A #WhyIOccupy from a 3am Friend


A couple of things are happening to me right now. One is that I can’t sleep.  A lot of things are going on in my mind – I’m simultaneously trying to make sense of 1940s Cuba (homework) and 2012 America (life). Two is that I’m growing ever more addicted to Twitter, and so when unable to sleep the first thing I do is grab my smartphone and check the timeline. When I’m reading, when I’m trying to write, when I’m in class, I just keep wondering what other Occupiers are saying/writing/doing/posting/thinking/occupying. My entire feed is people I’ve either already met or will eventually meet who are revolutionizing something somewhere in the world. So tonight, when I should be doing a zillion other things, including sleeping, I checked in on Twitter to find that, per usual, someone else is posting the things I’m always thinking about the world and just haven’t yet memorialized in cyberspace. And this time, it’s not just in 140 characters. I noticed that there wasn’t much activity – it’s 3:30am – but there was one person filling the timeline with back to back tweets, and together they make a pretty good post. By morning, they’ll be buried. I could retweet them, but neither of our followers would get the full effect of the essay on free speech that I just happened to catch streaming over Twitter right at this moment. Perhaps he’s collecting these words. They’ll likely show up on another blog elsewhere. But just in case, I wanted to catch what took me from dreary, considering studying mostly lying awake thinking of Occupy to impassioned as if its 4pm on a brilliant revolutionary afternoon. (Maybe that brilliance I feel is a result of sleep deprivation. If so, forgive me. But if not, enjoy.)

I hope @ShawnCarrie doesn’t mind my re-posting this (with mild edits for format). Imagine reading this 140 characters at a time., coming through tweet by tweet…

Mind’s going a mile a minute, can’t sleep and answering emails. One email sitting in my inbox for weeks suddenly caught my attention. Someone working on a book on #OWS emailed me a while ago asking for a statement about free speech. I don’t usually like to talk to the media too much, but the project seemed interesting so I said I’d get back to her after I thought about what I would say. But since I started writing something up, it really got me going. Kind of reminds me how in college I’d write papers like blitzkrieg We’ve totally forgotten about what “free speech” means in this country.

Ask your average person what they think, they’re apathetic. They’ll probably just say something like “I can say whatever I want and nobody’s gonna come disappear me. Not like them damn commies.” #rage And I don’t mean to disparage the average person. It’s not their fault, that’s what the system has done to them. We’ve been distracted so much by the maelstrom of choices we have in our roles as consumers that capitalism has force fed us. We’ve been flashblinded by the incorporated media, which is inherently a distraction by definition. Like, I fucking hate advertisements. If banks didn’t have so much advertisement giving it a glossy face, we’d see it for precisely what it is. That’s the fucked up thing about the marriage of media and capitalism. We don’t see anything of what it really is because we’re too busy being distracted by the messages that it puts out there to nestle itself everywhere. How can wee see capitalism for what it is if they control just about ALL of the channels of information in the world? Internet, tv, movies, radio, books, buildings, advertisements… Is there anything that still belongs to the people? #OWS

But we still control our destiny and must fight capitalism everywhere it exists, and attack it where it lives. So that’s why I #OccupyWallStreet. So that’s why we take the streets, occupy street walls, bust ads, jam culture, stop the flows, and shut shit down. This is turning into a speech about #MayDay #M1GS, but I digress. I’m supposed to be writing for this #OWS book and talking about free speech, and all that good stuff that a bunch of old white dudes wrote down when they wrote the Constitution (with quill pens made by slaves). So, we have this issue of mass opiate media, and it has a lot to do with our free speech. And by ‘has a lot to do with’ I really mean ‘fucks with.’

At some point when we were distracted, the rivers of free speech in our public squares were replaced with a box labeled “Facebook status.” And somehow they convinced us that this was “free speech.” That since we can put anything you could type on a keyboard onto their Internet, where theoretically millions of people can your “free speech” and care about it and respond, social media will be so great!!! The result? Utter apathy. Boredom. Feelings of disconnection. Loneliness. Distraction. Obsession with meaningless simulacra. We’ve all experienced the gaping empty hole that capitalism has left on our hearts, once filled with the brilliant potential to do anything. Instead of determining our own destiny and building the world our own hearts scream at us to create, we’re left feeling alone like used tools in a dark closet by FUCKING CAPITALISM.

Then apathy sets in. So we take what we can get, and we’re satisfied with the bullshit choices it’s left us with. HOW THE FUCK did they convince us that being machines in a system is worth it by any stretch of the imagination?!? How is this okay? When will the people see?

Best theory I got is that after you’ve been oppressed every day in this system since the day you’re born, you’ll take the deal you can get and that when you’re starving, a cracker looks like a cake. Kind of reminds me of how in jail they wake you up, rattle you around, bring you out of your cell, make you wait, using the fucking waiting as another tactic of oppression, so that when you see the judge, all you can think about is getting the fuck out of the rotten heart of the police state and your judgment is compromised and you’ll do things that you wouldn’t normally do because ANYTHING to get out and see the sun and breathe the relatively fresh (though polluted) New York air. And so you’ll submit to have your rights shat on and scramble to gobble up some shitty plea deal that sounds like it’s not as bad as going back down to those godforsaken tombs. You’ll be grateful, and kiss the judge and the pigs asses, and thank them for setting you ‘free.’ “THEY” set you free?! What a fucking sick joke. Our masters whip us, then expect us to thank them when they stop. Not me, motherfuckers. Said it before, I’ll say it again. FUCK A RETINA SCAN!!! I’ll stay in jail a month before I let them scan my mothafuckin eyeballs.

Sigh.. But I digress once again. My point was that oppression causes us to willfully surrender our rights. Which brings me back to free speech. So, at some point, “free speech” came to mean that we could write whatever we want to in a box that goes on Facebook. What a boring, unimaginative conception of something with as much potential as unmitigated, limitless human communication and interaction. That’s my definition of “free speech.” A million miles past “I”m allowed to say whatever I feel like.” And when we traded our public squares for the ability to write what we wanted to in the Facebook rectangle, what we lost in the transaction was the right to put everything we wanted to see in our public squares. And now, public space does not exist anymore, the way I see it… And therefore free speech does not exist anymore. The people don’t have a physical space where they can freely and naturally communicate, and by truly free, I mean out from under the repression of capitalism, and this “New York attitude” where we ignore each others humanity. This is why I #OccupyWallStreet. To remind people that free speech belongs in the streets and squares. The people are the power. #OWS


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