Sometimes the dead speak, and I don’t mean the physically dead. The walking dead. Those beings without being. Those without an interior space for empathy,
“Interesting blog, also interesting that not once do you mention the reason you are in prison, because you scammed and blackmailed innocent people and set up fake charity fundraisers for political causes and took the money for yourself. Of course, the real evil is capitalism and the evil prison system and corporations. You shouldn’t be held accountable for your actions and lies and attempted blackmail and scamming, because you’re a good person in a corrupt system. People can google your name and find the relevant articles. There is definitely a narcissist here, and it’s you, who thinks you can steal and break the law, hurt innocent people, and don’t deserve punishment.”
(Anonymous Comment by “Ken Russell”)
One year on from my conviction and imprisonment, and I have received this comment using my dead father-in-law’s name, the late Ken Russell. Suspecting it may be from the complainant in my case, I have responded delicately,
“Actually, I was convicted of Blackmail, and my case had nothing to do with fundraising, which was widely misreported in the media. As for the Blackmail charge, the reason it doesn’t stand is clear: the complainant actually engaged in inappropriate sexual advances (touching my penis, for example). Asking for compensation is not Blackmail. Are you defending a system that imprisons low-level drug offenders, fraudsters, etc. and yet pays Tony Blair and George Bush handsomely for genocide? Whatever your intentions, if you are not moved by the stories of people imprisoned, then I can only say you have no soul. And I think I know you well enough to say that. (From your statement here, of course).”
Being pursued by this individual, who may or may not be my ex-patient (the complainant), is quite disturbing. For obvious reasons, I will keep their name anonymous, although they have declared their identity in other forums. Heartless, callous and indifferent to the plight of prisoners, whomever this is, I am reminded that one cannot escape a conviction: even after one’s ‘time’ has been ‘served.’ It also must be noted that my biography on this website states I was convicted of Blackmail. I have been quite open about my criminalized past.
As a former radical psychoanalyst, pushing my patients to move beyond their own interior repetitions, by utilizing examples from my life, I have worked in many settings. Prison was the most challenging and rewarding of these. Assisting “sex offenders” on the Vulnerable Person’s wing at HMP Bedford; when my former cellmate, Csongor Sandor said I saved his life, I felt grateful. Yes, grateful I could assist. Ironically, the complainant was very suicidal at the time, and I may have saved their life too. But bitterness bites deeply.
Psychoanalysis, in its many forms, is useful not by fully understanding but rather by its attempting to understand. I don’t know if I have forgiven the complainant. But I don’t dwell on them, nor do I think they need to be punished. Desiring my perpetual punishment, what motivates these continual tirades? I can only ask. I suspect the one-year anniversary mentioned above is likely a trigger for this person. I also suspect that a type of projection is happening through the mimetic device of calling me a “narcissist.” Reiterating Judge John Plumstead’s view of me as a narcissistic gay man, or as he also said to the media “a freak,” this word – narcissism – has some media and judicial weight.
If the author of the above comment works for the prison-industrial complex, then I can only say, why are you complicit in torture? Mass incarceration is social, familial and personal torture. During my 5-day trial, which ended on Friday, July 15th 2016 at 12:35pm with a guilty verdict, I suffered homophobic abuse. Judge John Plumstead reiterated my sexual orientation for the Jury at least a dozen times throughout the trial, and spent a good part of his summary on my sexuality. During sentencing, some months later, he would mention it again (“Mr. Cochran is what we would call ‘an out gay man'”). My political history as a leftist was used by the prosecution. Lastly, what did I do to hurt “innocent people” or one person, who was not quite so innocent? Only the two of us know. I am not here to relive the case. How does one countenance perpetual hounding after serving 10 months in fetid prisons, for a crime they did not commit? After being sexually misused by the complainant and then abused in prison? Reminding myself of the draconian laws requiring ex-convicts declare their history at borders, for job interviews, etc I am moved to deep sadness. I stand in solidarity with all prisoners, for all prisoners are political prisoners.
The anonymous commentator stated sarcastically, “Of course, the real evil is capitalism and the evil prison system and corporations. You shouldn’t be held accountable for your actions … because you’re a good person in a corrupt system.” I have never averred I am a good person; however, I do argue that capitalism, the prison-industrial complex and the corporations profiting off suffering create structures of abuse. Subjectivity (or post-subjectivity) is contoured by Structural Apparatuses, mass systems. Nebulous, yet all too concretely present discourses – enacted and generated by material conditions – generate norms. I starkly witnessed structural power in prison. Prisoners change their comportment when visiting family, in the “visitors” room; while being on the wing, where there are only prisoners and guards, which is world unto itself, with a different language, different standards, prisoners act in such a different way; it’s an intimate strangeness. Structures, places and spaces, create the social self, and this social self affects the interior subjective and reflective being of a person. I would encourage this commentator to read Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault. Demonstrating “accountability” is a chimera when the Law is not parametrically applied, when it is used to silence dissidents, to torture and subjugate the poor, immigrants, Blacks, Latinos and others.
But, I suspect the author above cares only for vindictive vindication. My focus remains on those behind bars, stuck in cages, prisoners everywhere. I am focused.
Are we witnessing another being without being. Post-subjectivity?
“Yet alongside this rebellion against the father, a respect for and acceptance of his authority continued to exist. This ambivalent attitude toward authority—rebellion against it coupled with acceptance and submission—is a basic feature of every middle-class structure from the age of puberty to full adulthood and is especially pronounced in individuals stemming from materially restricted circumstances.”
― Wilhelm Reich,