The Hurricane - Ode to a Psychopath
I had heard the name Rubin "Hurricane" Carter sometime back in the 1970s, but couldn't quite remember why. So, when the movie, "The Hurricane" came out, I rushed out to see it. It was definitely a movie that I HAD to see because it contained to a number of elements I was very well acquainted with and very concerned about: injustice, racism, and boxing. I have raised two mixed race children and one adopted black son over the last twenty years and my husband has struggled with racism in his work and in the community, dealing with this American dilemma ever since his arrival here from Jamaica in his teens. Boxing? Oh, yeah…I know boxing. I watched the rise and fall of my brother-in-law and three-time world champion, Simon Brown. I spent quite a few evenings ringside in Atlantic City and more than a few evenings cussing out Don King and a host of other ethically challenged promoters. Yes, I was more than excited this movie came out. I was looking forward to hearing the story and struggle for justice by this boxer whose name I had heard, but never knew the real story of.
My excitement lasted only a fraction of the way into this movie. For you who have not yet seen the movie, let me set up the basic events. A trio of extraordinarily caring and docile Canadians offer a home to an impoverished black American teenager and proceed to homeschool him. This happens during the 1970's and the Canadians come off like innocent do-gooders beyond belief. You can't really blame the movie (well, yes you can) because it is based, without the slightest departure, on the book written by the Canadians themselves. I guess the producers were not too concerned about a one-sided viewpoint. Anyway, the Canadians are busy homeschooling Lesra and allowing the youth to pick out his choice of reading materials when he "happens across" the book written by Rubin Carter called "The Sixteenth Round". From here Lesra fascinates the whole group with his out loud readings of Carter's story of injustice and imprisonment and we are taken along with him through this historical journey. The story begins in the movie showing Carter when he was just a tyke - he looks about eight or nine - when a serious altercation occurs that gets him sent to reform school for the rest of his youth. He and his friends are playing by a waterfall when a middle-aged white child molester attempts to lure one of the little boys with his gold watch. When he attempts to grab the little boy, Carter, trying to save his friend, throws a bottle and hits the man on the head. The man then turns to Carter and grabs him and tries to toss him off a cliff. Carter pulls out his Scout knife, stabs the man and the man drops him. Then Carter is pulled into the police station and an evil, racist, really nasty policeman, scares and abuses the little boy and then the little boy is sent away for his act of self-defense. I think I actually started laughing out loud much to the horror of my neighboring moviegoers. I watched the rest of the movie about the "railroading of Rubin Carter" snickering into my popcorn and rolling my eyes. I left the theatre shaking my head while everyone else shouted and clapped at Carter's victory and release from prison.
What was wrong with this picture? How could the SUPPORTERS of Rubin Carter convince me he was guilty while trying to convince me he wasn't? When I talked to others and read the web sites, I found only one person who felt as I did. I began to wonder if I had misinterpreted something from the film. So I went out and bought the books, Lazarus and the Hurricane written by Sam Chaiton and Terry Swinton (of the Canadian group), and Rubin Carter's own book "The Sixteenth Round." The Canadians' book offered nothing new, as it was almost word for word the movie. However, it at least gave me a nice working script of the picture. I also watched the movie again to see why I thought it was a lie. The events in the movie seemed phony and lacking in details, so I moved on to Carter's own words to fill in the missing information. And there, it was…the truth, nestled within a huge pack of lies. Carter was clearly a psychopath and a pathological liar. In his own words, he tells us this. Truth and lies intermingle in a most fascinating journey through his psychopathic mind. What a gem of a book!
Let's go back and do a quick overview of the life of Carter you are supposed to believe is the truth. Carter is wronged as a youth, joins the army, becomes a fighter, comes home, gets wronged again and is reimprisoned. In spite of that, when he comes out, he becomes a fighter, gets wronged again in the ring by racism, and then at the height of his career when he is in contention for the world title, he is railroaded for a crime he didn't commit and goes to prison for life. While in prison, he practically becomes Ghandi and then the Canadians arrive to prove Carter innocent and he is released and goes on to help other wrongly imprisoned men. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHHA! Sorry………….
