In a single day–in the span of a few hours, in fact–the tone and overall vibe of this festival changed dramatically. Yesterday, it was a family. Today, it’s a festival.
It’s true that the majority of attendees showed up yesterday, but that’s not really what caused the shift.
Monday night we had an awesome rave. A Muslim DJ’d, the Anarchist Shemale recorded and took pics, and danced with gay dudes, and naked and half-naked people wandered however they wanted. No one judged, no one disrespected. There was the issue with the rave going on a bit late, and people taking to Facebook to bitch about the music, but the rave was in Agora Valley, not near the campsites. That is a curious thing itself, that instead of just coming over and asking us to wrap it up, they went to Facebook and bitched.
So what did they want? If they wanted us to wrap up the rave, all they had to do was come over and ask, and everyone here would have known that. But they evidently didn’t want the music to be turned down, or the rave to end–they just wanted to bitch. Two minutes to make a request versus an hour or two of bitching on Facebook? They just wanted to bitch.
Last night after I took some MDMA and went to sleep, there were several groups of people wandering around the campsites at 1:30 in the morning being loud as fuck. Some of them were just drunken, inconsiderate douchebags who had no idea how loud they were being. Around 2:00, some young chick came walking through the camps singing loud as fuck. There’s an enormous difference in raving in Agora Valley a little late during Somalia Fest, not Porcfest, and making a ton of noise through campsites where people are sleeping.
Mutual respect was a critical part of Anarchist Shemale Fest. No one ever stared at me. No one raised their eyebrows in surprise when I came out of the women’s restroom. I was stared at more yesterday than I did through the entire drive, and I got gas in Nashville, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The best way I’ve come up to describe it is that it was an influx of hipsters, but they’re not hipsters, really. It’s a lot of young people–early 20s and such–and that’s great, but there’s been a shift. The incomers aren’t radical anarchists as I was four years ago.
It reminds me so very much of the young people who went to Standing Rock to protest the DAPL. To them, it was just a party. That’s the vibe many people are putting off today. Don’t get me wrong: Somalia Fest was quite obviously a party, but it was a celebration of peace, love, and liberty–individualism, mutual respect, and self-ownership.
Everyone is still friendly, for the most part, but now it’s a celebration of… something else. Words escape my attempts to elucidate the difference.
Great news! There’s a Soap Box Idol show, and if too many speakers are late, I’m really hoping that I can work my way in and speak on AnCap principles, justice, and forgiveness–topics that I know intimately.
Even greater news!
I officially left the Keyboard Activism. I went to attend a seminar, but the speaker didn’t show. My brain began working. The next thing I knew, I was talking to the organizer about giving a lecture on AnCap principles, justice, and forgiveness. Two minutes later, I was on stage in the main pavilion hosting a seminar. I recorded it, but it will be next week before I’m able to actually upload it. I do have a 4G signal, but of the 4000 people here, probably 20% use Verizon, so network congestion is killing my speeds. With a data cap, I just can’t justify a 1 GB upload that could ultimately fail.
I’m not particularly proud of the speech, though several hours later two people approached me to tell me that they enjoyed it. I finally got to meet Daryl W. Perry, too! Considering I’ve been told I’m “like Daryl Perry in drag,” it was a tremendous honor to finally meet him.
Regarding my speech, these factors need to be remembered:
Public speaking is hard under any circumstances
I am hungover from MDMA
I was thirsty as fuck
I had prep time equal to “The amount of time it took to walk back to the pavilion,” so about a minute and a half.
It’s extremely difficult to generate a coherent, effective speech on the fly, even for a topic I’m so passionate about and have written about so extensively.
But I did it.
As Ernest said, “Audacity ensued.”
And he’s right. That is audacious. Narrow window of opportunity, and the Anarchist Shemale jumped on it. Not only did it make many people I’ve met more aware of my interest and ability in leadership roles, but it also paved the way to make it much easier for me to speak at next year’s. My first Porcfest, and I gave a speech in the pavilion.
It’s not great. In fact, it’s not even good. Without a plan, without notes, without rehearsal, and without any time to clear my head and organize my thoughts, I went on stage and gave a speech. It would be hard to exaggerate how difficult it was. I can rant privately all day long, but there’s an enormous difference between ranting and recording it, and standing in front of a crowd to give a lecture.
Technically, I moved from Keyboard Activism to real activism a while ago, and now I’ve just moved further along that road. I intend to keep doing what I’m doing, and I’m evidently decently good at it, so I’m excited to see where it goes.
One thing is sure: I’m gonna push as far as I can.
So… I’m at Anarchist Shemale Fest, which is kinda like the Porcfest pre-party. The more radical and audacious people come to Anarchist Shemale Fest, and I’d wager the guess that nearly everyone here is an anarchist/voluntaryist. There’s no practical difference between an anarcho-capitalist and a voluntaryist, except that the AnCap recognizes that capitalism is the most efficiency and most likely method of voluntary interactions.
Last night, we had a rave. A Muslim was the DJ. An anarchist shemale took videos and pics, and danced with some gay dudes and a half naked chick while her boyfriend fucked an American flag that was on the ground. There are really no rules here, and no one makes the claim that this Individualism Fest is family friendly, but there are kids running around anyway.
You can’t walk fifteen feet without smelling someone smoking weed, drinking, or doing something heavier. Obviously, there are overarching laws, since this is taking place in the United States, a nation which has about as many laws as it does people, and within New Hampshire, a state that has made phenomenal strides toward libertarianism yet still has far to go. But none of those laws really apply here. They’re not on anyone’s mind, not even distantly.
People open carry hatchets, knives, and guns. There is no theft here–any theft that’s occurred here has been the result of family members who weren’t libertarians. There is zero chance that any of the kids wandering around are going to be kidnapped or molested, and if they happen to stumble across sexual activity, someone will stop and send them away.
