Presto Change O

Serendipity finds two online Newark Advocate articles that appear concurrently complimenting and informing each other. Their publish dates differ but their contents symbiotically enlighten. Analysis finds the correlation of “Officials seek variances to expand use of former Licking County Jail” (5-21-14, Joe Williams, Advocate reporter) and “Attorney general cites true threat to civil rights” (5-20-14, DeWayne Wickham, USA Today opinion column writer) intriguing. Seems the Licking County Governmental Preservation Society (No! Not the antithesis of Grover Norquist and his lackeys but a historical society dedicated to the memory of government, er, historical governance, ah, well, dedicated to history, and how things once were.) is requesting that the County building code be relaxed so they can utilize the entire defunct former jail. Something about tourism and haunted tours, or maybe just capitalizing on central Ohio melancholia to see how misery used to be meted out (take a depression selfie seated on a cold iron bed next to a moldy porcelain commode). Suffice to say the Governmental Preservation folks have a hankering for the old jail but can’t afford today’s standards and say they can do it by the ones in play when the jail was built. Would that the Commissioners only return with them to those bygone law and order (and no code) enforcement days of yesteryear. Sigh. If it was good enough for grand dad, it’s good enough for them. Brings to mind Foucault’s masterwork “Discipline and Punish”, but that’s a digression. DeWayne Wickham writes of the US Attorney General’s recent commencement address at the institute of higher learning where Mr. Wickham is the dean of the School of Global Journalism and Communication, Morgan State University. By means of his address, Eric Holder insinuated that the pervasiveness, reproduction and continuance of racism in America is supported and promoted by the actions of the John Roberts Court (the US Supreme Court for those of you keeping score at home). The news-making actions of folks like Donald Sterling and Robert Copeland are only symptomatic of the actual systemic disposition manifested by Roberts and his clan of robed cronies. Wickham quotes Holder as stating that Roberts and the Supremes have “argued that the path to ending racial discrimination is to give less consideration to the issue of race altogether,” and that “This presupposes that racial discrimination is at a sufficiently low ebb that it doesn’t need to be actively confronted.” So what’s the correlation, you say?

No, it’s not that black men “have received sentences that are nearly 20 percent longer than those imposed on white males convicted of similar crimes,” (Wickham quoting Holder) and that the L C Governmental Preservationist Society is enamored with the means by which this is accomplished (Discipline and Punish, as in, prison – see Foucault). Rather, it is the history itself which the Governmental Preservationist Society elides through its request for public safety standards’ variance. Thirty years ago the ostensible and urgent reason for the jail’s demise was touted as a deep rooted and pervasive mold infection throughout the building. Thirty years prior to that, the reason for affirmative action, for civil rights legislation was the deep rooted disparity of racism pervasive within everyday life in America. Now, magically, the mold has disappeared from the former county jail (though we were told that once a structure is infected by it, once the spores have taken root, it is financially unfeasible and next to impossible to remove and return the structure to one again safe for the public). Ditto John Roberts and the Supremes re: racism in the US. It is no longer a consideration so return with them to those thrilling days of yesteryear when it wasn’t a concern, won’t you?

Wiktionary gives the definition of “nonscientific” as “1. Not scientific; involving faith, intuition, or magical thinking”

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