Archive for the 'politics' Category

Sep 04 2015

I See Dead People

Over the past day or two, I’ve had the (mis)fortune of having Aylan Kurdi’s photo assault my senses without warning in my Facebook feed.  I suspect this photo will go down in history alongside that of Phan Thi Kim Phuc and countless other photos documenting the extremely tragic consequences of being caught in the crossfire of war and unnecessary violence.

I also had the (mis)fortune (several days ago) of seeing Alison Parker and Adam Ward gunned down by Bryce Williams/Vester Flanagan, both from Ward’s perspective, and Flanagan’s perspective.

And, then, of course, there are people shooting up churches, movie theaters, schools, etc.

And, as usual, there is outrage.  There is anger. There is righteous indignation.

After that, there is outrage that there isn’t enough outrage.  There is anger that there isn’t enough anger. There is righteous indignation that there isn’t enough righteous indignation.

As usual.

Then there is the inevitable “While you were distracted by this Thing, This Other Thing was happening!” type hectoring, about how we’re all “sheeple” and puppets of the media/government/etc. and we should be ashamed, but oh wait, here’s the Next Thing to be outraged, angered and indignant about.

As usual.

There are also occasional forays into “You’re outraged for the wrong reasons and I’m outraged at you!”

(to note: Kim Davis denying marriage licenses in Kentucky for “religious” reasons, but pointing out her hypocrisy based on multiple divorces and children born out of wedlock, is now being called “slut shaming” and nobody’s allowed to point out the very obvious fact that she looks kinda like Annie Wilkes in Misery).

"Dirty Birdies! No Cockadoodie Marriage License for YOU!"

“Dirty Birdies! No Cockadoodie Marriage License for YOU!”

Aren’t we all pissed off about someone shooting a lion, too?  Or are we done with that now?

Anyway.

Let’s talk about dead people.

While not directed at me in particular (thankfully, or I would be forced to cut a bitch), it seems that I’m now seeing the outrage-that-there-isn’t-enough-outrage phase of the reactions to the photo of Aylan Kurdi’s body on the beach. People are getting cranky that others aren’t publicly displaying their outrage in sufficient quantities.

So, let me offer my reasons for NOT going on about this particular tragedy in great length on social media (and by “great length” I mean “at all”).  Because, you know, my silence on the subject obviously means I’m either apathetic or a monster of some sort.

  1. Aylan Kurdi is the same age as my son.
  2. Aylan Kurdi’s position on the beach is in many ways similar to a position in which my son likes to sleep.
  3. My son was born prematurely, 6 weeks after we found out about him even existing.
  4. My wife and my son almost died a few days before he was born.
  5. My wife’s blood pressure reached Scanners – type levels, that everyone we’ve told the numbers to, is in awe that she didn’t stroke out.
  6. As a result, my son was born via emergency C-Section, after an entire night of all of us staying awake, trying to keep my wife and son alive.
  7. My son was not breathing when he was taken out. They had to intubate him immediately.
  8. My wife almost died again in the recovery room, and had to be taken to the ICU.
  9. My son then spent the next 11 weeks in the NICU.  During this time:
    • He developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis.
    • One of the other infants in the NICU died from this.
    • My son was also diagnosed with Tracheomalacia.
    • My son had frequent Apnea Bradycardia episodes.
    • Because of these things, he coded a number of times, including once while sleeping on me, and once while feeding from his mother.
    • My infant son had more wires and tubes sticking out of him than the humans in The Matrix.
    • My wife (bless her) spent every single day, all day, in the NICU with our son.
    • I could only spend the weekends, due to being 120 miles south  and starting a new job. This tore me apart inside, and still does.
  10. As if all this wasn’t enough, the time you spend in the NICU is not private.  You’re surrounded by other premature infants with their own host of medical issues, their parents, their doctors, and the assorted alarms going off around you. Constantly.
  11. We all survived this (yay!), but then shortly after we got home, the three of us got the flu, and this happened:
    • My 3 month son coughed up some phlegm and aspirated on it.
    • I picked him up, and he was cold, and his body had as much rigidity as a dead salmon you’d pick up at the fish market.
    • We called 911, and during the longest 10 minutes of my life, I was able to half-resucitate him, and keep him alive long enough for the paramedics to show up.
    • I got to ride in an ambulance with my 3 month old son fighting for his life in the back for the second longest 10 minutes of my life.
    • We spent all night at the local hospital that told us they didn’t want him there because they weren’t comfortable with the idea.
    • Our ER nurse kept disappearing, and I had to keep my son breathing for hours, by manually stimulating him.
    • When they finally moved him to a different room in the ER, he started to code again. This brought about a flood of doctors attempting to perform CPR, injecting him with Ketamine (for reasons I still don’t understand), and unsuccessfully trying to intubate him for far longer than necessary.
    • All of this while waiting for us to get transferred back to the NICU where we’d started (120 miles north). And then finding out that the helicopter had to turn back because of bad weather.
    • I then got to ride in an ambulance for 120 miles in back, with my son, stabilized, but in a metal canister, and beyond my ability to touch.  All I could do was watch him through a small window.
    • Then 10 more days of the NICU.