It’s anarchism in action.
It really goes to show the power of libertarian ideology. Individualism, and the mutual respect that is born of compassion, empathy, and peace. In the five years that Will has been coming, there’s never been a fight. The only real altercation occurred when Cantwell–general alt-right bullshit–got drunk as hell and, reportedly, tried to drive his van through a crowd of people. But Cantwell is no longer allowed on the premises.
He has been shunned from the anarchist society. He wasn’t attacked by thugs with guns for his unacceptable behavior. He was shunned, and forbidden from returning to this private property.
This is what peace, love, and liberty can do.
The whole thing is a lot like Woodstock, to be totally honest, except there’s an ideology and a central principle that guides us all: non-aggression. No one wants to be the victim of aggression, and therefore no one uses aggression to make someone else such a victim. There is also the lack of live music, and I was going to bring an acoustic guitar for exactly that purpose. I will next year. Of course, next year I’ll be here as a vendor; this year I’m getting a feel for things and meeting people.
I’ve talked with Liberty Radio Network about getting a show on there, and right now the general idea is that it would be better, since I’m trans, to have me on the two gay dudes’ show as another co-host. However, I prefer flying solo, so I’m going to keep podcasting and liaising with them now that I’ve met them and have that connection.
I should have made a bunch of those perler bead anarchy symbols, but it didn’t even occur to me. I’m currently looking into “Godless & Lawless” bumper stickers and similar things, all of which would be good merchandise for here. C’est la vie. Now I know.
Of course, there’s no sales tax on things, because taxation is theft, and no one is getting robbed here. This is an anarchist paradise that we’ve carved in the center of the fascist, overblown, military-based United States, and, at least here, we are free.
Anyone curious about how anarchy can actually work should really come to Somalia Fest next year. I’m also hoping to speak at Porcfest next year, since I’ve been building a lot of connections this year and amplifying my voice.
Most of the people here accept crypto currencies as payment.
Will is running The Cultural Appropriation Grill. In fact, Will has made it a point to say that he’s cooking and selling culturally appropriated food because he’s a dirty capitalist.
One guy is selling 3 hours of cell phone charging for $1.
If I was willing, I could change outfits and make $300, at least, by the end of the day. My cash supply is fast depleting, too. 🙁
It would have been alright, but I ended up having to pay part of two hotel rooms that I wasn’t anticipating having to pay for (The plan changed frequently, but it was never mentioned that I’d need to pay for part of any hotel room), and I was hoping for a $150 loan from a friend that didn’t pan out.
But hey! That’s why I brought hot dogs, bread, and lunch meat. The only thing I’m worried about now is being hit up for gas on the trip back to Tennessee, since we’ve already come close to the figure I was initially quoted, and that was on the drive up here… I’m not complaining, just saying. This is AnCap city. Things will work out.
I’ve derailed from my initial point–this is what an anarchist society looks like. If I want to change clothes and throw up a sign that says “Your place, $30,” no one will judge me for it. And this place is a total sausage fest. There would be plenty of takers. Just saying.
Anyway, I don’t know if there will be a podcast today. Tomorrow, Porcfest begins, so there will be plenty to discuss then.
As I mentioned previously, Will Coley (of Muslims 4 Liberty, www.lrn.fm, former Vice Presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party, and host of “Call to Freedom”) invited me with him to Somalia Fest and Porcfest this year. It took a bit of work, but I was able to wrangle up the funds to go and have the cushion for incidental problems, so expect articles to slow down through the next week.
However, I will be doing daily podcasts to pick up the slack, because I totally forgot to put together a laptop for the trip, writing articles from my phone is very slow, and I’m not entirely sure whether the laptop i grabbed at the last moment even works.
Those who know me probably know that I’m a bit anti-social, and if there was any reason I was going to back out (aside from being embarrassingly unable to afford what was basically a free vacation), it would have been that, or missing my cats. Oh, man, do I miss my cats.
Anyway, even barely knowing Will, I couldn’t pass up the chance to actually put in some work on the ground (especially since the MSLP, now that they’ve gotten money from me, has gone back to ignoring me), and it’s more or less exactly as I expected. This, of course, is Somalia Fest, considered the pre-Porcfest party, and is when most of the more audacious and anarchist types will arrive.
It does again make me wonder about the LP’s intention to, later this week, have an online meeting to discuss delegate rules and similar things, since many of the more audacious people are up here in the New Hampshire mountains, where, if you don’t have Verizon, then you don’t have service. Most people are officially off the grid.
The Audacious Caucus is actively working to stack the 2018 LNC, after all, and I’ve no doubt there are spies within the LPAC. It’s odd that, not long after we were discussing swarming the convention, the LP scheduled a meeting about delegate rules (and other things) at a time when many of the more radical and audacious types will be off the grid. I have no idea if that’s coincidental or not, but it’s highly suspicious.
There is a battle being fought for the heart of the party, with two distinct sides lining up for the fight: those who think the goal is to win elections, and those who think the goal is to use the enhanced coverage to spread the libertarian message, without much concern for actually winning or losing elections (I fall into this latter camp, obviously).
Only a few weeks ago, Larry Sharpe (who is probably fairly pissed at me presently, since I called him out for paying lip service to forgiveness, while acting more like a wife who “forgave” her husband for cheating, yet brings it up again every time there’s an argument–a claim he denied, but he failed to provide links to these discussions, and I provided links to support my assertion) insisted on “The Call to Freedom” that the purpose of the party is to win elections, and that it’s that simple.
