Ill for sympathy & attention

Freiherr von Munchhausen was a famous story.-teller who used to entertain the guests with the tales of his adventures during the Russo-Turkish war. This fictional character recounted impossible achievements which include pulling himself out of the bog with his own hair and traveling to the moon.

This literary model bestowed his name to one of the life-threatening factitious disorder known as ‘Munchausen’s Syndrome.’ Characterized by the invention and fabrication of syndromes, it is a psychiatric disease in which a patient presents himself to seek attention or sympathy for their exaggerated or made up symptoms. The motivation is to acquire a ‘sick role’. These symptoms are faked but even induced sometimes by injecting harmful bacteria, infected materials, detergents or through tourniquets.

A patient, whose name was never disclosed in the studies, used self-harm as a child to cope with isolation and abandonment. This behavior, as she stated, was to avoid the sexual abuse as ‘when I was sick, my abusers would leave me alone.’ This self-damage mounted to Munchausen syndrome and she started to focus more and more on injuring herself. She would go to great lengths to feign illness, such as injecting herself with feces, exposing herself to bitter cold to become frostbitten, swallowing detergents or adding blood to urine samples to cause abnormal test results.

Being sick had become a way of life and I was unable to stop. The rewards were just too great.

Her self-inflicted damage brought severe consequences: she had to remove her bladder and she went to ICU due to a septic shock.

‘For the first time, I found myself really scared that I might die’.

She had been fortunate as she realized the dangerous path she has been leading and vowed, then, to start her life again. Psychotherapy helped her to recover further and she went anew for a healthy and better life.

However, there exists another mental illness in which the deception doesn’t involve themselves but someone under the person’s care. This is known as Factitious Disorder Imposed On Another or Munchausen syndrome by proxy. In this case, an individual can deliberately make a second person ill without his or her knowledge to have that special attention reserved for the ill and their families.
This is often done to someone who they are in charge of, as an elderly family member or child. In the recorded cases, the parents that frequently fake Munchausen by proxy are mothers.

A person with FDIA uses the many hospitalizations as a way to earn praise from others for their devotion to the child’s care, often using the sick child as a means for developing a relationship with the doctor or other health care provider. The adult with FDIA often will not leave the bedside and will discuss in medical detail symptoms and care provided as evidence that he or she is a good caretaker.

Most known cases of FDIA:
The story of Marybeth Tinning and her nine dead children. Between 1967 and 1985, eight of her children died under suspicious circumstances. The rumors circulated that Tinning family suffered from ‘death gene’ as each child died within months.
Finally, she was convicted and sentenced to 20 years of life. Last year she was released from the prison after serving more than 31 years of her 20-years-to-life sentence.

Another recent case is of the blogger Lacey Spears who was convicted of the murder of her 5-year-old Garett Spears. Lacey documented the health struggles of her son in the blog garnettsjourey.blogspot.com. Garnett suffered from severe ear infections, high fevers, seizures, and digestion problems induced by her mother who was blogging, at the same time, about his hospital trips. She was found guilty on account of murdering her son ‘by poisoning him with table salt, which she had administrated to him from infancy through his feeding tube.’ Social media seemed to become a place of attention and sympathy for her.

Spears fed her son lethal amounts of salt and conducted Internet research about the effects salt would have on the boy.

In another heartbreaking case, 40-year-old Kathy Bushy intentionally sickened her child and made her go through 40 pointless surgeries.

Marc Feldman explained another case of Mrs. A who joined an online community where she claimed to have five children and one of these children, she said, suffers from gastroesophageal reflux and celiac disease. As came out, this whole thing was a ruse and Mrs. A. was actually a 21-year old woman with no children whatsoever.

This can be defined as Munchausen by Internet as people join the support groups and make up a story to get sympathy. It is becoming more common because of easy online access. People don’t have to go from one emergency room to another to convince about their illness; they can fabricate anything behind the screens.

Gypsy endured more than two decades of meritless hospitalizations and treatments for illnesses

However, the most famous case of Munchausen by proxy is of Dee Dee Blanchard who eventually ended up brutally stabbed by her own daughter. She made everybody believe that her daughter, Gypsy Rose suffered from leukemia, asthma and muscular dystrophy. Dee Dee made her daughter pass as disabled and chronically ill with a mental capacity of 7-years-old. She made her went through unnecessary surgeries, medications, and occasionally psychological and physical abuse. Fed up with the abuse, Gypsy and her new boyfriend murdered Dee Dee.