So, then.  We all survived, because, you know, #WhitePrivilege or something. And this now brings us to Aylan Kurdi, washed up on the beach.

If you re-read #3-11 above, I think -I hope- you would understand that I have PTSD from all of this.  Now, if you tie that back to #1 and #2, above, you’ll understand why I don’t have a whole lot to say about Aylan Kurdi.  But in case you don’t, let me elaborate:

It isn’t that I don’t feel Abdullah Kurdi’s loss.  The problem is, I do.  Seeing Aylan. Seeing Aylan on the beach.  Seeing how big (little) he is, and the position he’s in, brings #3-11 screaming back to me.  In my mind, in my body, in my veins.  I want to throw up. I want to scream.  Abullah has said “I want to bury my children and sit beside them until I die.”

And the problem is, I get that.  I know that.  I know because I came close to that too many times.

So, why am I not joining in the outrage on social media?

Because, ultimately, it doesn’t do anything.

It doesn’t save lives. It doesn’t change the world (unless you count some of the lynch mobs launched from Twitter), and, frankly, to me, it often straddles the line into masturbatory exercises about tragedy porn.

“But it raises awareness!”

Great! I’m aware!

Now what?  Do we all pat ourselves on the back for being “aware” now?  I’m aware. You’re aware. Now we don’t have to do anything else.  We’re aware.  All we need to do now is make sure everyone else is aware, too.  And if they’re not contributing to the Chorus of Being Aware (via “liking and sharing”) then THEY ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

I am aware that a disproportionate number of African-Americans are killed and/or imprisoned by the police.  I’m aware of this. For the record, I think this sucks.

I am aware that some white kid shot up an African-American church.  I’m aware of this. For the record, I think this sucks.

I am aware that the frankly ludicrous solution to this was for everyone to run around demanding Confederate flags be taken down, because this would instantly solve racism, or something.  More likely, it’s just going to piss people off.  Also, I find the logic of “you lost the war, why are you flying it?!” to be a dangerous road to take.  I look forward to the eradication of the Palestinan flag by the Left based on the same grounds. Yeah, I didn’t think so (and, for the record, I fully support Palestinan statehood).

I am aware that #BlackLivesMatter.  I believe they do.

I am also aware that #AllLivesMatter.  I also believe they do.  That includes your life. My life. My wife’s life. My son’s life. Aylan Kurdi’s life. The lives of those killed in the Charleston church shooting. The people killed by Anders Breivik. Everyone’s life.  Yet this is frowned upon as being somehow “racist.” (Personally, I think that by believing that #AllLivesMatter, it means I’ve got your back, regardless, and you don’t have to worry about whether I think you’re in the cool kids club or not.  But that’s me, and I refuse to be an “ally”.)

Alison Parker and Adam Ward were shot in cold blood by someone who took the time to post the fucking video online. That someone, Vester Flanagan, was a gay black man.

#WhoseLivesMattered?

The cold harsh reality of life is that it is complex (beautifully, painfully complex), and cannot be summed up in simple categorizations based on hashtags, or whatever groups one identifies with. To simply categorize anyone is to dehumanize them.

