The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

The Prince and the Pea: Oklahoma Mass Murderer’s Tummy Aches

By Alexander Zaitchik on August 11, 2010 - 2:47 pm, Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Crime

Talk about delusional. Terry Nichols continues to believe that he is a princess in a high castle, and not a Supermax prisoner serving multiple life sentences for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people, including 19 children.

Once again, Nichols is attempting to rattle his tiny cage over the food served at the federal facility he calls home in Florence, Colo., where the 55-year old will likely spend the rest of his days. The Oklahoman newspaper reports that in July, Nichols wrote yet another legal memo demanding that the prison respect his “Christian” dietary needs. According to the paper, Nichols believes Christ wants him to subsist on raw, non-processed foodstuffs, such as uncooked vegetables, unpeeled fruit and whole-grain bread. The paper quotes Nichols’ memo as arguing, “God created our foods to be consumed in their whole unrefined state.”

To draw attention to his ongoing nutritional nightmare, Nichols has conducted three hunger strikes since February, at least one of which was ended when prison authorities jammed an IV tube into Nichols’ emaciated arm.

In order to pay for his Christian specialty diet, Nichols is asking that his $14.5 million restitution order — handed down on top of his life sentences for his role in the bombing — be lifted. According to The Associated Press, Nichols is currently allowed to spend just $25 a month.

This is not the first time Nichols has made a stink about Supermax food. As reported in Intelligence Report last summer, Nichols in April 2009 filed a gratuitously scatological lawsuit complaining that prison food made him suffer “chronic constipation, bleeding and hemorrhoids.”

For which an uninterested nation was forgiven for responding, “And your point is?”


    There are hardworking middle class families in our country that cannot afford the unprocessed, whole grain, unrefined, rich in fresh fruit and vegetables diet that he desires. High fat, low fiber, lousy for you food, is inexpensive. Just take a walk around the produce dept. in most parts of our country. Expensive! It is just a sign of how insane this man is that he would even entertain the notion that he deserves to be fed the best, after he helped destroy countless lives! Let him eat white bread!

  • Linda Walsh

    Oh well Terry’sChristian dietary needs: I was not aware there were any. Of course there possibly could be as in some variant, denomination of the Christian belief, or as the general public understands it, a cult. However, it could be just an convenient excuse to be coddled. Poor baby, or poor dingbat Terry; boo hoo, bohoo!

  • beholder


    If we are to consider the nature (I use that word specifically) and origin of our rights, you will see they CANNOT be taken away and still maintain any semblance of the liberal democracy.

    The origin of our legal system is from English common law, and the Founding principles were established according to natural law (as transposed into common law). See Blackstone’s commentaries.

    The writings of Locke, founder of modern liberalism, were particularly relevant but we can also see this verified in Hobbes, Paine, Voltaire and many thinkers who were influential and even fundamental to our system of government and Constitution.

    The principle of human rights (jus) is that they are conferred at birth and unlike laws (lex), which constitute privileges and obligations of the state, the natural (i.e. “of birth”) rights of humanity are not subject to statute, but quite to the contrary, the other way around.

  • Mike Magruder

    Maybe if they mail Terry to a Moroccan prison for a few months, he’ll be more appreciative of USA Justice. I wonder what the postage should be? These idiots are forgetting that they’re as dangerous as Talibans. Most other Americans have forgotten this as well. This is D…U…M…B

  • oklaw

    FYI, I am gaining a Masters in Human Rights, so I’ve studied same intensely over the last year. This is a debatable area, and the UN does not have the final say in this area.

  • oklaw

    We need to think about our definition of human rights, and how many rights you have left after you take the ultimate right to life away from so many people. Rights correspond to duties and responsibilities. Rights are privileges, not automatic. I think we have forgotten that in this modern era. Regardless of what the UN has to say about the issue, the UN does not control US policy. This is not about making Mr. Nichols comfortable. The fact that he is allowed to retain his right to life, which he denied so many innocent victims, is a great enough gift for him to receive.

