Dear Socialist Viewpoint,
I am an inmate incarcerated in the Pennsylvania Department Of Corrections and I have a serious issue that I’m seeking your help with.
On April 7, 2016, while housed in the Special Management Unit at SCI-Fayette on a 9-day hunger strike, confined to the infirmary, I was assaulted by a three-man team of officers with a total of five cans of OC spray.
Then again by a seven-man team with another can of OC spray—a sixth can.
I was then placed face down inside a shower stall with an officer and shield laying on top of me.
I was handcuffed behind my back and shackled, then savagely beaten with fists, batons, and open handcuffs.
I suffered serious head, face, and torso injuries and concussions. I was then placed in a restraint belt and chains, still shackled with blood soaked and wet underwear and undershirt mixed with OC spray for days in a cell with no mattress, bedding, soap, toilet paper, etc.
My court-scheduled hearing a week later was postponed for my force-feeding, for an additional week because of the swelling and injuries to my face.
The six cans of OC spray and injuries were recorded in my medical file.
The PA DOC is trying to sweep it under the rug and I continue to seek justice to no avail so far except for being transferred out of the Special Management Unit and here at SCI-Forest.
If you can and are willing to assist me in receiving justice or bringing attention to the incident, please write back.
Derrick Gibson #JP-2190
P.O. Box 945
Marienville, PA 16239
Free Speech, Fear and the Primitive Human Brain—The Intrinsic Dangers of Social Hierarchy
It is illegal to shout “fire” in a crowded theater. The idea of fire creates intense fear deep in the primitive human brain known as the Limbic System, or emotional center. The “Fight or Flight” reaction is activated, causing a stampede, resulting in injury and death. Similarly “Hate Speech” can activate the emotional centers of the primitive human brain. “Hate speech” can be understood to be as intrinsically dangerous as shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater.
Neuroscience studies have shown that both in brain activity and behavior, people place higher importance on social status than money.1 When concerned about social status the brain’s emotional center in the limbic system, is most active. Brain activity in the emotional center is also strongly correlated with a person’s commitment to social status, for example, strong belief in racial superiority and economic inequalities.
In the U.S., social status and race are often intertwined. African Americans are often assumed to be less worthy and white individuals are often assumed to be more worthy. This greater status attached to white skin is learned at a young age and continually reinforced by U.S. culture. Furthermore, research has shown that those who believe in white supremacy and the negative stereotypes of Blacks, view a rise in the social status of Blacks as threatening, activating their limbic—emotional center.2 Those who are committed to racist ideas of social superiority can also feel threatened during times of social unrest and instability, again activating emotional arousal in their primitive brain.3 This is particularly important in today’s neo-fascist politics tied to white supremacy.
Many countries have passed laws against “Hate Speech” because they recognize that such speech incites violence or prejudicial actions: Canada, France, Germany, England, Australia and many others. One needs only to look at the hate speech of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan or the German Nazi party to see this obvious reality.
Ask yourself why we cannot shout fire in a crowded theater but we can shout out hate speech anywhere? Millions of working people of all colors and nationalities are seeing corporations move their jobs oversees or out of existence through automation. Vast numbers of people are insecure about their lives and the future for their children. Hate, fear and anger are a primitive brain response, which clouds the mind’s ability to see how much more we are alike than different.
Dr. Nayvin Gordon, February 14, 2017
Dr. Nayvin Gordon is a Family Physician who has written many articles on health and politics.
1 “For the Brain, Cash is Good, Status is Better,” Scientific American, April 24, 2008
2 Neuroimaging Investigations of Social Status and Social Hierarchies, Jasmin Cloutier et al, Copyright 2016, pg. 195
3 Ibid, pg. 197