My earliest remembered thoughts on the topic of this blog post began some years ago when I read a British Society of Criminology article entitled: 'Leaving a ‘Stain upon the Silence: Contemporary Criminology and the Politics of Dissent' by Paddy Hillyard*, Joe Sim, Steve Tombs † and Dave Whyte (here).
In that 2004 article, the authors noted how the British Home Office funding of certain types of research project aimed, ultimately, at reducing crime quickly with least cost, was diminishing the worth of others that adopted a more critically nuanced view of seeking a longer term solution focused on improving our understanding of both the underlying causes of crime and the various processes whereby offenders enter the criminal justice system. The authors argued that the issue they were raising was seen almost as academic taboo and that, increasingly, the British Home Office was facilitating the imposition of a narrow and pernicious research agenda - in our British universities - that was being funded and sanctioned by the state. They felt that the type of work that interested them most was being slowly silenced.
On which note, when I and my colleague Philip Hodgson first published our article 'The Problem of Zombie Cops in Voodoo Criminology' (Here). to show that the arithmetic and reasoning behind the widely cited Home Office claim - and effective orthodoxy - that beat policing was ineffective at preventing crime was nonsense on stilts, I was told by some colleagues, both in and outside my own university, including some very senior academics indeed that (a) I should desist and feel ashamed because I was promoting conspiracy-theory thinking (b) I was playing into the hands of the 'critical - cultural - criminology' school by giving them ammunition to throw at those who were seeking to promote what they describe as a more academically 'vigorous' policy-oriented, hard data driven, crime science (c) that I was wrecking my career chances because I would now be seen as a bitter and wrathful contrarian by those with whom I have worked and collaborated in the past.
The exact same arguments have been made regarding my later work on why the current criminological notion of 'crime opportunity' as a cause of crime is utter nonsense because its premises on what constitutes an opportunity and what represents a good causal explanation are 100% wrong. (See: Sutton 2015) .
Stepping off the obvious path of criminology last year, I published a book in the field of evolutionary biology. In my book: Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret (here), I also absolutely 100% prove that current orthodox 'knowledge' about the history of discovery of natural selection is based on a set of myths that have - following my original research - been completely punctured by hard facts that prove them completely and absolutely untrue. As a result, I have been repeatedly told off for setting the mythical record straight on this topic with hard and, independently verifiable, newly discovered data. The telling off is based upon the reasoning that I should not have written this book because I am (a) giving ammunition to conspiracy theorists and (b) giving ammunition for creationists to throw at Darwinists. The fear of arming creationists with veracious facts comes from those who know the history of academic battle fighting in the American educational system against the teaching of divine species creationism as a compulsory subject or as science. (Sutton 2104).
My own experiences of being criticised by eminent academics for exposing and proposing a solution to tackle such stains upon the silence regarding hard facts in various areas of orthodox 'knowledge' must sit amongst a multitude of others - some probably far more serious and important - that began centuries ago with crimes of heresy, sedition and treason.
That today, following the 18th Century Age of Enlightenment that began in Europe, others - who should know better - still seek to silence veracious independently verifiable hard-fact-based knowledge. I think this is an area upon which we should now be shining an exposing spotlight. And to be absolutely clear, by that I mean we should be producing the evidence that shows who it is who has been making the stain upon the silence.
As the Founding Director of the Nottingham Centre for the Study and Reduction of Bias, Prejudice and Hate Crimes, I am aware of how allowing the teaching of absurdities might perhaps lead ultimately - along a spectrum of such'dysology' (bad scholarship) - to the production of "academic atrocities". I think it might well also play a hand in facilitating violent atrocities. For example, according to many scholars, Adolph Hitler was convinced that the fictional book "The Protocols of Zion" was evidence of a genuine Jewish world domination conspiracy. That fallacious belief byHitler, combined with his pseudo-scientific notions of white Aryan supremacy, played no small part in the arguments made inside his own head and then conveyed to others for carrying out the Holocaust.
Hence, as a hate crimes scholar, I am interested in researching what may possibly be a process by which academic absurdities lead to violent irrationalism of the kind that happened in hit Paris this month.
I am interested also in other areas where the exposure of stains upon the silence have been criticised.
I am currently reading "The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths about the Murder of Matthew Sheppard' (Here). The book (written by the gay journalist Stephen Jimenez) reveals considerable new, hard dis-confirming evidence for the orthodox criminological 'knowledge' that Matthew Shepard was the victim of a homophobic hate crime. Jimenez has been criticised by his detractors for denigrating the official story of the Matthew Shepard killing because the evidence he is presenting provides ammunition for the anti-hate crime lobby, because the Shepard killing was one of two recognised notorious hate crimes that led to the enactment of hate crime legislation in the USA.
One of my colleagues, Claire Cohen recently published a book on male rape: ' Male Rape is a Feminist Issue: Feminism, Governmentality and Male Rape' (Here). Her book has received some vitriolic reviews by some academics who argue that her subject matter and arguments draws attention and resources away from the area that they have sought so long and so hard to establish, which is to have rape of women taken more seriously, prosecuted more effectively and treated more fairly - ultimately, with an aim to reduce the currently high incidence and prevalence of rape of females.
In all these cases that I outline in this blog post, I take to my heart and mind the reasoning supplied by Stephen Jimenez for exposing the stain upon the silence about the Shepard killing. He tells us that as a gay man he deserves better than to have the case made for better protection of the rights of the gay community based upon what is in fact discoverable with facts to be a myth.
I am, therefore, seeking out, exposing and tackling stains upon the silence, because the arguments for covering them up are what actually makes them a stain upon the silence in the first place.