A couple times I've used the Gary Gilmore analogy. I'm going to do it again by contrasting a pair of speeches, Amanda's statement in her appeal vs. Gary Gilmore's first letter to Nicole Baker after his arrest (written Aug 3, 1976). Both are the thoughts of people looking down the barrel of annihilation. For those who don't know, Gilmore will go on to be the first man executed after the reimposition of the death penalty. He's been arrested for 2 murders during the course of a robbery. Gary in Green, Amanda in Red italic.
Amanda asserts her innocence, while Gary is "repentant" in the way guilters would have liked her to be:
vs Raffaele and I are innocent, and we want to live our lives in freedom. We are not responsible for Meredith's death, and, I repeat, no justice is accomplished by taking our lives away.
Gary agrees he is a threat to society; Amanda asserts she has never been a threat:
Amanda is often attacking for not being repentent. Gary Gilmore is quite repentent, he killed two people to speed up his ability to make payments for a truck. Amanda is sorry only that the whole thing happened:
Finally look at how they responded to the murder. Gary identifies with the person going to gallows, Amanda bravely declares she is entitled to a normal life, that is all just an enormous error:
You can stop here, or read the full versions below:
August 3, 1976 from Gary Gilmore
Nothing in my experience, prepared me for the kind of honest open love you gave me. I’m so used to bullshit and hostility, deceit and pettiness, evil and hatred. Those things are my natural habitat. They have shaped me. I look at the world through eyes that suspect, doubt, fear, hate, cheat, mock, are selfish and vain. All things unacceptable, I see them as natural and have even come to accept them as such. I look around the ugly vile cell and know that I truly belong in a place this dank and dirty, for where else should I be? There’s water all over the floor from the fucking toilet that don’t flush right. The shower is filthy and the thin mattress they gave me is almost black, it’s so old. I have no pillow. There are dead cockroaches in the corners. At nite there are mosquitoes and the lite is very dim. I’m alone here with my thoughts and I can feel the oldness. Remember I told you about The Oldness? And you told me how ugly it was - the oldness, the oldness. I can hear the tumbrel wheels creek. So fucking ugly and coming so close to me. When I was a child… I had a dream about being beheaded. But it was more than just a dream. More like a memory. It brought me right out of the bed. And it was sort of a turning point in my life… Recently it has begun to make a little sense. I owe a debt, from a long time ago. Nicole, this must depress you. I’ve never told anybody of this thing, except my mother the nite I had that nitemare and she came in to comfort me but we never spoke of it after that. And I started to tell you one nite and I told you quite a bit of it before it became plain to me that you didn’t want to hear it. There have been years when I haven’t even thought much of it at all and then something (a picture of a guillotine, a headmans block, or a broad ax, or even a rope) will bring it all back and for days it will seem I’m on the verge of knowing something very personal, something about myself. Something that somehow wasn’t completed and makes me different. Something I owe, I guess. Wish I knew.
Once you asked me if I was the devil, remember? I’m not. The devil would be far more clever than I, would operate on a much larger scale and of course would feel no remorse. So I’m not Beelzebub. And I know the devil can’t feel love. But I might be further from God than I am from the devil. Which is not a good thing. It seems that I know evil more intimately than I know goodness and that’s not a good thing either. I want to get even, to be made even, whole, my debts paid (whatever it may take!) to have no blemish, no reason to feel guilt or fear. I hope this ain’t corny, but I’d like to stand in the sight of God. To know that I’m just and right and clean. When you’re this way you know it. And when you’re not, you know that too. It’s all inside of us, each of us - but I guess I ran from it and when I did try to approach it, I went about it wrong, became discouraged, bored, lazy, and finally unacceptable. But what do I do now? I don’t know. Hang myself?
I’ve thought about that for years, I may do that. Hope the state executes me? That’s more acceptable and easier than suicide. But they haven’t executed anybody here since 1963 (just about the last year for legal executions anywhere). What do I do, rot in prison? Growing old and bitter and eventually work this around in my mind to where it reads that I’m the one who’s getting fucked around, that I’m just an innocent victim of society’s bullshit? What do I do? Spend a life in prison searching for the God I’ve wanted to know for such a long time? Resume my painting? Write poetry? Play handball? Eat my heart out for the wondrous love you gave me that I threw away Monday nite because I was so spoiled and couldn’t immediately have a white pickup truck I wanted? What do I do? We always have a choice, don’t we?
I’m not asking you to answer these questions for me, Angel, please don’t think that I am. I have to make my own choice. But anything you want to comment on or suggest, or say, is always welcome.
God, I love you, Nicole.
