Sunday, November 28, 2021

If You Truly Love America, You'll Tear it Down

 America is a nation that loves its fairytales and folklore, not just the legends that we teach to our children as if they were scientific fact, but the stories we tell ourselves that make up the very fabric of our day to day lives. The fables baked into our sacred holidays and tightly woven into our collective consciousness as a self-ordained master state, the indispensable nation, the greatest country on earth. 

There's the first Thanksgiving when desperate pilgrims seeking shelter and tolerance in the New World graciously broke bread with their new native neighbors. 

There's the glorious gunpowder miracle of the American Revolution, when our sage like Founding Fathers threw off the king's shackles and magically invented democracy out of thin air. 

Then there's the Second World War when the Greatest Generation saved the planet single-handedly from the scourge of Hitler and his undefeated Nazi stormtroopers. 

And of course, there's the time that Ronald Reagan saved the world from the evils of communism by defeating the Soviet Empire in the name of freedom, capitalism and apple-pie. 

We tell ourselves these stories so often that they've become almost second nature, forming a sort of national identity so existential to our very sense of self that even in the most heated of partisan political debates, the argument is never about the accuracy of these stories but rather which side lays claim to their tainted legacy. 

But these kinds of nationalist fairytales and folklore are really little more than a nostalgic and downright mystical variety of propaganda and, like most propaganda, they bear very little resemblance to the ugly truths that they were designed to obscure. Uncoincidentally, this kind of jingoistic zealotry has also made Americans downright allergic to these very same ugly truths. But here they are.

The truth about our buckle-loving pilgrim ancestors is that they were really little more than a puritanical death squad sent over in the Mayflower by King James to ethnically cleanse the native Wampanoag Nation of Turtle Island and prepare its scorched territory for use as slave plantations. Thanksgiving was invented by the nation these butchers built on the unmarked graves of the innocent during the Civil War and was then revived to its current folksy format during the Great Depression, on both occasions in order to galvanize a splintering empire beneath the authority of a single flag.

The truth about the American Revolution is that our Founding Fathers were wealthy oligarchs who hijacked this popular uprising and turned it into a glorified mutiny against a crown that they feared would threaten their ill-gotten wealth with its growing disenchantment with the slave trade and its intentions to limit the powers of these greedy colonists by granting rival Indian nations increased sovereignty. The very same Indian nations that Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson plagiarized with their invention of democracy in a document suspiciously similar to the Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy which they would later destroy to make room for more plantations.  

The truth about the Second World War is that America spent most of that battle aiding their old frenemies in the English Empire by helping them safeguard their own racist colonies in the third world while Nazi Germany depleted its resources slaughtering over 30 million Russians in a genocide that Churchill gleefully encouraged. The US only opened up the Western Front at Normandy after it had become frighteningly clear that Stalin had Hitler on the run and was about to steal our spoils across war torn Europe.

As for Reagan's Cold War victory, while America may have hastened the Soviet Union's collapse with our creation of Islamic terrorism on their borders, the Cold War only officially ended after our rival indispensable master state collapsed beneath the weight of its own vast rusted military hegemony and the increasingly hollow fairytales and folklore that they used to justify its existence to a populace that had grown too desperate to believe them anymore. The abyss stared back and Reagan saw victory in the mirror.

America's almost amniotic attachment to these lies that our government proliferates like bombs is made doubly tragic and strange when you dig a little deeper into our blood-spattered history and discover not only how deranged the true stories are but how many truly inspiring American stories there are lying just beneath the surface that simply never get told. 

Like the colonial uprising known as Bacon's Rebellion, when, in spite of the genocidal intentions of Nathaniel Bacon, European indentured servants and African slaves joined forces to liberate themselves from the King's despotic tobacco plantations and gain sovereignty over the soil they toiled on, burning Jamestown to the ground in the process and scaring the Crown into inventing the white race just to divide the pissed off poor people of this country against themselves.

Or the creation of the Seminole Nation by a renegade coalition of escaped slaves and Indian refugees who tamed the wilds of Florida to form the original stop on the underground railroad, much to the horror of plantation barons like Andrew Jackson. The American government attacked this rebel swamp republic in their first foreign intervention only to get their newly white asses whooped through the Everglades for nearly fifty goddamn years without the poly-colored savages giving them an inch of free soil without taking a mile of pink flesh.

