Showing posts with label free speech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label free speech. Show all posts

19 July, 2016

Dirty River on the road: selfie activism

Quality is the greatest enemy of mass-leveling. -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Polar Protesting: Near Quicken Loans Arena
I spent yesterday in downtown Cleveland trying to find the dire narrative the political extremists on both ends and all major media outlets have been pedaling. True to the old adage "If it bleeds, it leads," it seems as if FOX, CNN, and MSNBC are determined to create a causal connection between the recent killings and the implosion currently happening inside the GOP.

I saw one mini van full of guys in olive drab who were clearly not military, not police, and not connected to any government agency. There were a few people taking advantage of Ohio's open carry law, and if you follow the media story about the "rally"*  in the Public Square, it would be easy to believe that downtown Cleveland is looks like the setting for a Phillip K. Dick novel.

People deserve better than the narrative they're being fed about the actual state of things. 

Yes, there were a lot of cops around. A few of them were wearing bullet proof vests. Most of them were wearing their regular uniforms and carrying their normal firearms. There were also the usual brand of Jesus freaks, megaphone doomsday preachers, and political protests. As I mentioned in one of my video updates yesterday, the polar bear is probably my favorite. Not only is it on message, but I have to give kudos for the person in the suit's dedication to the cause, because not only did that person walk around for several hours in a hot polar bear suit in July, but that person did so around Public Square and E 4th Street -- the hub of activity outside Quicken Loans Arena.

There were a few radical speakers at the free speech mic, some hate mongers posing as Christians, and
two other protest marches against Trump and the GOP: a pro-immigration march that made creative and not market intended use of a sex blow-up doll, and a parade of women wearing pink in protest of Trump's outright misogyny. There were some lone protesters, each with their own cause, ranging from a call to treat Syrian refugees fairly to one of the sanest people I saw, an old man with a t-shirt that read  "END POVERTY NOW."

I was also hoping to find a few of the more radical left marches to include. Tom Morello showed up to wear his IWW hat and punch the air with the Northeast Ohio Wobs... but the march took place at 7pm -- long after any delegates, GOPers, and major media outlets had filed into the Quicken Loans Arena compound to listen to Chachi spout and Trump's wife plagiarize. Moreover, the march took place from E 47th to E 12th Streets.

The hub of pre-game activity for Day 1 of the convention happened between 8am and 1:30pm at the Public Square and E 4th Street. 

Free speech is crucial to a free society, and dissent is the marrow of a healthy democracy. But I have to wonder about the purpose of a protest no one sees except those who would know about it anyway.

I've participated in marches and protests before because while voting is a civic duty, it is the exact opposite of revolutionary action. When people are organized and have a unified message, dissent can change the direction of The State run amok. But the most successful protests, the most successful forms of dissent, also take risks. 

If the radical left is serious about changing the direction of things and taking on the damage done by late stage capitalism, then it's not enough to march somewhere "safe" because they buy into the media myth of a militarized zone at Public Square. Having a radical message means doing more than bird calling it back and forth with people who agree with you. That's the failure of social media activism. 

People deserve better than dissenters who don't want to take a risk for what they believe. If we leave the megaphones for the hate mongers, we are enabling the hate and violence, not standing against it.

*If the media outlets covering the "gun rally" had used a wider camera angle, they would have had to tell the story of five people that no one paid any attention to. But a close camera angle is the best way to create a crowd to fit the narrative they walked in wanting to tell.

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12 September, 2012

Southern Jaunt: Family Tradition

Politics make for strange bedfellows. -My Dear Sweet Ma

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of the respect and joy in each other's life. - Richard Bach

Libertarians are anarchists who sold their souls. - J. Bob Friendly

Revise the high and holy dead.
Use the fathers to abuse the sons.
Character assassination is easy
When you hoard all the guns. -- Ditty from Travel Journal

Every once in a while, I'm reminded why, growing up, I never remember anyone in my household talking openly about religion or politics.

While on the Eastward-Ish Jaunt, I wrote about being in Colorado, and about meeting my Uncle Dan for the first time. The Parsons family is generally a scattered bunch. My Aunt Mary (R.I.P) who lived in Florida. My Uncle Danny, who lives in Denver. My Uncle Bill, who... unless he's died, is still alive in the house on S. Charity Street in Bethel, where he, my Dad, my aunt, and my other uncle, all grew up. (The house sits directly across the street from the house my mom and Uncle Jack grew up living in.)

