Permission and Punishment

Posted: April 14, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

A certain economy of illegalities exists at Emory University.  The term ‘economy’ here refers to a distribution of things.  Distributions can be equal, or skewed in favor of the few.  One can say that at Emory University, there is a distribution of illegal activities, and they are administered to differently, rather than entirely eliminated.  In this economy of illegalities, illegal activities are distributed to certain subjects based on their actions and political importance.  The key point is that the desire to eliminate all illegal activities at Emory University is non-existent.  Rather, some illegalities go punished while others are tolerated, and still others are quite encouraged and even rewarded.  The act of differentiating between these types of illegalities is political, insofar as the decisions to cultivate or exterminate the practices in question, or even the drives that may lead to the carrying out of such practices, depend solely on the interests of those administering Emory’s own Law – the Emory administration.  Illegalities that buttress the position of Emory’s administration, or in other words, achieve the bottom line of an elite private university – enriching its stakeholders – are deemed desirable, and so are consistently produced, reproduced, perpetuated, and championed.  Other actions that may undermine the interests of Emory’s administration, even if they are not actually ‘illegal’ according to the law as it is administered off-campus, are represented as Illegal activities and punished, so that the potential for their imitation and duplication can be liquidated, thus accomplishing the desired political effect – preservation of the administration’s interests.

Some concrete examples can aid in understanding the particular configuration of Emory University’s economy of illegalities as we find it today.  Perhaps the most obvious and blatant illegal activity, which would make it the most reproduced through the active preservation of its enabling conditions, at Emory is the ubiquity of under-age drinking found inside and around on-campus fraternity and sorority houses.  Apart from cases so egregious that any perceived indifference towards them could itself be politically costly for Emory University, almost all of these actual infractions of state law not only go unpunished, but form a vibrant part of daily campus life.  Several nights throughout the week, expensively-dressed underage students can be seen in droves walking into and stumbling out of these bustling Greek-lettered taverns.  Even without visiting campus, one can see the celebration of such a culture by simply browsing the Emory webpage, as well as that for the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life, where one can find numerous front-display pictures of students with red cups – the universal college alcohol-container used at parties highly patronized by students not yet of age to drink.  Such visibility and prominence of this particular illegal activity on campus evidences its desirability for those with the power to eliminate it.  Obviously they choose not to do so.  This benevolent relationship characterizes the privileged position of those who engage in underage drinking at on-campus fraternity and sorority houses within Emory University’s economy of illegalities.

While under-age drinking parties come with their own dangers, perhaps an even more troubling coordinate within Emory’s economy of illegalities is the use of illegally acquired amphetamines and cocaine as study aids.  A great number of Emory students use drugs such as Adderall, Dexedrine, and cocaine as performance-enhancers during study time so that they may chemically induce more intense focus and higher energy.  Apart from being illegal and incredibly dangerous, such usage also contributes to a thriving culture of academic dishonesty.  Clearly, the illegal usage of Adderall, cocaine, and other similar drugs by Emory students (if they do actually help one ‘cram’) affords an immense advantage to those a) rich enough to acquire them, b) socially safe enough to be inoculated from the adverse legal consequences of trafficking in such illegal substances, and c) morally willing to reap the benefits of illegally enhanced mental capacities.  Emory University students find themselves busy in many aspects of their life, so artificially boosting their energy while at the same time vastly increasing their focus unfairly gives them a leg up on all who cannot or will not do the same.   Dangerous and dishonest – yet at Emory University, Adderall and cocaine usage is quite out in the open (with transactions happening in the Woodruff library and students crushing up and ‘blowing addy’ at computer labs and even in classrooms).  A student need only ask around at Woodruff Library for at most a quarter of an hour in order to find these drugs.  In fact, ask almost any student, and an honest reply will tell you that Emory University must rank near the top nationally in terms of illegal amphetamine campus saturation – it just seems so normal.  And yet the Emory Administration says nothing about the campus-wide normalized illegal amphetamine trade.  Why?  Because the return effects of punitively pursing such illegal activity, as well as the removal of those amphetamine-using subjects from Emory campus does not outweigh the political benefits of retaining such subjects and reproducing such illegalities.  For the Emory administration, the enrollment and multiplication of ‘addy-blowers’ and ‘cokeheads’ at Emory University is politically remunerative; as such, it is not an accidental, but rather produced university reality that is part of the administration’s idea of Emory.  And so the economy of illegalities again dictates that those who partake in these particular illegal activities are safe and secure, if not in their health, at least as far as in the evasion of punishment by the Emory Administration goes.

