“Nouvelle Observateur” Interview

R. If you were going to die in a week, what would be the ultimate thing that you would take care of?

Jones. That’s a pretty hard question, being that I have an enormous commitment to people, a large number of people that I would be responsible for. That would be enormously hard for me to answer. I want to give as much time to the people I love, not just limited to my “nuclear family,” it’s a much larger scope. There would be a priority. My children. I have adopted many, and have one natural born. I try to live every day as if it might be the last. Death is a reality. To a controversial person, it’s a vivid reality all the time, so I try, when I pass people, my children, my companion, others… I try to extend as much love as I can every day because I would want to be sure that they knew I loved them as much as humanly possible to love. I deeply want them to know that. I try to do that on a daily basis because sometimes one doesn’t have a week. So I guess built in to me is the thought I could die any time.

R. What’s love?

Jones. It’s genuine concern for people. I’ve try to overcome needing people; it’s a terrible burden. I haven’t overcome it but I try not to impose my needs on others. There are a lot of people who are needy, so I try to be one of those persons who can respond to need as much as possible. And you never do it as adequately as you feel it should be done.

R. Don’t you think that somebody can be an (asset?) to somebody else as far as needs are concerned?

Jones. Not totally, but you can help them. You can live to help them. Help them in terms of finding solutions within themselves. I don’t believe in building very strong dependencies. I don’t want to build in the dependencies at all, if I can avoid that.

R. How can you escape them? Thousands of people depend on you, I mean, a good many…

Jones. I don’t escape it. But I would like to, because, if I died, I wouldn’t want anyone to suffer hurt or pain any more than necessary. That’s why I am trying to develop an institution that greatly functions without my presence.

R. How is the ideal country that you would dream about?

Jones. A country that has a greater share of the wealth. Thank you for asking that. You’re sensitive. I would consider ideal a country where race made no difference, where whether a person believed in God or didn’t believe in God would be irrelevant. A country where there was equal opportunity, but a great deal of sharing resources… that’s idealistic and utopian, I’m sure. But that would be my ideal. I would be happy to live in a society where I had a lot less than anyone else if I can see everyone else having enough.

R. How do you see yourself in 10 years?

Jones. Probably dead. I think at the pace I go, it’s a possibility. I worked very extensively, have threats of my life from the Nazis, and threats of my life from the Ku Klux Klan, threats of my life from even certain militants of the far Left as well as the far Right. I think it’s plausible that some time, someone will get me.

R. … unselfish attitude – you must look after yourself because people need you.

Jones. I try to do that and yet I am not doing it well enough. And yet when someone comes with needs, so many crises come from every angle, you don’t know where to say “no.” It’s very hard to develop boundaries, but you’re quite right… I have no argument for that. I think I get by with a lot less rest than most people can. I think that’s been proven.

R. You get two hours…

Jones. But two hours are not enough, not now. I think earlier in my life it was not that important, but now, I am beginning to feel it.

R. If a good fairy came to you with a magic wand, and said you could have three goals, what would they be, right now?

Jones. Three goals. Oh my… idealistic goals or realistic goals?

R. Realistic.

Jones. First, I like to see a world that would not have to live underneath the shadow of nuclear war, the sword of Damocles; second, a world free from hunger; third, a world where there’s happiness. And I don’t think that comes from material things alone. Genuine happiness would have to develop out of tolerance, understanding…

R. Do you ever make mistakes?

Jones. Not every minute.

R. What was the biggest one?

Jones. That’s very difficult when you make many.

R. But what was the worst thing you ever did?

Jones. That was probably not to stand up publicly and denounce Senator McCarthy earlier than I did. For the sake of the family… not to protect myself. But I let him get by with too much. Even though I was one of the earlier ones to denounce him, it wasn’t early enough. That was the worst thing, because he almost led the nation into a menacing, cruel kind of fascism.

R. What about I was saying, just for the storybook, how do you see what will happen with the Indian people in this country?

Jones. It depends. If we continue to build, to evolve into a more democratic society, acceptance will take place. If we have an economic turn for the worse, I can see that we could have fascism. We have a rising trend of racism. You mentioned seeing 63 Nazis gathered together in the most liberal area of America. It’s been clearly presented what Hitler did. But we would have a faculty member of Northwestern University who published a book but denies that the Holocaust ever took place. It’s called The Hoax of the Twentieth Century. This book is a popular demand, and is being circulated by many right wing groups. It just depends upon which way things go. I have a feeling that no nation is immune to fascism. No nation is immune to the kinds of things Hitler did, partially as a result of public apathy. Germans right next door to the concentration camps said they didn’t know what was happening. It’s hard for me to conceive of that, but I think it’s possible for people to rationalize…

R. I was wondering with the Indian… I did not see any answers when I came back from (name of reservation). It was very heavy…

Jones. Very heavy. When we helped Dennis Banks, we did what we could, but it was only a drop in the bucket. Even $20,000 is a drop in the bucket.

