I don’t want you to be safe, ideologically. I don’t want you to be safe, emotionally. I want you to be strong.

free speech

Since 2012, when members of iGen first began entering college, growing numbers of college students have become less able to cope with the challenges of campus life, including offensive ideas, insensitive professors, and rude or even racist and sexist peers.

Previous generations of college students learned to live with such challenges in preparation for success in the far more offense-filled world beyond the college gates. As Van Jones put it in response to a question by David Axelrod about how progressive students should react to ideologically offensive speakers on campus:

I don’t want you to be safe, ideologically. I don’t want you to be safe, emotionally. I want you to be strong. That’s different. I’m not going to pave the jungle for you. Put on some boots, and learn how to deal with adversity. I’m not going to take all the weights out of the gym; that’s the whole point of the gym. This is the gym.

This is why the idea that speech is violence is so dangerous. It tells the members of a generation already beset by anxiety and depression that the world is a far more violent and threatening place than it really is. It tells them that words, ideas, and speakers can literally kill them.

Even worse: At a time of rapidly rising political polarization in America, it helps a small subset of that generation justify political violence. A few days after the riot that shut down Yiannopoulos’s talk at Berkeley, in which many people were punched, beaten, and pepper sprayed by masked protesters, the main campus newspaper ran five op-ed essays by students and recent alumni under the series title “Violence as self defense.” One excerpt: “Asking people to maintain peaceful dialogue with those who legitimately do not think their lives matter is a violent act.”

The implication of this expansive use of the word “violence” is that “we” are justified in punching and pepper-spraying “them,” even if all they did was say words. We’re just defending ourselves against their “violence.” But if this way of thinking leads to actual violence, and if that violence triggers counter-violence from the other side (as happened a few weeks later at Berkeley), then where does it end?

In the country’s polarized democracy, telling young people that “words are violence” may in fact lead to a rise in real, physical violence.

Free speech, properly understood, is not violence.

It is a cure for violence.

Excerpted from this article.

Art credit: Banksy

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I never met my great-grandparents, because they were murdered.

armenian-genocide-1915


During the genocide of World War I, the State of Turkey targeted Christians, which included my people, the Armenians, to be exterminated.  The State murdered men, women, and children, without judgment or differentiation.  They were hung, decapitated, or marched to death. The estimate of those murdered are 1.5 million people.

The Turks who were responsible for these murders were fascists. Fascists are people who control through authoritarianism that appeals to national pride and protectionism. Fascists are led by an unelected leader (dictator) who uses force to eliminate dissent and free speech and other freedoms.

Today my great-grandparents lay in their unmarked graves, wherever those graves may be.  And if they have souls, I imagine they’re watching our definition of fascism today.  And they’re wondering what has become of the world…

Privilege

Isn’t it strange that a gift could be an enemy?
Isn’t it weird that a privilege could feel like a chore?
Maybe it’s me, but this line isn’t going anywhere.
Maybe if we looked hard enough, we could find a backdoor

I see you in line, dragging your feet
You have my sympathy
The day you were born, you were born free
That is your privilege.

We’re all privileged to a certain degree, in this great nation of our’s.

Your perspective determines how much of your privilege you take advantage of.

Some people are so appreciative of it, that they use the opportunities to become
President of the United States of America.

Others?

Not so much…

“I had been drinking,” she said, “I mean, really drinking”

guilleuine


“There’s always something a guy offers,” I said. “Not money, or material support… you guys..girls.. can do that well enough for yourself.  I mean..he offers himself, as a male, his spirit…his strength, reassurance that things are going to be alright.”

“He doesn’t provide me anything,” she said, emphatic, and took a careful drag from her cigarette, then formed her small mouth into at an “O”, and exhaled. “I don’t care if the other guy gives him our video that he made when I was drunk.”

I hesitated for only a second: “So you really don’t need him,” I said. “You can walk away from your home with him.”