If the analysis of this illegal economy is pushed even further, one can say that a curriculum of illegality is firmly in place at Goizueta Business School, the proud No. 5 ranked business school in the country. At this training ground of future Bernie Madoffs, Enron CEOs, and Newt Gingrinches, students are explicitly taught to disregard moral values in favor of market values, and to look to the ‘bottom line’ of profit maximization rather than human life.  Students are even wildly encouraged to market themselves.  Their curriculum not only requires no authentic moral wrestling with the world’s problems, but it actively induces amoral, and often illegal, cognitive reflexes.  A common question for a GBS student facing a problem in or out of class is “What can I get away with?”  It is no coincidence that tales of entire-class cheating, successive-semester ‘answer-sharing’ replete with extensive file systems, active and exaggeratedly performed professorial ‘indifference’, and other instances of blatant academic dishonesty that come from the halls of Goizueta are so folkloric in their boldness and scope.  An important connection can be made here between the flows of illegal thinking and acting cultivated at Goizueta and the endemic illegal and fraudulent behavior that characterizes our nation’s governing political and economic systems.  Prefiguration of the formal strategies of political illegality used within the larger national economy of illegalities is being enacted, and this makes sense, as many Goizueta graduates will be encouraged by the powerful offices they may hold and institutions they may run to expand upon the dishonesty and fraud learned and performed during their years at Emory University.  From the Goizueta Buisness School, we can learn that the problems of megalomaniacal governmentality replete with its agents’ perpetual disrespect for and manipulation of the law do not necessarily emerge upon the assumption of offices of great power, but rather are cultivated and developed along the way.

Underage drinking, illegal amphetamine and cocaine usage, induced illegal cognition, not to mention the fake-ID trade and the actions of Emory’s secret societies, among other activities, comprise the politically desired, and thus permitted and reproduced, illegal activities at Emory University.  And yet, for all the tolerance, encouragement, and rewarding of illegal activity at Emory University, as in every economy of illegalities, there are some illegalities that must go punished, for their existence is politically disadvantageous to those who make juridical decisions.  Or better put, there are some actions Emory students may take to which the title of ‘illegal’ as well as stringent punishment must be affixed, so that the Emory administration can successfully eliminate the conditions for repetition, imitation, or proliferation of the so-called ‘crime’, serving and protecting its interests in the process.

One example of such undesirable ‘illegal’ action was my inquiring as to the well-being of a woman I had recognized sitting in Emory’s Woodruff library, as well as the non-communication with the Emory police officers that followed.  As of today, April 14, 2012, Emory University, in conjunction with the State of Georgia, is still pursuing criminal charges for what I ‘did’.  According to the official juridical construction utilized by the state of Georgia, the ‘crime’ I am being charged with is ‘Obstruction’ – a catch-all if I have ever heard one.  But more interestingly, I am concerned with what, for Emory University, was my prosecutable action – what kind of action, in an environment of such tolerated and encouraged illegalities, is undesirable to the point that it merits the Emory administration’s pursuance of criminal prosecution?  (Yes, the Emory administration can easily petition the State of Georgia to drop my charge, so the final decision, and thus the reality of the prosecution, lies with the Emory administration)

