randomdreams: riding up mini slickrock (Default)
[personal profile] randomdreams
I spent a chunk of the weekend reading Jason Stanley's book, "How Propaganda Works". It was tough going at points, but had a lot of insightful material. His focus was particularly on demagogic propaganda, but he spent the first chapter discussing several other types of propaganda, what purpose they serve, and why demagoguery is so particularly harmful to a democracy.
Some of the points that struck me:
A democracy is based on equality, specifically equality of voting and opportunity. A society that represents itself as a democracy but has serious inequality, particularly of opportunity, has an extremely strong incentive to rationalize that inequality as being the fault of the people who are deprived of opportunity. People who have the highest privilege are most apt to do this, but to a lesser extent, the people with the least privilege tell themselves the same, out of self-preservation.
People make assertions based on their confidence, and their confidence is heavily influenced by the risk they face by making the assertion. People who assert that the poor are lazy, for instance, have very little risk in their assertions, while people who assert that there are cultural and legal systems of oppression that create and maintain poverty get shot in Memphis. This strongly predisposes the cultural dialog towards the high-confidence assertions.
An aside: when discussions of inequality arise, in most of the places I've hung out, someone will bring up the Pareto Principle and say that 20% of the people are always going to have 80% of the resources. I wonder if the Pareto Principle is a statistical representation of the effect that confidence ratio of assertions has on culture.
The best propaganda uses implied terminology: use of an overt slur is nowhere nearly as effective as a word that is associated with a slur. Words like "welfare" have been successfully racially linked, for instance. Likewise, words like 'childlike' or 'savage' have been replaced by 'lazy' to justify lack of equality without referring directly to ancestry.
An aside, that was wholly new and surprising to me, was a quick discussion of prison gerrymandering. Prisoners in most of the US can't vote (which is specifically listed as a human rights abuse in the European Union, save for in extremely specific cases) but are listed as residents of rural areas where the prisons are located, which strongly distorts proportional representation, and strongly incentivizes those areas towards harsher sentencing policies.

prison gerrymandering

Date: 2017-06-13 08:13 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] eub
o_O that's fascinating and evil.

I can't find overall analysis/maps of what the impact would be of fixing it. Maybe people are looking to present it as bad on principle, which it is, rather a partisan win-lose game...

WA hasn't done anything visible about it yet. I'm writing to my reps.


Re: prison gerrymandering

Date: 2017-06-13 02:51 pm (UTC)
elainegrey: Inspired by Grypping/gripping beast styles from Nordic cultures (Default)
From: [personal profile] elainegrey
Thanks to both of you for bringing that to my awareness.

Re: prison gerrymandering

Date: 2017-06-14 07:47 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] eub
They did? I hadn't heard that!

Hm okay it's a little complicated:
- You can vote if you're serving a felony jail sentence.
- You cannot vote if you're serving a felony prison sentence.
- You cannot vote if you're serving a felony prison sentence physically in a county jail.
- You also cannot vote if you're on probation.

I have to admit my knowledge ends at "misdemeanor" versus "felony". What is a jail felony versus a prison felony?

Re: prison gerrymandering

Date: 2017-06-14 08:05 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] eub
This link is how I've understood it: jail is pre-sentencing, misdemeanor sentences, and temporary holding of someone sentenced to prison.

Maybe if you have a felony sentence less than one year in duration it might be served in a jail? I dunno.

So I wonder how many people fall in this odd "felony jail sentence" category affected by the law.

Re: prison gerrymandering

Date: 2017-06-14 08:15 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] eub
Maybe felony jail time is a CA thing, or state-by-state. CA criminal law apparently has a concept of "wobbler" meaning an offense that can be charged as misdemeanor or felony, and these are where I see felony jail time being referred to.

But on the same site they quote CA Penal Code, 17 PC, which says
(b) When a crime is punishable, in the discretion of the court, by imprisonment in the state prison or by fine or imprisonment in the county jail [which is, by definition, a wobbler], it is a misdemeanor for all purposes under the following circumstances: (1) After a judgment imposing a punishment other than imprisonment in the state prison.

Which seems to say "if you're sent to jail, it's not a felony."

(Who the heck writes the documentation for our country, man.)

Date: 2017-06-13 11:27 am (UTC)
amaebi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] amaebi
That sounds like a great book.

Date: 2017-06-14 02:08 am (UTC)
amaebi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] amaebi

Date: 2017-06-13 05:26 pm (UTC)
ivy: Two strands of ivy against a red wall (Default)
From: [personal profile] ivy
Totally adding this to the reading list; I just finished "Team of Rivals" about Lincoln's cabinet and how he got opposing viewpoints to work together with him to try to stitch together a national rift, basically by being smart and using the power of helping people who had been unkind to him when they were the best person for the job. Everyone was so wowed by his magnamity and vision that they became his best supporters... for his second run at President, he had all kinds of people who had tried to run against him stumping for him and swearing he was the best thing since sliced bread. Similarly, I think there are lessons to be had there.

Date: 2017-06-15 02:29 am (UTC)
flwyd: (transparent ribbon for government accoun)
From: [personal profile] flwyd
It also incentivizes passing felony-level laws which primarily impact people who usually vote for a different party.


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