In the first place, Wilbert Rideau and many other former prisoners and wardens, as well as a Federal judge or two, all deserve more credit for the reforms at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola there than does the dishonest and incredibly self serving current warden, Burl Cain.
I am amazed at how Cain has managed to take credit for former reforms while at the same time rolling these back. I am amazed that people have actually fallen for this, but they have — largely because they fall for claims of Christianity, so far as I can tell.
I am awarding Cain this blog’s very first BLUFFER OF THE DAY AWARD, similar to the House Negro of the Day award on Field Negro. There are a lot of obvious candidates for BLUFFER OF THE DAY — Dominique Strauss-Kahn comes to mind. I will try to use the award to highlight lesser known, but deserving bluffers.
1. The students who are the most descarados about academic dishonesty, and also the most convinced that whining, pressure and manipulation is the best way to improve their grades, tend to be either, and often both of the following:
a. former or current welfare recipients (including of that form of welfare which is TOPS, in which case the word former and the phrase soon to be former are key)
b. born-again Christians, often of a Pentecostal stripe.
This is to say that NCLB and the faith based society seem to foster corruption. Is this just my experience? I note as well that —
2. The painters and construction workers who are the most descarados about attempts to cheat on bills or get away with shoddy work, and also the most convinced that whining, pressure and manipulation is the best way to maintain their customer base, also tend to be either, but more often both of the following:
It is really indiscreet of me to notice these things, but I do, and there must be some sociological explanation of the behavior — perhaps the combination of the servility that comes with (a) and the entitlement that comes with (b).
I also wonder sometimes, and this is very indiscreet, whether it has to do with the legacy of slavery, the authoritarian system par excellence, where you get things, people and services by grabbing them and/or forcing them out of others — and get out of scrapes by having a friend in the big house.
(And I am often perceived to be nonwhite. And I am a woman with no family here, so I am not legitimate — a suspicion my own non authoritarian attitude only confirms. Being non authoritarian I am confusing, disorienting, and being illegitimate, I am abusable. This combination is lethal.)
To wit: I have what they want — money or a grade — and the objective is to get these items from me and not by working, because my possession of these is illegitimate in the first place. Consider my characteristics: ambiguously (non)hegemonic, yet devilishly intellectual. It just ain’t right.
I dislike the condescension both groups, students and manual workers, employ in their attempts to intimidate me; their manipulative ways exhaust me.
Speaking of the Quiverfull movement: I fired a painter earlier this year for poor work. The next one started out much better but is ending less well, so I am not hiring him for the next job. Each painter had fourteen children.
Speaking of whining, conniving, and Warden Burl Cain (BLUFFER OF THE DAY): the first time I saw as much of these as I do now among students was among the more machista residents of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola who imagined I was there as part of a pious, charitable mission, and that I might be moved to give them presents if I could be convinced they were good Christians now.
The similarity in behavior and tactics among the prisoners, the students, and the painters leads me to wonder how many of the latter two groups may have done time — although I think the operating framework may be patriarchy and authoritarianism in general.
My manifesto is this: I do not enjoy being (mis)treated like a servant or exploited. I dislike being condescended to. Most of all, I resent having people try to bluff me. Da Whiteman does this and so do the people who have learned from him that there is no other way for them to get ahead.
When you add all of this to the fact that I cannot reliably walk down to my local mailbox after 4 PM without the police stopping me because, they allege, a woman walking is a woman hooking, you can see why I want to move out of this rural suburb and into town.