Let's start back at the incident with the white pedophile that caused my improper outburst of chuckles in the theatre. Even without reading Carter's version of that story, it rang ridiculous to me. Let's see…a wealthy, white man goes up to a GROUP of black kids in the middle of THEIR territory and offers his GOLD watch? Yeah, right. Rubin does an act of self-defense and gets incarcerated for the rest of his life based on this one incident? Give me a break. So, let's go find the truth (among the lies) in Carter's book.
First of all, Carter is not nine-years-old. He is at least eleven, possibly twelve. Now, that is a big leap in size and ability and mental attitude for a young thug from the hood. By the way, in the book, Carter sorta admits he is a thug. He admits to being in a gang. Of course, any crime he commits is just because he is trying to impress gang members. After one act of stealing clothes, his OWN father turns him in to the police in hopes to scare him straight. Carter claims this was his FIRST crime, but I hardly imagine that Dad would turn him in on a first time offense. More likely, Dad was desperate at that point. So I am guessing Carter was already an incorrigible. After this scare, Carter admits "over the next three years, I became involved with the police on two or three occasions (translation: a whole lot). This sets up the scene with the "pedophile".
He claims the man held out his wristwatch as bait. Then the man throws his wedding ring! Carter, knowing what the man wanted, says, "Le-l-let's go, fellows," and he pushes the boys ahead of him. The bad white man jumps in front of him and grabs one of the boys and starts to molest him and spews out racist words to boot (kind of a weird mix for a child molester, cooing and cussing). Here, Carter starts with his justification methods. He has an interesting, psychopathic method of doing that throughout the book. There is a lot of overstatement and peculiar wording.
"I could feel fear and anger erupt within my body, the anger dominating the fear as the man's malicious words echoed through my mind. He had used the word black as if it was something nasty." (like, duh, you never heard that before?)
"I reached down and picked up a large soda bottle that was lying at my feet". (Notice throughout the story the accidental convenience of items….).
"I yelled a warning to the man to let my friend go." (Carter ALWAYS takes the high road and warns people, giving them second chance.)
The bottle flies through the air and hits the man in the head. The man topples to the ground, blood gushing from the wound.
"Run! Run!" I shouted in alarm….they ran like reindeers."
Pay attention to this next line. (Always the caring person, thinking about others first (remember, he is so caring, that he is a neighborhood menace).
"In my concern for them, however, I had SOMEHOW (remember the use of the word SOMEHOW..this is very common among psychopaths and indicates a lie) neglected to protect number one and found myself dangling in the air. He had grabbed me by the neck and thighs, and was holding me over his head"(remember again, we have a bleeding man picking up a twelve-year-old and holding him over his head? Jeez, this was a strong man…Oh, yeah, and he is carries him twenty or thirty feet to a cliff.
"I begged and pleaded, I kicked and hollered, fighting desperately to break way. But the man was too strong for me…I cried and begged some more, but nothing seemed to affect him. I looked down panic stricken, as we neared the edge of the cliff." (More justification for what Carter is about to do).
"My eyes fell on the bloody gash in the man's head, and for SOME reason (remember the SOME word..this means major lie coming) it reminded me of the scout knife in my pocket." (hehehe…yeah, a bloody wound REMINDS him of a scout knife..rather creepy, don't you think?). "Since I had my hands free (how convenient), I reached in my pocket and got my knife. (notice how things just slow down and from a screaming, panic-stricken kid, he is able to notice the gash, get reminded of the knife, find the knife…like a dream).
"You bet-bet-better, pu-put me down man!" I warned him when we were about two or three steps away from the cliff's edge." (He is about to be thrown to his death, but Carter STILL manages to be a saint and warn the man).