It was not because I hated her. It was because I wanted to escape her- Gypsy Blanchard

Explaining the extreme behavior of these mothers, Marc Feldman, professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Alabama said,

These mothers tend to be psychopathic. They don’t experience guilt and they lack empathy.

He, further, noted that the number of people who fake diseases in the hospitals is usually higher than estimated but the doctors often do not realize that they are being deceived or they, simply, do not confront the patient fearing the consequences or being insensitive or bad-mouthed.

However, detection and treatment for this disorder are vital. The treatment is often complex and includes long term psychological recovery. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help to change the thinking and behavior of that individual.

They believe that having an illness will make them feel special. Patients who are diagnosed with the syndrome are almost always found to be struggling with something — perhaps depression or a traumatic childhood. They need help. But for whatever reason, they cannot admit this to others and so they use illness as an excuse to reach out for emotional support- Gregor P. Yates

Twisted lovers on the path of destruction

‘It’s deeply upsetting to be described as evil’

Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, the celebrity serial killers, murdered five children around Manchester in the 1960s. They have been defined by their trial judge as ‘ two sadistic killers of the utmost depravity’. Their crimes that we are to see here are those of the sadistic psychopaths.

Myra Hindley met Brady on her first day of work as a typist and she said that she fell in “love at first sight”. His lover, fascinated with the Nazis and World War II, introduced her to Hitler’s marching songs, Mein Kampf, Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Brady used to read Marquis de Sade (1740 -1814) who was a French erotic writer and prose stylist, from whose name the words “sadism” and “sadist” are derived. They, later, went on to seek “supreme pleasure” and with this started a journey to commit a ‘perfect murder’.

Their first victim was a 16-year-old Pauline Reade who was murdered on her way to dance. She was lured into a minivan by Myra and after some time she asked Pauline’s to help her look for a lost glove. Brady pounced upon Pauline and raped her, smashed her skull and slashed her throat so violently that she was almost decapitated. Their next victim was a 12-year-old John Kilbridethat have been strangled and raped before being buried in a shallow grave. The couple went on and enticed 12-year-old Keath Bennett from a street on the context of driving him home. He had been sexually assaulted before getting strangled with a piece of string. His body, unfortunately, has never been found.

The couple took hundreds of pictures near the graves of their victims

Their youngest victim Lesley Ann Downey met the same brutal fate.
They even recorded Lesley Ann Downey begging for life. The 16-minute recording was played in a silent courtroom in which the girl pleaded “don’t undress me” and “ I want to see mummy”. This ten-year-old girl had been raped and killed and buried naked with her clothes at her feet.

Fifth and their final victim was 17 years old Edward Evans who was brought at home where their brother in law David was visiting them. They smashed Edward’s head with an ax and took him to upstairs. David fled and contacted the police.

[Brady] opened the door and he said in a very loud voice for him …”Do you want those miniatures?” I nodded my head to say yes and he led me into the kitchen … and he gave me three miniature bottles of spirits and said: “Do you want the rest?” When I first walked into the house, the door to the living room … was closed. … Ian went into the living room and I waited in the kitchen. I waited about a minute or two then suddenly I heard a hell of a scream; it sounded like a woman, really high-pitched. Then the screams carried on, one after another really loud. Then I heard Myra shout, “Dave, help him,” very loud. When I ran in I just stood inside the living room and I saw a young lad. He was lying with his head and shoulders on the couch and his legs were on the floor. He was facing upwards. Ian was standing over him, facing him, with his legs on either side of the young lad’s legs. The lad was still screaming … Ian had a hatchet in his hand … he was holding it above his head and he hit the lad on the left side of his head with the hatchet. I heard the blow, it was a terrible hard blow, it sounded horrible.

Our relationship wasn’t master and slave. It was more like a teacher and student.

When the moors trial ended we did feel a
lack of catharsis: something violent should have happened to put an end to violence. Throughout, we were missing the shadow of the rope. The end was, in fact, unaesthetic.

