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Prison Article Stirs Controversy

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Subject: Bad writing on a Good Page

Maybe I am missing something, but the article about a unique experience in Pochutla Prison is possibly the most humiliating, demeaning thing that I have read in a while that is in the disguise of having some environmental merit or anything bordering on a contribution to mankind. It would appear that the person is a friend of yours, a photographer possibly, but he and his friends sound like assholes, and the ugliest americans I can imagine. Your pages seem so generous and informative. The contrast of "unique experience" is hardly consistent with the rest of your forum, and certainly seems to be an embarrassment to your pages. It should be. I hope Richard Malmed stays in NYC and restricts his stuff to the local zoo. Yuck, sad sad sad.

That the Pochutla story is even on the same page with James Kitts work, is even sadder, and undeserving. Your work sounds great, I hope you find time to do some better editing.

Jim Corti
San Jose
corti@earthlink.net

January 1997

Richard Malmed's response:

Glad to know that a person as enlightened as yourself is out there. I will be careful as to my experiences before checking with you, a person who is so positive of what is wrong and acceptable. Today I am overwhelmed that I share a space even one as vast a cyber with such wonderful presence as yourself. Asshole is relative. You made my day.

Richard Malmed
PARADOX398@aol.com

January 1997

Tom Penick's response:

Thank you for your interest in this webpage.

The Pacific Coast of Oaxaca Mexico (the webpage) has no particular agenda. I do not screen out anything except perhaps the most blatant untruths or contributions lacking new information. I have not met the author of this piece but have corresponded several times by email. He seems like a warm, humanitarian sort of person who loves the area and the people. He has been spent time there over many years. He seems to take an interest in the prisons as he has mentioned the prison in Puerto Escondido as well. I do not feel that this subject should be hidden from anyone. Few of us will have the "opportunity" to have a look inside these places. Mr. Malmed seems to have described his visit in a candid, uncolored way, and if that is what it is like, then why should I censor or discolor his words? If others see the prison in a different light, I would be pleased to have their interpretations to link to Mr. Malmed's article.

The article by James Kitts is another valued contribution to these pages. But articles about visiting a coffee plantation and visiting a prison are bound to have a different flavor.

Tom Penick
The Pacific Coast of Oaxaca, Mexico
tom@tomzap.com

January 1997


the response to my response:

Subject: Laughing and Screaming and a True Adventure

Regarding your response to my criticism of the page about the visit to Pochutla Prison by the man from New York, you are probably right in your conclusions that my criticism was inappropriate. Rather than calling the author an asshole, ( I apologized to him ) I could have just voiced my comments. I had a quick response to what I felt was a really bad page, and wrote that response, even quicker.

For sure, anyone can write anything they want, (no shit..) and if someone feels that the particular item is appropriate for an area they control, i.e., your editing of your pages, then that is how it is.

However, I don't feel any different about the piece, in fact, with a little rereading, I feel reinforced. No apologies from me. I asked a couple of friends to read it, and their response was than mine. One was even from, gulp, if you can imagine, NYC. (The art director for a major national weekly news mag--a person that I have spent considerable time in Mexico with....From Oaxaca to San Felipe to remote areas on the Baja Peninsula)

The high points of the article seemed to be:

wanting to find coral souvenirs made by prison inmates at a remote prison site they found interesting or exciting

presenting at 7:00 AM in bathing suits, to prison guards in this remote area prison, demanding entry to the place

(the neatest thing to me was) describing that a piece of the work tossed at them might have represented the life of one of the humans in jail, there

drove away fast and then stopped and "laughed and screamed" about the experience

the "rush was very exciting".

the above was described as a "true adventure".

Those things seemed to me that they were really placing themselves above a bunch of poor souls who are more than likely criminals of some sort. After the visit was over they had some "laughing and screaming" emotional experience out of being around these unfortunate caged "midnight express" creatures.

I don't find that very funny. I can't think of anything more to say, than, they certainly have their right to any and all of this. I am no saint, but it isn't the way I live my life, or choose to conduct myself around another culture, be they privileged or not privileged, as in this prison. Nothing I have said really makes any difference about what is already written or to these people. And maybe not to you. That doesn't make me any more right, simply a different viewpoint of how life works. So be it, I still am embarrassed by the piece.

Whether it matters or not, I think your site is really great, and the information on it is a really good collection. Sincerely, I will probably never meet you, and possibly never have contact with you again, this is what makes a horse race. The internet is really neat. I am completing a similar page, and with a load of luck, I might have similar success. With Buddha's blessings... I have spent a bunch of time on your page, and more than anything, I just say thank you.

Best to you for your success,

Jim Corti
San Jose
corti@earthlink.net

January 1997


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