Again, as seen in the now widely-circulated video footage, I inquired as to the woman’s well-being, and then had an interaction with an Emory police officer that I’ve described at length in a previous writing.  But this alone is not why Emory seeks to punish me with up to one year in jail.  For Emory, my action is understood solely as the embodiment and enactment of a potentially non-submissive engagement with the Emory Police Department.  More important than the actual action itself, the appearance of my action as potentially non-submissive towards the EPD is indeed what is being seized upon by the Emory administration.  A simple counterfactual proves this point.  It is likely that if I did not have or fumbled with my ID card before the Emory officer handcuffed me, yet appeared submissive to that EPD officer, my charges may have already been dropped and a meeting with the administration and ensuing apology may have already taken place.  However, the reality of potentially appearing to interact with the EPD officer non-submissively is deemed by the Emory administration to be politically too costly, and so is labeled ‘illegal’ and punished severely.  In a sort of penal demonstration involving my arrest in the library in front of many students, along with my rough handling, as well as my transfer to Dekalb County Jail where I was patted down on all of my body parts, stripped naked, and told to get in humiliating positions, the actions that purportedly exist to constitute merely the bringing about of charges were in actuality already-executed punishments themselves.

One thing is clear: the Emory administration’s prosecution of my action is political.  Obviously putting aside conspiracy theories that have been floated out about the administration orchestrating my arrest given my participation in protest movements, it is demonstrable that Emory University has a political interest in my prosecution insofar as maintaining the absolute submission of its students to its on-campus police department is within its set of political desires.  And it is.  With Emory University’s ties to the Department of Homeland Security, CIA, and FBI, maintaining a stout and commanding police force on campus is part of a political program that secures various law enforcement interests, as well as coextensively expanding them in lucrative directions at the same time.

Furthermore, a submissive student body is a welcome sight to corporate, government, and hybrid public-private entities that may invest in Emory University, in the same way that a repressive nation’s politically subdued population is perceived positively by potential foreign investors – the more in-line those at the bottom are (students), the more those at the top (administration officials, board of directors, high-paying investors) can exploit them with impunity, without resistance.  For example, say a large and wildly unethical food-service corporation (imagine that!) wished to open up a location on Emory campus.  If Emory campus was known to be a place where students were free from police harassment and able to exercise political dissent in order to contest such an opening, that corporation might think twice before it concretizes its investment.  But with a subdued student body in place, that corporate entity can carry out its investment because of the low risk involved in doing so, and the Emory administration and its stakeholders can of course glean their significant share of the profit.  With a student-body absolutely submissive to the campus police force, the safety of a wealthy entity’s investment and its profitable return can be more readily expected, and so more expansive investments, which as we know often involve deeper and more finely-tuned exploitation, can be pursued.  Thus, the Emory Police Department itself is an indispensable asset in not only securing but attracting investments.  The key to this all is that the EPD’s authority must appear at all times to be moving uni-directionally – in the direction of ever-expansion.

And so the question that follows becomes, did my action undermine the steady expansion of the authority of Emory’s Police Department?  But in fact, this is not exactly the best question.  A more precise inquiry asks, was the appearance of my action perceived by the Emory Administration as potentially laying the groundwork for any possible future undermining of the expansion of the Emory Police Department’s authority?  By the evidence of Emory’s continued criminal persecution of me, one can conclude that my measured exchange with the Emory police officer, in which I asserted my rights and peacefully disengaged, is in fact understood by the Emory administration as non-submissive, and thus, the first step on the road to questioning and perhaps even demanding justification for(!) the expansion of the authority of the Emory Police Department on our campus.  For the Emory Administration this is politically unacceptable.  If the EPD’s expanding authority is questioned, then their very function and existence on Emory campus may be questioned as well.  Public visibility of such questioning could shake the confidence of potential investors, who could just as easily take their large sums of money to more politically subdued campuses, hurting the interests (profit) of the Emory administration.  The groundwork for potential questioning of the Emory police had been laid, disrupting the apparatus that secures and attracts lucrative investments, and so by the administration’s calculus, computed in terms of its own interests, the dictates of the economy of illegalities prescribe that my act must be publicly paraded as illegal (hence criminal prosecution rather than in-house negotiation) and punished to the strict extent that the potential for the action’s repetition by me or imitation by others is expunged.  This is how Emory University has become a corporate campus within which maintaining an absolutely and unequivocally authorized and indeed unquestionably supreme, or should I say supremely unquestionable, police force is a central pillar of its operations.