  • beholder


    I didn’t say the IRA are terrorists. I said terrorists in the IRA. In 1998, an IRA car bombing killed 29 people in Northern Ireland. I’d say that counts at terrorism. I’m willing to accept there are different factions in the IRA, whatever you want to call it (political wing/military wing, whatver).

  • Geo

    The IRA are terrorists?! That says it all….we as a society have to literally take care of the individuals that we imprison. It is our burden. We as a society create and legislate laws that we want other people to follow. To be the warders of these laws we also must see to it that these men and women are not suffering under our watch.

  • ruben

    i have zero sympathy for this or any mass murderer but i agree with what someone posted on here…..we have guantanamo bay full of prisoners who either helped or fought on behalf of the people that killed thousands of innocent people on 9/11 and aren’t there requests including meals being catered to them according to there religous requests?the treatment of all terrorists/mass murders in prison must all be the same whether we like it or not.keep him fed well so he can live a long miserable life to reflect on what he did.

  • Dusty

    Let him starve himself. Did he give his victims any choice?

  • beholder

    Leslie prisoners in supermax facilities typically spend 22 hours a day or more in their cells, and they might see a slice of the sunlight for a few minutes a day from the pit they exercise in (alone) if allowed out at the right time. If you tried to grow a geranium in the amount of sunlight they receive per day it would die, much less sprout something wholesome to eat. The whole idea of supermax is to deprive them of sensory and social interaction. I think any one of the inmates would consider being able to grow a garden like going to paradise.

    In the UK during the crackdowns on the IRA, the Irish terrorists were kept in isolation. They finally realized they would have better discipline if they gave them more control, rather than less (doing jobs, earning privileges, etc.). Long term solitary confinement is considered torture by the UN and anyone who has been through it agrees nothing — even physical torture — is worse.

  • Leslie

    If prisoners are going to be required to work while incarcerated why not work to grow some of their own food. Of course, they should be paid. A prison kitchen could serve more fresh vegetables that way. Building self-esteem by participating in a community is one way to decrease recidivism in the prison system.

  • Mike Magruder

    They should give Mr. Terry a rattle, a bottle and a diaper. He especially needs a pacifier. I’m closely related to two generations of Federal retirees and I don’t appreciate one little eensy bit what stupid Terry and his moronic buddies did in Oklahoma City. DUH!

  • Mason Green

    Terry Nichols should be thankful that the pea in question didn’t sprout inside his lung, which is what happened to this guy:

    I don’t think that’s likely to happen with cooked or canned peas. But the kind of raw peas that Terry Nichols wants to eat are essentially still alive, which means that if they go down the wrong pipe, they can and will germinate.

  • t.sam

    americanwetback — I’m not sure I’m following all of your comment, but I think you and realthog are in agreement. “Motes and beams” is a biblical reference, i.e. Jesus’ teaching about hypocrisy. “Don’t sweat the tiny motes in someone else’s eye when you have a house beam in your own,” is basically what Jesus said.

    Diana Smith — thank you. And a helpful insight re: kickbacks in food services.

  • Diana Smith

    Wow! Most of these posts have found the ideal place within the Hatewatch log. What we should be asking ourselves is why are prisoners fed (forced or otherwise) high fat and high carb diets which are basically crap? I believe it’s more a case of someone getting kickbacks in the food service contract business than retribution or economics. Maybe, if we spent less time hating and more time thinking, there would be fewer Timothy McVeighs/Terry Nickhols.

  • Kevin

    Oh, the poor dear. I guess he shouldn’t have murdered all those people in Oklahoma, and if he hadn’t, then he could eat all the unrefined foods he would want.

    But, he is living in a state-run house, not his house, so he has to abide by their rules.

  • beholder

    Just something to consider, from an expose on solitary confinement in the New Yorker:

    “EEG studies going back to the nineteen-sixties have shown diffuse slowing of brain waves in prisoners after a week or more of solitary confinement. In 1992, fifty-seven prisoners of war, released after an average of six months in detention camps in the former Yugoslavia, were examined using EEG-like tests. The recordings revealed brain abnormalities months afterward; the most severe were found in prisoners who had endured either head trauma sufficient to render them unconscious or, yes, solitary confinement. Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury.”