And that’s not something I’m okay with.

I am aware that H.P. Lovecraft was a racist.  For the record, I simply don’t give a shit.

Personally, I don’t think “awareness” is enough when it comes to problems such as these. Awareness is a cop-out. Go fucking do something, if you’re up in arms about an issue, or, alternatively, recognize the limitations of what you can do. I can be upset about Aylan Kurdi (and I am).  I can be upset about all of these issues.  But what I can’t do, realistically speaking, is anything to directly help the refugee situation, the victims of the latest shooting, or the outrage du jour.  While posting about these things on social media might make some people feel better (by bringing “awareness”) to me, it’s (too often) an empty gesture.

 

If you want to find a helpful organization to give to, then please do. I respect that.

If I had money to spare, I’d probably do the same.

Life doesn’t check your hashtags to make sure you’re one of the Good Guys (please forgive my use of cis-gendered heteronormative binary privileged nomenclature here).

And while I concede and agree that we all deal with shit differently, I am also a firm believer in Chapter 6 of the Gospel of Matthew when it comes to these things:

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them (verse 1)

When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others (verse 2)

When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others (verse 5)

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting (verse 16).

So don’t assume my “silence” on an issue is apathy (even though it’s entirely possible it may sometimes be). For me, Facebook is not “life.”  I owe you no explanations or reasons for my perceived silence on any issue. You don’t know what’s going on in my head, or my heart, or even my life.

Though now, close to 2,000 words later, you have a glimpse.

 

 

One response so far

Mar 13 2014

tl;dr (New World Odor)

Published by under Personal,politics,psychology

It’s 2014, and somewhere along the way, we’ve lost our humanity, and the ability to see the (beautiful) complexity of each other’s souls.

I’m not entirely sure we ever had it, truthfully, but things seem to be hitting a fever pitch lately.

The short version is that interactions, discussions, debate, social discourse have all become about zero-sum games.

Zero-Sum Game:

A situation in which a gain by one person or side must be matched by a loss by another person or side. –The Free Dictionary

People and situations are being reduced to their most convenient (not even basic) components. We can’t even agree to disagree.

I’ve become fascinated by blind adherence to ideology, of late. Why are each of us so certain that we have the “right” answers, and everyone else is wrong? In a move that I’m sure will piss off at least a few people, I’m going to point my finger equally at the Right, the Left, Vegans, Feminists, Fundamentalists (of any religion), Integral Theorists, CSICOP, 9/11 Truthers, Tea Partiers, White Supremacists, Marxists, Fascists, Anti-Fascists, Libertarians, Objectivists, Holistic NewAge types, Anti-Vaccine people, and more.

Just because I haven’t included your particular paradigmatic belief system in this list does not make you automatically immune from what I am saying.

There is nothing sadder, in my opinion, than someone who not only claims to have all of the answers, but adamantly refuses to read or explore ideas beyond their limited worldview.

I don’t claim to have any answers, let alone “all” of the answers. I also read a lot on a variety of subjects.

The Truth!

The Truth!

Today, I got sucked into an argument with a 9/11 Truther.  I should know better.  I really should. There is nothing I can say or do that will convince him that I am anything other than one of the “sheeple.”  Because I’ve read a good chunk of the source material he’s referring to and remain unconvinced, he can only reply with

oh yeah cause it best to just eat doughnuts and scratch your dirty ass then know what your country is up to. The old “I don’t want to read or be informed of anything I have a latte chilling on the side board” argument. shallow waters evaporate quickly.

"You, for one, should welcome your new overlords!"

“You, for one, should welcome your new overlords!”

The main problem with this (besides the fact that I tend to avoid donuts) is that there’s an underlying assumption that if I just read this one thing, or just watch this one video, my mind will be blown wide open, I will see the light, I will finally realize that my entire life has been a lie.

What I find sad/entertaining/smh-inducing is that the minute someone challenges the merits of an argument, questions an assumption (or, hell, even asks a question, period), the average truther will respond with exactly this kind of rage-intensive ad hominem attack.

