Looking For Something?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Persons Choice or Enslavement?


The following is an essay I wrote in college. In this essay I explained how people aren't allowed to make their own decisions on their own free will. That other forces are put into account and they tell us what is right, wrong and how we should be in our lives. This essay received an F due to a "Radical Viewpoint" and "Personal Thoughts Based On No Facts".  

In the 1990s a rapper known as Ice T released a musical album underneath the name Body Count. Within this album was a track titled Cop Killer. This track was in response to the growing police brutality in the Los Angeles area. Within the song Ice T claims that—in reaction to police brutality— the people should head out and kill any kind of authority that resembles the police. “I got my brain on hype, tonight will be your night. I got this long-assed knife and your neck looks just right. My adrenaline's pumping, I got my stereo bumping, I'm about to kill me something. A pig stopped me for nothing” (Ice T). Reaction was fierce. Within a short time of the songs release, riots and police shootings formed around the country and government organizations wished to remove the song from its existence. When an individual shows obedience or disobedience to a certain person or group—whether it be an organization, god, famous figures or your peers—and if you have the conviction to do everything they tell you to do, you will be changed. From whom you were to what they desire to turn you into.
Examples of this are shown all throughout history ever since the beginning of time—even if you believe in the Bible. In 1973 a man known as Philip G. Zimbardo conducted a psychological experiment to find out about the effects of prison life. Zimbardo, a well known psychologist, created a mock prison and placed ten prisoners and eleven guards—from all over the United States—inside the basement of Stanford University’s psychology building. He wanted to simulate the psychological state of prisoners in this mock prison by making the sense of time lacking, the feelings of being powerless and make everyone de-individualized.

Within the first night riots broke out and the twenty-one individuals of this prestigious town took a turn for the worse.

”At first they (the guards) insisted that reinforcements be called in…. The guards met and decided to treat force with force. They got a fire extinguisher that shot a stream of skin-chilling carbon dioxide and forced the prisoners away from the doors; they broke into each cell, stripped prisoners naked, took the beds out, forced the prisoners who were ring leaders into solitary confinement, and began to harass and intimidate the prisoners.” (Zimbardo 736)

I personally think that these people wouldn’t act like this in a natural environment. Zimbardo claimed that they were all mentally stable, physically healthy, mature, law-abiding citizens. So why would a person as healthy and as normal as these individuals act in such a way that they become threatening to their peers? Why would the prisoners choose to disobey their present keepers, even though they new the present danger of such actions? Zimbardo followed with further research.

Zimbardo states that slowly after time the prisoners started to accept where they were and even started to behave even with the inhuman things the guards were doing to them. In recorded conversations changed from girlfriends, career plans and hobbies to escape plans, food complaints and irritating tasks guards were asking. “These immediate survival concerns made talk about the past and future an idle luxury” (737) Prisoners soon became violent and guards started to reign over them like dictators.  A guard wrote that a prisoner started to attack him and in response he hit him with his club, the guard became aggravated and wanted to start a fight with him.

Violence grew more and more as days passed and in thirty-six hours Zimbardo was forced to release a prisoner because of extreme depression, uncontrollable crying and fits of rage. A completely healthy individual became unstable just in a course of thirty- six hours within a mock prison. How could this happen? How could you be totally involved by an experiment that you believe that the fake aspects of life can actually be true? Do you actually have to believe in what’s happening or does your surroundings make what you believe in? I believe in the later. Naturally people believe in what is given to them, they take what popular culture says what is right. America paints the perfect human is lean, muscular and fair but is this true beauty? Outside of America it seems to be different among other countries.  Do Americans believe that this picture of an individual is perfect? It seems so because that is what we are served on a day-to-day basis.  

