Reframing Punishment: Making Visible Bodies, Silence and De-humanisation (forthcoming)
Edited by Selina Doran and Laura Bottell
Chapter Title: "Remorse and Responsibility: Discipline and Punishment in Light of Autism"
If one can judge a society by how it treats its prisoners, one can surely judge a society by how it treats cognitively- and learning-impaired children. In the United States children with physical and cognitive impairments are subjected to higher rates of corporal punishment than are non-disabled children. Children with disabilities make up just over 13% of the student population in the U.S. yet make up over 18% of those children who receive corporal punishment. Autistic children are among the most likely to receive corporal punishment.
Although they may deny or redescribe particular instances of corporal punishment or their use of restraints, educators defend such actions as legitimate punishment. In this paper, I assess the logic underlying the use of restraints and corporal punishment on autistic children by educators. The rationalizations for the corporal punishment or restraint of autistics stems from the educator’s desire to control the autistic children so as to end typical autistic behaviors such as rocking, repetitive verbalizations, or “flapping” but also the autistic child’s non-affective responses such as not appearing to feel remorse or shame or the absence of a verbal acknowledgement of remorse or shame. The educators assume that the autistic’s failure to exhibit the desired responses is evidence of the autistic’s moral incorrigibility and is, therefore, evidence of the appropriateness of corporal punishment. But this assumption of the incorrigibility of the autistic child is questionable.
Indeed accepting this incorrigibility assumption reveals two important problems. First, instructors using physical punishment on autistic children do not understand autism. Second, they are not working with a tenable conception of punishment. Any action undertaken to induce socially acceptable behaviors (whether it be the end of autistic acts or responses such as remorse) is to fail to understand what the legitimate punishment of children is about.
Breaking Bad: Critical Essays on the Contexts, Politics, and Reception of the Television Series
Edited by David Pierson
Chapter Title: "A Life Not Worth Living"
What is so striking about Breaking Bad is how centrally impairment and disability feature in the lives of the characters of this series. It is unusual for a television series to cast characters with visible or invisible impairments. On the rare occasions that television shows do have characters with impairments, these characters serve no purpose other than to contribute to their ‘Otherness.’ Breaking Bad not only centralizes impairment, but impairment drives and sustains the story lines.
I use three interrelated themes from Disability Scholarship to analyze Breaking Bad. The first theme, Bodily Control, is that good bodies are controlled bodies and that uncontrolled, messy bodies are frightening, bad bodies. Indeed, the messiness of impairment and disability is so bad, that impaired and disabled individuals are excluded or shut out or excluded from many areas of public life. The second theme, Normalcy, is that the effect of hiding away impairment, of attempting to conceal disability, is that society becomes defined by, and structured around, the concept of normalcy. Normalcy, being normal, attaining and maintaining normalcy, is the preoccupation of most in society. To fail to be normal, or to fall from what is considered to be normal, is a source of tremendous anxiety for most people. These two themes, Bodily Control and Normalcy are conceptually connected: impairment, disease and dying are so feared because they are socially invisible and, therefore unknown and unknowable. They are the undiscussable taboos. The third theme, Bodily Realism, is that having a realistic view of the body, which would at minimum require accepting the fact that human bodies are fragile things, prone to disease and accident and are ultimately destined to die, makes one more at ease in the world, and able to live better lives and live as a better person. Indeed, so the argument goes, our lives would be richer, more rewarding—emotionally and morally—if we cared less about normalcy because of a dread of abnormalcy, but instead learned to accept if not positively value the physical variability of human existence.
