An interesting discussion is taking place on the list. Here´s something that I posted the other day.
Marchs of criminals, perp–walks and public executions are inherently
dangerous. In Discipline and Punish Michel Foucault recounts various instances in which the crowds identified with the criminal. Riots, attempts to save the criminal, attacks on the executioners and the police, etc. were the result. The solution, he goes, was found in removing
executions and marches of criminals from the public’s eye.
But in China we have criminals being marched, and the “masses applauding in pleasure”
Past and current history offers plenty of examples. Once a criminal (or any other person, for what matters) has been dehumanized, then anything can be done to them. The more the criminal is humiliated and abused, the more the masses will clap their hand in approval. Is this the projection of a repressed libido on a dehumanized subject? Sure, but I believe there is more to it.
What I see when I look at the person being marched is not just a person that is humiliated in public. I see the power of the state. A display of fictitious power, to say it with Elaine Scarry. Because it doesn´t really take much to abuse and humiliate a person who has been made defenseless – either through manacling, torture or by subtler means – censorship, mobbing, ethnic discrimination, delegitimation of his views, being denied access to justice etc.
The public humiliation of this person took place to show off that state is good at fighting crime and can protect us, of course. But it has the most important effect of forcing conformity among some of the population and of instilling a subtle, vague fear in them.
Other blogs that refer to the parade:
Supreme People’s Court Reply: the parading and the showing of criminals are not compatible with the spirit of the people’s democratic justice.
时 效 性：有效