This tactic generally happens with fundamentalists of any ideology of belief system, by the way.

Not too long ago, I read Michael Barkun’s A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (now in new, revised form!).

Aside from the obvious – that Barkun is really a shill for the New World Order (NOT) – the book offered some fascinating insight into how this sort of fundamentalism coalesces.

(Apologies for the long quote)

“[Colin] Campbell argued that cults emerge out of a supportive social and ideological environment, which he called the cultic milieu. This cultural underground encompasses [James] Webb’s concept of rejected knowledge, but is broader in two ways. First, it includes ‘all deviant belief systems,’ not merely those that find their way to occultism, though the occult remains a major component of the cultic milieu. But that milieu includes not simply beliefs and ideas but also their related practices, ‘the collectivities, institutions, individuals and media of communication associated with these beliefs.’…

“The cultic milieu is by nature hostile to authority, both because it rejects the authority of such normative institutions as churches and universities, and because no single institution within the milieu has the authority to prescribe beliefs and practices for those within it. As diverse as the cultic milieu is, however, Campbell finds in it ‘unifying tendences.’ One such tendency is its opposition to ‘dominant cultural orthodoxies.’..The very oppositional situation of the cultic millieu makes it wary of all claims to authoritative judgment. Its suspiciousness makes it intrinsically receptive to all forms of revisionism, whether in history, religion, science, or politics.

If disdain for orthodoxy is one trait of the cultic milieu, another is its fluidity. Ideas migrate easily from one part of the milieu to another, their movement facilitated by both a general receptivity to the unorthodox and a communication system of publications, meetings, and (more recently) interlinked Web sites. According to Campbell, ‘the literature of particular groups and movements frequently devotes space to topics outside its own orbit, including reviews of one another’s literature and advertises one another’s meetings. As a direct consequence of this individuals who ‘enter’ the milieu at any one point frequently travel rapidly through a variety of movements and beliefs and by so doing constitute yet another unifying force within the milieu.'” (pp. 25-26)

Stigmatized Knowledge:

“The domain of stigmatized knowledge claims may be divided into five varieties:

  • Forgotten Knowledge: knowledge once allegedly known but lost through faulty memory, cataclysm, or some other interrupting factor (e.g. beliefs about ancient wisdom once possessed by inhabitants of Atlantis)
  • Superseded Knowledge: claims that once were authoritatively recognized as knowledge but lost that status because they came to be regarded as false or less valid than other claims (e.g., astrology and alchemy).
  • Ignored Knowledge: knowledge claims that persist in low-prestige social groups but are not taken seriously by others (e.g., folk medicine).
  • Rejected Knowledge: knowledge claims that are explicitly rejected as false from the outset (e.g., UFO abductions)
  • Suppressed knowledge: claims that are allegedly known to be valid by authoritative institutions but are suppressed because the institutions fear the consequences of public knowledge or have some evil or selfish motive for hiding the truth (e.g., the alien origins of UFOs and suppressed cancer cures).

“Stigmatized knowledge appears compelling to believers not only because it possesses the cachet of the suppressed and forbidden, but because of its allegedly empirical basis. Some stigmatized knowledge appears to rest on nonempirical or antiempirical foundations – for example, knowledge claimed to derive from spiritual entities channeled through human intermediaries. To a striking extent, however, stigmatized knowledge rests on asserted empirical foundations: those who make the claims explicitly or by implication challenge others to test their facts against evidence…Yet the version of empiricism that operates in the domain of stigmatized knowledge has its own peculiar characteristics.

“In the first place, stigmatization itself is taken to be evidence of truth – for why else would a belief be stigmatized if not to suppress the truth? Hence stigmatization, instead of making a truth claim appear problematic, is seen to give it credibility, by implying that some malign forces conspired to prevent its becoming known. A presumption of validity therefore attaches to stigmatized claims, which greatly facilitates the flow of such claims through the cultic milieu…

“At the same time that stigmatization is employed as a virtual guarantee of truth, the literature of stigmatized knowledge enthusiastically mimics mainstream scholarship. It does so by appropriating the apparatus of scholarship in the form of elaborate citations and bibliographies. The most common manifestation of pedantry is a fondness for reciprocal citation, in which authors obligingly cite one another. The result is that the same sources are repeated over and over, which produces a kind of pseudoconfirmation…the multiplication of sources may leave the impression of validation without actually putting any propositions to the test.” (pp.  27-29)

I’ve noticed this trend not just in the Truther movement, but in the other areas I’ve mentioned above, as well.