The Philosophy of Autism
Edited by Dr. Jami L. Anderson and Dr Simon Cushing
Chapter Title: "A Dash of Autism"
In this chapter, I describe my “post-diagnosis” experiences as the parent of an autistic child, those years in which I tried, but failed, to make sense of the overwhelming and often nonsensical information I received about autism. I argue that immediately after being given an autism diagnosis, parents are pressured into making what amounts to a life-long commitment to a therapy program that (they are told) will not only dramatically change their child, but their family’s financial situation and even their entire mode of existence. Moreover, despite information overload, many treatment programs for autism rely on empty jargon and make completely unrealistic promises, so parents are left feeling overwhelmed and panicked. Even well respected therapy programs encourage parents to spend liberally. Indeed, autistic therapists, who help construct what I refer to as the Culture of Autism, advise parents to commit to a minimum of 35 to 45 hours of intensive therapy every week. The implications are clear: for a parent who works full-time, their autistic child becomes a second full-time job. Autism is big business right now, and therapists are pushing parents to the brink of desperation. So it is not too surprising that there is a desperate cry for a more permanent solution—which is why researchers seek to cure autism. But there are two ways to conceptualize cure. A Therapeutic Cure model (TC) conceives of a cure as a beneficial treatment for the patient that eliminates or ameliorates the harms of the disease or condition. But the notion of a therapeutic cure for autism is highly implausible, given the complexities of autism. Indeed, at this point, the vast majority of researchers have come to the conclusion that the idea of a therapeutic cure for autism is simply a non-starter. Therefore the bulk of research seeking a cure for autism focuses instead on a second approach, which I refer to as the Negative Eugenics Cure model (NEC). With this model, the intention is to eliminate the disease or condition without regard for the health or well-being of the organism carrying the disease or condition. So, with regard to autism, researchers are focusing on identifying genetic markers for autism that can be detected in utero, or in embryos, so that autistic fetuses can be eliminated and autism eradicated by preventing the existence of autistic individuals. I review both models and argue that both fail to provide convincing arguments that the “solution” either offers is desirable. Both rest on the assumption that autism renders a life not worth living which, all things considered, is false. Instead of pushing to cure autism, an idea pervasive in this Culture of Autism, I contend that autistics are individuals with lives worth living. Moreover, rather than expend millions on research to search for the means to eliminate autism, we should instead expend our resources to ensure autistic individuals have access to support they may need. If the phenomenology of autism were better understood and appreciated, the panicked demand for a cure for autism might abate and perhaps autism could be seen as having value in and of its own right.
Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Psychological, Legal and Cultural Examination of Sex and Sexuality
Edited by Helen Gavin and Jacquelyn Bent
Chapter Title: "Comprehending the Distinctively Sexual Nature of the Conduct"
Since the 1970s, sexual assault laws have evolved to include prohibitions of sexual acts with mentally retarded individuals. The argument justifying this prohibition is typically as follows:
A sex act that is forced (without the legally valid consent of) someone is sexual assault.
Mentally retarded individuals, because they lack certain intellectual abilities, cannot give legally valid consent.
Therefore, mentally retarded individuals cannot consent to sex. Therefore, sex acts with mentally retarded individuals is sexual assault. The prohibition of sex with mentally retarded individuals is regarded by many as a significant advance. It certainly seems to be an improvement upon the days in which individuals could engage in sex with mentally retarded adults with impunity regardless of the physical, emotional and psychological consequences such sex acts caused for the mentally retarded individuals. Yet, this legislation raises serious puzzles. For example, in the U.S., mentally retarded individuals are routinely convicted for sexual assault with non-mentally retarded minors. How should we think about the conviction of a mentally retarded individual who has sex with an underage, non-mentally retarded individual? Does this imply that mentally retarded persons are capable of understanding the criminality of failing to obtain legal consent while being, nonetheless, incapable of giving such consent? Should the law address only those cases in which her both or neither of the individuals involved are mentally retarded? If so, why?
In this paper, I claim that shifting the analysis to one based on harms (away from legal standards of consent) better captures our intuitions about sex acts involving mentally retarded individuals. (Indeed, a review of case law reveals a focus within these cases on the harms experienced by the mentally retarded individuals involved.) I close the paper by identifying the difficulties that plague any legislation concerning individuals with mental impairments
Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender
Edited by Olga Gershenson & Barbara Penner
Chapter Title: "Bodily Privacy, Toilets, and Sex Discrimination: The Problem of 'Manhood' in a Women's Prison"
Unjustifiable assumptions about sex and gender roles, the untamable potency of maleness, and gynophobic notions about women's bodies inform and influence a broad range of policy-making institutions in this society. In December 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit continued this ignoble cultural pastime when they decided Everson v. Michigan Department of Corrections. In this decision, the Everson Court accepted the Michigan Department of Correction's claim that “the very manhood” of male prison guards both threatens the safety of female inmates and violates the women's “special sense of privacy in their genitals” and declared that sex-specific employment policies for prison guards is not impermissibly discriminatory. I believe that the Court's decision relies on unacceptable (and offensive) stereotypes about sex, gender and sexuality and it significantly undermines Title VII's power to end discriminatory employment practices
Edited by Dudley Knowles
Chapter Title: "Annulment retributivism: a Hegelian theory of punishment"
Analyzing Moral Issues
Edited by Judith A. Boss
Chapter Title: "Reciprocity as a Justification for Retributivism"
Technology, Morality and Social Policy
Edited by Yeager Hudson
Chapter Title: "Understanding Punishment as Annulment"