September 2008 Archives
I don't fare well in confinement. Mom and Dad couldn't even put me in a crib without my crying and gnashing and running my sippy cup along its bars.
"Nobody knows the twubble I've seen ..."
With a claustrophobic heart, then, I saw a friend in prison. I won't say what he did or how long he'll be there or where we hid the body. Ha!
I thought when O.J. walked, we all gave up on the whole "justice" thing. I still expect to turn on the TV one day and hear something like this: "Tempers flared when neighbors protested the arrival of O.J. Simpson at his new uptown estate. The situation was later resolved when O.J. killed them all."
Some lawyers plea NGRI -- "not guilty by reason of insanity" -- but I think they should go with NGOJWG ("not guilty because O.J. wasn't guilty").
I get weird around the whole court situation. "Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?" I'd be like, "So help me, which god?"
And can't we just punish perjury with jail time? Do we have to throw in eternal damnation?
I also don't get "consecutive life sentences." Wouldn't that be a drag for the cellmate? He's in there sleeping beside a pile of bones ... "Um, warden? How do we know when his second life is up?"
My friend, whom we'll call Billy ... Billy Hayes from Midnight Express ... says you get used to the walls but never to looking over your shoulder for "dings" -- someone you and I might call "crazy" or "senator."
Can you imagine how tense that must be in the showers? You know it was a prisoner who invented Soap-on-a-Rope.
Billy says that inmates are always whining about conditions. Which is strange because they spend the day smoking, lifting weights, having sex with women in trailers -- pretty much what they'd do anyway.
And how 'bout these conjugal visits? Prisoners get all the benefits of marriage and still get to play softball on weekends. So it goes.
In Scandinavia (just outside of Narnia), inmates are actually trained with job skills and conditioned for society. Compare to America, where prisons are more like a Motel 6 without the cockroaches.
If we really want to cut down on crime, we should make the inmates' uniforms a neon pink floral pattern. Trust me: Word would get out. Or we might introduce theme weeks...
"Mr. Johnson, I'm afraid that it's Medieval Times Week here at the courthouse, so instead of granting probation, we're going to have you drawn and quartered."
Even a hundred years ago, convicts toiled in the fields while a warden circled on horseback massaging his rifle: "If you try to escape, I will fire a warning shot. That shot will hit you in the leg."
We've come a long way since then; the state even gives death-row prisoners a final meal. We're upset enough to put them to death but not on an empty stomach.
Billy isn't your everyday scoundrel; he is, like me, a word geek. Sometimes I wonder if he went to prison just to finish his novel. You know how John Wesley Hardin once shot a man for snoring? Well, Billy once killed a man for ending a sentence in a preposition. Ha! It was a dangling modifier.
Billy is grounded for another six months, at which point he'll clean up the freeways (another important life skill). I believe my friend has learned his lesson and in the future will double-check all his math when keeping the company's books.
But I wonder if prison is the way to go for more hardened criminals, men who tattoo horns on their forehead and mutter to themselves in such a way that you can only make out your own name.
These "dings" may require a little more attention. I propose that we ship 'em to Scandinavia. Not empty-handed, of course. They can have my sippy cup.
Jason Love writes for The VC Star a humor column called "So It Goes," for which he teams up with Anthony Plascencia to produce entertaining videos.
You can find Jason Love's cartoons and columns in The Denver Post, St. Petersburg Times, Arizona Republic, Funny Times, Frontier Airlines Magazine, etc. He also performs standup comedy throughout L.A. and Ventura counties.
Archives are at his web site.
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