Re: RARA-AVIS: Jack Henry Abbott dies

From: Rene Ribic (
Date: 25 Feb 2002

> It speaks volumes that we remember Abbott but we ( at least I) can
> the man he killed. He worked as waiter and was an actor/playwright;
> left behind a wife who was devastated by Abbott barbarity.

Yes, you're right about Abbott's victim & the devastation that his action/s caused. However, if we lived in a society (& I know how unlikely this is) that didn't institutionalise, marginalise, criminalise
& brutalise unwanted children we'd have a lot less people like Abbott
( & for that matter Charles Manson & any number of other famous & non-famous murderer's, psychopaths & sociopaths) running around. Barbarity begets barbarity, it's a vicious circle. There are reasons why kids who've been brutally treated are more likely to become brutes, sexually molested kids more likely to become sexual predators & kids whose fathers drank & beat their wives more likely to grow up to repeat the pattern & it has nothing to do with original sin. This society is full of sociopaths & not all of them are in jail. Some run corporations, countries, etc but the great majority of these had better breaks than the pathetic losers that clog up America's Death Rows. I think "In the Belly of the Beast" gives an insight into the process, if no answers. Please don't read this as a defence of Abbott's actions - in the end we make our choices. Despite everything that happened in his life he had a choice on whether to kill an innocent man & he made the sort of choice that had previously landed him in prison.All the same it's worth noting that people like Abbott (& Manson) were petty criminals before they spent substantial time in prison (& I've forgotten Abbott's childhood history, if I knew it. Manson's "criminal career" started of by being the unwanted child of a peripatetic hooker, which is how he began his life in the institutions that are so often just prep schools for jails - I recommend Ed Sanders' classic book about Manson, "The Family"). Abbott first killed in prison (he claims self-defence & that's plausible considering the context) & IIRC the unfortunate waiter was his only victim outside of jail.(No consolation to his widows & loved ones, I know).


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