Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tough on Crime Rhetoric as Political Fantasy

Anyone trying to deal with the reality of crime, as opposed to the fantasies peddled to win elections, needs to understand the complex suffering of survivors of traumatic crimes and the suffering and turmoil of their families. I have impressive physical scars...a broad purple line from my breastbone to the top of my pubic bone, an X-shaped cut into my side where the chest tube entered...But the disruption of my psyche is more noticeable.

For weeks, I awoke each night agitated, drenched in perspiration.... Though to all appearances normal, I feel at a long arm's remove from all the familiar sources of pleasure, comfort and anger that shaped my daily life...

What psychologists call post-traumatic stress disorder is, among other things, a profoundly political state in which the world has gone wrong, in which you feel isolated from the broader community by the inarticulable extremity of experience...As a crime victim and a citizen, I want the reality of a safe community--not a politician's fantasy land of restitution and revenge.

- Bruce Shapiro

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