Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bureaucracy v Reality

Is it not the hallmark of the true bureaucrat that, unless the proper procedure is followed and the correct paperwork completed, then he is able to deny the reality standing before him?
A prisoner in the block was on hunger strike. He simply refused to attend the hotplate where I daily offered the best in prison service catering...After missing three consec­utive meals this is logged by staff as an official "food refusal". Paperwork begins to be generated, procedures swing into action.
One member of staff took the view that he wouldn't log this as a food refusal because by his reckoning the prisoner was not following the "proper procedure". That the man would be just as dead in several weeks was neither here nor there, proper procedures MUST be followed. In their absence, the reality of starvation could be denied.
Is this not a sign of a lack of humanity? An indication that bureaucracy can become a reality in its own right and one that denies something in the human spirit?
And should such a corroded, misguided soul ever be given authority over the welfare of other human beings?


  1. Yes, it is a sign of lack of humanity Ben, and I share your indignation and anger over it. The beaurcracy is run by humans though, ones that sit behind desks and shift around the place, if ever you manage to home in on one, before you know it they have shifted to some other department or some other job. Those who blindly follow the orders are indeed sad, and possibly corrupt, but its those who order the tick boxes and crunch numbers that need to be the target of our anger if anything is going to change for the better, and a turn towards doing what is right and necessary for the majority, and for the planet.

  2. So what is the correct way to go on hunger strike?

  3. Cirrocumulus. I think what Ben is saying, is that, because the prisoner wouldn't (as is usual) leave his cell to collect the meals (that he had no intention of eating!) the screw took the opportunity to not to follow proper procedure and mess with his head (some more!) by not taking the appropriate (and expected) steps.

    The nastier screws would prefer the con to be staring at the food that his belly is craving - and many cons counteract this by pi**ing all over the meal (making it inedible) as soon as they get it.

  4. Many years ago, before I was 5 years old, my dad needed to buy a train ticket for himself and an infant one for me. Without official infant ID, the suit behind the counter wouldn't issue an infant ticket. So, as the queue behind him grew, Dad picked me up and set me on the counter. "There's your ID." Apparently the attendant was suitably embarrassed into selling the correct ticket...


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