    Read more

  • american wetback

    someone who gets it. we cant become like the enemy.
    so far the season of silliness has overstayed its welcome and we have bigger problems than terry nichol’s food habits. just like you want a fair shake, nichols is trying to get his. be thankful where we live in a country where the terry nichols of the world still have rights. motes and beams only work when it is your ox being gored. too bad people wait for something to happen to them before they start a foundation for the cure for whatever ales them.

  • beholder

    His freedom has been denied for life without possibility of parole and he’s going to spend the rest of his life in a shoebox.

    Our prison system attempts to do two things as far the inmate is concerned: to rehabilitate and to punish. Certainly a life without parole sentence indicates society feels he cannot be rehabilitiated. So, in the case of Nichols, he is in prison to be punished.

    And of course, he’s off the streets where he could cause more atrocity.

    This is by no means an apology or cry for leniency, but any rational person who studies conditions at Supermax understand how grim it really is. Statistics indicate that conditions drive many inmates insane.

    If we are punishing Nichols for an affront not only against the hundreds of innocents that he killed, and the many hundreds more family members who must live in the aftermath, we are also punishing him for an affront against the Constitution.

    The Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusal punishment, is extremely relevant to conditions in our nations’ highest security prison facilties. Prisoners are kept in near total social isolation, which may not sound like such a horrible thing from the outside, but is considered by international experts on human rights to be one of the worst of dehumanizing conditions in prison. It can, and often does, result in the complete destruction of personality.

    If our conditions of confinement become an affront to human decency and our very Constitution, I must wonder what purpose is served by such sentencing, since our example becomes as bad the offense.

  • realthog

    Hey, folks, the best way to counter hatred is to do a bit less hating yourself. I’m seeing a lot of hatred in the comments here, and the main article is not blameless in its last couple of paras — well below Hatewatch’s usually high standards.

    Y’know, motes and beams, hm?

  • Tracker10

    Everyone in prison gets the same high fat, high carb diet. They all get fat and constipated. Prison life isn’t meant to be pleasant.
    He should use his $25 a month to buy raw fruits and veg to supplement his diet, but then, this isn’t about his food. He’s just settling into prison life and realizing that it’s FOR LIFE. He’s still resisting his fate, trying to get attention.

  • jenwren

    I wish upon him only a steady diet of realization of just what he has inflicted on others. It would do him and his tummy the most good.

  • Daniel Rosenthal

    Terry Nichols should count himself lucky he didn’t get the
    needle like his friend Timothy McVey.

  • Paul

    Focus, people. His name is Terry NICHOLS, not “McNichols.”
    He is NOT related to the family of actors.

  • ierules

    Whole unrefined state, huh? Great. Toss him a cow – no tools, and tell him to start eating. If she kicks, oh well. As to the wheat seeds, make sure they are full of weevils as well. Bon appetit!

  • The BarbaryFalcon

    This would serve as a perfect precedent when it comes to denying the Islamic mass murderers/terrorists (for 9/11, 7/7 and etc) their Halal food.

  • beholder

    Matthew 15:11 states:

    “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”

    That in mind, I think McNichols has a pretty creaky theological argument to support his petition for a special diet, given his horrendous acts.

    I also believe that he, like any human being, has the right to physical integrity during incarceration (indeed the state has the obligation to force feed him to keep him alive if he chooses not to eat).

    That doesn’t mean a rich or luxurious diet, but I personally don’t see any purpose served by providing unwholesome food in the US penal system.

  • Paen

    I bet the families of his victims are all in tears about poor little McNicols suffering.

  • Tuli Reno

    Does Mr. McNichols also refuse to wear clothes? That is, after all, how god made us.

  • Snorlax

    I love it how these criminals go to prison, meet fellow felon Chuck Colson (former Nixon Watergate plumber) and…

    Hallelujah!! They’re SAVED!!!

    And according to Colson’s twisted theology, they’re now clean as a whistle and all their sins are forgiven.

    I’m not forgiving you, McNichols.

    You can come out of Supermax in a pine box.