Tag Archives: commentary

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.

Um, Thank You For Breaking My Blog

highfiveI’d like to extend warm fuzzy thanks for everyone who’s taken the time to read, share, and respond to my Jian Ghomeshi vs. The CBC piece. More than 100,000 people read it on my overworked little blog in just 36 hours. I’m absolutely blown away by how much it’s resonated with you. I’m very proud I had a chance to help change the conversation on why women won’t come forward.

I’m also glad the BDSM community feels I’ve helped clear up a few misconceptions being wilfully created by Ghomeshi and his supporters. While I’m fairly vanilla myself, I’m happy to advocate for a grossly misunderstood lifestyle and kink. Especially since this conversation shouldn’t be about BDSM at all, but instead about the lack of consent he reportedly had, and that a lack of consent makes these allegations of flat-out assault.

To that end, I had the chance to be interviewed by Vancouver’s CKNW 980 radio yesterday, and we discussed both BDSM and consent in relation to this explosive scandal. You can listen to that here. It’s a 12-minute chat with host Simi Sara.

Meanwhile, I have a few more things on my chest on the victim/survivor aspect of all this, more mainstream revelation of what the BDSM ethos and community entails, and so on. Please bookmark me and check back now and again.

I also have nearly a decade of archives here that extend to everything from sex and sexual politics to mental health and pop culture commentary. I invite you to explore tags and subjects for any of the 3,000 or so pieces I’ve written in the last decade. Might I suggest the “Steff rants” category if you like a little righteousness in your day? Check my archives by year, or search by categories. Many posts have several categories attached for your convenience.

Then there’s my newsletter. That’s how I can tell you when my upcoming ebook of collected essays and updated opinions will be released. Join that here. Thanks again. You’re fucking awesome.

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.

The Museum of Penis

This morning Urban Gypsy, aka Tess, posted this ever-so-brief diatribe against The Museum of Sex and its fucking moronic public relations campaign featuring the ads found at this link. Thanks, Tess!

245_sexmuseum2Where to start? Well, I guess it’s official, I’m unlikely to ever, ever be interested in the Museum of Sex if it’s going to be this misogynistic before I even put foot in the door. I mean, if there was a woman anywhere on this creative team, I’ll eat my bra. And it has an underwire!

But let’s go to the big issues first, shall we?

Bad sex is better than good sex with yourself? Is it, really?

Last bad sex I had, in August, outraged me, because it was casual, something I don’t typically do, and over in an instant. My thinking was, “If I’m going to risk STDs and whatever else you’re risking by sleeping with a casual partner, then a) it better be GOOD fucking, and b) it better last a long time. I mean, I better be SPENT after taking that chance.”

It’s the old adage, anything worth doing is worth doing well. I think that adage needs an asterisk from here on out, and a perma-footnote that reads especially sex. Continue reading

Why Sarah Palin Scares Me

If you read me, and you’re a fan of Sarah Palin? I’m offended by your ignorance, and the fact that you deem me entertaining yet take THAT THING seriously. Don’t read me, please. It’s insulting. And educate yourself.

She is ignorant, uninformed, inarticulate, and frankly, dangerous. If you support her? You are, too.

Let’s talk about all the reasons I hate this woman. As much as I dislike that word, hate, this woman prompts that feeling in me for all the things she stands for, that I stand against. Few brands of people fill me with as much terror as someone like her.

For starters, rape victims were on the hook for part or all of the rape kits in her town of Wasilla. Her chief of police did it, and she never tried to stop it. Some reports state her town had the highest rape statistics in Alaska, which had the highest rape statistics in America. Now, there’s no proof Palin ever argued in favour of keeping this policy, but she sure as hell never tried to repeal it — which you’d think, as a woman, she might feel like getting on side of women, and as a mother, that she’d want rapists off the streets–whatever the fiscal cost. Gee, if you’re not willing to spring for rape kits so you can properly investigate whodunnit, I guess the same rapists stay in business, huh?

