A BOYCOTT OF ONE AND OTHER TRIVIALITIES
Free speech is an inherent necessity in any democratic republic such as ours, and sometimes that means allowing others to express opinions we strongly disagree with, that we regard as morally repugnant, or even that we regard as irrelevant to the case or issues at hand or to the topic of a given conversation. Free speech is a spiritual discipline, in a sense a kind of askesis, and I know all too well how difficult it is to abide by that principle, for those who know me well know how impatient I am of people who cannot come quickly to a point. But I hope that my posting of others' comments here, which oftentimes entertain subjects or points of view with which I am in little sympathy or agreement, will at least attest to the fact that I am at least striving to uphold a principle.
It is therefore with some apologies to the readers of this site, who come expecting announcements of appearances or articles and discussions of alternative science and history, that I take the time here to preoccupy myself with a bit of personal triviality, and a bit of self-indulgent "venting," all of which, I hope, is to a purpose. And so, to the trivialities...
This very day I was in the chatroom of an alternative talk show network. The network's owner was present and his name was well known to all in the chatroom as belonging to that network's owner. A few regulars were also present, including a friend of mine. There was the usual individual who always lurked and never said anything; there was a housewife and her daughter, discussing their favorite recipes and generally making small talk. As for my friend and I, we often visited the chat site late at night to discuss matters of interest to us, usually music and art, but sometimes the current world situation or matters of alternative science and history.
Today that was not to be. The trivialities began when the housewife, who was listening as I was to the morning show on that network, asked a general question to the room, inquiring if anyone else noticed that the username list kept having names appear and disappear rather suddenly. It was a perfectly innocent question, and hardly critical of the network, the chatroom, or its owner. I responded to the question that I had indeed noticed that myself, and that I also noticed it seemed to happen more often in the evenings than in the mornings. I thought nothing further of it.
Much to my - and I presume others' - surprise, the owner then launched an attack on all the people that were constantly criticizing the chatroom in its various migrations and transmutations, and the attack was so vulgar that the automatic censor blacked out what was doubtless some sallacious vocabulary. But nothing in the housewife's simple inquiry, nor my simple answer, merited such an attack. We all, I suppose, have had some experience with chatroom "drama," and since the housewife did not make an issue of it, neither did I.
But then the owner's gunsites settled on my friend, whom, I might add, was never uncivil or discourteous to anyone in the chatroom. The owner challenged him as to why he listened so little to his network, and then in what amounted to the chatroom equivalent of a very imperious and pompous tone, demanded to know from my friend what sort of contribution he felt he was making to "our cause." My friend challenged him as to why he was being interrogated(and that was his choice of words: "interrogated"). The owner, again with a somewhat snotty and pompous tone, replied that the chatroom was only for those listening to his programming and discussing the issues it raised, and not for anything else.
And so the trivialities really aren't so trivial after all, for besides singling out my friend for this sort of abuse - not the housewife and her daughter talking about their favorite recipes, nor the lurker who was always in the room but never said anything - the owner revealed what he really was: an Ayatollah, commanding that only those talking points provided by the programs on his network qualified as acceptable free speech. My friend had not violated any standard of public deceny or the accepted norms of courteous and social discouse in a free society. This implicit policy was revealed even more starkly when the owner continued his diatribe to all those in the chatroom to the effect that he monitors ALL conversations and that conversation is to be discussion of topics raised by his programs, thus usurping to himself the right to determine for others what topics or tangeantial discussions are "relevant" to what is being broadcast on air. And that, of course, is the anti-thesis of free speech, the very thing that the owner prides himself on adhering to, nevermind that half of the fundamentalist Neanderthals who host shows on his network, if ever allowed into power, would be legislating morality and speech in their own peculiarly Old Testament "Judeo-Christian" version of Sharia law. And...oh yes, I forgot to mention the fact that NO policy statements to the effect that the chatroom is only for discussion of topics raised by network programming, and at the sole determination by the owner as to their relevance, is posted anywhere on his website.
This is the essence of tyranny - whether that tyranny be on the level of a nation or a small chatroom is immaterial - the singling out of one individual for his intellectualism from some sort of "blue collar hauteur" that will arbitrate for everyone within its delusionally megalomaniacal grasp what is and is not to be discussed, and HOW it is to be discussed.
And so I have come to a series of personal decisions, not only out of loyalty to my unjustly-attacked friend, but out of adherence to the principle of free speech: (1) I will not dignify that network's chatroom ever again until an on-air apology and an apology in the chatroom is given by the owner to my friend explicitly; (2) This must be accompanied by a prolonged and sustained change in attitude to the guests in his chatroom evidencing GENUINE free speech and impartiality within the norms of courteous and affable social discourse; (3) If invited, I will not appear as a guest on any of his network's shows until these other conditions are met, or until said shows sever their connection to that network; and (4) I will quietly and privately urge my contacts within the alternative community to a similar course of action. Points (3) and (4) are difficult for me, because one of the hosts on that network I count as a good professional friend, a man of integrity and genuine humanity, and it sincerely pains me to have to do this, for I owe him much. But loyalty and principle are higher.
