Sunday, September 27, 2015
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
Let's talk about Hate Speech
I don't run in circles where people spit out racist or homophobic statements. I sometimes hear sexist statements, but I am a 52-year-old white male and sometimes I'm around other, let's say, less enlightened, old white guys. (Or idiotic, young white guys.)
Most of my day passes by without any overt bigotry in my vicinity. I can't remember the last time I heard someone use the not-to-be used "n" word in a clearly racist manner. No other hate speech, either.
The closest I've come is when I walked down the street to get a look at the handful of Westboro Baptist Church freaks who came to Elizabeth Edwards funeral in December 2011. Those holding the "God Hates Fags" signs were monumentally outnumbered by hundreds of people who showed up just to stand between haters and the mourners. I barely glimpsed the hate, but it was there.
But I don't mind the hate, really. If it's there, I'd rather know about it. Shadows and dark alleys allow hate to grow unseen. Light gives us all a glimpse, allowing us to fight it or feel shame from it or just to see its awful ugliness.
When we think of people imprisoned for speech, we think Ai Weiwei in China or Pussy Riot in Russia. People are jailed for what we consider "good" speech in bad places. Yet, such things happen here in the West. In a misplaced zeal to protect minorities from hearing that people hate them, even Great Britain has placed people in jail -- jail -- for on-line comments. That's a mistake.
I say let it all go. Let Germans march against Muslims yelling "Germany is for Germans." Let crazy racists in America yell about "Mexicans" gobbling up welfare and birthing babies in 'Merica. Let's hear from communists and fascists and Obama birthers -- silence no one. Because then -- then -- we all get to know what's going on. And, either we'll fight off the hate or at least understand the dark road ahead.
Tuesday, January 06, 2015
These are the things I think about: sex, money and god. These are the things filtered by those thoughts: Bank accounts, bills, flying far away, restaurants, health, fitness, diet, drinking, science, reading and writing. I think of other things, too. Sometimes I think of space travel or lions. My thoughts scatter themselves across my brain. I don't like to think about death but I do, so I use my thinking forces to banish it over into the corner.
I sometimes excuse my big thoughts and think little thoughts: Cooking, picking up crap around the house. I can get focused on little thoughts to avoid big thoughts. Big thoughts I avoid include: retirement funds, failures staring me in the face, uncomfortable truths about those I love.
I do like to think of things that aren't true: me younger, my wife younger, me a famous and retired baseball player turned novelist. (That's Jim Bouton, damn it.)
My thinking and thoughts are really all I am, right? My body is a device for such things. I don't like when I read the new debates over free will -- that my thoughts are just another chemical mechanism that keeps me specifically and humans, generally, going. Evolving, all haphazardly but in hopeful pursuit of keeping the species here. If free will is a trick, it's a trick I'll take.
As for god, well, that's just seems silly when stacked against everything we know now. And religion is better understand as a crude remnant of humans trying desperately to keep themselves in order -- or more accurately, in line, with whatever some group or leader needed at the time. I'll say it's quite a thing, though. Human imagination is fascinating.
So, here's my imagination thinking my thoughts and hard at work: I've got a computer and an Internet and I write this word and that word and when I click a button or two, all of this flies out there and becomes available to anyone tethered to the electric world as I am.
Finished for now. I'm going to think some more later.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Parades and Americana and the Future
My next door neighbor's daughter turned five. Part of the party involved she and her friends, costumed as animals, marching through the neighborhood, shaking tambourines and banging drums. It was marvelous. The adults walked beside and behind, sometimes talking with each other, sometimes cheering for the kids. Blue skies. Dogs barking. Neighbors stopping to watch and smile. Marching by the old houses, underneath giant oak and crepe myrtle trees, the scene waxed idyllic. Together, we created a cinematic-like memory, a sweeping scene that happens in fiction not life: A Happy Happy Birthday Parade! But here it was, real Americana.
That's all groovy. But a greater and simpler truth about the day is this: My neighbor's child turned five, full of life and wonder about the world. A child who smiles widely and hugs a hug that can rip the cynicism from your soul and replace that darkness with the bright-blue atmosphere of hope. Children do this to us.
When telethon hosts, hack fundraisers and politicians admonish you with the clap-trap, "children are the future," well, we can rightfully barf a bit in out mouths.
