I have a cache of topics for these daily blog entries, and I try to work them out the day before. I don't have the time to plan every morning what I am going to write about, because Holden has his own plans, and there are only so many distractions I can provide to get the time I need to craft these intimate exchanges.
My plan this morning was to write about The Last Song, the Nicholas Sparks novel I finished in Mexico, and offer what I've learned about Phase I in how to pen a best seller. I know most everyone hates the guy, and I am not going to say I "enjoyed" the book, because I didn't. Its wholesome, Christian, patriotic virtues border on nauseating at times. But I can't entirely discount what he does, because millions of people buy his work. And when everybody loves you, you can never be lonely (lonely lonely, I want to be a lion...)
But we'll talk about that later.
I have a routine every morning with the Internet, starting with e-mail, and ending with checking the two New York tabloids for recaps of the Yankee games the night before (this is altered slightly in the winter, but not by much because of the Hot Stove League and all the players the Yankee acquire trying to buy another championship [we're at 27 for those counting at home]).
The Yankees won last night, but this isn't a baseball post, promise. When I opened up the Daily News, I saw this piece http://tinyurl.com/3rsn87p about $130K of meat that had turned rancid in Rikers and how at least one of the officials there suggested still serving it to the inmates. Which is disturbing enough. Then I read the user comments below.
Here are some typical ones:
I don't feel bad, in fact the only thing i feel bad about is that hardcore prisoners are eating better than I am on the tax dollars of hard working law abiding citizens. What does this teach people, hey if you can't afford life, go through the system! The prisioners come out stronger, healthier and more crime connected than when they went in. Hate to break it to you but there is no rehabilitation for murders, sexual predators and habitual criminals. We should go back to the chain gang days and have them work hard labor for their bread water and hard boiled egg. That would DRAMATICALLY cut down on state expenses, they owe society, not the other way around. Criminals HAD a choice to do the right thing and chose not to, why on earth should they be maintained?...
Feed it to them anyway! Who really cares about the criminal's? Instead of buying meat they should be eating bologna sandwiches and venison during deer season. No special treatment or decent food for these jailbirds
Lock down the prison and let the inmates eat each other.....considering the inmates are useless savages, I am sure many would willingly accept cannibalism....thats all those animals deserve anyway!!
These are countered by the "other side," urging fair and decent treatment for all, and I'm not going to wax all liberal on prisoner rights, really. I'm not even sure that's the correct label for what I am anyway (technically speaking, I think I fall more under the "radical" category). Though I don't think the debate whether to feed inmates rotten meat falls along partisan lines. Or maybe it does. I ain't touching that one.
What got me about this was less the topic of criminal rights and more just how mean and vicious anonymous Internet comments can be. And you see it all the time. Check out practically any story, from any news' source (though admittedly tabloids elicit a little more fire), and you encounter two elements fairly consistently: hate, and bad writing. Both of which are offensive to me.
There is a certain power afforded via the Internet, where you can by the handle Mad Max or jelly4000 and say whatever you want, however mean-spirited. There is a divorce from any actual given situation, and life becomes purely abstract, a television program watched through a computer monitor, a fantasy.
But I know criminals. Some of my best friends are ex-convicts. I myself was pretty damn close to going away for a while, so it's hard to read comments equating inmates to dogs or saying they deserve less than that even. This isn't discounting that there are some vicious violent monsters in Rikers, some of whom have done unspeakable things, and if I, or someone I love, had been the victim of their actions, I'd certainly feel differently. For an individual. But contextually, there has to be a bar we as a society set and stick to. Call it punishment. Call it rehabilitation. Whatever. You don't fucking feed them spoiled meat. Moreover, why the personal attacks? Since I am pretty sure jelly4000 isn't speaking personally.
I suppose it comes down to this. I was given a second chance. A lot of people I know were. Some of these people did very bad things. But people turn their shit around every day. It's not the norm, I know. In fact, it's probably pretty rare. But like they say in AA: wait for the miracle to happen. And until it does, I don't think you need to offer cable TV or conjugal visits, or I don't care to comment on it. But, trust me, prison is bad enough. You don't need to feed them food not fit for a dog.