R. Well, still it’s a big thing.

Jones. Kind of you to say so. But in terms of the many Indians living on reservations, living in a paternalistic society, it’s very difficult. It could be that we will see the disappearance of the Native American as we’re seeing in Brazil and many other parts of the world.

R. What is happening in the city that makes you really mad?

Jones. Racism makes me very mad. Indifference by those that have so much property. The International Hotel situation, where people for 40 years have lived in one place. It’s owned by a corporation that’s been rumored to receive their funds from tax dollars that were given to aid people in the Far East, then that money ends up in the hands of people it was not intended for. They come over here and buy property, dispossess elderly, then go to the extent of using the machinery of the law and the courts to uphold it. I guess I am more incensed that there’s still a prevalent attitude that we should put property rights above human rights.

R. If you’d like to go somewhere else, away from America, where would you go?

Jones. South America, carve out a little community there. Far away from civilized society. Impossible, really. An island in the sea someplace that hasn’t been noted on any particular map, if you could find it.

R. But the least you would re-create what you have here; at least I hope you would.

Jones. I would. I didn’t mean I would go it alone.

R.  Who was the most impressive person you ever met?

Jones. The one that comes immediately to mind is Laura Allende, because she’s the most recent. It deeply inspired me to see her give of herself so freely here when she was in much obvious pain. It was very touching to realize that she had three speaking engagements the day she came here, and yet, when she found that she could speak to over 3000 people, she insisted that she must take that opportunity for the sake of her fellow country people who were being tortured in Chile. She touched me very profoundly. She’s a very committed human being.

R. What do you think of women’s lib?

Jones. I think it’s important that women be liberated. I would have liked to have seen some of those middle-class women work a little harder to have liberated some black people, some poor whites, some Indians, too. I think it’s all very important. The liberation of women leads to the liberation of men. I think the woman has a right to be freed from the image the man’s world has created for her.

R. You mean, no dependency at all?

Jones. Well, if that’s your choice. She has the right to be what she wants to be. I believe a person has a right to their own sexual preferences, their own sexual orientation.

R. Should be aware of what she wants to be…

Jones. Right, to be what she wants to be. That’s what I mean by her emancipation. She has a right to be what she perceives as her role – not what men project on to her.

R. If she knows, if she is going to find out what she wants to be, how do you suggest that she go about knowing what she wants to be?

Jones. Well, I guess it helps to talk with others.

R. Women’s education…

Jones. It’s very difficult; it’s quite a man’s world still. So I think that the liberation movements are very important, for women to get together and decide their own types of programs to study. This would be true for every society. It’s not only Western society that has this problem. It exists in the non-Western, socialist world. There is an overemphasis on the male in all facets. Religion. Even making God a “he.” Who knows if that is so? Deity could be feminine, although an even greater question, beyond the gender of God, is the question the very existence of Deity.

R. Did you ever think about writing your memoirs?

Jones. I’m not a good enough writer to write memoirs. No, not a sufficient writer to do that. I think that a lot of people have written while about their lives, and history has plenty of good guidelines if we would study and follow them.

R. But what about the people writing about uninteresting lives? It’s not because they’re good that they can write a good book. You’ve had a fascinating life; you could write a fascinating book.

Jones. You have to have the skill to write, though.

R. I know, but aren’t you scared of writing a book?

Jones. Well, I couldn’t write a book that would be worth reading.

R. Oh, but you would write it with someone, but don’t you think you have a lot to give people at the level of a book?

Jones. I don’t know. You’d have to know that. I think that we have Martin Luther King. We’ve done very little to emulate him. We have Cesar Chavez. Very few people know him though he is so widely exposed. Dennis Banks is a good man. There are a lot of people we could start with before me. I’m not that widely known. I’m thinking of utility, too. I think it’s a shame that more wasn’t exposed of the life of a person like Dennis Banks, because his commitment (and his wife’s), is very tremendous. A book about them would be really fascinating. A more isolated in one area of the nation, though I minister in other places. I wonder how many people are reading, though. I hope to reading more than I anticipate.

