledge of how we share power in local lives offers the best hope for the force of humanity to overcome human mutual destruction.
Today the BBC carries an interview with NATO’s senior civilian representative to Afghanistan, where he claims that children in Kabul are, on the whole, safer than children in London and New York, and certainly never homeless. A human rights rebuttal notes lack of formal education and 25% child mortality before the age of 5 (a figure I heard in Tanzania when I lived there in 1990). It led me to wonder about those I have met who have suffered torture, and periods of not knowing where they would sleep or eat, throughout long chronological lives.
I for one have numerous conversations with my nearest and dearest over the issue of how each of us conquers our fears of death, and ultimately, of personal loss. For my part, I believe that my life was as rich, and in its own way valued and applied as in my relationships, by the time I reached the age when JFK was killed. For decades I have tried to reassure my wife and child that if I die tomorrow, there is no need to mourn for my loss. I do get scared that some disease might get detected that would bring pressure for me to live on—as for grandchildren—for loved ones’ sake. Not so long ago, I horrified a doctor by saying that I didn’t want a colonoscopy because if I turned out to have cancer, I wanted it to be stage four so that my family would go along with palliative care, assuming I don’t just happily drop dead. It has been a good life. The adventure continues. To me the challenge is to resist my fear of dying by celebrating the moments I continue to celebrate and enjoy on this Thanksgiving. To me, at any moment, it’s the quality of my relations that counts rather than the quantity of time I spend in this body. To all my friends who may read this, know how much you enrich my lives in a single lifetime. Love and peace--hal

Friday, November 19, 2010

message to the BBC re their take on NATO and Afghanistan

Today the BBC asks whether Afghanis are up to the task of taking over the war from their foreign occupiers. Why not ask how ready NATO is to concede that their Euro-American occupation of Afghanistan was a lost cause from the outset, practically and morally? If we in the NATO world faced that question, Afghanistan indeed might become a war to end all wars of foreign invasion.

Hal Pepinsky,,, 209 St. Pierre St., Worthington, OH 43085-2262, 1-614-433-7386

Thursday, November 18, 2010

rejection of my npr post on Ghailani

As I look at their rules, the rule I broke was against framing an npr story:

Hal Pepinsky (ProfessorHal) wrote:

An NPR moderator has removed this comment because it does not adhere to the discussion guidelines

Thursday, November 18, 2010 4:21:04 PM

on the verdict re Ahmed Ghailani

Hal Pepinsky (ProfessorHal) wrote:

How come the acquittal of this defendant on all but one charge(conspiracy, aka prosecutorial cheap shot)isn't framed by npr as a failure of Guantanomo detention without due process in the first place? NPR is all backwards. How come this doesn't amount to an indictment of the fiscal and political expense of thinking that "terrorism" justifies a national campaign to increase the national debt for false displays of national security and prison-industrial/military excess, which only in its sloppiness turns people into enemies of my U.S. people. I think Guantanamo politics on both sides of the political aisle is another manifestation of the state protection/corporate invested protection racket. National/homeland protection rhetoric only erodes national security. I feel as though I'm hearing rationales for Nazi religious and xenophobia from the thirties. Shame on us for not using this verdict to question the very patriotic-act enterprise that 9/11 fed in my homeland. love and peace--Hal Pepinsky,

Thursday, November 18, 2010 4:21:04 PM

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Lifetime Achievement Means to Me--a message of thanks

Hal Pepinsky,,
November 15, 2010
That’s about as heavy a question as one faces on retirement. The fact that people in the critical crim div of asc are giving me an award for my own lifetime achievement gives me pause, and does me genuine honor. I think the best respect I can give them back is to send a message about how I view my own achievement. Pardon me if I wax a little philosophical. I have a span of nine hours today when I don’t have to speak to another human being. I am cloistered. I want to tell those who have given me this award what lifetime achievement happens to mean to me.
One lesson life has so far taught me is that what works for me today will change tomorrow. That is why, so long ago, I began my recovery from elite legal training by renouncing the premise that I could solve any social problem by engineering. My mentor Richard Quinney helped me turn my focus to the quality of my day-to-day interactions, of how they offered me and my daily relations a greater sense of security, trust and safety or not. I have come to forgive myself for having no solutions to human problems, no recipes for success. Instead, I have come to believe that my own social security is (miraculously?) enhanced by attending to the quality of my relations moment by moment. I call this a peacemaking attitude. My best evidence is that it has worked for me and for so many others I have known. As my Norwegian mentor Birgit Brock-Utne has written, I don’t want to increase anyone’s share of the pie; I think greater personal and social security turns out to rest on changing the power-over-others recipe of the social pie.
This morning I was listening to BBC Newshour, where they had a segment on what to do about cyber-bullying, announcing a UK-centered global internet march for getting to the heart of what causes the phenomenon, as though to make schoolchildren safer. The poster child of this demonstration had hanged himself at 15. All his family knew of his being other than a happy socially successful child came from threats they found on his computer of his being beaten up the next day at school or at home if he decided to stay there. The poignant thing to me is the media’s attempt to help this child’s surviving brother profile bullies. It would be standard in bullying cases to speculate that such a child would be gay. I’m thinking that a more likely hypothesis that this young guy had failed to pay for an illicit drug deal at school, and couldn’t bring himself to tell his family how successful he was in reality an illicit drug user. Who knows? Whatever was happening, the most salient feature of the story to me is that his surviving family managed to believe that he was a perfectly happy person until he hanged himself. I am reminded of the enormous pressure on parents and children to make sure that children make their parents and siblings look good.
How many times as now does Walt Kelley aka “Pogo’s” voice sound in my head. Once again, we have met the enemy and the enemy is US. How can we remove barriers that make us keep deeply shameful secrets from our nearest and dearest relations? That is the question I keep asking myself as with growing intensity, elite journalists like those in the BBC keep trying to push interviewees into identifying and classifying enemies to fight in order to solve our problems. It’s a tragedy.
Luckily for me, I chanced upon someone 37 years ago. As I have repeatedly told Jill, I decided to call that relationship the center of my human universe. Happily, no matter how many other things change, I am secure with her and our own immediate relations. I think that focus on how to build trustworthy relations in one’s most immediate relations is the best path I have to commend to anyone in these times of profound global insecurity. To the critcrim folks, thanks so much for this evidence that my life has value to others as it does to me. Love and peace--hal

Saturday, November 13, 2010

fiscal insanity

Gambling at the Currency Table
Hal Pepinsky,,
November 13, 2010
I’m listening to the BBC on currency contention. Gold now sells for $1400 an ounce. Will it rise to $2000. The IMF says gold is an undependable hedge against currency inflation. So…what currency to invest in? The US fed has bet $600 billion against the dollar. As a result, US banks will lend abroad rather than at home. was the first to point this elemental economic logic out. Now the BBC notices. Maybe even NPR will catch on.
I’m a devout Muslim when it comes to the immorality of speculating on making money out of having money. It is obscene that we in the US hear daily quotes from stock markets, which President George W. Bush wanted us seniors to bet on in lieu of contributing to our social security pensions. Our fixation on how to make money out of realigning global exports and imports is equally obscene. And so I strive to live locally, familially, independently as I can from global fiscal insanity. Love and peace--hal

Monday, November 8, 2010

critical criminology lifetime achievement award

Michael (Coyle), please forward this message to division members. Thanks for your enthusiasm.

