Friday, June 9, 2017
You are your own alert system, always and forever.
Anyone out there remember how I've said in the past, "once you care, you're fucked"? Well yeah, that ship has sailed—many times obviously—but this time, things are a bit different.
What I'm caring about this time is free speech, which has taken so many hard hits recently, you'd think it was married to Ike Turner. See, I think we can all agree that spousal abuse is not in the least bit funny, but my point here, in this context, and context is crucial, is that I have the right to make that joke, and you in turn have the right to chuckle at it, or not.
62% of American University campuses would really rather that you NOT have that choice, and that's where I'm headed here.
Harvard admissions are being rescinded over students' use of "offensive" memes; careers of ordinary people, and celebrities alike, are being forestalled or ruined outright—over words, written or spoken, simply because someone would prefer not to read or hear them. You have the choice, always, in a free society, to simply LOOK AWAY, or to use your free speech to publicly disagree. This is serious shit, and I could never have predicted, even 10 years ago, that these hits to our freedoms would come from the Left, that is to say, the collective social-media hive mind of the Liberal and Left-leaning, the so-called politically correct.
The rules against free expression of unpopular ideas, on the majority of college campuses, right now, are even more restrictive than outside of academia. This is the opposite of what I grew up believing, as a child of the 70s, because college was the place where critical thinking and free-spirited debate was not only supposed to happen, but widely encouraged. Higher education was where you tweaked your identity and began your path to adulthood, a "safe space" for all—feminists, Black Panthers, Communists, yes, but also the Young Conservatives, Randians, literally everyone...and no book open on your lap on the quad would be ever questioned, or even open to criticism, whether it was Mein Kampf or The Female Eunuch.
As someone who's been in broadcasting since 1984, I pay special attention to censorship, FCC rulings and the like, and I have always been hard-line anti-censorship, because I want to assume that the public is free, intelligent, and discerning enough to disseminate any and all information, be it written, spoken, or in the form of visual or performance art. Seek out the ideas you find relatable and palatable, and leave the rest, or even better—find people you disagree with, those who are saying what you don't want to hear, and engage them, in open, respectful debate.
People like to say nowadays that "1984 is happening right now," the problem with this notion usually for me is that it's automatically assumed that this control of what we say and ultimately think will come from the corridors of power, from government, from the idiot in charge, the Right wing essentially; but what we see happening now is individuals in our free society being bullied into apologizing and kowtowing to popular opinion—neither via regulation nor legislation—and many of us (myself included) are simply self-editing, so as to not lose friends, or have our livelihoods or creative pursuits questioned, boycotted or denied.
Make no mistake, this war on free speech is a tragic and urgent matter, and it's coming from places you might least expect, like Twitter and BuzzFeed. As Simpsons bartender Moe Szyslak once sang, "Sorry Marge, the mob has spoken." Indeed, the mob has spoken, and it does not want hear words, or see pictures, or experience your irreverence, lexicon and conditions notwithstanding. I for one am scared. Free speech, protected by law, is not being curtailed or limited by the authorities, but by every Dick and Jane with a social media account.
Rant over, but I implore you reading this to consider my words, and to not simply follow a narrative, but to truly and always be a free thinker, rather than a media parrot. Seek out those with opposing beliefs and opinions and humanize them.
I also did a radio show this week! Popular tracks came from Mortuary Drape | The Frogs | The Stranglers | The Dead Boys | Krieg | Devil Master | J. Soliday | Blank Spell | Nurse | Oven | Black Urn | Tony Conrad ... and special high marks to new work by Hatchers, my personal high point of the horrorcast™. You can stream the whole thing by clicking on our weekly still, this time from the elevated zombie trash of 1981's Burial Ground, known both for its simply awful, low-effort special effects, and for one very-memorable character, an underdeveloped manchild that just looks a whole lot like Mark E. Smith.
I return next week with a total blackout—our fourth guest-DJ visit from M. del Rio of Seed Stock Records, Raspberry Bulbs, et al. Should be a great time, as black as we ever get at My Castle of Quiet. For more information, to comment or join, please visit our Facebook event listing.