Thursday, June 23, 2005

An open letter

From Yahoo News:

"Killen served six months at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman in 1996 and 1997 for a felony conviction of making harassing phone calls.

"This time, he will be held in a cell by himself, separated from other prisoners under an administrative protection status reserved for those at risk of retaliation from other inmates.

"'It's kind of a race issue, in that our (prison) population is 70 percent black,' Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said.

"Killen will be allowed out his cell only for an hour a day on weekdays, to shower or exercise, Epps said."


An open letter to future fellow inmates of Edgar Ray Killen:

I understand how great the temptation will be to harass and intimidate this 80 year old Klansman now that he is finally receiving a small portion of the punishment he deserves. Clearly he is not long for this world, and this is unfortunate, since he deserves to be imprisoned for a very long time. Please bear this in mind as you consider how to treat him.

What's more, threats and harassment will only confer on him some undeserved dignity, if only in his own mind. Under no circumstances should this person ever be allowed to feel brave or heroic.

I suggest instead that a far more humiliating and appropriate punishment would be kindness. Treat him with pity as a stupid and ignorant old racist cracker and leave him with no opportunity to feel defiant. Make him feel pathetic by treating him as the doddering old fool he is.

I think this is what Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney would have wanted, but that's not my reason for wanting it. I don't want it for any compassionate reason. I want it because we Jewish New Yorkers have a concept we call killing someone with kindness. I want his end to be very slow and as painful as possible, and to be surrounded by black men who don't consider him worthy of fear or anger is the worst thing I can imagine for him.

Thank you in advance,

RAB

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