By matter of a confluence of covetous interests, punitive interventions, and productive-regulatory programs, Emory University is a college campus in America where rampant cocaine usage is permitted by the indifference it is shown, while a considered exchange with a police officer is prosecuted with fervor.  Considered as such, the outcome of the political calculations and relations constituting Emory’s illegal economy is demonstrated to be twisted and contorted into a disturbing shape.

Now that the economy of illegalities has been laid out, I can conclude by asking the question that those who exercise administrative power at Emory University wish not to be asked.  For whom, or for what, is the Emory Police Department good?  Does the EPD prevent violent crime or theft for campus workers?  Do they protect students with certain needs from being bullied?  As we know from a recent upsurge in the reporting of sexual assault, they do not prevent abhorrent actual crimes such as the rape of female-bodied persons.  So what does the Emory Police Department do?

I put forth the hypothesis that primarily, the existence of the Emory Police Department serves to enforce the economy of illegality desired by the Emory Administration.  It does this by forcefully putting down any political action that the administration finds undesirable.  This is the EPD’s raison d’êtreAgain, a political action is understood by the administration as any action that may potentially lead to an effect on its interests, such as raising questions about campus labor relations in an unmanaged fashion.  Almost any action can be perceived to be political and treated as such if the Emory Administration deems it necessary – the decision is solely theirs.  To a great extent, the Emory Administration controls the means of the representation of campus actions.  Indeed, what the Emory brand seeks, and is already in the process of developing as a model for the 21st century University, is the total management and oversight of campus action representation.

Such concentration of representational power in the hands of those with undisclosed interests and vast punitive power on a college campus is flatly dangerous for independent thinkers.  As we can see, with regard to politically undesirable actions, Emory seeks not just to avoid their occurrence, but in practice to abolish the conditions for their mere potentiality by representing them as socially unmeritorious and specially dangerous for those who partake in them.  And this is where the unquestionability of the EPD and its troubling punitive power comes in.  The existence of the much-funded and seemingly unquestionably authoritative Emory Police Department serves to strike a preemptive blow against any and all students that may wish to engage in independent political organizing and action that could potentially place in question the goals and interests of Emory’s stakeholders and the Emory enterprise at large.

To understand how this functions at the level of individual student realities, one must ask the following question: if any Emory students wanted to strongly question, say, the direction of the Goizueta Business School or Emory’s ties to the CIA, Coca-Cola, or AIPAC, what must they consider?  Any student partaking in such unauthorized and unmanaged political engagement on Emory campus is now forced to weigh the strength of their convictions against their willingness to confront the absolutely real possibility of being arrested and potentially injured by the Emory Police, carted off to Dekalb County Jail, searched by the probing hands of multiple officers, and stripped down and made to “squat and cough” – not to mention the coextensive potential state punishment of serving one year of incarceration.  Understandably, for many students, this is a deeply personal risk, the price of which is simply too heavy to pay.  For instance, many rape survivors or persons triggered by thoughts and experiences of sexual violence may find themselves summarily occluded from taking spontaneous political action due to the certainty of the bodily harm they would face by carrying out their beliefs.  Handcuffs, pat-downs, and forced nudity could send them into violently traumatic episodes that they strongly wish to avoid.  And of course, the personal risk is unacceptably high for any student who may wish to become politically involved.  Indeed, at Emory University, for most students the movement of thinking in spontaneous political directions is stopped before it can even start – much to the delight of the administration and its well-heeled backers.

Things have been arranged at Emory University so that those who may wish to become involved in genuine political engagement falling under the undisclosed and liberally wide category of ‘undesired by the Emory administration’ are produced as criminal subjects, and the penalties associated with such ‘criminality’ have been calibrated to such a degree of intensity, that the desire to repeat the offense is squelched, and the drive to imitate it is liquidated, nearly eliminating the conditions for the potentiality of independent political thinking in the first place.