After six days Zimbardo’s experiment was assigned to set to close due to continuing violence and growing insanity.  David Rosenhan (A colleague of Zimbardo) states, “…Once a sane person (pretending to be insane) gets labeled as insane and committed to a mental hospital, it is the label that is the reality which is treated and not the person” (742).  Furthermore, previous to Zimbardo, personnel from Illinois role-played mental patients and staff in a weekend simulation of a mental ward. Soon after the start, the mock mental patients started to show signs of uncontrollable weeping, depression and hostility to further confirm the belief that the environment makes the person.

In several years prior to Zimbardo in the 1950s an experiment by Solomon E. Asch, a psychologist at Rutgers University, was conducted about opinions and social pressure. He showed a group of seven to nine college students’ cards with lines on it. One with one line and the second with a set of lines, the objective was to match the card with one line to a line on the second card. You would think simple but after several trials Asch began to change the responses. In one variation one person was varied to fifteen others. The subject was supposed to pick the right line while the others chose otherwise. When one said different than the correct answer the subject was swayed little, when two said different the subject accepted the wrong answer 13.6 of the time. When three claimed that the wrong answer was the right one the subject’s lack of choice turned to 31.8 percent (Asch 728-29). How could one individual accept a wrong answer even if the physical proof says otherwise? You can obviously see that one line is longer or shorter than another. Peer pressure plays a great role in a person’s decision; not very many individuals’ wants to be the “odd ball” in a whole group. One wants to be no different than the person next to him, this influences styles and thought processes from culture to culture—which makes humans unique. But every once and a while one person stands up from the social norms and demands change. This person becomes great in the eyes of his fellow people, isn’t this what we all want to become? Then why do majority of us in every day society act like everything is just a cookie cut to another?

Lastly In an experiment in 1963, Stanely Milgram (a Yale psychologist) wanted to know what motivated the Nazis to go so far to inflict pain on another person with desire to commit genocide. The experiment consists of three people the teacher (who gives a electric shock), the learner (The person who receives the shock) and the experimenter. The learner is set into an electric chair and is read a list of word pairs and he will be tested on the second pair. If the learner creates an error he will be electrocuted from small to increasing intensity. The catch is the learner receives no shock and the experiment is to see how far an individual would go when he is ordered to inflict increasing pain another individual. Milgram predicted that about six percent of the teachers would go full distance (Milgram 696). On the first trial the teacher asks periodically if she should continue, the experimenter says yes. As soon as she reached 210 volts of electricity she had no longer a desire to continue the experiment and left. 

After a while Milgram found that his predictions were wrong. Out of all of his subjects twenty-five of the forty teachers actually obeyed the experimenter all the way. When the experimenter accepted all responsibility of what happened to the learner the teacher. “The essence of obedience is that a person comes to view himself as the instrument for carrying out another person’s wishes, and he therefore no longer regards himself as responsible for his actions” (702).  A person feels no anguish for another when he accepts that he will get no punishment for his doings. So does this motivate serial killers to do all they can because they fear no punishment in the future? This may be so because serial killers seem to be emotionless including the sense of fear.

When do we as individuals stop obeying what we are given and told and actually think for ourselves? When do we have enough self control to have a voice for ourselves but also are above anarchy? Individuals show obedience and disobedience every day to break social norms and to do anything for their own self gratification all this is motivated by organizations, famous figures, your god, your peers and anything else that can surround you in everyday society. Ever since we were born we are blocks ready to be molded from the day you take your first breath to the day you lay six feet below. Forces of an unforeseen nature attack us everyday and choose to change our morals and how we view things. Humanity as we know it is getting more and more vulnerable to this force everyday, how will you be changed?

Asch, Solomon E. “Opinions and Social Pressure.” Beherns and Rosen 683-87.
Beherns, Lorence and Leonard J. Rosen, Eds. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. 11th Ed. New York: Longman, 2011. Print.
Gore, Tipper. “Hate, Rape and Rap.” The Washington Post 8 Jan 1990: A15.
Ice T. Cop Killer.
Milgram, Stanley “The Perils of Obedience.” Beherns and Rosen 692-704.

Remember me

No comments:

Post a Comment