"Shut up, you no-talking sonofabitch, " he snarled at me, now standing on the very edge of the cliff….this man frightened me, scared me, like that cop had on my first arrest, (justication) and I wasn't about to let him hurt me if I could help it. I took my knife and tried to break it off in his head." (THAT last part was the only true statement up 'til now). He tried to break the knife off in his head. Note something very humorous here. The man is holding Carter AT the EDGE of the cliff. Don't you think stabbing the man in the head there is going to get them BOTH thrown off the cliff? But, pay attention to the next words of Carter's.
"Owwww, you stabbed me!" he shrieked, throwing me to the ground and kicking me in the stomach." Did the man turn around? Hehehe..wouldn't it have been easier to toss Carter off the cliff?
Now, it gets even sillier. With a gash from a bottle to the head and a knife plunged into his skull, the man now gets on top of Carter and starts to sexually molest, saying "Mmmm, this feels good." This apparently is the next justification for Carter driving a knife into his side and then into his ribs. He sags on top of Carter and Carter pushes him off and then gets on top of HIM! The man struggles. Carter then says" "My mind was shouting, "I told you not to scare me, mister! I told you not to scare me!" And each time this thought flashed through me, I plunged the knife into his heaving chest again." (Carter has a justification for EACH time he stabs the man.)
NOW, Carter, the twelve-year-old thug saint, has tears streaming down his face as he gets off the man. "Oh, my God, I remember saying…..my hands were covered with blood…."What have I done?" Then Carter starts to leave, runs back to get his knife, and goes home where he comes down with some unnamed disease, runs a high temperature, and goes into some kind of coma. When he recovers, the police take him down to headquarters for questioning.
Now, at THIS point, we actually have the truth (to a good extent). Very odd. The police investigator tells Carter that the other boys have signed statements incriminating him in the attack. One of the boys had been caught wearing the man's gold watch (when did he have time to pick it up if they were all running away terrified when Rubin told them to?). Carter says, after reading the statements in which there "wasn't the slightest discrepancy" that "solutions began to materialize in my mind." Solutions? Not the truth, you notice..solutions…in other words, lies. But, apparently, he can't come up with a "solution" to combat the truth told by the other boys.
"What could I say? This was it. I was caught dead to rights, so to speak, by these three statements." The police investigator says ".. I think it would be wise for you to give us a statement, Rubin. If for nothing else, at least to protect yourself. Because if you don't, nobody else will."
"I thought about that for a long moment or two, then shook my head. I didn't want to make any statements." (Clearly, he was guilty of robbing and assaulting the man…he doesn't even TRY the sexual predator story).
"Well, is there anything else you would like to tell me before I leave?" he (the policeman) inquired.
"All right, Carter. I won't press you anymore," he said, unlocking the door." Can I get you a soda or something?"
Is THIS the violent police interrogation we see in the film? Is this the innocent kid being abused by the authorities? In Carter's own words, he had no defense, even when the police tried to encourage him to come up with one. My guess is, after a few years in prison, Carter came up with one heck of a silly fabrication to justify his attack on the man. Yet even HE can't even make it work very well and gives up when he gets to the part he is arrested.
Let's go back to the movie and the book it is based on. The Canadians apparently bought this foolishness or at least pretended to. Why? Because they needed a cause celeb…a wronged man to set free to prove the government is bad. They can't admit to him possibly being a less than saintly fellow.
Now, Carter goes to the juvenile detention facility where he immediately believes he is the center of attention (psychopathic delusions of grandiosity).
"It wasn't long before it became apparent that I had gained the admiration of the majority. Whatever the reason, when anyone had a problem of some sort, he would usually come to me for a solution. And I, not knowing what else to do, would try to help him as best I could." (Yup, he is a wonderful guy, don't you see?)
Carter has a long history of violence in the institution, although he was always the wronged party.