After the arrest, the couple said nothing. The judge marked Brady as ‘hopelessly evil’. He, somehow, accepted his sentence and withdraw into social isolation. He wanted to starve himself to death and protested when the authorities force fed him. Still, he considered himself to be a comparatively ‘petty criminal’ alongside ‘global serial killers and thieves like Blair or Bush’.

I hope he loves me and will marry me someday. He is cruel and selfish, and I love him.

Indeed, the pivotal evidence in her conviction
did not just revolve around David Smith‘s eye
-witness testimony concerning the death of Edward Evans and it was the discovery of a suitcase in a locker at Manchester train station that would seemingly categorically confirm
Hindley‘s complicity in the crimes:―
Among the contents of the brown suitcase were five photographs of a child in the nude. [Superintendent Robert Alexander] also found two recording tapes. On two tracks, when played, he found voices of a man, woman, and a child. The recordings on the tracks were identical. At the end of each tape was a recording of music.

His lover is often described as pure evil, a predator of children, a sex offender. ‘The archetype of a stranger danger’, and apparently the grand master of all the uncertainty and fear that this provoked, she became, as she herself recognized, ―the symbol of the nation‘s revulsion at all those who prey on innocent children (The Guardian).

Yet Myra Hindley, who died in prison in 2002, had always maintained that Brady — who died in a mental health hospital on Monday — manipulated her to murder their five child victim. Ian on the other hand sustained,

I was never conscious of having to exert myself to coerce her into accepting my belief in relativist morality. Bit by bit we were moving towards an almost telepathic relationship. She was as ruthless as I was.

Hindley established herself as an icon of evil. She was a deviant and evil personified. An example that ‘she’ can be brutal too. A cruel woman that can do the unimaginable leaving behind her role of nurturing sex. Even the trial judge suggested, ‘Tough I believe that Brady is wicked upon belief without hope of redemption, I cannot feel the same is necessarily true of Hindley once she is removed from his influence.’

Contrary to Brady who drove to madness as he approached the end, Myra remained persistent in seeking parole until her death and even plotted to escape with a prison warder.

She might be sorry, sorry for wrecking her life.

Trolls, LulzSec & Weev

I hack, I ruin, I make piles of money — Andrew Auernheimer aka Weev

With a rise in technology, sophisticated cyber attacks won’t lag behind. And neither would troll. One of well known is LulzSec, short for laughs and security. They have close ties with Anonymous but as like Anonymous, they are not in hacking for political reason but simply for the laughs. Laughs at the inadequate security.

For the past 50 days (50 days of Lulz), we have been disrupting and exposing corporations, governments and the general population itself and quite possibly everything in between. Just because we could; all to selflessly entertain others.

 

They did an eight-month-long campaign in 2011: began by targeting Fox.com, hacked US broadcaster PBS and planted a fake story saying that Tupac and Biggie Smalls are in fact alive and live in New Zealand. In another attack, they stole personal information of about more than 24.6 million Sony users forcing them to take down their website for several days. Hacking the Infragardpages, they posted:

It has come to our unfortunate attention that NATO and our good friend Barrack Osama-Llama 24th-century Obama [sic] have recently upped the stakes with regard to hacking. They now treat hacking as an act of war. So, we just hacked an FBI affiliated website (Infragard, specifically the Atlanta chapter) and leaked its user base. We also took complete control over the site and defaced it.

Say hello to the insides of the PBS servers — LulzSec

 

After some time, the launched an operation with Anonymous AntiSec to launch attacks on numerous government websites or agencies (Govt. of BrazilArizona Department of Public Safety, Petrobras). But soon, Lulzsec retired and in their last post shared:
Our crew of six wishes you a happy 2011, and a shout out to all our battlefield members and supporters across the globe.

Less than a month later, the group reconvened and announced that it was behind more hacks like the attacks on the British newspaper The Sun and The Times, posting about the death of the publication’s owner Rupert Murdoch.

