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Martha Talks
November 1, 2004
by David Brown

As expected, Martha Stewart has adjusted quite easily to life in the big house. After one week in Alderson, a minimum security federal prison camp in West Virginia, Martha posted a message on her website stating, “The camp is fine; it is pretty much what I anticipated. The best news – everyone is nice – both the officials and my fellow inmates. I have adjusted and am very busy. The camp is like an old-fashioned college campus – without the freedom, of course.”

Martha has also been busy making new friends across the internet, as displayed on a prisoner pen pal website. The following is correspondence between Martha Stewart and Mujabi Muhammad, a prisoner at Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:

Dear Mujabi,

My name is Martha Stewart, and I am writing from a prison camp in the United States. I am quite famous in America. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? I control a media empire worth many millions of dollars. But I have been sent to prison for some business deals that the government said were illegal. I have protested my innocence in court and in the media, but the government refused to believe me and decided to make an example of me instead. But perhaps I’m preaching to the choir. :)

After dropping my appeal and beginning to serve my sentence (5 months!) I decided to really get into the whole incarceration experience. I want to write a book and think I need to draw on the experiences of other prisoners as well as my own travails. Certainly the plight of you and your fellow “mujahadeen” has garnered a great deal of attention lately. So I figured you could provide a unique perspective on prison life.

How are you doing? What is your cell like? Are the guards nice? What about the other inmates? Do you have access to recent newspapers and magazines, or are you stuck with National Geographics from 20 years ago (like one inmate in Illinois I heard from)? What do they feed you? Are they respectful of your religious beliefs? What is the hardest thing about being imprisoned (besides the obvious lack of freedom)? What is the best thing about prison (i.e., lots of time to read, working out, weight loss because you don’t get the chance to snack, etc.)? Do you have any interesting or funny anecdotes about prison life at Guantanamo?

I also want to focus on the harsh realities of prison life, not just the more positive aspects. So don’t hesitate to write about those difficult moments of hopelessness and desperation (fortunately I haven’t had any of those yet—it’s only been three weeks!). Writing can be therapeutic (another benefit of incarceration). I encourage you to pour your heart out to me, and let me tell the world. I think you will find this exercise to be enlightening and fun, yet also difficult. But most of all, I think by taking inventory of your feelings you will learn to embrace the hope that you can get on with your life at the end of your sentence. Please include the length of your sentence and your release date, assuming good behavior. :)

I wish you the best and look forward to hearing from you.

Your prison pen pal,

Martha Stewart

P.S. I have enclosed three cartons of cigarettes. Some of my supporters keep sending them to me, and I don’t smoke (although I suspect that some of these “supporters” are actually jokesters, but that’s neither here nor there). Plus, at my facility they really aren’t traded as currency as in other institutions. We all earn money for our labor (raking leaves, cleaning the gameroom, etc.) that we can keep and use in the cafeteria and sundry shop. So smoke ‘em now that you got ‘em! Hope you like menthol.

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Martha,

You American scum. You take me away from my home country and lock me in this hell pit filled with the stench of a thousand rotting pig carcasses baking in the desert. You give me no access to a lawyer, no hope of a trial, and no way of contacting my family or anyone else. I may never leave. I don’t have a “release date.” And I sure as hell didn’t receive the cigarettes you allegedly sent. And if you did send them, they are no doubt being smoked by the infidel guards that routinely harass, torture and shame me for their own pleasure.

Have you heard of Rage Against the Machine? Well, I never had. Until I was forced to listen to their debut album at deafening volume for 14 STRAIGHT HOURS. Oh, and did I mention that during this listening session my wrists were shackled to my ankles, I was naked, and the AC was cranked at full blast so that what is left of my testicles was dripping icicles?

And speaking of my testicles…I used to have hair on them. But apparently 200 volts of electricity can do some strange things to hair follicles. Now I’m as bald down there as an infant. Perhaps you’ve seen the photos on the Internet. I’ve been told my family has, along with the entire population of Fayetteville, North Carolina.

You make me sick. I don’t know what kind of prison camp you’re in, but it doesn’t sound like you have to urinate and defecate in front of guards of the opposite sex. I get to do this almost every day! Perhaps I can build a birdhouse for you out of the feces that routinely lands in my cell from the other inmates that toss it around like pebbles at the stone pillars of Mecca.

Good luck with your book. You are the devil.

Mujabi Muhammad

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Mujabi,

I found the tone of your letter to be more than a bit dark and antagonistic. I am simply trying to write an honest account of prison life. I understand that things are tough in prison. I’m in prison, remember? And I understand that I asked you to pour your heart out to me. But you ignored many of my questions and cursed me as if I had something to do with your imprisonment. Perhaps you are innocent (as am I, remember?). But I am here, and you are there, and there’s precious little either of us can do about it. So why not make better use of the time than writing vile letters of hate?

I think I have heard enough of the hardships you have faced. Now how about enlightening me about some of the more positive aspects of your incarceration. Have you made new friends? Have you had more time to study the Koran or perhaps even the Bible? Surely there must be something. Search deep within your heart, and I am confident you will find it.

Sincerely,

Martha

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Martha,

Your letters brighten my day like the glistening stream of urine being poured over my head by one of the criminal guards here, as happened yesterday.

I apologize for my tone, but my life here has been an eternity of pain and suffering. I understand that you are an important person in America, despite your legal problems. Please help me. Please do whatever you can to get me out of here. I need a lawyer. Can you find me one? Can you speak to someone in the government about the brutal conditions and torture at this prison? I will do anything to get out of here. I know you are a kind woman and would do anything to help another human being in pain.

I am desperate. You are my only hope. Please...

Mujabi

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Dear Mujabi,

I know things are tough, but we have to let the process work. When I took my company public, it was a much harder road than most people think. There were endless meetings with venture capitalists, many of whom assaulted me with questions about the long-term viability of this venture. Many of them turned their backs on me, like Judas. And yet we were wildly successful! Even with my legal problems, the company is still doing well. They all wish they had come on board. And now their lives are as dark and miserable as they ever were, and will forever be. I had my revenge. You shall have yours. It will just take time and persistence. Hang in there. I know the powers-that-be in Washington are working out the details of your trial or even your release, depending on how useful you have been to interrogators and how dangerous they think you still might be.

So focus on the future. That’s what I do. When I get out of this camp, I’m going to come back with a furious vengeance. People will see how strong I am, how this doesn’t even bother me in the SLIGHTEST! The U.S. Attorney’s office had better WATCH THEIR BACK. I will show my stockholders, my board, my employees, my fans, my detractors, the government and the world that you cannot drag me down without invoking my WRATH! SOME WILL PAY, BUT ALL WILL GENUFLECT BEFORE THE ALTAR OF MARTHA STEWART!!!!

Your comrade,

Martha

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Martha,

I must ask you to discontinue your correspondence. You’re starting to frighten me, and I am afraid any association with you could jeopardize my release. I support the U.S. government and harbor no ill-will towards them or the citizens of the United States. Praise be to Allah, and peace be with you and the people of America.

Mujabi

(David Brown is a staff writer for 2 Walls Webzine and has never really seen a prisoner pen pal website.)


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