Of course, much of this is due to the Dallas Accord and the Portland Massacre–in 2006, there were tremendous changes to the LP’s platform, and anarchists began leaving the party en masse because of the betrayal of the Dallas Accord. Even now, many moderates speak of trying to purge us from the party, or, at minimum, to change the rules of delegation selection to minimize our impact and voices.
This, of course, is how you end up with James Weeks doing a strip on stage on live television. There is much talk about purging or silencing anarchists and the audacious caucus; naturally, the harder they push, the more audacious we’ll become. I once did my work as I/E (Intellect over Emotion), and now I’m the Anarchist Shemale. And, as of about three weeks ago, have membership in the national and state parties. I’m a Libertarian. Know that, Republicans, before you swarm in and try to take over.
We’re not going to let another Bill Weld happen. I don’t think we’re going to let even another Gary Johnson happen.
That said, it’s hilarious that we are actively trying to build a compromise ticket of Sharpe/Coley, even though we don’t particularly care for Sharpe. He’s not bad; he’s alright. We can tolerate him. The question remains whether the centrists can meet us in the middle–they get Sharpe to head the ticket, and we get Coley to make sure that libertarian principles are represented.
“Compromise” is a word they love to use, but they tend to use it in its more modern liberal sense–“I get what I want, and you get to shut up and sit down, or go away if you don’t like it.” Yet, despite the ongoing hostility, we’re still willing and trying to forge a compromise.
It’s amusing, and it highlights the difference between Somalia Fest and Porcfest really well. Last night while trying to do an episode of “Call to Freedom” with Will, a fully naked chick wandered into the van from which we were doing the show. That’s Somalia Fest.
I also recorded the first of several podcasts, this one featuring Bill Paxton, Ian of Free Talk Live, Will Coley, and myself.
I don’t know very much about Islam, but that’s okay, because I don’t claim to, and so I generally stay pretty quiet about Islam and what it teaches. I know enough about it to know that it’s very close in tone to the Old Testament of the Bible, and I know that, from the point of view of an atheist, it’s pretty much just a different flavor of Christianity. So I generally don’t have any conversations about sharia or what it is, because I don’t know (or particularly care) what it is, just as I don’t particularly care to know exactly what parameters food must meet in order to be considered kosher. All religious systems have codes, laws, and layers upon layers of teachings. It’s both ridiculous and unrealistic to expect someone who doesn’t believe in the religion to know every detail–or even many details–about the layered teachings. My knowledge of Christianity is a result of my upbringing in the south, and not out of any desire that I felt at any part of my life to explicitly find out what is in the Bible.
I want to quote the Bible for a moment, though, if you don’t mind; Mathew 5:38-40:
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.
Now let’s get to the point.
Recently, an anti-Muslim bigot was hospitalized, and libertarian vice presidential candidate and Muslim Will Coley started a campaign to raise funds for the guy, quoting various teachings of the Quran and actions of Mohammad to show that this sort of behavior (turning the other cheek) is perfectly in accord with Islam and should be encouraged. At first, this went exactly as one would like: people saw the wisdom in the teaching. After all, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, or so goes the saying. It’s similar to things I’ve talked about before, regarding being transgender in the south–it was not whining and screaming about victimization and bigotry that caused my landlord to change his mind about evicting me; it was my willingness to shrug and acknowledge that he was perfectly within his rights to do so. There are a few other people I know of who hated transgender people and the very idea of transgenderism until they came face-to-face with me, a real person who is simply trying to exist in peace and is very much against the idea of forcing anyone to do or be anything.
Then came the SJWs. And, oh man, did they come.
Suddenly Will was their enemy, despite having the approval of many prominent Islamic figures, and the reason that Will was their enemy?
Because he’s white.
I’m not even kidding. That’s what it all boils down to. It’s often said explicitly.
You cannot defeat sexual orientationism with sexual orientationism.
This is the mistake the alt-right makes. They’ve attempted to meet the left’s increasing racism, sexism, and orientationism with racism, sexism, and orientationism. I’ve directed this message at leftists and rightists. I don’t care who is being the racist–it’s never going to end racism.
That’s where I went after three prominent alt-right youtubers: Atheism is Unstoppable, The Non-Believer, and Autopsy87.
Here’s where I went after the left doing the same thing:
Now, this post is more than just a way for me to collect together various applicable things I’ve made on the subject.
The bottom line is that Will held up a mirror for Christians and Muslims alike to look into, and very few of them could stomach what they saw reflected back. When faced with this situation, they had no recourse but to either self-reflect (something most people are simply unwilling to do, because so few people are willing to acknowledge their flaws and mistakes) or to attack the messenger. Enter the cries of racism and the strange remarks that Will has no business teaching anyone about Islamic teachings… because he’s white.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus, and Mohammad would all be shaking their heads in sadness at what is going on, and I can only commend Will for staying on track. When I released my video about the Liberal Redneck, I faced similar criticism, though Will is obviously facing it on a larger scale (though, it’s worth mentioning, the scale of criticism that I faced for that absolutely dwarfed the attention that anything else I’ve created has received anyway), and I remember how difficult it was, when one comment after the next rolled in calling me an idiot, a traitor, a racist, a Biblethumper, and other similar things, to stay on point and not stoop to their level. In the end, I caved and pulled down the video. I really wish I hadn’t, but… c’est la vie.
I don’t think I’d cave today.
Maybe this is just meant to be a collection of other things I’ve said on the matter. Otherwise, I’d just be repeating myself. But it’s sad that podcasts that I released a year ago are equally applicable to things today because, if anything has changed at all, then it’s only been for the worse.
I recently wrote an article attacking the notion of LGBT Pride and Outright Libertarians. I’m going to repost it in the future, but not until the shit with Cantwell has died down. It’s rather similar to how I defended Gary Johnson with the “What is Aleppo?” thing. I’ll criticize someone “on my team” when no one else is, but if someone outside that team starts to criticize, I’ll have their back–assuming they’re right.
