Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Pretty in Pink

This BBC story (via) was mildly mind-boggling.

Pink jail cell with (l-r) Sgt Dave Williams, Supt Katy Barrow-Grint, former Ch Insp Dave Cherrington, Insp Dave Entwistle

Simple enough, right?  I posted this on Facebook, thinking (silly me) that the creepiness was obvious enough.  My Diversity Manager Facebook Friend was more interested in other questions.
I seem to vaguely recall this idea and some data from around 1980 or so about a specific shade/hue of pink. I think that the impact helped folks calm for about 10 minutes or so (better than nothing), but that if the person stayed in the room of that specific color for a much longer time (no idea how long), it fueled more anger than a room of another color.
This is probably true, but redundant.  Now, the story reports that "It is hoped the pastel colours will have a 'calming effect' on those held in custody, which will include adults, and children aged from 10."  So it's not only children whose "needs in custody" need to be focused on.

I think of DMFF's reaction as an excellent example of the technocratic mind in action.  The key is to focus on how to achieve the goal, and brush aside whether the goal is desirable.  Think of Richard Dawkins's recent defense of eugenics: I'm not saying we should do it, but we totally could. That DMFF chose to back the science behind pink cells rather than question why children as young as 10 are being kept in cells tells you a lot about him.  I snarked back that of course it would hurt less to be slammed against a pink wall by Officer Friendly than a dirty old gray one.  DMFF replied that he didn't think anyone would be slammed against the wall of a cell.  Oh, of course not.  I told him he'd missed the point; he replied that there were many points to find in the story.  Perhaps, but how significant that he chose to dwell on an irrelevant one.

This is also the Culture of Therapy mindset.  If you're depressed because you're homeless, the answer is to provide you with therapy, or teach you mindfulness.  If you have nightmares because you were tortured, Doctor Feelgood will prescribe tranquilizers.  (I admit that medication might help a torture survivor somewhat, but it's a palliative after the fact; prevention is worth a pound of cure.)  If only we'd thought to paint the walls of Abu Ghraib pink, so much trauma might have been avoided.  We could paint bombs calming pastel colors and the people shredded by them would die with peaceful smiles on their faces.  True, exposure to that shade for more than ten minutes might make them angrier, but not to worry, they'll be safely dead by then.