Red White & Blue Hens

College students in Delaware who think right is right, and left is wrong. We study hard, party hard, and play hardball.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Skidfest Made Fools of Us All

"Know what we should do? We should start a fund for the killer of those two 10-year-old girls and make sure he has some good books to read."

After reading The Review this morning, I completely regret my overconsumption of alcohol on Saturday--something I don't state lightly. The "charitable" event known as SKidfest apparently selected Books Through Bars as the charity to donate its proceedings to. The mission statement of Books Through Bars should make any sane individual weary:

"We believe a society of social and economic inequality leads to a cycle of crime and incarceration. We work to reverse the dehumanizing effects excessive punishment inflicts upon individuals, families and communities. Books Through Bars sends quality reading material to prisoners and encourages creative dialogue on the criminal justice system, thereby educating those living inside and outside of prison walls."

To paraphrase: criminals aren't at fault for their actions, society is. Punishment for crime is as egregious and dehumanizing as crime itself. The road to justice in this world consists of parents meeting their daughter's rapist not with scorn, but with a dozen donuts, tea and lots of warm hugs. And by giving Hemingway to rapists/child molestors/murderers/drug dealers we'll live in a rainbow-colored world hand-in-hand with each other. Or not.

While I'm not denying the possible rehabilitative effect of good literature, it's an absolute horror that while the university copes with the recent murder of a fellow student, the $5,000 raised through SKidfest will help out Lindsey Bonistall's murderer instead of going to a fund rewarding information given about the suspect, or to create a memorial in her name.


  • At 9:42 PM, Blogger delacrat said…

    If the prison system is not offering much help for rehabilitation, then those released from jail will be worse off than when they went in.

    The goal should not be for prisoners to get stronger, they should get smarter.

    Books Through Bars is one way we the people can help do SOMETHING while our prison system is in disrepair.

    I live on Skid, and I fully uphold our decision to donate to this local charity. And thanks for your donation.

  • At 10:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 11:02 PM, Blogger Ryan S. said…

    "The goal should not be for prisoners to get stronger, they should get smarter."

    Sorry, but smart criminals scare me.

  • At 12:15 AM, Blogger delacrat said…

    "The goal should not be for prisoners to get stronger, they should get smarter."

    Sorry, but smart criminals scare me.


    Obviously you missed the point. "Smarter" in the sense of educated and rehabilitated. Not in the sense of clever.


  • At 1:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    No name calling please(or questioning of sexual preference as the case may be)-blog management

  • At 1:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your pretty much missing the entire point of the charity, jublinent james, and your pretty much making yourself look foolish. You OBVIOUSLY did not read the website.

    For one thing.... the vast majority of people in person are not in there for violent crimes such as the tragic murder of lindsey bonistall. Our prison system is PACKED with drug law violaters. MANY of them are intelligent people with potentially bright futures. MANY of them are people without access to literature such as GED prep matierals, dictionarys and thesaureses (which are the top 3 requested matierals and BTB). Providing prisoners these materials gives them the means to make themselves more than parole violators when they come out of prison.

    Turning our backs on prisoners only breeds more crime, putting prisoners in the mind set that nobody cares about their well being. Charities such as books through bars gives prisoners an oppurtunity and shows them that there are people in the world who care about them enough to send them a book in the mail. Charities such as books through bars prevents crimes such as the tragic murder of lindsey bonistall, much more than a memorial in her name or a fund to reward whoever catches the murderer.

    Maybe you should realize, jubilant james, that not everybody was as lucky as you were, to grow up and have the oppurtunity to go to a great school like UD and be jubilant all day long. Some people grew up on a drug corner, and I'm not surprised one bit those people end up in jail for selling drugs. Im not surprised that some of those people realize they can do more in their lives and I dont want them to be surprised to hear that there are people like me who care about them enough to provide them with literature to help better themselves.

    Thanks for the 5 dollar donation james. It will pay for one package to be sent to a prisoner in a US federal prison. That package may contain something that will remind that prisoner that society hasnt forgotten about him. It may be the compassion that the prisoner needs to realize what a better life can be. If you regret that, stop by and I'll give you your 5 dollars back.