Then there's the GI Movement, a motley crew of long-haired, dope smoking, antiwar, active-duty soldiers who forced their imperial masters to end the genocidal war on the people of Vietnam by threatening to wrestle control of our nation's sacred armed forces from them. During the late 60s and early 70s these rebel Ronin launched a rabid campaign of mutinies and officer fraggings that struck terror directly into the dark heart of the Pentagon itself and convinced the brass to pull the troops before they could join the Vietcong they were sent to kill in firing in Washington's general direction.

And of course, there's Timothy Leary's Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a rag-tag religion turned cartel of burnout surfers and ex-bikers who built America's greatest pot smuggling ring all so they could finance their messianic mission to turn the whole country onto the revolutionary power of LSD and forge world peace by encouraging an entire generation to tune in and drop out. 

This is America's other history. The history beneath the folklore. The history of the other America, my America, our America, the outlaw America. You see, dearest motherfuckers, I'll tell you a dirty little secret if you promise to spread it around, in spite of all my unpatriotic histrionic fire-breathing, I actually love this fucking country. I just hate the government that occupies it. America has always been a wild wide-open space, too vast for any one tribe to rule, so when our Founding Fathers forged an empire to do just that they inadvertently created a nation full of blind spots where a wide variety of tiny outlaw utopias could bloom out of sight from government eyes.

Polygamist compounds, mutual aid societies, proto-feminist brothels, new age movements, nudist colonies, hippie communes, outlaw biker gangs, gay cowboys, swinger's clubs, opium dens, Anabaptist farms, Black nationalists, temporary autonomous zones, red light districts, Afrocentric temples, hobo villages and black markets. This is the America I love. The decentralized collage of tribal freak nations that gave us free love, cryptocurrency, civilian militias, punk rock, internet porn, gangsta rap and blotter paper LSD. I love this country because I'm an unpatriotic histrionic fire-breather, and it's because I love this wild wide-open country that I hate the government that tries to control it.

What truly makes America great, what defines America's glorious outlaw culture is in direct opposition to everything that defines the American government and the toxic mythology it relies on to justify its very existence. Overthrowing this government, the one that jails, murders, censors and assimilates the freaks that make this country great, is the most American thing you can do. If you truly love America like I do, you'll tear it down. And the best way to do this, the least violent way to do this, is the way our American heroes from the escaped slaves to the Brotherhood of Eternal Love did it. By turning on, tuning in and dropping out.

Secede from this nation with fully autonomous communities that are completely unreliant on its largesse. Expand the grey market by creating a counter-economy that includes everything from pot to furniture and bleeds the government dry by denying it the pilfered tax revenue it relies on to bomb poor people and build prisons. We do all of this without firing a shot, but the moment the government tries to coerce us back under their dominion, we stand up and fight like Seminoles. With any luck, our derelict empire will go the way of their old Soviet adversaries and collapse before it comes to this because that's what governments too big for their nations do. However, we must be ready to defend this great outlaw nation of a thousand flags from all enemies, foreign and domestic, by any means necessary. But first things first, we have to break the spell of American folklore and wake the fuck up to live this wild American dream. No more fairytales of pilgrims and master states. No more worshiping power and voting for sociopaths.

Maybe this all sounds a little crazy, like the rantings of a star-crossed, dreamy eyed, freakazoid. But what do you expect, dearest motherfuckers? I'm a fucking American.

Peace, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack; songs that influenced this post

*  America (You're Freaking Me Out) by the Menzingers

*  Rebels by Tom Petty

*  Young Americans by David Bowie

*  Who We Be by DMX

*  The National Anthem by Radiohead

*  Mutiny, I Promise You by the New Pornographers

*  Banned In the USA by 2 Live Crew

*  See No Evil by Television

*  Your Best American Girl by Mitski

Sunday, November 21, 2021

The ArmaLite and the iPhone: How to Fuck the Police in a Post Defund Era

 Something happened on May 25th, 2020, when George Floyd's heart stopped, something revolutionary. As the whole country watched helplessly while a clearly psychotic police officer murdered a bound and incapacitated human being before a captive audience on a Minneapolis street, something snapped. Something in all of us. After decades of watching the police in this country slaughter unarmed Black people with total impunity, America said enough. By the end of the day Minneapolis was on fire, by the end of the week the whole country burned. The George Floyd Uprisings of the summer of 2020 were an unprecedented moment of collective insurrectionary upheaval. It was about race but it transcended race. Unlike the riots of 1968, this wasn't just a Black thing, this was a revolution thing. People of all races, classes, ages, genders and political persuasions joined each other in the streets in a massive outpouring of rage against the state in general and the armed thugs in blue who ruthlessly defend it in particular.

