Waylaid Dialectic

January 26, 2012

From the department of what the…

George Monbiot writes about child welfare:

Texas is a largely-Christian state that appears to believe in neither forgiveness nor redemption. Last week the Guardian revealed the extent to which it has criminalised its children(1). Police now patrol the schools, arresting and charging pupils as young as six for breaches of discipline.

Among the villainies for which they have been apprehended are throwing paper aeroplanes, using perfume in class, cheeking the teacher, wearing the wrong clothes and arriving late for school. A 12 year-old boy with attention deficit disorder was imprisoned for turning over a desk; six years later, he’s still inside. Children convicted of these enormities – 300,000 such tickets were issued by Texas police in 2010 – acquire a criminal record. This makes them ineligible for federal aid at university and for much subsequent employment.

Yet most of them have committed no recognised crime. As one of the judges who hears their cases explained to the Guardian, “if any adult did it it’s not going to be a violation.”(2)

Above and beyond how abhorrent this is, it also points neatly to a paradox at the heart of US conservatism over (at least) the last decade. Loudly and violently (if only ostensibly) in favour of promoting freedom in the rest of the world; brutally and effectively in favour of curtailing freedom in the United States.

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