You May Find Yourself Living in a Shotgun Shack

I am not going to beg for your pardon. However, I would like to thank you for granting me this opportunity to clear the air. Yes, I know your language. I understand the mechanics of your language. I can actually speak your language well. I can write your language well. I am actually more adept at using your language than most of the people you know. I am assuming, of course, that you know more learned people outside these prison walls than you do contained within.

Your agents and officers bestowed the label “savage” upon me and I just never bothered to correct them, or you. I played the role of savage, not out of malicious intent, but out of basic instinct. After observing how they handled my property, and then me, I figured there was nothing that I could say that was going to help my cause. Incidentally, had they handled the affair along the lines of your own stated protocol, you would have had before you more than enough evidence to demonstrate that I was anything but a savage.

They destroyed my telescope. They destroyed my typewriter. All of the manuscripts that I had penned with the aforementioned typewriter, they used as starting paper for their bonfire. They burned all of my books! Had they simply boxed them up and brought them back to you, you would have had before you a rather well rounded collection of the best that Western Civilization has to offer—The Iliad, The Odyssey, an assortment of Shakespeare, Paradise Lost, Inferno, Canterbury Tales, Faust, and it really does go on and on. There were all kinds of fun reads in there too– Twain, London, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Salinger and likewise many, many more. You would have seen that I not only know language, I learned it from the masters.

If you had been granted access to my manuscripts, you would have seen that I also have keen faculties of reason—deductive, inductive, and otherwise. Where, you ask, did I learn to hone my skills as a thinker? Why, from the masters themselves, of course! You would have had in front of you all the necessary reading material to traverse the Western philosophical tradition. And there wouldn’t have been any gaps either! What I mean by this is that I did not simply study the Greeks and then just jump to the Scientific Revolution. I delved into the thought processes of the best the Medieval thought had to offer—Augustine, Anselm, Averroes, Miamonides, and Aquinas. You would have seen with your own eyes! Instead, they burned them all!

They almost seemed to be offended that I was a keeper of so many books. They seemed to be more offended by that than they did my appearance and of course that was unsightly. I am often unclothed and hairy. I didn’t get company much. It is not true that I didn’t have one garment. I would have already frozen to death if that was true.I had clothes and I did wear them. They could have let me put something on. Instead they burned all of that too! I don’t understand why they were so enraged by me and what they saw. Why so little of that made its way back to you. Oh the mud thing! I smeared mud all over my body because it works well as mosquito repellant. It might even be more effective than clothes actually. I don’t know. I go back and forth about it. So, they brought me back to you just the way they found me—covered in mud and naked.

I had enough food stored to get me through the better part of the winter. I had food in the ground and on the vine—come winter my pantry would have been full. Your agents and officers completely ransacked and pillaged my panty and fields all over the course of two evenings. I had distilled enough alcohol from potatoes to get me through the winter and even into next year’s growing season. Again, they consumed it all over the course of an evening or two. The bulbs of my poppies were carefully slit and were in the process of bleeding the resin. They carefully scraped that resin and gathered it all up, and then they torched the field leaving the flowers to fight a futile battle with flame. They did the same to my cannabis fields, but not before clipping off all of their valuable flowers. Obviously, since I am not being charged with the manufacture of narcotics, nor the illegal bootlegging of alcohol liquor, I can only assume that they either kept the evidence for their own personal use, or they supplied it to the black market for a profit. Personally, I have always done the former and I have never done the latter.

Since the incident where I talked in my sleep, thereby revealing the truth to my cellmate who wasn’t fast asleep, you have been pressuring me and interrogating me about terrorism. I thought of it as such a weird angle at first. I did not, nor could have I, understood why that term has become so emotionally charged. Since I was outed I have been speaking regularly and my fellow inmates have brought me up to speed to some degree. I was aware of the existence of the Unabomber, but I had no idea that he had been apprehended. I certainly had no idea that we shared a likeness. Or that we were living a similar simple lifestyle out beyond the fringe in two geographical locales that were really not that far apart. They have also shared with me what happened in New York City in the beginning of last decade. That is just awful. It seems so unfathomable to me. I know what terrorism is, but I don’t know it the way you know it. I grew up in the 80’s here in America. Our enemies all wore red. Then the wall came down and so too our enemies. America was the world’s leader. Then I left. Terrorism was not the thing you have come to understand it to be. Not for me. Not then and not now.

I am not a part of a terrorist network and you needn’t try to frame me in that light. Nor am I some sort of “lone wolf”. Sure, I am guilty. I am guilty of many things and I will confess all of these things if you will only allow me. I have already given you some things. I will give you more. Yes, I am a very dangerous man. In some ways, I am more dangerous to you and to your system than a terrorist. A terrorist may seek to destroy your system, but it is only because they wish to install a system of their own. Nonetheless, they are still interested in systems. This is where a terrorist and I diverge, which happens to be right at the beginning.

I just have no interest in domestication and indoctrination. I have no agenda. I have no ideology. I do not burn with fires of passion. I do not wave anyone’s flag. I do not rest on bended knee and worship anyone’s God. Yet, I live a lawful life, but it is not under the Law of God, as understood by mortal men and women, and it is not according to the Law of Man, whose enforcers have no choice but to defend this law with brute force and coercion. I walked away from all that over two decades ago, when I was still a mere child, and I have never looked back—not once. The only thing I can say really is that I did it because I always wanted more, and I’ve always thought that there was more to life than what the people around me were telling me there was—by “people” I mean…well…you know…the adults.