R. You mean, in a general way?

Jones. Yes, in a general way.

R. Well, the world is reading.

Jones. Well, it may be in France. I don’t know.

R. Yeah, I don’t know the average. I think the world reads a lot.

Jones. I hear different newspeople, and they give me different answers – perspectives. Most I’ve met lately are wondering about it, at least. The “boob tube,” the television – is almost creating an addiction. I notice that reading is decreasing. I’ve seen some statistics, I can’t quote them offhand, but reading has significantly decreased since the age of television.

R. In France, they become, they start to get addicted to TV, but it’s not as bad as here.

Jones. Children watch 4-5 hours a day…

R. What do you think irritate you when you meet someone? Sometimes we get one feeling out of somebody. What stands out in your mind?

Jones. I’ve overcome that. I don’t make immediate reactions to people anymore. I’ve learned, from too many mistakes, that it is very bad business to make an ideal judgment. We can’t know all our own subjective reactions. I may react to a person because they subconsciously reminded me of a teacher I had in school. I’m careful not to let that bar me from going on. I don’t think I’m critically irritated.

R. But deep down, there must be something, even if you overcome it, I’m sure you do.

Jones. Well, it’s now looks or appearance. When a person opens his mouth and comes out with crass insensitivity about people, about the aged, or race, or shows intolerance – that bothers me. I think we need a great deal of tolerance and our society. I’m motivated heterosexually, and I don’t have any homosexual and need that I am aware of, but recently someone made a crack about a gay person – that infuriated me. I don’t think that sexual persuasion or orientation has a damn thing to do with what a person is. I don’t think that it should enter in. I don’t like these jokes about people. And there’s a lot of it in America. Particularly some males are so insecure about their own sexuality that they have to make comments.

R. In this country, I’ve seen females insecure. If I was a man, I could not stand the general… they just present them so dumb, they just emasculate them. This was my general, I’ve been here three years.

Jones. You got a better perspective than I because we’re insulated. Here it is not the case. The church is sort of a world within a world. The women are not that way in this congregation, so you would see more of that than I.

R. How do you relax?

Jones. With my children, with my wife. A little reading. Sex. I don’t like television very much. Occasionally. Roots was interesting, and a documentary or two.

R. I gave Tim Carter the address of a kind of friend of mine who is vice president of Walpole production company, who produced Roots. He also made this movie about Chief Joseph. American producer, very wealthy, warm, sensitive guy. I suggest you send every kind of material you have about the church here, and I shall write him. He’s always a good… a good man. If someday he is here, I really wish he would stop by and say hello. Who knows? As I was saying, this place could make a tremendous documentary.

Jones. It could. I was asking because if it could, it would be worthwhile. How did you heard of us, by the way? I didn’t realize we were…

R. Cecil.

Jones. Oh, Cecil. I like Cecil.

R. I was here for Martin Luther King Day.

Jones. Well, you know my philosophy. You’ve heard it.

R. You are a very scary person.

Jones. I’m scary? Oh, dear, I don’t want to be scary!

R. I don’t know if you know it or not, but you are.

Jones. In what way? Elaborate. I’m interested.

R. Strength. Real genuine strength. It’s scary. It’s a huge tool…

Jones. It can be used for good or for evil.

R. You are sensitive. But, it’s beautiful.

Jones. You’re quite correct. Strength is beautiful. But, of course, Hitler had strength, too.

R. Yeah, but his sickness was as big as the amount of strength that he had, you could feel that.

Jones. I don’t understand German but I could sense it in his delivery. It’s very hard at least for me to determine a good person from a bad person, unless I understand the language. Fidel Castro is a strong person, I think a good person. He may be more autocratic than some would prefer. I can’t ascertain that. I know Cuba… it’s a good solution for the Cuban people. There’s a general state of well-being there. But Castro, when he’s wound up, and Hitler when he was wound up – it was very hard if you didn’t understand the language to know the enormous difference.

R. But still you get some vibration from them…

Jones. I was just thinking that the general public would have some difficulty with strength – so I’m “scary,” I suppose. I don’t like to be. It’s too bad.

R. Well, I think it’s about power, and you are a very powerful person.

Jones. I wish people could see me as a good person, because I am a good person. Power…

R. Goodness is scary too. It’s rare and everything rare to me is scary.

Jones. I love to find good people and I’m sure you’re not scared of finding good people. You must find so many that are not; you’re glad to find good people.

