All The Damn Lies

:::: Before you read the following post, please note that I do believe that murderers belong behind bars. I feel that anyone who can take the life of another person falls in the category of the vilest type of human being. I had a close friend of mine murdered and watched the heartbreak and pain of another friend deal with the murder and loss of her niece. I am well aware of the ripple effect that a murder has on family and friends of the victim. And I do believe that anyone who is capable of taking a life should be locked away from society. This is not about freedom or sympathy for murderers. It’s about understanding humanity as a whole and our willingness to get revenge–even when innocence and mental health are obvious. ::::

I recently finished watching “Confessions of a Killer” on Netflix. I knew nothing about Henry Lee Lucas. Which was nice. I was able to watch the documentary roll out as if I was a juror in a trial- remaining unbiased while taking in all the evidence.

Initially, when hearing that Lucas had murdered his own mother and supposed girlfriend- I thought to myself that that was clear cut. After all, he confessed. But then when I started seeing the video clips, it became obvious that things were not what they seemed.

Lucas was not only mentally ill but, he was being manipulated by the authorities to confess to not one murder but somewhere near 600. The hardest bit, for me at least, was the fact that he was put on death row for a crime that he didn’t commit. And there were those who were more than happy to cheer on the fact that an innocent man was going to be killed for killing.

Why are humans so eager to watch people be executed? I think that’s for another post.

This post is about how quickly we are to assume one side of a story. I am not saying that this is true of all cases. It’s not.

Was Lucas guilty? Of course. He killed his mother.

According to the Equal Justice Initiative–  for every 9 nine people executed, 1 is innocent. I am not going to get into the death penalty debate in this post, but you can assume from this that I am strongly against capital punishment.

No. This post is about how mentally ill prisoners are treated by authorities and the justice system. About how easily we are capable of only looking at criminals through a pinhole rather than looking at the whole picture. A person is either innocent or guilty-no one wants to see the gray bits that wade in the middle. Five to ten percent of prisoners on death row have a severe mental illness. I have already discussed the wrongfulness of placing prisoners with mental illness in a prison in my post on Ed Gein.

How is it ok to place a criminal with severe mental illness on death row?

My guess is that we live in a society that already places a stigma on those who have a mental illness. 

It’s easy to dismiss any discussion or talk on mental illness (and yes this does count even those with major depression and anxiety) and psychiatric care. I am often curious about whether the execution of a mentally ill inmate is more about getting rid of society’s “burden” than it is about the crime itself.

People here “he murdered…” and quickly brush off a defense of insanity. Yes, there are a lot of criminals who try to use that defense. But honestly, someone with a diagnosed mental illness like schizophrenia really is pleading insanity.

Mental illness is a chemical imbalance in the brain. No one chooses to be mentally ill. And no mentally ill inmate should be placed in prison, let alone placed on death row.

Its time society starts to look at the gray in between guilt and innocence.

Community Turf

My partner and I were sitting outside drinking coffee one morning, watching people in the neighborhood walking by. Mindless and in their own space. When we go for a walk and see neighbors, we realize that no one says “hi” to each other anymore. Then we both realized that we live in a cultural society where no one talks to each other. The days of asking a neighbor for cup of milk or knowing how their family are doing is well over. No one bothers to get to know the people who live right next door.

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We recently had an incident where we were outside drumming in the middle of the day. Something we do often. When suddenly a neighbor who we hardly see or speak to, stormed up our steps and very rudely told us to “cut the shit” because he was tired of listening to us. And….if he had to come over to our property again to tell us to stop then there wold be trouble. We are drummers and musicians. I am a performer. Drumming and dancing outside is what we do. We were not loud. We were not playing drums in the middle of the night. We were doing what we do every weekend. Enjoying the weather and the earth beneath our feet. The fact that this man felt it necessary to become so hostile to us when we don’t even know each-other just frankly pissed me off. Mind you, he has no issue with landscapers mowing his lawn at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Had he actually opened a dialogue with us (for instance, your drumming maybe to loud, rather than threatening us) he would have learned who were are and what we do. It would have opened up a bridge for communication. Naturally, my partner decided later to kill with kindness and go over and talk to the guy, who ended up, eventually, apologizing and opening up a conversation. We had to have a forced dialogue because of hostility and lack of knowing one another and respecting one another. In other words, my turf is my turf – and even if you live on your own turf – you are affecting my turf and well—fuck you.

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We are all individual cells. We all do our own thing. Introverts, extroverts–we go about our business on a daily basis doing what we as individuals need to do. The thing we all forget is that despite the fact that we are individual cells, we are also part of a larger organism. The organism of humanity.

There no longer exists in modern society–a sense of community. The individual cells stay separate-only connecting when its necessary-and for no other reason. Not to celebrate. Not to communicate. Not to reach out. Unlike tribal societies that celebrate the ups and downs of their communities; who function as a whole unite while maintaining individuality; and who have assigned roles that contribute to the whole–we would rather just turn our face away and ignore each other.

There is no community. The word community in modern society should be termed “community turf.”

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The “communities” that do exist in modern society are often broken and covered in a falsifying fog. There is always “leader” in the community, and that leader, whether consciously or not, generates the energy that will flow into the specific populace they have created. The issue then becomes one of control and isolation. If you don’t fit in to their idea of “community” then you are not a part of it.Often times the “head” of the community is someone who thinks they are doing something great, but in essence, they are trying to work out their own issues, dragging others into their mire.  The sheep will follow. Like attracts like. Even in the “best” communities there are those who think they can do it better.

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The problem then becomes, what about these individual cells? The ones who don’t fit into a community because they see the whole organism rather than separate pieces?  We gravitate to those individuals cells but never root ourselves into a community. We are the floaters. We wander but never ground ourselves in. Is it a bad thing? Maybe. But sometimes being a floater means realizing that there are things wrong in society. And lack of communication, friendship, reaching out and knowing one another only separates the cells further and further away.

But until we are able to be like tribal communities in other parts of the world, the sense the human organism becoming whole will never happen.