Now, let's look at Carter's real viewpoint of life and his responsibility for his actions. Psychopaths tend to always be right, never take responsibility for their bad behavior, and always blame it on someone else. It is always OTHER people's fault. Pay attention to the meaning in these statements.
"Most of the Jamesburg kids had only committed the same violations of the rules as had endeared Huckleberry Finn to millions of people (robbery, rape, and murder?), but in us society found these deeds intolerable. Not many of us had committed what could be called serious crimes. (heh!)
"I believe that everything I had done in my life had been the natural and logical thing for me to do, under the circumstances. If by chance, I performed a gracious deed, I laid claim to no credit. If I committed a crime in the eyes of society, I TOOK NO BLAME. I felt NO MORE RESPONSIBLE FOR MY ACTIONS than for the winds."
Carter then escapes from the detention center before his time is up. He goes to his relatives for help and he states, "People were actually afraid of me-even my own family." This is a good indication that Carter did not get railroaded into the juvenile facility as the movie would have us believe. He had a decade of violence already to his name by the time he escaped and people feared him.
Now, Carter joins the army and becomes a prizefighter. And he "finds" a peculiar form of Islam. "…that man himself was God. And this was an explanation I could readily accept. For if, indeed, I was a god, then everything had been all right all along." (Everything he did was justified). Now, Carter says, "..two years had slipped past when it came time for me to go home…I was honored when I was asked to compete in the Olympic Trials that were soon to take place, but was told I would have to re-enlist in order to do so….I loved prize fighting, but I wasn't about to prolong my Army career in order to compete in nothing. Shucks!' I wanted to go home…."
Let's take a look at this pack of lies. Is Carter telling us that he, seeker of glory and the center of attention, turned down an opportunity to be an Olympic Champion to instead go home to a family that feared him, a factory job, and a return to prison if he were caught as a fugitive? Oh, right. No, the truth is Carter was tossed out of the army. He didn't complete his time. Many men who have trouble with authority and cause problems are given a general or honorable discharge early just to get them out of there.
So, Carter comes home and gets arrested. He spends more time in jail and during this time, Carter goes on to more grandiosity. "I wanted to be the Administrator of Justice, the Revealer of Truth, the Inflictor of all Retribution. I gloried in those thoughts." Then he gets out. Now, in the movie, Carter comes home and is working hard and being a general good guy (although at least there is a slight show of his temper in a nightclub). He is being a good citizen when he gets picked up and put back in jail. However, look at his lifestyle when he gets out after ten "long" months. Carter becomes "from that night on, …inseparable companions" with a jailmate/thug. "We started hanging out in Hogan's -the players' lounge, so to speak-where all the half-assed pimps and hustlers, pool sharks, and would-be gangsters thrive in every black community." Yep, Carter is choosing an honest and decent lifestyle here. And, of course, he is totally rehabilitated. WRONG!
"Then out of the clear blue sky, without rhyme or reason (lie), I snatched a woman's pocketbook - right then in broad daylight! I don't know why I did it! (Again, it just HAPPENED - no responsibility). With my pockets loaded down, jam packed full of my own money, it was the most dastardly thing I'd ever done (minimizing), I simply snatched that poor lady's purse and ran like hell - laughing, no less. --- and she was a black woman. Little A (his thug friend) ran with me. But since I REALLY DIDN"T KNOW WHY I HAD DONE WHAT I WAS DOING,…he ran with me.. and that was his mistake. Because further on down the street, still giddy with my FOLLY, I hit a man……(then), I went hog-wild and did it again."
"No, they didn't surprise me when they finally arrived (the police); on the contrary I was glad." (Yep, he wanted to be a good man again.). Then he got three to nine years in prison. Something tells me we aren't hearing half of what he did in these crimes nor are we hearing about all the OTHER crimes he committed before this. This was just the mildest one he could think of to justify his trip to prison and not sound like too evil a guy.