Cop cars were flipped like nickels, police stations burned to the ground, six city blocks in Seattle declared themselves to be an autonomous zone and essentially seceded from the United States. Protesters laid siege to a federal courthouse in Portland like Dien Bien Phu for over 100 days straight, weathering nightly barrages of teargas, rubber bullets and flashbang grenades until the feds backed down and abandoned their post in defeat. This state of existential panic among the authoritarian class reached all the way to the top. As an increasingly unhinged President Donald Trump unleashed caravans of anonymous federal agents in unmarked cars to disappear protesters in Portland, their comrades in Washington DC checked the commander in chief where he slept, surrounding the White House and shaking its gates like a cage as the most powerful man on earth cowered in his bunker. The illusion of state omnipotence had officially been shattered. People finally really did have the power.

The sharper powers at be knew what they had to do. Law and order would only accent their weakness and stoke the nation's righteous indignation. In order for the state to survive they would have to give the crowd what they wanted, or at least the temporary illusion of it. Suddenly, across the country, wealthy white liberals felt our pain. The pissed off people on the bottom of this country were showered in promises. Over night the seemingly radical notion of defunding the police had become a downright mainstream talking point. Nine members of the Minneapolis city council stood on a stage strewn with that very catchphrase and promised their enraged constituents that they would dismantle that cities notoriously racist and heavy handed police force. Portland mayor and renowned pigfucker Ted Wheeler pledged to divert millions in funding from his private army. Even the Democratic Party, who had notoriously given our nation's police state chainsaws with their Clinton Crime Bill, came to us in dashikis on bended knee and offered us the George Floyd Act if we just calmed down. We shouldn't have listened. We should have kept the fires burning.

Of coarse they all capitulated to their lobbyists once we put the torches down. That's what these people do. The Minneapolis City Council quickly abandoned their efforts to defund the police and a toothless ballot measure claiming to do just that was easily defeated by the Karens of the suburbs who had been strategically terrified with the liberal boogeyman of gun violence in a time of lockdown induced poverty. Mayor Wheeler flipped his wig completely and ended up announcing a $5.2 million expansion of the Portland Police Department he promised to reign in. And the George Floyd Act for Mild Mannered Police Reform died a silent death in the backrooms of Washington as soon as Derek Chauvin was successfully thrown under the bus by the very state that birthed him before being added to the ranks of the Prison Industrial Complex that he once so heartlessly served. 

None of this should be shocking to anyone guilty of paying attention to how this nation really works. The suburban bourgeoisie of this country will never purge their class privilege for the people they pet with bumper stickers calling for equality and racial harmony on their Teslas. These people can never comprehend the terror that marginalized people feel when we see those flashing red and blue lights. They can never truly grasp how someone like me, as a gender non-conforming transwoman, has to ask myself every time an armed cop approaches me, "Is this man going to rape me or merely hurl me into a holding cell with a bunch of men free to do their worst?" They're never going to have to give their sons instructions on how to react to state sanctioned racial profiling without getting shot. And the state they love will never save us from their own personal security detail, the sacred keepers of the monopoly on the use of force that gives their hierarchy meaning.

The government won't save us. We have to take the initiative to save ourselves. If the predator class in this country won't defund the police then we must arm ourselves and defend our communities, be they ghettoes, trailer parks or gayborhoods, by policing the police that prey on them. It wouldn't be the first time. The Black Panther Party was founded specifically for this very purpose in 1966. After reading about Robert F. Williams' efforts to create a Black Armed Guard in the Deep South to defend rural Blacks against the state sanctioned terrorism of the Klan, a couple of students at Oakland's Merritt Community College named Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale came to the conclusion that their notoriously violent local police force served the exact same function as their hooded southern brethren, brutalizing poor Black folk to keep them in line. So they decided to form an armed militia of their own that would serve the same purpose as Williams' Black Armed Guard for the ghettoes of inner city Oakland. Thus Bobby and Huey formed the Black Panthers with a handful of local street toughs, and after educating themselves on the finer points of California's gun laws, they took up arms and began policing the police.

