Monday, May 02, 2005

Fighting the THOUGHT-POLICE: maybe partying will help

Ted Rall: 'Feds arrest girls for teen snottiness'
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Then they came for the children
By Ted Rall, Yahoo

They've vanished into the netherworld of a Homeland Security gulag and their story has already disappeared from the headlines, but the shocking case of two 16-year-old girls from New York City arrested a month ago ought to inspire outrage among every American worthy of the name. Since the government's reasons for the girls' imprisonment could apply to virtually any teenager, it should also spark fear.

Like many rebellious teens, I fought with my mother. Local police, called to my home during at least one particularly impressive clash of wills and voices, talked us back into the land of the calmly reasonable. Then they left.

Like many young people, I was fascinated by morbid, violent subjects. After I turned in an essay depicting a political assassination from the killer's viewpoint, my creative writing teacher sent me to talk to my guidance counselor. After I assured him that I had no desire to knock off any politicians, he returned me to class."


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One of the best things about being sent to Tennessee to "straighten my ass up" as a teenager, was that, in Tennessee, when I was called to the Dean's Office, it was for more interesting stuff than in Florida. Junior High and my first year of high school in Satellite Beach, it was garden variety offenses like missing class or smoking.

In Tennessee the few times I came under the radar of the administration -- it was for written offenses. Something in Creative Writing Class had generated a note to the Administration.

Writing class was just a way of finishing out my academic credits while coasting at something I was already decednt at. I even joined the Scribblers, which was the tragically-named writing club at Dobyns-Bennett. Here's a picture, I'm in the middle on the top row, looking as tragic as the name of the club.



The problem with the Thought Police cruising student writing, is that writing class demands you write without really knowing how. That's why it's called a class and not an occupation. Students don't have control of their weapon yet. They can't shoot straight. They have no aim or depth. Student writers have to compensate for their lack of life experience with narrative and metaphor. Students just want some action and above all else, to get the piece finished.

So, I ask you, what is the most essential way action happens in pop culture? Murder? Can I hear a "hell yeah." We love murder. There's no story if no one dies. How do you find the contour of a story without its end? You want a measure of value? Kill someone. Give their life meaning.

Teenagers embrace death in a way I wish I could now, it would save me a lot of time on my therapist's couch. In my high school brush with the Big Brother of Written Offense, I wrote a story that was supposed to be a meditation on 'chance and chaos' written in the style of memoir.

The story is this: a friend of mine in Florida (remember, I'm a delinquent ex-pat) had recently had a horrible car accident, the result of which was the death of two boys who went to school a little further down the beach. They were our age. As I remember, she was driving down A1A in Indian Harbor Beach just past Peg Legs Restaurant. I imagine it was one of those extra dark nights when the moon hasn't yet come over the ocean. Maybe the boys were sneaking out to meet their girlfriends on the beach. My friend drove a Mustang. It was one of those horrible 1980 models that became a cliché father-daughter gift car. Fast little hatchback. She was a fragile girl with a Brittany Murphy quality about her. She didn't see the boys as they crossed the four-lane. I can imagine her being distracted maybe thinking about a math test. And bam. There's a couple of bodies stuck in her windshield. Thru the damn broken windshield.

In my piece, I wrote about the creepy "on-going nature of the world" when something like this happens. I'd been in wrecks. The stereo still plays exactly what you had one before. Something on you feels cold and the radio still plays. The moment after a wreck can easily become an obsession. Cronenberg's movie, Crash portrays it well, especially in the first crash scene (before he eroticizes it). It's *your moment* and it defines you. In my story, I imagined she killed herself to deal with the accident. Cronenburg's characters live and his story didn't stink. I suck at fiction, so mine stunk.

I'm called to see the Dean and she asks me what I think about dying and depression. I worried someone had died. Then she asked me if I was going to hurt myself or someone else. I was, like "wow. I freely admit to being a lazy student," a plea she apparently had no trouble believing, "but this paper wasn't a cry for help, or a threat. It's just bad."

What if I had not been successful at convincing her of my true slacker nature? What if I was one of the other kids in the Scribblers, who were clearly more obsessed, determined people. Would there be Homeland Security proceedings? A more likely scenario: what if I had turned that paper in to my teacher in Florida where I was persona non grata.

The system has clearly run amok. We had NO IDEA back then, how bad it was eventually to get after Reagan. This story needs to be RINGING SOME FUCKING BELLS. There should be cameras on these girls 24/7. Runaway Bride? This is Joan of Arc meets Cinderella. This is HUGE. This is one of those stories that everyone just "gets." There will always be teenagers (and people in general) who enter the radar at opportune as well as inopportune times (depending on your POV). It's a crap shoot whether a little delinquent will rub shoulders with 'angels' or 'devils' in The System. I rubbed some angels. Some devils. You know who you are. I can't stand to anything go to waste, so devils eventually wind up teachers or pincushions.

Given that we are now imprisoning teenagers for Thought Crimes, I can officially say the shadows cast on our landscape now are darker than I'm familiar with. This is a big evil wind that too often too closely resembles prophecy. Thanatos has us by the throat and we are being made to believe it feels good. You don't have to be a mouth-breather to think "Armageddon" as we skate increasingly out on thin ice. Then there's self-fulfilling prophecy; and the fact that extremists and corporations are combining their psycho-social tendencies are right now running things. We are the voice. We are the underground. We have the power of words and thought and truth and a few hundred years of Enlightenment.

Their weakness is evident in their need to LIE and CHEAT. Their power is evident in how they are able to so freely. So, the news isn't all bad. We know a little about quelling demons. We have a rich history to learn from. The original Americans, Jefferson and The Founders -- WROTE our revolution -- not the document -- the Revolution. That's the promise of the Enlightenment, that we may think our way out of the dark. We are having tremendous success right now getting the word out, and Bush is looking more foolish every day -- which can only mean we are only 'hours' away from "something really BIG."

Be not afraid, fellow teenage rebels -- especially of writing. If we evaporate in Halliburton's nuclear furnace, we will at least go down with a few choice words on the side. As we take the country back, we'll do so with volume. One voice to another voice and another. Turn it up.

It's the last month of spring which means that by Memorial Day we are going to have spent quite a bit of time with our families. Share this story with them. Everyone can understand the peril of two teenage girls rotting in prison for nothing more than being the little shitheads they are. For Christ's sake if you can't be an asshole in America -- then this isn't the America I know -- or care to live in. Lets set the summer off being the Big Fucking Assholes prescribed in our heritage. What better time of year to let your inner rebellious teen take control? I say, Fight For Your Right To Party Your Big Asshole Off. Open the bar. Score some weed. Buy some damn porn. Lets really stick it to these bastards! They hate it when people have fun. Imagine how much it must suck to be a fascist-xtian-warrior in the summertime. All the swim wear. The wanton display of fresh, local produce. Kids running and playing. No one getting spanked.

It's not the only way to fight Thanatos, but it's a decent start. All good battles should inspire great rejoicing. Fighting for the sake of a way of life, means having a life worth fighting for.

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