Tag Archives: america

Awash in the Afterglow

I’m still in the euphoric afterglow of Obama’s victory. I suspect many of us are. I’m looking forward to the stories we’ll hear from around the world about this. It’s more healing internationally than I suspect Americans can possibly imagine.

In its most flippant terms? I believe this vote means American college kids can stop sewing Canadian flags on their backpacks to travel in Europe. I mean, fuck, during Bush’s reign there have been companies selling “Canadian” kits with our anthem, passport covers, and more, for Americans wanting to “lay low” abroad.

That’s because we’ve all been living under a cloud of What The Fuck? since Bush got elected.

Obama, though, represents everything awesome about America. He’s a throwback to the American leaders who so squarely defined America as the defender of ideals, the protector of its people, and the chief negotiator on the world stage. He’s a reminder of what presidents were — we remember what JFK and FDR did for the country, and this guy, he’s running on bringing that kind of politicking back to the national stage but with a modern twist. FDR never had the internet to inspire or unite his electorate with, after all.

He reminds us of the America that has set the pace for the entire world for a century. He makes it seem like, after a few decades of interruption, America has remembered who it is again. Continue reading

Carlin is Dead, Long Live Carlin

Freedoms are something we take for granted in places like the US and Canada… until someone comes along and takes those freedoms.

The trouble with being “free” is we don’t always realize how limited that freedom truly is. That’s why we have people like George Carlin in our lives, people who push buttons.

Or we did. George Carlin died Sunday of a heart attack.

When it comes to really saying how society is, I think comics like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin have had such important roles to play. Lenny Bruce I’ve eulogized before on this blog. Carlin, not so much. I’m a huge fan of comedy, but more so the pushy, provocative skits of the ’70s.

In 1973, Carlin had a skit air on the radio that prompted another challenge of America’s obscenity laws that had plagued Bruce till he died. Carlin fought the charges and the Supreme Court ruled he was indecent, but not obscene. It wouldn’t be Carlin’s last fight, either, but he’d always win a little bit.

I’m a big fan of Freedom of Speech, albeit I’m a fan of our Canadian version of it, not the American version. (The difference? Although you’re not allowed to do hate speech in Canada, [which goes against “freedom” of speech but I approve] we can swear more, get away with more, and we have more sex on TV.)

But I’m a big believer that the freedoms I celebrate by being angrily on-point with issues, swearing all over the place, and flaming anyone I can think of, come on the heels of such provocative work done over the years by folks like Carlin, Bruce, Bill Hicks, and any other dead comedic great you want to lump in there.

Unfortunately, the debate between “obscene” and “indecent” still rages in the USA, and the land of the free still isn’t as unbridled and free as many of today’s comics wish it would be.

There aren’t a lot of comics where you always get the joke, professionals who understand how to really make their audience come alive, but Carlin was the last truly great comedian left from the time when American censors were getting paid too well for their jobs, when getting onstage meant daily questions of “What’s gonna be too much for this town, anyhow?”

For folks like Carlin and Bruce, that question would get answered when they’d land in jail yet again for some dirty jokes or peppering speech with profanities.

Just a little of the free speech you have in America is thanks to folks like Carlin who questioned those who called him “obscene”.

After all, what some people consider obscene is how the rest of us like to live our lives.

I’m sad that the world’s without Carlin now. I’m sad he never lived to receive his Mark Twain’s Humourist prize this November.

But I’m glad he pushed some buttons in his lifetime. Thanks, George. The mark you left behind changed the landscape of public speech, and you will be remembered.

Rights and Freedoms

Money, they say, is the root of all evil. Arguable, at the best of times.

Today, though, a coalition of 18 companies are telling us that they’re gonna put a stop to that tree of evil when it comes to child pornography. While child porn is, in my opinion, one of the worst things a human can be a part of, it’s also a multi-billion dollar industry. Where there is money, there is a way.

That coalition — including the likes of Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Wells Fargo, e-gold, Microsoft, and more — has vowed to stamp out the commercial viability of child pornography. Payments to such sites will be halted. Cease and desist orders shall be issued.

I suppose I should stand up and cheer. Hurrah for the good guys! Instead, I’m sitting here thinking “What the fuck took you so long?”

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In OTHER news… more reasons to love living under the Maple Leaf. I was chatting yesterday with a new arrival here in Vancouver, an internet sex-industry business guy who’s moved to Canada to get out from under the repressive sexual climate that the United States is becoming.

He illustrated his point with this story. The gist is this. You can’t buy a sex toy in Mississippi.

A double-barrel shotgun? Sure! A high-power vibrator? Fuck you, you sick fuck! You’re gonna do WHAT with that thing? Up the ASS? Holy shit, you sodomizing sick son of a bitch! Henry, get me my rifle!

I just can’t even begin to understand how a country –that’s clearly smoking crack– can purport to be “the land of the free” and you can’t even buy a fucking toy to use on yourself in the privacy of your own goddamned home.

And where the fuck are the people? There are those who are out there saying what needs to be said. There are those trying to fight for freedoms for all of you, and maybe you don’t think the Right to Vibe is up there with the rest of your freedoms, but how can a line be drawn? You are free, or you are not. But where in the FUCK are the REST of you? Where are YOUR voices?

America is sometimes the greatest illusion in the world. There’s the dream of America, and there’s the reality of America, and sometimes some of us just wish y’all would open your fucking eyes and see which is which.

Demand your freedom. Demand that your government not just try to pose as the land of the free, but that it seeks to define laws that are inspired by the spirit of what your constitution claims that it is.

If there’s anything more heart-breaking than the APATHY of America today, I wish someone would tell me what it is. As a Canadian, it breaks my fucking heart to see the changing of your nation from across the 49th parallel.

Rise up and stab ’em with your plastic forks, people, ‘cos it ain’t getting any better any time soon. You have voices. Fucking use them.