Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Nevermind Sticks and Stones: Unpleasant Words Hurt Americans

submitted by Gabrielle Jones-Price

An interesting thing happened yesterday...

Or not at all interesting and possibly shocking to grown people who get feelings hurt so easily, that they simply can't allow free speech to continue [fyi: this means democracy cannot continue]. It has been circling right down the shitter with the Constitution. There are fingers to point about why this has happened but it is certainly no fault of Milo Yiannopolous. In fact, he's a staunch supporter of free myself. I'm no stranger to sharing ideas and information that make people nervous, I just choose a different delivery.

You don't have to like a damn thing Milo says. You don't have to condone it or agree with it. In a nation we claim is still run by Constitutional law, we're going to have to agree that no one has the right to censor a damn thing, either.

I'll be honest, I'd only heard of Milo peripherally during the last few months or so. Tonight I couldn't avoid him because of continued moral outrage from the left. However, I'm glad I paid attention this time. It brought to light a larger picture and reminded me of the importance and value of free speech. The left, which is eating itself alive right now -- after failing miserably to unify behind a platform that addresses issues that effect all Americans, that still imagines a corporate-owned press is a 'free press', what the left has done has given rise to Milo's larger platform. This is how controversy always works. And this is exactly how Trump became the 'accidental President'.

Loss of rights and liberties didn't happen in a vacuum. The corporate media helped march its consumers right to this place. It is hardly surprising that people on both ends of the political spectrum seem to have lost their minds -- that happens by letting fear run roughshod over common sense under the perpetual 'war on terrorism' now with a shiny surveillance apparatus. Orwell would be proud of this production of his work, if only it weren't on such a large and important stage. This is the neocon/neoliberal, 'lesser of two evils still begets evil' political system we're watching collapse. And if you are not letting go of it -- you are getting dragged by it.

America is now a country where words themselves are losing meaning along with free speech rights that I hold in very high regard as a writer, analyst and a voracious reader.  In my opinion [while it's free to share and I'm certain Milo will not get his feelings hurt], he's got an Andrew Dice Clay kind of appeal...with brains instead of the brawn. He's a self-proclaimed provocateur and in this climate he's proven to be quite an enigma. It's no secret he's been completely radioactive to the left but what occurred yesterday made him equally radioactive to the right.

Milo lost his book deal with a corporate publisher and left Brietbart media of his own accord. Why? Over a year ago, he made comments about pedophilia, and to some it sounded like 'normalizing' it. In fact, Milo has come out and apologized for these statements, mentioning he has been a victim of child sexual abuse himself.

People deal with grief and abuse in a variety of ways; dark humor has been one of them for centuries.

Perhaps Sarah Silverman will now bravely explain her jokes that normalized pedophilia? Why was the right the only group outraged when she did this? How many people on the left were outraged when engaged in pedapologizing when they gave a pedophile a platform to explain why 'he wasn't a monster.' Why do liberals look the other way or downplay it as conspiracy when anyone at all dares to mention it? Why won't liberals read Podesta emails instead of blaming hackers? Hackers didn't write the emails...

We're always afraid of what we don't know because we don't want to burst our own bubbles. Like the scandals within the Catholic church, it changed perceptions and shook up faith. We're always afraid to leave our comfort zones. When it comes to the shadow side of human nature, we push it far away instead of shining light on it -- lest we see ourselves reflected in the eyes of monsters -- allowing such atrocities to continue, including 17 years of bloodshed and loss of our own liberties 'for a little safety' since 9/11.

Who feels safer now? Frankly, I feel a bit safer knowing people like Milo are still speaking, no matter how much I dislike what he has to say. The left would do well to emulate him and shake things up a little more to attempt better discourse before the fundamentalists put an end to that for good.

I thank Milo for the courage to tell his story, apologize to other victims of abuse and for making time to clarify his statements. Courage is a damn rare thing. I also appreciate his honesty in addressing child sexual abuse. It goes as under-reported as rape, is ignored by politicians, Hollywood and the corporate press unless it serves to blackmail someone. I'm betting more than a few media outlets who have actually tried to 'normalize' pedophilia are now scurrying under the rocks. That's a good thing and also why whistleblowers are a good thing. Hurt feelings of grown folk who choose to wear blinders about the horrors of this world should take a backseat to children abused by predators. [The difference between myself and Milo, might be that I include all warmongering governments in this view. War atrocities are just as under-reported.]

