Banishment and disenfranchisement

As I came back home, one of the last coastal landmarks I could see before going inland a little was Bass Rock. Now home to one of the biggest gannet populations, it once housed political prisoners. Covenanters - religious dissenters - lived and died on the Rock in the most miserable of conditions. One commentary declares:

The barbarity of life in the State Prison was beyond credibility. The prisoners unable to support themselves were kept on a diet of dried salt fish and only the guards had barrelled fresh water. The prisoners depended solely upon rock puddles for water so putrid that for a little more palatability they sucked it through porridge oats. In bad weather they starved until calmer seas allowed boats to land provisions and at the whim of the governor, a hated prisoner was confined in the lowest dungeon which was deathly cold from continuous sea spray. Those who did not perish in its vile and stinking cells suffered and died later from lung infections, fevers or rheumatic type ailments as freed men.

Some of the luckier ones were banished. Banishment, the removal of an individual from a community or state, together with the removal of his accompanying rights and privileges has been praticed all over the world before the birth of Christ. The Icelandic Sagas are full of examples; indeed, Leif Erickson was removed from his home as a child after his father had been banished for murder. As a punishment, it could be brutal and fatal. Those banished from communities were reduced to vulnerable penury, devoid of the luxuries of communal living, and the protection.

Ever been sent to your room for being naughty? How did it feel?

Those who become outlaws in our society nowadays benefit from the maturity and mercy of our society. Prisoners in this country enjoy opportunities that many are denied in freedom. Prisoners get a bigger budget (three times as much as hospital patients) for food. No longer are prisoners considered to go to prison as a "punishment", and certainly, their standard of living and care exceeds that of the poor in Britain.

And now, because the EU has decreed it, Prisoners in Britain are to be allowed to vote. It is considered to be contrary to their human rights if they are prevented. John Hirst, the convicted axe murderer and blogger (jailhouse lawyer) took the government to court on this issue - and won.

We have seen the erosion of sovereignty by the un-elected commisioners of the European Commision. This is merely their way of undermining the legitimate right of ordinary, law-abiding citizens to run their communities their way. Sooner or later, they will abolish voting altogether, so perhaps this is me ranting about nothing. It is not prisoners who lack a voice in society today, it is you and me.


Ed P said...

Unbelievable, those 'ooman rites!

But what struck me dumb was:

Prisoners get 3 times as much as hospital patients for food.

This Dystopia run by morons has reached a new low - if anyone needs improved diet then surely it's the sick, not those behind bars.

Jim Baxter said...

You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, euros, rins, roubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today!

Am I getting through to you, Mr. Weasel? You get up on your little blog and howl about Britain and democracy. There is no Britain. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, ICI, BP, and Exxon.

Those ARE the nations of the world today. What do you think the Chinese talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Weasel. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world... is a business, Mr. Weasel. It has been since man crawled out of the slime.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Jim, I merely invite you to take your comment, fill it out a bit, and present it as a guest post on WW, for it is worthy of further debate.

Jim Baxter said...

Thanks WW.

I might do that. For the benefit of your readers who don't recognise it, it is a barely adapted version of Mr Jensen's (Ned Beatty) rant at Howard Beale (Peter Finch) from the film 'Network'
(1976) - Writer, Paddy Chayevsky; Director, Sidney Lumet.

Well (sniffs), it was famous enough in 'my day' to need no attribution.

I tend to think of it when people talk about national sovereignty and democracy and wonder how much of it was fiction then and how much of it is now.

Jim Baxter said...

The orginal is about a third of the way down this page: