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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

99

"The Longest Hunger Strike"

He stopped eating on September 17, 2007. Most of the time he drinks water, juice, and nutrient drinks like Ensure. When he’s physically able, he escalates his protest by refusing even liquids. At those times he gargles with milk or sucks on cough drops to get the metallic taste of starvation out of his mouth. His is the longest hunger strike in the U.S. that I can find record of.

Today, over at Guernica, Ann Neumann reports on Connecticut prisoner William Coleman's protest of his conviction and the state's decision to force-feed him. It's a rough read, but maybe you've had it too easy today.

99 Comments / Post A Comment

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

Too easy, Jane?! Did you not see the heartbreaking discussion about rhesus monkey babies clinging to fake wire moms in the name of studying affection? That shit destroyed me.

Jane Marie

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose oops.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Jane Marie (OK this was a great article.)

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@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I'M SORRY! :(

nonvolleyball

it's obviously not the same thing (& I haven't finished this article yet, either--also probably obviously)...but as someone who's had an NG tube inserted while fully conscious & relatively unmedicated, I can enthusiastically vouch for its profound unpleasantness.

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@nonvolleyball That part of the story made me cringe. I don't know what an NG tube is, but I've had a nasal endoscopy that went as far as my adenoids, and that was pretty damn uncomfortable. And I didn't even bleed.

nonvolleyball

@fondue with cheddar it's a tube they shove up your nose & down into your stomach, pretty much (although ideally you're knocked out when it happens--&/or having it administered by someone who doesn't see you as a criminal, probably).

it kind of gags you, & the nurse inserting mine kept saying "swallow! swallow! swallow!" until it was all the way in. the fact that I couldn't even muster a "that's what he said" afterward is proof that it broke my spirit.

(also, a character in the novel Cutting for Stone--which my mom was reading while I was hospitalized--refers to his NG tube as "an instrument of the devil." she starred that part in the book before she leant it to me.)

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@nonvolleyball That sounds like torture.

shadowkitty

A friend of my dad's went on hunger strike once. It sounds like the worst way to go I can think of.

jhibbertmd

Am I evil to support the prison here? They can't just let the dude die, he's in their custody. They'd get the shit sued out of them.

I think the bigger issue here may be the lack of psychiatric care in our prisons. I understand taking a moral stand on something- but the guy's sentence is over. He's free to leave prison. Something seems broken in his brain if he "refuses to leave prison a guilty man."

TARDIStime

@jhibbertmd I'm pretty sure there'd be a few ways around the legalities.
Just ask the guy if he'll sign a waiver for them and bam! He has leave to starve himself without legal repercussions for the prison. This may seem over-simplified, but with a really good lawyer drawing this stuff up, it would be ok.
Plus the way they're rolling is pretty litigious, too - this whole "waiting until he's almost dead and then just feeding him enough to keep him alive" thing, rather than just feeding him every day is abuse and if he had the resources, he'd have grounds to sue.

His "refusal to leave prison a guilty man" makes sense, though. He maintains that he's innocent, so of course being charged for a crime he believes he didn't commit is going to be an issue once he gets out.
Leaving prison means he accepts and confirms that he committed a crime - not something he agrees with. It's a matter of principle.
It's not like there's support out there for convicted rapists after they serve their sentence, either - would you hire someone/live next door to someone on the sex offenders registry/with a criminal record?
I do agree that psychiatric care needs more attention, though.

Miss Maszkerádi

I really don't get the point of hunger strikes? Maybe I'm missing something obvious but why does a miserable, degraded prisoner decide that the best course of action is to voluntarily make himself as much more miserable and degraded as possible? Is it self-sacrifice/suicide to draw attention to a cause (be a martyr, like Jan Palach setting himself on fire?) Or is it to, in some weird spiteful way, to be the more powerful one than your captors - even if the power being exercised is one's own destruction? Why am I thinking about this at one in the morning?!

TheLetterL

@Countess Maritza The only thing the prisoner has power over is his body...and even then, it's only the very few parts of the body that aren't under the regulation of the state. So it would follow that the (parts of the) body (that are still under prisoner control) becomes a way to make a statement.

Whether that statement is about a larger ideal or about retaining a semblance of power...well, I don't know that it has to be one or the other. Even if it's seemingly done out of spite, isn't that still a larger statement about the state not having final authority over the body?

itsonlyme

you really need to look on what has gone on and what has happened. visit his web site and look at some of the injustice he has been dealing with. its not about being a martyr and to say someone is degrading himself more by going on a protest quite frankly show ignorance and immaturity. you have definitely missed something, the whole point. he is fighting for his children and the fact that someone without evidence can get you convicted of rape just because they said it happened.
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so many things went wrong for him during his trial, from his lawyers being inaaffective, no witnesses being called by them despite 20 people being called up, the evidence is there to prove his innocence but no one want to know.

Miss Maszkerádi

@itsonlyme Thanks, glad to know it's considered "ignorant and immature" to simply not understand something. #pouringrain #foulmood #ohshutupcountess

myshone

Too easy, Jane?! Did you not see the heartbreaking discussion about rhesus monkey babies clinging to fake wire moms in the name of studying affection? That shit destroyed me. Dustee

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The only thing the prisoner has power over is his body...and even then, it's only the very few parts of the body that aren't under the regulation of the state.
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senior1

Is it self-sacrifice/suicide to draw attention to a cause (be a martyr, like Jan Palach setting himself on fire?) Or is it to, in some weird spiteful way, to be the more powerful one than your captors - even if the power being exercised is one's own destruction.
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senior1

The only thing the prisoner has power over is his body...and even then, it's only the very few parts of the body that aren't under the regulation of the state.
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its not about being a martyr and to say someone is degrading himself more by going on a protest quite frankly show ignorance and immaturity. you have definitely missed something, the whole point.
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the prisoner has power over is his body...and even then, it's only the very few parts of the body that aren't under the regulation of the state.
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senior1

The only thing the prisoner has power over is his body...and even then, it's only the very few parts of the body that aren't under the regulation of the state.
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senior1

I think the bigger issue here may be the lack of psychiatric care in our prisons. I understand taking a moral stand on something- but the guy's sentence is over.
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senior1

Leaving prison means he accepts and confirms that he committed a crime - not something he agrees with. It's a matter of principle.
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I think the bigger issue here may be the lack of psychiatric care in our prisons. I understand taking a moral stand on something- but the guy's sentence is over.
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Whether that statement is about a larger ideal or about retaining a semblance of power...well, I don't know that it has to be one or the other. Even if it's seemingly done out of spite, isn't that still a larger statement about the state not having final authority over the body.
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Maybe I'm missing something obvious but why does a miserable, degraded prisoner decide that the best course of action is to voluntarily make himself as much more miserable and degraded as possible.
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Whether that statement is about a larger ideal or about retaining a semblance of power...well, I don't know that it has to be one or the other. Even if it's seemingly done out of spite, isn't that still a larger statement about the state not having final authority over the body.
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about retaining a semblance of power...well, I don't know that it has to be one or the other. Even if it's seemingly done out of spite, isn't that still a larger statement about the state not having final authority over the body.
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sigma

down into your stomach, pretty much (although ideally you're knocked out when it happens--&/or having it administered by someone who doesn't see you as a criminal, probably).
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sigma

I don't know what an NG tube is, but I've had a nasal endoscopy that went as far as my adenoids, and that was pretty damn uncomfortable. And I didn't even bleed.
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sigma

"ignorant and immature" to simply not understand something. #pouringrain #foulmood #ohshutupcountess
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kept saying "swallow! swallow! swallow!" until it was all the way in. the fact that I couldn't even muster a "that's what he said" afterward is proof that it broke my spirit.
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kept saying "swallow! swallow! swallow!" until it was all the way in. the fact that I couldn't even muster a "that's what he said" afterward is proof that it broke my spirit.
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kept saying "swallow! swallow! swallow!" until it was all the way in. the fact that I couldn't even muster a "that's what he said" afterward is proof that it broke my spirit.
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Nayab Atif@facebook

That part of the story made me cringe. I don't know what an NG tube is, but I've had a nasal endoscopy that went as far as my adenoids, and that was pretty damn uncomfortable. And I didn't even bleed.
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That part of the story made me cringe. I don't know what an NG tube is, but I've had a nasal endoscopy that went as far as my adenoids, and that was pretty damn uncomfortable.
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This is pure childishness.

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