Clad in black berets and leather jackets, the Panthers would monitor radio scanners and show up wherever the police did, legally armed with loaded shotguns as well as law books. The presence of heavily armed Black men kept the police from taking things too far while Panthers would inform the arrested of their legal rights. It worked. The streets patrolled by the Panthers became safer and their popularity quickly spread their ranks to new chapters across the country. The state was furious and began to make efforts to disarm the poor. 

After the Panthers protested these efforts with a heavily publicized armed march on the California State Capitol, then Republican governor, Ronald Reagan, signed the Mulford Act into law in 1967, banning open carry with the full support of both parties and the NRA, creating a precedent on which the national gun control movement would be constructed to keep poor people of all colors across the nation less armed than the police who bullied them. The Panthers kept up the good fight for as long as they could but they would ultimately succumb to the extrajudicial pressure put on them by the FBI and their deadly Cointelpro program that infested their ranks with saboteurs and entrapped their leaders in bloody ambushes by their allies in local police departments throughout the country. 

So what's changed since 1967? Not enough and a whole lot. The police continue to abuse the Black community and other marginalized people with total impunity, killing on average over 1000 people every year. But the battlefield has changed significantly and somewhat to our favor. Open carry laws have spread across the country with the full support of the Supreme Court and lobbies like the NRA who once supported their destruction. High powered rifles like the AR-15 are cheap and plentiful, giving civilians the option of fire superiority over their own local police forces. The powers at be have foolishly assumed that only white vigilantes like Kyle Rittenhouse will take advantage of this playing field but antifascist militias like Black Guns Matter, Redneck Revolt and the Not Fucking Around Coalition aim to prove them dead wrong.

But perhaps the greatest new weapon at our disposal to combat the scourge of the police state is the smartphone. The only reason this country even knows the names of unwilling martyrs like Eric Garner, Oscar Grant and George Floyd is that their tragic deaths were caught on camera by iPhones and other devices. Black, Brown and Queer people have been telling this country for years that we were being abused and often slaughtered in cold blood by this nation's finest, but seeing is believing and for many young Americans seeing this shocking imagery is what it took to bring them in the streets.

But it's not enough. Copwatch movements have blossomed across the country in recent years but this still doesn't change the fact that Eric Garner and George Floyd were slowly strangled to death as unarmed civilians stood by helpless to do anything but beg for humanity from the heavily armed barbarians in blue that kept them at bay. We saw a similar spectacle in Kenosha as cops in tanks sat by and watched as one of their junior cadets shot it out with a poorly armed mob of protesters. This is unacceptable. The only way that the people are ever going to be able to take back our streets is if we get organized and arm ourselves with both the rifle and the smartphone. The leadership of the Black Panthers was decimated after they were rendered fugitives by a spat of shady police shootouts that would take years to prove were acts of self-defense. With an arsenal of smartphones at their disposal, these facts would have been proven to the whole world instantly at the click of a button, and with well organized poor communities legally allowed to arm themselves in the open for any blue clad strangler to see, the cops will have no choice but to think twice before they fuck with us.

The Founding Fathers of this nation may have been a pack of slave raping genocidal plutocrats but they got one thing right when they observed that there was nothing more dangerous to democracy than a standing army and the only real defense against this menace is a well organized voluntary militia. If we the people want to rid ourselves once and for all of the standing armies of the police state, all we have to do is rise up and take back what's rightfully ours. Our streets. Our peace. Our communities. And all it costs is the price of an ArmaLite and an iPhone.

Peace, Love, & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack; songs that influenced this post

*  Fuck the Police by NWA

*  Follow Me Around by Radiohead

*  Police On My Back by the Clash

*  Territorial Pissings by Nirvana

*  I Shot the Sheriff by Bob Marley & the Wailers

*  Fight the Power by Public Enemy

*  I Fought the Law by Dead Kennedys

*  List of Demands by Saul Williams

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Partisan Derangement Syndrome: When Voting Becomes a Distraction from Democracy

 It seems like stupid season comes earlier and earlier every two years. Why, I could swear that only ten months ago was the most important national election of my young life and we're already gearing up for another most important national election of my young life. In fact, I would estimate that I've survived no fewer than 16 most important national elections of my young life, each one allegedly more most important than the last. Now, in the wake of Joe Biden's plummeting approval ratings and the recent gubernatorial upset in Virginia, Democrats and Republicans alike are prepping for all out war again during the midterms a full year before they're even set to take place and they're bombarding young independents like me with the message to vote for their corrupt corporate party instead of the other corrupt corporate party because my life depends on a lesser evil occupying the Capitol.

