On August 12, 2013 it was reported that Rabbi Levi Krinsky of Chabad Lubavitch in Manchester, New Hampshire when asked to explain the actions of a man who killed his son and then himself said of that man whom he knew : “The sane mind cannot comprehend the thoughts of the insane mind.”
To understand the story of James “Whitey” Bulger you must keep in mind what the Rabbi Krinsky said, but alter it a bit, a very little bit, to “the non-gangster mind cannot comprehend the thoughts of the gangster mind.”
To decide if you can comprehend how a gangster thinks ask yourself if you would consider yourself a good person if you shot an unarmed person in the back of the head. If you say yes, then you possibly possess that ability. To tell if truly possess the ability to comprehend a gangster’s thoughts, ask yourself if you murdered 20 people in a like manner would you still think you were a good person. That is what John Martorano told us. If you believe like he does, you can comprehend the gangster mind.
There is no doubt in my mind Whitey Bulger feels he too is a good man. If asked he’d explain that, despite what the jury said, he had nothing to do with the murder of the young women; he’d also probably say he was against the Wheeler/Callahan murders, in that he was doing very well on the local scene and had no desire to get outside his comfort zone. As to the other murders they were either kill or be killed by another gangster, as one gangster testified in the John Connolly trial, or the person brought it upon himself by being a rat, or in the case of someone like Bucky Barrett, a potential rat. He’d explain, that what he did to Bucky was what President Bush did to Iraq, it was a preventive strike.
Bottom line Whitey would say is he was in the gangster business and for the most part the only people he hurt were his competition, other gangsters in that business. Like in any business, he’d point out that there is always some collateral damage where unintended consequences occurred such as a person not a gangster got killed. He’d be glad to tell us he feels bad about that type person.
The gangster sees the world differently just like an insane person. The insane person can not conform her conduct to the standards the rest of us follow because of a mental disease; the gangster can not conform her conduct to the those standards because they interfere with her chosen way of life.
Aside from understanding the gangster mind, it’s nice to have an understanding of the gangster world, or as some call it the Underworld. The real gangsters live by two very important ideas. The first, Kevin Weeks summed up best when he told us in his book that Whitey told him the idea behind committing a crime is not to be caught.
A true gangster will not go about bragging about what she is doing or has done. She will limited the knowledge of her criminal actions to others who are necessary to its carrying out. If she gets the word that another who was with her, such as we saw in the case of Eddie Connors blabbing to others about how he set up Spike O’Toole for Winter Hill, she’ll quickly try to shut that spigot.
The second part, also told by Weeks, and confirmed by others, is the absolute necessity of knowing what is happening around her. She and her associates will always have their antennas up and their feelers out to see who is doing what to whom. Just like the FBI uses informant information to keep track of what the criminals are doing, so to do the gangsters have people, many times the number available to the FBI, who are constantly feeding them information. You can be sure that what the FBI gets is pretty much what has become old news in the Underworld.
Gangsters hang around with gangsters and they are continually talking. Sometime a drink or two will loosen someones lips and what is said magically spreads like a wildfire. I say magically because those on the inside doing time sometimes know more about what is going on outside than many outside. It might seem strange that on the one hand secrecy is essential yet the news of what happens flows freely. Much of the news is pure scuttlebutt but within it gems of truth float about. Like with anything, those with the ability to find the gems rise to the top. Those with the ability to keep their mouths shut and to insure through brutal fear that their accomplices do the same thing also rise to the top. Often they are the same persons.
In the Underworld the law doesn’t apply. To be in there is to experience what happens when law and order breaks down. Those most vicious, the brutes, the ones most willing to murder become the Uppers. The Uppers make the law. Others in that world pay them obeisance; are expected to do what the Uppers demand; and do so to stay alive.
To understand Whitey, you first must keep in mind you’ll never really understand him because you can’t think like him; but you can make an attempt if you understand the world he lived in.