Fake story created about the death of the media mogul

 

Soon, they found themselves followed by law enforcement authorities as well other hackers. From June 2011, LulzSec members began to be suspected by both the US and UK police and arrests were made— Ryan Cleary, Jake Davis, Mustafa al-Bassam and Ryan Ackroyd. Despite this, there were statements after the arrests suggesting that LulzSec is not a mere group of people but more like an idea that is hard to eradicate.

It’s ridiculous to believe that by arresting members of LulzSec, you have stopped us. You haven’t stopped us. You have merely disrupted the active faction- Anonymous

You cared nothing for the privacy of others but did everything you could through your computer activities to hide your own identities while seeking publicity- Judge Taylor

 

Let’s take a quick turn to another troll — Andrew Auernheimer aka Weev, who is well-known for his dedicated trolls, advocating genocide of non-whites and usual messing with large corporations. He was a leader of the Goatse security, a grey hat group that uncovers security holes for ‘the benefit of the public at large’. He took the disruptions by LulzSec and Anonymous to another level starting something broad against authority. Although he disagrees with LulzSec by saying, ‘ They’re publishing people’s authentication data, which puts the average member of the public at risk.’ and further stating that, ‘ I would never do that. They are the people we have to defend.’

 

He believes that we need to toughen up as we are too pampered and that’s one of the reason that ‘the western society is sick; diseased’. When in an interview he was questioned about his tweet – You’re fat and your kid has autism, he started, ‘ I believe that tweet is pretty fair. I believe that person is fat and that child did have autism…
I think the problem with our society is that everybody is so politically incorrect because they have grown up in a bubble- official price, rounded corners, and bright colors. We are costume animals telling nobody anything that might hurt their feelings. Kids these days, they should be out welding, they should work with caustic chemicals, you know control demolition, like learn to be real people living in a real world and not these insulated morons who can’t ever hear anything that might hurt their feelings.
Get over it, grow up, and learn to deal with people on the internet not liking you. And if you don’t like it, shut down your FB page, make your Twitter private, don’t engage in a public discussion and you’ll never run into a conversation where I can say something that can hurt your feelings.’

He regularly writes for The Daily Stromer that is a ‘ neo-Naziwhite supremacist and Holocaust denial website’. In one of his post on this commentary, he expressed his hate towards Jews and black people revealing giant swastika tattoo on his chest.

Weev with a swastika tattoo on his chest

 

“I unequivocally support the killing of children. I believe that our enemies need such a level of atrocity inflicted upon them and their homes that they are afraid to ever threaten the white race with genocide again. We will not relent until far after their daughters are raped in front of them. We will not relent until far after the eyes of their sons are gouged out before them. We will not relent until the cries of their infants are silenced by boots stomping their brains out onto the pavement.”

“Please, Donald Trump, kill the Jews, down to the last woman and child. Leave nothing left of the Jewish menace. It is all on you, my glorious leader.”
— “Kikes Tried to Frame Me for Synagogue Threats a Second Time,” Daily Stormer, March 2017.

— From a flyer Auernheimer sent to 50,000 computer printers across the country, August 2016.

Even though his mother said that Weev comes from a large-mixed raced family with Jewish relatives on “both sides of his family,” as well as Native American blood. After serving his sentence, he is reported to move to eastern Europe as the Department of Justice is still looking for him. He said that he misses America every day and is living a sort of miserable and despairing life in Transnistria. Still, he consistently uses the Internet to troll and shares his sort racist beliefs.

 

Trolling which now seems an everyday superficial and impulsive action is rather a ‘dark’ psychological phenomenon which has a further strong association with the darkest aspects of personality — including sadism, psychopathy, and manipulativeness. Furtherthe web provides the users the opportunity to shape and develop this aspect of the personality which might otherwise remain hidden from our neighbors and friends. This gives the advantage of remaining anonymous and not suffer from face to face social impacts that such kind of action might bring.

Luke Goode, researcher, and writer about new media technologies summed up this phenomenon:
It is also a symptom of our hyper-individualistic culture. Schools, the media and the self-help industry devote tremendous energy to telling people they are extraordinary individuals whose calling is to make their unique mark on the world. When the rest of humdrum social reality reneges on this promise, internet trolling offers a temptingly simple, though illusory, escape from feelings of powerlessness, insignificance, and boredom.