If I seem out of touch with the clan whose last name I carry, read on. I now realize there are reasons.

When I was in Colorado, I stayed with my first cousin, Mary, who's named after my aunt, the oldest child of Daniel and Minnie Parsons, my grandparents. Mary sells guns, rides Harleys, and has made tons of money doing one in order to afford the other. A staunch conservative -- one of those family traditions I DID NOT pick up -- she believes firmly that Obama is out to take away everyone's guns -- which I am sure makes for a good selling point;  that taxes are bad; that wars are necessary, and that They (whoever that happens to be today) really are out to get Us. Formerly of Naval Intelligence, she claims to have insider information -- that I am supposed to trust implicitly because She Told Me So even though she can't discuss any of it for 144 years -- which definitively shows that the Muslims really are out to destroy our way of life.

As I type, I still marvel at the randomness -- or not -- of not being able to talk about something for such a specific time as 144 years. Who was the bureaucratic juggernaut who came up with THAT number? 

We had exactly one discussion about politics -- during which my disagreement with current, past, and future wars was summarily dismissed, the U.S. policy of using mercenaries who are above military law was justified, and -- again -- it was explained, primarily in terms that impact her business, how dem evil Dems want to disarm everyone and create a socialist police state.

I was staying under her roof and enjoying the hospitality she extended to me. So I didn't dig in. Nor did I argue with her assertion that men in the Parsons family avoid conflict like the plague. I kept in mind that

  1. She probably didn't hear the same stories of Grandpa Parsons that I did, and 
  2. She never really knew my Dad.

All that happened in JUNE.

Fast forward to YESTERDAY.

Being of a particular bent that I have not really hidden from anybody, I posted this image in support of the Chicago Teacher's Union Strike on my Facebook page:

The arrow, in case you didn't get it, was pointed at my wooly profile pic.

In less than a half hour, this drew the ire and hollow rhetoric of a particularly nauseous troll. While she may troll other people's pages in search of ways to shut down any argument but a Tea Party/ Birther one, she was making a point to troll me because I do, sometimes, write for her dad's newspaper.  Yesterday, however, I got tired of it. 

Read the meme here.

Yes. I blocked her. Facebook is a public forum, and I have plenty of "Facebook Friends" who don't agree with me on a lot of things, political and otherwise. I even have friends who are Steeler Fans, gawd forgive 'em.

I didn't go on her page to troll, didn't report her as offensive -- the REAL ploy of folks who want to silence free speech. I simply removed her. 

This got my cousin all tied in knots, of course. My cousin who rarely visits my page, who hardly ever comments on things I post, and who has never engaged me in a serious political discussion other than the previously mentioned BECAUSE I SAY SO talk.  

By the way, for those who may not know this: BECAUSE I SAY SO IS NOT A VAILID ARGUMENT TO USE AGAINST ANYONE OVER THE AGE OF 5. And even then, it's still piss poor.

After trying to explain WHY to my cousin, I then posted a status update, which you can read here. 

Now -- even though I made it CLEAR I was NOT talking about her, my cousin posted this response:

"you don't give a shit who I am or whose daughter I happen to be? well guess what? I don't give a shit about you either! I voice an opinion and it is different from yours and you decide to call people trolls and remove them for that? WOW...says ALOT about your character!! well...I am the daughter of your uncle who is the brother to your father, and how ashamed your father would be if he was alive today of you and how you are living your life! The Parsons family are all about working hard and doing what is needed to get ahead in life and be the best we can, and making a good life for our children, and serving our Country. what in any of that have you done or are doing? how are you bettering the life of your daughter? everyday that I live and breathe I do something for my children! I work hard to give them things, like a good education! I am a capitalist, and very proud of it! I believe in working hard and making as much money as I can, and that is something I have passed to my kids, which was something that was passed to me from my father. and one more thing...... UNIONS SUCK!!!! and yes...I am happy thank you very much!" (emphasis added)

Did I mention that I wasn't talking about her, but about a Facebook Troll who had been giving my problems and trying to derail every political post in order to rant about Socialism and Obama -- who, even though she claims not to like Romney (she is, in fact, a Ron Paul supporter -- don't get me started on Libertarians, but pay heed, instead to the wise words of J. Bob. Friendly) will not be critical of him for fear of seeming to be Pro-Obama?