    28.5 Academy

  • At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I heardly believe that giving the murder a book to read is a reward. This program only encourages education as oppssed to reincarceration. GET YOUR FACTS STRIGHT

  • At 2:35 PM, Blogger American Sean said…

    Hi Brian from 28.5 Academy,
    You're absolutely right, "Charities such as books through bars gives prisoners an oppurtunity and shows them that there are people in the world who care about them enough to send them a book in the mail." The other day I was thinking about helping others and the idea came to me, I could give a "drug law violater" a thesaurus. Now he'll know that blow and yeyo are synonyms for coke.

    By showing prisoners we care, we are projecting the idea that they are the victims, not the people they victimized. That mere "drug law violater" may have sold heroin to your little sister or bought crack from a dealer that funded a terrorist organization. I also find it humorous that you reduce prisoners to innocent "drug law violaters" who were bound to end up in jail eventually. You know, that might not happen if you supported a charity that helped bright children who are "growing up on a drug corner." Why not fix the problem where it starts, not patch a problem thats beyond repair.

    "the vast majority of people in prison are not in there for violent crimes such as the tragic murder of lindsey bonistall." You are STILL donating books to murderers and rapists. If only .001% of your donation has reached even one murderer, you have sympathized with them. By your logic, we can prevent this murderer from murdering again by educating him. EVEN IF they don't murder again, they are not worthy of 1 cent, they are insane people who should be locked up for life and damn well should be feeling like NO ONE cares about them. I don't want Lindsey Bonistall's murderer rehabilitated, by commiting the crime he has proven he is beyond any form of that.

    As for the convicted drug violaters, I feel no sympathy. They chose their own actions. Let's give these people books BEFORE they commit crimes. I have no qualms about letting them rot in prison thinking no one cares about them after they committed them. Hell, this is probably the best form of rehabilitation. Let them sit there thinking that and maybe they'll straighten up their act.

    "Charities such as books through bars prevents crimes such as the tragic murder of lindsey bonistall, much more than a memorial in her name or a fund to reward whoever catches the murderer." This is quite possibly the most idiotic thing i've ever heard. God forbid The Bonistall family reads that. As for a fund for a reward to catch him, it's only a matter of time before a friend of his turns him in. People like him always have their price. How much of a reward will it take before he's ratted out and is forced to spend a life behind bars. There is already a $10,000 reward, SKidfest had the ability to raise it up to $15,000. I can only imagine that could've been all it took to have someone come forward. Then, for the sake of some justice, I would pray that he feels like no one cares about him until his death. Lindsey is gone, her family has to deal with the horror, her friends are crushed, and the rest of UD's campus is living in fear. So much pain this one man has caused. He is the lowest form of scum.....and guys come along and give him a book, pat him on the back, and tell him you care.

  • At 5:01 PM, Blogger Jubilant James said…

    Hello Brian,
    While american sean leaves little else for me to say, I’ll express my main grievances and disillusion with your choice of Books Through Bars.

    In addition to Saturday being the one week anniversay of Lindsey’s death--boy, you guys wasted no time making sure her murderer’s future roommates are well-read!--Saturday was also Relay For Life. While supporting a cure for cancer is arguably not as noble as stocking the shelves of convicts with Webster’s dictionary, it seems a bit more appropiate in light of such a tragedy. And what would be so wrong with making a donation to the Bonistalls, to possibly lighten the financial burden of their daughter’s death, but more imporantly to help wiith the emotional impact by showing them UD’s students are deeply saddened by their loss? I guess a postcard will do just fine.

    “Mr. and Mrs. Bonistall,
    Sorry about your loss. Now I know your biggest worry is that your daughter’s murderer will feel unloved or misunderstood while in jail. Don’t worry about that! On Saturday--a week after your daughter was killed--we were able to raise $5,000 for Books Through Bars. It’s an organization that gives books to murderers, rapists, drug dealers, car theives, you know, all the people in society who just didn’t have a fair shake at life! This way, the murderer won’t have to feel ‘dehumanized’ or feel too bad about himself. We wouldn’t want that. I mean, a murderer is only a victim of the circumstances he grew up in, dictated to him by this unjust and oppressive society. We could have made the money a reward for the killers capture to deter another assault by him but, c’mon, everyone knows the only difference between a future murderer and future Rhodes scholar are a few trashy romance novels! Well, sorry again. Sleep well knowing the murderer will soon be reading Canterbury Tales to ease his pretty little head. Score one for the good guys!”