When they’re wrong, I’ll gladly tell them so. If they’re wrong and are rightly being attacked for being wrong, then I will at the very least hold off my attack until the attack from the outside is over (after all, you won’t find me defending Outright Libertarians from Cantwell and his people).
I find that I just can’t say much on this matter with Will. I’ve already said it all–and that, I think, is the sad thing, because I’m far from being the only person saying it. Jesus said it. Mohammad said it. Gandhi said it. MLK, Jr. said it. If people won’t listen to these esteemed leaders, why in the world would they listen to me or Will Coley? Christians, Muslims, Jews, and atheists alike have all had these wonderful ideas thrown at us from every corner for centuries and thousands of years. Yet we only pay them lipservice. Whether it’s Bill Hicks or Mohammad isn’t important.
Through most of my life, I considered myself a boy. I was such a dude that it still bothers me to see men wearing pink, and I’ve said countless times that the shirt that says “Real men wear pink” is stupid–real men avoid wearing pink at all costs. I wore boxers, shaved my head, and had a bad ass goatee. No one in their right mind would have looked at me and suspected that I was anything but ordinary heterosexual male.
I drank beer, ate steaks, had a wife, knew how to work on automobiles, knew how to repair washing machines, and all the usual stuff. Yet the person there in that pic–that’s me. That person in that pic who five minutes before or after would have laughed at a guy for wearing a pink shirt–that’s me. That person who would have sneered if someone offered him a wine cooler over a Bud Light–that’s me.
Recently, Caryn Harlos has called me a revisionist making the party look silly because I say that Nolan was, and always was, an anarchist, even if he identified in the past as a minarchist. Speaking as a transgender person, I know exactly how this goes, and that’s why I bring all of this up. There is a lot of truth to the idea that a M2F trans person will embrace the most masculine aspects of being a male. It’s not an accident that I shaved my head, had a goatee, lifted weights, wore muscle shirts, and all the other shit. One might say I was overcompensating.
Yet the truth always bled through, often unbidden and without conscious intent, and I wondered about it for years. I remember remarking to a friend several years ago that I am, and always have been, an enthusiastic supporter of LGBT rights, but that I wasn’t sure why. I’m not gay or bisexual, so why should I be such an Ally that it consumed probably 10% of my political discussion? It didn’t make much sense. This was the transgenderism bleeding through subconsciously, without my knowing it or realizing it.
Of course, you could ask my ex-wife (from whom I divorced for reasons entirely unrelated to any of this) about other ways my transgenderism bled through. I mentioned in Dancing in Hellfire that my cousin enjoyed wearing makeup when we played various games, but as early as kindergarten I loathed makeup. Our kindergarten teacher forced us all to put on lipstick to kiss a paperplate (making a thing for our parents), and I resented her from that day forward. Makeup was for girls, and I wasn’t a goddamned girl. Only because I was a freak (what people today would call “goth”) did eyeliner get a pass, and only then because it looked so freaking awesome, and that was much later.
There were always periods, though, no matter how masculine I presented myself, and no matter how generally conformist I was to sexual stereotypes of heterosexuality, it always bled through. I’ve described being transgender and having to repress it as desperately needing to breathe, but being able to breathe only in short, very sporadic gasps. But no matter what I did, no matter how I attempted to hide it–often from myself–it always bled through. My grandmother would find women’s clothing hidden between my mattresses. I wore them when I could, while at the same time hating myself for wearing them, knowing that I was betraying some other part of me.
It was conflict, pure and simple.
Conflict between who I was and the identity that I proclaimed–the identity that I believed in.
And now look at me.
Who would ever have guessed that the person in the above pic was not truly the person he identified as? Who would have guessed that the goatee, the shaved head, the muscles, the Bud Light, the steaks, and all the other things… were just ways of masking the true behavior that underwrote so much of what I said and did?
Because it’s true. I wore my girlfriend’s prom dress before she did–and she thought it was hot. I had long hair through most of high school, too. At one point, my hair fell below my breasts. This same girlfriend gave me tons of panties, yet at every given moment I’d have insisted that I was not even a cross-dresser, that I was adamantly against the notion of transgenderism. I’m sure that I’ve in the past said “Boys are boys and girls are girls, and that’s that.”
When the True Self conflicts with the Expressed Self, there are contradictions–often glaring contradictions.
It would be the height of transphobic ignorance to look back at that first pic, of me with a goatee, and say that I was clearly just a male, that I was only a male, and that I was not, even then, transgender. I most certainly was. I was even female then. I simply repressed it because, for various reasons that are often unique to the individual, I could not accept it, and I was not ready to accept it.
Several, several years ago, I mentioned to a friend that if my ex-wife and I ever divorced, I would move to California and get a sex change operation. I told this to another friend, too–one that you could almost call a boyfriend, except that it wasn’t like that for me. When he brought this up again a year later, I adamantly denied it. Even though I had told him to his face that I felt like a girl and wanted to pursue that, when he mentioned it later, I abjectly refused to admit that I’d said that. I told him he was taking it out of context and making it to be a much bigger deal than it was. Readiness often comes in phases, rarely does it come all at once.
Nolan’s early writings, particularly his written declaration of the case for a Libertarian Party, have anarchism bleeding through it in exactly the same way that transgenderism bled through so much of my life, even as I identified as a male and sought desperately to hide any indication that I wasn’t quite normal. We see in Nolan’s other writings exactly the same conflict that we saw in me when I said “real men don’t wear pink.” Coming to term with oneself and making that final leap is often extremely difficult, but it shines through, and nothing can dim the inner light of the true self.