Look, I get how exciting it is to believe that you’ve magically solved the riddles, that you can see through the Matrix, and that you’re one of the Enlightened Ones.  It’s an awesome feeling.  Really.  And, more importantly, I’m honestly impressed with your desire to learn, and your (albeit limited) use of critical thinking. To quote the character Twist, from Spaced, “I really see what you were trying to do.”

But unless you turn that critical thinking onto your replacement paradigm, you’ve only traded one master for another, one dogma for another – The King is Dead, Long Live the King.

Perhaps?

Perhaps?

I’ve read a good chunk of 9/11 literature. I’ve seen just about every variation of Loose Change. I think there are some legitimate questions. But the answers provided to these questions lead me to further questions, which people seem to panic and get defensive (if not hostile) about when I ask them.

But if your ultimate goal is to “tip us towards the Light” (whatever that means), then you’ll have to be patient with me, and understand if I (and several million others) remain unconvinced by your arguments.

I’m waiting for proof.  Innuendo, guilt-by-association, and credibility-stretching connections between people and events aren’t enough.

You have yet to convince me. I’m sorry.

Finally, I would like to add that I am again, curious, if the insistence of fundamentalists that others join their cause is to give them a better sense of security in their beliefs. Safety in numbers.

So, in the meantime, I’m going to go back to “scratching my dirty ass” and drinking my latte.

You can keep the donuts.

No responses yet

Feb 25 2014

Art and Artist

Back in September, I had the good fortune to attend a Death In June concert with my wife, in San Francisco. The show was visited by a few misguided AntiFa protesters – I’ve written about it here.

Don't make me get all batrachian on you...

Don’t make me get all batrachian on you…

Twice now, within the last few months, I’ve again had to deal with more self-appointed culture police. This time, the target is H.P. Lovecraft.

The argument usually goes like this: “How do you reconcile your love of Lovecraft with the fact that he was a horrible racist/sexist and the ‘he was a product of his times’ argument doesn’t count – GO!”

This is what’s known as a shit test. It is designed to provoke, and it is also designed to prevent any “correct” answers, because to defend Lovecraft makes you an equally reprehensible person. You should be ashamed for liking such things, because these are “enlightened” times!

Or something.

First and foremost, you should never have to defend art, music, or literature that appeals to you. I may not like what you like, and you may not like what I like. However, I find art that is forced to sanitize itself into some sort of all-inclusive tokenism just to make sure someone somewhere isn’t inadvertantly having their delicate sensibilities shattered by the Big Bad Insensitive Artist to be incredibly dull and boring. Did anyone really actually enjoy “We Are The World”?

Really?

Second, I’m sorry, but nobody has a monopoly on “transgressive” art (whatever that is). So, Douglas P., and H.P.L. are both entitled to use provocative symbols, and have beliefs that don’t sit well with today’s hand-wringers. I will also support your right to create films with topless women making out in university libraries, cracking eggs on each other’s heads, and dancing around chicken carcasses.

will laugh at that, however.

I also find Herrmann Nitsch to be rather fascinating. You should check him out.

I think these days we seem to be running into a convergence of conveniences.

  1. It is convenient to categorize thoughts, feelings, beliefs into two categories: “correct” and “incorrect”
  2. This enables us to instantly decide that anything, or anyone, that does not fall into one of our two convenient categories, must therefore belong to the other category.
  3. It is more convenient to hold people forever accountable for their brief forays into “incorrect” than it is to acknowledge that they are human, may have different beliefs from you, may grow, may change their minds, and may renounce their former beliefs.  Thus it is easier, to forever hold, say, Tony Wakeford, accountable for his brief participation in ultra-right wing political groups and therefore believe he is secretly leading an entire musical genre in promoting crypto-fascism (sometimes so crypto as to be unidentifiable even with a microscope), than it is to acknowledge his own repeated mea culpas. It is more convenient to simply label him and anyone ever seen in the same room with him as fascists. That way, you don’t have to worry about any of them, learn anything about any of them, or worry about tainting your precious little mind with the “dangerous” ideas that you read somewhere they are promoting. Effort is hard.
  4. It is convenient to just have all of the answers handed to you. When reality doesn’t fit your worldview, obviously reality is wrong. The rest of us just need to “do the research!” and we’ll be instantly enlightened as well.

