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Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Anatomy of Captivity

The Anatomy of Captivity

"Political prisoners are the victims of man's most vicious inhumanity to his own kind. The phenomenon is by no means new - yet in modern society political captivity has assumed vaster and more terrifying proportions than ever before".

"...the climate under which political captivity is possible is not peculiar to certain countries and that it could easily be produced in those nations which consider themselves bastions of freedom, the United Kingdom and the United States, for example. Indeed, in both these nations some trends towards this climate are already disturbingly evident; the growth of bureaucracy is one of them. The only safeguards are a free press, a vigorous parliamentary opposition and an alert public. The second two cannot function without the first; the press is the first target of the men who are prepared to do to other men the terrible things" like inhumanity to man.

"A dangerous aspect of political captivity is the view of some people that it is history, that it all happened yesterday and that the world is more enlightened now".

"But let nobody think that political captivity is history. It is still making history".

(Quotes taken from The Anatomy of Captivity by John Laffin, Abelhard-Schuman, 1968).

I am of the belief that our society consists of closed prisons (including open prisons within the penal estate) and the large open prison which most people refer to as liberty or freedom. It has been said that, one does not appreciate freedom until it has been lost. I believe that there is some truth in this. I am also aware the loss of liberty of a prison sentence can, in some senses, actually be a freedom. For example, it can free the mind even though the body is physically restrained. Some people actually escape to prison to evade their responsibilities in wider society.

Perhaps, a disturbing factor following my killing was the realisation that I would be free to pursue further education in prison. I became a "Professor" of prison law at the "University of Crime".

The tabloid press, particularly the right wing, panders to the ignorance, prejudice and fear of the public. Their defence is that they are only giving the public what they want. A problem with this is that politicians knee-jerk to the headlines and editorials in The Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express. It also means that we do not have in this country a free press. One only needs to look at the recent media frenzy attacking the idea of giving convicted prisoners the vote, to see that the media is controlled. The Prisoners Votes Case also shows that whilst Labour in office attacked Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of law, there was no vigorous parliamentary opposition from either the Tories or LibDems. Because of the media and government lies being soaked up by those preferring to live in a live-a-lie world, we don't have an alert public. Applying Laffin's test we live in a climate of political captivity.

Every revolution in history has started in prison. And, getting convicted prisoners the vote is part of this process. Change from the bottom up, because it rarely comes from the top down.

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