When such a conflict arises, how shall we form an understanding of the person? Through their often-confused and often-contradictory expressions and positions, or through the inner light that bleeds through no matter how adamantly it is denied, and is only embraced much later in life? Should we embrace the identity of the person as they express themselves while clearly embroiled in internal conflict, or should we be more understanding and accept their internal conflict as just that–internal conflict that was only resolved much later in life? Nolan denied being an anarchist and expressly stated that he was a minarchist with exactly the same fervor and tenacity with which I stated that I was a normal heterosexual male.
But I was never a normal heterosexual male, and Nolan was never a minarchist.
So, no. Caryn Harlos is wrong. Nolan was an anarchist, even back then, and it clearly bleeds through in his early writings in exactly the same way that female clothing bled through my otherwise-normal male adolescence. That I claimed to be a normal male didn’t make me one; that Nolan claimed not to be an anarchist didn’t prevent him from being one. It merely prevented him from coming to terms with what was already then shining through.
But apparently I’m a revisionist for saying that, clearly, Nolan was always an anarchist. If so, then I’m a revisionist for saying that I was always transgender.
Moreover, I can claim right now to be a minarchist. That won’t make me one. I could just as easily call this site “The Minarchist Shemale” and write pretty much the same things, though occasionally throwing out contradictory articles about how we need a state to protect us from a state. None of that would make me a minarchist, though–it would only make me confused about who I am and what I believe.
I’d rather take the word of the person who has worked through that confusion and expressed an identity that is in accord with their inner identity than to arbitrarily cling to the confused contradictions of someone struggling to come to terms with their identity.
Libertarian mayoral candidate for Meridian has been shot to death in the woods outside of his home, according to Mississippi’s local paper The Clarion Ledger, and there is a bit of confusion regarding the circumstances. See, not long ago, Mariner Durant withdrew from the mayoral race, citing law enforcement officials who had advised him to withdraw because of death threats–there is no evidence of this suggestion, or indication of what law enforcement officer or official he may be referring to. Meridian is about three hours southeast of where I live (I’m right at the Mississippi/Tennessee border, so generally am more a Memphisian than a Mississippian), but I supported his candidacy nonetheless. Even though he supported Johnson/Weld–at the local, mayoral level that isn’t a big enough deal for me to refuse to support a candidate. Only in the national spotlight would that be a point of concern for me. While it did bother me that he never liked, replied to, or shared anything I wrote to him, I understand why, and held no grudge against him for it–being a libertarian in Mississippi is hard enough without having an openly trans ally.
C’est la vie.
Photo courtesy of the Clarion Ledger.
But now he’s dead.
Here are the facts as we know them:
Mariner Durant withdrew from the mayoral race, citing threats to his safety and the advice of unknown law enforcement.
Mariner Durant was found shot to death in the woods outside of his home, shortly thereafter.
Local police are ruling it a suicide, though are bringing in the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.
Most people seem to take the local police’s word for it that it’s a suicide, and that Mariner likely had some sort of psychosis or paranoia where these threats were imagined, and that this psychosis ultimately led to his suicide. That’s certainly a valid interpretation, and we’ll probably never know.
Now let me tell you some stuff about Mississippi.
Several years ago, we had a murder (on a street where one of my best friends lives) occur that was so barbaric and horrific that it made national news. This 18 year old girl was forced to imbibe lighter fluid (or gasoline), and was burned alive. All evidence suggests that she was with someone she knew and trusted, and the last visible sign of her was at a gas station where she bought gasoline and showed no signs of distress, and the other, unidentified person, was in the car. You may remember this, because it was truly a horrific crime.
Now let me tell you some other stuff that the national media missed.
The girl’s father is a police officer who served time in prison for cooking and selling methamphetamine before becoming a cop. Read that sentence again, because nothing shows how strongly filial attachments can pull the strings of people in Mississippi than the idea that a former meth dealer came out of prison and became a police officer.
Now let me tell you more stuff the national media missed.
The girl was a drug-addict and prostitute (when she needed the drugs or the money to buy the drugs), and had recently stolen $400 from a man by selling him fake pills. I used to be addicted to pain killers myself. I know that game well. One of the people I bought pills from was found several years ago in a ditch, with a bullet in his head, and neither I nor my father have any doubt: he screwed over the wrong person. It only takes once. And he screwed me over repeatedly*. Now, when you’re a drug addict, that won’t keep you from going back to them if you can’t find anyone else. My dad and I once took him to a trailer park around midnight, and he wanted us to give him $100 while he ran in to get the pills for us. We knew better than to do that. We’d give him the money, and we wouldn’t hear from him for months.
Yet there’s more to this “person who was robbed for $400” than most people know. For one, he’s a known arsonist, and helped burn down a building for its owner to collect the insurance money. Everyone around knows and knew it was arson, and knows exactly who did it–even the police. But this person… This person is above the law. This person has very high connections in politics extending at least to the governor of the state. This person has also been involved in at least one murder.
So let’s have a recap.
18 or 19 year old girl (I don’t remember her name) who is a drug addict and hooker and whose father is a cop who went to prison for cooking and selling meth before becoming a police officer was found murdered in one of the most awful ways imaginable shortly after stealing $400 from a known arsonist and person known to be “above the law.” Additionally, many, many people suspected that the girl was an informant–wouldn’t you?–and I know damned well that this accusation is often enough to get you killed. If you do heroin and your dealer thinks you’re an informant, he’ll lace your next batch, you’ll die, and no one will ever know it happened. There are few things as lethal as being accused of being an informant.
