philosofunk

what if the worlds/were a series of steps/what if the steps/joined back at the margin


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A Hate Crime in a Case of Mistaken Identity

Hate crime legislation did not always exist because the concept that a group of persons of minority status deserved special legal protection was not a popular sentiment until the 1990’s. Racialized tension has always been a historical American problem of epic proportions that has been dealt with many failures and some successes.

Documentaries are permanent time pieces that capture the essence of a person, place, or event. The Public Broadcasting Station produces many fantastic documentaries about a wide array of subjects. To find a documentary that is a few years old and genuinely well done is an exciting feat for a documentary junkie. Who Killed Vincent Chin is one of those documentaries rarely found, a diamond in the rust.

https://vid.me/SzO/who-killed-vincent-chin-1987

The premise of the documentary is the murder of Vincent Chin by Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, his stepson. Chin was a Chinese-American man who lived in Detroit during the 1980s and was engaged to be married. During the 1980’s the American car industry, located in Detroit, suffered a number of set backs as they industry honchos mismanaged changing demands of the consumer while car producers in Japan appealed to the desires of car drivers in American markets. This caused the car industry in America to plummet, leading to a decrease in jobs in American car manufacturing plants, and as a result, it became that there were many angry unemployed working class people living in Detroit. Unemployment is a problem because it causes a decrease in self-esteem, motivation, productivity, and overall quality of life.

There has always been a problem of racism within the American frame of mind. Making wild generalizations about an ethnic or racial group is a disdainful American tradition, and white solipsistic perspective often erases ethnicities within a racial group. For example, Vincent Chin was Chinese-American but died because he was suspected of being Japanese. For Ronald Ebens, the man who bashed Chin’s head in with a baseball bat, this was explanation enough for the attack:

whokilled

Racine Colwell was a dancer at Fancy Pants, a Detroit strip-club that was frequented during the evening by the working class men of the auto plant industry. Chin and Ebens had had a verbal spat at the club that then carried into the parking lot. Instead of continuing the verbal spat, the disagreement turned into a hate crime because of Eben’s prejudice against Chin for being of Asian descent.”You little motherfuckers” is the phrase that is contentious as to whether or not this attack was a hate crime at the time of trial. Appallingly, Ebens was not convicted of murder despite the attack being witnessed by two off duty police officers, but plead guilty to second degree manslaughter while serving no jail time, instead being fined several thousand dollars. Many in the Asian community felt that this was a clear instance of white privilege at work keeping a white man free of the confines of jail or prison while an entire ethnic and racial group was failed by justice.

In the 1980’s, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was recently enacted legislation that dictated protection for discrimination based on racial prejudice. Social change is not the same mechanism as legal change but both are affected by one another and both are gradual processes that require compromise and understanding of nuances. Legal change is an instant moment that can be measured by victory and success or failure. Social change is a story based around millions of lives interconnected by a narrative thread. Understanding of the Civil Rights Act is not the same landmark event as the accomplishment of passing it.

Ebens was given wide latitude by the police and the legal system because of the historical standing of white male privilege. Hate crimes were common events in areas like the South and bodily violence against non-white bodies was common, and as current events across the country exhibit, is still common today. In the documentary, Ebens himself expresses surprise that he did not go to prison for murder. There is clearly something off in this case, something working toward the expression of Eben’s liberty at the expense of justice for Chin’s murder. The police did not interview the dancers from the club who saw the verbal altercation. The District Attorney downgraded a senseless murder to manslaughter, a charge that in layman’s terms mean’s “this person didn’t mean to kill anyone it just happened”. Killing someone with a baseball bat, bashing a person’s skull in like you were hitting a home run is not an accident. It is intentional, there is malice, and there is hatred. It is a personal way to kill someone, to express rage.

