Sunday, December 20, 2009

Not a Fluffy Blogger

I do appreciate that I cause some consternation and a little discomfort. Even those who support prison bloggers and prisoners’ rights in general would rather that a different man was leading the charge from the landings into the blogosphere.
The only really acceptable prisoner is one who prefaces every utterance with “I’m sorry I’m a scumbag, but I humbly beg you to stop kicking me in the face - which I deserve - so that I may utter a few quiet words for your consideration? Although you should feel free just to piss on me instead, because I am such a scumbag. . .”
Bad news, I'm afraid. I'm not naturally humble, nor reticent. Some see this as a reflection of some lack of remorse or a facet of my dangerousness, which is profoundly strange. That I have the sheer nerve to speak in public whilst not simultaneously whipping myself is, to some, a portent of future wickedness.

Explaining remorse is profoundly difficult, but I have tried elsewhere to do so. It may or may not satisfy anyone. But to connect my verbosity with dangerousness is to fall into the same conceptual trap that the Prison Service has used to detain me 20 years longer than necessary.
That I may wonder out loud about the nature of punishment or the equity of life sentences needn't imply that I believe I don't deserve punishment for my crime. That I wonder about the hypocrisy of the sanctity of life doesn't detract from my appreciation of my crime.
The broad thrust of my verbiage is to encourage the idea that these are matters that do deserve to be thought about; all the more so in a period of populist punitiveness.
Being disgruntled isn't to detract from being guilty. Wanting a change in our penal policies and practices doesn't detract from my acceptance of punishment. As a reasonably bright man, it would be strange if I did not begin to wonder about the morality and practicalities of imprisonment.
Whilst my mind is fairly sharp, for the sake of those around me I have tended to blunt my tongue. But in person, I'm really not a bad bloke and you shouldn't try to read into my character from my moral and intellectual musings - tempting though that is.
Perhaps what disconcerts people is that murderers are actually real, three dimensional people rather than stereotypes from the telly? And that may make me more of a challenge to some. Just a thought…


  1. I read your post on remorse when it was posted. I found it very moving. Very. And I do most definitely believe you are remorseful. I am astounded that you have been kept in jail for so very long. I truly hope you are released soon. And you do indeed show humility when you say you are reasonably intelligent - it seems to me you are exceptionally intelligent. Fluffy bloggers abound and hold no interest for me.

  2. Addendum: I should have said 'fluffy blogs hold LITTLE interest for me'. Sometimes I like to laugh. :)

  3. 'Perhaps what disconcerts people is that murderers are actually real, three dimensional people rather than stereotypes from the telly? And that may make me more of a challenge to some.'

    You hit the nail right on the head. Self-righteous dumbf**kery is so much easier when the person looking down their nose at you can pretend you're not human.

    When treatment of another human being goes beyond what is constructive and proportionate I think that person has every right to question the system doling out the treatment.

    You keep rattling those cages and I'll keep reading ;-).

  4. Your post on remorse was the first one I read. I too was exceedingly moved, and I must have liked it because I keep coming back for more.

    I like the confrontation of topics that some people find too difficult to contemplate. Keep it up and don't even think about apologising for your views.

    We may be a minority but there are still lots of people out here who agree with you.

  5. Your thinking is rigorous and you choose your words carefully. Reason governs rage and you are entirely right to reject an Uncle Tom tone. Attaboy. You are informative and bracing; you are my first (I know I've said this before) read of the day. Your spirit, in the light of your experience, is astonishing. Stay exactly where you are - intellectually, that is, not physically. I'm all for them showing you the door!

  6. keep it up Ben


  7. In honesty, Ben I read your post 'Remorse' and felt like in one moment I read as two entirely separate people. I have a friend in the UK who works to get books into prisons; it was she who tuned me in to your blog. The piece on remorse was deeply compelling, and made perfect sense to me. That was the response of the 'reader 1' side of me.
    And it scared the crap out of me.
    The 'reader 1'side of me reads as an academic, and with a great repsect for the thought, care and reason that you put into that (and your other subsequent) entries. The 'reader 2' side of me, the part that was scared/ is scared... is scared precisely because I grew up with a parent who had spent 5 years in the national penitentiary before I was born. That parent was a violent, nasty, demeaning, alcoholic bastard of a man. And I loved him. He was my father and he'd terrify me so badly when I was a child that I'd piss myself. I had nightmares for years after his death. He was also charming and could con people into believing that he was a rational man and a doting father. He was so powerful that he made me believe I deserved all the beatings, the threats, the intimidation... and that if I were just a better little girl that I would not have to be afraid of him.
    For me, reading you requires that I confront the fact that I cannot tell a dangerous man from the one I had to rely on for my basic needs, that I can love all too easily a man who almost killed me twice (by accident, but still...). To read your blog is to be reminded that as much remorse as my father had, it was never enough remorse to become any different, even though he would convince people over and over that he had finally turned a page.
    I thought that the apparent honestly of your post deserved the honesty of speaking about where my own distrust comes from.