In prison again, Carter talks about all the violence he commits there and how the electric chair is "stealing his friends away" for crimes they did not commit. One of his friends got the chair for this "unfortunate" incident. He and a friend held up a grocery store in the neighborhood with a gun. They locked the owner in a closet. "In trying to free himself, the proprietor suffered a heart attack and in falling, he struck his head against the door and died from the concussion." Carter minimizes the crime and blames the victim. Therefore, his friend didn't really do anything bad and didn't deserve the chair.
Now, Carter gets out of the pen and at twenty-five admits he is a little over the hill for prizefighting. This would be very true. However, he still gets an opportunity to fight and does manage to make some money doing it. He is not the greatest fighter in the world and suffers too many losses to make any kind of great champion. Things start to fall apart for Carter. He ends up owing $90,000 in back taxes and claims that his manager had been "beating me for my money all along." Here I will say Carter is probably being truthful. Boxing managers are notorious for not paying their boxers' taxes and lying about it. Boxers tend not to be the best at financial matters, so they end up broke. So, we have Carter on the downhill slide. He starts getting in trouble with the police and is a suspect in some burglaries. He claims, of course, he is being unjustly accused, but, gee, I dunno, with his past, it seems not so unlikely that he is back to committing crimes. Carter also is accused of a few assaults and being involved with other shady dealings. The FBI is following him around, which he attributes to the times and political climate. He could be right, but, then again, he is surely acting squirrelly. He admits to some crimes, pretends he was framed for others; all this is happening as his boxing career is on a downward swing. And, now we come to the infamous night when the crime Carter is "railroaded" for, goes down and the ever-innocent Carter was "just in the wrong place at the wrong time." Keep in mind as you read the happenings of that night, Carter is already committing crimes and is a pathological liar. Ask yourself, is he REALLY telling the truth?
The evening of June 16, 1966, Carter is seen at home in the bosom of his family; his wife and daughter, watching TV. But, poor Carter, he gets a call from his new personal advisor and needs to meet him to discuss a possible fight. Carter says he had been "out of action so long" (meaning he ain't go no money!), so is "jubilant" at the thought of a match. He leaves the house at midnight to go to the Nite Spot, one of his regular haunts. On the way, Carter just "happens" to pick up, John "Bucks" Royster, a friendly drunk, and John Artis, a young man he had "just met twice". Artis had "turned down several athletic scholarships to college and instead wanted to join the army (cough). Mind, in the movie, Artis had never met Carter before that night. Carter, here admits to getting with him a couple of times. Therefore, we can assume he KNEW Artis fairly well. So, they sport around town and end up at the Nite Spot at 2 AM. Now, this next statement of Carter's is EXTREMELY important.
We wound up at the Nite Spot to meet up with Wild Bill Hardney, who was already there. He had brought two other people with him. Big John and Norris were their names. WHILE I WAS STANDING THERE TALKING TO THEM, a woman that I knew named Cathy McGuire came over with her mother and asked if I would drive them home." (In the next paragraph, Carter goes on to complain he felt like a taxi service BUT even though he was famous, he would NEVER forget his people…a great guy again). He drives them home and this becomes part of his alibi for that night. Supposedly, the police later force the women to testify it was not THAT night but the next night that he drove them home. The movie makes this clear as well as the book. But BOTH the book and the movie ignore one fascinating detail. At the time the women ask Carter to drive them home, he is standing there with THREE witnesses, Hardney, Big John, and Norris. How come NONE of them ever confirm his alibi and tell the courts he drove the women home?
Now, let's go to the next BIG lie! Carter states he drove the women home at about 2:15 and arrived back somewhere around 2:25. This is supposed to cover the time of the robbery and murders at the Lafayette Grill around 2:30 AM. Now, AT 2:30 AM, Carter is not any longer at the Nite Spot. Why? He says, "That's when my money got funny. With my pocketbook on "E", I asked Wild Bill to come home with me while I picked up some more bread. It wasn't that I thought my wife would actually try to stop me from going back out, but knowing that woman, she might have just worked it out. So I figured it would be best to bring along some support."