There is a point in the film when public rage was expressed by literally bashing Japanese cars with sledgehammers. There is a curious correlation between violence done to people and violence done to things. For example, during the Nazi era, there were public book burning that were held in order to express fascistic rage at liberal or communist ideas. The idea that there is a correlation between burning books and burning people by this group of radical fascists is logical. In Detroit, it went from people smashing Japanese cars to smashing Japanese bodies. Racialized hatred is a clear act of defiance of peace. Violence is an expression of hatred.

Federally, Ebens was convicted of federally violating Chin’s civil rights and given a twenty-five year sentence that was later overturned on a technicality. Hate crime legislation did not yet exist, so the idea that minority groups have a special status of protection within the law was not a legal concept. The film contains many allegories that Ebens was not in any way a racist  man because he either worked with racial minorities at the auto plant, or because his daughter had tutored an Asian boy in school. These are instances of white nonsense, a way to whitewash making racialized hatred normal by virtue of interacting with racial minorities. This is illogical and attempts to appeal to emotional manipulation. Nitz’s girlfriend even contends that he was even happy to be on unemployment because he could “collect all this money” while doing things like taking trips and apparently, beating up Asian men.

Meaningful social transformations must be supported by legal action and accomplishment. Hate crimes are a necessary legal protection in order to ensure that groups who are minorities have the correct protection from unnecessary aggression.


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Corporate American Prison Culture

I know a lot about prison culture. This is from academic study, intellectual thought of that study, and personally knowing people who have been to prison. I also know a person who was for a short time a prison guard. Some of the most intelligent people I know have not achieved graduation from high school and instead spent their time focusing on immediate survival because the most dire of circumstances were occurring in their lives. They are beautiful human beings who have been forced through a series of situations, both beyond their control and within the scope of their control should they have made wiser choices at the time, to embrace the view of the world that we contain both the capability for doing bad deeds for reasonable reasons, such as feeding one’s own child and providing for their family in ways that they would not be able to achieve by the legally presented choices that are available to them. For some this had to do with race, but always it had to do with economic status. The intersecionality of race, socioeconomic status, and gender made each person’s experience unique in regards to how they interacted within what could be called, “the underworld”.

My time in the underworld was extremely colorful. I met some of the most influential people in my life, individuals who contributed greatly to my formation. All of these individuals committed illegal acts. Many of these individual’s familes knew that they committed crimes in order to make a living and accepted the money in order to live. I take a Kantian view of the law: the law is not inherently moral or ethical just because it is the law. Some of these individuals were my lovers, others were just my friends.

Currently, after devouring “The Jinx”, I tuned into “Oz” on Hbo.go (thank the Buddha for whoever came up with the idea of putting all of HBO’s programming online).  Yesterday, I picked up a copy of Harper’s and to my delight, Harper’s Index (an assortment of statistics that reveals a theme about domestic public policy or economic’s or sociological facts) focused it’s first on the American prison system, an institution I personally devote a lot of time to studying both academically and recreationally. Through my journey of “Oz”, I have found myself profoundly questioning the corporate American prison system. While reading Harper’s statistics, I found myself morally obligated to share my feelings and opinions publicly. For example,

  • Minimum number of times in 2014 that Rikers Island correction officers broke the bones of an inmate: 98
  • Days of solitary confinement a South Carolina prisoner was assigned in 2012 for threatening a prison employee: 41
  • Years of solitary confinement he was assigned in 2013 for posting on Facebook: 37

Read those last two statistics again. From this specific example, we can see that this inmate was being made an example of in the second statistic. In the first, we see what is viewed as a routine occurrence within prison due to the culture of violence. What can be derived from these statistics? That prisoner’s having access to the first amendment beyond the scope of the walls of the prison is more dangerous than a threat of violence to one of the prison’s employee’s.

This should be disturbing to any American who supports the first amendment because the discrepancy is between days and years. What is so horrible that a prisoner could tell us beyond inane ramblings of an inmate.

This this or this.