I think some of this is pure laziness.  I think a good chunk of it (at least in the States) is the fault of the educational system. Kids are no longer being taught how to think, but rather provided with lists of things to memorize for The Test.

Before our son was born, my wife decided to take a philosophy of religion course at the local junior college. From what she told me, it sounded more like remedial high school English. The professor spent more time trying to teach the students how to write 5 paragraph themes than being able to effectively discuss philosophy or religion; the students kept demanding to know where the answers were in the book for their discussion topics.

Discussion Topics. Discuss. Philosophy. As in, “What do you think?”

As a former compiler of course and faculty evaluations at a different university, I was saddened by how many professors were getting low marks for “lecturing too much – wouldn’t tell us what was on the exam.”

With convenient categories, of course, comes the lack of a need to recognize complexity and nuance. Instead, you skim for a few indicators and red flags, and you instantly know all you need to know about an artist/author/person and there’s no need to investigate further once you’ve put them in their appropriate box: “Correct” or “Incorrect”

For the record, there’s a third category: “Problematic,” which is usually reserved for people who you want to like, but simply can’t, because they’re in the “Incorrect” box.  “Problematic” puts the categorizer in a bind, because on a level they acknowledge human complexity.  But, since everything has to be a zero-sum game, “Correct”/”Incorrect”, most people prefer to err on the side of caution, and go with “Incorrect”, lest they be tarnished by association, and also labelled “Incorrect.”

This dance is tiresome.

Russell Berman, in his preface to Ernst Jünger’s book On Pain (2008. Telos Press), agrees:

Although conventional political thinking still tries to police a neat separation between left and right, we should not be afraid to explore the gray zone in between without leaping prematurely or unnecessarily to an unwarranted assertion of identity (p. viii).

So, can you separate art and artist? Is it okay to like someone’s creative output, even though you think they may be a bit of an asshole?

There’s a simple solution.

The quick version: Don’t hate the Player, hate the Game.

The not-so-quick version: like what you like. Who, ultimately, gives a fuck?

If you are so caught up in worrying about what other people think of your tastes, then you have bigger issues than “is Dave Sim a misogynist, or might he have a few points?” Nobody has all the answers – especially in these “enlightened” times. If you feel that you suddenly aren’t “allowed” to like something, because the creator has unpopular opinions, or may have put their foot in their mouth in an interview somewhere and is currently being eaten alive by the Internet Outrage Machine, then I have to question the strength of your sense of self-identity.

As Robert Anton Wilson said to me, and I’m fond of repeating: “Read things you disagree with. Otherwise you aren’t exercising your mind.”

Embrace that which scares you and makes you uncomfortable.  That is what art is supposed to do.

This is also good practice for embracing other uncomfortable moments in life.

To quote Aleister Crowley:

There are only two courses open to logic; one can either accept the universe as it is, face every fact frankly and fearlessly, and make one’s soul immune to the influence of any invasion; or abolish the whole thing by administering soporifics to the spirit…The pious pretence that evil does not exist only makes it vague, enormous and menacing. Its overshadowing formlessness obsesses the mind. The way to beat an enemy is to define him clearly, to analyse and measure him. Once an idea is intelligently grasped, it ceases to threaten the mind with the terrors of the unknown.

Quit whining.

Own up to your tastes.

Tell me why you like the things you do, rather than apologize for them.

And enjoy (sidenote:  if you’re worried about your etheric body, wear a condom).

There are no brownie points.

Really.