Incel and love deprivation

As the phrase that I had coined goes: If I cannot join them, I will rise above them; and if I cannot rise above them, I will destroy them- Elliot Rodger, the perpetrator of the 2014 Isla Vista Massacre.

There is loneliness. A yearning to find someone. Fulfilling the basic need for love. But when the desires never actualize in reality. When the immense craving stays within and suffocates one to the core. The frustration and doubt ensue. Hatred and a contempt for the society arise. And when they further get a platform to connect and express anger things can really take an ugly turn.

In 1997, Alana wanted to create a supportive forum for lonely people. People who struggle to find love. A friendly place for people like her. So she created a simple website to post some articles and ran a mailing list. This site came to be known as ‘Incel’, an abbreviation for ‘involuntary celibate’. After setting up the forum, she eventually moved away from it, satisfied and thinking that it can continue without her.

 

Things changed and so did the meaning of the term and the content of this innocuous website. Discussions were characterized by hatred, violence, racism, and misogyny. Incels believe that social norms are destroying them. This online community of celibate men convinces themselves to be ugly and socially awkward. And they believe that this is the reason they are unable to find any potential partner. Misogynists blame the women and conclude that they are the victims. There were discussions about raping and torturing women and this kind of content was accepted, to say the least. Evidently, a toxic place to frequent.

A lot of these guys are pretty young, and I think some of it stems from standard adolescent insecurities and sexual frustration and anger at being rejected by girls- David Futrelle

 

Incel received a momentum in 2014 when Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old man killed six people and then himself in California. He had a narcissistic personality and even wrote a 137-page manifesto filled with his grandiose fantasies and delusions. As Berit Brogaard, a professor of philosophy noticed, Roger was preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love. He was obsessed with finding ‘love’.

Elliot Rodger, an incel hero

 

In his last video, Elliot expressed,

You will finally see that I’m in truth the superior one- the true alpha male…
From now, I’ll be the god compared to you. You are animals and I’ll slaughter you. I’ll be a god exacting my retribution for all those who deserve it. And you do deserve it, just for the crime of living a better life than me.

Then on April 23 of this year, Alek Minassian posted on Facebook — the Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the supreme gentleman Elliot Rodger.

Chad and Stacy are the popular, attractive and sexually active men and women while Becky is the ‘average’ women

 

Alek then got a rented van and targeted pedestrians on the North York City Centre – killing 10 and injuring 16. Another similar case is of Chris Harper-Mercer who killed nine people in a community college in 2015. He stated, ‘Here I am, 26, with no friends, no job, no girlfriend’.

There is a new crisis in masculinity, or that we need to take a special focus on redeeming our Millenial ‘lost boys’- the losers of a changing social hierarchy who posted once on 4chan as teenagers and turned into a neo-Nazis as adults. It is more worthwhile to think about this as a problem of nihilism (Drew Brown)

 

Incels brood hate for society and for themselves too. They blame others for their defeat and the feeling of unworthiness. As the relationships expert Hunt Ethridge notice, “The fox couldn’t reach the grapes, so he convinced himself the grapes were sour and he didn’t want them anyway.” Their despair and belief that women have some functions on a superficial level only dehumanize the perspective of the opposite gender. And when they find these online corners to connect and share their ideologies with no external perspective, ‘the validation can fuel aggression’.

 

When they allow all these isolated and alienated people to unite and for once feel a sense of connectivity, acceptance, and understanding to share their sense of shame and self-condemnation. But it also allows for a perfect storm of not only self-hatred but vitriol, rage, and a desire to inflict harm on others whereby victims can also experience first-hand the grief and suffering which Incels feel they’ve had to endure for a lifetime.”-Sam Louie, Psychology Today

Isolation and lack of normal social
relationships

Alana was sad and angry when she learned what her innocent creation ended up being. She, then, created a project named Love not Anger to research how these lonely people might find respectful love and leave behind their state of anger and hopelessness. This is an important step towards awareness and recognition of the problem. The alienation from society and a subsequent loss of reality can pose a real threat. There is a need to stand in, challenge and dismantle the toxic ideologies through the practical actions. Gathering support and extending a helping hand to get out of the toxic environment before the things take an ugly turn. Change in mentality can change the lives.