I am unsure what America is attempting to accomplish with the endorsement of a demeaning and violent prison culture given we are the number one nation for locking people in cages. I do believe that we need prisons, yet morally I feel obligated that a society should ensure the minimum number of human beings are confined by chains. Serious crimes that are directly related to harming other human beings are crimes that should be applicable for confinement away from society for a period of time, and these crimes are both directly violent and non-violent yet harmful. I do not believe that there should be a tremendous amount of comfort in prison, there should be bare conditions however they should be humane. If not for the prisoners, I am concerned about the mental health of prison employees working in such dire conditions.

The more disturbing phenomenon in the combination of corporate and prison culture in America is obviously the private prison system. Like Blackwater and other mercenary armies, private prisons are the antithesis to a democratic society due to the lack of government oversight and the inherently disturbing nature of making money off of the suffering of other human beings. In fact, this could be psychologically compared to antisocial personality disorder, known in laymen’s terms as psychopathy. American corporatism at it’s most depraved has already been compared to having antisocial personality disorder, especially given the Supreme Court decision that endorses the legal principle that corporations are persons.

If corporations are persons, and there are private prisons that are owned by corporations, then that means some of these prisons function as dysfunctionally as the violent offenders they house. This is clearly an ethical and moral threat to democratic ideals.


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“The Jinx” and Robert Durst’s Smoke and Mirrors

Though I know I’m a little late on this, HBO’s “The Jinx” is a goldmine and I finally got to sink my teeth into the six part docuseries by acclaimed documentarian Andrew Jarecki (“Capturing the Friedmans” is his other excellent work). As a writer, I spend a lot of time imagining. Some of the imagining is within the realm of normal, some of it is pretty bizarre, some of it is sick and twisted, and some of it is rather mundane and boring. For people like me, Robert Durst, the subject of “The Jinx” is a monster of a character both in terms of scope of the allegations against him and how enormous the eccentricities of his life have shaped his character. For instance, the “AAAANNNYYYWAAAAYYYYY” Durst blurts out after he forgets whether or not his victim Morris Black had a bow-saw or not (with which Mr. Durst AKA Bobby was going use to cut Black’s corpse) is spoken as an uncannily normal statement to make. He is not fazed by the fact that he was just describing tools with which he used to dissect a human corpse, and was treating the matter as a conventional conversation topic, like “I couldn’t find my socks today, but this and then that and my story the dog hid them blah blah blah AAAANNNYYYWAAAAYYYYY”.  The question becomes to the viewer, what the fuck is Bobby Durst’s normal?

Like “Serial”, which I am also infatuated with, “The Jinx”‘s true crime appeal acts as a stranger-than-fiction stage for which the real life characters who deceive, question, squawk, insist, and attempt to understand an act or acts of violence that seem beyond the comprehensible. Unlike Adnan, the subject of “Serial”, Bobby Durst is immediately identified as an atypical human being. Rich and privileged, Durst is portrayed as mentally unstable, seemingly sad and outright bizarre, yet Jarecki affords him a certain amount of dignity in the film. During the last scene, where Jarecki is interrogating Durst about the identical handwriting found on “The Cadaver Note” and an envelope written in his handwriting, Jarecki does not himself condemn Durst, instead he allows Bobby to do it for himself. Jarecki sets the scene up, but Bobby could have just as well gotten up, de-miced, and refused to talk about it. Certainly, one wonders why he didn’t.

Both in “Serial” and “The Jinx” the subjects want to tell their side of the story, and both subjects ask viewers to suspend their presumptions about their cases and examine the facts with the documentarians. However, in “Serial” Sarah Koenig concludes that she believes in Adnan’s innocence and approached the production of the series as giving Adnan back the presumption of innocence while looking for concrete evidence of his guilt. Finding vast amounts of ambiguity, deception, and flip-flopping stories, Koenig concludes that it is reasonable to believe Adnan’s account of his innocence. Jarecki seemed to approach his film in a similiar manner, giving Durst a presumption of not guilty but not wholly innocent either, and came to the conclusion that the New York Post had proclaimed several years ago:

run for your lives

When I rewatched “The Jinx” (always, always watch a documentary more than once should you wish to understand it better) it seemed to be that Bobby Durst was consciously making this documentary out of egotism, but subconsciously giving essentially a veiled confession. During the scene where Jarecki questions him about whether or not he sent The Cadever Note in the first interview, Durst keeps using the pronoun “you” while describing why it would be unintelligent for a killer to send a note to the cops with instructions to the murder they just caused. Its like he was describing his own mixed regret and guilt for sending the letter, one which he all but admits to sending in The Bathroom Scene when his mic was hot, “There it is. You’re caught…arrest him”. His rambling soliloquy racked with guilt, ambiguity, and what could be considered a confession, “What did I do? I killed them all of course” is absolutely the second most chilling thing I have ever seen in  a documentary, the first being corpses being thrown into a pit at a concentration camp in Nazi Germany.

There is speculation among law enforcement agents about whether or not Bobby Durst is a serial killer. I certainly believe that he is. One thing Jarecki commented on was how much he had grown to like Durst as a person during the course of the filming, so much so that Durst gains his trust enough that he does not question whether or not Durst really is in Spain in the last episode, to the shock of the production team’s camera man. Durst was not actually in Spain, but LA, he lied to Jarecki to get him off of his back, and not with a small lie either. One thing remarked about many serial killers is their charisma and charm. Durst’s access to huge amounts of money only seems to add to the enigma of what and who he really is since he can buy pretty much anything and is as Jarecki says “a smart fucker”. If anyone has doubt as to how seductive people who have the capability for serial killing are, watch “Manson” (which unfortunately is bizarrely banned in the United States but periodically shows up on Youtube) and evaluate the love Manson’s family had for Manson. In one Texas juror’s mind, Durst is a man who is “simply unlucky” rather than seemingly malicious. Given that he was on the jury for the dismemberment trial, Durst has some pretty amazing charming abilities (Durst appeared on the stand for that trial).

But Bobby seems guilty, he seems to want to shout “I really did do it take me away!” but doesn’t. He plays his part, like the rich are expected to do. The rich must toe the line within their segregated world, there is too much money and power at stake for them not to. Durst says his lines, “No I didn’t write that” when confronted with irrefutable evidence of his handwriting on The Cadaver Note. Its insisted that he did not murder Morris Black but with a warped rationality explains why he had to dismember Morris’ body. He doesn’t even know if Kathy is really dead, he says. He laments that his accomplishments are never really his because of all the money and prestige propping him up. If he was any one of the peasants, he knows he would have been dragged off by the legal system long ago.

Prior to watching this docuseries, I knew nothing about the Durst saga. I believe it will end anticlimactically, with Durst dying peacefully in his bed leaving behind a mass of questions. We can only hope he leaves confessions with his lawyers for after he is dead. But most certainly, the poor go to prison and the rich go to court.


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My “Serial” Obsession- Political versus Philosophical Justice

before

I have a tumblr, gzeu.tumblr.com, and it is one of my favorite past times, to scroll through the endless series of images people decide to reblog. It is a wonderful source of bizarre fun, “from porn to puppies in seconds” is one of the jokes of  the site (though the Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is trying to do away with all the sex, in the spirit of corporate America) and so when I saw this wonderful image of one of my favorite television characters, Rust Cohle from True Detective, I knew I had to delve into Serial.

I listened to the entirety of Serial in nearly one day. I saved the last episode for the next day because the night was fading into morning, and I wanted to save it. I did the exact same thing with True Detective.

Then I did that weird thing that makes me an eccentric person. I really love cinema, and will often re-watch movies countless times until I can watch them in my head.  I did this with Serial. I fell asleep to Serial,  I ate breakfast to Serial, and I even did yoga while listening to the disturbing tale of this sad murder. Hae Min Lee became a person I thought about while I walked down the street to buy milk. Her mothers testimony at Adnan’s sentencing, about a Korean proverb that observes that when parents die they are buried in the ground, but when a child dies they are buried in the parents heart, made me think about my mother while I cooked macaroni and cheese one night. Clearly, it was very important that we know what happened to Hae. She sounded like the very definition of a good person, a true young lady who had a promising future and was well liked by peers and adults.