I did.

What did my cousin do? She proceeded to rant about her martyrdom. She used my daughter -- who she doesn't know -- and my DEAD FATHER -- who she barely knew and probably never met -- against me.


Because I support a teacher's union strike. 

A strike, by the way, with standardized testing as the primary breaking point. The State of IL(L) mandates that standardized testing scores be used to determine a teacher's proficency. This, by the way, is nothing new. Another Bush Era debacle, No Child Left Behind, ensured this would happen.  

There's also considerable evidence -- both statistical and anecdotal -- that standardized testing not only is not a proper indicator of student learning ... and certainly not teacher effectiveness-- but that the current educational model being touted is to essentially TEACH TO THE TEST. 

Critical thought? Not important. 

Picking A, B, C, D? That's a good little monkey.

I was hoping to go back and visit my uncle and learn more about the family whose name I bear and about the father who -- according to one more GOOD CATHOLIC who didn't really know him, and who, as I recall, didn't bother to come to the funeral -- would be ashamed of me. The inability to fill in those gaps is the thing that bothers me the most. There were a lot of stories Dad never told me because I was never old enough (according to him.) That I will now never hear them because of a small-minded troll and my cousin's terrible affliction -- that my Dad would have called "Elephant Mouth and Hummingbird Ass) -- is such a damn and avoidable shame.  

I would also say  "If only she had read..." but that might lead me back into why the Chicago Teacher's Strike is so important. Because it's not enough to read. You have too be able to think critically, too.

13 June, 2012

Eastward-ish: Isn't That Just Spacial? - Tempe, AZ

I refuse to quote the First Amendment because no document can grant me what is mine already. - Quote from Mick's Travel Journal, Tempe, AZ

I've never heard of a revolution starting because people protested where the cops told them to. -Noah S. Kaplowitz

Traveling as I do means that sometimes, health and wellness complications arise. As you may recall in The Rash, Part 1 and The Rash, Part 2 , a run-in with some of the local wildlife residing at the Lewis and Clark Inn (Rapid City, SD), resulted a rash I (briefly) took for a burgeoning peanut allergy. I find that being back in the valley of the sun, my feet -- which have been out to get me ever since I learned to walk -- are once again deciding to give me 10 kinds of hell for

  1. Being where it's too fucking hot, and
  2. For wearing sandals because... well... it's too fucking hot, and  (Don't remind me it's not August yet. I'm not going to be hear for that hell. And save me commentary about dry heat. Stick your head in a heated convection oven and tell me how much better dry heat is.)
  3. For not getting enough salt.
It should be noted, for the record  and for any potential future posterity, that my feet have continued a slow and steady campaign against my person AT LEAST since the age of 8. The evidence is more than circumstantial. It's an air tight case demonstrating that my feet are trying to kill me. Or at least, trying to get out  of working... which, on a philosophical level, I can at least respect. 

Now, because I've twisted and NEARLY broken both my ankles, mostly without insurance -- and, as a result, mostly without post-tumble medical aid -- some occasional swelling is not all that unusual. Sometimes I twist one of my ankles without realizing it.... though wearing a good pair of boots when I travel helps enormously.But I noticed last night, while I was settling down for the night, that my right foot and ankle was swelled. No pain. Just swelling. Then I looked at my left foot. Not as much swelling. But it, too was getting that shiny, slightly reddish appearance of microwaved hot dog.

Upon doing some research on the ever reliable Google, I found that this condition is tied to the weather, my diet, and a change in the amount of salt in my system. I actually avoid too much salt, even preferring unsalted peanuts. My dietary habits as I travel tend to depend on cash flow and whether I'm in between or visiting someplace.  I've mentioned my preference for trail mix and fruit when traveling. I avoid the gastrointestinal nightmare of fast food whenever possible. When I cook, I do use salt, but I never add more than the minimum required. I don't touch the salt shaker either, except to maybe unscrew the top for some unsuspecting salt-aholic. I do like sea salt. But it's healthier... right?

But what I had forgotten, since I haven't lived in a frying pan for a few years, is that the sun, in addition to cooking you in your own juices, will actually take the salt right out of you. 