Many thanks for this award. I am deeply moved by the sincerity of those who put my name forward and of those who have urged me to make a special trip to San Francisco to receive this recognition.
I feel closely linked to the critical criminology division. When I was appointed then elected token radical on the ASC Executive Board in the early eighties, my primary mission was to get the board to adopt rules that would allow members to create their own divisions. A few years later, I allowed myself to be on the ballot as chair of this division, and found out on the way from the airport to the convention hotel that I was it. Brian MacLean, first editor of the division newsletter, gave me space for a column that I labeled “views from the throne.” Brian drew a toilet seat beside the column. My time as chair was a disaster. I was nearly impeached. While as a prepubescent used to sit on the toilet in my bathroom imagining giving orders in the Oval Office (no kidding), I figure that the only formal office I was ever fit to hold was professor.
Beyond my family, my students and personal collegial friends stand out for making this old man feel his professional life has been worthwhile. I know that some of them will speak at the reception where I receive the award. I will let them speak for themselves. Again, to those who have urged me to make a last-minute plane reservation to San Francisco, and especially to Chris Magno who called to offer me a free room together, you flatter me at this moment most of all.
Again, thanks so very much for this award. I expect to be at ASC next year. Be in touch. Love and peace--Hal

Friday, October 29, 2010

Explosives from Yemen to US: bogus!

I posted this to npr about the lead story today on all things considered:

The mailings are obviously suspect for being an effort at political disinformation and propaganda, timed just before the election. What genuine serious terrorist would try to send exploding packages to US Jews from so obvious a place of origin as the latest scapegoat for terrorism, Yemen. These packages were apparently meant to be found, don't you think? From a perhaps gullible White House to the CIA to Mossad in Israel, this looks to me like a crude black op.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm embarrassed

Yesterday I impetuously (as usual) posted a blog in which I made 2 big mistakes about my own past. I said I hadn't voted for a successful candidate for president since I first voted for Hubert Humphrey in 1968, forgetting to mention that I voted for Barack Obama. I claimed that Richard Quinney's and my book was written in 1980 (confusing it in my own mind with a 1980 book I devoted to crime measurement), when Criminology as Peacemaking was published in 1991.
It's funny how I discover these mistakes. I am lying awake in bed or listening to music and just thinking about what I wrote, and then bingo, I remember these mistakes in reporting about events in my own life. Humbling in a milieu where people are focused on dementia. On the other hand, my memory of external events I blog about seem to remain pretty reliable. and peace--hal

Sunday, October 17, 2010

on reuniting hearts and minds

I thank Olaf Krassnitzky for this continuing exchange on the humanist sociology listserv about being academically marginalized.

Hal Pepinsky,,, 209 St. Pierre St., Worthington, OH 43085-2262, 1-614-433-7386 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1-614-433-7386      end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1-614-433-7386      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
From: Pepinsky, Harold E.
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 2010 2:08 PM
Subject: Olaf, I call the Enlightenment the source of the contemporary violence you point to, what say? l&p hal

Olaf, in the concluding chapter to Crim as Peacemaking in 1991, I traced violence to separating religion from reason (hence, my decision to make Quinney's chapter on Buddhist crim the opening chapter to our volume). The opening buzzword for our splitting apart personally and globally, as far as I can see, was "the Enlightenment," or in our lifetime, a fetish for "science" and "objectivity."
My whole problem with social measurement is that it focuses on achieving substantive goals. Imagine the absurdity of econometricians pronouncing us in the US as in recovery.
My professional and interpersonal focus has been on building social security. The measures of what works and doesn't can, I believe, most authoritatively be tested in whether we build trust most centrally in our very own daily relations. It took a lot of time with a wonderful therapist and mentor for me to learn that my own daily interpersonal fears, anger and satisfaction were my own ultimate testing ground for what works and what fails. By now I am more firmly than ever convinced that my own concentration on trusting and sharing particularly in my closest intergenerational family of choice is my best investment not only in what keeps generations from our parents to our grandchildren as safe as we can make them. I generalize. I find that the course of human relations repeats itself from the interpersonal to the organizational to the national to the global. Accordingly, I believe that concentrating on our personal relations, along with acting locally, are the best any of us has to promote survival of humanity in the face of the more highly powered outbursts, globally connected, outbursts of violence humanity has ever before set off.
Since I first voted for a president in 1968, my candidate has lost in every election until 2008. As between Republicans and Democrats, I am more alarmed by the Prussian focus on winning elections and disheartened by the Democratic tendency to try to get the average voter to vote for them as political circumtances change. From Nixon to Reagan to Bushes I and II, I have survived the fear that a president or presidential force would harm US inhabitants and humanity at large irrecovably. On reflection, I don't think consolidated national power and direction can do more than alleviate pain and share power with people bit by bit.
There's a page one story today in the New York Times on the decline of the Japanese financial empire. When I started teaching criminal justice Japan was the darling of Enlightened economists. I think US trajectory in global terms is likely to be in the same direction. I see nothing to stop it. Conspicuous consumption will no longer hire unemployed skilled workers, as in construction, although already of course adaptive construction craftspeople are sustaining themselves as by restorative and remodeling work. Bartering of services has never stopped particularly among poor folks, and it's a lot more reliable than even a bank these days. So we are learning, which I suppose makes me a humanist optimist. Prophecy aside, I feel so blessed by the human companionship I continue to enjoy, and I feel no higher calling than to stay the course. love and peace--hal

Message: 2
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 2010 08:52:02 -0400
From: Olaf Krassnitzky
To: "'Discussion group for the Association for Humanist Sociology'"

Subject: Re: [Ahs-talk] Ahs-talk Digest, Vol 20, Issue 45
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

I have experienced the same in a number of fields (medicine, senior
management, sociology, anthropology, visual arts), whenever I was not 'going
with the flow', if my thinking was seen as different (or 'off the wall")I
got stopped in my tracks. In one outfit the worst characterization one could
receive was to be called an 'independent thinker". So I do not think that
any of this is a consequence of the market system, but rather belongs into
the Kuhnian category of thinking, or even to the general human tendency to
feel threatened by anything that is "different"be it skin colour, accent or
worldview. The consumer market today actually favors novelty, , but those
novelty deserve a hard look how new they really are. The same in politics.
And then of course there is power woven into it, and power tends to favor
status quo and will paint the merely unconventional as radical, if not nuts
or evil.

