Tuesday, May 12, 2009

20/20? Try 20/200

May 12th, 2009 – 8:15 A.M.

It has been a sad few weeks for me. No pretty way to say it, other than that I feel like I am standing on the deck of the Titanic, listening to the band on the way down. This feeling stems from a confluence of different matters, from the imminent rejection of my direct appeal to my fraying faith. On top of all this, I have been getting reports from many quarters about the dreadfully myopic 20/20 production which aired on ABC recently. I would have liked to have been able to listen to it, but, as I mentioned earlier, I now have no radio. Then again, maybe I am at least a little glad I didn’t listen to it. I’m pretty much done with the media, both as a participant and as a listener. I think there was once some honor to what they do, and you can still see echoes of this in the really high-caliber print outfits, like the NY Times and the Washington Post. Its gonegonegone from the television sources, though, in the quest for higher ratings. Simple question: what do you do to make people like you? Answer: tell them what they want to hear. And so the right flocks to the throne of the dreary and absurd. Bill O’Reilly and Fox News, and the left to MSNBC, and everybody gets to hear what they want to hear and already believe, and nevermind that quaint little notion of objective truth. Scary thought: what if there is no objective truth, only spin? That would explain a lot.

The question that most people have asked me is: Why did I agree to do the interview? Easy answer: for the same reason I did the Oprah one – for my Dad. I felt that his story was worth telling, and worth whatever unpleasantness I had to go through in order to tell it. I still feel that way, though I think I’ve been the good little soldier long enough, and will not be participating in any more interviews. That particular unpleasant experience took place last year, in…September, if I recall correctly. Certainly NOT in 2009, as was supposedly indicated on the show. I wish…God, I wish you people could see the actual interview that I gave, not the edited pieces. I remember a college professor once remarking that a text taken out of context was little more than a pretext. Same thing here. If I were to ask you two hours worth of questions on tape, I could literally make you say anything I wanted once I got into the editing booth. I am disappointed to learn of the direction they eventually took, because they all seemed so friendly when I met them. I was very clearly not at ease, but they very pointedly told me they did not believe that the DP was appropriate for my case, and wanted to show that. I guess I got played. I wish I could buy everyone in the USA a copy of Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s “Manufacturing Consent.” I think maybe that would be good for America. It wouldn’t get to the root of the problem, though. We absolutely eat up anything which can help us justify our egocentrism. A friend of mine from Europe told me that he had read the perfect description of his thoughts on our nation, which was: “In America, there are more plastic flamingos than real ones.” I add my own two cents: same with people.

So, yet another psychologist comes out of the woodworks to “diagnose” me. Nevermind that it is unethical in the extreme to pronounce such a diagnosis without ever having spoken one single word to the individual under the microscope. I think even the most jaded amongst us recognizes that such “experts” are paid very well for their opinions, and I do not think it necessary to examine the motives of such men too closely. If one gives a lengthy and accurate diagnosis, chances are they will never be called again. But, ah…if one can combine the maximum of sensationalism with the minimum of verbiage, well…jackpot. Thus is “truth” created in AmericaLand. It is scary how few people out there really understand just how played they are by the newsmen. I wish people would listen a little more closely. Some words don’t mean what you think they do. Or they have multiple meanings, and you err when you make an assumption. Most of the time, you don’t even realize when you have made such an assumption. Take this word “narcissist” that was bandied about on the program. The word has a common-usage meaning, which is that a person with narcissistic tendencies is a person who is extremely self-oriented, selfish. In the psychological world, however, a narcissist is a person who does not make interpersonal connections easily. I am guilty of the latter, I readily admit, but no the former. And so, when asked, I can answer truthfully, that, yes, I am a narcissist and be convicted in the courts (both legal and of public opinion), while being actually innocent of what the other participants believe the charges consist of. I mean, how do you answer a question truthfully, when you KNOW the person asking doesn’t even understand the nature of the question? If you try to explain the distinction, people think you are stalling, or they think you are trying to squirm out of the situation. All I am going to say on this is this: I was interviewed extensively by a real psychologist who was unmotivated by money, and the words “sociopath” and “narcissist” were not mentioned once in the diagnosis. Not once. (I am going to present this diagnosis here in the near future, but I want to devote more time and space to it than I am willing to give in this entry.) The messed up part about our system is that you, the person in whose name I am about to be murdered, would only get a true, unbiased mental health diagnosis because I A) fought tooth and nail to get it, over the objections of the system, B) paid the large annual fee of hosting a website, and C) took the time and effort to make such information public. Think about the hundreds of men who never had the means nor the intelligence to show you the truth. Who will ever speak for them?

