03 March 2009

BAH Organizations: Evil Incarnate?

Pure and simple: BAH dehumanizes. Renders people without human emotion, without human response. Without humanity. Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." And since BAH systems, when successful, turn good men and women into slaves of a non-human system, evil doesn't even break a sweat in winning that triumph.

Today's case in point: the tragic death of a mentally ill teenager, originally incarcerated for throwing crab apples at a postal worker. If you can believe it - and I am still dumbfounded by incredulity at this report: "Ashley Smith slowly choked herself to death at dawn in her Kitchener, Ont., prison cell, [while] seven guards looked on because they were instructed not to intervene if the troubled federal inmate was still breathing." And why, you might ask, would seven presumably human beings look on and watch a 19-year-old girl strangle herself to death? Because they didn't want to fill out the paperwork! That's right - the triumphant embodiment of evil is red tape: "Prison managers were trying to curtail the reviews and paperwork triggered each time guards entered her cell to stop her frequent attempts at self-asphyxiation. A manager testified she was pressured to reclassify incident reports so that they wouldn't be filed as “use-of-force” interventions, which require more red tape." As one guard put it, "It's not pleasant to see somebody with a ligature around their neck and their face purple and being constantly told at briefings and having a seminar on use-of-force to not pay her attention and to not go in her cell."

No shit, Sherlock.

But it gets even better for BAH-as-evil-incarnate. In the most bureaucratic of bureaucratic nonsense, "Ms. Smith never got a full psychological assessment and her segregation was never reviewed after 60 days as required by law. Because she was a disruptive inmate, she was moved 17 times during her 11 1/2 months in the federal system. Each transfer then reset her segregation time so she never officially reached the 60-day mark. “It was a violation of the law around segregation,” [Correctional Investigator Howard] Sapers said."

When discussing Valence Theory and the nature of UCaPP organizations, I'm often soft on the requirement for all organizations to change, to become more consistent with contemporary times. I often fudge and say that there is a spectrum of organizations from BAH to UCaPP, and organizations can choose where along that spectrum might be most appropriate for them. But after reading reports such as this one, and seeing clear examples in my research of how - in far more benign settings - BAH organizations are specifically designed to strip the humanity from humans, I'm not so sure any longer. I'm becoming more and more convinced that BAH is, to coin a phrase, a clear and present danger to contemporary society, to innovation, to social justice, to sustainable success, and especially to those among us who are most vulnerable and most in need of our assistance and compassion.

Ms. Fairchild testified that guards would be disciplined if they didn't heed orders and stay away from Ms. Smith if she was still breathing.

In other words, "just following orders." Evil triumphant indeed.

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Anonymous said...

I think it's hilarious that you're going on about bureaucratic, authoritarian, hierarchical organizations while looking for a "preferably tenure track" position.

No doubt you'll find one.

Mark Federman said...

Fair comment, and the irony is not lost on me. However, you are looking at the figure, and not the effect. The hilarity in figure comes from the seemingly incongruous juxtaposition of my research with the BAH reality of academia. The effect, however, of a tenure track position is the ability to supervise and thereby influence malleable minds, contribute to curricula and course design and thereby shift discourses, and generally be more able to slowly subvert from the inside.

There is method to my madness - or at least that's what I tell the family!

mrG said...

the following apropos tag appeared on the Daily Grail News Briefs:

Quote of the Day:

When you let people do whatever they want, you get Woodstock. When you let governments do whatever they want, you get Auschwitz.