About the Human Bones I Buried in the Desert

So, okay, I knew burying human bones in the desert was a questionable idea. Of course I knew that. I’ll say it: it was a crazy thing to do. And I can recognize that because I myself am not crazy (which, I will happily cede, is one point the prosecution actually got right). I just take bits too far sometimes. Which, let me be clear, is not an admission of guilt. By saying I took the human bones thing too far I am not implying that I did anything wrong. I’m just saying that the consequences of burying human bones in the desert have outweighed the comedic value of burying human bones in the desert. What I am NOT saying is that those consequences are deserved or just in any way. I’ll even admit that the joke’s funniness was dubious at best to begin with. That’s fair. But should I go to jail for that? Jail is for murderers etc., not guys trying to give themselves and their friends a chuckle by doing something weird and absurd. Was it stupid? Yes. But not against the law. And I maintain it should be okay to be stupid. And sure, I was being willfully stupid, which I guess is different because intent matters (yes, there are arguments to be had about that but we will all agree this is not the time) but I didn’t hurt anybody. Burying human bones in the desert was a victimless crime. If it’s a crime at all that is, which I will maintain for the rest of my natural life that IT IS NOT. What we can all agree upon is that buying the human bones and owning the human bones are both indisputably not illegal acts. We did all agree on that during the trial. Sure, a lot of people didn’t know about the acts’ legality ahead of time (though that slimy DA knew it no matter how hard he tried to downplay it), but it is without a doubt 100% legal to buy and sell human bones in the United States of America. As I’m sure you know, the only caveat is that they can’t be Native American human bones because of the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. And yes, I can’t verify that the human bones I purchased weren’t Native American human bones. Believe me, I tried, but DNA tests for human bones are ridiculously expensive, which seems bonkers to me considering how cheap and ubiquitous the 23 and Me type tests are now. My point being, I don’t have the money to get my human bones DNA tested to prove they were from non-Native American bodies. Also, if the prosecution wants to stick me with an anti-Native American crime – which I bet they’d call a hate crime just to add another bogus charge to the mix – I think the burden of proof should be on the state, especially because they already ran DNA tests on the human bones to try and match them to missing people and convict me of murder (which, they weren’t able to do, but it’s like, yikes, what if these human bones had come from a murdered person decades ago that neither I nor the good people at www.boneroom.com knew about ahead of time). Anyway, as I told the court: you guys already did the DNA tests, now just check that genome or whatever to see if the human bones are Native American. And they obviously didn’t do that because they knew there was a pretty minuscule chance my human bones were Native American and showing DNA proof of that would exonerate me. And yes, if you caught that, I do still think of them as MY human bones, as much as the ones under my muscles, since I paid for them and even retained the receipts, which were Exhibits B-D in the trial (we all know what Exhibit A was). And while the once-buried human bones aren’t in my possession anymore – obviously, they don’t let you take non-internal human bones with you to jail – I still consider the human bones my property, even though that fact is the entire reason I’m in this mess. And property rights are real, which the record will show I got the defense attorney to admit, even though the judge cut me off when I started reciting passages from John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, which, before you ask, no I have not read in its entirety, but I’m pretty sure I get the gist. Anyway, the prosecution turned out not to be trying to prove that I didn’t own the human bones. They were mostly concerned with what I was doing with the human bones, re: burying them in the desert, which was, I think all evidence shows, a pretty good goof/bit (I use the terms interchangeably), if you judge the quality of a goof by 1: its absurdity, and 2: its originality, and sometimes 3: the effort required to execute said goof. Which leads me to my next point: A GOOF IS NOT A CRIME. Unfortunately, the “I was goofin’” defense obviously did not play for the judge. She actually told me to stop using the term “goof” lest I be held in contempt, (which I think was a pretty gross abuse of power in regards to the use of a fun and harmless word). Anyway, I initially thought maybe there was a chance they’d respect the fact that the human bones thing was intended as a goof, since the goofin’ defense got us off the hook with the boat police one time when we rented pontoons for my birthday and got them too close together trying to pass the mini-keg of Heineken from one to the other (note, I don’t normally drink Heineken, it was a gift), but, as I learned the hard way, county judges are different from boat police. One of the ways in which they are different is that in my experience, boat police like me, and judges do not. Although that may be too broad an assumption since I haven’t had experience with more than one judge. So I guess I should say some boat police like me, and the judge of my trial for burying human bones in the desert did not. I gave her every opportunity to like me, too. I was polite and respectful and I kept my one-liners out of bawdy territory. I even called her “Your Honor” and did not bring up how I think that the whole “your honor” honorific is an off-putting and archaic tradition (like curly wigs and all that other stuff they do in Canada) that serves neither the court nor the public in the modern justice system. I didn’t say any of that at the time, because, generally, I know how to pick my battles. I also pride myself in my ability to see issues, even ones I’m emotionally involved in, fairly and objectively. To that point, I’m more than happy to discuss the arguments against me and my human bones goof that I think have merit. Firstly, having now had more than ample time to think about burying human bones in the desert and its ramifications, I realize that doing so had some problematic aspects in regards to my white privilege. Like, yeah, I’m in jail, but it could have been way worse for me, and likely would have, had I been black or brown. Goofing with the police, I have learned, is something that is SOMETIMES safe for white people to do, but almost NEVER safe for people of color to do. I didn’t think about that before I buried the human bones and I apologize for