Tag Archives: Louisiana Lockdown

Our collective lockdown mentality, lest a siren call lure us to freedom

LOCKDOWN. The term has become ubiquitous, though lifted easily out of context, being self-explanatory. Its predecessor “batten down the hatches” used to be too. Before the advent of recreational sailing it came from a work environment synonymous with incarceration, in the days of debtors prison for penury, before which were slave galleys. As an idiom, batten the hatches still means to fasten things down, brace for difficult weather. “Lockdown” was used this week to describe the city of Boston, as its neighborhood of Watertown was swarmed by militarized police, the residents commanded to “shelter in place”, officers barking at them to stay in your houses, under penalty of being shot, by accident we like to suppose, for their own safety is the implication, or be arrested for obstructing justice. We’ve come to know what lock-down means. It’s a prison term for everyone stuck in their cell, until further notice, sometimes indefinitely. Colorado’s Supermax prison operates in a permanent state of lock-down. Of course in this age of school shootings –another self-defining expression, like “going postal”– lock-downs have become an educational tradition, and isn’t likening schools to prisons forcing an interesting slip into Freudian reality?

Students have always inferred they were inmates. Without looking it up, I’m now certain the expression “matriculation” was abandoned for its unfortunate implication of being compulsory. Before the middle class, vocational training was worse than mandatory, it was an inevitability. If of course a luxury –how far we’ve come. But our labor saving inventions weren’t meant to save our labor, that profit went to the hoarders of what we produced: produce, became grain, now money. With the means of production owned by the land owner, the rest of us are laborers once again. Underemployed, idled, in the lull of post industrialism, we’re put into lockdown.

And we accept it. Now we’re speaking of building walls to control immigration which means a macro lockdown. We’re prisoners of nation states and we’re breeding children in captivity who can never live Born Free outside zoos.

Boston accepted its lockdown. The media is reporting Bostonians are now catching their breath as if the restriction was some collective girdle. How long would the lockdown have seemed justified? I was rather hoping if the lockdown had extended, that Occupy Boston would have rallied to march on Watertown, to reject the premise that a manhunt for a solitary teen of dubious menace would justify unqualified home invasions without search warrants. I’m rather confident, had Watertown been a submunicipality of Denver, that the infamous cop-baiters of Occupy Denver would have flown their colors in the officers’ faces.

The police were hunting a fugitive teen accused of planting a crude bomb at the Boston Marathon. He’d fled a firefight with police after a car chase said to have involved pipe bombs and grenades, but whose? The suspect was armed and dangerous, but was he? The police also warned that he’d be booby-trapping the neighborhood. They searched houses not just to locate the fugitive, but to check that he hadn’t rigged unsuspecting houses. When he was finally caught there was no mention of his being armed. Perhaps that’s why they couldn’t immolate him like the usual felon, because his hiding place was fiberglass and the imaging devices gave away the fact that he was absolutely defenseless. What may have saved Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was perhaps less the virtual Cop Watch of oversight on police scanners broadcast over the internet, but that the young man sought refuge in a boat.

You might quarrel with my nautical analogy, there are perhaps less archaic idioms than “batten down the hatches”, but specifically it means to seal the hull, batten in this case being a verb referring to a tool for reefing the sail, and see, none of this translates anymore. As we lose the middle class, we lose our sailing terms, just as the working class has lost its fisheries. Hatch is still relevant to aircraft and spaceships, which the common urchin might still know virtually, but for how long prison ship Spaceship Earth?

Odysseus had his men lash (See?) him to the mast so he could resist the Sirens’ call that lured sailors to their doom. Literally battening him in lockdown, because beyond here lie dragons, sea monster mermaids who would waylay the course of Western Civilization, which now seems the better idea.

Louisiana Lockdown – What is Angola Prison doing on Animal Planet TV?

Good ol’ boys probably think it’s mighty funny parading Angola’s black prisoners across the teevee, at the whim of an all-white Reality TV corrections officer caste. Inmates are portrayed like the channel’s animal kingdom predators, dangerous and unpredictable, but what misconduct is feared, the program doesn’t dare tell. For being menacing recidivists, Angola’s felons lead the life of choirboys apparently, no mention of the sexual slavery reported in a notorious memoir. What’s the HIV transmission rate in Angola? No one’s talking about racism. Was “Angola” named for its African population? We’ve already learned “The Farm” is an immense rural labor camp with a famous gladiatorial rodeo. Hopefully “Louisiana Lockdown” will disclose the reality side of its genre. Until then, the watchdog group most familiar with the mistreatment of Angola’s inmates is the humane society.