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me: each of us decides whether we'll give someone's words personal power over us. But how much power does PR have when we ignore very real sticks and very real stones harming innocent children. From priests, to casting couches to human trafficking in Haiti, there are millions of children waiting for America to get outraged enough to speak for them...

We interrupt all reality because America's feelings are hurt. Please stand by for a word from their sponsors who tell them how fat, old and unfuckable they are and need to have this car, drink, or pill. Won't someone please think of the poor Americans?

Protect your spirit because you are in the place where spirits get eaten ~ John Trudell

Everyone I know understands the far right has always been xenophobic, racist and sexist -- colonialism is not breaking news. Now we see that Simon & Schuester was [at one point] okay publishing xenophobic, racist and sexist writers. They drew the line at pedophilia. So do major newspapers, and corporate media outlets that keep political pedophiles out of the headlines not to mention anti-war voices since the invasion of Iraq. It hides monsters in plain sight to protect them. Americans often idolize monsters, like mob bosses and drug kingpins. But feminists took time to be outraged over what a corporate publisher allowed and then didn't when it drew a moral line in the sand [which should be applauded] instead of looking at the very line itself?

Some lines people just can't cross. Well, I say fucking hallelujah! America isn't completely spiritually dead! Christ on a crutch, let's start with that little bit of good news and work our way UP from that line, shall we? Perhaps we'll all grow from the experience instead of complaining about how far we've allowed ourselves to fall and point fingers at everyone else instead of in a mirror.

I'd really like to say more about American values than I can about its media. I've found that I cannot because those values are a hollow reflection of what they used to be, even 20 years ago. Americans don't want to admit that they've ceased paying attention to corporate corruption and the moral decay Martin Luther King warned us about. Does that mean I want media banned? Books or voices censored? Of course not. Harry Potter books shouldn't be banned by any religious fundamentalist anymore than the Koran by the same, nor should Milo be censored by the left who claims nearly the same moral superiority with as much fervor.

Both are strikingly similar witch hunts. I cannot imagine raising children in this shit show.

What I have watched this country devolve into [in horror at the media's precision]: two party dualism, us and them. Behaving like corporations on one front and fundamentalists on the other. Without a reasonable middle ground left to tell them apart. When people stop buying either of these bullshit paradigms, then resistance might get somewhere. Resisting does not mean quiet all dissent of everything that doesn't 'fall in line' with the feigned morals of a collapsing status quo that has been stealing from and bombing the hell out of people in other countries for centuries. Oh, we better shut up those voices that make us uncomfortable about what we've allowed ourselves to ignore to maintain our privileges. That gets leveled at both sides. I checked out of this Matrix years ago and have a different and yes, a radically detached perspective. For the planet, not a party.

How many millions of adult children of baby-boomers have turned into carbon copies of dullard parents? I'm glad to burst bubbles, Cleavers. There are a few more to burst that this country is totally unprepared for, and anyone attacking alternative press, writers, voices and first amendment rights does so at their own peril.

There's a reason why rock-n-roll, punk rock and rap music made millions of parents uneasy. Revolution is supposed to be uneasy. Change scares the shit out of comfortable people who think the 'good old days' are over and are resigned to plunk down in front of an idiot box with the same thinking they had 30 years ago. That thinking no longer works.

I'm a mother of a 32 year old daughter who is as cynical as she is genius in her art craft. I never allowed her to believe that this world defines her -- because I refused to teach her what I was indoctrinated to teach, and instead took lessons from my grandparents. I never took away her passion as punishment for not conforming to 'social norms'.

I've found embracing bullshit is just super-duper swell and a-okay with my former 'set' of peers. I set out in search of others. At some point, we have to be our own 'guru' and ditch the notion of saviors. I've been treated as blasphemous for mentioning laws of nature when it includes cheap oil.

Violent delights have violent ends...

My heart breaks every day for the millions of Americans, especially young people, who have been robbed of their homes, use of their degrees because of staggering student debt and loss of human dignity caused by corruption. Stop using the word recession -- it's robbery. So many will never be afforded the luxuries that cheap oil provided when the next round of austerities come. Simple is good. Complex societies are about to go bye-bye, Dorothy. Whites have been a minority since the last consensus -- they just happen to have old money and are now desperately trying to use jumper cables on an American battery they were told had a 'lifetime' warranty -- long after the store has declared bankruptcy.