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Sep 21 2013

Reflections on Death In June – Friday the 13th, San Francisco

(submitted to and published by The Listserve – this is the annotated version with one correction)

At what point do you become that which you are trying to eradicate?

stageThis past weekend (9/13), I attended a show by the controversial band Death In June. Douglas Pearce (the sole continuous member) has been accused of being a racist, a Nazi, a fascist, and worse. The fact that he is openly gay, has collaborated with a number of Jewish musicians, and has played sold out shows in Israel is beside the point. I have listened to his music for years. I consider myself on the left end of the political spectrum.  I’ve read any number of interviews and clarifications that Pearce has made about his views. I have a graduate degree in philosophy. I have participated in a number of civil rights demonstrations across the country. I can safely say that I find nothing fascist or hateful about him or his music. This is my conclusion. I stand by it.

Others only look at surface images of the band, and project their worst fears onto it. Those are their conclusions.  I have listened to their arguments, and read their cases. I remain unconvinced.

The show I attended was protested by a group identifying themselves as anti-fascists. They have a right to do this.  I respect this.

Rather than engaging us in dialogue, however, they became violent – openly harassing (an ethnically diverse!) group of people waiting politely in line for the show.  There were fists involved. They tried to storm the venue. It was their assumption that we were all waiting to attend the next Nuremberg rally, and that we were Nazis who needed to be stopped.

The anti-fascists wound up physically harming a number of minority members of the audience.  Additionally, they had vandalized the club where DIJ played the night before, and succeeded in threatening another venue to the point of cancelling a sold out show (which has since been relocated).

irony

In 1920s-1930s Germany, the Nazi Party deployed a group known as the Sturmabteilung, or “brown shirts” to disrupt, threaten, intimidate, and physically harm political opponents.  How, qualitatively, were the actions of the anti-fascists different from the tactics of the Sturmabteilung? Tactics aside, how is it anti-fascist to declare yourselves the gatekeepers of what people can, cannot, should, and should not listen to?

In their quest for a villain, they became the villains. Rather than seeking common ground (of which, I suspect, there may have actually been much between them and the audience), they demonized us.

Additionally, they denied our humanity in an even more fundamentally important way –they denied us the choice, the chance to make up our own minds about what we were seeing and hearing. They failed to recognize our own abilities – our own rights – to recognize good and evil.

Walt Kelly, the creator of the comic-strip POGO, wrote in 1953, regarding the McCarthy hearings:

Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly…There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.

In Jungian psychology, there is a term for this – “owning one’s shadow.” I hope that someday, the 8 protesters (not 20, as they claim) look into this, and find resolution.

Then, perhaps, we can all move forward and fight real evil – together.

Oh yeah.  The show?  Simply amazing.

drums

mask

doug

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Jul 08 2013

Ordo ab Chao

I’ve inadvertantly stumbled upon the phrase “Anti-Cosmic Satanism” (what?), and have tracked down this definition (albeit on Yahoo):

“…they believe that the realm of Chaos is ruled by the Eleven Gods of Primordial Chaos. They believe that there exists an Aeon for each of these Gods, or these manifestations. These are the Aeons of Moloch, Beelzebuth, Lucifuge Rofocale, Astaroth, Asmodeus, Belfegor, Baal, Adramelech, Lilith, Naamah and Satan. Azerate is eleven united as one, and these forces combined are those revered by the MLO/Temple of the Black Light. These eleven gods are actually ruler manifestations of Chaos and are eleven extensions of the Greater Godhead that these Satanists call Azerate. Azerate is the eleven headed black mother dragon that is the ruler of all chaos.”

Is it me, or does that sound kind of…orderly?

(yeah, yeah, I know, go read the stuff from Temple of the Black Light or something – I will. It’s on my “to read” pile.)

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Jun 29 2013

An Open Letter

Published by under politics

An open letter (please feel free to share)…

Dear Person Upset About Gay Marriage,

I realize you are upset. I realize you are angry. What I don’t understand, is why. Sure, there’s probably something about God in there, or the Bible, or Adam & Eve NOT Adam & Steve. But I want to ask you a few questions that go deeper than that.

Ultimately, what does it matter to you?