So, the thing that makes this story that Sarah Koenig narrates for us compelling is that essentially the entire state’s case rests on the credibility of the state’s witness, Jay. There is something significant; Jay knows where Hae’s car is. But that does not mean that Adnan killed Hae. That is a logical leap of epic proportions. And here is why.

Jay is a noted liar. Jen, the girl Jay was most likely cheating on his girlfriend with, says “Well, Jay lies. Everyone knows Jay lies”. Jay lies about all kinds of things, things that are both benign, and then things that are more shady. When The Intercept interviews Jay, he comes out with this absolutely incredible story that he had never told before.

One thing that everyone agrees is that Jay and Adnan were not “friends”. Adnan says “we didn’t exactly kick it per se” which as Koenig awkwardly seems to translate for seriously suburban white people as “yes we smoked weed together, but we were acquaintances and not friends”. So, in The Intercept interview, Jay now essentially says “so this dude who is not really my friend shows up at my grandma’s house with a dead body in the trunk and says hey you big drug dealer I’m going to rat on you unless you help me bury this body”. The entire trial Jay has this entire story built around seeing Hae’s body at Best Buy, the words “Best Buy” are used about fifty times every episode.

But now, this is not true. And Adnan is sitting in prison.

Or was something else going on entirely? Here’s where I am going to get wildly speculative. Throughout all the interviews with Jay, the detectives are clear to say that Jay was dealing marijuana, only marijuana, and no additional drugs. Jay, who appears to be egocentric to say the least, claims that he was the “criminal element” of Woodlawn. This makes me inclined to believe that Jay was dealing dimebags and thinking that he was a badass, but just because a liar does not mean a true statement cannot be made by that person. Jay gets a sweetheart deal with accomplice to murder after the fact with no prison time, and he gets a lawyer who was hand picked by the prosecution. What we know from watching The Wire, which I am completely aware is a work of fiction but has been critically acclaimed for its realistic storytelling, is that Baltimore is a narcotics town. Any and all towns that are heavy sources of narcotics are corrupt. Was Jay up to something else, and all this knowledge that he had was a thing about protecting a greater source? Everyone agrees that Jay and Adnan were not friends. But were they business associates? In the last episode, Josh, who was a coworker of Jay’s, attested to the fact that “he was scared” after the murder. He also says that he was afraid “people” were after him, “people” connected to the murderer. Did something go wrong while Jay was borrowing Adnan’s car and she got strangled?

It’s a complete theory. But its a question posed in philosophical justice that recognizes the corrupt relationship between government and organized crime.

Getting away from speculation, it is clear that Adnan’s Muslim identity was used against him. The prosecutor arguing against bail for Adnan tells a wild tale of all these “jilted” “Muslim” and “Pakistani” men who kill their lovers who reject them (because come on, all men of Pakistani descent who are Muslim have fantastic terrorist like connections who can get them out of one of the most policed nations on the planet) and then are never brought to justice.

Throughout Serial, Koenig does a good job of making the point that the American justice system has a clear distinction between the idea of what justice is and what justice actually looks like when enacted properly, what could be called the distinction between political justice and philosophical justice. Justice, to prosecutors, is winning the case. The state having absolute power over its citizenry is justice. This is the political definition of justice. As Koenig points out, the detectives were not incompetent. They followed procedure, and a detective on the podcast says that he probably would have followed the same course of action as the detectives did. Philosophical justice is what Koenig was looking for, who did this and why, and why should we believe this person who constantly lies and by all accounts is a shady character? I don’t like to judge people for how they make their living, but Jay was a criminal because he was a marijuana dealer, but to what extent is unclear. His claim is that Adnan threatened him with going to the police because of what he knew about his drug dealing activity.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that murdering someone is worse than dealing some weed. Even a lot of weed. Jay got a sweetheart of a motherfucking deal, and his lawyer was found for him by the prosecutor. That, as Koenig puts it, “is not a thing”. That is insane, and it is corrupt. I believe that the judge made the wrong call by asserting that Jay didn’t know he was getting a benefit. Jay was not stupid, a liar yes but stupid no. He was “street smart”, as described by one juror. He knew that lawyers are worth money.

