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30th January 2016

USP Beaumont

One of the many lessons in life that I've had to relearn is the fact that not all free speech is necessarily free. A lot of speech that is deemed to be controversial or politically incorrect, has a price attached to it (either directly or indirectly) and requires a sacrifice for the person who speaks it. This is especially true for people who are in prison. And even more so for people who who write books from prison and who have a blog and an international following of readers.

Americans seem to be obsessed with political correctness where speech is concerned. This is in spite of the fact that the very first amendment to our constitution deals with free speech, and basically guarantees us the right to speak our mind. Over the years though, this right had been shaded with the inception and onslaught of the Political Correctness movement. These days, a lot of Americans are afraid to speak their minds because of the current cultural climate in the United States. They are afraid to publicly state their opinions on large social issues such as race, LGBT issues, and issues involving people of differing religions. They're afraid that if they express an opinion that goes against the status quo of political correctness that they might be perceived as being racist, homophobic, unpatriotic, or even seditious. They are afraid of having a label placed on them that could tarnish them and/or their families; a label that misrepresents their beliefs as a whole simply because of an opinion they made offhandedly one day without thinking. This is especially true in a world that is interconnected through social media where a faux paus has the potential to go viral.

On any given day though, at some point, most people's comments, and even their behavior, doesn't necessarily reflect what that person may feel in their heart. This condition is called Humanity and it's as old as Adam and Eve. Whether we're willing to admit it or not, the truth is that part of being a human being is the fact that our actions and the views we espouse, and even the way that we sometimes treat others, is often at conflict with our core beliefs or the person that we want to be.

With our current political and cultural climate being what it is in 2016, a vast amount of the American electorate are afraid to speak freely for fear of the label that might be placed on them for doing so. This is one of the main reasons that Donald Trump is soaring in the polls in the upcoming presidential election. It's because he's expressing the opinions that are held by a growing majority of Americans, albeit a seemingly silent majority. People who are scared to speak freely. But even Trump's speech isn't free; he goes into his own pocket in order to be able to speak the way that he does. The other candidates rent their free speech (and talking points) from their donors. So for the group of Americans that secretly believes that suspending the immigration of Muslims into the U.S. until the country gets a grip on its growing ISIS problem, but who are too afraid to ever say this for fear of being labeled as racist, they now have a spokesman.

But this blog isn't about politics, it's about free speech. So how does this topic relate to an imprisoned Bank Blogger? I recently spent three months in solitary confinement for a sentence that I wrote in the draft of a blog. The sentence pertained to about the warden of the facility where I was being housed. The warden found the sentence to be disrespectful. The name of the blog was (is) titled EMBRACING CHAOS and it has never even been published. However, despite this fact, a copy of the draft managed to find its way to the warden's desk. After reading it, she felt the need to have me locked up, have half of my property thrown away, have my security level increased, and have me shipped back to a United States Penitentiary, or USP as we call them back here. In my world, going from an FCI to a USP is akin to moving from a brownstone in Greenwich Village to public housing in the South Bronx. And the warden didn't have me sent to just any old USP. No, she had me sent to one that is notorious in the Federal Bureau of Prisons for it's gang warfare and murder rate. She had me sent here to the United States Penitentiary at Beaumont, Texas. It's about five miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Its nickname is Bloody Beaumont.

You might think that what I wrote about the warden was threatening or concerned some type of new criminal conduct that I was contemplating. It involved neither. It was simply a flippant sentence in reference to the way that the warden occasionally dresses. Specifically, the way that she wears her pants and how some of these pants give her a look that is reminiscent of a particular desert animal's foot.

One of the truly cool and unique things about the Bank Robber's Blog is that Murder Slim Press allows me to choose the topics that I want to write about. However, there are a couple of filters between what what flows out of the end of my fingertips and the final product that you guys read online. The first filter is my webmaster, close friend: Uber mensch, Alexius Rex. He's an author that writes monographs about the American Civil War. Google him sometime. Then buy his books. Alexius lives in Ohio. If he deems something that I've written to be potentially incendiary to my keepers, or potentially harmful to me in some other way, he will tell me that he doesn't think that it's in my best interest to publish what I've written. He communicates on such issues with my second filter, who is in England.

My second filter is named Steve Hussy and is the owner of my publishing company, Murder Slim Press. In addition to his duties as a magnate of underground publishing, he is also an author. His books are available in the Murder Slim Press Shop on murderslim.com. They make excellent gifts for alcoholics, subversives, and people who are just generally deranged. So far, my two filters have been successful in straining off my bullshit, but there was no way they could've prevented this latest rendition that I experienced, because what I wrote was an unpublished piece of work.

After reading this blog you may wonder why I might even bring this subject up and mention the warden at my last institution, being that she got so mad, and subsequently, so sadistic. The answer to that question is simple, and I'll break it down using an analogy that is apropos of my life and blog. The reason that I've chosen to mention this again is because I've already had a secret trial (in absentia) without the benefit of being able to face my accusers and present my side of the story. In the Court Of Prison Opinion, I was deemed to be an enemy combatant and summarily convicted and sentenced. Then I was shipped off to the Latino version of Alcatraz. Hell, El Chapo's only about 150 miles away. And what still chaps my bank-robbing ass is that she was able to do all of this without me ever being written up for an infraction of the rules. So, being that I've already been convicted of robbing the metaphorical bank, I figured that it was only right to spend some of the metaphorical money. Had I been brought before the warden for sentencing, I most likely would've said something like, "I don't know much about camels, Warden, but I'm pretty good at spotting their feet. Why not just wear yoga pants to work (at a men's prison with 1500 or so inmates)?" Maybe it's a good thing that I never got to speak to her, because I would most likely be blogging from Supermax in Florence, Colorado.

Free speech is not free. I got it now. But I have no intention of shutting up. I write to entertain and to sell books, not to offend and grind axes. The truth is that I have no axes to grind. Tight pants or not, the warden didn't put me here...I put me here. But that's the last thing I'll say about her. I got her message.

Jeffrey P. Frye
Bank Robber's Blog