    Please excuse my hyperbole. I’m going overboard to drive hom e my point about your choice of charities which leads me to my 2nd grievance.
    If BTB sent books and educational materials only to non-violent criminals and those with a chance at getting rehabilitated, I would cautiously support your donation. However, they don’t, and money is wasted on the worst of society--those behind bars that have no chance in seeing society again because of committing heinous crimes. I couldn’t care less about a rapist’s creature comforts and I sure as hell don’t want my money contributing to them. There are a lot of more worthy charities out there and if you were sincere about giving me my $5 dollars back, I’d be happy to donate it somewhere else.

  • At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Both of you are using sarcasm to hide the fact that you are only considering the extreme cases, particularly the death of Lindsey Bonistall, and then viewing the charity in regards to these only. I suspect a severe aversion to anything "liberal" is the cause of this, ala Ann Coulter, and you are forced to bash anything that falls too close to liberal ideals. Because of this I am hesitant to post in a Republican blog, but I wanted to point out that you're both using transparent rhetoric and throwing in the case of the recent murder to ellict emotion sentiment. It's quite similar to people who refer to each other as Nazi's, hoping to tap into the emotionally charged connotations it brings.

    Ignoring your hyberbole, your main argument is senseless. You wish not to donate books to prisoners, as it may end up in the hands of someone so despicable that they deserve no further enjoyment. I don't want to debate whether or not this person exists, as while I think that education is always a good thing, it is irrelevant. You're missing the forest for the trees, and you know it. The fact of the matter is that there exists a severe inequality in regards to access to education, and this is at least IN PART (no one claimed entirely responsible) for a cycle of crime. This point is not debatable - lower income areas have both a lower quality of education and higher instances of crime. Therefore, making educational materials available to those who have the desire to educate themselves while in prison can only bring about positive results.

    The general point here is obvious: ignoring extreme cases (serial killing, etc) education is a GOOD thing, and should therefore be available to those who desire it, particularly if it helps one to avoid a life of crime. If someone can begin an education to become a mechanic, selling marijuana on the street will be less tempting once one returns. Let's view prisoners as people who will eventually reenter society, and therefore provide a method by which integration is more successful. Instead, you promote denying ANYONE educational opportunities due to the chance that a murderer may gain a bit of enjoyment. It's really a short-sighted view, supported only by useless rhetoric. Perhaps in future posts Ms. Bonistall's death can be left out, as your arguments should be just as poignant without bringing up such an emotionally charged situation.

  • At 8:33 PM, Blogger delacrat said…

    Here Here!

  • At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    James, how do you think ms. bonistalls mother would feel about you using the tragic death of her daugher to further your own political agenda? Her death is completly irrevlavent to skidfest and the charity we choose and the sad thing is that i think you know it and are ignoring it. Your just bringing it up to polarize peoples reaction into thinking that siding with us is like spitting on lindsey bonistalls grave. I would not write lindsey's mother a post card about what charity we choose for skidfest, frankly because its none of her business. We choose the charity and made every attempt to inform the campus and people at skidfest. Im sorry to hear that you are only interested in this after the fact and didnt take the time to read the pamplets we had on the table at the entrance.


  • At 10:17 PM, Blogger delacrat said…

    I posted on the College Dems blog about this,

  • At 6:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    its not the idea of educational opportunities for convicts. In fact I think learning to read should be a requirement.

    What's gotten the reaction from the right is the marxist-class conflict crap quoted from BTB's website.

    that said I think it is unfair to criticise the Skidfest organizers because a terrible crime was committed a week before the event. I am sure they chose their charity well in advance.

  • At 7:05 PM, Blogger American Sean said…

    Delacrat posted on the College Democrats blog with the following comment "give BTB more intelligent thought before campaigning against it and skid fest." and "It's more conservative whining without real thought." If there's one commonality amongst liberal thinkers, it's their assumption that the opposing viewpoint has not thought about things intelligently or has not looked at the facts. Let's see which side has lacked intelligent thought.

    I would like to respond to a few things.

