Category Archives: censorship

We Have the Nanny/Police State We Deserve

I read this morning about some proud black families getting arrested for the heinous crime of cheering for their children when they accepted their diplomas on stage.

Arrested. For cheering. For kids who worked hard in the country’s poorest state, and graduated, when 25% of their fellow Mississippi students do not.

It disgusts me. Just like it disgusted me when child welfare gets called about children having the audacity to walk home from school unaccompanied.

What the fuck is wrong with people today? You see something you disagree with, you call the cops?

Here in Canada, we’re fighting off Bill C-51, which looks altogether likely to be passed and implemented at this stage, and which seeks to criminalize dissent (and that’s just the beginning of its terrifying contents).

In the States, they’re battling oppressive police forces that are kitted out like the best of black ops teams are.

These uber-controlling authorities are the result of what we have created, demanded, and funded, and all of it really began at the municipal level.

It Wasn’t Always Like This

Once, we had fun as humans. We went to school and frolicked on playgrounds, fell down and got back up again, bleeding knees and all. We walked to school alone. We hooted when our friends collected diplomas. We partied and invited the whole block.

If this sounds like a “back in the good ol’ days things was good!” kinda old folk recollection, that’s because it is. I love the digital age and I don’t blame who we have become on the fact that we have computers. I blame them on a 24-hour news cycle owned by industries who benefit from us being uninformed, angry, and scared. I blame the “if it it bleeds, it leads” news landscape, and the commodification of fear.

What The Hell Did We Do?

Prison, it’s big business now. The industrial penal complex is part of a whole lot of jobs today. Has to be, when America has the world’s highest prison population per capita, nearly 5 times the world’s average.

Or maybe it’s just all the guns. Maybe once you’d go and shout down someone for being a dick, but nowadays you need to worry there’s a gun behind that dickheaded attitude. Open-carry is open-season on not trusting anyone and leading with fear.

The Chasm Between Left & Right

Whatever the case, somewhere along the lines, everything in our lives became the enemy. Used to be, when I was growing up, Liberals were the ones you wanted to hang out with because they were fun. They listened to great music, smoked pot, had mellow attitudes, and fought for social justice in a “everybody deserves it, man” kinda way.

Today’s leftie is so goddamned uptight that we have rubberized playgrounds, kids not allowed to walk to school alone for fear that evils will befall them all, and all those neurotic laws about food safety. They’re a large part why we basically live in a nanny state. It’s not all the Right’s doing.

Between the extremist religious right on the rise and the sphincter-clinching left, it’s no wonder we insist on bringing the authorities into every little disagreement. The chasm between is growing so wide that no rational conversation can bridge the gap anymore. What a jerk! Call the cops!

politically-correct-foie-gras

Even Consequences Are Extreme

When everything is a crime, it means our responses escalate accordingly across the board. It means unarmed kids get tazed for shoplifting, or shot. It means people get shamed and berated for the stupidest of offenses. Back in the day, you had to do something really offensive to get shunned in the media, on the level of Howard Cosell calling a football play and blurting “Look at that monkey run!”

Ironically, this is why I prefer public shaming for things like dudebros shouting “fuck her right in the pussy” and other subhuman behaviour. It’s time we clean up our own messes without always turning to cops. When we have clear unedited video, multiple witnesses, live feeds, then why do we worry about involving the law?

Sure, floggings in the town square weren’t exactly the most humane of recriminations, but getting outed on social media for being an ass, then losing a job, well, it’s not like anyone needs to call in the United Nations to investigate human rights violations here. It’s just good old-fashioned consequences being meted out by a society not willing to abide nasty behaviour.

The Justice Malfunction

There are those who cry out that the everyman ain’t worldly enough to know how to judge what’s right or wrong, and this is why we need the courts. Oh, and that approach has worked so well for us?

We’re ruder, less patient, more selfish, and more judgmental than we’ve ever been, because we expect the law to come and clean up every mess.

We get the world we’ve created for ourselves, folks.

I, for one, want to return to the good old days when we would call a spade a spade, see the arrest blotters in the newspapers, and pass judgment on our fellow man ourselves.

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way, People

All the Superintendent of that school had to do was say “Look, another outburst like that and we’ll stop the roll call.” Instead, the cops were called. For cheering.