But this child's smile, her sincere hug, cuts the triteness out of the phrase and leaves you with, "Oh, right, she is the future. Let's make sure that future exists."
That's what the truth of turning five, or having a parade or eating birthday cake is: We've got this kid to leave this world to. So, fucking up everything seems a bad idea. So let's don't.
Friday, November 07, 2014
Looking into the space at which I find truth but find it kind of average
the contradiction until
it was needless
to wrestle it
The sky beams both
and other colors of which my eyes
have looked upon
Thursday, November 06, 2014
Walking the street, Thinking of Appropriate Rants...
Sometimes I want to rant like a college sophomore, cross-legged, tumbling out a Nietzsche here, a Chomsky there. "Don't you get it, man," I'd say to those assembled, "Don't you understand the freeing nature of nihilism? Stop using the man's language. You're only oppressing yourself while the political process just sweeps more money into power."
It's not that those things aren't true even within the parody. But somehow discussions at that level both over-reach and under-reach at the same time. Theory goes too far when we want a practical solution that gets at our current -- and real -- level of dis-satisfaction of the current political winds. Thus, a near full six years into the Obama administration and two truths emerge: A redesign of the system to pull some of the goodies away from the wealthy just didn't happen, and, two, the backlash to a black, moderate-to-conservative Democrat is more nasty and nauseating than anyone foresaw. But practical solutions come up short when our methods of describing our dilemma come boxed in with so much discourse left outside. The lines are too narrow. We can't adequately describe the problem -- or get a solution -- when our political debate narrows itself to vapid discourse that barely tilts left or right of center.
Now, dissecting of the mid-term losses by Democrats today involve both the former (bad campaign, poor strategy) and the latter (lack of appeal to voters outside the regular messages, poor use of over-arching themes that capture ideological truths like income inequality). Neither is right or wrong. The truth is that a practical politics is possible within a theoretical and -- yes, radical -- framework. The trick is simple and difficult. We need candidates who bring a philosophy that encompasses the known truths -- wealth inequality, facts on foreign policy that come attached to human rights and dignity, and an awareness of how humans are limited by the resources around us. We need an understanding that the wealth of our planet can be shared without the idea of winners and losers. All of this can be implemented within the campaign framework if candidates come at an election with truth and courage. Our consultant-election complex tends to lean toward swipes and counter-swipes that leave us afraid of our own values. And if Democrats (or another, progressive form of Democrats) can just believe that what they have to say matters, the strategy will work itself out.
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
I'm drawing a Blank and That's Just Write
When the Election finally pulled it's hand out of America's ass yesterday, shit hung about from fingertip to armpit. The Election seemed unfazed by its fecal calamity, and calmly wiped the shit all over the country.
It's going to take a bit to clean off. From the Iowa crazy of make-up-your facts Sen. Elect Joni Ernst to the crap-mean Thom Tillis in NC, America embraced the crazy. That shit's everywhere, and soap's scarce. Young people don't need a shower because they skipped the reaming. Had they shown up, maybe the Election would have picked a less messy orifice.
I needed to feel better. I went looking for significance and profundity. I drove, which isn't my usual mode of moving but today was not a usual day. The car radio went XM, spinning 70s classics and blasting out off-color comedy. (The liberal handwringing on public radio -- well, that would only result in a deliberate wreck and hospitaliziation.)
I found my sanity in nothing. In blankness. In whiteness. Over in Durham, at the Nasher, standing one foot away from White Painting (seven panels) by Robert Rauschenberg. It cleansed the evil thoughts. I felt the pulse of the world. I heard my own heart. Reminded by absence of all I have. Finding something bigger than the election, something transcendent, allowed me to forget the shit-stained parameters now boxing in our politics. Art. Thanks, Art.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
The Skin Burst Time Light Show Must Go On
As a child in paradise
covered the Irish
the burst rays
the beautiful hot nuclear love
the giver of life
past the eyes ability to know
in the realm of
came a gift
that a freckle
is just a
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
If you get a chance, head over to the galaxy to see the restored Metropolis. The movie's preachy parts about hearts mediating between hands (workers) and (head) brain scratches me with a goof. However, for a critique of capitalism, you don't get much easier to understand than Jon Federson v. Feder, his son. Throw in a few hallucinogenic scenes involving a worker set free to roam the paradise above, a body switch, a giant flood scene and you've soon got a sci-fi adventure for the ages.