    First, in regards to mine and Jubilant James' use of sarcasm, I think it is appropriate given SKidfest's ironic choice of charity. With Newark's rising crime problem, it is humorous to think that stopping the problem begins with educating those ALREADY in prison. While criminals are in jail being "rehabilitated", crimes are being committed by people that have yet to be incarcerated. Books through Bars does not deter people from committing crimes the first time. So, your premise that the inability to access education in prison leads to a cycle of incarceration is flawed. It ignores the perpetual cycle of NEW criminals. There were always be a steady inflow of new criminals since we are not educating people before they commit the crimes. Books through Bars assumes that educating people BEFORE they become criminals is hopeless.
    to reiterate:

    your view:
    kid from a bad neighborhood ----> commits crime ----> goes to jail ---> gets educated ----> smaller chance of repeat incarceration

    improved view:
    kid from a bad neighborhood ----> gets educated ----> smaller chance of committing first crime.

    So, my argument would be that Books through Bars should channel its efforts to typical criminal breeding grounds like bad neighborhoods. I can't believe Books though Bars missed the whole concept of actually stopping crime.

    With that said, looking at the BTB's mission statement has become a lot more clear to me. It quotes "We work to reverse the dehumanizing effects excessive punishment inflicts upon individuals, families and communities." Ding Ding Ding!, i mentioned this in my first post. It IS a charity that sympathizes with prisoners. Delacrat mentioned "Conservatives are against this charity because on first judgment they smell liberalism about it." It's not liberalism, it's raining left wing extremism. "Excessive punishment"? "Reverse the Dehumanizing effects"? Maybe someone forgot to tell Books through Bars that prisoners are convicted offenders not innocent orphan children. It makes me sick to my stomach that BTB feels prisoners as a whole are being excessively punished and dehumanized. Classic example of transferring victimizer status to victim. Way to go BTB! somebody had to help those poor, poor convicts.

    People of SKid Row, what was your thought process? "Hmmm there are so many charities to choose from....AIDS.....Cancer.....Starving children......wait, I know!...convicts!!" The scary thing is, my sarcasm is probably not far from the truth.

    Delacrat said "(BTW, sorry you were too busy drinking your face off to care about where your 5 dollars was going - next time stop and look at the literature and materials we have, or even notice the tshirts we produced which sports the charity's name)." I had always thought charity was charity. I mean who would really stop to evaluate the charity's pros and cons before attending your festival. One should assume a good cause is a good cause. Who would've thought SKid Row stopped a step short of educating al-qaeda terrorists in Guantanamo Bay. For now on, i'll have to be skeptical of charity fundraisers because as Jubilant James put it, SKidfest made fools of us all.

  • At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Rodney said…

    When I requested you to leave out mentions of Ms. Bonistall, I should have been more clear. Bringing up Al-Qaeda demonstates the same agenda, pursued by those who lack the ability to eloquently present an argument. You are unable to respond to my post (see 'anonymous' above), so you call us terrorists. This goes for sarcasm as well. I didn't say it was inappropriate, I say it illustrates you inability to make a constructive argument, which you attempt to mask by sarcastic harping on irrelevant issues. You worry about situations you construct involving murderers and rapists and act like that disproves the fact that people in prison should have access to educational material. You deny the link between poverty and sub-par education, and the link between sub-par education and crime. We are not saying BTB is the solution to the world's woes. We are saying that its a charitable organization that we believe in, needs financial support, and would benefit from our gift. You listed a number of worthy charities, all of which we have donated to recently. AIDS, Cancer, Aetna, and Toys for Tots included. This semester, it was BTB, a charity trying to help educate the downtrodden of society. I agree heartily that we must also educate people before they are sent to jail for selling weed on the street. Plenty of charities do in fact do this. We also believe that it should not stop once one is arrested for selling drugs, but very few charities do this, and those that do are in dire need of charitable people.That it why we chose BTB, and we're all thrilled to have made a positive impact on the lives of human beings.

  • At 11:44 PM, Blogger American Sean said…

    I don't have much time to waste on this again so I will sum it up real quick.

    rodney said, "You are unable to respond to my post." Wrong, I explained why we should not support prisoners education because the system is both flawed and will reach many despicable people. You said, "You deny the link between poverty and sub-par education, and the link between sub-par education and crime." Wrong, you did not read my post, I agree with this link. I then I offered the proper alternative to solving the problem,

    "kid from a bad neighborhood(poverty, sub-par ecuation,the downtrodden) ----> gets educated (books through schools instead of bars, money to bad neighborhoods) ----> smaller chance of committing first crime." I took the link and improved your solution, see.