I remember, in my youth, being naive enough to dream that we’d have a really free, amazing society when I grew up. I thought we had freedom of speech and new technology, ergo we’d have more freedom. I thought science was making us progressive, not getting us to cower in fear from an ever-darkening technocracy. I witnessed the rise of “community policing,” and I dared to dream it meant we’d care more for each other and feel more camaraderie, like a “Block Parent” system writ large.

Man, was I ever off-base. What a sorry place we’re in today.

When you have a problem with someone, tell them. Don’t inform authorities. When you dislike how someone lives/acts/expresses themselves, get over yourself, because they probably don’t like your ideas either. That’s what happens in civilization.

Next time you want to call the cops, ask yourself if a crime has been committed, if someone is hurt, or if maybe you’re just being a judgmental asshole. If it’s the latter, then put the phone down, extract your head from your ass, and let us all have a simpler day.

Freedom to Write: On Truth, Courage, & the Right to Write

The writer’s relationship with the truth is a curious thing. Today, I’m thinking of writing’s power after hearing about pianist James Rhodes’ legal victory for free speech. He is finally legally allowed to publish his memoir detailing extreme abuse and frequent rapes inflicted on him as a boy.

It offends me that he had the courage to write this searing book on his abuse only to have some asshole of a judge ban it because it’s “offensive” material. What a cruel irony.

Truth won this week. Writers should rejoice.

James Rhodes: Pianist, Author, Free Speech Hero. Photo from Herald Sun.

James Rhodes: Pianist, Author, Free Speech Hero. Photo from Herald Sun.

As writers, those of us with the courage to rip off the Band-aid and expose our wounds to others, we change lives. We inspire people with our struggles. Not just me, anyone who does it. The writers I admire most, even bloggers, are people who dive head-first into the human condition without apology. Fear, pathos, doubt, rage, lust, angst, pettiness — it’s all who we are. How dare you sanitize that?!

So many people are comfortable with glossing over their ideas so to be palatable to the broadest spectrum of people. They are who I find offensive.

Those who would tone it down, dress it up, soften it, take the edge off — they feel to me like betrayals in wartime.

Life may not be war, but it’s certainly a struggle for all of us. Everything we do is measured and weighed in ounces of joy, heartbreak, satisfaction, or any other emotional currency you devise.

Sanitizing that so it can be swallowed by the least open-minded of us offends me to my core.

Writing close to the bone can’t be done by everyone — it’s too hard. The more harrowing and authentic it gets, the harder it is to push through it. Being truly honest with yourself is challenging enough, but pressing “publish” and sending it to the hungry hoards — that’s truly daunting stuff.

I don’t know how my writing has evolved over the years — I’m too busy doing it to analyze it. I can tell you that what has definitely changed over the years is the reason why I write so openly. I’ve learned no matter how open and honest I am with my words on a page, my readers are never in my head. They’ll never experience the world as I do, be in a moment with me. And I’m grateful for that. In that way, being open doesn’t feel like being laid completely bare, no matter what my end-reader might think.

My fingers always filter my experience. I keep a little for me, share a little with you, and we both get what we want.

What’s also changed is that I’ve learned the value of sacrificing that part of my experience for public consumption. Much of the time my words just fly by folks, like dust on the wind. Hopefully, it finds those who need it at the time.

Nine years ago, I wrote about my mother’s death in a way that ripped both the Band-aid and some skin off. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever written. After struggling with the words for three weeks, I published it, it went out in the world, and fell silent thereafter, like an echo in a dark cave. Or so I thought.

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Now and then I’d meet someone who’d mention that post, how it moved them or changed them. One day, I got a PayPal email. A woman in Germany sent me $500, to this day still the biggest donation I’ve ever received. She wrote that she cried for half an hour, then went and sent it to everyone she knew. She finally found something that explained her grief over her mother’s death in a way that others could understand.

For me, that was a life-changing moment. It was as self-affirming as having a blog post go viral with 250,000+ reads in a couple days. I know, because I’ve been there too.

Having one person, though, say I finally put words to a pain they couldn’t voice — I mean, that still gives me shivers now. When someone pulls me aside at an event and tells me what my words meant to them, I play it cool, but inside I’m doing cartwheels.

Because that’s what we fucking do this for. That’s why we probe the dark places. That’s why we risk sharing them. It’s not enough to understand what’s going on with us, or seek understanding. Helping others do the same, that’s the pay-off.

I’m no guru. I don’t have life figured out. Lord knows I’m trying. But that’s the thing. Life isn’t one-size-fits-all. What’s right for you won’t be right for me.

