July 14, 2019

Do Not Feed the Animals

by Dymitri Haraszewski (author's profile)


Do Not Feed The Animals
Some thoughts on indignity

I mail out a lot of letters, and since I don't have any money in my prison account to buy stamps and envelopes, I get what they call " indigent envelopes": Free postage on prison-provided stationary. these prison envelopes were, for years, basically plain, pre-metered things with at least one big, ugly "prison generated mail" stamp on them, whether you used your own postage stamps or not. It was unavoidable, and more or less understandable. Basically tolerable, at any rate.
Recently though, things have changed. For the past couple of years, people have sometimes asked me " Why do your envelopes have a bunch of think black lines all over them?" Here's an example:
I usually spend about half an hour to correct 5 of these envelopes this way. Here's how one looks before I've fixed it:
So, why do I do it? Simply put, because this shit is embarrassing, degrading, dehumanizing. A buddy of mine here helpfully reminded me, " It's not like the people you write to don't already know you're in prison." Right. Thank you. But his astute observation completely misses my point. I'm no trying to hide that I'm in a prison ( of course I would if I could, but I can't so I don't); I'm just asserting my humanity, however ineffectually. Correcting these infantilizing envelopes is just a way to emphasize that I'm a real person, despite the cage, and not merely a "prisoner"; objectified, devalued, and subject to whatever arbitrary cruelties and humiliations my capture might find entertaining. I find bold-lettered pronouncement to my corespondents as to what these hidnappers want non-prisoners to believe they cannot send me to be deeply dehumanizing, not unlike a " Do Not Feed The Animals" sign broadest to the world.
finally, to add injury to insult, their list of ostensible prohibitions isn't even constitutionally valid, attempting to convince devote that they cannot communicate many things to me that are unquestionably well within their rights to communicate ( and my rights to receive as communication). The most blatant examples of their effort to exploit their power to manipulate you is their claim that you could not send me any drug-related imgaes, certain signs or symbols, or even non-obscene sexual imagery, including literature. This abuse not only hurts me, but it insults your intelligence too, trying to bully YOU into compliance with their ignorant whims and punitive agenda. So.... I black it all out, in protest. Am I making sense here, or just acting foolishly? It really does take a lot of time and effort to make this symbolic statement. Is that time wasted? Tell me what you think.
"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there mustnever be a time when we fail to protest it." Elie Wiesel
"One has a moral obligation to disobey unjust laws." Martin Luther King, Jr.


Replies (2) Replies feed

sfarnum Posted 1 year ago. ✓ Mailed 12 months ago   Favorite
Thanks for writing! I finished the transcription for your post.
I am so sorry that your going through this and feeling degraded. Hang in there and know that others are thinking of you!

Dymitri Haraszewski Posted 10 months, 2 weeks ago.   Favorite
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