Oh, we need to also mention that the girl’s parents were racist and that she had a history of dating black men, often to the point that she’d been kicked out on several occasions and ended up living with her black boyfriends and their families. This isn’t a thing in and of itself, but it’s something to consider about the girl’s parents. Let’s see… What else…? There are so many Sleeping Dogs in this story that it’s hard to remember them all, and I followed it very closely–like I said, one of my best friends lives on the street that she was murdered on. This happened like fifteen minutes from where I live.
How does this story end? It doesn’t. Eventually, the murder was “solved!” rather innocuously last year–or the year before–when a seemingly random black guy who was already serving time in Louisiana was pinpointed as the murderer, despite his name never having been mentioned before or since in any context related to the girl. Because the Internet Detectives went to work, man. They dug up all her ex-boyfriends, harassed them on Facebook, and all kinds of shit. This dude’s name never got mentioned. No news article, no Internet Detective, no whisper among the community…
You know what the whispers around the community were?
Everyone knew who did it, but no one was going to say it. “They went too far,” was what people said. “They went too far with what they did.” Everyone knew who, and everyone knew why. But, if you knew, would you talk, knowing that everyone else knew already, and knowing what had happened to the girl?
So the sleeping dog sleeps.
I know of a family who lives on the edge between two counties with a similar “above the law” status. No one touches them, no matter how horrific their actions have been. They’ve been known to openly torture and murder dogs and cats, tying them to trees and to four-wheelers, and quartering them in a more Modern American way. The sheriffs know about this. They know about the allegations of rape, of people going missing, of child abuse. They know the property extends back mile after mile of woods and empty tankers that contain God-knows-what, and they know there may very well be victims in those tankers screaming right now. But County A says they’re in County B, and County B says they’re in County A. So no one does anything about the crimes alleged, much less known.
I don’t know what happened to Mariner Durant. I have no idea if he has a history of paranoid or schizophrenic behavior, but, if he does, this is the first anyone will have heard about it (which wouldn’t really be the case, since they’d have used that against him in the mayoral race, but, hey, let’s forget that for the moment).
But I do know that Mississippi has lots and lots of sleeping dogs. And if he posed a threat of accidentally or purposely waking one of them, then it’s not at all beyond belief that he’d have been killed for it, whether he withdrew from the race or not. Once you threaten one of those dogs, that’s often all it takes, even if you back down.
Just ask the man who went to prison for cooking and selling meth and then became a cop.
Regardless, it sucks that this libertarian candidate is dead, and I wish that wasn’t the case. I wish he hadn’t withdrawn, and I wish he had won the election. I wish there weren’t so very many things wrong in Mississippi.
* That sounds freaking awful. My point is that he had a known history of screwing people over. He was found dead long after I got out of that game.
So Will Coley invited me to attend Somalia Fest and PorcFest (Porcupine Fest) with him this year, and it’s such an opportunity (and a low cost one) that I really can’t pass it up. Separately from all other considerations, I’ve managed to generate $350 toward that end, which leaves me about halfway to be able to go comfortably and with a safety net so I don’t have to worry about things going wrong.
I have a client who owes $400 in back invoices, and I’m really hoping that I can get them to pay. But let me give a breakdown on things:
$100~ to cover my portion of the gas to get there and back. I’ll be riding with Will’s mother, but it’s still only fair that I cover half the gas. $100 is an estimate, though.
$50 to get to Knoxville and back. This isn’t a big deal. My car can do that just fine, and I’m assuming that I can leave it parked at Will’s property for the duration.
$25 to a cat-sitter who is going to check in on my cats once a day, refill their water and food and, if necessary, empty their litter box. I’m not sure how my cats will handle being away from me that long.
$200 is expected to be necessary to cover food and things “at festival prices.” I don’t go to a ton of festivals, but the last one I went to had people trying to sell grilled cheese sandwiches for $5. Those who know me know that I don’t eat a lot, so this isn’t much of a consideration, and $200 is likely overkill.
I eat cheap and, given the option, would much rather being a cooler of lunch meat and bread. If this is possible, I’ll obviously knock huge numbers off the expenses. I’m a frugal chick.
I’ve no interest in dropping LSD with people I’ve never met, so won’t really be purchasing any “party supplies.
Due to horrific timing, I’m set to run out of hormones on last day of the trip. That’s manageable, because my next shipment will have arrived by then. However, this does mean I have a present expense that can’t be avoided.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, because the client who owes me has been continuing to ignore my calls and emails, and it’s looking more and more unlikely that they’re just not going to pay.
GoFundMe has never sat well with me. To that end, I’ve started selling my book Dancing in Hellfire, which is currently on sale for $3.49. If you read my work, if you support my work, and if you enjoy my work, I humbly ask that you purchase a copy. Presently, this can only be done via PayPal, but who doesn’t use PayPal?
It’s a captivating tale, my autobiography, of dealing with drug-addicted and irresponsible parents, child abuse, murder, torture, domestic violence, and, on top of all that, coming to terms with being transgender in a fundamentalist Christian family in rural Mississippi. There were summers when we didn’t have electricity or even running water, much less anything to eat. It’s the story of how I came to be the person that I am, and the lessons that I learned from these experiences when I chose to be the beneficiary rather than the victim. It extends far beyond the scope of transgenderism and deals instead with two main devils: reckless drug abuse and oppressive parenting. It’s a good read, and it will pull on your heart strings and, hopefully, inspire you to never give in.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I intend to become a major player within the Libertarian Party. To that end, I purchased membership to the national party last week, and have contacted the state chairperson about state membership.
At the end of this month, I’ll be up for Full Membership in The Audacious Caucus, and have every intention of being a delegate in 2018 and 2020 to ensure the party gets back on track. If you agree with my message, then you can literally help me accomplish this by buying my book. Feel free to buy multiple copies, and give the extras to friends who fight the radical and audacious cause of ideology, not identity.