For example, I got friends with the perfect family life. Several friends are doing parenthood and marriage in such a fabulous way that I know, if marriage was my thing, I’d do it just like them.

That makes me vomit a little, though. It’s great for them, but the mere thought of that life fills me with nauseousness and unease.

You know those moms you hear about who start out good, but come apart in a haze of addiction and depression because they feel like the kid wrecked their life, and they hate themselves for it because they also love the kid and know just how much they’re fucking that child up?

That’d have been me. If I were a mother, I’d love the kid, but I’d spiral into a depression I’d then chase with alcohol and drugs in hopes of taking the edge off my self-loathing. As a result, I’d neglect my child, my child would grow up knowing that they were the reason for my self-loathing.

I laugh at people who say “Oh, but you don’t KNOW that.” And you do? Come on. This is my head.

Does it make me evil, knowing this about myself? Or does it make me courageous to admit I could never be Suzie Homemaker? Either way, I don’t give a shit, because it’s simply what’s true. I’ve decided against doing that to another human being. Good for me.

So what’s wonderful for my friends would probably destroy me. My story, though, isn’t the prevailing mantra we hear in the media. Instead, we’re told family is the ultimate reward in life, that an existence without children means no legacy will follow us. What idiocy.

This is why we need different voices in the mix. We all have different truths. From the things that define us through to the roads we should take in life, there is no one universal account.

I never would have imagined I’d be packing up my life to be a nomad, but somewhere deep inside me, I wonder how it took so long to see that this was what I needed to do. Writing about this “pre-journey” phase has been teaching myself a lot about who I am and what I need. Sharing that with others, I think, is a great dialogue to begin.

Maybe, thanks to following my journey so far, someone somewhere has already realized they’re trapped in a life not right for them. Maybe my reasoning has helped another person create a bold new dream for their life.

I don’t know. I don’t care. I’d still write about it anyhow. Catharsis is its own drug.

In the end, putting my story on page is probably powerful for someone, somewhere. Maybe I’ll never meet them. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I have the right to say “This is my life. This is how I see the world.”

Speaking to our experience, sharing with others, that’s what humans have used their words for since time began. How can a court steal that right from anyone in our supposedly western, free society?

James Rhodes fought for our right to own what has happened to us. To share what has been done to us. He fought for our ability to have community, empathy, and understanding with others.

And he won. Today, all writers, and all readers, are the richer for it. Thanks, James.

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RANT: Censorship & The Nonsense of a Non-Seuss World

I’m swearing a lot here on purpose. When I talk about censorship, it makes sense to do so. Avert your sensitive eyes if you’re all bent out of shape by cusswords, and all will be fine. Because that’s all you need to do… not fucking ban it.

We’re regressing as a society, and it scares the shit out of me.

Dr. Seuss is being banned. Why, I can’t fucking fathom it, but it is.

Some bureaucratic asses who are terrified of lawsuits have deemed a story about a turtle as political.

Here’s what the Globe and Mail explains in this article about a BC’s schoolboard’s choice to ban this much-loved children’s classic:

The quote in question – “I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights” – comes fromYertle the Turtle, the tale of a turtle who climbs on the backs of other turtles to get a better view.

In the midst of a labour dispute between the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation and the province, the quote was deemed unsuitable.

“I responded that in the context, it was borderline,” Mr. Stigant said. “Contextually, it was political – but it was grey and I would prefer it didn’t appear and I believe she agreed.”

Yertle’s quest for a higher vantage point ends when the turtle at the bottom of the stack – who’s pleaded, “I’ve pain in my back, my shoulders and knees – how long must we stand here, your majesty please” – burps, sending Yertle hurtling to the mud.

Yeah. “Political.” Fuck.

Look, people. Banning political messaging from schools is precisely part of why we’re now living in a society where constructive thought seems elusive at best. We’re in the age of Jersey Shore and Real Housewives, when people become famous for partying and being dysfunctional assholes, and the least we could hope for is a return to critical thinking by the children who are our future.

I mean, DUDE: Teach them well and let them lead the way. So sayeth Whitney.

Instead, political hacks who can’t even be trusted to file expense reports have decided the politics of arguably one of the most intriguing children’s authors is too political to be morally tolerable when teaching kids ‘cos — oh, the unthinkable of unthinkables — it might inspire children to think of classism.

Excuse me while I ram my head into my desk for a minute.