Cheers, Olaf.

-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of M.Weigand
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 5:17 PM
To: Discussion group for the Association for Humanist Sociology
Subject: Re: [Ahs-talk] Ahs-talk Digest, Vol 20, Issue 45

Berger's Invitation to Sociology was one of my early inspirations.
Unfortunately I met him in person and was very disappointed--from an early
humanistic position he veered to the right during the 1980's. In my graduate

school, humanistic\qualitative methods were viewed as "unscientific". The
trend was to become ever more "scientistic" and quantitative as sociologists

struggled to gain legitimacy and funding. Those of us with
humanistic\critical sociology perspectives faced a lack of employment
opportunities. Today I regret to say there are many sociological "grant
whores" (as in many disciplines). In this society, "radical"
(unconventional) academics are not jailed, they are starved to death by
lack of employment and research opportunities. Isn't this just another
example of how the market system operates?

Ahs-talk mailing list

Monday, October 11, 2010

chk today's for John Le Carre on corporate power

If you have a chance, check out David Cornwell, aka John le Carre, on democracy now on the interview after he told bbc he was done doing interviews. I think he and I would be one on the dangers of charter schooling. l&p hal

Hal Pepinsky,,, 209 St. Pierre St., Worthington, OH 43085-2262, 1-614-433-7386

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Charter Schools

I sent this message to WOSU-am's talk show, All Sides, which turned out to get at the basic issues of privatization I mentioned, viz.:

School Privatization
Hal Pepinsky,,
October 7, 2010
The charter school movement is a part of the global movement to privatize public assets that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher launched in 1979. In the United States, privatization means that workplace records are private and that members of the school community like teachers have no due process rights. When schools are for profit, their primary obligation is to shareholders to minimize expenses like teacher salaries and fringe benefits. Sadly the Secretary of Education who now administers the national “race to the top” program came into office as superintendent of Chicago schools, where privatization of schools has displaced neighborhood schools in poor neighborhoods. The charter school movement is so very damaging to our children’s public right to a decent education. Hal

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Social Science Methodology

Hal Pepinsky,,
October 6, 2010
I feel safer calculating two steps at a time than one. For instance:
US politicians press the Chinese government to sell off enough of the US dollars they control to make US labor cheaper. If this move works, the Chinese will be “disincentivized” (how do we dream newspeak like this?) to invest in US government bonds. So then the Chinese government literally loses interest in buying US bonds and so the value of the US dollar goes down globally, by definition that the US becomes globally inflated. Our trade deficits decline because imports become more expensive. With continuing high, deunionized employment, US exports become more saleable. US residents join the so-called third world.
Or if Republicans triumph this election, what about blowback in 2012?
Or when a president resigned and the United States lost its first overt foreign in Vietnam, popular will to punish enemies swung upward, and out of Hollywood, an actor adept at delivering corporate messages and turning FBI Cold War informant became the “Teflon” president who was overwhelmingly re-elected during double-digit unemployment in 1984. There is a white-black contrast not so much in economic circumstances as in the color of our current national father.
How quickly we forget. Beyond that how much our news and social science findings go deterministically one objective or result at a time—in methodological terms deterministically—rather than stochastically—at least two interations at a time.
In daily life as in global affairs, I’ve found thinking two steps ahead to be a more socially secure investment than winning the next political contest. Shamelessly, I have decided not to register to vote in my new home town. Mostly, I don’t want to be summoned to jury duty, when I know that even if I by some miracle got to serve, I would in the context of the current legal system be asked to pass judgment about people I scarcely knew.
Early in life I was an enthused if undisciplined chess player. I was good enough to beat my child when she thought one move at a time and I thought through at least two before responding. In politics, in journalism, in social science, I’m frustrated by focus on which side wins next. Love and peace--hal

Monday, September 20, 2010

racist dog breeding and racist criminology

Hal Pepinsky,,
September 20, 2010
Today as I listened to “Fresh Air” on rehab for pit bulls, I heard someone remark that pit bulls were just the latest in a succession of dangerous canine breeds, Dobermans and Chihuahuas in previous decades.
Now in the wake of the pit bull fighting scandal, there is an entire movement devoted to showing that pit bulls are inherently equal, and treatable even if severely socially deprived, as warm and companionable as other dogs.
Many of us in criminology move in the same direction—that a young man of color is inherently as socializable as any other human race.
I find it curious that in this age of criminological targeting of young men of color as the most violent breed of humanity in my part of the world, dogs have just as tough a time proving that they don’t fit the profile of lashing out at innocent human targets for their own violent purposes, also known as “terrorism.” On the bright side, experience teaches us that with pit bulls as with humans, we become safely lovable as we become safely loved, breeding and racism be damned. Love and peace--hal

Saturday, September 11, 2010

There's no point explaining crime counts...