Granted, my "boycott of one" is not even likely to be noticed. I am only one person, and a person of not much account at that. I have my own shortcomings and those who know me well know how glaring they actually can be. I am as moody and self-indulgent as the rest of humanity. But I cannot, singlehandedly, tear down the creeping fascist culture at large. But maybe, just maybe, I can make a little dent in it when I encounter it on a smaller scale, whether in myself or my own circle of relationships. It is, after all, about the things that make us human: decency, honor, civility, graciousness, and courtesy, and the eschewing of class snobbery, whether that of the "intellectual" sneering at the blue collar worker, or that of the blue collar worker cum network owner-manager to the intellectual. The Ayatollah in charge of that network displayed none of those things, neither in his demeanor nor in the "policy statements(fatwahs)" he made to the general room after attacking my friend. Free speech, if it is to be genuinely free, must ever be about courtesy, graciousness, allowing the other his say no matter how "irrelevant" or "trivial" it may seem to us.
But in that particular Ayatollah's bleak, cratered, joyless and narrow little world, there would never be discussion of anything else but music (rock and country only), nasty international Satan-worshipping bankers, evil Democrats and wicked Republicans, herbal foods, New World Order anti-christs-in-the-wings, and other relevant "contributions to (his) cause."
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Thanks for the comments. Unfortunately, I recently was invited on a talk show. The show’s host was put in contact with me by a well-known mutual friend of ours, and I accepted her invitation. But shortly after that I found out her show was hosted on the network I mention in this comment. Rather than leave her in the lurch at the last minute, I broke my boycott – ONCE! – and appeared on the network. Naturally the network’s owner who called to make the connection for the show was snotty and pompous as ever, and I assured him it was a mistake that was too late to correct. So the problem with morality is, in this instance at least, human fallibility. I should’ve checked to see what network she was on before accepting the invitation. But it would’ve been unfair to her and her show at the last minute to back out.
In any case, thanks for visiting the site and for taking the time to write comments.
[sorry, there is no sound, but I am rolling around in absolute joyfulness…]
Thank you for writing this post. Thank you for your strong adherence to what you feel is a necessary moral stance… it most certainly is by the way.
Today is my very first visit to your site. I came for an entirely different reason, but before I left, I began to read further down, earlier posts, and have enjoyed what you are expressing a great deal.
In the case of this particular subject, I have felt as you do many times. Often, others have not understood the importance of making the stand that you (and I) feel it merits. It doesn’t matter if anyone else understands/agrees or not. The TRUE merit is in the integrity of the vibration that you substantiate by holding your moral ground. Thank you for that. I am made so “whole” by coming across this instance of someone upholding their moral viewpoint by boycotting a popular but unworthy entity. There are many instances of integrity slipping in tiny increments that are blatantly visible in our society. Some of the joy I felt yesterday when I viewed the Inauguration of Barack Obama as President stems from my fervent belief that he stands for a fresh resurgence of integrity and goodness in the fabric of American life.
It sounds to me like you have a lot of that basic integrity flowing through your psyche and life too. That is so beautiful to come upon. Thank you again for filling my day with value reinforcement.
I think I will have to come back over and over to see what else you have placed here on this site.
All the very best in 2009.
I am only a high school graduate, but if I read “The Cosmic War” correctly, it is imperative that we practice or cultivate a vibrational frequency that, for brevity, might be called love/compassion. That would include an “allowing” that is just not practiced in this authority-loving modern civilization. Allowance is hard, but if it were easy, it probably wouldn’t raise our vibration very much.
By refraining from visiting that site, you are allowing that network owner to go down his path and learn the lesson that he must. If you fought with him, then you would distract him or cause him to think you’re to blame for the effects of his tyranny. His tyranny is his and it’s good to leave him to it. You did the right thing for yourself and your friend.
I realize I’ve probably exposed myself as some weirdo, but maybe people here will allow that.
(Meanwhile, I ordered the Giza Deathstar books on amazon and they haven’t come in yet. I am not practicing allowance very well; I am practicing impatience.)
Thanks Cecilia! I was really stunned at the “performance” in that chatroom, and appreciate the support.
I support your stance. I would do it too, if I were in your shoes. My Guide to the I Ching basically supports you, too. It says if you want to change the world, change the state. If you want to change the state, change the family. If you want to change the family, change yourself. Every individual act of growth and consciousness has an effect on the cosmos.