R. What’s a good person?

Jones. Well, a person that’s got their ego under some control, you know, and is willing to live and let live. Some people have such insatiable ego, a desire for power. I think the only person who’s capable of leading is someone that doesn’t like leaving. Really doesn’t basically like it. Then that person may be capable of being a representative of the people. I wish to see people someday moving on one level. I’m afraid of strong leaders. Strong leaders can be very dangerous. They can lead us to demagoguery. You got to know your own mind. You got to be aware of what’s going on in your ego. Know yourself.

R. How can you protect yourself against a huge ego trip but logically everybody can expect to find and obviously you don’t, I mean you’re not on it.

Jones. I’m glad you’re sensitive to that. Because so many people – it troubles me when they come here, they expect me to be on that kind of trip. I think it’s very difficult for us to see if someone else what’s not in ourselves. Most difficult. And the people have difficulty envisioning that I’m not getting something out of a leadership role. All I’m getting out of this is pain, which I’d like to be free of. I can honestly say, if I had anyone who could take my place today, I would welcome it, that would be my greatest ambition. To just get relief from the sense of being needed. I want to be needed, but not so much. Too many needs coming at me from too many directions, and I can’t cope with all of them. I try but I know I’m not coping with them as well as I should. How do you prevent ego trips? Well, if you look at history and see people who’ve done the greatest good, they all end up in the same place – the grave. Life’s very short, at the best. I don’t know how people can feel so important. The greatest souls have been wiped out. The most powerful people have been wiped out. I really can’t imagine… the greatest movements, the most popular leaders, popular one day and in disfavor the next. Take Jesus Christ: one week they were going to crown him king of kings and god of gods, and the next week they crucified him. I think if anyone would look at history, it would be easy to stay out of an ego trip.

R. That’s easy for you… is there anything in this, anything that you did not do yet that you would like to do?

Jones. Travel. I like to see a lot more the world. Meet more people, as long as they didn’t need me too much. I get involved, every time I get someplace. I think in America we should have some guilt because we are living in the affluence that the Third World, the less privileged have helped to create, and that has also been somewhat brought about by multinationals that have not handled their responsibilities in the kindliest in the fairest manner.

R. Where you think about traveling, you say you miss traveling…

Jones. A number of places. Europe, China, Soviet Union, Scandinavia, the Arab republics, Israel. Not in that order necessarily. The whole world. I don’t want to see more people hungry. India. I don’t think I could handle that right now. I see enough pain, enough suffering. I don’t want to see any more pain for little while. Maybe later I’ll go to India if I have to.

R. Describe to me one of your days – what did you do today? Seven AM on…

Jones. What can I do today? Counsel the woman going to commit suicide; talk to someone who was on drugs; talk to someone else who wanted to leave her husband; dealt with a host of problems I couldn’t go into. Tried to get the newspaper distribution worked out. I went on radio show for an hour. I interviewed with five reporters. I talked with Public Advocates of what we could do about a number of problems, discrimination in the police department, discrimination on the various levels of the community, International Hotel, which seems to still not have a legal resolution; we got a postponement but there are a lot of things left to be done. I met with a group of truckers who felt they were not getting fair treatment in the mayor’s office. I met with another group, NAACP, and Cecil Williams, on another matter to talk to the mayor about. I met with a group of commissioners on housing. I wrote letters from one till six and have not been to bed since sometime Monday night. I didn’t lay down last night. Numb. Got the best time for you, I’m sorry that you have to interview me now because I’m not as quick, you know. I’d be upstairs dealing with business otherwise. But that’s all right, you’re a nice person, so it’s no problem. I like to be probed. It’s good for the mind to have people ask you questions. Introspection, self analysis is good, but others asking their very pointed questions… and you asked very good questions.

R. What did you say to the woman who wanted to commit suicide?

Jones. Well, it was a pretty complex situation. Children involved, husband involved, so I had to put a little bit of responsibility on her, she didn’t feel she was needed. She felt like he could live without her, which was grossly ridiculous. Her husband too busy, and the children making their natural growth; it just appeared that they were getting along without her. I agreed to meet with the family and help to have some interchange so that she could better realize. That’s just the basic thing, I put her in the hands of three other counselors to follow-up on the situation. So I’m not really in touch with what’s happening right now. But that’s initially what I told her I could do. I assured her from things I knew about the man, he is not a member of the church, that he did care for her very much but that he was very preoccupied with business and pressures.

