I know a man now, just a few years older than me, who talks exactly like grandpa. A lot of people think he's vulgar and crude. He may be, but that's not a concern of mine. He is who he is and a man I respect for who he is and what he's been through. I don't respect him because he can kick my ass. That has nothing to do with respect. I could splatter his guts all over the wall behind him too, but I'm not going to do it. And he's not going to kick my ass. I don't even have any judgment for him. I know outlines of what he's been through and done, but it's not my business to call it good or bad according to the context of his circumstances. He treats me with respect, I treat him with respect. We're very different people, most different politically, which to me is of no consequence whatever. What he does behind closed doors I don't care. I don't want to know. This is something I've come into that I'm grateful for, is not wanting to know anything about anybody that the individual him/herself does not want to tell me themselves. Too many times I've heard bullshit stories about particular people and when I eventually become acquainted with that individual I really liked them and eventually found the initial stories I'd heard were created by imagination. If I really gave it thought, I could call up several examples, a great many.
The people with bad names I don't find particularly bad, except when they are. Then they're pathetic messes battered and raped throughout their childhood, who grow up angry to the bone, starting fights wherever they go, passing on everything that had been done to them. Stay away from them drunk and allow them their lives, there's no problem. I confess to knowing some rough people, made rough by getting beat on by all the boys and men in the extended family who were older. And he thrashes the kids younger than him. I've known enough of the people called mean and criminal to know they're people too. I cannot hold prison in somebody's past against them. When I find out somebody I know has been in prison, my respect skyrockets. I'm ashamed of my country's penal system and there is nothing I can do to change it. A no recourse corner. So I stay out of prison and regard my acquaintances and friends who have been through prison the respect they deserve. I don't make a show of it, but regard them with the same respect I regard anyone else. Once a sentence is completed, their "debt to society" is completed. One friend who did six months told me it is unimaginable how bad it is, and not much later killed himself unable to live with the shame. Another told me you go into prison thinking you know how to fight. First thing you learn is you don't. Judges and lawyers laugh about what people have to go through in prison. And they know better than anybody outside a prison what goes on inside. This confirms what I already know, our legal system is a crap shoot and certainly has nothing to do with ethics. It's not about justice at all. The word justice has become a joke in my lifetime.
In the way I grew up on a short leash I didn't have a chance to be one of the wild guys that wrecked cars and got hit over the head with beer bottles and treated their women like shit. I was not a tough guy or a cool guy or anything, not even a nerd. Just a pathetic kid counting down the days to liberation from parents, cussing all the time inside. Since it was pointed out to me about a year ago that I seem to like rowdy people, I've been looking at it. I do. I was never able to act out my own rowdiness. It got locked down. I admired the other guys at school, and guys I worked with on summer jobs, who did all kinds of crazy shit, stealing hubcaps, siphoning gas, driving heedlessly fast. It never took with me, because I did not have an option. I'm thinking that in this time of the life I'm liking knowing people I think of as brave, courageous, men and women who really would kill somebody for hurting one of their kids. The only thing I could say to a friend who told me he or she was on his way to do the deed would be, While making your decision include that prison is part of the package. If it's worth prison, do what you gotta do. Something I discovered in my first years in the mountains was that I am incredibly inhibited. The people who are rowdy and rough are also superb human beings who have a hard time dealing with the false our American society requires we live by. The inability to give in to the false for the sake of "for your benefit" creates a rebel mad at the world and everybody in it, like John Voight's character in Runaway Train. This is where I bond with the redneck rebels of America.