On the question of whether she would allow a daughter who was raped by her father and made pregnant to abort the baby, she said she would “counsel” them to “choose life”.

The woman believes homosexuality is a choice. In 2008. In the same interview I’ve just hyperlinked to, from CBS, she said:

Continue reading

Lenny Bruce, Obscenity’s Legacy, and Today’s News

I wrote this late last night, when I should have been in bed. I was out for coffee this morning when The Guy emailed me with a link and said, “This will make you very angry.” Rightly so. It turns out the Supreme Court of the US has decided not to hear a case on internet-based obscenity, meaning that internet obscenity laws are to be decided on a local basis. IE, small towns can decide what’s “obscene” on the internet.

Think about this for a minute. REALLY fucking think about the ramifications of this, people. This is huge. You’re going to have Buttfuck, Idaho deciding on whether or not materials that are being used and seen by people AROUND THE WORLD are obscene… in the land of “free press.”

It all comes back to you. Your vote. It comes down to voting for leaders and politicians because you’re looking for a fucking tax break, but you fail to realize the implications of what that leader’s choices for life-long appointments to the Supreme Court are. Life-long: Meaning decades of deciding the interpretation of YOUR constitution.

You want to tell me that America’s passion for freedom of speech is greater than any other nation’s. Not anymore. Never has been. That’s the greatest lie ever told, my friends.

This year’s the 40th anniversary of the death of Lenny Bruce — a guy who met the wrong end of every obscenity law ever passed in the US. Four decades have passed, and this is the bullshit that’s starting to cycle back into action.

AGAIN, I ask you: Where is your voice?

The timing of that news is just strange, since I’d planned to post this today anyhow. A sad fucking day for freedoms, my friends. Know that.

__________________

The writer I am today is a result of the reader I was then. To tell the truth, I’m barely a reader today. I seldom settle in with a book, but I hope to change that behaviour.

I recently took some time to organize my bookshelves, and this book in the photo, my tattered copy of Lenny Bruce’s How to Talk Dirty & Influence People, still stands up on display, right behind my grandmother’s 1955 rotary dial phone, which still rattles and rings anytime someone dials me up. Next to it, a first-edition of the Arrow paperback version of HST’s Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas.

When I was 18, my narrow, protected view of the world was shattered by HST, but then came Lenny. Like HST’s classic tome, it gets off to an unforgettable start – particularly if you’re an 18-year-old kid. Unbelievably, I had the balls to recommend this to my 14 year old student last week.

“Filipinos come quick; colored men are built abnormally large (“Their wangs look like a baby’s arm with an apple in its fist”); ladies with short hair are lesbians; if you want to keep your man, rub alum on your pussy.

Such bits of erotic folklore were related daily to my mother by Mrs. Janesky, a middle-aged widow who lived across the alley, despite the fact that she had volumes of books delivered by the postman every month — A Sane Sex Life, Ovid the God of Love, How to Make Your Marriage Partner More Compatible–in plain brown wrappers marked “Personal.”

She would begin in a pedantic fashion, using academic medical terminology, but within ten minutes, she would be spouting her hoary hornyisms. Their conversation drifted to me as I sat under the sink, picking at the ripped linoleum, day-dreaming and staring at my Aunt Mema’s Private Business, guarded by its sinkmate, the vigilant C-N bottle, vanguard of Lysol, Zonite, and Massengill.

At this tender age, I knew nothing of douches. The only difference between men and women was that women always had headaches and didn’t like whistling or cap guns; and men didn’t like women – that is, women they were married to.

Aunt Mema’s Private Business, the portable bidet, was a large red-rubber bulb with a long black nozzle. I could never figure out what the hell it was for. I thought maybe it was an enema bag for people who lived in buildings with a super who wouldn’t allow anyone to put up nails to hang things on; I wondered if it was the horn Harpo Marx squeezed to punctuate his silent sentences. All I knew was that it was not to be used for water-gun battles, and that what it was for was none of my business.

