Tonight I watched Gladiator Days: Anatomy of a Prison Murder, a documentary on HBO. It was very sickening and hard to watch. The opening shots are the prison security camera recording the brutal murder of an inmate. The killer, motivated by some "white power" crap, stabbed the guy 67 times. Ugh...it is just awful. I can't describe it.
How anybody can stand on top of someone, stab the person repeatedly in the back, face, and neck, and watch that person die is absolutely beyond me. The documentary seemed to imply that life in prison will drive prisoners to violence, but there is no excusing such a terrible act. Now the murderer, who was serving life in prison for a previous brutal murder, is on death row. A short addendum to the movie stated that the killer attacked a Muslim inmate after 9/11/01 apparently in retaliation for the terrorist attacks.
Now, I don't believe that the death penalty will solve anything, but geeze, what can you do with such violent people? How can we solve this problem? How can we as a "civilized" society teach people that violence is not the way to solve conflicts? And especially, how can we attempt such a difficult task while we bomb, kill, destroy, and project the concept of "might makes right" to the rest of the world and our own people? There's so much violence out there. It's downright discouraging.
On a side note, I have a shirt that I've worn for a bunch of years. It says:
Travel to exotic, distant lands. Meet exciting, unusual people.
And kill them.
A while back, my father remarked that I probably wouldn't wear that shirt today considering my anti-war stance. I was sort of surprised because I always understood that the quote was one that opposed war. Of course, it's a paraphrase of a quote in Full Metal Jacket by "Joker", a soldier who wasn't exactly enthusiastic about being in Vietnam. He said "I wanted to be the first kid on my block with a confirmed kill." But his tone was obviously sarcastic. So, I always understood the quote on my shirt as one that pointed out the harsh irony of war. That may sound contrived, but it's true.
For some reason, it never occurred to me that other people wouldn't see the absurdity of the quote. Now, I look back to all the times I've worn that shirt and had people comment on it, and I wonder if they got the message that I understood. I don't think they did, and that's too bad. I guess I should've been less subtle.
I also have a bumper sticker on my car that reads, "I couldn't go to work today because the voices told me to stay home and clean the guns." I thought that was a pretty funny quote at the time, although it doesn't apply to me personally. I'd like to think that if you knew me, it would be obvious that I'm not a gun-toting freak. But I suppose it's not obvious enough. This brings to mind a conversation from the aforementioned movie:"You've written 'Born to Kill' on your helmet."
Why did you do that?"
"I don't know, sir. Everyone writes things on their helmets."
"You write 'Born to Kill' on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What is that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?"
"Well, what is it supposed to mean?"
"I don't know, sir."
"Answer that question, corporal, or you'll be standing tall before the man."
"Well, sir," Joker says with exaggerated thoughtfulness, "I suppose...I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man."
"The dual nature of man?... You know, sir, the Jungian thing about aggression and xenophobia on one hand, and altruism and cooperation on the other?"
There is a fairly considerable mouth-breathing pause from the colonel.
"Whose side are you on, son?"
"Our side, sir."
"Don't you love your country?"
"Yes, I do, sir."
"Then how about getting with the program? Why don't you jump on the team and come in for the big win?"
Joker still manages to keep a straight face. "I'm certainly ready to do that, sir."
"Confess corporal, confess that you want peace."
"I confess, sir."
The colonel leans closer and lowers his voice, "Son, we've all got to keep our heads until this peace craze blows over."