Joseph Cotto, 9/2/2014 [Archive]

Ferguson and 'A Clockwork Orange' America

By Joseph Cotto

Over forty years ago, Stanley Kubrick made a film called "A Clockwork Orange" that was so controversial he chose to pull it from release in the United Kingdom. This is not only where the story was set, but the movie itself made.

The plot is simple enough: A young man and his friends commit brutal crimes in their decaying city and the surrounding countryside, often with the motive of stealing valuables, but sometimes just for the thrill of it. Eventually, this man, Alexander DeLarge, is betrayed in a gangland leadership coup and left for police after a botched robbery turns fatal.

Sentenced to fourteen years in prison, DeLarge, seemingly not rehabilitatable, volunteers for a mind control program designed to render physical offenders harmless. Despite generating much controversy, it works and DeLarge is released amidst media frenzy.

A devastating series of events ultimately lead DeLarge back where he began — with one caveat. He becomes not merely a clever sociopath, but a national celebrity.

To a certain extent, American life imitates this fiction.

Young, violent criminals who likely have a mental predisposition toward brutality are brought to justice and incarcerated; often for shorter periods than nonviolent offenders. They eventually get out of jail, not on the basis of psychological therapy, but the good-faith assumption that these individuals have learned their lesson.

They then overwhelmingly go back to a life of violent crime. As the crime in question grows more severe, their notoriety increases. Eventually, so-called "troubled youths" are famous to the point of public figure status. This, of course, is almost always accompanied by a return to prison, but the damage has long since been done.

Sometimes the "troubled youths" — now indisputably adults — get out again and many times more. All the while, each is able to read his or her name in the morning newspaper and hear it mentioned by a television broadcaster at night.

Maybe the "troubled youths" will be contacted for an exclusive interview. If the details are lurid enough, a book deal with a film option might be on the horizon. What about a reality show or a web series? The possibilities are endless.

We can be certain of one thing: Our country's culture promotes, if not glorifies, violence. Should said violence be committed by young people, then the doing becomes far more attention-worthy.

Needless to say, this encourages aspiring thugs to commit the most sordid acts of savagery imaginable.

People very much want a coherent explanation for rioting in Ferguson. How on Earth could the supposedly oppressed expect to create a better future by destroying what is around them today?

It should be noted that there's no proof Michael Brown's fatal shooter — Officer Darren Wilson — harbors racial animosity. Nonetheless, that Brown was black and Wilson is white led the perpetually aggrieved to concoct a story of bigotry-inspired murder. Now, this tall tale is accepted as Gospel truth by untold millions.

The people who acted violently or created race-inspired social upheaval do not care for facts. They probably don't even care about Brown. These individuals care only that a black man was shot by a white one. Regardless of circumstance, they want Wilson to be punished severely.

Said characters reflexively back whatever and whomever is willing to create A Clockwork Orange scenario. They are so motivated by hatred of those perceived to be better off that supporting an eighteen-year-old who assaults a far older convenience store clerk after committing theft, only to brutally injure a police officer minutes later, is no big deal.

It's not even a consideration.

What should be clear is that the children of DeLarge's America are out to make a change; namely turning our nation into a third-world cesspit where tribalism trumps individual merit. In this hell, material weapons replace words and emotional concerns outrank rational consideration.

If DeLarge's Army continues scoring victories across the fruited plains, our Founding Fathers' vision will be little more than words on some old paper.

——-

Copyright 2014 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at joseph.f.cotto@gmail.com.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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