I went to visit Shane earlier today. Because it's Sunday, parking lots are flat rate — it's cheaper for me just to buy some beer and park in the Beer Store parking lot. Anyway, as I'm waiting in line, I think some old guy was trying to pick me up — he kept leering at my tattoos (sort of a lustful version of a glare). Eventually he told me they were “wonderful” and wanted to know if they were “all over my body.” I told him they were and then he told me “oh I wish I could behold that.”
Then I noticed that he was missing not just three fingers on his left hand, but half the hand to the wrist — after the wrist his hand was just his first finger and thumb, and never wider than about two inches, like a big claw… I figured since he'd just asked me some personal questions, I'd do the same. At least I got to hear the story about how in 1985 he was working on the railroad and he got run over by a water car.
It must seem sometimes like I tell stories and provide links that are very “unamerican”. Now, I do think that America's public and international policies are disgraceful, but they are not a strictly American phenomena — the same things happen here in Canada, and in most Western cultures. So I thought maybe I should tell two stories about attrocities that have happened here in Canada.
A Pakistani man was driving from Belleville to Toronto (Belleville is about two hours east of here) to visit his brother and his nephews. He was also bringing them a box of pastries as a present. On the way there his car broke down, so he bought a bus ticket. Part way through the bus ride, the other passengers started to get nervous. A rumor spread that the “brown guy” was bringing “candies” to the American embassy. The bus driver called ahead, and when it pulled up to the station here in Toronto, a SWAT team dragged the guy off the bus at gunpoint. After a lengthy interrogation and abuse, they clued in that he really was just a guy bringing pastries to his nephews. His only “crime” was brown skin.
The same thing's been happening on airlines — one interesting example is the LA to Toronto flight that got turned around by fighter jets because of the middle eastern guy they say was spouting anti-American stuff and threatening to blow up the plane… At least that's the airline's story. The interviews with other passengers on the plane have all said that the guy didn't say anything and that it was the flight staff that was yelling at him. Or the Pakistani guy who was asked to get off the plane because the pilot felt he was endangering the flight — he was travelling first class to Pakistan for his brother's wedding, and had just donated $5000 to the Red Cross. There are endless stories like this. It's sickening.
But here's one that's even worse — this happened here in Cornwall, Ontario. Start with a couple of awkward kids — “freaks” as the other kids at the school put it. Both brothers are constantly bullied by the jocks at the school, and the administration does nothing (after all, it's part of the natural order for jocks to abuse freaks). Then the older borther was severely beaten and hospitalized by the jocks, and a few days later in drama class for a creative writing assignment, he writes a story called “Twisted”. Twisted is about a kid who's constantly bullied and then eventually blew up the school to get revenge (ever seen the movie Heathers?).
He was immediately expelled and arrested. He spent 34 days in prison before being released on bail — his 14 year old brother is also up on similar charges, even though the police found no evidence that they had explosives, or had any intention of using them.
The charges were eventually “dropped”, but only on the following conditions: he had to post a $100 bond, keep the peace, and be on good behavior for 12 months. He can't come within 2km of the school, and he has to enroll in a full-time education program (it just can't be at the school that expelled him). So basically he was tried and convicted without a trial, and it's pretty much a guarantee that all of this has screwed him up way worse than he may or may not have been before.
If you think that's bad though, in most US schools you can be expelled — fully denied an education — because you decide to get piercings. You can even be expelled at many schools because you dye your hair an “unnatural” color. What are we trying to do? Is this system designed for education or for conditioning? Why are they able to expell someone because he writes fiction that's somehow considered inappropriate? Thought crimes. That's what they got him for. And thought-crime laws are what all the new laws they're trying to institute are about. God bless the free world.
What did Niemöller say? “First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me and by then there was no one left to speak out for me.”
Don't think they won't come for you, and don't think they won't turn what you believe in into a crime as well. It doesn't matter that you're a law-abiding citizen — it's bad enough that you have had unamerica thoughts. It's sort of like the Christian concept that if you sin in your heart, you're as damned as if you'd sinned in actuality. It doesn't matter that you didn't blow up the school — if you even thought about it, you're just as treasonous.
When I was in University, I was there on a full scholarship for fine arts. I got that scholarship specifically for doing edgy art — to me, art that doesn't push limits has very little value, and is really nothing but visual masturbation. My senior year was spent doing massive amounts of psychedelic drugs and pouring that into my art — it nearly killed me and I still suffer psychiatric effects from it, but I believe that I produced some truly profound works and learned a great deal about myself and the world around me. My first year of university was spent not only planning, but actually poisoning my performance art class (it's a long story that I'll tell later). Even though it got me a serious talking to and the board of the university did debate my fate, the end result was an A grade and a great deal of respect from my professor. I suspect though that if I were in school in 2001 instead of 1992, I'd be in jail instead of where I am now.
As Bush said, if you're harboring a terrorist, you're as bad as a terrorist yourself… If you're living in the free world, and you allow this abuse of your rights to happen, are you as bad as the tyrants who commit these crimes on the population? Stand up now and stop this process now, before your rights are gone altogether. Got a tattoo? Say hello to Mr. Jailcell. You're a tattoo artist? Say hello to Mr. Electric Chair. Don't think it could happen? Take a look at world history. It happens all the time.