that insensitivity and ignorance. Second, I can also understand the argument about me wasting police resources. If you count their salaries, the milage on the squad cars, the rental of the excavator to search (and completely mess up the nice topography of) the rest of my land, and however many hundreds of gallons of fuel it takes to keep a helicopter hovering for hours on end, this whole debacle probably cost the good people of unincorporated Palmdale somewhere in the range of tens of thousands of dollars as well as diverting police attention away from more serious crimes than a bunch of human bones buried in the desert. That’s a shame, especially with how much weird crime – like crime to horses and stuff – happens in that area all the time, completely unaddressed by law enforcement. But I didn’t ask the police to spend any of that money. In fact, I repeatedly asked them not to! All records show that I was upfront with the police from the start about the human bones situation on my land and how there was nothing else for them to find besides the second hole I had dug with my old Highlander: The Series VHS tapes thrown in as a kind of fun time capsule and auxiliary goof, which honestly, I think may be a more serious crime than the human bones, since human bones are found in nature and who knows the environmental impact/decomposition time of 62 VHS tapes decorated with photos of actor-turned-swordplay-instructor Adrian Paul. Not that I think burying VHS tapes should be a crime any more than burying human bones. I’m just making a point. If it had been on someone else’s land, sure. Hands down, it makes sense to me to call that a crime (though I’d still think it a minor one). But everything I buried was buried on MY land, and I maintain that I should be able to bury any of my own property on it as I see fit. Not that I’m a wacko libertarian who doesn’t believe in any regulations ever, but come on, I didn’t even trespass to do any of this. I hold the deed to this five acre plot of land, which I bought, yes, as another ill-advised bit that still costs me $132 in property tax every year and provides pretty much no personal benefit, but that doesn’t change the fact that the land is legally mine. To that point, I emphatically believe I should be reimbursed by the state for the damage they did to my land by digging up almost all of it looking for more bones or evidence of other criminal activity. And yes, I know that I’d discussed plans to dig up the ground myself and build some kind of Ethiopian-style cave dwelling, but that was MY project, not the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s project, and they should have a responsibility to return my land to the way they found it or reimburse me for the expense of doing so myself (once I am free from jail). The other main plan I have post-jail is to find out once and for all who alerted the police to the fact that I’d buried human bones in the desert in the first place. Not for revenge or anything. To tell the truth, I’m not really mad at any of the individuals involved here, more with the justice system as a whole and its systemic failure to achieve what it’s meant to accomplish, i.e. justice. But I don’t have any illusions about fixing that myself. As much as I’d like to, I don’t think the person now known regionally and in certain popular internet circles as “the human bones guy” is going to be a respected voice of judicial reform in America. I don’t even plan on “making sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.” I can’t imagine it would, as my predicament is pretty idiosyncratic and entirely avoidable. I’m more just curious about how out of all of the four-square-foot chunks of land in the desert, the police managed to find the one chunk with human bones buried under it. The police didn’t just stumble across them under 18 inches of loosely-packed desert soil. Somebody tipped them off for sure. My lead suspect was originally a guy I knew from college named Andy who became a lawyer and also somewhat of my nemesis, mostly because he doesn’t understand the intrinsic value of goofs, but also because I think he’s threatened by my laid back attitude toward my own wasted potential. I’d mentioned the burying human bones concept to him during drinks with some of our friends a few years back, and while no one was super in favor of the idea, he was the one most adamantly anti-human-bones-burying, which made me think maybe he’d turned me in. But then he provided some pro bono legal advice during my trial (which was mostly a plea to not represent myself, which I obviously did not take because representing myself was funnier and also he’s my nemesis), and I don’t think he would have tried to help if he was the one who turned me in. Unless he did it to assuage his guilt, which, if so, guilt not assuaged, Andy. Another theory that gained some traction online was that I tipped off the police myself for publicity, but come on, that would be patently insane. I think it’s more likely that someone I don’t know stumbled across my website www.iburiedhumanbonesinthedesert.com and anonymously forwarded it to the cops, either because they don’t understand jokes or because they have a reverence for human bones? Feels unlikely since no one ever stumbles across any of the other joke websites I’ve made even when I’ve tried hard to get them to, but sometimes fate is just random like that. Practically, it doesn’t matter who tipped off the police, but it would be nice to know conclusively one day. Anyway, if you agree to represent me and appeal my case, I promise to call the new judge your honor, even though I think the title is silly like I said before, and I’ll also do whatever else you think is advisable to get these charges reversed. I’ll even pretend to be penitent for burying the human bones in the desert, which I think I can do pretty well seeing as how I was president of the Thespian Society in high school. What I’m saying is that I’m willing to take a drastically different approach to a second trial if we can get one (unless we’re supremely lucky enough to get a pro-goof judge), because I have now learned that standing up for my principles and doing a decently-funny bit in court is not worth it when jail time is on the line. Frankly, jail sucks pretty bad. Only like two guys in here appreciate my sense of humor and I think they’re mostly afraid to laugh in case the other guys hear. So please let me know what you’d need to make this work – I’m even willing to give you a percentage of the profits for the book I want to write about this experience if that doesn’t go against your lawyer ethics rules. Alternatively, if you’d like to be paid in human bones, I have some more buried elsewhere in the desert that I could promise to dig up for you if you get me out of jail. (That was a goof in case you couldn’t tell.) Okay, thank you for your time.


Ben Deeb