    I CAN use an emotionally charged situation to characterize a portion of your target group because it is REALITY. Your charity REALLY WILL be used to educate prisoners that murder innocent women.
    Rodney said, "We also believe that it should not stop once one is arrested for selling drugs." Why didn't you
    include murderers and rapists in that statement? Because you still choose to believe that your target group is more innocent than it is. These people are beneficiaries of your charity so they can be used to bolster my argument. If you wish non-violent offenders to be the sole receivers of your donation, start a charity that does just that. BTB would bother me a whole lot less if the donations only went to non-violent first time petty crime offenders.

    I'll admit a coke addict can become an ex-coke addict and become successful in life. There is no such thing as an ex-rapist or ex-murderer. Schoolbook education and dictionaries are not a remedy for those with defective minds. Yes, they have defective minds. I wonder if you will argue that point.

    -I did not ignore your post and accuse you of being a terrorist.
    -This is not a denial that lesser offenders can benefit from education. Although I still think they shouldn't receive it but I will concede to you here.
    -Your charity will still reach rapists and murderers and that DOES make BTB a rediculous cause
    -BTB's mission is to 'reverse the dehumanization of excessive punishment'. Prisoner punishment is well-deserved. The charity is off-the-charts left-wing by stating that.
    -The charity's beneficiaries and an alternative method to improve the charity are NOT irrelevant topics
    -I AGREE with the link between poverty and sub-par education, and the link between sub-par education and crime. Educating people who already commit crimes is an inefficient, ineffective way of preventing crime and helping people. It is also horrific.
    -Al qaeda terrorists and muderers are the same, I can interchange them to prove my point.
    -Emotionally charged situations demonstrate the reality and character of the charity's beneficiaries. You attack this to deny reality.
    -Reduce the beneficial reach to non-violent petty offenders and I'll be willing to concede that this charity can pass a sanity a test.

  • At 12:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Please no more of this childish nonsense!!! You Republicans will never concede shit to an open-minded liberal and will continue with your scare tactics (a la Fox News and Dubya) until Doomsday. And to the Dems: you are all wayyy too liberal and out-spoken right now. Just chill out and stop playing into the stupid games that Republicans play in order to pass their boring, meaningless lives. This debate is no longer a debate--it's simply become the re-statement and re-statement and re-statment of the same credos from both sides! Enough already! I enjoy reading a healthy debate every now and again, but this is no longer a debate and has become quite the ridiculous spectacle! Skidfest is over and your $5 is gone--deal with it.

  • At 1:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Agreed that the arguments are simply being restated. To me, the real underlying issuse has to do with our penal system. Right now, we use an ineffective combination of trying to rehabilitate criminals and trying to punish them. You can't do both...they are mutually exclusive. We need to decide (probably depending on the severity of the crime and/or on a case-by-case basis) which criminals are capable of being rehabilitated. Obviously, people who are in jail for life will not need to be reintegrated into society. These people can spend the rest of their lives contemplating their crimes and being made to feel miserable for commiting them. The small-time drug dealers, the people in for DWIs...these people will need to come back into society, preferably as productive members. They should receive counseling (not to make them feel like the victims, but to help them learn how to function in society), they should receive education, they should receive basic job training, and anything else they need to become reintegrated as productive members of society. These are the sorts of criminals who would benefit from the Books Through Bars program and others like it. The underlying problem needs to be adressed in terms of identifying which criminals will benefit from them, though. However, it is also necessary, as the others mentioned, to try to prevent the problem before it starts by improving the education quality in poor neighborhoods.

  • At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A level-headed gentleperson. Well done, Z.

  • At 12:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    this is absurd. to hell with this system, and to hell with anyone who wants to support the murderer of lindsey bonistall. the entire legal system in america isn't supposed to be about education. it is about being punished for a crime that you have committed. every person makes their own choice. it is not society's fault when some psycho desides to murder or rape an innocent individual. these people shouldn't even be given the excuse that "society" or their upbringing are at fault. thats the point of prison. instead of simply eliminating each felon, they are given the opportunity of rehabilitation. while to many pseudo-enlightened, prison does not seem like a rehabilitation center, being abused to the point where one would fear committing the crime they did again is valid punishment. everyone can say that stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving family is a necessary evil, but to help people who've murdered and raped innocent people is beyond me. its a self serving cause, and i am ashamed to see this on a delaware political website.


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