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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

On the Nature of Compromise...

November 21, 2007

Obviously the site has been down for a number of weeks. I needed this time to put a number of issues into perspective. Sometimes words can be scalpels, and other times clubs. Apparently I have been wielding them as a club. There were some errors in judgment I made, most of those have been edited out of the entries. For that I am sorry. I suppose this may take some of the "bite" out of them, but that was never the point behind this project. Neither was the point for this site to take "political/advocacy" undertones, as my dad called them, though I am not going to apologize for this. The 400 of us living in building 12 are political creatures. We bear the brunt of every politician's ill-conceived "tough-on-crime" reelection rhetoric. We are at the bottom of 180,000 inmates in the Texas Penal system, and we all know that excrement flows downhill. Simple decisions which are normally made on the Unit for General Population inmates become matters for the legislature when you live on Death Row. Nonetheless, despite the fact that I live in cesspool of bureaucratic ineptitude, I rarely talk of it. I decline to mention many, many things. Some of it does sneak out, mainly for the reason that to omit it entirely would be doing a disservice to one of my major goals, which was to give you an accurate picture of what it is like to live here. So, I guess you will have to take such information as you will. There isn't anything I say that can't be verified a thousand times over by review of other prisoner's websites/books.

As my father mentioned in his entry, he no longer has any input in this site. I would implore those of you who, for some reason, have chosen to try to take shots at me by aiming them at my Dad, to please stop. He is in my corner but not in the ring. If you could have seen the anguish on his face when he realized that you had somehow put him in the crossfire, you would be ashamed. If you feel so strongly that you need to vent, my address is listed on the contact page. As most of you know, my placement on Death Row was largely due to a certain law, which transfers the heaviest portion of the responsibility for a crime away from the person who actually committed it. As a result, I have spent a great deal of time ruminating upon the issue of personal accountability. One comment which I seem to see a great deal of is certain people are "drawn" or "sucked in" to this site, despite the fact that they claim to want to avoid it. First off, my writing isn't that good, and we all know it. Secondly, I did not force you to turn on your computer, initialize your web browser, type in my address, and hold your head in front of the screen while you read my words. You did this. You chose this. I will not accept responsibility for your total lack of a modicum of self-control. When I was in the world, I was aware the KKK had a website. I never went there, I never read it. That was a choice I made. In America, we have the choice of not surrounding ourselves with most of the things we do not care for. Many, many men and women died to give you that option. Use it.

I have also had to change my stated policy of answering every letter sent to me, for two reasons. The first is simple economics, which I am sure you can figure out without an explanation. The second is this: I recognize that from a Christian perspective perhaps the most important and worthwhile letters I can write are those responding to the angry confused people who seem to hate me. I know this, but simply can't do it anymore. The cost is too high. I have plenty of other "stuff" to deal with on a daily basis without fretting over and analyzing some very nasty pieces of literature. So, I guess the new policy should more correctly be labeled: "I-will-write-all-of-you-back, provided-I-don't-flush-it-down-the-toilet". (Little known prison fact: our toilets could probably suck down a cow...you really have to apply your noggin to the problem of stopping them up. I would say they were idiot-proof, but I have come to a newer and more enlightened view of the limits of human idiocy during my time here, so I won't.)

On to positive news: after many months of searching, failing, probing, stumbling, hunting, and basically charging at windmills, I have finally found a University willing to admit me for completion of my college degree. This was not an easy sell, even with my exceptionally good SAT score, but it's now a done deal, as they say. I have had to change my major from computer science, as I haven't been able to figure out how to build a computer from a typewriter and a rubber band yet. I have a love of history, so I will be working on my BA in history, even though I will lose a few credits, demoting me from a Junior to a Sophomore. Not finishing my degree (and all of the subsequent lies) has been a great deal of shame for me. There is no way for me to repair all of the damage I have wrought. I recognize this. As a man, though, I think it is important to try and fix what I can. And yeah, I'm sure that some of you probably see this as a waste of time and energy, and from a certain perspective, you are probably correct. If that is all you can see, then I am not going to waste my time and energy explaining it to you. ce n'est que le premier pas qui coute.

I want to thank all of you who encouraged me during this time.

I will try to honor your good will. God bless.

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

1 comment:

Mouse said...

".....my placement on Death Row was largely due to a certain law, which transfers the heaviest portion of the responsibility for a crime away from the person who actually committed it."Is this still how you feel about your participation in the murder of your Mother and Brother? Without your actions it would never have happened. From my way of thinking you bare 100% of the blame, and so does the person who pulled the trigger. I don't know that this works within the context of the law, but it should.