Well, that feels better. Okay. Deep breath.

PEOPLE. We’ve dumbed down EVERYTHING in society.

We print legal warnings that coffee cups contain HOT liquid and therefore are DANGEROUS. We rubberize playgrounds because some kids scraped a fucking knee. We pander to the lowest common denominator in everything we do, and North America is suffering an epidemic of stupid. Are you infected?

Instead of offending ANYONE EVER ANYMORE, we live in a completely vanilla society where the mere suggestion of offense means some public relations department comes running with an ass-kissing statement that does nothing but blow bubbles.

Saying “goddamnit” on television would probably explode transistors coast-to-coast in America, for Christ’s sake.

Children today grow up without any threat of getting hurt. God forbid they go ziplining in a public park, go head-first down death-defying slides, or even get a sunburn. Quick, shield little Jonny before he gets a bruise!

Back when I grew up, we actually got grades on report cards, fell down on concrete, jumped off things without safety nets, learned about racism and political parties in school, and look at me — I’m just as fucked up as the next guy, but I get through my days A-okay without needing meds or therapy. I’m normal, Ma! Fucked up in all the best ways.

Not like today. Kids are growing up without critical thinking, scared of getting hurt on adventures, and obsess over looking good instead of being smart, because that’s the pansy-assed culture we’ve given to them.

Stop it!

Allow kids to fall. Encourage them to fail, so long as they’ve tried. Let them learn conflicting ideas and find their own ways. Make them flex brain muscles.

Let’s pray we haven’t undone everything that’s made our culture so awesome for the last century, and let’s get back to embracing free will, allowing competing ideologies, and enjoying everything else that makes life in a free society so goddamned much FUN to endure.

Bureaucrats are making life boring, and it should be a crime. Lock ’em up! Stop saving us from ourselves.

Wake the fuck up and  say no to censorship, people.

And let’s just stop the rubber playgrounds, please. Buy a motherfucking box of Band-aids and live a little, mm-kay? Like they say, life’s tough. Get a helmet.

Hate Lives Here

Yesterday a local Vancouver paper asked a question on its Facebook page: “Do you think more could be done to combat homophobia?”

In the ensuing comments, a White Pride freak — who I’m really fucking wanting to identify by name here but don’t feel like dealing with the legal hassle as a little blogger girl — put some very, very hateful anti-gay comments.

I wouldn’t call his statements “homophobia” because it was too hate-fuelled to be a mere ambivalence toward gays. White Pride Freak would rather live in a world where they didn’t exist, and it sounded like “by any means necessary”.

The aftermath of WPF’s comments were pretty routine — a few people like me distancing themselves from the “white” part of his comments that smears us by inclusion — and a lot of people laughing it off with “This guy can’t be real” reactions.

The fencepost upon which gay man Matthew Shepard was beaten & left to die.

YES.

YES, he can be real. YES, he can be dangerous. YES, he can be in the house next door.

Someone commented to me that it didn’t seem possible a dude like that could live north of Raleigh or west of Calgary.

YES. It’s not only possible, but it’s real.

We’ve had gay-bashing incidents of late here in uber-liberal Vancouver — by other minorities!

Hey, let’s keep the wagon wheel of hate rolling.

By saying these guys can’t be real, we’re avoiding truth. We’re ducking the reality that hatred fuels much of what goes on in our world — whether it’s women’s centres being bombed, Middle Eastern women being stoned for adultery, gays being bashed for holding hands on the street, or prejudices rising everywhere daily, never mind national strife like Palestine-v-Israel, or Iran spouting rhetoric.

Hatred’s out there, man. Don’t think otherwise.

The Georgia Straight’s Facebook moderator decided it prudent to delete the offensive comments on this particular thread. I disagree. My reply comment:

I’m sort of disappointed that [skinhead motherfucker]’s homophobic, hate-filled rants were deleted.

By a) responding with “haw-haw, he can’t be real” and b) knee-jerk “how dare you” replies, then deleting his words, we’re pulling the wool over allour eyes.

We say “HEY, THERE’S A REAL PROBLEM OUT THERE” about hatred or racism, but then we sanitize the web so no feelings get hurt.

Let’s hurt some feelings! Let’s see these bastards for who they are! Let their names be known! Let their evidence stay up so we can point and say THAT IS NOT RIGHT, LET’S FIGHT THAT, LET’S PROVE HIM WRONG.