Hal Pepinsky,,
Nine-eleven 2010
Calling all criminologists: google Adrian Schoolcraft, and then for free also, check out the 2000 article/chapter I wrote in 2000 on COMPSTAT in New York City at . As I’ve said all along, reported crime trends tell us more about the behavior of the reporters than about behavior of the reported. I was lucky enough to hear this week’s program 414 on This American Life, where Adrian Schoolcraft plays recordings of the heat he took for not keeping Brooklyn crime statistics in line. Pardon me for not suppressing an I-told-you-so: How can crime measurement ever be apolitical?
COMPSTAT in NYC has since 1994 been touted as state-of-the-art police performance evaluation. Perhaps, thanks to Adrian Schoolcraft, we criminologists will learn to stop being mesmerized by crime and criminality counts. For me, letting go of crime and criminality counting has refocused my attention on confronting and defusing violence that really matters in the lives of my friends and me. My thanks go to Adrian Schoolcraft and Ira Glass at This American Life for validating my rejection of criminology as usual. This one of those days that reinforces my sense of professional sanity--hal

Monday, September 6, 2010

my vision of feminist justice in 1987

Harold E. Pepinsky
Criminal Justice
Indiana University
Bloomington~ IN 47405
To be presented at a session on peacemaking at the American
Society of Criminology Meeting~ Montre~l~ November 1987.
This is an assessment of an experiment in offering Feminist
Justice as a criminal justice seminar. Personally. the seminar
contributed to the assertiveness of women and to the softening of
men. Structurally~ the seminar was a testing ground for theories
of how to transcend domination and violence. The seminar made it
possible to see crime and punishment as twin forms of violence~
and peacemaking as a foundation for organizing a democratic
alternative. Altogether~ radical feminism is an especially
powerful way to build a theory and practice of responding to
crime and punishment.
The spring of 1987 I taught a seminar on feminist justice.
Twenty-nine of us participated. 13 were women. The seminar was
the idea of my wife, Jill Bystydzienski, who helped orient me in
feminist literature and suggested readings. Jill had been
working with Birgit Brock-Utne, a Norwegian peace researcher
whose book called Educating for Peace: R Feminist Perspective,
became the pivotal work in the seminar. Bi rgi t .... 'i si ted
Bloomington during the semester. Seminar participants got to
hear her and meet her, which brought life to the written word.
Another key work for me was American criminal justice researcher
Kay Harris's paper for the 1985 Second International Conference
on Prison Abolition, "Toward a Feminist Vision of Justice." which
explicitly related feminism to issues of crime and justice. The
syllabus for the semi nar', which lists these readings, is
appended. The syllabus indicates that the seminar focused on a
particular genre of feminist work called "radical femini'sm,"
which regards women not only as ultimate victims of viol~nce and
domination, but as having special personal gifts of peacemaking.
As luck would have it. shortly after the seminar ended Canadian
criminologist Gail Kellough and I were made co-presenters at a
session of the Third International Conference on Penal Abolition
(ICOPA), where I reacted to her presentation of how she had
changed as she had moved from prison abolitionism to radical
feminism. In this setting I got to see a different level of
criminal justice response to radical feminism, which helped put
- 1 -
the seminar in perspective.
I had originally thought of going on to explore another
subject--perhaps nonviolent techniques for handling conflict--in
the spring seminar slot the following year. However~ comments
from a number of participants persuaded me that feminist justice
ought to be repeated. In this essay I aim to identify what it is
that students in the seminar, I, and feminists like Kellough,
Harris and Brock-utne feel radical feminist literature
contributes to issues of crime and punishment.
An incident at the ICOPA session highlighted a strength of the
seminar I had just finished. At the ICOPA session we were
discussing systems of domination as a foundation for violence
including crime and punishment. One woman argued that if people
were to transcend violence in the larger society~ children had to
be raised without being dominated by parents, to grow up knowing
that domination was neither right nor inevitable. To illustrate~
the woman described how she had related to her own children. A
male criminologist who happens to be a pacifist and gifted
theorist interrupted. He said that we had precious little time
to discuss important issues, and under these circumstances, he
considered it especially rude for someone to introduce personal
anecdotes. Personal anecdotes were after all beyond refutation~
hence foreclosed discussion. Instead. we should be describing
structures in which various forms of ~iolence presented
themsel \/es.
It happens that personal experience is a foundation for radical
feminist thinking~ and the anecdote a starting point for many a
theoretical generalization. Personal history is featured in
Kellough and Harris's presentations of ideas about justice.
Birgit Brock-Utne is particularly effective when she moves from
describing global structures of violence to discussing, how
structural issues have manifested themselves in her attempts to
raise nonviolent sans of her awn. What same of us see as r"Jer
genius in this regard has been dismissed by prominent male
colleagues as lightweight scholarship.
It was getting personal which students recurrently emphasized
was the mare valuable feature of the seminar. As the syllabus
indicates I tried to play dawn grading, and asked students to
turn their awn rationales for grades at the end of the semester.
One graduating senior woman who very nearly had a straight A
average, generally regarded as one of the best and brightest of
our criminal justice majors, wrote:
I learned mare from this class than I have in any
other, and since I need a grade, I am forced to say
that I think I deserve an "A". But, I want everyone to
know that what made this class such a valuable learning
experience was the willingness of my fellow classmates
(and I include you in this group, Hal) to openly
e:-:press thei r innermost thoughts ~ feel i ngs, and idea':;,.
In this course~ we all
student and teacher.
played the double role of both
In the same vein~ a man who has barely been getting grades he
needs to stay in school~ who is big and not averse to using
violence as in his -ob .J as a bouncer~ wrote~ "This is the first
class of my college career that I have enjoyed coming to~ and got
involved in." (And indeed he cpntributed a great deal to class
discussion~ including making a well-researched presentation as a
team prOject he initiated with a woman classmate.)
It has been a struggle over the years to overcome classroom
resistance to thinking at all critically about issues of crime
and punishment. Even some very clearly and simply written works l
like Nils Christie's Limits to Pain~ have been dismissed as
abstract~ meaningless~ impractical. While some fairly
conservative members of the seminar group remained so, no one
complained about the irrelevancy or abstractness of readings or
of class discussion.
It is of course possible to make a course informal and concrete
on any number of topics~ but the subject of how women and men
relate seemed to have special power. For one thing, many of us
are curious and interested in crossing the gender barrier and
getting better acquainted with members of the opposite sex.
E-ar I y on, men who read about extraordinary violence against
women--from assault, to failure to share food~ to failure to
recognize labor--were inclined to feel protective~ and to shc)w
- 4 -
women in the class that they wanted to care for them. This
protectiveness was graphically displayed by our third class
meeting. Most of the women were sitting at a long table~ while
most of the men were sitting on chairs along the wall surrounding
them. Carol Gilligan's description of the different voices of
men and women was up for discussion (see the syllabus). The men
talked long and intensely about how men discriminated against