It's not all their fault. In fact, I kind of feel bad for the sorry bastards. Both Republicans and Democrats alike suffer from a debilitating virus more devastating than any two strains of COVID put together known as Partisan Derangement Syndrome. A form of toxic color blindness that allows one to act like an obnoxious close-minded little shit because only members of the other party are obnoxious close-minded little shits. Other symptoms of PDS include cable news dependency, rampant jingoism, the delusion that a single corrupt elderly white man is the cause of all life's ills, the delusion that some other equally corrupt elderly white man is the solution to all life's ills, oral diarrhea and badgering your few sane relatives to the brink of self-immolation for not succumbing to the same virus that has rendered you into a yammering hypocritical nitwit. Most people who suffer from PDS will have zero awareness of their own sickness but will become irritatingly aware of it's existence in the members of the rival party and will come up with fantastic plot lines to explain its purely partisan nature.

Republicans will tell you that Democrats are a band of multicultural Marxist jihadists on the war path to destroy America as we know it because they hate White Jesus and any poor freedom loving WASP who puts his name before common sense. In this narrative, Joe Biden is little more than a babbling braindead nincompoop controlled by a handful of dick chopping Muslim women of color, like some kind of Spike Lee Joint remake of Weekend At Bernie's. The ambition of these evil wokesters is to rape your children's supple minds with the exotic witchcraft of Critical Race Theory and Transgenderism until they join the hordes of undocumented aliens in forming a new genderless mulatto master race to replace the hard working Caucasian victims of this country's silent majority and usher in a new Eurasian Century for their secret Chinese overlords. 

Not to be beat, Democrats will tell you that Republicans represent nothing less than a Fifth Reich that answers directly to none other than Vladimir Putin himself and that a new rainbow coalition of permanently vulnerable but newly vital marginalized people like myself can only be saved from a career white supremacist supervillain like Donald Trump if we cling to the ample bosom of a career white supremacist savior like Joe Biden. Without the tirelessly patronizing patriarchy of the DNC, poor defenseless trannies like myself would be utterly helpless against the very police state that they erected to contain the minorities they suddenly care so damn much about. These self-made bastions of enlightened champagne socialism are the only thing standing between us and an unwashed horde of unvaccinated inbred Bible-thumping hillbillies, chomping toothlessly at the bit to subject our gloriously indispensable democracy to wave after wave of January 6 style insurrections until nothing but the autocracy of Orange Man Bad is left standing. 

This kind of divisive bipartisan culture war nonsense is nothing but a distraction from the cruel reality that both of these parties serve the same damn masters. It's all theater in the form of an epic fever dream of endless binary conflict between the forces of blue and red, good and evil. Washington politics is essentially just pro-wrestling for wonks. The two parties put on a good show battling over issues no lobby stands to profit much from, like abortion and CRT, when in reality they aren't so much fighting as dancing for the cameras, with every piledriver, elbow drop and chair shot carefully choreographed so that no one truly powerful ever gets hurt. And after a long day of play fighting, these wealthy heels and babyfaces all get together at the same tony Beltway garden parties and have a good laugh over cocktails at our expense as Republicans and Democrats alike toast to Lockheed Martin and Goldman Sachs and another two years of blowing up brown people in the desert with our tax dollars while they all get fat and rich.

Don't you see children, it's all a work. No matter which party holds the title belt this week, the same multinational corporations who fund this ruse always win. That's why the only thing that's really changed over the last year from Trump to Biden is the rhetoric. When you look at the politics that really count, nothing has changed. In no place is this more painfully clear than with the two issues that define the very nature of American imperial power; the police state and the war machine.

In the wake of the fiery uprisings of the summer of 2020, Joe Biden ran on a barrage of promises to roll back the police state that he and Bill Clinton constructed to keep the Black and Brown people they pander to in chains. The Democrats inaugurated this new era of reimagining policing with the George Floyd Act, a modest set of reforms that passed the House on partisan lines. But the moment Derek Chauvin was found guilty of lynching the bill's namesake, it very quickly died on the vine in backroom negotiations with nary a whimper from Senate Democrats, while Biden funneled $350 billion in pandemic relief funds into strengthening the same pigs his party quite willingly failed to reign in. Biden has similarly used the boogeymen of gun violence and domestic extremism to expand the reach of the FBI while they continue former Attorney General Bill Barr's jihad against the mostly Black partisans of the George Floyd Uprisings that frightened woke Democrats just enough to pretend that Black lives matter.

