How Bigotry Works: Stealing “Goodness”

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Every once in a while, I encounter bare-faced personal bigotry aimed at me.  In many ways, I am deeply privileged and fortunate – as a member of the White tribes  – to not experience this on a daily basis; a point made regularly by those who experience bigotry they cannot ‘hide’ from, with racism being a prime example. There’s an aspect of me that believes my complaints are anaemic by comparison. They probably are if we’re playing comparison ‘games‘ where we point-score to see who has the greatest claim to being the ‘victim’. This ‘victim-competition’ between groups often seems to me to contribute to the overall problem because it continues to frame us within the bigotry dynamic and it is this that I am trying to get a handle on. I want to understand, on my terms, exactly what is going on.

 

The advantage of my example is that, because there are clearly disturbing facts involved, it forces people to think about their attitudes and identifies those who refuse to. My example concerns bigotry towards criminals, particularly prisoners. When it turned up on my twitter timeline this morning, it looked like this:

 

FireShot Screen Capture #053 - 'Twitter _ dylanandmolly_ @Prison_Diaries @wildwalkerwoman ___' - twitter_com_dylanandmolly_status_358773050009219072

 

For those interested in the full exchange this tweet was contributing to, it can be found here. This ‘contributor’ brought with them a whole barrel-load of bigotry to a twitter conversation between a serving prisoner (with an illicit cellphone) and a former prisoner. The conversation focused mainly on our own experience, so this ‘new’ contribution was unsought yet shines a very clear light on how bigotry works within the UK prison system. For example: there is the contributor’s assumption of the reasons we were banged-up at ‘Her Majesty’s Pleasure’. Despite the fact that I have no criminal convictions for murder, rape or paedophilia, here are the same old ‘charges’ because… well, you know, all prisoners are ‘bad’ so who cares about the details? In addition, the ‘contributor’ was also under the impression that s/he had been very clever in ‘outing’ us two criminals because, well, we were busy hiding our true status from our followers. S/he really ought to have checked out facts first before leaping to such conclusions, as I pointed out in my response:-

 

FireShot Screen Capture #059 - 'Twitter _ wildwalkerwoman_ _@dylanandmolly My _revelations_ ___' - twitter_com_wildwalkerwoman_status_358818656513298434

 

Whilst I may not always agree with @Prison_Diaries, one thing is for certain; neither of us disguise our status. We are upfront about our situation, so we can already begin to see the signs of bigotry from our contributor. S/he obviously thinks that s/he’s got one ‘over’ the pair of us when, in fact, the so-called ‘revelation’ is nothing new to any of our followers. In my own case, I discuss my offences and their consequences regularly because I believe these are conversations that need to occur.

 

@Prison_diaries had a longer twitter conversation with this contributor and came to the conclusion that he was probably talking to a prison screw.  ‘Screws’ are the prisoner’s pejorative term for Prison Officers who believe it is their personal mission to make our lives as miserable as possible. I’ve met quite a few on my journey through prison but I have also met those staff who are genuinely professional and have earned their title of ‘officer’. Those are the Officers who comply with Prison Rules, which clearly state the standards expected of both prisoner and officer alike:

 

Purpose of prison training and treatment

3.  The purpose of the training and treatment of convicted prisoners shall be to encourage and assist them to lead a good and useful life.

Maintenance of order and discipline

6.—(1) Order and discipline shall be maintained with firmness, but with no more restriction than is required for safe custody and well ordered community life.
(2) In the control of prisoners, officers shall seek to influence them through their own example and leadership, and to enlist their willing co-operation.
(3) At all times the treatment of prisoners shall be such as to encourage their self-respect and a sense of personal responsibility, but a prisoner shall not be employed in any disciplinary capacity.

Use of force

47.—(1) An officer in dealing with a prisoner shall not use force unnecessarily and, when the application of force to a prisoner is necessary, no more force than is necessary shall be used.
(2) No officer shall act deliberately in a manner calculated to provoke a prisoner.(my emphasis)

 

As a prisoner, I met and came to deeply respect all those Prison Officers who understood the spirit contained within these rules. With this standard of staff on duty, it was possible to meet the requirements laid upon me under Rule 6(3). With ‘screws’, however, it was not because they failed in their own responsibilities. After a while, prisoners learn to tell these staff apart because it shows up in their attitude. For example:

 

 

FireShot Screen Capture #061 - 'Twitter _ dylanandmolly_ I dislike murdering bastards_ (A lot)' - twitter_com_dylanandmolly_status_358778210794082305

This does not bode well for any lifer or IPP-sentenced prisoner, even though professional Prison staff are perfectly capable of treating prisoners with human understanding – as has been my own experience by the very best officers. If this contributor is actually working in the Prison estate, I wonder how s/he complies with Prison Rule 3.