Sure, a bunch of people got all bent outta shape reading that kind of hate speech — but the mentality of “Well, if it’d been worded more politely, it’d be okay and we could ‘dialogue’ ” is just ridiculous!

IT’S HATE. Let’s see it for what it is.

Let the world see that it’s still out there, regardless of our pretty little fast-food metrosexual ever-so-aesthetic iPoddy 21st century.

Then let’s fight back and end that hate where it lives. END it, not delete it.

From Wikipedia's "lynching" page. The lynching of Laura Nelson in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1911; she had tried to protect her son, who was lynched together with her.

Deleting the thread has all the brilliance of when a Canadian bookstore chain decided it would never, ever stock nor order Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Right, because ignoring the book the first time worked out so well for us.

KNOW THY ENEMY.

If we want to overcome hatred, racism, homophobia, elitism, all of it, then we need to know exactly what their thoughts are so we can break those down.

This is the internet — the home of anonymity, the tool of free speech, the widest platform for idea-expressing ever invented.

But every motherfucking site has a moderator who goes and deletes the hate, hiding the nasty fuckers that we need exposed.

Deep down inside, we all know cruel people are out there, and we know they’re cowards who hide real, real good.

Thus it’s become easier when we hide them too, and go on with our lovely little domesticated modern lives. God forbid our routines get injected with realism.

These people are real.

They live where you are.

They’re more marginalized and angrier than ever.

And we’re giving them a pass by letting them say what they say, then deleting it. So, then they run back to their little web microcosms and fester with their continuing hate spiel, palling with their little hatin’ buddies, all the while leaving us blissfully ignorant that hate-filled fucks like them are more prevalent than we’d like to think.

Stop protecting us, website moderators.

Our ignorance will not inspire their change. We need all the good peoples in on this fight.

Opting Into Ignorance

Freedom of education? Not on my tax dollar, bub.

The province of Alberta, here in Canada, has opted to make matters of sex, sexual orientation,* and religion OPTIONAL for their students. Parents can yank their kids out of school when they disagree with the premise at hand. [Story here.]

Religion? Okay. Fine. I’ll give you that. Make that optional. I not only understand having strong beliefs on faith, I respect it. I do not, however, understand refusing to listen to other views, not having faith in your children to be intelligent enough to hear more than one viewpoint, or shutting down education when it seems fit,  because I feel that teaches children that the teachers and education itself are not credible.

But on matters of sex? Sex education?

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Continue reading

RANT: BDSM Films are “Torture-Based” Porn?

One of the most offensive things to me is when journalists — people who are paid to get messages right — get things wrong.

Like here, in the San Francisco News, where they describe fetish films with bondage and sado-masochism as being “torture-based” films.

Talk about an economic stimulus. California taxpayers have paid $46,791 so that employees of the San Francisco pornographer Kink.com might produce more perfect web-based depictions of motorized dildo impalements on www.fuckingmachines.com; do a better job displaying women as they’re bound, gagged, and repeatedly electrically shocked on www.wiredpussy.com; and more effectively transmit images of, well, people doing pretty much what you’d imagine they’d be doing on www.whippedass.com.

That’s right: California’s government has been subsidizing torture-based pornography.

I’m going to ignore all the content in the article about government funding and who’s right and what’s wrong, because the only thing that matters is clarity right now, and on that count, SF News, from a city who KNOWS about kink, calling a little sexual brutality TORTURE is way off the fucking mark.

Torture is what happens to you against your wishes.

AGAIN, let’s remind the whole world how the kink and BDSM community work: It’s consensual. People not only agree to be beaten, bound, gagged, and whatever else makes your little conservative cockles shrink in fear — they BEG for it, DESIRE it, and SCHEME to get it.

THAT is not torture.

Let’s remember that language exists to allow us to communicate. It’s there for us to put to words what springs from our minds. WORDS matter. Precision counts. Especially in a motherfucking newspaper.

When we denigrate someone’s sexual preferences as being a fondness for “torture”, you belittle actual incidences of torture in places like Abu Ghraib, China, and wherever else inhumanities occur.

Mary getting paddled while in leather restraints on film as she squeals and moans is hardly akin to high-value prisoners being water-boarded and deprived of basic human rights while off-the-record and on the hush-hush.

So let’s open our fucking dictionaries, editors & writers of the world, because what’s a blase and catchy little term for YOU is something that’s subjecting whole demographics to judgment and ridicule. Learn a little professionalism. It’s the least you can do.