Meanwhile, the police state's greatest growth industry at the border continues to boom. In spite of Republican conspiracy theories of open borders and the great replacement, Biden has picked up where he left off during the Obama Administration by out trumping Trump on immigration cruelty. The concentration camps are fuller than ever with traumatized children and the Prison Industrial Complex is raking in the doe. After making a big show of closing a couple of notoriously depraved private prisons, Biden has kept nearly 200 open for ICE while using Title 42 to extrajudicially hurl out more migrants in less than a year than Trump did in four.

We see this same pattern of bait and switch hypocrisy in Biden's suspiciously Trumpian foreign policy. During his first foreign policy speech, Joe pledged to end all American support for Saudi Arabia's "offensive" operations in its genocidal war on Yemen. But Joe conveniently left the back door wide open by pledging to continue to support the sovereignty of a nation that considers bombing school busses full of children to be defensive. In the year since that speech, quite literally nothing has changed in Yemen. Saudi Arabia's crippling blockade remains as crippling as ever as millions of Yemenis teeter on the brink of starvation and Biden has ok'd half a billion dollars in maintenance contracts to keep the House of Saud's American killing machines killing. All while Joe plays the peace card by offering to end it all if the Houthi rebels simply disarm and surrender to their Wahhabi tormentors.

This same kind of diplomatic chicanery runs rampant on Iran as well. The Islamic Republic has graciously offered to return to the same peace deal Donald Trump unceremoniously tore to shreds, provided that we hold up our end of the bargain and lift the sanctions that have contributed to Iran's 125,000 COVID deaths. But 6 rounds of feckless negotiations in and the Biden Administration continues to sabotage it's alleged intentions to return to the JCPOA at every turn by adding conditions like requiring new restrictions to Iran's missile program that could cripple their defenses against their American tax dollar funded foes in Saudi Arabia. In the meantime, the White House continues to display their good faith by adding on even more sanctions and threatening Iran with announcements that all options remain on the table as we fly B-I Bombers over the Straight of Hormuz, flanked by Saudi fighter jets fresh from the killing fields of Yemen.

If all this seems eerily familiar it's because all of it was ripped straight from the book of Trump which was ripped straight from the book of Obama and so on and so forth. In a nation where the elections are ruthlessly rigged so only two parties can win and both parties serve the exact same corporate masters in the Prison and Military Industrial Complexes, elections aren't a form of democracy, they are a distraction from it. We saw more democracy in the streets in three months during the summer of 2020 than this country had seen in thirty years. That's why both parties are so desperate to quell this kind of cop car burning populism with chickenshit squabbles over textbooks and transgender bathrooms. The big secret of the supposedly game changing gubernatorial election in Virginia is that it was a race between a Carlyle Group neocon and a Clinton Foundation neoliberal. Two swamp critters with nary a ray of sunlight between their centrist plutocratic ambitions that both left and right wing populists should have been able to agree were equally loathsome and unworthy of a single ballot. This is how the partisan electoral hoax works in this country. It splits poor people against each other over rich fucking assholes who they should be saving their rage for.

The only known cure to Partisan Derangement Syndrome is direct democracy and you'll never find that in an American voting booth as long as the two party plutocracy is running the show. Enjoy stupid season, dearest motherfuckers. I'll see you people in the streets.

Peace, Love, & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack; songs that influenced this post

*  Champions of Red Wine by the New Pornographers

*  Text Book by Lana Del Rey

*  In the Meantime by Helmet

*  Dumb by Nirvana

*  Run Run Run by Kurt Vile

*  Cornflake Girl by Tori Amos

*  Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger

*  Working for the Knife by Mitski

*  Dimed Out by Titus Andronicus

*  You Can't Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones

Sunday, November 7, 2021

A Queer Call for Free Speech

 I didn't know Daphne Dorman but she was one of my people. Daphne was a transgender comedian and a Queer rights activist in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was a gifted software engineer who created her own web development agency but still managed to make time to volunteer as an instructor teaching other trans people code at her local LGBT Center. She was a devoted mother and sister who had survived a hellish childhood without ever losing her wicked sense of humor. She managed to turn this hard earned skill for comic survivalism into a budding career as a stand up in her local comedy scene. 