I really have nothing to offer you. I am as empty as they come. I have no family. I have no friends. I have no assets that you can confiscate and hold has collateral. I am not interested in things. The desire for more has never been one of my ailments. This isn’t to say that I didn’t have things that were precious to me. Of course they have all been destroyed. The books can be replaced, but that telescope cannot. A dear friend whose spirit has since flown gave it to me. He gave it to me one night and the very next night I left his body for dead in the woods. Not because I wanted to, but because he asked me to. There is yet another one for you. He isn’t here to defend me, so I could be looking at manslaughter or second-degree homicide. I can tell you where we left him. It was in Manitoba. This was back in the late 90’s when you could just walk across the border and no one would bat an eye. Anyway, he probably died of exposure, though he told us that it was from old age.

But I am getting a little ahead of myself. I will confess and plead guilty to all of the charges that you have levied against me. Some of the charges are not exactly accurate. I have never defaced or destroyed Federal land. I lived in harmony with my surroundings. I did not build the cabin. I found it and then simply made it my own. I did, however, make some modifications and improvements, which did require the felling of some trees. I did stack and store wood, but I mostly used trees that had already fallen. I hunted with my bow and arrow and fished all the time. I never pulled a permit—ever. To be fair, hunting big game was very rare for me. It would be wasteful for a man in my position. I’m not saying that I never took down a deer. I mostly hunted squirrels and rabbits if I hunted at all. It served many needs all at once. It stopped them from eating my crops, it gave me meat to eat, and it also gave me hides to accumulate and put to use. I have a deep respect and admiration for the natural world. I’ve always sought to live in tune with it. This is why I chose this particular lifestyle—I have sought above all to live in balance with the natural order of things. And with all due respect to you and yours, your way of life seems anything but. Nonetheless, I plead guilty to the charge of defacing and destroying Federal property.

I am most certainly a tax evader. I haven’t paid any income taxes in decades. Again, to be fair, I have never been one to trade in banknotes. You’ve got your name for banknotes—the dollar. We called them something else—marks of the beast. How much does something cost? It costs, say, three marks of the beast, or twenty marks of the beast, or one hundred thousand marks of the beast. It was vernacular and our way of life trailed that vernacular. The transients that I was initially traveling with tried to have as little to do with them as they could. They preferred to barter with people. They thought there was something inherently wrong with trading so much value for a few pieces of paper, whether people believed they had value or not. So if they did find themselves in possession of a few banknotes, they treated them as if they were hot potatoes—not in my hand! I thought it was weird at first, but I eventually got used to it. Again, I find that I am getting ahead of myself. Suffice it to say, I plead guilty to tax evasion as well.

So, let us sum up what we’ve got so far. I left a man for dead in the woods. I squatted on Federal land for more than a decade. I defaced and destroyed said land. I haven’t paid income taxes in at least two decades. I evaded paying sales taxes wherever and whenever I could. I bootlegged alcohol liquor. I manufactured narcotics. I pounded a spike in the ground for water without a permit. I fished and hunted without a permit. I am a vagrant. I cannot furnish you with any sort of ID—government issued or otherwise. I cannot even give you a name or a number that your data systems would even recognize. But wait there is more! Why stop at life in prison when we can shoot for the death penalty?

Well, I suppose it is actually vice versa. If I didn’t do this and simply remained silent, all sorts of charges and accusations are going to be levied against me that are simply not true. I am not here to plead my innocence, but rather affirm my guilt. If I come clean, if I leave no doubt in your mind, no lingering questions, no stones left unturned, then you will drop these charges, and ultimately give me what I want—to simply be left alone to serve out my sentence for the things I am actually guilty of. I will accept my fate and become a willing member of your prison industrial complex. I will live in your cage and eat your three square meals. I will enjoy the indoor plumbing and hot water. And if I need medical attention, I will enjoy that too. I won’t give your guards a hard time or put them in danger and if one of them accidentally leaves the door to my cage ajar, I won’t even seize the opportunity. Why should I? For what? So I can go back out and live life on the run? I’ve run for a day or two, but it has never turned into a lifestyle, that is for sure. Or am I going to put on some sheep’s wool and try to blend back in? I can’t go back. I can’t be reintegrated.

I can assure you, that you are not going to impose on me any punishment too severe, or heavier than the one that I have imposed upon myself. I couldn’t walk around this world and carry my heavy heart. What else was that cabin other than self-imposed solitary confinement? Do you really think the open sky and open air brought me any comfort? Most of the time their infinite appearance only left me with my feelings of guilt and shame. It was just a death trap waiting to spring. I’m glad you rescued me from it. I really am. I want to come clean. I’m just going to lay it all out there. I’ll give you everything I got. And I’ll sign it. And whatever the Judge decides, the Judge decides. In the meantime, I will continue to serve my time graciously and without incident. There is an old adage that states—there is nothing more expensive than regret. Well then, let me tell you a story about the monumental cost of betraying one’s own heart. I’ll start at the beginning.