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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Empire Strikes Back - Part 1

9:00 AM, Tuesday, October 23 2007

I write this on borrowed paper. I am using a borrowed pencil. My cell is completely empty. At 6:45 this morning, my cell was searched. I was placed, handcuffed as always, in the shower where I was able to watch as gray-clad TDC employees packed all of my meager belongings into red onion bags, and then carried them down the stairs to a plastic pushcart. No one else on my row received this treatment. I was offered no explanation.

The date is October 23rd, the first day of new guard rotation (called "cards" in the vernacular) after the story on the evening news about the website. I must say, I do not understand TDC's response to the story. I have not been overly critical of the conditions here, though it would be very easy for me to comment on the myriad humans rights violations that I see on a daily basis. I have not done this for two reasons: one, prison is supposed to be bad. I do not consider myself intelligent enough to attempt the argument that you, the average viewer should care about prisoner's rights. I know what I used to feel when I heard about the brutal American prison system: well, fine, then don't go to prison. I didn't care. You don't care. I don't know how to explain the massive graying that exists in this country between right and wrong. How to explain that, yes, indeed the devaluation of a prisoners life DOES affect you, if only on a massive societal sub-audible frequency. I'm simply not smart enough, I don't know how to put into words that once you start to say that one life has more intrinsic value than another, it's all a slippery slope to perdition. And so we have Guantanamo Bay, and we have prisons that are so bad that when Federal Judge William Wayne Justice saw the Death Row conditions here, he said they were beyond what a human could stand. So, I try to stay out of the waters that are, quite frankly, too deep for me.

The second reason that I do not bash the TDC is because I do not want anyone to think I am playing for sympathy. I am not. But right now...reduced to nothing again, totally unaware if I am going to be leveled for something they "find" in my belongings. I am so angry. You are already killing me. Must we take my attempts at healing, as well? My meager attempt at ministry? And for what? For a website? Because I attempt disclosure? I had no expectation of ever reaching an audience, I simply wanted to let a few key people from my former life know a little something about me without forcing them to actually come near my plague. Must you take my voice, as well? I will be silent before long; can I not have a few whispers before the end? Clearly, some of you think not. Never mind ignoring the things we don't like, a little exercise in something called personal responsibility. You may win this, you may silence me. But I want you to think about this: if your precious silence requires that a human being lose the only real connection he has to being alive, what does that make you?

© Copyright 2007 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker.
All rights reserved.

1 comment:

The New Psych said...

Mr. Whitaker,

I think what you are speaking to is the need for humanity. I have no idea, as I have just plunged into your blog, what DR is in Texas. What I know from my state at a simple Level I (lowest security) is that somehow we have lost the knowledge that the guys are human. Although I admit, some are scary lacking in soul, and I don’t want much to do with them, most are just people trying to find a way to survive in an environment that thinks of them as animals.

One of my guys said to me a couple of weeks ago, “Don’t listen to what we might say to you, you just need to know that we are all slowly dying by degrees.” When nobody can approach you on even a vaguely even power level, when you are striped emotionally and physically when your family has withdrawn because they don’t understand your choices and your pain, there is little reason to try.

For many of them I have become, unwittingly, the link to sanity and hope. I cannot imagine what this must be in your level. You write with truth, and I will continue to push through this blog.