Daphne Dorman is probably best known though for her friendship with fellow comedian Dave Chappelle who would become something of a mentor to her. After Dave's 2019 Netflix special, Sticks and Stones, came under heavy fire for perceived homophobic and transphobic material, Daphne stuck her neck out for her friend's right to free speech on Twitter only to have it savagely slit for days by her own people, my people. As Chapelle would note at the end of his latest incendiary special, The Closer, within weeks of being dragged across social media as a traitor to her kind for simply voicing an unpopular opinion, Daphne took her own life, leaving a litany of apologies to her community on Facebook. 

We will probably never know for sure if Daphne's tragic suicide was the result of these attacks, as Chappelle has insinuated. As noted above, Daphne had a lifetime's worth of demons to contend with and she had just lost custody of her young daughter. Suicide is sadly common among my people. But I can tell you as an openly genderqueer transwoman myself that there has been more than one occasion when having the support of my tribe has been the only thing that's kept me from walking into oncoming traffic and Daphne lost this safety net right when she needed it most. We, as a community, let her down and now we all have to live with that.

So why then do I feel like the only trans person who feels guilty. In all the fall out over The Closer, with the protests and walkouts and online diatribes calling for Dave Chappelle's microphone to be cut, the facts surrounding Daphne's death have been largely glossed over at best. Dave devoted the last ten minutes of this special to a proud transwoman who he called a member of his own tribe, and her entire existence is being treated as a footnote. 

That's because most of the people reacting to Dave's controversial set, Queer and straight, didn't even bother to watch it before deciding that it should be canceled for crimes against political correctness. But to me the greatest crime here is the fact that my people chose political correctness over one of our own and the results may have been devastating. We owe it not just to Daphne but to ourselves to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves, what have we become? And is this who we truly want to be?

That's why I chose to write this piece. I'm not here to defend Dave Chapelle or his set. Though I truly believe that Dave's intention with The Closer was to open up a dialogue between the Black and Queer communities, his failure to acknowledge my communities own history of oppression and in particular his abject failure to even recognize the existence of Black Queer people disturbed me as much as any Queer person. 

My intention also isn't to write a partisan diatribe against the evils of liberal cancel culture. Quite the contrary. I recognize cancel culture to be a uniquely conservative contraption birthed by those fascists in the Christian Right. Which is why I really wrote this piece, to ask my people on both the far-left and in the Queer community, why in god's green dick are you embracing the distinctly conservative values of censorship and what do you honestly hope to achieve by doing this? This isn't who we are. We can do better than this. I know because I came to these movements to escape this cancel culture.

I grew up in a stultifyingly conservative rural Christian community. I spent 11 years at a tiny Catholic school where everything that was deemed inappropriate for young Christian minds was canceled and nearly everything was deemed inappropriate. That TV show is too violent, cancel it, it's inappropriate. That pop song is too suggestive, cancel it, it's inappropriate. That playground game doesn't instill traditional Christian values, you guessed it, cancel it, it's inappropriate.

But the real trouble didn't start until it began to become abundantly clear that I myself was the problem. Everything I did, everywhere I went, was somehow always wrong, the way I walked, the way I talked, the way I dressed, the pictures I drew and the stories I wrote all seemed to point to the fact that I was somehow fundamentally different from the other little boys and girls and therefore I was inappropriate.

In a small town in rural Pennsylvania in the late nineties nobody had ever even heard of words like genderqueer or non-binary. What I knew about being transgender was that it meant you were a boy who played with dolls and wore dresses, and it meant you were mentally ill and probably going to hell. I had no idea that someone could be a tomboy or even a lesbian in a boy's body, so I grew up having no idea I was Queer. I had know idea what the hell I was. All I knew is that I was a freak and that was inappropriate. Even worse, the few people on TV who looked or acted anything like the way I felt on the inside; Grace Jones, KD Lang, Marilyn Manson, Dennis Rodman, were all canceled sinners destined for eternal damnation, so it didn't take me very long to connect the dots.

I grew up convinced that I was going to hell and that if anyone ever saw the real me, my friends, my teachers, my parents, they would run for the hills from what they saw. I didn't believe that I was deserving of even god's love, so I didn't love myself. These feelings of deep seated shame and self-loathing lasted well into adulthood and ultimately festered into PTSD and a series of crippling nervous breakdowns that metastasized into full blown agoraphobia by my early twenties.