Again, I’ve not seen or heard the interview. I only know what I have learned from alternate sources. The interview with my friends in Mexico hurt the most, I think. I guess I can accept a certain amount of dishonesty aimed at me. I f I believed in karma, or, for that matter, any kind of justice. I would say that some of this dishonesty was even justified. I am afraid I can no longer believe in such ideas, however. What these people have consistently done to my friends down there is nothing short of criminal. In January of this year, my Dad and a friend of mine named Dorothy took a trip down to Mexico to speak with some of the people I lived with. I am going to include an abbreviated version of this travelogue for you to read at the end of this. Pay special attention to the comments about how the interviews they gave to the news media were manipulated, even to the extent of deliberate mistranslation, of their words. Even if you hate my guts, you should be mad about this, because you were sold a lie, and you didn’t even bother to check the price tag. I want you to think about something. Really stop and think for a second. What does it say about our country that in an interview regarding a situation as horrible as what occurred on December 10th, 2003, the only person who has been consistently honest is the person condemned to die. By any barometer you choose, that is beyond ridiculous.

As to the specific comment that Sindy made, about me joking she could kill her Dad because she was so upset with him, we again come to the problem of context. I actually did make the comment, but if you talked to Sindy (or were allowed to see more of the interview), you would undoubtedly see things with a lot more clarity. She mentioned that I said this as a joke, which was partly true. At the time, I was living under a false name in a foreign country, running from a whole alphabet soup worth of law enforcement agencies, working for about a dollar an hour. Underneath all of that considerable weight, I was absolutely crushed by my feelings of guilt both for what I had done, and for the lie I was living. What I wanted more than anything was to talk to someone, anyone, about all that had happened in my life over the past few years. In all my life, I had only ever once confided in anyone, to the woman I have referred to on this site as “Her.” I wanted and needed “Her,” more than I could ever express to you. Sindy and I were close, but not quite in the way that has been portrayed. No doubt that I was trying to make Sindy fit into the space where only “She” could fit. When I made the comment about her dad, what I was really doing was trying to open the door to the past and tell Sindy the truth, to unload. This is not a subject one just spits out in the middle of a casual conversation, obviously. I was testing the waters, watching for her reaction to the comment, to see if maybe I could finally speak about Dec 10th. If she had said, “Bah, you are crazy,” or something like that, I would have done it. She changed the subject though, and I couldn’t move forward. I did the exact same thing with her brother, after he made a comment about Algun Pendejo that had made him mad, in the same way we often say, “Man, I could just kill that guy,” after someone cuts us off. You will see this incident referred to in the travelogue, actually. In the end, no matter how badly I wanted to talk with Sindy or Ubaldo, it never felt right. How do you tell someone such things? Anyways, just read the travelogue. It speaks for itself. Of course-and this is really the important bit – if 20/20 had bothered to show you the whole interview, I WOULDN’T NEED TO EXPLAIN ANY OF THIS, BECAUSE I ALREADY DID. But you, the puppet, only get to see what New York wants you to see, and so you dance to their tune. Wake up. Reality may not be pretty or warm, but any true Human Being would rather be uncomfortable than doped up on illusion. A pastor I know once told me he believed that it is in our nature to be nasty to one another, and that I receive hate-mail because people do not have to feel bad about acting within their true selves, when the target is someone like me. It is easy to justify, in other words. (I tend to agree with him, though I do not feel this is the end result of a talking snake or two hippies in a garden, but rather a product of our incomplete evolution, namely that we are mammals with adrenal glands which are way to big and frontal lobes which are way to small.) The amount of hate-mail I receive after on e of these interviews is astonishing. I was particularly disheartened by the print-outs of the internet forums. In my time here, I have learned to take everything posted online with a Jupiter-sized grain of salt, because people say and do things online that they would never in a million years say or do in any other forum. Nevertheless, sometimes some pieces of information make it through the filters. A “friend” of mine from High School posted on the ABC site, and basically admitted that I was one of her “true” friends in some very dark days, and was a shoulder for her to cry on. (And, lest you forget, Miss EH – and yes, I know exactly who you are, as the internet is nowhere nearly as anonymous as the ignorant would like to believe – that it went a whole lot further than just a shoulder to cry on, didn’t it? I don’t mean in the romantic sense, I mean in the You-might-not-be-alive-if-it-weren’t-for-me sense. I told you then that I would always respect your privacy, and I will hold to that, despite what I would LOVE to say here. How quickly we wrap up the past and stuff it into cardboard boxes, like old photos of our youth, never to be taken down from the attic again.) This same “friend,” despite not having said one word to me since graduation, nor having ever stepped out from under the veil of her own pain long enough to notice that I was also drowning in a very public pool in High School, imperiously judges me worth of Death Row, and feels she is qualified to tell the world that the Bart she knew is gone. Makes me sad, Liz, to see things come to this. Maybe you could have written me, instead of the whole world. I’ve already proven countless times that I know how to be a true friend to you. Pity you couldn’t return the favor.