 

The greatest generation of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind- William James

Quote

Failure of justice

 

We fail ourselves if the wrong person is in jail. Police, prosecutors, and judges are society’s agents: what they do in our name, rightly or wrongly measures us as a people. One wrongful conviction would be too many if you were the one: imagine for a moment that it’s you locked behind bars, innocent – Bill Rowling, CEO, Civil Liberties Australia

We have the freedom to cherish. We feel protected and safe within a system that guarantees us the legal rights. This system composed of human beings like you and me is an ultimate source of support and relief. But as they say to err is human. And an error made during criminal convictions can destroy lives, relationships and mental health with no real compensation for the lost years and liberty. And the question of compensation arises only if one is lucky enough to be exonerated. Or else, many innocent prisoners never make to clear their offenses and stay unrecognized by the justice system. As the study shows that 4.1% of inmates awaiting execution on death row in the US are innocent and that at least 340 innocent people may have been executed since 1973.

 

The matter becomes more disturbing when someone from the justice system intentionally works against innocents and frame them. Prosecutors who are focused on securing convictions, a police officer who isn’t reliable and a judge who is reluctant to overturn the case can end up putting an innocent behind the bars. They can use controversial techniques to get the confessions and have their work done without caring whatsoever about the truth. As happened with Jeffrey Mark Deskovic who was convicted of raping, beating and strangling a classmate at the age of 17. According to the police, he had a suspicious behavior as he was emotionally distraught over her classmate’s death and was an awkward kid without many friends. Jeffrey described his experience during the police interrogation that eventually leads him to the imprisonment for 17 years.

 

“They got me to agree to take a polygraph test telling me that there was some new information in the police file that they wanted to share with me but the only way they could do that if only I took and passed the polygraph examination…

They put me in a small room. I didn’t have an attorney present. I wasn’t given anything to eat the entire time I was there. There were three police officers who I knew were police officers and then there was the polygraphist who actually was a county sheriff’s investigator dresses like a civilian pretending not to be a cop. They strapped me to the polygraph machine and before beginning the polygraph examination they gave me countless cups of coffee, the purpose of which was to get me nervous. So after about 20 mins, pretending to align the machine, the interrogator started interrogating me using the third-degree tactic. He invaded my personal space, he raised his voice at me, he kept asking me the same questions over and over again as each hour passed so did my fear increase in proportion to the time. Towards the end of the examination, the polygrapher made a statement. What do you mean you didn’t do it? You just told me through the polygraph test result that you did. We just want you to verbally confirm it.

When he said that to me, it really shot my fear through the roof. At that point who should make a grand appearance other than the police officer who was pretending to be my friend. He informed me that the other officers were going to harm me but he was holding them off but could not do so indefinitely. You have to help yourself here, you understand.

Considering that I have maintained my innocence for previous six and a half to seven hours. It was clear what he meant by that. They wanted me to confess. When it was added that if I did as they wanted, not only the would stop what they are doing but I could go home afterward. Being young, naive, frightened sixteen years old, not thinking about the long-term implications, just being concerned about my safety right then right there, in fear of my life, painfully conscious of the fact that I knew that nobody knew where I was and then there was the push-pull dynamic. One one hand, the officer is threatening me with harm bait, on the other, he’s throwing me the false life preserver telling me that I’m not gonna be arrested. Being totally overwhelmed emotionally and psychologically. I took out what they offered and I made up a story based upon the information which they had given me in the course of interrogation.”

Jeffrey is one the 205 men and one woman who have been exonerated through DNA evidence since 1989 in which 53 have been convicted of murder.
Another alarming case is of Lawrence McKinney, 62, who spent half of his life in prison after he was wrongly convicted of raping a woman and stealing her television in 1978. After 31 years in jail, an evidence was found indicating that he was not even present on the scene. He was issued $75 in compensation and it took him another three months to cash it as he had no ID. Pretty shame paying $2 for each year he spent in prison.

 

I don’t have no life, all my life was taken away.

After release begins the struggle of reconnecting with people and making a living. A trauma that proceeds with grief for lost years.