Her face grew bright, with almost manic energy.  I couldn’t help but be drawn to it.  A small smile played on her face: “Off with their heads,” she said.

 

 

“Why does he keep texting me when I’m not texting him?”

neediness

She sounded genuinely puzzled.

Ah, I thought…I’ve been there many times.
“It’s because he doesn’t have options,” I wanted to stop and tell her…but I didn’t.
That’s what life’s about: Having options.  Whether it’s with friends, partners, jobs, whatever.
And everyone has these options… even when they don’t.  It’s how you feel about your life that determines your options.
Do you feel empowered? Options manifest themselves.
Do you feel disadvantaged?  Options become obscured and disappear.
Which way do you feel?

Camp too long, and your shit stops smelling

bonnaroo camp

Leaving our bonnaroo camp… and I am sad. I could live here, in this surreal world of music and community of strangers who are suddenly friends. I’ve fallen in love for this place.

Our neighbors and I had had the conversation earlier:  What kind of society would develop here, if we all just stayed?  What we produce to live?…what would different people choose to provide, to trade with others,  something that others would want, something that is uniquely you.

That’s how you win….by how special, how different, how YOU, you are.  Waiting on others is not an option.

If you want to make a difference, you’ve got to be different.

So be different…by being yourself.  Evolve as things evolve.  Don’t camp.  Because camps stay the same.  There is no growth in a camp, no change, no search for new things, new people, or new interaction.

But we like staying in our camp.  It’s comfortable, being with our side, our party, the left camp, the right camp, the Trump camp. Whatever.

I regretted leaving my temporary home on that farmland. But it wasn’t my home. It was one kind of place. And the world has many different kinds of places.  The festival life was an outing that was just one station on my journey.

Our mistake is that we make a mental home, of values and beliefs, and then we set up a defensive perimeter of our camp to protect our identity, an identity which somehow becomes nested in our temporary beliefs.

But if we’re constantly evolving, we don’t make a home in anything.

Because, like the crab growing out of its shell, or the snake from its skin…we grow into something bigger and better as we learn and experience things. We find a new home as we push out from our current confines and organization.  And as a result, we live more meaningful lives.

Stay in your camp too long, and your shit stops smelling…but only to you.

She was talking on her phone in a tone of amazement

girl on phone

“Why does he keep texting me when I’m not texting him?”

She sounded genuinely puzzled.

Ah, I thought…I’ve been there many times.

 

“It’s because he doesn’t have options,” I wanted to stop and tell her…but I didn’t.

 

That’s what life’s about: Having options.  Whether it’s with friends, partners, jobs, whatever.

 

And everyone has these options… even when they don’t.  It’s how you feel about your life that determines your options.

 

Do you feel empowered? Options manifest themselves.

 

Do you feel disadvantaged?  Options become obscured and disappear.

 

Which way do you feel?

Then he swiped his credit card to pay me for arresting him

police

I was shooting heroin

and reading “The Fountainhead”

in the front seat of my privately owned police cruiser

when a call came in.

I put a quarter in the radio to activate it. It was the chief.

“Bad news, detective. We got a situation.”

“What? Is the mayor trying to ban trans fats again?”

“Worse. Somebody just stole four hundred and forty-seven million dollars’ worth of bitcoins.”

The heroin needle practically fell out of my arm. “What kind of monster would do something like that? Bitcoins are the ultimate currency: virtual, anonymous, stateless. They represent true economic freedom, not subject to arbitrary manipulation by any government. Do we have any leads?”

“Not yet. But mark my words: we’re going to figure out who did this and we’re going to take them down … provided someone pays us a fair market rate to do so.”

“Easy, chief,” I said. “Any rate the market offers is, by definition, fair.”

He laughed. “That’s why you’re the best I got, Lisowski. Now you get out there and find those bitcoins.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m on it.”

I put a quarter in the siren. Ten minutes later, I was on the scene. It was a normal office building, strangled on all sides by public sidewalks. I hopped over them and went inside.