(By the way, thanks for sticking up for me, Dixie. People like you are the only reason I have any hope for us as a species. It’s not much of a hope, but it is the best I can see from here.) This sociopath thing bugs the hell out of me. Would a sociopath admit feely of his wrongs, seeking to take the lions share of the blame, even though we all know that the real murderer, the person who actually killed two people, sits safely off of DR? I rarely comment on this, but I have to ask: Why is nobody astonished by this point? Everybody tells me: be honest, tell the truth. And I do, and suddenly these same people, these people who claim we were a nation of second chances, run screaming for their pitchforks. Fine, the truth: for all the times I’ve been called a murderer, for all the hype, I’ve never killed anyone. Dec. 10th was a sick game for me, the product of some very delusional kids, but it was never supposed to happen. Only one person involved in this is a murderer, and this is not me. Nobody has commented to me that this was mentioned on the ABC show, but I guess a hatchet job is a hatchet job is a hatchet job.

Would a sociopath try for over a year to institute a kidney transplant program within TDCJ? I failed in this, true, but mainly because nobody out there wanted to help me write letters. Nobody believed as I did. Or cared.

Would a sociopath have made donations to multiple charities from his commissary account? (My Dad helped with this, and can verify it.) Would a sociopath have done so, even knowing that he would have very little left for himself? Would he spend countless hours worrying over the transcripts of the men with dates, trying to find some means of keeping them alive? Would he take care of his indigent neighbors, when they had been forsaken by everyone else? You will never know the extent of what I do for people, because I rarely talk about myself in a good light. I have always been hard on myself, and I will probably always be hard on myself. One of these days, probably after I am gone, some of this stuff will start to leak out. Not that many of you will be paying attention anymore, as there will always be a new witch to fear and hunt. This same “friend” from HS writes that “I prayed for him last night, and I don’t regret it.” How noble. This comment pretty much encapsulates the whole reason I have problems with American Jesus. Prayer, which, as I understand it, is supposed to beautiful and full of love, is used here as a method of establishing superiority of place. That she deigns to pray for me assumes that I want and/or need such prayer, and automatically puts me on a level far beneath her. Let us not miss, as well, the very obvious additional purpose of seeking public approval for completing what she sees as a virtuous act. Gee, seems, I don’t know, a little NARCISSISTIC. Whatever you call it, the whole attitude comes awfully close to the waters of egoism that she whole-heartedly condemns me for. A person of a religious bent demonstrating hypocrisy? Shock! Horror! That has never happened before in the entire history of mankind! I mentioned before about my fraying faith. I will go into that another day, but you can probably get an ides of where my problems lie. I don’t pray much anymore. I’ve just seen too much, learned too much about the world. Me and God, we have our conversations, and we have our fights. But, whatever I may be, monster or otherwise, I’ve never been a hypocrite. I’ve never faked contact with the Numinous, just because the people sitting next to me in the aisle all have their hands raised to the sky. Despite the labels, I’ve never thought of myself as better than anyone else. Mostly I’ve thought of myself as worse. And I promise you this: I will never be a hypocrite. Can you say the same? Most can’t. But, what else would you expect to find in a nation whose most shoplifted book is the Bible?

Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum

(To such heights of evil are men driven by religion)
Lucretius – De Rerum Natura

Where questions of religion are concerned, people are guilty of every possible sort of dishonesty and intellectual misdemeanor.

Sigmund Freud – The Future of an Illusion

Click HERE for the travelogue of the trip to Mexico

© Copyright 2009 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker.
All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

MB6 2.0: And Now For Something Completely Different

May 2nd, 2009 – 2.15 PM

As one of my favorite musicians, Bob Dylan, once said: “for the times, they are a-changin.” It is springtime and since I already clean my “house” with a persistence approaching the ritual, I thought it might be nice to give the old website a sort of Potemkin village spruce-up. I have actually wanted to do this for some time, but other matters seem to always take precedence. As you can see, gone are the days of having to squint in order to read tiny white letters on a pitch-black background. That whole color scheme was my idea, as it sort of fit the stark mood that I wanted to convey with the first iteration of MB6. It fit my humor, in other words, which was understandably dark. I started to get some complaints, however, not long after people started reading this train- wreck. Rather than fix the problem, I made the font even smaller, the black even deeper, and invested heavily in LensCrafters stock. Now that I have made my fortune off the backs of your broken eyeballs, I suppose I can graciously change the color scheme, I kid; in reality, I wanted it changed a while back, but it was more important to me that I not be a bother to my cousin, so it has had to wait until I could get her a little help. And the cavalry has indeed arrived: I would like to publicly thank both Tracey and Tonya (San-Fran Tonya, as I have far, far too many Tanya/Tonya’s in my life currently) for helping me convert the old html site to blog format. I was never comfortable asking my cousin Victoria to do more for me, as she has a life, currently working on her Masters and some variety of hush-hush project for one of the art museums in H-town. I am hoping this format will make the site less of a time-drain for everyone.