“The Anarchist Shemale” is a brand, and nothing more. I want to be known for being unflinchingly loyal to the principles of liberty, not for my gender identity and orientation.
Though I’ve honestly very little interest in attending and listening to seminars (You know me! I’d rather speak at a seminar than listen at one), the networking opportunity is too great to pass up. This dual-festival will put me directly in touch with many of the right people for me to begin making things happen at the 2018 convention. And by the 2020 convention, I should be positioned well to forward the audacious cause.
So I’m asking you to give me the benefit of the doubt. You know my ideology, my strict adherence to the NAP, and my laity to reason and principle over pragmatism. If radicals are to reaffirm our voice in the party, then this is how we do it. I humbly ask that you help put these plans into action. Not for free! You get what is truly a fascinating book out of it. After all, who else followed their mother’s murder from the American Justice System to one built upon forgiveness rather than vengeance? How many others have the experiential clout to stand there and say, “I’ve HAD a loved one murdered, and I’m still telling you: vengeance is not the answer”?
If $3.49 is too much, consider purchasing “Dead or Alive” instead, which is a short story being sold for $1. You can even use the coupon code “Real subtle, asshole.” to get it 50% off.
We don’t all have the time or energy to write such things and to take back the party. So, basically, make me your delegate. You know what I stand for, and you know that I don’t back down from the devil himself.
We’re hearing a lot about cultural appropriation these days, and it’s a topic that I think is pretty stupid, and I’m not going to spend much time talking about it. However, it occurred to me earlier that “hating white people” is cultural appropriation.
For obvious reasons, hating “the white man” didn’t originate with white people. It originated with black people as a response to systemic oppression and racism. Not all black people hate white people, obviously, but it certainly wasn’t gay people who invented hatred of gay people, trans people who invented hatred of trans people, or white people who invented hatred of white people. In every real sense, “hating the white man” and “hating the white devil” are aspects of black culture and Middle Eastern culture.
By adopting this battle cry as your own, white liberals, you are undermining their struggle and appropriating their culture. The black people of whom we’re discussing were abused, enslaved, and oppressed by the white man, and came to hate “him” as a result. You didn’t suffer through that, and adopting their response to that suffering cheapens what they actually went through. It’s the worst kind of cultural appropriation.
So I’m sorry to break this to you, but if you’re white and hate the white man or hate on the white man, you’re guilty of cultural appropriation. Those weren’t your struggles, and that’s not your mantra. That expression–“I hate the white man” is a reaction to widespread abuse and hardship that you didn’t go through. You didn’t suffer through that, you haven’t gone through what they went through, and you haven’t earned the right to hate the white man.
^ Cultural appropriation.
If we want to talk about cultural appropriation, let’s talk about how liberals have appropriated hatred of white people, in the process coopting and undermining the significant and pervasive struggles that led to that hatred. If you condemn white people for making burritos because that’s a hispanic dish, then you have to condemn white people for hating the white man because that’s a black dish.
So, to the white liberals who hate white people, you’re guilty of cultural appropriation. Not only that, but look at what you’re appropriating! You’re appropriating their entire struggle, their response to generations of slavery, rights denial, and abuse. If you think it’s “wrong” to culturally appropriate a burrito, then how wrong is it to appropriate the entire struggle of a race?
Want to read the whole story? Well, now you can! For a limited time (until June 15), Dancing in Hellfire is finally available for sale, for only $3.49. You can buy it here, through this very site, using PayPal or a typical credit/debit card (payment is processed by PayPal, so I don’t see the info), after which you’ll be given access to the book as both a PDF and an ePub.
Whether being four years old and watching one of my parents’ friends shoot up peanut butter on our couch and dying before my eyes; whether being effectively kidnapped at the age of eight by my meth-addicted mother and forced to endure a summer of being too poor to buy food, with our water turned off due to non-payment, and with mom being beaten mercilessly by a violent alcoholic; whether coming to terms with her disappearance like something out of a murder mystery show; or whether being transgender in the midst of all of this and trying desperately to come to terms with it while surrounded by a fundamentalist Christian family that forced me to not merely repress who I was but also to forget who I was, I have seen a great deal of tragedy.
It’s strangely easy to forget how devastating all of this must truly have been, even as I was the one who experienced it, because it’s easy to forget how it truly felt to lie awake, crying and listening to the sounds of shattering glass as my mother was thrown brutally through windows. It’s easy to forget how angry I have the right to be at my father and grandmother, for forcing me to oppress myself and attempting to turn me into something that I am not.
Today I am a transgender woman and resident of the state of Mississippi. This is as frustrating, difficult, and dangerous as one would expect, but I survive, and I roll with the punches. I have no choice, just as I had no choice those early mornings as I bore witness to horrific domestic violence.
So this is my story–a story of how low human depravity can sink, but also how the human spirit can stand resilient and refuse to surrender. However, I know that I am one of the lucky ones. The majority of people who endure such childhood trauma, and who are forced by religiously oppressive authorities to repress their own natures, are not so fortunate. Most of the former lose themselves in a sea of drugs that allow them to forget, while the latter often lose themselves to the blade of a razor. Yet I know, because I have lived it, that we can survive the struggles–and not merely survive, but become stronger through them.
Where to begin, in this sordid tale of devils and demons?
My family is exactly what one would expect of a north Mississippi lower middle class / upper lower class white Christian family; it was only a few years ago that I first heard the acronym WASP, but I have to admit: aside from its redundancy, there is no more apt description of my family. They are almost stereotypical in how typical they are of an ordinary white fundamentalist Christian family from the southern United States.