 

Then came this:

 

FireShot Screen Capture #060 - 'Twitter _ dylanandmolly_ I dislike whining whinging ___' - twitter_com_dylanandmolly_status_358778697874014208

 

So if this were a Prison Officer on duty and I, as a prisoner, had a genuine problem, what kind of ‘extraordinary’ job would s/he do. Even an ‘ordinary’ job might be better than anything done by someone with this attitude. But I saved the best for last:-

 

 

FireShot Screen Capture #062 - 'Twitter _ dylanandmolly_ @MuslimPrisoners fuck off and ___' - twitter_com_dylanandmolly_status_358771544211718144

I wonder, from this tweet, exactly how this ‘ordinary’ person is doing an ‘extraordinary’ job. Precisely how does this comply with Prison Rules 6 or 42(b)? In fact, as far as I am aware, the Prison Service screens-out such people from their recruitment process because these screws cause far more problems than they ever solve. It is a build-up of such attitudes within prisons that eventually result in riots.

 

If the Prison Service wants me to report the good work done by Prison Officers – often in the teeth of opposition from those who regard prisoners as worthless – I would be happy to provide chapter and verse because I met many staff who truly were extraordinary but this contributor is not one of them. S/he may well have ‘reported’ @Prison_Diaries for breaking prison discipline but let’s make sure the reporting is evenly balanced because I’m not sure it is at present. Perhaps it might be worth noting that my own prison disciplinary record in prison was spotless and I never lost my enhanced IEP status over a total period of almost five years. Somehow I doubt this ‘contributor’ could manage that themselves based upon their present behavioural standards. Indeed, from my perspective, there is little difference between the attitudes expressed above and the worst of the worst prisoners I ever came across.

 

So I can take these exchanges apart to see where the problems are occurring – if  prison staff cannot model the behaviour they are demanding, they are really not in any position to complain when prisoners break rules too. Personally, I regard this contributors behaviour as provocative, which was why I blocked them. But that is not what this blog is about. This is about ‘stealing goodness’ and I wonder if it applies to all forms of bigotry but I won’t know until I ask.

 

BPsDzGGCIAAuRIcIf we accept that human beings – regardless of individuality – are a mixture of good and bad, then what seems to occur is that bigots steal ‘goodness’  by colonizing it for themselves whilst irresponsibly dumping all their own undesirable personal aspects upon the ‘object’ of their hatred.

 

Those who are hated in this way are reduced to having ‘no good in them at all’ whilst the bigots claim all the best parts for themselves. This contributor ‘dislikes murdering bastards a lot’ – clearly this is considered ‘good’ in his/her eyes because there is no hesitation in tweeting it. S/he claims to be an ‘ordinary’ person doing an ‘extraordinary’ job – I wonder if the Muslim prisoners would agree… ah, but they are “fuck-off and die ‘retards'”. Notice how even their prayers are hijacked to bolster the self-claimed ‘goodness’ of this screw.

 

To “turn away” from the “self and/or other” destructive evil impulse within ourselves and to “turn towards” and reorient ourselves towards the good is to genuinely “repent.” Repentance is the highest expression of humanity’s capacity to choose freely – it is a manifestation of the divine in humanity. Repentance is a living manifestation of the power within us to extricate ourselves from the binding power of…  the chains of endless causality that otherwise compel us to follow a path of “no return.” As Jung points out, “The sin to be repented, of course, is unconsciousness.” From the Kabbalah’s point of view, a “sinner” who “repents” is on a higher level than the saint who has never sinned.  (link)

 

tumblr_m7f5b0Rgak1qz4d4bo1_500In a civilised society, prison is a corrective measure but in an uncivilised one, it is a tool of repression. This ‘contributor’ assumes that his/her views are acceptable – why else make such remarks or comment so negatively on a conversation between two people who were sharing personal experiences of prison? The contributor is quick to implement procedures to silence @Prison_Diaries but I do wonder where they think they got the power to silence me. My sentence was spent in 2010, I haven’t reoffended and I continue to work to desistance standards even now. Yet this possibility seems to be beyond the imagination of this contributor. Indeed, I’d put my chances of rehabilitation at zero if I were ‘managed’ in this way and from this perspective. The contributor feeds his angry, jealous, greedy, resentful and inferior ego with lies and denies those s/he despises of any joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth – despite the fact that the Prison Rules themselves point in that general direction.

