New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


My Heroine, Too

September 26, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Jennifer Browdy

Hats Off to the Central Park Rape Victim

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

The gutsy 73-year-old woman who was raped by a drifter in Central Park has been on my mind since I first heard about her. The assailant has been caught, and it turns out he has a history of raping and murdering elderly women, going back to the 1980s.

The mystery is why a man like that was let out of jail.  We keep kids in prison for minor drug infractions, but we let a psycho rapist and murderer out on parole and allow him to drift across state lines without supervision?

Like so many other homeless people, he ended up drifting around in Central Park, and according to the victim, whose name is being withheld to protect her privacy, he had it in for her because a couple of weeks earlier she photographed him masturbating in a lonely section of the park. (more…)

Weapons of the Weak

August 28, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Rape, Patriarchy, and the Bomb

by Robert C. Koehler

Every sperm is sacred. . .” Todd Akin could have worked on the script for the 1983 Monty Python movie, The Meaning of Life: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

But wait, there’s more. “But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something,” the Missouri Senate candidate said in his recent, now infamous TV interview. “You know, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be at the rapist and not attacking the child.”

This is where I heard the bell toll. He hypothesizes that the rape is “legitimate” but the woman manages to get pregnant anyway. So punish the rapist, he says, not “the child” (i.e., embryo) by, presumably, allowing it to be aborted. Who hovers in utter irrelevancy in this scenario? The woman. She’s no more than a fertile medium for the rapist’s “child” and has no say in what should happen next.

(more…)

Mass Incarceration

May 15, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Diane Lefer, Politics

Points of Agreement on the Right and the Left?

by Diane Lefer

Civil rights attorney Michelle Alexander reported in her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, that largely as an intentional consequence of the war on drugs, there are more African American men under correctional control now than were enslaved in 1850. People of color have been rounded up en masse for relatively minor, non-violent drug offenses. Alexander concluded all this came about in part as a strategy to deprive African Americans of rights, including the right to vote.

William J. Stuntz, Harvard Law professor, evangelical Christian and self-identified conservative (who sadly died much too young, before his book, The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, was published in 2011) argued that black people are disproportionately imprisoned because they commit more crimes, that incarceration rates have risen in part because the system used to be too lenient, that incarceration keeps at least the incarcerated from committing more crimes, and that police carry out drug sweeps in certain neighborhoods as a strategy to get gang members off the streets when threats against witnesses and the no-snitch culture create daunting obstacles to the arrest and prosecution of violent criminals. (more…)

A Healing Justice?

May 02, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Overcoming the State of Fear Through Restorative Practices

by Robert C. Koehler

This was the headline: “Zimmerman, Martin’s parents to face off in court.”

The words, of course, merely summed up a moment in the news cycle last week. We, the news-consuming public, were primed — by CBS, but it could have been any mainstream outlet — for a tidbit of potential drama the next day in the hottest murder trial around right now. But in the process, we were also silently reminded, yet again, that everything is spectacle. At the level at which we call ourselves a nation, nothing is serious, not even matters of life and death.

There’s something so painful about all this — painful beyond the horror of the crime itself, or the national murder rate. The 24-7 media trivialize the stakes and gleefully report the “courtroom drama” as a sporting event; but even more distressingly, the legal bureaucracy swings into motion without the least awareness of any value beyond its own procedures. It all happens with a certainty of purpose that generates the illusion that things are under control and social order prevails. But none of this has anything to do with what social order actually requires when harm has occurred, which is . . . healing. (more…)

Lessons from San Quentin

June 07, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Michael N. Nagler, Politics, Stephanie N. Van Hook

A Nonviolent Approach to ‘Criminal Justice’

by Michael N. Nagler, with Stephanie N. Van Hook

“San Quentin may you rot and burn in hell, may your walls fall and may I live to tell; May all the world forget you ever stood, may all the world regret you did no good.”Johnny Cash

In Camus’s The Stranger his main character, Meursault, has murdered another man in cold blood on the beach one hot summer day for no evident reason.  Days before his execution, gazing at the sky in his cell, Meursault suddenly realizes that freedom is still possible, still immanent, even with his body in chains. On the exact nature of this realization Camus makes no comment, but as the gates of San Quentin penitentiary closed behind me on May 27, 2011, the scene came to mind and gave me perhaps a similar notion of the absurd, and of truth not served, and the horrible secret of our “democracy”: that there is no such thing as criminal justice. (more…)