When you’re eight years old, nothing is any of your business.”

Lenny Bruce, if you’ve never heard much about the dude, was a pioneering comic who broke all the rules. The Jim Morrison of comedy, he had his ass busted for obscenity more times than Dick Nixon would proclaim he was not a crook. It was on his heels, on his ground-breaking sacrifices and legal hassles that Richard Pryor and every other comedian would follow. Without Lenny Bruce, there might not have been a Pryor, or a Hicks, or a Rock, or a Leary. Lenny Bruce said fuck you to the man, and he said what was on his mind.

These days, there’s something still admirable about someone with the balls to say “What you think is obscene is what others do behind closed doors.” As someone I quite like recently said, let’s meet at the corner of The 21st Century and Get Over It.

Laws of acceptability are drawn by people with the courage (or the accidental happening) to push envelopes in defiance of what accepted norms are. For instance, fucking can now be used as an adjective after 10 pm all because Bono accidentally said it as such during a broadcast of (insert irrelevant music awards ceremony name here).

But the ones who discover whole new lands, they’re the journeymen like Bruce because they’re the ones who consciously know what the accepted is, but choose to go far beyond it, consequences be damned.

You open to any fucking page, anywhere, and there’s something that even today is relevant. Me, my copy’s so fucking tattered it’s permanently mated with an elastic band, the only thing that holds it together. The page where the spine breaks clean in half, page 91, yielded this pearl from 1963, 10 years before my birth.

“Why don’t religious institutions use their influence to relieve human suffering instead of sponsoring such things as the Legion of Decency, which dares to say it’s indecent that men should watch some heavy-titted Italian starlet because to them breasts are dirty?

Beautiful, sweet, tender, womanly breasts that I love to kiss; pink nipples that I love to feel against my clean-shaven face. They’re clean!”

So many of us sex bloggers, we’re up in arms against this Moralizing of North America; the legislative attempts to arbitrate morality; this pitiful attempt to turn back the clock and eradicate sex and desire from the consciousness of the average person.

Got news for you, folks. We’ve been fighting this battle for decades. Whether it’s a brilliant writer and commentator like Lenny Bruce or a filthy fat fuck like Larry Flynt, the battles ain’t new, the war ain’t new, and the blood’s long from dry.

What’s different now, though, is the medium. Enter blogging. Enter podcasting. Enter streaming video. Now we have a voice. Now we don’t have to wait any longer for a voice crying out in the night, for a black-as-hell knight to ride in with a filthy leer and a winning argument. Now the undersexed, underfucked, randy-as-hell, crop-flogging, chain-wearing, paddle-using, nymphomaniacal, cross-dressing, same-sex fucking, porn-loving, and swinging folks, NOW they all have the ability to have a voice.

The thing about activism is that it’s not about ground breaking wide open in one fell swoop. Like any hole, it start with one push of the shovel. And another. And another. There will be rocks and boulders that limit progress, but with persistence, it all comes out. The greater the chorus of resistance, the harder it is to ignore. The greater the groundswell, the more ground we can break.

Unfortunately for the battle, Lenny Bruce died too fucking young. He should’ve died right around now, in his 80th year. Instead, a needle in his arm, he toppled off his toilet, and crashed to his death – a disgraced, bloated man who was mocked and ridiculed out of the mainstream, and instead, placed post-humously upon a pedestal by those who would continue to wage what was known as his crusade against semantics.

The book’s afterword ends thus:

“One last four-letter word for Lenny.
Dead.
At 40.
That’s obscene.”

And it was. It is. Few people ever have the balls that Lenny Bruce lugged around with him, and it’s a crying fucking shame. And still, here we are, fighting for the same things, dreaming of the same freedoms as this long-dead Jewish-American comedian, in this, the 21st century.