Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Longest Hunger Strike

For the past year, I've been researching the case of William Coleman, a Connecticut prisoner who hasn't eaten solid food in more than five years.  Bill is hunger striking to bring attention to what he says is a wrongful conviction.  When his health becomes dire, the prison medical staff force feed him.

Last week Guernica Magazine published my article, "The Longest Hunger Strike,"which was edited by the amazing journalist Jina Moore.  I'm delighted that Longreads and The Sidney Hillman Foundation have picked up the story.  

Here's a clip:

“I would add, for what it’s worth:” Appel continued, “Once in my life, I put a feeding tube in someone who didn’t want it.” An elderly person had, when competent, said that he wanted everything done to continue his life. Then he became demented.

“Ethically, it wasn’t a transgression—we were honoring his wishes—but practically it was one of the most unpleasant things I’ve done in my life. I would never do it again, even if somebody wanted me to.”

“Tell me how unpleasant,” I said.

“Rape is actually a very reasonable analogy. You feel like you’re physically protruding… putting something in someone’s body they are actively resisting. Eventually somebody has to hold them down. It turns your stomach.”