My only salvation from this isolated hell was my books and my music. Through my own private studies on the counterculture of the 1960s and 70s and my discovery of punk rock music, I was introduced to the far-left. This was the far-left of Lenny Bruce, H. Rap Brown, Patti Smith and Jello Biafra. The far-left of CBGB's and the White Panther Party. The far left of rock n roll, dope and fucking in the streets. This wasn't a movement defined by rules and mores. 

It was a tribal community of fellow freaks who refused to be ashamed, who did what they wanted, smoked what they wanted, fucked who they wanted, and above all else, said what they wanted to say. A movement all about speaking truth to power and telling it like it is. It was the polar opposite of the conservative Christian gulag of my childhood. As long as you weren't hurting anyone else, nothing was inappropriate, no subject was off the table, and if anything, offending people was celebrated as a revolutionary act of liberation.

It was this movement that finally led me to my tribe. I didn't begin to recover from my childhood until I came out of the closet and embraced my queerness in all its uncensored glory. I wasn't LGBT. I was a genderfuck bull-dyke with a dick and I was done with being ashamed of being inappropriate. John Waters wasn't appropriate. Allen Ginsberg wasn't appropriate. Vaginal Davis sure as fuck wasn't appropriate. So why the fuck should I be. I was finally free from the prison cell of my childhood tormentors, but somewhere along the line something very strange and terrifying happened. The left and the LGBT movement became appropriate.

Somehow my people had become the new church ladies, and once again, the way I walked, the way I talked, the pictures I drew and the stories I wrote became inappropriate, this time in the name of political correctness, an unwritten code of conduct that insures that no one will offend anyone ever again. Now nobody seems to give a fuck about the freedom these movements once represented. They're all much too concerned with safety, even if it means silencing our own damn people with the machinery of big government and big business. Well I won't have it. I won't stand by and watch the movements and communities I love become like the one I barely escaped with my life.

I fundamentally reject the insane notion that equates art and speech of any kind with violence. This is the exact same bunk that the Christian Right has trafficked in for decades. Record stores and comic shops were lobbied mercilessly by pearl clutching Jesus freaks to remove violent and sexual content that they insisted would lead to bedlam. Now my own damn people are protesting any website that provides a platform to people who talk shit about us because this allegedly promotes violence towards marginalized people like me. Well this marginalized person calls bullshit.

Dave Chapelle is no more responsible for the actions of assholes who bash me for stepping in the wrong bathroom than Grand Theft Auto is for the latest school shooting. Art doesn't kill people, psychopaths do, and cancel culture of any kind only empowers the same corporate and federal psychopaths that thrive on the very bigotry they claim to protect us from. Down south, the state is sold as the only defense good Bible thumping folk have to protect them from perverts in skirts in the ladies room. Up in the supposedly enlightened north, this exact same power structure is sold as the only thing protecting minorities like me from roaming mobs of mouth frothing bigots. I for one am tired of being used as prop for this scam. It's a fucking shell game and no matter which shell you pick, the house wins.

Queer people got sold this shit because we're scared and we have every right to be considering the sheer amount of violence and oppression we face on a daily basis. It's not unusual for victims of oppression to adopt the tactics of their oppressor in self-defense.  But this is not the answer. The only thing political correctness achieves is making it easier for powerful bigots to hide behind good manners while brave outspoken powerless people like Daphne Dorman get crushed for not following the rules that supposedly protect us. As long as the same hierarchal structures remains in tact, any rules we create will only be used to solidify their power.

So I say let Dave tell his shitty jokes even if they do make us cringe, and push companies like Netflix to hire more trans comics instead of canceling him, because everyone deserves a platform, even the assholes. The only thing inappropriate enough to be worth canceling is the power systems that censorship, no matter how well intentioned, reinforces. This can only be done by giving everyone the freedom to speak so long as everyone has the right to respond.

Peace, Love, & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack; songs that influenced this post

*  Bad Catholics by the Menzingers

*  Eat Me Alive by Judas Priest

*  Everybody Does by Julien Baker

*  Bastard by Motley Crue

*  Shell Game by Bright Eyes

*  Animal (Fuck Like a Beast) by W.A.S.P.

*  M.T.V.- Get Off the Air by Dead Kennedys

*  Into the Coven by Mercyful Fate

*  Rock n Roll N*gger by Patti Smith

*  Possessed by Venom