The existence of perpetual illegal activity at Emory University is not a result of the flow of unchecked or unnoticed action, nor activity’s surplus.  Rather, the functioning of Emory’s economy of illegalities evidences a finely-tuned and fiercely managed political coordination that protects the interests of the Emory administration and high-paying investors, while seeking to eliminate even the possibility of those interests being in any way undermined.  Covered up with slogans, committees, and all sorts of administrative, professorial, and student cheerleaders, the political reality of Emory University is that not only has the administration put in motion the preemptive suppression of independent political action, but it has already nearly succeeded in erasing the mere disposition of any of its students towards spontaneous political thought.  Emory University’s ethical engagement can be summed up in two words – Administrative Totalitarianism.  If one is not willing to risk such a condemnation, I would only ask, what more must one see in order to do so – perhaps the active physical suppression of students by the EPD?  Well, that’s already happened, too.

“Look at yourselves.  Some of you teenagers, students.  How do you think I feel belonging to a generation ahead of you – how do you think I feel to have to tell you, ‘We, my generation, sat around like a knot on a wall while the whole world was fighting for its human rights – and you’ve got to be born into a society where you still have to fight that same fight.’  What did we do, we who preceded you?  I’ll tell you what we did.  Nothing.  And don’t you make the same mistake we made.” – Malcolm X

Comments
  1. Johnny Utah says:

    Dear Martyr,
    I just read your blog, and your hypocrisy and naivete made me laugh out loud. Aren’t you getting your PhD at present, and in such, accepting money in the process, from the very institution you claim to hate so much? They pay you a stipend each year, right? If you believe so much in what you preach, then you should no longer accept it. You should give to charity. That would be the righteous thing to do. But you won’t because you need it. It’s the very same stipend that bailed you out of jail….unless you used student loan money.
    Also, regarding your ridiculous accusations of the Goizueta Business School, you’re entirely full of shit. You’ve never actually spent time in any business school classes, have you? You just assume it is an evil entity, because you want it to be. It suits your needs. You just generalized an entire group of people, which is exactly what you imagine is being done to you.
    I have to assume you have never lived outside of the academic system. You lived your eighteen years at home, went to college, then on to graduate school. You critique a system you have never actually lived in, yet claim to know everything about. You’re an art critic who has never picked up a brush – the worst kind, who claims to understand what he has never experienced.
    While I admire your cause, your voice, associated with it, makes me fucking nauseous. You’re the worst type of hypocrite, because not only do you shit where you eat, but you complain about the meal that was bought for you.

    Sincerely not liking your bullshit martyrdom,

    Johnny

    • dirtseyeview says:

      1) I filed for and received a leave of absence following the arrest, so I am currently not receiving any money rom Emory University nor have I received any money from Emory University in months. But I don’t think I’d have any problem funneling their money (expropriating corporate funds) towards some of the direct action projects with which I’m involved (i.e., home foreclosure defense, anti-police brutality organization, Food Not Bombs, etc).
      2) I can’t reply to your “you never lived outside academia” and “you critique a system you never lived in” comment due to its “outside/inside” incoherency. I will say that there are bustling projects going on throughout Atlanta, and that most of my time is spent, and my best experiences have come about, outside of the Emory-North Decatur bubble.
      3) I’d encourage you to get involved and do some research on your own before you cast aspersions on subjects with which are unfamiliar – especially given that not doing so is precisely what you so comment against with such vitriol.

  2. Johnny Utah says:

    And by the way, I doubt you’ll have the balls to let my previous response be seen on your blog. “Your comment is awaiting moderation” is a cop-out. You should allow all voices to be heard, even if they disagree with your views. But you won’t do that, will you?
    Johnny

  3. Johnny Utah says:

    Mr. Martyr,

    So you never actually answered my question about where your in-depth knowledge comes from, regarding what goes on in the inner sanctum of the Goizueta Business School. Who or what was your source, when you said in your ramblings, “students are explicitly taught to disregard moral values in favor of market values, and to look to the ‘bottom line’ of profit maximization rather than human life?” That is entirely untrue and you know it. You’re lying. You’re just as bad as the media coverage that the Occupy movement has received, where a few protesters are interviewed and a generalization is made about the entire movement, based on those random sound bites. Is that fair, Joe?

