March 19, 2007

Quote of the day: People on a plane edition

Posted in Media, Musings, Television at 5:49 pm by The Lizard Queen

I was on a plane this morning before my brain was fully functioning, and so decided to flip through an issue of People someone had left behind, rather than my Stephen Jay Gould book or pedagogy text. In an article about Richard Hatch‘s alleged* tax evasion, I came across this gem of Hatch’s, in reference to the six months he spent in the Plymouth County [MA] Correctional Facility:

The conversation was inane beyond anything I could possibly describe, which is the mental torture of jail that most people don’t understand.

I almost don’t know what to say about this.


I don’t at all doubt that Hatch was miserable during those six months. Some of his other complaints are that he had no privacy, the guards spit in his food, and there were two TVs in the room, “so [he] lived all day long with Jerry Springer blaring.” The first two things are indeed horrid, and while I imagine that six months of Jerry Springer would reduce me to a quivering pile of cellular waste, I’m not sure the man who gained notoriety by wandering around naked–and, of course, ultimately winning–the first Survivor is in a position to gripe about Jerry Springer’s show.

What really struck me about his statement, though, is his use of the word “torture.” Plenty of people joke about being tortured, or use the idea of being tortured as hyperbole. I imagine I’ve done so plenty of times. However, “torture” has particular resonance for me at the moment given what’s been happening at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere. I appreciate that Richard Hatch believes that he’s being unjustly punished, and his description of his experiences in that particular jail are an attempt to gain sympathy, but in my case, he achieved the opposite effect.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m getting at, aside from maybe it would be kinda nice if the US could try to set a good example by not torturing people–I’m running on a mere hour of sleep and the synapses aren’t firing as well as they might. At any rate, it amused me that even a rather fluffy mag can get me worked up if I’m in the right mood.

*Does one still say “alleged” after the person in question has actually been convicted of the crime? My confusion comes from his denial that he is at fault…



  1. pavlov112 said,

    I think the word you’re looking for instead of “alleged” is “convicted”. It has the benefit of stating a fact while allowing the speaker to weasel out of stating whether or not they believe the charge.

    “My lawyer fucked me. Everybody’s innocent in here. Didn’t you know that? ”


  2. Ahh, good film. And thanks for the vocab tip! Makes sense. πŸ™‚

  3. pavlov112 said,

    Gah! How did I not make the connection the first time I read this post?!

    “I have had it with these motherfucking B-list celebrity whines on this motherfucking plane!”

    (Three f-bombs in two comments. Mom would be fuckin’ proud. (Make that four.))

  4. Cara said,

    I just watched a thing on Discovery HD the other day about prisons- super high security prisons to be precise- and aside from discussing the features of, security measures, and daily life at said prisons, there was also a segment about the mental health issues faced by inmates and how they are working to remedy them (including high security counseling sessions).

    While I have no sympathy for Richard Hatch, or really just about anyone who lands himself in prison (although I know, yes, there are some innocent inmates), it doesn’t necessarily mean his comments are unjustified. There is a mental anguish to being in prison, including lack of privacy and quiet, or- if in solitary- too much privacy, that some might well describe as torture. Short of trying it myself, I can’t say they’re wrong. It’s not the same as being stripped naked and commanded to bark like a dog, but mental torture is a form of torture all the same.

    Really though, don’t like it? Keep yo ass out of prison, idiot.

  5. pavlov112 said,

    Fair enough point. Of course now we could get into the eternal argument about punishment vs. societal vengeance vs. deterrence vs. rehabilitation (none of which are necessarily mutually-exclusive options). One’s stance on that question probably largely shapes one’s views on how much discomfort-bordering-on-torture is justifiable. Personally, I want crime to be dealt with in a way that minimizes its future occurrence while still respecting the due process and civil rights of all involved. So while I don’t care to see convicted criminals being pampered, I think it’s counterproductive to treat them so inhumanely that we make the problem worse if and when they get out and are expected to become responsible members of society again.

    OT: I’ve recently fallen in love with Discover HD’s broadcasts of the annual BBC Proms concerts, which they replay frequently. (Saturday morning’s came from the closing night of the 2003 series.) Every time I see a classical ensemble in Albert Hall I get happy flashbacks to Brassed Off. What a neat movie…

  6. Cara,

    I completely agree about the mental torture of being in prison. My complaint comes from what Hatch specifically referred to as being torture: the inane conversation. I absolutely think people in prison should be treated humanely. I read a heartbreaking article once that was written by a nurse essentially told by her superiors that she should just look the other way when treating prisoners for injuries sustained from being raped. (My heart, she bleeds!) But inane conversation? That’s something Hatch is just going to have to learn to suck up, in my opinion.


    β€œI have had it with these motherfucking B-list celebrity whines on this motherfucking plane!” — I can’t quite believe I didn’t think of that either. I mean, really, what the poop?! πŸ˜‰

  7. pavlov112 said,

    What the poop, indeed… (It’s not the same without the picture. Gotta figure out how to link back to it.)

  8. pavlov112 said,

    Since I finally realized I can embed HTML directly in these comments, I can now help others to grok “What the poop?!” in its fullness.

  9. pavlov112 said,

    Or not. Sorry. I’ll try again someday when I’ve got more time to kill. (Spam spam spam spam the thread.)

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