By Frank Moher
It takes a village to rehabilitate a criminal, and I’m afraid we’ve all been failing Conrad Black. His chief enabler is The National Post, for which I have been known to write myself. The Post has given Prisoner #18330-424 a column, thus allowing him to maintain the delusion that he remains a man of position, and to reiterate his belief that he has done nothing wrong. I doubt that many of his readers are persuaded, but, as any cognitive therapist will tell you, constantly repeating distorted thoughts to oneself is a sure recipe for lunacy.
In his latest missive from Coleman correctional facility, Prisoner #18330-424 begins with a few self-deprecating remarks about his circumstance, which suggests there is hope for him yet. At least I think he does; I had supposed for awhile that writing for a newspaper was forcing concision and lucidity upon his prose, in a way that his seigneurial contributions to old Saturday Night magazine never did, but now I’m not so sure. “I am also prepared to commit the moral authority gained by my present residential perspective in an authentic laboratory of the American Dream,” he writes, “both of the Jeffersonian call to the pursuit of happiness, and of the constitutional right to the blessings of liberty.” Wait, is he actually saying that being a victim of prosecutors, judges, juries, et al. confers upon him greater moral authority? Who knows?
Regardless, he later uses the article to offer some stock tips: “I put in a buy order last week for some shares in Bank of America, Brookfield, General Electric and News Corporation — whose chairman, my dear friend Rupert Murdoch, demonstrated” oh never mind. It’s unclear how Mr. Black, in using the Post to promote these stocks, is different from fraudsters who use the internet to inflate the worth of penny stocks. This raises the possibility that, far from being rehabilitated, the prisoner is continuing to conduct criminal activities from his 9×8 foot living space.
He is not aided in his recovery by the “large number of readers and followers of these events” from whom he claims to receive regular “encouragement.” I’d discount his claim, except that many of these supporters are present in the comments section following his column. Some share his prose style — “A corrupt judicial system has as its first line of defence the suppression of all due process of an illuminatory and reform nature” — some his difficulty with the proper use of a semi-colon: “Wonderful to read Lord Blacks [sic] commentary; from history to today’s difficulties.” All are doing him a disservice. They are joined by such prominent co-dependents as Mark Steyn and Barbara Amiel, who you’d think would have an interest in hastening the prisoner’s return to society.
Will Baron Black of Coleman eventually face a parole board? (I confess to being less knowledgeable about the prison system than he.) If so, someone should remind him that a show of remorse and acknowledgment of misdoing is usually a necessary condition of early release. Meantime, I beg my sometime bosses at the Post to help this man by taking his column away. Perhaps, if you really feel obliged to employ him, because he started the paper or whatever, he could review new DVD releases or live blog episodes of “Lost.” Anything to end his filibustering for the defence. And if you’ve really become attached to this Dispatches from the Big House idea (it does have a certain frisson to it — kind of like having Jean Genet write for you), well, Phil Spector is now available. He knows a lot about music. And he’s so bat-shit crazy, he’ll probably never be rehabilitated.