No technology can save people who think survival hinges on belief -- even the belief that infinite resources are possible on a finite planet. [This is why Native Americans refer to white colonialists as 'fat takers'. Fat is energy.]

What is good, Phædrus, and what is not good—need we ask anyone to tell us these things? 

Evidently, we do.

I've not watched Bill Maher in 8 years. He's always been sexist and has engaged in overt Islamophobia even after donating a million dollars to Obomber's campaign. He just wasn't funny anymore, so I decided the good thing to do was turn him off. NOT give him a platform. Easy. No outrage, no stress, no need to destroy a campus, storm a castle or destroy a person's rights.

Turn it off if you don't like it. The public should have been doing the same to Milo if they don't like his views. In social media, you have the option of 'blocking' -- this is within everyone's right -- but by censoring, we actively engage in policing thought, both good and bad. So, then who gets to decide what's good? I certainly hope it isn't corporate media or cable television -- they've screwed our psyches and our culture six ways from Sunday. Unfortunately, mainstream news is one of the worst of offenders. Until the left sees this,  they'll march in lockstep with it. Bill Maher doesn't give a shit because his bread is buttered. Jeremy Scahill boycotted appearing on the same night Milo was on Bill's show. That was his right. As it is the right of anyone who doesn't like Milo's speech, Trump's speech, CNN, ABC, Brietbart or Fox News.

What I find most deplorable is insisting on paying to be lied to in a world of free information. There's a quote I've often revisited when doing analysis and becoming energy literate: "A man who doesn't read is no better off than the man who can't." My tough love translation: "A comfortable man who believes he doesn't have to think critically about the world will, in the end, be no better off than his poorest neighbor."

Willful blindness is different than censorship -- it happens on both sides of the two-party spectrum. Black and white becomes as increasingly dull as left and right. An almost 30 year veteran of photography, I've learned to appreciate the need for grey. That brings me to mention the Faurisson affair, [wiki] an academic controversy in the wake of a book by French scholar Robert Faurisson, a Holocaust denier. The scandal largely dealt with the inclusion of an essay by American linguist Noam Chomsky, entitled "Some Elementary Comments on the Rights of Freedom of Expression", as an introduction to Faurisson's book, without Chomsky's knowledge or approval. Responding to a request for comment in a climate of attacks on Faurisson, Chomsky defended Faurisson's right to express and publish his opinions on the grounds that freedom of speech must be extended to all viewpoints, no matter how unpopular or fallacious.

This grey area is important and seems to be a very hard concept to grasp for both American conservatives and liberals. Jumping to conclusions on one side or the other is the 'in thing' -- no research required, just 'feels' -- and those who do research and share the grey are deemed 'fake news'. Especially news that makes us uncomfortable. Shadow work is necessary in life as much as it is in photography to get the whole picture. In a country facing economic decline, the concept of free speech is one we better grasp tightly with both hands or whatever liberties we claim to love aren't going to make it. People over centuries have seen and been through far worse than what we face right now. Find your courage and compassion, not your outrage.

This morning, I watched Milo give a press conference in which he not only defended himself, but the very constitutional right that Chomsky sought to defend that also caused so much controversy for him. There is a vast grey area between these two men. Yet, they share a space on some common ground. We should all be seeking common ground instead of moral high ground.

When you seek to quiet dissent of one -- you consent to quiet the dissent of all. So if you truly believe that 'all lives matter' stop silencing voices who have stories yet to tell. Milo just told his. When will you tell yours? When will you take a platform that isn't a sound byte designed to fit in a stream of 40 characters day in and day out? When will your experience become a teaching moment instead of more echoing across a void?

Another provocateur and one of my favorite authors, Hunter S. Thompson once said, "Freedom is something that dies unless it is used." We're still free to investigate, research, write, speak and offer opinions -- opinions aren't news, but are protected under the first amendment all the same. Unless we've collectively decided that the very freedoms Bush Jr. declared 'our enemies hated us for' should be taken off life support -- I'm sorry to report that the enemy needing diplomacy and thoroughly interviewed, shows up every morning in the mirror.

If words hurt Americans -- maybe it is past time we elevated them above snark, cynicism and outrage into stories that reflect understanding of the human condition on this hurtling hunk of dirt in the solar system. I find them both worthy of protecting. Including the oldest languages...especially now. #MniWiconi

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