Really. No joke. Not even a folksy metaphor.

And when that happens -- when there's any drastic change in sodium in your body... sometimes there's swelling around feet and ankles. 

Today it was a little better. Then, when I arrived at the Tempe Public Library to blog and drink coffee in the Friends of the Library Cafe, Tempe Connections, I ate a bag of Doritos. There's still some swelling. But not as much. 

So, I guess it's true. 

Salt really does heal all wounds.

As long as it's not cardiac arrest. or Cirrhosis. Or Diabetes.


This Machine Supports Fascists 
Outside the doors to the Tempe Public Library, there's several shaded benches, nicely paved sidewalks leading to from the door to the parking lot and back. Tucked off in one corner, almost to the through road that cuts behind the City of Tempe Museum and in front of the library leading from Southern to Rural Road, there's a tiny tree. The tree isn't tall or wide enough to stand under, but a person can, theoretically, sit under it... either on the ground or by using a folding chair. In front of the tree, next to a spigot for the Tempe Fire Department, is the sign that inspired today's blog.

Now, I know what you're going to say, Dear Readers.

"This IS the United States of America."

Yes, it is. Gawd save the Republic.


Yes. We also have toilet paper. What a 1st World Country we are!

"And the First Amendment says --"

Did you know the Constitution also refers to blacks as 3/5th of a person?


"Yep. That could be why, whenever the Friends of  the Tempe Public Library run people out of the cafe for not spending money, they're usually black. Sometimes Mexican."


But I digress...

Sometimes there's someone out here with a petition or two, looking for signatures from registered voters. Don't let the tree fool you. It's fucking hot. And usually, it's not the people who actually CARE about whatever the petitions are about; it's usually people earning next to no money... often they use the homeless, and college students and the under employed... who really know nothing about what they're pandering. 

Come to think of it... except for the homeless, the under-employed and the college students, that sounds like most politicians, used car salesmen, and reflexologists. 

But especially -- naturally --  used car salesmen.

I've been coming to the library for the past few days to blog -- free WiFi, the smell of a library, and the potential for maybe sneaking a few pages from some book or another that I haven't read in a while. (Today I'm hoping to read a little from a collection of Henry David Thoreau's journals from 1837-1861.) The past two days, there wasn't anyone standing in the Free Speech Zone. 

On Monday, though, there was a guy. He was camped out, had one of those comfy camping chairs with a beer holder in the arm rest, a small cooler, and a plastic bag of munchies. His teeth hadn't seen a brush in quite a while. The front ones he had left were a green color. Red t-shirt, cargo shorts, gym shoes with the soles nearly worn through, an old ball cap, and really really new looking sunglasses. 

I'm guessing they were considered an advance on his paycheck; though I did wonder if he was getting paid hourly or by "commission." (I met a hot college co-ed once at ASU who tried to get me to sign up for the Republican Party by flashing her very smooth very tightly bound tan cleavage and insisting ... with a pout that would make any 4 year old jealous... that she would only get paid by commission based on the number of names she came back with. I didn't. My affection for tits will only go so far.)

He was trying to get people's attention, but no one was buying. I remember watching this when I lived here before. It's easy to walk by, and because of the limited and appropriated nature of the The Free Speech Zone, those trying to get petitions filled, or trying to sell one idea or another, are more or less limited to the green space... that which isn't burnt to dust... between the tree and the sidewalk. They're not even allowed to walk on either side of or behind the tree. They can't step on the sidewalk, or find a shadier place close to the entrance. 

If I didn't know better, I'd think they were treating people exercising their Constitutionally Promised Right like pan handlers.

As an occasional freelance journalist/muckraker/hack, I know quite a bit about the First Amendment. It's supposed to protect the press, particularly when it's being critical of the government. By practice and precedence, this right has been extended to groups, and to individuals.

As long as you stand in a space that is marked, appropriated, or apportioned.

As long as you purchase a permit to protest -- in a place that is marked, appropriated, or apportioned.

The very notion of a Free Speech Zone implies that everything outside of it is NOT a place where free speech is allowed.  Think about all the places you have seen where free speech is "allowed." And now think about the immense real estate dedicated to... say... real estate development. The usury-style theft and resale of our natural resources back to us, usually including the destruction of other natural resources they don't  about because they haven't figured out how to make a buck on them yet. Think about the amount of real estate with TRUMP on it. 