women and what ought to be done to help. One or two of the women
spoke up initially, but soon the women lapsed into silence.
A form of violence of major concern to Birgit Brock-Utne is
that men interrupt women and take up most of the time in
discussions. I called a break in the class. After the break, I
pointed out the pattern of the discussion~ and encouraged the
women to speak. Now, instead of talking about how men treat
women, the women started describing--in their own terms--the
"silent voice" depicted by Gilligan, the voice that speaks in
terms of connectedness with others, of nurture and compassion.
After class, I noticed that most of the essays turned in that
week had been written by women, who again eloquently described
the silent voice. I was moved by the experience to write the
first of what turned out to be a series of letters to seminar
participants, observing that women and men in the class tended to
f .~.ll into the gender patterns that Gilligan and Brock-Utne
This was a turning point in the semester.
Women continued to
listen hard, but men began to listen more too. Women became more
assertive and expressive. And alternatives to positions normally
taken in public discourse began to be vividly, personally
taken--first by women, then by more and more of the men.
Cooperation versus competition and nonviolent resistance versus
violent defense became recurrent topics of discussion. We went
back and forth from the specific to the general. For instance, a
discussion of whether personal progress depended on competition,
as in studying in school, became a televised panel discussion by
dental hygienists, a midwife and a state legislator of whether
competition between men (doctors/dentists) and women
(midwives/nurses/hygienists) impaired the quality of health care,
with seminar members joining in lively conversation. Discussion
with an administrator of a local women's shelter of whether to
blame victims for assault alternated with discussions of personal
decisions as to whether to engage in fights.
As women in this process became more assertive about describinq
the silent voice, one key insight was that women were in real
ways the stronger rather than the weaker sex. This was revealed
not only in figures like Brock-Utne's about how women generally
work more hours than men (especially when they add jobs outside
home to housework), or can afford less time off as from caring
for sick children than men, or show fortitude in peace movements
as in Greenham Common. It also showed up in personal stories of
courage and fortitude from women in the class.
- 6 -
This meant not only that examples of cooperation and
nonviolence were real rather than abstract~ but that men could
afford to open up and show the softer side of themselves~ and the
side that warmed to compassion and nonviolent
It almost became a badge of honor for a man to
describe personal shame at having given way to violence~ or to
acknowledge having cried or having thrived on cooperation. One
man in the seminar repeatedly wrote of seeing and enjoying new
ways of relating to people~ as when he played a game of
racquetball with a less experienced player to keep the ball going
rather than to show winning form. A couple of men who early in
the semester stressed how tough their young lives .had been~
turned to describing how they had stopped fighting. All in all,
as women and women's positive experience gained more respect and
attention in the seminar~ men and women themselves let softness
and compassion emerge in their public discourse and writing.
Even the men who held to traditional male stances did so more
quietly and diffidently, listening hard along the way.
These changes were not always discovery of new ways to behave
and feel. Often, even for men, they were affirmation of parts of
their past~ as in recalling and newly appreCiating that one's
mother had tried to teach nonviolence.
At the same time women acknowledged violence of their own or
among women. I came to believe not that women and men are
- 7 -
different~ but that convention allows different sides of women
and men to be acknowledged in public discourse. Giving respect
and recognition to the "women's" voice allowed men to e>;press
this side of themselves. Allowing women to be more vocal in an
-atmosphere I'Jhere honesty was safe I et them el-:press "men' s" -sides
of themselves. Given the tenor of the radical feminist
literature which celebrated cooperation~ nurture and nonviolence,
it became permissible for men to tryout and explore such
feelings and experiences as genuine, concrete, viable options to
competition, individualism and violence.
As Gilligan and Brock-Utne point out, larger value systems and
theories of social life emerge from the personal e:-:perience of
being able to express oneself cooperatively or competitively,
connectedly or individualistically. Radical feminism is an
unabashedly personal examination of social structure and action.
As a topic of discussion radical feminism legitimizes an
e:-:p I orati on of personal options which open people's minds to
larger social criticism. Political stances on larger issues
became softened and liberalized more than I have encountered in
classes on other SUbjects.
The man who interrupted the personal anecdote at the ICOPA
session might well acknowledge that beginners start from personal
experience, but that more advanced social theorists could leave
it behind and get farther faster. Suppose we are already
sophisticated enough to recognize that domination and
- 8 -
exploitation exist. Suppose that when it comes to crime and
punishment, we already agree on abolitionism and nonviolence.
Then surely we need not be so primitive as to rely on personal
anecdotes. We need instead to examine larger patterns of how
people outside our personal circle live.
I disagree. I regard the transformations which happened in the
seminar as advanced forms of theorizing which senior social
theorists would do well to adopt.
A basic premise of radical feminism is that the public realm
recapitulates the private. Those who live by domination at home
will live by domination outside. Structural change will at best
be a facade unless the change reaches people's intimate lives.
In his study of Private Justice (London/New York: Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1983) , StLlart Henry has provided remarkable
confirmation that formal structure is confounded by private
habits. Henry examined how discipline was imposed on employees
in a variety of organizational structures. In a worker
cooperative radically organized to be egalitarian, he found that
managers could still impose punitive sanctions on employees quite
autocratically. As far as he could see relation between dispute
management and organizational form was purely coincidental,
- 9 -
although he did not examine the private lives and personal
histories of members.
Disillusionment with real life
government is widely experienced.
autocracy are routinely found in all
under supposedly model
manner of
violence and
supposedly democratic regimes. Time and again, various forms of
class oppression appear to those who live or observe closely in
formally egalitarian communities~ including radically utopian
small ones.
One such massive recent experiment is the Chinese Communist
revolution~ which I happen to have become enamored of at the
onset of
the Cultural Revolution, and have followed fairly
The first major legislation of the People's Republic of
China was the family law. Early on, women were encouraged to get
divorced and out of of abusive and arranged marriages. As late
as the Cultural Revolution, children were encouraged to resist
parental oppression. Life in work and residence groups was built
on and mirrored family life. As the children of the
revolutionaries became adults and challenged their parents for
hegemony, traditional patterns of domination began to be noticed
at home, and ultimately reasserted themselves in the larger
political and economic structure. Symbolically, the conservative
movement was spearheaded by villification of a woman, the
charismatic leader's widow, who was too uppity to know her
place. Confucian stratification by age and gender has reasserted
- 10 -
itself with remarkable force; even the legal structure has taken
traditional form.
