Mov Eing From Appearance To Truth Essay

2203 words - 9 pages

The days when punishment would mainly consist of ceremonial public executions and torture are long gone. Now, justice is dealt with more “elegantly” with a complex, bureaucratic system in which attorneys, detectives, the state, the institutions (prison) and more cooperate to create a system of punishment and correction. In our society, the criminal justice system and state are to be perceived as a firm guideline of what is right versus wrong. This division creates a tension per se of who actually holds the power. Now, one might say that the power, if anything, should be concentrated into the hands of the righteous, the wise, the moral and it is assumed that the state and system inevitably ...view middle of the document...

As seen in the testimonies in “Let the Fire Burn,” their bible were guidelines left by their founder John Africa, which allegedly spoke “the absolute truth,” a truth that uncovered “the system, the establishment.” This movement was against conditioning and education through the binary system taught in schools and seen everywhere in society. For instance, we are always divided by black and white, male and female, rich and poor, and these differences are even clearer in the criminal justice system where the divisions can be a matter of life to death (innocent versus guilty, normal versus abnormal, innocent versus criminal/delinquent). It is interesting to notice that MOVE members were known to be against violence, yet the system immediately labeled them as such and followed up with arrests, torture, and meetings.
Foucault states that public torture and executions used to be employed before in order to make it clear to society what happens when one deviates from the state established norms and laws (or, as sociologists like to more formally refer to them, folkways and mores). However, we have seen an example of public torture when the police tortured Delbert Africa through several horrendous beatings in front of cameras for everyone to observe. So, as we can see, the system will use any tactics they see fit to control the ones they deem deviant and dangerous to society as much as possible. However, it seems that what the system was actually trying to correct and prevent was a threat towards themselves, not society. In other words, they knew that MOVE was not a delinquent group in the beginning, but the system nevertheless rushed to sanction them because they were not acting according to the strict rules and norms they had established. MOVE was a threat to a system that had more flaws and dark sides than people were aware of, and they had to be immediately obliterated as such to prevent any danger of the system collapsing or the truth being unveiled. A main factor in MOVE becoming more of a delinquent group was a result of the system.
To better understand how the system purposefully poisoned MOVE, we need to turn to labeling theory first. Labeling theory is an extremely important sociological and criminological theory that states that the label imposed on a certain individual or group can actually cause them to perform secondary deviance, which results in performing the role assigned by the label-which in turn creates the crime itself. The police tortured one of the members, and after an array of arrests and complaints, MOVE began to turn into a more violent group, which met the expectations of the label that the system applied on them: of violent, criminal people who had nothing to do living in society and needed to be punished appropriately by a trusted system put into place for a long time. MOVE consisted of black people, and it was not far fetched for them to believe that they were targeted mainly because of their race. Also, if that was...

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