Editorial by Ed Mead
California’s written regulations require that CDCR issue the written reasons for a rejection or censorship of any publication. Those regulations require that the publisher be notified within 15 days of the rejection.
California Prison Focus received notice of the rejection of their last issue of Prison Focus from Pelican Bay about two months later. The reason given for the rejection, was that it promoted prohibited group activity by prisoners. What your captors fail to understand, and what they will eventually learn in the courts, it that reporting the news is not the same as encouraging. In other words, if this writer reports that a prisoner killed his cell-mate, as I have done in the past, I am not advocating that prisoners kill their cellies. Similarly, if I report that there will be a state-wide hunger and work strike taking place in California prisons on July 8th, I am not advocating that this happen. This very information, including dates, has been printed in the L.A. Times and frequently reported elsewhere. It is news!
What’s interesting is that in the rejection notices given to prisoners immediately after the rejection of the last Prison Focus, prison offi cials at Pelican Bay cited the content in pages 8, 9, and 10 as the reason for the rejection. Those pages contained an open letter to the governor and to the new corrections boss—public documents!
The fact that they were censoring a publication because it contained a public document must have fi nally dawning on them, as a month or so later they told the publisher the reason for the rejection was because it supposedly promoted prohibited group activity by prisoners. I say to those supporters of slavery, to those enemies of freedom and democracy: “Nice try; see you at the finish line.”
Moving right along, on September 1, 1939, W.H. Auden wrote a rather lengthy poem, one stanza of which says:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
Thus follows the failure of rehabilitation and accompanying high recidivism rate, not only in California, but across the nation.
Simply put, you don’t get good results by doing bad things to people. As you well know, it would be cheaper to enroll a prisoner into Yale or Harvard than to keep them in prison for a year. And the state would get far better results, too. But like they say, there are none so blind as those who won’t see.
I have noticed some errors in the Rock mailing list. For example the word “unknown” in a part of your name. If I have any part of your contact information spelled wrong or otherwise incorrect please send me a note letting me know so I can change it in the database. Also, when you send stamps, try not to get the tape over the face of the stamps, put the tape on the back, as I ruin the postage when trying to peel off the tape.
A couple of prisoners have written asking if they could donate art in place of postage or money. The answer is yes. I’ll post the artwork on the Prison Art website and the proceeds from any sale will go to support the newsletter. Just make it clear that the art is a donation.
Speaking of art, many thanks to the fine artists who grace the pages of this miserable little rag. In this issue they are Michael Russell, Chris Garcia, and Fernando Bermúdez. Thanks guys for a great job. Our readership in Oregon is now up to thirty prisoners; nearly all are Intensive Management Unit (IMU) convicts. It would be nice to see that grow some more, and expand into Washington as well. In the past few issues there has been a paucity of letters from readers. This month I am making up for that failure. There are more letters from readers than news. Which I suppose is the way it should be, since you’re paying for it. Like they say, he who pays the piper calls the tune. Actually, I usually do try to strike a balance between news and reader comments.
I am getting letters from prisoners asking me to print stuff about their cases, you know, the innocent victims of blind justice, etc. Just so you know, I don’t publish material about individual cases. I don’t care if you were railroaded; you are one of millions who’ve been similarly messed over by a process of systematic injustice. It is that system of injustice I want to change, not your individual case. Moreover, when I was in prison people offered to form defense committees and what not for me.
I turned them down, saying all resources need to go into the struggle. If I won’t pimp myself I’m not gonna pimp you.
I was watching Dan Rather back before he retired from the news business—he was on the David Letterman show. When Letterman asked him “why do they [the terrorists] hate us” the response from Rather, parroting George W. Bush, was “because they are jealous of us.” Really, people strap on bombs and blow themselves up out of mere jealousy?
Why do the hate us? Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bomber scribbled the following on the side of the boat as he lay bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds. Here is what his note said:
“The [Boston] bombings were in retribution for the U.S. crimes in places like Iraq and Afghanistan [and] that the victims of the Boston bombing were collateral damage, in the same way innocent victims have been collateral damage in U.S. wars around the world. Summing up, that when you attack one Muslim you attack all Muslims.”
It is important to understand why, what is the motive. Understanding “why” does not mean you agree with what someone did, it is merely a path toward a better understanding of reality.