Saturday, January 02, 2016

Memories of the Apocalyse

The thing about contemporary American crime and thriller cinema, cop shows, serial killer horror movies, every piece of pop culture that assumes a huge level of violence in the world that requires a violent armed hero, is that it is documenting a period in America when a huge percentage of its population was suffering from chemical brain damage.

The huge crime rate spike in the US that started in the early 60's and then dropped just as precipitously in the early 90's exactly parallels the introduction of leaded gasoline in the 1920's and its replacement with unleaded in the early 1970's.  A generation suffering from lead poisoning which lowers intellect and degrades impulse control came of age at once and the poorer the neighborhood the worse the poisoning was due to lead paint, leaded windows and proximity to industrial activity.

Then a new generation came of age born after the introduction of the catalytic converter and the mass switch to unleaded gasoline with just enough less lead in their environment to miss the tipping point that causes major IQ impairment and violent impulse control issues.  Suddenly a massive police state apparatus built when sky high violent crime stats were assumed to be the new normal is using tactics designed for a far more violent population than they are dealing with.

So law, policing policy and pop culture in the US assumes a vastly more violent society than currently exists due to everyone involved in its formation and maintenance coming of age during a mass violent brain damage epidemic that for the most part ended decades ago.


thwap said...

It might also be the case that the decline of old customs of deference to elites (the state, religion, employers, the wealthy in general) created a temporary rise in rebellious behaviour. And then, the elite abandonment of social responsibility since the Reagan era has led them to arm the police against the inevitable backlash.

But your theory is plausible too.

Purple library guy said...

There is strong evidence that the move towards a strong police state in the US had little to do with crime and a whole lot to do with uppity blacks (and to some extent hippies); the creation of a big prison-industrial complex with mass incarceration was deliberately intended (by people like Nixon who is I believe on tape talking about it) as both the new Jim Crow and as insurance against large public movements like the Civil Rights movement--they wanted to make sure that next time, there would be enough cops and jails to put all the protesters away. And so far, there have been. And the prisons and big time policing have worked very well at maintaining blacks as an underclass without any formal anti-black laws.

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