    You conflate all business students with the worst of the business world, the Madoffs and Enrons. That’s about as fair as conflating all philosophy students as Nazis because Heidegger joined the Nazi party. Does that encapsulate you, Joe?

    Most Business School students are here because we want to better ourselves through education, hard work and sacrifice. We want to create a better life for ourselves, for our families, and contribute to the world in the process. Isn’t that why you were getting your PhD? Is that so wrong to want to better oneself? Are you so much better than the rest of us because you got arrested at a fucking library? Oh, you’re so noble, Joe. You’re such a hero to your movement.

    And by the way, you child, everyone “markets” themselves. If your goal was to be a professor after grad school, then you would most certainly have to market yourself in order to get a job in a saturated marketplace. In fact, you’re “marketing” yourself right now in writing your blog, in posting videos on Youtube, etc. You’re goal is to get people talking, to get them to notice, to spark them into action, right? Doesn’t Occupy Atlanta hold weekly/monthly meetings discussing the direction the movement should head in? Are not the goals of said meetings to figure out not only the most effective actions for change, but also what actions will get the most media attention in order to get more people behind your cause? Careful now, Joe, there’s “marketing” in there, whether you’re willing to admit it or not.

    So once again, your hypocrisy comes to the surface. You criticize what you don’t understand. I’ll ask again, where does your in-depth knowledge of the Goizueta Business School come from? Can you admit you may have made false statements in your diatribe about who knows what and may have gotten a little bit too, shall we say, enthusiastic? Can you admit when you’re wrong? Hmmm?

    Johnny

    • dirtseyeview says:

      1) Your ‘martyr’ criticism is misplaced. This article is decidedly not about my plight nor well-being. The focus is rather on the distribution of illegal activity, as well as on the conditions of the possibility for spontaneous political thought, at Emory University. My case merely serves as an instantiation of administrative punishment, the kind of which brings to light a) the representing of undesired on-campus action as ‘criminal’, and b) the intensity of the physical punishment pursued, which itself serves as an example to all others who may merely begin to think about taking such spontaneous action themselves. I don’t care who is involved, the repeated punishment of nonviolent, non-destructive, and non-threatening action with arrest, incarceration, and up to 1 year in jail by Emory University is troubling nonetheless – and it is especially troubling when other, much more dangerous, illegal activity abounds in the open and unpunished.
      2) I need not divulge my sources regarding GBS, but they are many. Rather than focus the debate on methodology, I have put my ideas out there to be evaluated as they may. If others feel that the evidence they have gathered points in different directions, then, of course, their opinions will differ.
      3) My ties with Occupy Atlanta are scant due to its a) pursuance of non-profit status, b) cooperation with elected officials, c) lack of courage in speaking out against the murders of unarmeed Atlanta-area black men by police (JoeTavius Stafford, Dwight Person, Ariston Waiters), d) hierarchicalized and highly centralized organization, among other reasons. I think what you point out, that Occupy Atlanta has sought to market itself, is true to an extent, and it is something I find counterproductive for an extra-electoral movement. I’ve since moved on to more independent forms of organization/political action.

      I’m not sure what in my post signals arrogance and self-promotion on my behalf, but such thinking is never an aim of mine. The aim of this post is to engender serious discussion regarding Emory University’s political use of punishment and discipline. Some interesting questions may be – what is permitted on Emory campus? What goes punished? Who makes these distinctions, and why? What kinds of subjects are Emory students produced as? Obedient subjects? Is there a conscription of Emory students into the Emory brand? Or in other words, does Emory allow any space for on-campus dissent regarding its policies and practices?

    • laila says:

      Johnny,
      I wonder if you are able to make your point without resorting to personal attacks and sarcasm, just stating your differing opinions. Think this as part of the experience of bettering oneself through education and hard work.
      With encouragement
      laila

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