Radical feminists argue that by relegating cooperative,
nurturant behavior to women in the private realm, public life has
been reduced to mechanistic expedience. So one-sided has
male-associated public life become that even revolutionary
rhetoric portends a top-down~ hierarchical imposition on a social
order. If a revolution really were democratic, the private
compassion of women would be recognized as a primary ingredient
of public life. If power really began to move f~om the
grassroots up rather than from the top down, we would first
recognize that a vast portion of vital labor occurs in the
uncompensated privacy of women's housework, and build on the
foundation of having democratized that most intimate part of our
lives. There, too, succeeding generations could be socialized in
democratic lifestyles rather than in drawing the most basic class
distinctions--those of gender and age--so that as they ihherited
other organizations they would not tend to impose hierarchical
substance on democratic forms. The tragic flaw in Gandhi's
resistance to British violence and oppression was that beyond the
clear and brilliant exposition of principles of satyagraha, not
even Gandhi himself was able to treat his own wife and children
with the compassion and nonviolence he espoused~ and without this
most basic change in the life of Gandhi and his followers,
violence and oppression reasserted itself in the Congress Party
- 11 -
and elsewhere in Indian public life, nurtured by the daily
experience df privat~ despotism. Nor can male workers carry aut
a proletarian revolution without having conquered their awn
oppression of women and children at home. It is one thing to
spat class oppression. It is another thing to transcend it in
public life without even having managed to transcend it in the
private life one mast controls. A real revolution is nat an
abstraction. As American criminologist Richard Quinney is
discovering in his current reflections on Buddhist teaching~ one
has to learn to cultivate compassion in one's daily sphere of
interaction before one can aspire to cultivate it
Birgit Brock-Utne exemplifies the radical feminist gift of
identifying parallels between larger social structure and
personal experience. It is moot whether we anthropomorphize
society or sociologize personality;
know the one as we know the other.
whichever way we begin~ we
How social structure works is
mare than noting that phenomena coincide. The way we expect the
coincidence to recur or vary depends on how we infer people
living that reality to feel the connections. If reports of
domestic violence fall after men are arrested~ for instance~ our
inference as to whether arrests inhibit the violence or change
and mask its form depend not on material form of the data alone~
but instead an placing the response of arrested men in same
category of how we believe people feel and react between data
- 12 -
sets. If we believe that the reformation of policing in
Minneapolis to make arrests routine has reduced domestic violence
there, consistency dictates find fear of retr i but ion
controlling the violence of ourselves and our intimates, unless
of course we have a theory of how as by gene structure or grace
of God "we" differ from "them." If we find that punishment makes
us find sneakier ways to pass on our anger to others~ we have the
basis for inferring that police mobilization has merely displaced
OLlr se 1 yes .
In either case~ our inference rests on supplementing
data with feelings which we experience thrc)ugh
Data "make sense" when they sound affective chords
within LIS. The historian, the survey researcher, the
ethnographer infer structural significance of data sets by what
they find they themselves are capable of feeling. Conversely, to
discover a new social pattern implies the discovery of a
previously unnoticed capacity of oneself to respond to others in
daily life. The extent of possibilities for structural and
change we have brought to awareness constrain one
This accounts for why data or logic alone do not change
scientific or political opinion. Before one person acknowledges
a soc i al str"ucture as another descr i bes i t ~ the listener must
accept being able to feel as those in the structure implicitly
do. Until. I for instance am willing to accept that people can
reduce my own violence by hurting me, I am unwilling to infer
- 13 -
police hegemony to be a deterrent to violence. Unless people get
in touch with their own capacity to feel superior or inferior to
no one they relate to, they are incapable of imagining let alone
implementing eg ad i tar i an orders. When an anthropologist
describes a cultural pattern, the anthropologist is implicitly
saying, "Here is how I feel capable of living." Utopian visions
are likewise born of one's experience of oneself.
social structures amounts to self-discovery.
Whether past lives and karma exist as some postulate, the logic
of our knowledge of humanity is consistent with the idea that we
learn not by imposing knowledge on empty brain capacity, but by
using data to arouse awareness of patterns that are already
imprinted in our being.
Any planned
structural change has to be implemented by
Just as one cannot depict egalitarian structures
beyond one's discovery of egalitarianism in oneself, so
egalitarian structures cannot be created except as individuals
manage to live a personal egalitaria~ existence. Radical
feminists draw this inference from the unity of private and
public existence, and hence emphasize remaining self-conscious
about avoiding hierarchy and extending compassion in movements
and organizations they build.
Trying to implement justice or democracy is a profoundly
humbling experience. In the feminist justice seminar I found
- 14 -
that as soon as the six weeks had passed beyond which the
syllabus contained no readings or suggested essays, the energy of
participants dissipated. If a student provided a reading, most
other students ignored it. If a student started a discussion and
invited response, there was silence unless I, the teacher,
intervened and raised issues of my own. Occasionally someone
would say that she or he had wanted to write about something, but
was not sure whether I would give permission. L1Jhile I had
implicitly assigned material for writing and discussion, essays
poured in and discussion would go for two hours without my even
getting in a comment or observation, let alone being able to
interrupt to call a break. After the ensuing lull, I found
myself arousing the seminar by setting structure in other ways.
And while the activity and interest in the seminar was in my
teaching experience remarkably high, a number of students became
aimless and even paralyzed. I felt continual ambivalence (and
still do) about whether to be more or less authoritarian.
ambivalence was shared. In a cloSing letter to me
participant put it this way:
You commented on the wealth of paper writing at the
beginning of the semester and the lack of any at the
end. In rereadi ng your syll abLls, I find there was the
strong sLlggestion that for a grade of "e" several
500-word essays would be required. There was no real
need for any written work towards the end of the
semester. Individuals covered what they wished to and
unless someone felt very strongly about the topic and
wished to discover more details and wished to share
those, there was no need to write.
- 15 -
I would encourage you and the department to continue
your e:-:periment. IU has too fe~o,j "different" class
structures and contents. I would encourage you to make
more of an effort to have total discussion class. If
possible it might be better to get it off a
personal-support group level and into a more academic
level. Although, I assume you would counter that there
are enough academic courses already available on this
campus and to make your course that way would be to
continue the "masculine domination" which you are
attempting to avoid •••.
One of the things that bothered me most especially in
the beginning, was the lack of discussion in the
class. Very few people spoke in relation to the number
present at any given time. Additionally, very early, I
interpreted some of your comments to indicate you
expected I would have some earth shattering comments to
make, and I literally shook for the first few weeks of.
class. I felt stressed, scared, unsure of myself and
