To the editors:
If Duane Bean [November 23] has decided to spend his life pasting family snapshots on missile silos and getting arrested for it, cool. Beats being an alderman and getting arrested for that.
On the other hand, maybe he ought to get real. He recounts his experiences as if they contain revelations about us and our society. Yet, that prison is very unpleasant, that the work world can be a Godawful grind, and that the National Guard would train its members to fight, probably don't strike most of us as particularly unjust, much less surprising. If nuclear weapons are someday eliminated, it will probably be through the efforts of people who are rather less naive than Bean.
Bean's self-absorption reminds me of the Edward Koren cartoon of a guy in a suit being hauled off by two burly cops, protesting, "There surely must be some mistake! I'm middle-class."
My biggest quarrel with Bean, however, is over his blanket condemnation of the U.S. Marshals Service. A close friend of mine is a deputy U.S. marshal. After 11 years in law enforcement and all the abuse from arrestees and the public that unavoidably carries with it, he is still calm and slow to anger. He has also escorted prisoners on the airlift, working from dawn until after dark in a single stretch of 10 to 12 hours or more.
I don't want to hear any nonsense about not having to handcuff and manacle political prisoners. Enough deputies have been injured and murdered in escape attempts that they've learned the hard way to treat all prisoners as potentially dangerous.
In a century that has experienced the Holocaust and the Killing Fields, calling the described experiences of federal prisoners in transit "atrocities" is puerile.