"On the way out of the club to my car, I saw John Artis again (just happened to see him). He was standing by the door with Bucks, and I invited them along for the ride. What the hell, I thought. If my wife tried to put the slammers on me for the night, I could always tell her that I had to take them home."
All right. These two paragraphs are stunningly chocked full of bullcrap. First of all, note the time. It is 2:30 in the morning. The bars are about to close. This guy is bar animal. He knows EXACTLY when they close. But instead of just hanging in for another thirty minutes, letting someone buy him a drink (I am sure SOMEONE would spring for the hotshot), he determines he NEEDS to go home and get more money to spend even though the bars will be closed when he gets back in the area. Secondly, do we REALLY believe Carter - the Carter, a womanizing, cheating, robbing, psychopathic, barhopping man of violence, is not going to be able to handle his wife? He needs two other men to "help" him? Give me a break! ::roll eyes::What Carter needs is an excuse to have no known whereabouts for a good thirty minutes (add that to the phony alibi of driving the women home and you have about an hour). Why doesn't Carter's wife testify he came home to get money at the time the crime at the Lafayette Grill went down? Why does Carter not show the police the money he GOT from the house as proof he went home?
At any rate, Carter isn't arrested that night but quite a few months pass while the case is built against him and Artis. One of the theories as to the purpose of the crime was racial hatred. I seriously doubt this myself. Carter doesn't care enough about other people to care about racial issues; he just uses them when convenient. More likely, Carter was broke off his ass. The crime was a robbery gone bad. As he states near the end of his book, "We gather from the testimony of the sole surviving victim that the bartender saw the armed men as they entered and threw a bottle at them, precipitating the shooting before a word was said." THIS is probably the truth. It is my guess that Artis and Royster may have actually been the ones in that went into the bar. Carter probably planned the crime, got the guns, provided the car, and the brilliant plan. He probably told them it would be a cinch. You two just go in, ask for the money, and get back to the car. He probably did NOT go in himself, as of the three, he was the only one white people would recognize. When the two entered the bar, the bartender seeing the guns, threw the bottle, and the inexperienced robbers lost control and started shooting. Afterwards, the three go on an interesting tour of the town, most likely to lose the weapons. Royster is ditched, and Carter and Artis are stopped. Carter is probably actually treated TOO well by the cops as well-known sports people usually are. Later, in court, it is noted that Artis never turns against Carter and this is supposed to be some kind of proof of their innocence. But, Artis clearly couldn't do that, considering he was most likely one of the actual gunmen.
So, Carter gets convicted and continues his violence in prison. He writes this fascinating book, which is chosen by the Canadians as a good protest and publicity campaign against the U.S. government. Lots of celebrities jump on board because no one REALLY cares to search for the truth. Carter served a purpose for their platforms and they in turn were useful for Carter. For psychopaths, "people are either useful or in the way". For Carter, the Canadians were most useful until he got out. Eventually, they got in his way, and he moved on. Now, with the advent of this movie, all come together for another joyful purpose! MAKING MONEY! Except for Artis, who after a stint as a youth counselor in Virginia, got sent back to prison for some…er…drug thing.
All I can say is, thank God this movie didn't get any awards. Denzel wasn't bad, but the movie was childish, and, of course, a total fabrication of Carter's mind and a travesty against history and the victims of his crime. There ARE innocent people in jail who were railroaded for crimes they didn't commit, but, for God's sake, why does Hollywood find it necessary to ignore them and instead glorify vicious criminals? For a truly sad account of a black man who was railroaded by politics and police corruption, read The Doctor, the Murder, the Mystery: The true Story of the Dr. John Banion Murder Case by Barbara D'Amato.
Hurricane's "story" can't hold a candle to this man and the injustice committed against him. Too bad Hollywood didn't try a little harder to find REAL history and a REAL hero.
CEO/Investigative Criminal Profiler
Copyright © 2001 Pat Brown