But why are we getting political justice instead of philosophical justice? Because political justice is easier. This is so cliche, but anyone who has seen The Wire knows that Baltimore is a gritty city. The murder police there must encounter some truly gruesome things. This murder case looked good from a police perspective looking for political justice, to build the best case possible. The lawyers were going to take care of character assassinating Adnan, and everyone else was going to cover their ass on Jay’s case. Why go through extra steps when the suspect’s case was going to go through successfully.

If Jay is now telling the truth that Adnan showed him the body at his grandmother’s house and not at Best Buy, was this Best Buy story a cover for Jay’s marijuana operation? How big of a dealer was Jay anyway? Why is Jay talking about this grandma trunk pop business now, after the podcast, after all the Reddit.com speculation? Why did the prosecutor give him such an enormously good deal? Was Jay only a marijuana dealer, or was he connected in some way to some important person? Were these kids who were smoking weed, in 1999, maybe getting a little high on heroin in a place where that is somewhat normal? Intelligent people, intelligent adults and teenagers use drugs. This is completely speculative of me. But I’m just sayin’, I wonder these things.

Philosophical justice means exposing some things. Something that always bothered me was that Hae’s body was by all accounts well hidden. On the last episode, Koenig reveals that there is reason to believe that there was a serial killer operating within the Baltimore area at that time targeting Asian women. This would take massive amounts of time, coordination, detail oriented effort, creativity, and man hours to uncover a serial killer. Former chief of the FBI’s Crime Unit John Douglas states that a “conservative estimate” puts the number of active serial killers operating in the United States between 35 and 50. The FBI also cites that strangulation is the most common form of murder for serial killers, with 42.5% of victims strangled. Hae was strangled.

It is possible that Adnan killed Hae. Strangulation is also a very personal way to kill someone, and random lethal domestic violent attacks do happen. But the Kafkaesque maze of analyzing who Adnan is, evaluating which part of what Jay says is the truth or a lie, the entire bizarre situation with the prosecutor and Jay’s lawyer, and this strange observation that according to Koenig, the body was really well hidden, and according to Jay, it doesn’t sound like they put a lot of physical effort into disposing Hae’s body makes me feel like this was a case where political justice won. But an experienced killer would know how to dispose a body so that it would be hard to find and know that Baltimore is a place where many people are murdered.

The only two people who know who killed Hae are Hae and her murderer. And what is so absolutely tragic is when murders get away with murder, like George Zimmerman. But what might be more tragic, is when a man’s life is taken away based upon a narrative about his identity and a story told by an identified liar.

That to me is reasonable doubt.


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If the Law is Ridiculous

Yesterday I wrote about an example of why the law can be “ridiculous”, or illogical, immoral, unethical, or all three depending on the intent of the law. My example articulated the “ridiculousness” of a society where a teenager could face life in prison for an inextreme, non-violent action (making hash oil brownies) when violent offenses (rape) do not receive the possibility of life in prison.

Today, on Veteran’s day, I had a conversation with a man who was a Vietnam Veteran and opposed the war during his youth. This reminded me of one of my favorite documentaries,

“Weather Underground”. Here is the link:

The Weathermen opposed the war in Vietnam and openly declared war on the United States domestically. They were the most radical form of the opposition to Vietnam, and embodied the young, rebellious, reactionary pulse of the anti-War movement. The ultimate form of dissent against society, they vowed to take on the burden of perpetration of violence in order to stop the greater violence that was perpetrated against both the youth of America, and the Vietnamese people. It is a good exploration on the nature of violence.