Blogging will also unlock some new functions for me. I have always wanted this site to be more media-rich: more photos, videos, links, articles, etc, which can help prove ant particular point I am trying to make. I can now accomplish this, and am currently “seeding” many old entries with additional content. This will include Spanish translations for most, it not all, of the current entries. I would ask all bilingual readers to please keep in mind that many of my literary references or “turns of phrase” only really work in English, and simple do not translate in Spanish. Any translation is, at best, an approximation. (gracias Dorothy para tu apoyo constante!)

For those of you few ur-readers who have been with me from the beginning, back when this site was more exclusive than the Garden of Eden, you will notice that we are reviving the short-lived email alert system. This time around, however, it is all done via RSS feeds, which are far more l33t anyways. If you would like to be informed when there is new content on this site, all you have to do is find the “Follow This Blog” dealie over there in the right-hand column, and click on it. Little magical elves will show up at your place, fix you a nice cup of tea, and fluff your butt pillow to maximize your viewing experience. There is also a slightly less creepy non-elf version, which I highly recommend.

Last but not least, I have authorized Tracey to open up the comments option. I do this with a great deal of trepidation, as I have seen the brutal, nasty core of the pro-death crowd, and I am not sure that they can help themselves from giving me their worthless two-cents. If you have an intelligent thought, either for or against me, that is fine. I’d rather minimize any sycophantic nonsense, if possible, as I am already deeply rooted in my beliefs of how awesome I am, and don’t require any additional ego boosts. (That was sarcasm, by the way…I know that some of you have no concept of the idea, so I thought I would help you out.) What I absolutely want to avoid are the ugly, retrograde, infantile hysterics I see invariably develop on the crime blogs. Both sides start with a few valid points, but then everything devolves into an ugly spectacle where every other word is something that you wouldn’t want your children to hear. Go do that someplace else. I don’t mind criticism, as only a fool believes he is error-free, but if your comments do not contain a certain level of penetrating logic or reason, I will ban you. If we can't all be civil, and I have to spend more than a few minutes being your parents, I will simply turn this car around and shut the comment section down. Please don’t make me regret this. I have a feeling I am going to, as confusing the real with the ideal never goes unpunished. (As always, any comments requiring a response from me need to be directed to me via the mail.)

To paraphrase Horace, I hope this plays well in Corinth. I’m open to suggestions on how to improve the old girl. By my calculations, this site is about 22 months old, about to enter the “terrible two’s” of life. I find this image amusing, as I have some very nasty surprises in store for TDJC coming around the bend. When you trap a man between the gavel and the grave, do you really expect him to just lay down and die? You have made me vicious, this creature who is subletting the space where I used to live. Just because I have chosen to male physical violence anathema in my life does not mean I am not going to get my licks in, in other ways. Watch and see.

As a way of inviting some of you newcomers into my “public privacy” I have a few images for you. As you can imagine, there are not a whole lot of photographs taken from the inside of 12 building. The photos featured below were grabbed from a video which had a very short life online, wherein certain procedures for officers were videotaped for training purposes. If I can ever come across this raw footage again, I will link it here. Until then, these screenshots show a few aspects of my life. There are several which show two officers (wearing gray shirts/pants and black vests) standing in front of a cell. This is what a run looks like on DR. In the video, this is where the officers are asking for the offender to strip naked and pass them all of his clothes, which they inspect via the tiny door set about two feet off the ground. In the next image you can see an inmate (wearing white) bending down to allow himself to be handcuffed from behind. You do this every single time you leave your cell, even to go to the shower. In this particular image, you can also see what our sink/toilet look like, and the narrowness of the room, and the two little window slits in each of the doors. This space is all a DR inmate has to live in, and he spends every moment of his life there, save for the few hours of rec he gets a week. The next few images show the outside rec area, and the inside one. Again, once placed here, he is alone. Finally you see them passing a tray through the bean-chute in the door. I love that photo: the tray is just over flowing with food, and there even appears to be a huge slice of cake over there on the right. Haha, you assholes. Cake. On a totally unrelated note, the food does get much better when the state inspectors do their yearly evaluation. The cleaning crew actually cleans, the paint crew actually paints, and the AC is on. Life is almost bearable, for a few days a year.


Death Row Run at Polunsky

Inspecting an offenders clothing after offender has stripped naked

Being handcuffed from behind before leaving a cell

Having handcuffs removed before outside rec

Inside rec area

Food tray

Full video

Click HERE to read the Amnesty International report
"Too Much Cruelty, Too Little Clemency
- Texas nears 200th execution under current governor"

© Copyright 2009 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker.
All rights reserved.