“Home Depot™ Presents the Police!®” I said, flashing my badge and my gun and a small picture of Ron Paul. “Nobody move unless you want to!” They didn’t.

“Now, which one of you punks is going to pay me to investigate this crime?” No one spoke up.

“Come on,” I said. “Don’t you all understand that the protection of private property is the foundation of all personal liberty?”

It didn’t seem like they did.

“Seriously, guys. Without a strong economic motivator, I’m just going to stand here and not solve this case. Cash is fine, but I prefer being paid in gold bullion or autographed Penn Jillette posters.”

Nothing. These people were stonewalling me. It almost seemed like they didn’t care that a fortune in computer money invented to buy drugs was missing.

I figured I could wait them out. I lit several cigarettes indoors. A pregnant lady coughed, and I told her that secondhand smoke is a myth. Just then, a man in glasses made a break for it.

“Subway™ Eat Fresh and Freeze, Scumbag!®” I yelled.

Too late. He was already out the front door. I went after him.

“Stop right there!” I yelled as I ran. He was faster than me because I always try to avoid stepping on public sidewalks. Our country needs a private-sidewalk voucher system, but, thanks to the incestuous interplay between our corrupt federal government and the public-sidewalk lobby, it will never happen.

I was losing him. “Listen, I’ll pay you to stop!” I yelled. “What would you consider an appropriate price point for stopping? I’ll offer you a thirteenth of an ounce of gold and a gently worn ‘Bob Barr ‘08’ extra-large long-sleeved men’s T-shirt!”

He turned. In his hand was a revolver that the Constitution said he had every right to own. He fired at me and missed. I pulled my own gun, put a quarter in it, and fired back. The bullet lodged in a U.S.P.S. mailbox less than a foot from his head. I shot the mailbox again, on purpose.

“All right, all right!” the man yelled, throwing down his weapon. “I give up, cop! I confess: I took the bitcoins.”

“Why’d you do it?” I asked, as I slapped a pair of Oikos™ Greek Yogurt Presents Handcuffs® on the guy.

“Because I was afraid.”

“Afraid?”

“Afraid of an economic future free from the pernicious meddling of central bankers,” he said. “I’m a central banker.”

I wanted to coldcock the guy. Years ago, a central banker killed my partner. Instead, I shook my head.

“Let this be a message to all your central-banker friends out on the street,” I said. “No matter how many bitcoins you steal, you’ll never take away the dream of an open society based on the principles of personal and economic freedom.”

He nodded, because he knew I was right. Then he swiped his credit card to pay me for arresting him.

Life is no “brief candle” to me

joy


This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

Life is no “brief candle” to me.

It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

-George Bernard Shaw

Being a slave is a point of pride

lumberg-office-space_610


“Take for instance the phrase, corporate slave,” I told him.
“That term slave is really strong. It means something quite clear.  Slavery, real slavery, is were the person is threatened by physical force for not following direction.

The corporate slave is restricted by circumstance, but not restricted by physical force. And the circumstance they are in is economic.  Using the word slave for people who have choices is sort of disrespectful to the slaves we had in America and we have today.”

Resist. Stop the persecution.

These are powerful words. Actually all words are powerful. Which words we choose to describe a situation make a big difference on how we view a situation:

Viva la Resistance

It was the rallying cry of the underground rebellion of the French against the Nazis. The Germans had occupied their country, and were proceeding to round up and kill anyone who wanted to protect their freedom from the Nazi dictatorship.  Nazis who detained people, took their property, and even killed them, sometimes for nothing more than their race or ethnicity.

Today we are progressive. Because we are privileged.

The right to be free to do what you want without harming others is no longer sufficient. Enslaving others is now the charge against you when you don’t help enough.

Meanwhile, many others seek out the white collar of slavery and wear it with pride.  Blue collars, too.  They’ve been victimized by capitalism, or victimized by China, or both.

We are progressive.  We have progressed to some point.

And it’s a point I’m unsure of.