Casual Friday: Sounds like hell and the Oklahoma corrections system are facing similar problems

The New Yorker‘s Shouts & Murmurs humor column recently ran a brilliant piece by Ian Frazier that imagined a colloquium convened by Al Gore to address the problem of global warming… of hell. After presentations by a Samaritan sorcerer of the first century consigned to everlasting perdition for the sin of simony, a scientist from NASA, and the former Vice-President, Satan Himself takes the microphone. Here are excerpts of his talk:

Right now in Hell we are hurting. That’s the single most important take-away I would like you to get from what I have to say to you this afternoon: we are hurting. Hell is being pressed to and beyond its limits to such an extent that we are having trouble simply performing our jobs. Every day, I must make hard choices from among an inadequate supply of options. People in the land of the living are constantly requesting that this or that other person “rot in Hell,” and we’ve always tried to accommodate that, and as a result we have literally tens of billions of individuals—tier after tier after tier of them—sitting there rotting, and we have had to put in new tiers and still they are all over the place. And is anybody besides us giving any thought to maintenance? To the necessary monitoring of the rot? To staffing?…

Because of ongoing constraints, I am sorry to say, the operation of Hell is no longer even close to what it should be, and important areas of quality are being degraded. I hate with my most ancient and implacable hatred of all that is good to have to say this, but unfortunately it’s true. So, for me, the whole increase-in-temperature thing, while important, is pretty far down on my list of concerns. I can stand at the exact center of the sun, temperature twenty-eight million degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s like a summer breeze to me. Far as I’m concerned, warming is not the problem; it’s the over-all decline in Hell’s capabilities. Right now, with the resources we’re being given, we are not punishing souls for their specific transgressions anymore, we’re just warehousing them. And that’s a shame.

OvercrowdingDecaying facilities? Warehousing? Maybe Oklahoma Corrections Director Justin Jones could be brought in to offer Satan some solace!


Former Executive Director David Blatt joined OK Policy in 2008 and served as its Executive Director from 2010 to 2019. He previously served as Director of Public Policy for Community Action Project of Tulsa County and as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma State Senate. He has a Ph.D. in political science from Cornell University and a B.A. from the University of Alberta. David has been selected as Political Scientist of the Year by the Oklahoma Political Science Association, Local Social Justice Champion by the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice, and Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers.

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