R. What is from your point of view the number one problem of American people?

Jones. I see the general problem of apathy, unwillingness to get involved. I also see the pressure of economics being severe. Yet, we’re not as pressured in that sense, as many cultures which seem to have more warmth for each other, more cordiality. Our big problem, dangers for the future of democracy, is that we’re an apathetic people.

R. How do you expect people to be able to be awakened?

Jones. Media has a great responsibility. There has to be more stimulation from the media. Televisions got to be filled with something more than just action serials. In television, a nice word for violence is “action serials.” Religion is too futuristic, too involved in speculation about what the next world’s going to be, irrelevant to the problems here and now.

R. And losing the real…

Jones. Humanism. The humanism is lost.

R. How do you see young people, under twenty, how do you picture them?

Jones. I have a very great deal of pain for them because the future is very bleak. Many world scientists think we’re not going to make it through the thermonuclear age. I don’t know one nuclear scientist who doesn’t say we are somewhere in the eleventh, near the midnight hour. We’ve got overpopulation and food shortages before us. It’s very difficult, not to mention that some 90% of the world is under one form of dictatorship or another. I have a great deal of compassion for young people. It’s not easy being young.

R. Is there anybody in the world that’s political, actor, writer, whatever, that you would like to meet?

Jones. Sartre.

R. Why?

Jones. Well, I just heard many good things about the man from a distance. In recent times, I’ve been too involved, my reading is not up to what it ought to be because of just being involved so much in human service work, but he fascinated me. He’s taken very important stands on behalf of oppressed people. When you mentioned “writer” he came to mind. I don’t know that he would be the most important person I would want to meet.

R. Who would you like to meet?

Jones. I guess I refuse to testify on the grounds that it might tend to incriminate me.

R. Let’s talk a little bit about your family, your children.

Jones. Had 10, most adopted, some are grown. We have four still in the home, the others are grown, one was killed in a very tragic accident in 1960.

R. How old is the oldest?

Jones. I think 27. My wife and I adopted her when we were very young.

R. And how old is the youngest?

Jones. About 16.

R. What do you wish for your children?

Jones. The same thing I mentioned for the world. Peace. To be able to live in a society where they can plan for the future, with no dangers of oppressive government. To have enough to sustain a good life. To be able to pursue the kind of education or career they wished to. But I wish that the whole world.

R. Yes, that’s right. There’s a heavy drug problem in America, a lot of kids who have used dope. What kind of direction would you give the kid who came to you with that problem?

Jones. I would try to get them involved in the sense of community that we have. If they really involved with the pusher, we often suggest that they get clear away, and one means of getting away is our agricultural project which is in South America.

R. Yeah, they mentioned that to me. It sounds beautiful.

Jones. It is. There we’ve had the most difficult cases – they seem to find a new life, 100 per cent. We’ve had no recidivism.

R. Not at all? Not one?

Jones. I’m an environmental determinist. I’ll tell you why. We have had the most difficult cases you could ever imagine in your born days, some of the more impossible. The courts had given up on them. Social service agencies had given up on them, and said “get them out of here or were going to put them in jail.” One was a kleptomaniac, one a child molester, another so psychotic that he was even labeled psychotic. I’m not a psychologist, and I don’t know exactly what the dynamics of it are, but new opportunity, new horizons, being away from old associations, and being given love and support have just made all the difference. I’m talking about people who have gone two years without recidivism. I’m not including those people who we’ve sent in the past 3 or 4 months. It’s too soon to make a judgment on them, though the signs are that they all are going to come through beautifully.

R. How do you see the influence of psychoanalysis here in this country? Everybody goes to the psychoanalyst. How do you feel about that?

Jones. I think that they ought to get a heavy indoctrination of some of the people who are giving much of their life for others. When listening to Laura Allende a few weeks ago, I was experiencing a little heart trouble – a fibrillation. I looked at her, and suddenly, I said to myself, “why, damn you, Jim Jones, you’re worrying too much about your problem.” My ulcer disappeared in 3 or 4 days and my heart went back to normal, regular beat. I think we contemplate our navel too much in this country. All this occultism, interest in yoga…

R. The gurus…

Jones. Gurus, yeah, bullshit.

R. So glad I got my hour [more likely about “John Maher”]. Some mentioned Delancey Street.

Jones. I like Maher.

R. I’ve just met him five minutes.

Jones. He’s the wittiest, one of the most brilliant minds you’ll ever run into. Very bright. The results of his work are fantastic.