And then think about how many free speech zones you've actually seen.

Then tell me again about the Constitution and the First Amendment.

Since I had some time to kill on Monday, waiting for the Orbit bus (free), I asked the guy in the Free Speech Zone what he was trying to get people to sign. He asked if I was a registered voter in the state of Arizona. When I told him I wasn't, he seemed disappointed, but told me, very quickly, that one petition was in support of adding a $0.01 sales tax in Arizona for education. (I knew that one would die. People would rather pay for fences than for better schools; that's true in Illinois, it's true in Arizona.) The other was a petition for open primaries... and other sundry stuff having, I'm sure, nothing to do with transparency in government. 

Which is, of course, an oxymoron.

Then again, the ballot box is one of those marked, appropriated, and apportioned spaces.

Isn't it?

[Thanks for reading! If you like what you read, remember:
  2. PLEASE DONATE TO THE TRAVEL FUND. (Thanks and Gawd Bless Ye)]

12 June, 2012

Eastward-ish: Intermezzo: Answer To The Most Asked Question

"I'm a spoiled bitch" resonates in any language. - Note from Mick's Travel Journal (San Francisco)

Why do one-eyed Nazis always have the coolest eye patches? - Note from Mick's Travel Journal (San Francisco)

It's early June, and except for a few extended visits with friends and family, I've been Out and About for almost half a year. When I started re:visionary, it was meant to be part travel blog, part poetry journal, part political and culture commentary. There are elements, early on, that describe the disintegration of my marriage, and I am loathe to go back and read over them even though I know at some point I'll have to. I'm not loathe to read them because the memories cause me pain or discomfort or embarrassment. But I think at some point I'll have to combine what I've put in the blog with what I haven't had room for. And there's more. Much, much more, to be done.

Besides, while I can have bouts of what are best described as rampant sentimentality, I am not generally struck with nostalgia.  I do not long for the past -- not mine, not someone else's, and not any sort of revised and misrepresented point in history. I want to learn from the past, and carry those lessons with me into the present and future in the same way I carry my rucksack.

When I started out at the beginning of the year, it was with the intention of writing it all down, of staying out and living on the cheap as much as possible, and depending on the little bit of money I had when I left, plus any donations to the Travel Fund. (Graciously accepted, thank ye gawd bless ye).

Living this way is a feast or famine proposition; but, if I'm being honest ... and I'm ALWAYS honest, Dear Readers... so it goes for most people, indigent or no.  If you're one paycheck away from living out of your car or out of a backpack, then it's feast or famine for you, too. 

One of the nice things about being back in Tempe is that my friends here -- bar friends all -- remember me as a writer. More than one of them have asked if I'm working on another book, since they liked the other one so much. I've tried explaining to them, and in spite of myself, it always comes off slightly more like an adventure story than an attempt to understand the country I call home, the American Dream that never was, and my life which in constant flux. This trip is is as much about the poetry I'm writing as it is the poetry I'm finding.

Maybe it comes off like an adventure because I still look at it that way... because I choose to live my life as the way it suits me rather than the way it suits the governmental and social  institutions that have let us all down. 

A few people -- some of them friends, some familial -- have asked What I Intend To Do Next. It's a question I often dodge, mostly because I don't feel like having the whole long discussion. But it has also occurred to me that in order for the blog to really be honest... and I strive to be honest, I do, Dear Readers... that I need to go ahead and say it as directly and as clearly as possible.

I don't intend to stop. I will take a break from time to time. But I like being Out and About too much. I need it too much. And I don't have any interest in having another job that will require me to sacrifice or compromise those elements of myself that are good and noble.  I'd rather live a real life than watch a reality TV show. I'd rather hear the stories of people I meet on the road than read about them on the internet. I'd rather be myself than other people's idea of me.

And I have found that the people who love me... who truly love me... know this about me even before I say it. One or two hold out hope... like My Dear Sweet Ma, I think... that I'll settle down again. She told me once,though, that it's possible she simply has her own ideas on what it means to be happy... and that mine don't have to be same.

I'm heading east for some rest, some respite, and some much needed warmth. But then I'm going to be off again... to the South, I think. Port Charlotte, Florida in the winter sounds wonderful.