of you and 'y'our "e)-:periment" at the same time I was
exhilarated and excited to be involved in such an
"e:-:periment. II I was shocked and appall ed at some of the
statements which were made by the more conservative
contingents. I could not understand why they were in
such a class if that is how they felt. I still have
problems with that.
Here is an effort at democratization of limited scope and
size. In the feelings and efforts of participants including me
are all manner of resistance to democracy, even to the urge to
take non-conformists out of the community. It is often said that
change like that I attempted in the seminar is hard or impossible
because the larger social structure is so screwed up. But if
miniscule democratization like that attempted in the seminar or
in one's own home life is so elusive, how on earth can
authoritarian urges and habits be controlled in grand
I suggest that for all the glibness we can muster when we
- 16 -
construct grand structural analyses and build broad theories~ the
difficulties of impl~menting change on even the smallest scale
reveal how little we actually know. As one of those grand
theorists myself~ the seminar has taught me about my own
considerable ignorance.
Personal experience and anecdotes do not interrupt our
understanding of social structure. Rather~ they are a crucial
test of our understanding~ and ought to become a regular part of
our theoretical discourse.
Brock-Utne~ Harris and Kellough oppose punishment as a form of
violence. This opposition stems both from women's special
awareness of how punishment is unjustly applied~ and from their
experience as peacemakers.
Punishment like all forms of violence moves toward those least
able to resist or to offend. In the public realm of punishment~
underclass young men are most often punished for crime the world
over. Class standing interacts with age--Iate adolescence when
one is stripped of parental protection but not yet established in
adulthood--to minimize ability to resist punishment.
Meanwhile~ white-collar and organizational crime research has
made it clear that the amount and seriousness of crime increases
- 17 -
with wealth and status. Middle-aged powerholders are odds-on to
be our worst offenders both because they have most opportunity to
steal~ hurt and kill~ and because they are most immune to
detection let alone to being called to account. Just now one
illustration has attained prominence in the American media.
People in the White House sent missiles to Iran in violation of
the Arms Export Control Act~ and arranged weapons sales to the
Nicaraguan Contras in violation of the Boland Amendment~ which
without Congressional declarations of war also amounted to
massive misappropriation of government funds. These acts
certainly resulted in many deaths. Under District of Columbia
law, whoever causes death by committing a felony is guilty of
first-degree murder. The difference between the~e murderers and
a mass murderer like John Wayne Gacy is that the White House
officials killed more people more cold-bloodedly.
The greater criminality of powerholders ought to be apparent to
students of crime~ for criminology is wedded to the idea that
opportunity and capacity to escape sanction--together with close
association with other major offenders--are criminality's major
determinants. However, practically everyone is also inclined to
overlook or rationalize abuses of power. We tend to vent our
anger at the violence and crime we suffer in safer directions.
As electricity flows~ so we pass on violent tension we receive in
paths of least resistance. It is convenient for politicians and
all too acceptable among the public at large to blame underclass
- 18 -
young men for the disorder generated from above. Another path of
low political resistance is underclass young men in foreign
armies~ and in an increasingly violent society like the United
Btates~ foreign warfare and wars on "the criminal element" e).;pand
in alternating waves. Powerholding is in turn concentrated and
expanded by government support of military and criminal justice
production. Lawful and unlawful violence and predation grow in
all social strata as the irresponsibility of powerholders is
catered to by battering oppressed people.
Domestic violence against women and girls is the private
counterpart to public violence against underclass young men.
Domestic violence appears to be more prevalent among men who lack
the power to hire others to do their assault and predation. Men
who are least able to pass on violence publicly are perhaps most
disposed to pass it on privately~ although of course we c,an
expect private violence by persons of status and wealth to be
more hidden from public view~ and hence our picture of domestic
violence may be heavily skewed. In any event it seems clear that
women and girls suffer heavily not for what they do to men~ but
because they are convenient targets for the violence men receive
from elsewhere and pass along.
Public violence is largely reserved for men~ while the lives of
women are relegated to private management by men.
toward keeping women's affairs under private~
The bias
unsupervised male management helps explain why the label of
- 19 -
"criminal" 'or the status of "soldier" is seldom given to women~
even though women suffer the greatest hidden violence in war (as
by being raped) as they do at home. For criminal courts to take
greater cognizance of women's actions is an implicit usurpation
of men's private domain; hence going after underclass young men
in public is a path of less resistance than going after the
As victims of private injustice it is easy for women to
understand and recognize the parallel injustice of criminal
sancti cms. With one logic radical feminists attack violence
against women and punishment of offenders.
While the general American ethos, extending to my own
university classrooms, is of approval for beating down assailants
and getting tougher still on the kinds of offenders police
arrest, the ethos in the feminist justice seminar rapidly came to
be such that an aggressive, arrest-prone police officer became
the deviant. As the semester moved along he came to open his
statements with apologies for his own supposed ignorance or
character defects. Mind you, he was drawn into class discussion
like a moth to a flame. He closed the semester by writing:
.. . I've learned some important things
other people, and how we are socialized.
tell you that I think this is right up
best classes I have taken at I.U. I
discussion format.
- 20 -
about myself,
I'd like to
there with the
like the open
But he was the only student in the seminar to propose that he
be given a grade of B rather than A. He became the most
self-critical member of the group.
This contrasts with other classes I have taught where women
have been among the unabashed and unflinching advocates of
getting tough on young criminals~ and where leniency has tended
to be a minority position.
We had some strong personal accounts of women's victimization
in our early discussion. It appeared to me that women moved to
show solidarity with the plight of their sisters~
moved--perhaps paternalistically--to sympathize.
while men were
The injustice
of passing violence downward was widely acknowledged because it
felt so close to home. Once that injustice was felt~ the logic
of the position tended to carryover to matters of criminal
jUstice. Questioning why' people would abuse women carried over
to why someone would use violence to effect an arrest, or indeed
why someone would bother to make an arrest at all~ let alone why
people should be sent to prison.
In the course of these same discussions women in particular
became confident of describing how conflicts might be peacefully
resolved. As part of recognizing women's strength~ peacemaking
became a celebrated skill.
their skill by describing
to stay cool and talk
Now it was left to men to boast of
occasions on which they had been able
instead of fighting. This happened
- 21 -
repeatedly both in essays and in class discussion.
Peacemaking is an alternative not only to punishment~ but to
forms of violence and predation we know as crime. As punishment
feeds crime~ so peacemaking is the means not only to refrain from
crime~ but to resist crime in a way that relieves rather than
passing on and building violent tension.