When a law system does a violence against it’s people, the people react. It is time for the people to non-violently oppose prohibition type drug laws against marijuana. It is a violence against people who do not perpetrate violence. I hope more young people my age can help speak for this young man and peacefully protest and change our society’s polities on marijuana.

Long live freedom.


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When the Law is Ridiculous

The law is not equal to morality. A Texas teenager could go jail for life for selling brownies made with hash oil butter. This is ridiculous. We don’t even send rapists to prison for life. The law has no legitimate authority holding marijuana hostage under the assertion of mandatory prohibition. Colorado has already proven that it is a multi-million dollar industry, something which could feasibly turn many states economies around for the positive. Crimes like rape, which we do not give life sentences for, serve no positive purpose for society. Yet we do not give these crimes life in prison. But in Texas, a teenager, could go to prison for the rest of his life for a brownie made with hash oil. Something should be re-evaluated.


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When We Kill

I am personally against the death penalty. I am not a libertarian because I believe in a welfare state for people who fall on hard times, myself having once fallen on a hard time, but I do believe that the long arm of the law should be far shorter than it is.

Recently in Oklahoma there was a “botched” execution of a man named Clayton D. Lockett. Lockett was just about as disgusting a human as one could possibly be. Reprehensibly, he raped at least two women and separately participated in a gang rape, murdered his victim, and advised his co-conspirators to bury one of his victims alive. The intense hatred he showed for fellow human beings is disturbing and clearly he should be completely removed from society.

When faced with such evil, it is tempting to wish the absolute worst on those who commit such acts. It is desirable for some to justify, for example, that pedophiles be raped in prison as to experience the degradation and humiliation they inflicted on innocent children whose lives will forever be altered as the result of the ugliness done to them. It is tempting to be hateful toward those who commit atrocities against fellow human beings. But when examining the id behind these attitudes, I believe we must move a step forward beyond the base actions of these disturbed individuals.

To meet a violence with a violence does not necessarily render the initial violence justice. In some instances, it does. Self defense, for example, against violent attack is a justice as it seeks to neutralize initial harm. It could be argued that to render a past violence with another act of violence is just a crude act as the original violence. Though, there may be merit to using violence against individuals who have done bodily harm to others, in non-state capacities. That is to say, assaults in prison against those who have inflicted harm against innocent children may be morally soluble (I would not argue that rape should be used against any individual, even against pedophiles. Just simple prison curb-stomping is suitable) because the harm inflicted by simply being in prison may not be enough worldly justice to meet the harm done to those children. When delving into what true senses of “justice” are, sometimes the corners are not neatly folded and the pages neatly tucked. Sometimes the chaotic element is necessary.

However, I think the more important question should be, what kind of society are we when we murder murderers? Is there an offense for which we should allow the state to end the life of an individual? Treason is often argued as a valid use of lethal state power against an individual. I am on the fence about this, but willing to make an exception for my anti-death penalty holding because this would put an entire nation of people at risk. However, I would like to point out that our Founding Fathers were lucky the whole America thing worked out, because they were certainly British treasonists.

Back to Mr. Lockett, he did not die an easy death. From all accounts, the death cocktail used malfunctioned and he got fucked up as a result. Listening to NPR today, I learned that people have caught on fire from electric chair malfunctions, people have been decapitated in hangings, and overall I ended up feeling very squeamish during my car ride. Is this justice? The state sanctioned mutilation of prisoners? Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that states have been acquiring these drug cocktails through the black market, or even other countries. That is most definitely not justice; if you cannot show legitimately how something was acquired when using it during an act of state power, the state action is not legitimate and cannot be just.

Mr. Lockett should not have been able to live a good life after what he inflicted on his victims. This world should have shown him as much suffering as he could encounter. That is just. Whatever he would have ended up enduring in prison is just. However, the way he died only seems to make us, American society, look bad. Prisoners should be treated as human beings because even though they have trespassed against their fellow humans, a civilized society should be act in better ways than to equate justice with the very same actions the convicted perpetrated.

Mr. Lockett, may you have the rebirth you deserve.