Michelle 提到美國人對犯人的刻板印象，通常是不讀書的、黑人、吸毒者，種族主義更深刻地影響了對黑人的觀感。她分享了一位黑人學生 Patrick 犯下殺人罪的故事，並坦言，如果是換成任何人，都可能會在沒有警察、法律的保護下，為了自我防衛也為了保護家人，而做出傷害對方的舉動。
而主持人 Pei-Ru 也犀利地拋出問題：「大眾為何要關注司法議題，甚至是關注這些在監獄裡的人？」對此，Michelle 提出一個值得思考的問題，我們的社會從公開處刑演變為司法審判，真的比較人道嗎？
當天，來自世界各地的參與者聚集一堂，包括歐洲、美國和台灣的朋友。大家熱烈地發表意見，分享各自國家的經驗和看法。Michelle 的真實且動人的故事，引發了大家對司法體制、「犯人」刻板印象等議題的關注。當晚，應龍應台基金會的邀請，大家與 Michelle 一同到附近的酒吧喝一杯，聊聊天認識彼此，也繼續進行更深入的討論。
Last Friday night, we had the honor of hosting the legal scholar and author Michelle Kuo. She shared her experiences teaching in one of the most impoverished areas in the United States, Arkansas. Michelle emphasized that the image of “prisoners” shouldn’t be as superficial as we imagine; they are individuals with their own stories, and perhaps, our distance from those “inside the prison” isn’t as far as we think.
Michelle mentioned the stereotypical impressions Americans often hold about prisoners, associating them with uneducated people, Black individuals, or drug users. She shared the story of her Black student, Patrick, who committed murder. Michelle acknowledged that anyone, in the absence of police or legal protection, might resort to harming others for self-defense and protecting their families.
Host Pei-Ru posed a sharp question: “Why should the public care about judicial issues, or even about those inside the prison?” In response, Michelle raised a thought-provoking question: Has our society truly become more humane as we transitioned from public executions to judicial trials?
When the process of judgment and the judge’s inquiries go invisible, everything seems disconnected from the public. By simply imagining those incarcerated as uneducated or villains, people easily make themselves feel better, avoiding a detailed examination of whether the judgment is fair. However, this trial process pushes the public and offenders to opposite ends. In the end, our perception of those inside the prison is reduced to stereotypical images of serial killers and murderers, shaped by media portrayals.
On that evening, participants from around the world, including Europe, the United States, and Taiwan, gathered. Everyone passionately shared opinions and insights from their countries. Michelle’s authentic and moving stories sparked interest in issues related to the judicial system and the stereotyping of “prisoners.” After the event, Foundation invited everyone to join Michelle at a nearby bar for a drink, continuing deeper conversations.
Finally, a big thank you to the two speakers, live guests, and all online friends who participated. For those who missed it, don’t worry. The Taipei Salon’s livestream has been archived on our fan page. Feel free to watch the exciting lecture content and share it with all your friends!
Looking forward to our next Taipei Salon? Stay tuned!