In your day-to-day life, how does what body parts people are putting into other people’s bodies ultimately affect you? Do two men or two women having sex with each other, falling in love with each other, and having a committed relationship with each other, and making that relationship official in the same capacity that their heterosexual friends are able to change anything about your life? Is it stopping you from eating food? Is it stopping you from seeking medical care? Has it put you out of work? Is it preventing you from pursuing your own happiness? Are you having problems getting into your church, stepping over all of the men pounding each other in the ass on the steps? Or is your life dependent on restricting the lives of others? Does who I (a man) am married to (a woman), and who I have sex with (the same woman) have any effect on your day to day life? Then why should the sex lives of my friends? Seriously, you obsess about gay sex more than my gay friends do. It makes me wonder. We’ll return to this question, don’t worry.

Second, are you presuming to speak for God, with your quotes from Leviticus, and your pithy slogans? Is God all powerful? Is God all knowing? My understanding is that He is. If so, does God need you to speak for Him? Is it possible that perhaps it is up to Him to see what is in the hearts of all of us (straight and gay), and to judge for Himself who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell? Isn’t that God’s job? When did it become part of yours? While I appreciate your concern for my eternal salvation, do you really want to hang out with me forever and ever? I can be a bit of a dick. Just warning you. Additionally, I think it is pretty incredible that you presume to know and understand God’s will, God’s thoughts, and God’s desires, and that you feel the need to impart that on the rest of us. Finally, if I may be so bold as to pass along the words of a dear friend of mine (a minister, no less), by declaring the Bible to be the end-all be-all, are you not committing idolatry by placing it above God, in importance?

I can only guess at some of the motivations for your continued noise on the subject.

Perhaps you are turned on by the thought of having sex with someone of the same gender. Hey, you know what? It’s okay. I don’t judge you. I know, you’re probably thinking this is preposterous, and how dare I suggest such a thing. Assorted psychological studies aside that show that these thoughts are actually pretty common amongst people who say many of the same things you do, I wonder -if you do have these feelings- if they frighten you? I know I’d probably be confused and scared of them if I had them. But to assume that gay sex and gay marriage somehow cause everybody to be sexually aroused simply isn’t the case. Personally, I’m 100% hetero. I had a guy try to kiss me once, and, honestly, it did nothing for me. Your mileage may vary. Everybody’s mileage may vary. And it should vary. It keeps life interesting. If none of this applies to you, and I’m asking you to search deep within yourself, hey, that’s fine, too. Because I have another question for you.

Why are you so concerned about the souls of others? I mean, it’s a nice thought, and I appreciate that you’re looking out for us, but you don’t have to. Really. So God gets some souls, and Satan gets some souls (if this is your worldview). Does it matter who gets mine? Or who gets the soul of those two guys you see kissing in tuxes? Again, I think this is for God to decide, and not you. If your name is Metatron, we may have a chat. Otherwise, I think you really need to leave the rest of us alone. It’s, simply, NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Are you so uncomfortable and uncertain in your faith, that you need to feel safer by having more and more people subscribe to it? Safety in numbers? If we all agree, then what you believe MUST be right? Again, shouldn’t this be between you and God?

If none of this is getting through to you, perhaps I can redirect you to a passage in your Bible – specifically, Matthew 6:1 – “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” and Matthew 6:5 – “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. ”

In conclusion, let me suggest this: if you don’t like gay marriage, don’t have one. If you don’t like gay pride events, don’t attend. I’m not particularly enamored of the church, so I don’t attend. What I don’t do is go around chasing Christians, demanding they fellate each other. I don’t make signs suggesting this, nor do I wear shirts suggesting this. I don’t worry about how many people are going to church, and I don’t worry about how many people are not going to church. It’s NONE OF MY BUSINESS.

Just as what goes on outside of the church is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

What happens in your life, and in our lives, is strictly between us and God.

There is no reason for you to try to get involved in that process.

To do so, I might suggest, makes God less than all-powerful, if he needs your help. And, that, I might suggest, is heresy.

Hugs,
-Straight Guy With A Kid Who Likes To Go To Pride Parades With His Wife, And Thinks You’re Full Of Shit.

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