As peacemaking and penal abolition go hand-in-hand with
feminism for Brock-Utne~ Harris and Kellough~ so feminism became
the key to unlocking the peacemaking sides of men and women alike
in the seminar. Feminism made alternatives to crime and
punishment real, practical and respectable.
Coherent rejection of violence, crime and punishment~ and
practicing peacemaking in their place. have largely been
dismissed as something women do privately. Radical feminist
literature is a vehicle for celebrating these virtues,
legitimizing their assertion in public discourse.
and for
A seminar
founded on discussion of this literature enabled women to make
this side of themselves public,
side of their own experience.
and for men to acknowledge this
Birgit Brock-Utne observes that growing up is harder for boys
than girls inasmuch as girls are allowed to be tomboys and public
while boys suffer unrelenting condemnation for being
As important as it was for women in the seminar to
celebrate their connectedness and compassion and to have their
victimization acknowledged, I think it perhaps even more
important for humanity that men were able to express and
celebrate the "feminine" sides of themselves.
crime and punishment begs to be feminized.
The male domain of
In a structural sense the seminar allowed peacemaking to be
tied to democratization~ not only in literature but as an
objective of classroom life. Democracy--influencing action in
proportion to how directly one is affected by the consequences
rather than owning the right to make decisions for others--is the
collective form of personal commitment to peacemaking. Pad i cal
feminist literature inspired seminar members to try peacemaking;
our ability was tested by our capacity to share power in our
group. Our experience together was a ground upon which we built
and revised our theories of social structure and crime control.
Sexism is one of our earliest and most basic experiences of
violence including patterns of crime and punishment. This
experience may be preceded for many of us by agism--an awareness
of how prejudice against the old and the young feeds violence and
oppression. But as yet, only sexism has spawned a rich
literature and broadly organized political resistance. Padical
feminism adds a concrete, personal vision of how to make peace.
The feminist justice seminar indicates that getting back to such
basic experience of violence and oppression is a powerful way to
move beyond crime and punishment, into democracy. Feminist
justice contributes so much to our theorizing because it enables
us to feel issues of crime, punishment and social structure so
deeply in ourselves.
- 24 -
Criminal Justice P493 (sec. 1720)/P680 (sec. 1731)
Spring Semester 1986
Meets ~, ". Ball an tine Hall
Convened by Hal Pepinsky
Sycamore 319
335-1450; 335-9325 (messages)
Office hrs. M, 3:30-4:30, W, 1:15-2:15
I don't presume to know a lot about feminist literature, and understanding
justice is a constant struggle. It would be foolish to spell out what will be
covered in this seminar throughout the semester. Rather, here is what I hope
to layout in this syllabus:
1. Why I am offering the seminar •.
2. Some substance to get us underway the first few weeks.
3. A set of ground rules by which I will be bound, and some requests of
When, 'last May, we were asked to propose'what we would teach this spring, I
was awash in a sea of newd.deas and -experiences', in the latter part of a study
of "peaceful. societies" in Oslo, Norway.·' I was away from where I could survey
local library resources. ·1 had afee:ling I would want to do something new,
but I was at a loss to figure out what wonln be practical and meaningful.
My wife, Jill Bystydzienski, came to ,the rescue •. , Women's studies is her
. specialty. She knew I had.'been interested in her' york, and knew roughly what
literature would be available. She suggested I offer'a:course on feminist
justice, and promised to help introduce me to the literature •
. As luck would have it, I had.recently received a paper by Kay Harris, who
teaches 'criminal justice at Temple University, "Toward·a Feminist Vision of
Justice." I found the paper exciting; I still do. . I would like to start the
seminar by discussing the paper with participants.
I had also noticed that feminists featured prominently in peace studies and in
law in Oslo. The author of a ground breaking book which I would also like us
to discuss, Birgit Brock-Utne (Educating for Peace: !Feminist Perspective),
was facilitating Jill's research. (Birgit Brock-Utne is 'slated to spend time
here at TUB this April; you'll have a chance to meet her.) The office I had
borrowed ha.ppened to be in the University of Oslo's pioneering Women's Law
'Department, which I would like for us to discuss as well.
All in all, I knew just enough to know that I could learn a great deal from
looking at crime and punishment as all these feminist sources proposed, and so
I accepted Jill's suggestion with enthusiasm.
Available at,bookstores:
',; ~,
Birgit Brock-Utne, Educating for Peace: A Feminist Perspective. New York:
Pergamon (1985).
Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's
Development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (1981).
Available at Collegiate Copies:
M. Kay Harris, "Toward a Feminist Vision of Justice" (unpublished paper
presented at the International Conference on Prison Abolition, 1985).
Sara Ruddick, "Maternal Thinking." Feminist Studies 6 (Summer 1980): 342-67.
Department of Women's Law, University of Oslo, "Working Papers in Women's Law
No.2" (February 1983).
I'm proposing that we discuss some of these readings on each of several
topics, from the second through the sLxth class meetings. Each selection of
readings is headed by a question.
I suggest. we begi~ each discussion by trying to describe how the question is
answered in the readings.
I propose we then turn to applying each of these feminist "answers" to
criticizing traditional notions about crime and punishment. Kay Harris
provides some examples (for example Packer's distinction between "crime
control" and "due process" models of punishment). Many participants doubtless
,bave a background in.criminal justice, :andcanreadilyprovide examples of
their own. For others,!. suggest :pe.rusing the libraryshel ves' in the region
of HV6001 (t~e number for criminology te~ts), and picking out a book of
.standard ideas abol,1t cr-ime and .punishment'you can take out and use during the
I :expect we will be disqussing material from Harris's paper during each of
these five class sessions. I would therefore ask seminar participants to read
through her paper before each of these class meetings. I would also ask
participants to read the other suggested readings, and then to think through
(1) how you would answer the question posed 'for the clas's session, and (2) how
you would use this answer to criticize some standard ("masculine") idea about
crime and punishment.
One way to structure your reading and thinking is to write a short essay, say
about 500 words, reviewing your points" for class discussion •. I'll begin by
asking someone to start in, perhaps by paraphrasing what she or he has
written. I will also be happy to read a~y paper you give me and give quick
and specific written feedback •. I .ould ask each participant to tr,y writing
such essays for at least thrae of these five class sessions. .
rationale for the grade they believe they deserve. I expect to give you the
grade you propose and honestly defend.
Except for personal written communications you ask me to keep off the record
(and which I may find too personal to respond to), I'll reserve the right to
make copies and show any of your written work, including your proposal and
self-evaluation, to any of my colleagues. This way I can hold myself
accountable ,to them for the grading, and open this experiment of mine to
critical examination with them.
What I hope from this experiment in grading and course requirements is to show
that students can take charge of their own learning and conduct themselves
responsibly without being dict9ted to by the teacher.
I ask students not to abuse this freedom, to take charge of their own
education. If the experiment succeeds, I'll feel comfortable giving students
in other classes a similar opportunity. Please don't spoil it for them.