R. Right, oh yeah! You get a good feeling of an old house… really trying to make it… in France if you are a dope fiend you can die. Nobody will give you help to try to get yourself together. You can be in the hospital, maybe spend two weeks getting detoxification, and so what, then go back to the streets and start again. Here your operation is like Delancey Street.

Jones. We have the same kind of service. When people come in, then we don’t put them back on the street. If they want our help, we will go to the length, even if it means getting them across the sea to a new opportunity, away from the situation. We don’t, as you say, detoxify and then leave them alone. Because, as you say, they will only go right back to their old patterns.

R. Normally, that’s right. Do you feel real physical fear sometimes thinking that somebody can… well, get you?

Jones. Only for those that need me, my children and my companion, and anyone here who may feel they need me. Only for them. I have no personal fear anymore. That’s gone. Totally.

R. When did it go?

Jones. It’s been so long I don’t remember. I’m not afraid. To live the kind of life I do, with its great demands, is paying, physical pain. It’s pressure, the body feels pain. Much tension. Torture. I would hold up well in torture. If there was a dictator I would hold up very well, because I can endure a great deal of pain. I know from experience. I was in an attempted assassination once. A truck struck me and I had to drag myself one mile to get home. It struck me and threw me off into the ditch, and I had to drag myself. My leg was a badly wounded I didn’t know whether it was broken, what the trouble was, and it turned out the knee is somewhat stiff, but I had to drag myself for a mile. That’s one experience. I’ve had other experiences of pain, and living in pain, I don’t have any fear of death. None. Other than the effect my death might have on others. That does pain me, terribly. In fact, one time it kept me alive. The doctor recommended that I take a penicillin shot. Some doctors foolishly do this (I won’t say who). He said give it to yourself or have the nurse administer it. I didn’t want to bother my wife, who is a nurse, and very busy in her own right. She’s always working hard for people. She is an inspector with the State Health Department, and she investigates these nursing homes. She runs into so many problems. With her sensitivity it’s a heavy load. She always gets involved. So I decided to give myself a penicillin shot. I thought, well, I can hit my own butt, and I pushed it in, but whatever I did, I put it directly into the blood circulatory system. So, within a matter of seconds, I was beginning to die. It’s wonderful to come through it, but horrible. I was only able to get one word out of my mouth, “Marcie.” (My wife’s name is Marceline.) She heard me. Then, of course, I couldn’t do anything more than barely breathe! The numbness had crept up my torso, and when it got to my chest, I couldn’t breathe. Then, my wife said, I stopped breathing. But if I hadn’t had a wife who knew what she was doing, I would have been gone. She gave me mouth to mouth resuscitation. My son, one of my sons, Lew, a Korean American, fathered by an American serviceman, was standing in the hall, saying, “Daddy don’t die, Daddy don’t die.” Somehow it was just so easy, it was just like going through a tunnel, I was just drifting, it was such peace. But I heard that child saying, “daddy, don’t die”… the doctor really wondered how in the hell I made it.

R. You heard the boy, you were needed…

Jones. I just heard his voice. I could hear him cry. My wife said during that time she thought I was unconscious. She couldn’t get any pulse. But even when you’re unconscious, when the vital signs are removed, evidently the mind is still conscious, because I heard him distinctly. That was pain, hearing that. I didn’t know whether I was going to make it back. The pain of going… no pain at all… that was just like… all I could see was just like drifting into the center of the hurricane, all around me was a physical sensation that I was drifting into a kind of quiet place. And then I heard him. I began to fight in my mind. Who can say, it’s subjective. But I think that fight made the difference. The doctor didn’t know how the hell I made it.

R. How do you feel about [Gary] Gilmore?

Jones. I had such mixed feelings. The president of capital punishment disturbs me because it is only imposed upon the poor, or those who are of modest means, at best. It has been said that anyone who has $50,000 of assets has never been executed. I think it’s very brutal that we allow the state to give a man his wish who wasn’t courageous enough to commit suicide and who wanted someone else to do it for him. I think it was a mistake. Even from a standpoint of humanity, it was wrong. From a standpoint of giving a lesson to others, it was wrong because there are a lot of people who want to commit suicide, but are fearful of doing it. So if they can then go out and shoot two or three people, and the state takes over and does the suicide for them… I thought it was gross. But when Gilmore got so close to doing away with himself, I also thought it was gross to bring him back and sentence him to death.

Last modified on May 23rd, 2017.
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