 

When I came out I was very paranoid and I thought people were out to get me -it was like everybody was staring at me. For the first six months after I was released from prison, I tried to work with other people in similar circumstances to me to secure the release, but I ended up in the hospital because I was having a nervous breakdown. — Michael O’Brien

In 2012, convictions of more than 1100 cases were overturned due to separate 13 police corruption scandals, most of which involved the planting of drugs or guns on innocent defendants.

It’s not that rare that the prosecutors and police ignore key evidence and intentionally withhold information from the defense. Prosecutors have immense power in determining who will be subjected to criminal punishment. And some misuse this power and fail to reveal the evidence. They have absolute immunity against civil suits and they rarely receive the conviction for their errors. Indeed, a study conducted in 5 states found that in 660 cases where courts had confirmed prosecutorial misconduct the number of prosecutors disciplined was only one. Some prosecutors even receive bonuses for achieving a high conviction.

Kwame Ajamu exonerated after 40 years spent in prison

When people in power turn a blind eye to the crime and let some innocent rot in the prison for a lifetime, we can’t help losing our faith in humanity and justice system. But the struggle will go on, striving for the truth and for the meritable freedom. Finishing with Voltaire, the priority must be to protect the innocent.

It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one.

Roberto Saviano: Fighting against mafia with the weaponry of writing

 

You can’t dry water with water, you can’t extinguish a fire with fire and you can’t fight evil with evil.

In the land of Camorra, the theory of modern rights is turned on its head- Roberto Saviano

 

His first book was published in 2006 and this book had a precise mission: exposing the system and power of one of the oldest and largest criminal organization in Italy- Camorra.

I wrote it with a literary intention: narrate a life with a style that brings together the rigor of reality and the suggestion of literature, the charm of a novel; the concreteness of data and the momentum of a poetry.
I was seized by some kind of demon, the same that always takes possession of a writer and of which the writer can’t escape if not follow him.

Camorra works differently with around 111 individual clans operating independently. Loose gangs with members numbering to 6,700. There is ruthless violence, drug trafficking, terrorism, money laundering, racketeering, and prostitution. Saviano was raised in this war zone, encountering several violent scenes as fights broke out on the street.

‘ I saw my first corpse in secondary school. Since then I’ve seen dozens. It didn’t shock me.’

The murder of a local priest finally pricked his conscience as he saw how his death was scandalized afterward and met with indifference by people. The priest Don Peppino Diana was trying to take a fight against the evil. He pinned a notice on local churches, ‘Because I love my people, I must stay quiet no longer.’ Days later, he was shot dead in the face in his own church.

Don Peppino killed for his anti-mafia commitment

 

Domenico Noviello, a businessman who testified against a clan member received the same fate. After his testimony, he was put under subsequent protection and received it for 7 years until he refused in 2008. He was murdered a week later.

Seeing these atrocities, Roberto made writing a sort of revenge- turning his words into weapons and forcing the wrongdoers to react. Courage to speak against Mafia brought him the fame that every young writer dreams to have but at a cost of liberty that very few dare to lose.

‘With Gomorra, Saviano brought us to America’ said Antonio Iovine, the boss of a Casalesi clan that is believed to be one of the powerful group within Camorra.

And after Gomorra, life never returned the same path. There were threatening letters and silent phone calls. Constant fear of being followed and a life of confinement.

I exist inside four walls, and the only alternative is making public appearances. I’m either at the Nobel academy having a debate on freedom of the press, or I’m inside a windowless room at a police barracks. Light and dark. There is no shade, no in between.

 

In the end, these death threats aren’t proved to be enough to stop someone who has attained an armament of writing and a profound sense of justice and morality. If freedom is a price to pay to make a soul stirs, he did it. He continues to write bringing the reality of some obscure places present on this same blue-green planet.

And I still want to write, write, write because it’s my passion and my resistance. And in order to write, I need to plunge my hands into reality, to cover myself in it, to smell its odor and its sweat, and to not live quarantined in a hyperbolic chamber inside military barracks — today here, tomorrow two hundred kilometers away, moved like a package without knowing what happened and what can happen. A perennial state of bewilderment and insecurity keeps me from thinking, reflecting, concentrating on what I have to do. Sometimes I surprise myself thinking these words: I want my life back. I silently repeat them, one by one, to myself.