Amanda's speech in court: (translated from Italian by PMF)
...It would happen sometimes that someone would propose a subject to discuss among us, everyone giving their opinion. I liked to followed these discussions but I was uncomfortable about whether I should participate directly, because I'm not talented for discussions. Often I don't succeed in expressing my convictions, at least verbally right at the moment. In fact, of all my friends, I'm the weakest for this. That's why, jokingly, my friend would usually jump on this, that my character was so peace-loving, and would challenge me with a little sentence: “Stand up for yourself Poindexter”, which means “Defend yourself, grind” [secchiona=someone who studies too hard, too serious]. It was a joke. And inevitably, either I would answer, but the answer coming out of my mouth would get all twisted incomprehensible...incomprehensibly around itself, or, I just didn't succeed in answering at all, because my mind would get blocked and my tongue would get all stuck. I couldn't do the thing that my friend often asked me to do, which was to defend myself. We have to imagine [Figuriamoci se io...not easy to render in English: maybe “You can imagine”] that I'm the weakest person in this room for expressing myself. That's why I ask for patience, because all this that I've prepared are the things that I didn't succeed in saying to you yet. Or better, I find myself in front of you for the second time, but these are the things that I would like to have said already. I ask you for patience because there have been opportunities to speak, but I was of few words. I believe that often words didn't come to me, because I never expected to find myself here, condemned for a crime I didn't do. In these three years, I've learned your language, and I've seen how the procedure goes, but I've never gotten used to this broken life. I still don't know how to face all this [3:00] if not just by being myself, who I've always been, in spite of the suffocating awkwardness. I was wrong to think that there are right or wrong places and moments to say important things. Important things have to be said, and that's all.
The only thing I am really sorry about now is that there are people to whom I should turn, who are not here, but I hope my words will reach them, because I am either locked in prison, or I'm here. And...I'm here. To the family and dear ones of Meredith, I want to say that I'm so sorry that Meredith is not here any more. I can't know how you feel, but I too have little sisters, and the idea of their suffering and infinite loss terrifies me. It's incomprehensible, it's unacceptable, what you're going through, and what Meredith underwent. [Long pause] I'm sorry all this happened to you and that you'll never have her near you, where she should be. It's not just and never will be. If you're not alone when you're thinking of her, because I'm thinking of you, I also remember Meredith, [5:00] and my heart bleeds for all of you. Meredith was kind, intelligent, nice and always available. She was the one who invited me to see Perugia, with her, as a friend. I'm grateful and honored to have been able to be in her company and to have been able to know her.
Patrick? I don't see you. But, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, because I didn't want to wrong you. I was very naïve and really not courageous, because I should have been able to endure the pressure that pushed me to hurt you. I didn't want to contribute to all that you suffered. You know what it means to have unjust accusations imposed on your skin. You didn't deserve what you went through. I hope you'll succeed in finding your peace.
Meredith's death was a terrible shock for me. She was my new friend, a reference point for me here in Perugia. But she was killed. [7:00] Because I felt an affinity towards her, suddenly, in her death, I recognized my own vulnerability. I clung above all to Raffaele, who was a source of reassurance, consolation, availability and love for me. I also trusted the authorities carrying out the investigation, because I wanted to help render justice for Meredith. It was another shock to find myself accused and arrested. I needed a lot of time to accept that reality, of being accused, and redefined unjustly. I was in prison, my photo was everywhere. Insidious, unjust, nasty gossip about my private life circulated about me. Living through this experience has been unacceptable for me. I have trusted above all to the hope that everything will be arranged as it should have been, and that this enormous error about me will be recognized, and that every day that I spend in a cell and in court is one day nearer to my liberty. This is my consolation, in the darkness, that lets me live without despairing, doing my best to continue my life as I always have, in contact with my dear friends and my family, dreaming about the future. [9:06]
Now, I am unjustly condemned, and more aware than ever of this hard and undeserved reality. I still hope for justice, and dream about a future. Even if this experience of three years weighs me down with anguish and fear, here I am, in front of you, more intimidated than ever, not because I'm afraid or could ever be afraid of the truth, but because I have already seen justice go wrong. The truth about me and Raffaele is not yet recognized, and we are paying with our lives for a crime that we did not commit. He and I deserve freedom, like everyone in this courtroom today. We don't deserve the three years that we already paid, and we certainly don't deserve more. I am innocent. Raffaele is innocent. We did not kill Meredith. [10:54] I beg you to truly consider that an enormous mistake has been made in regard to us. No justice is rendered to Meredith or her dear ones by taking our lives away and making us pay for something we didn't do. I am not the person that the prosecution says I am, not at all. According to them, I'm a dangerous, diabolical, jealous, uncaring and violent girl. Their hypotheses depend on this. But I've never been that girl. Never. The people who know me are witnesses of my personality. My past, I mean my real past, not the one talked about in the tabloids, proves that I've always been like this, like I really am, and if all this is not enough, I ask you, I invite you, I ask you to ask the people who have been guarding me for three years. Ask them if I have ever been violent, aggressive or uncaring in front of the suffering that is part of the broken lives in prison. Because I assure you that I'm not like that. I assure you that I have never resembled the images painted by the prosecution. [13:00] How could it be possible that I could be capable of achieving the kind of violence that Meredith suffered? How could it be possible that I could throw myself like that at the opportunity to hurt one of my friends? [?] such a violence, as though it were more important and more natural than all my teaching, all my values, all my dreams and my whole life? All this is not possible. That girl is not me. I am the girl that I have always shown myself to be and have always been. I repeat that I also am asking for justice. Raffaele and I are innocent, and we want to live our lives in freedom. We are not responsible for Meredith's death, and, I repeat, no justice is accomplished by taking our lives away. [Whispers: “okay”] Um, thank you