 

This is bigotry and, as far as I can see, it crosses all the intersections that link universal bigotry of all descriptions. Perhaps it is rooted in inferiority – it must surely be a painful place to live if the only goodness we can ascribe to ourselves has to be stolen from those who we attack, despise and look down upon. Are these people not capable of funding their own goodness by feeding their personal Good Wolf?

 

And if they can’t, then they have no business working in the criminal justice system because, until they start locking-in their own bigotry and learning what it means to rehabilitate their own attitudes, they are unfit to do the job and consequently bring the Prison Service into disrepute. Prison staff are not exempt from discipline, no matter how much our contributor may like to think otherwise:

 

Code of discipline

68.  The Secretary of State may approve a code of discipline to have effect in relation to officers, or such classes of officers as it may specify, setting out the offences against discipline, the awards which may be made in respect of them and the procedure for dealing with charges. (Prison Rules 1999)

 

Stealing goodness from others is a lazy and incompetent way of failing to live your own life. Because this goodness is stolen from those who are willing to learn – in any number of different ways – it cannot last. Our own shadow will find us out – as it appears to have done to the contributor today. It isn’t the prisoners/former prisoners who emerge from this situation looking dishonest, but a self-proclaimed ‘extraordinary’ employee of the Prison Service.

 

And we wonder why we fail at rehabilitation in this country!

 

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4 responses »

    • It interests me – this ‘stealing goodness’. Our system does it to us all the time, especially when we’re women. I don’t need to steal my goodness from black, yellow or red tribeswomen. I may have the bad habits of the Sick White Tribe – in the same way that there are sick habits in all colours of the rainbow tribes, or the differently abled, or those who choose something other than heterosexuality for their interpersonal relationships, or all those other individuals who express their differences openly.

      The sickness is that we behave towards each other as though there is a limit on goodness. As though there is a fixed portion of Love in this Universe and we must fight over it like badly behaved children. That, I believe, is where your comment comes from and it is your problem, my friend, not mine.

      I really do not need to hear that kind of dismissive, arrogant tone from someone who knows nothing of me and sees nothing more than the colour of my skin to justify your own bigotry.

      Only those who know what it is to hunger for Love in a cruel world; who know they’re not perfect and who do something about it; and who are willing to listen to unlikely voices, are on the spirit path of Love. It’s the hardest road we can walk, whatever colour we are.

      I don’t need your racist bigotry – I am dealing with enough of it from my own government without you stealing even more from me. You try steal my Honour as a member of the Recovering White Tribes. My government has tried to steal my Honesty, my Integrity, my Spirituality, my Health, my Imagination, my Freedom and now it is trying to take my Life. So you are relatively small fry in comparison as far as I am concerned.

      Your attempted theft was trying to silence or discredit my Voice – which suggests I might be saying something worthwhile. Your attempted theft bears all the hallmarks of patriarchy – which suggests you are trying to steal my Woman Power.

      As a woman, I say to you that a good man has no need to steal goodness from a woman because he has his own. He shares his goodness with the tribes as the women share their own. We create goodness – there’s plenty of it. It comes from the Goodness Tree of Life. This is true in all Rainbow Tribes of the Medicine Wheel: Red, Yellow, Black and White. Whether the other tribes like it or not, White has its own place in the Medicine Wheel of Life. If there is to be balance, it is beginning to look as if all tribes need to examine their need to steal goodness when they could be generating their own.

      Nevertheless, despite the harshness of my comments, I am grateful to you for your comment. Here’s why.

      When someone steals our goodness, they are stealing power. You have enabled me to demonstrate how to get it back. I have practice at it – near five years in prison teaches us a lot of skills. They were never able to steal my goodness either. But I tell you what, those good staff who helped me enabled me to become even far more creative than before.

      I hope this demonstration serves to help all those who are having their goodness stolen by bigots; whoever they are, wherever they may be on this planet and whatever colour they choose to be.

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