Alex King is the first person to take me up on my offer to provide a soapbox for a guest editorial. I have made several such offers and suggestions to others up until now, but Alex is the first to have said yes. This seems so appropriate to me; it is almost as if it is ordained by fate… like a full circle has been drawn. Alex is the reason I first came into this work—or at least half of it. It was this photograph which first began working on my conscience. He (or at least what is happening to him now) is why I still stick with it. I take leadership from him and his brother. Derek and Alex provide the most trustworthy windows on the realities with which we deal. It is a privilege to share my window with you.
I thank Alex sincerely for sharing his insights.
I do not seek retribution; I seek reform. I do not want to attack Florida for what it has done to me, or even what it is doing to me now. Rather, I want to attack the state so that others do not suffer as I have suffered. A tyrannical power, once identified, must be broken. In the end, more harm comes from the hand of the cruel tyrant than from the process of reform. Unlike times past, this despotism does not rest with a single individual. The problem does not even rest with one group or another. I am fully confident that those in power have nothing but the kindest intentions. This time, they are not to blame. The oppressive ruler, the target of my outrage and indignation, is the system.
Evidence shows that it goes against human nature and society to defy an established order. In the past, change has been grueling and bloody. Without defiance, however, a judge becomes a king. An established order will become a ruling power without the rod of correction. It is the duty of the citizen to wield the rod. If the citizen neglects this duty, the timeless paradox goes unsolved: who, indeed, will watch the watchers? A democracy is not based on the power of a ruling class. It is based on the constant vigilance of the citizen it governs.
If you want to know the moral nature of a state, observe how it treats its prisoners. Taken from the fold of society, where an individual is obscured by the masses, the prisoner stands in a spotlight. Alone and defenseless, the prisoner is vulnerable to whatever methods of torture the system permits. In Florida, kindness is the exception that throws common cruelty into sharp relief. Obedience to the sadistic whims of the guards only increases their ferocity and determination to make another human suffer at their hand. Guards such as this are to be pitied: given more power by the system than is needed, more power than is just, they become a victim of that power as surely as the one they are torturing. Power, as we all know, has that terrible tendency to corrupt.
Groove of the Day