There is something to be said about the power of rehabilitation. There’s also something to be said about the power of logical consequences. Rehabilitation is meant to be the logical consequence of error. Certainly there will always be some penalty, but the ultimate goal is rehabilitation, otherwise you may just keep doing it again.
Now, I’ve heard of judges who receive kickbacks from companies whose product is made in the prison systems. These judges keep offenders and even children in correctional facilities so they can keep working in the salt mines and get the kickbacks. Those judges will have a logical consequence as well but more likely just penalty.
If I can define logical consequence for a moment, I believe it’s having some sort of reaction which is directly related to the action. If you start a food fight you can’t eat in the cafeteria with the rest of the kids. I’m not sure I subscribe to making a kids smoke a whole carton of cigarettes when they get caught smoking, but you get the idea. I also like the idea of making the person a part of the process. if a young man in one of my classes or if one of my Conservative Hippyism protégés is caught telling lies, their tongue is cut out and they are made to wear it around their neck as an amulet. Actually I just prefer making them slaves to the class at the expense of their fellows. And if they rat on somebody else they get to go free. Maybe if somebody just says the word “sandwich” too many times and I don’t let them eat any sandwiches, is that logical? Maybe if somebody refuses to take care of themselves I create a law that forces everybody else to. Sure, that sounds logical. Some consequences for other people are determined by a third-party altogether. Maybe I’ll just mediate and call myself a peacemaker. I’ll sit between the transgressor and the person who thinks they’re a victim, I’ll negotiate a deal between the two and take a piece of the satisfaction myself. I’ve added and nothing but cost and no value to the equation. I’ll submit no product but demand payment from one party and demand no products but ensure payment to the other, that sounds like logical consequences, doesn’t it?
I was volunteering at a local rehabilitation center. This is a center which is voluntary. Sure, some of them have gotten a nudge from a judge, but it is not locked down and they entered willingly. They are being treated at the expense of the county. I was talking to one young man who was about to get out. He was asking me if I knew anybody “on the outside” who would be willing to take a phone call from time to time. I was in the middle of giving him a phone number when the assistant director interrupted. He assured me that he wanted to use a few moments at the beginning of the meeting I was about to have with a group and get them riled up in a positive manner. How could I say no? Here was an actual professional while I am a volunteer, asking to shed some positive experience.
As it turned out, every single worker and every counselor, except the director showed up in the room. The immediately spoke down to the group. A lot of negative hustling and herding of people. They asked them when humor was appropriate and when humor was inappropriate. I knew right then I was in trouble. I was sitting in a room of alcoholics and addicts with a handful of days of sobriety, and the staff was about to play a shell game. I noticed that there were cut out paper ghosts around the group room. Each ghost had been assigned a name of a person in that room. The high crime which the staff was addressing had to do with somebody taping a picture of a cigarette onto one of the ghosts. This horrific act of maleficence was assumed to be in retribution for the person represented on that ghost having smoked a cigarette indoors and gotten everybody’s smoking privileges taken away for a day. Again I harken back to logical consequences: the one person who smokes got the rest of the groups smoking privileges revoked. Apparently the story goes deeper and she was only suspected of smoking indoors-there were no witnesses and there was no proof. The taping of the cigarette picture to the ghost was an accusation by a culprit. The staff all stood there in front of the room, and me, demanding that the Dastardly Picture Taper come forward. (insert Arlo Guthrie’s description of the Thanksgiving Day Massacree here) When no one did, the assistant director, who by now had lost all credibility with me, called the person “gutless” and insisted that since there was a picture of a cigarette taped to a ghost, that they would lose all smoking privileges – everyone of them, again. Good thing no one taped a picture of a toilet.
The witch-hunt began. People were pointing one another out and accusing each other. It had become a joke. A few of the people who wanted to seem extremely virtuous, started giving speeches about “manning up “and “Remembering our lessons of honesty.” It was all to no avail. Nobody stepped up, manned up, or fessed up. The staff left the room and the assistant director looked at me, pointed one finger at me and a thumb to the sky and said, “good luck!” I wonder why not offering a safe place to be vulnerable and trusting wasn’t
offered. Maybe he forgot his lesson on honesty, and the prerequisite vulnerability, safety and trust.
If you’ve never been in a room full of newly sober alcoholics and addicts in a treatment center who just lost their smoking privileges, I suggest it at least once before you die. Then again if you’ve been in a room full of teenagers who just been told that none of their homework for the week counts and recess has just been canceled, you may be exempt. If you’ve ever been covered in bacon and thrown in a room of vegetarians, you may be exempt. If you’ve ever been sheep sitting at a table of wolves discussing what’s for lunch, you may be exempt. If you watched the presidential debates and just couldn’t muster up the energy or determination to join in on a conversation about it at work the next day because it made you lose your appetite, you may be exempt. If you sat through any of the presidential or vice president of debates are still considering voting for any of those jackasses, not only are you not exempt you need to be in one of these rooms.
What else may qualify you for exemption, love to hear the ideas!