Everyone in Mississippi isn’t like that, however, which is a point I’ve tried to stress in the past: Mississippi does contain many people like myself. As a friend recently put it, “We grew up in an area that is run-down, poor, and stupid, over all, where most of the populace is indoctrinated by religious nonsense to the point where they can’t even recognize rational thought. We pushed through what it takes to fit in here, and we defined ourselves. That’s something to embrace and be proud of.”
My friends and I have reached the end of a long and grueling journey that was filled with adversity and people who would use any means at their disposal—terrorism, fear, violence, and coercion—to bend us to their wills, and we’ve looked back at the paths we traveled and rejoiced that we survived and stayed true to ourselves. Friends are priceless when one is transgender in a family full of fundamentalist Christians.
Both of my paternal grandparents would reject me entirely—they do not yet know, and they will be among the last to know, since I see them only a few times a year. “You don’t know how they’ll react,” I’ve had people tell me. “Give them a chance. Sometimes people surprise you.”
With all due respect, those allies and friends have no idea the type of people we’re really dealing with. My Mississippian friends know better, too; they know that there is no chance that my family will ever welcome me at Christmas dinner as a female. When my grandfather (who, for the record, is on his tenth or eleventh wife) learned that my sister was living with her boyfriend, he wrote her a lengthy letter, wherein he quoted Biblical passages and called her a whore. When my grandmother found girls’ clothes hidden between my mattresses, she wanted to send me to a foster home and asserted that she would not have that in her house. If they had thought I was gay, they would have sent me to one of those awful “pray the gay away” camps.
This isn’t to say that I’m perfect, and acknowledging my own faults and mistakes will be the most difficult part of writing this. I have made plenty of mistakes and stupid decisions that brought people around me severe difficulty and hardship, particularly regarding past relationships.
My memory is also not perfect, and I am likely to make mistakes, and, given that some of the information comes from extremely unreliable sources (like my father), some of that can’t really be helped. It doesn’t matter, though. The point of this is to show how awful parenting shaped me, and the countless lies that my dad told me are part of that. I strive for honesty, integrity, and sincerity in all things. Consider this my vow that everything within is, to the best of my knowledge, the unaltered truth, except that names have been changed.
I was born premature, thankfully, since the umbilical cord had wrapped around my throat and I was choking to death. This was surely a result of my mother’s cigarette smoking and eating painkillers while pregnant. My father insists that she didn’t do drugs while she carried us, but… Yeah, she did.
I certainly don’t remember my birth, but I do remember some things from shortly after my birth. Though my family says there is no way I could remember it, my introduction to the world came with overwhelming confusion: I was in some sort of cradle, and the back of my right hand hurt because a number of needles and tubes penetrated my flesh. The details are blurry and fuzzy, as one would expect from such early memories, but the needles burned and itched. They irritated me, and I wanted them out. I was afraid and confused, with no idea why these things penetrated my hand and no understanding of what was going on. I knew only that I was hurting and helpless to do anything about it.
Confusion—pure confusion. I didn’t even have a sense of self. I had no idea that I existed, that I was a baby in a hospital, and that I was a being. I could feel the needles in the back of my hand, and they hurt. The pain, however, was not unbearable, and wasn’t the main facet of that moment. It was confusion. I was not afraid—I didn’t have enough self-awareness for the confusion to make me scared. I simply knew nothing. I was a blank slate, onto which was being written reality in the ink of experience. I didn’t even know that I was a blank slate. I knew only that I hurt, and that I was confused. I was not in the arms of a loving mother whose warmth brought me comfort. I did not stare up and into the eyes of a nurse who was delighted to see a baby growing healthier by the hour. I was not being cooed by an older brother, or rocked in the cradle while a loving grandparent read a story. I was alone and hurting in a room bathed in fluorescent light.
That was my first experience with the world. That was how I was introduced to the universe—in the sterilizing, emotionless light of an empty hospital room, not the gentle and soothing light of a home. I heard the beeps and sounds of monitoring equipment, not the joyous laughter of a loving family. I lie alone in a hospital contraption with the shrill, uncomfortable hospital sheets, not wrapped in a blanket and the arms of a doting mother.
And the worst part—the indisputable worst part—is that I remember this.
The first few years of my life were probably normal, about what anyone would expect from a southern, lower middle class white family that subsisted more on the successes of previous generations than the merits of its own. There were some oddities, though, and signs even then of who I really was, but it was the mid-80s. It wouldn’t really be fair to blame my parents for not recognizing and embracing that I was transgender.
Of course, I was born male, “with a penis and everything.” But whenever all of my underwear was dirty, my mother would put me in my sister’s panties; it wasn’t a punishment, to clarify. Being the clever child that I was, I began hiding all of my underwear, just so that I could tell my mom that I didn’t have any, and so that I could wear panties instead. Somewhere around three years old, I took all of my underwear and threw them into the back of a closet that no one ever opened, and then I reported to my mother that, strangely, all of my underwear was suddenly gone.
So when I say that I’ve been transgender since birth, it’s as close to “since birth” as one can get. I couldn’t have been older than three years old at that point, because my sister hadn’t begun kindergarten herself. I knew then that I preferred women to men: I loved my mother and sister, and, even at that age, I had a deep appreciation for feminine beauty. I also thought that my Aunt Diane was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, and my mother used to make fun of me for my enamorment with my aunt.
My experience with men at this point was limited to my father (who was fat and not overly pleasant to look at), my brother (who was thin, but who had nothing on my mother), my grandfather (who was also overweight, and a jerk), and my Uncle Danny (who has always been an asshole). Although it’s typical for young boys to love their mothers, I wanted to be just like mine, and I suspect that had a lot to do it with, but who can say? I was three when it began, and I simply wanted to be a girl.
I had a blanket (what most people would call a “blankie,” though I never called it that), and it was one of those cotton-threaded ones similar to fishnet. I refused to sleep without it and my pillow. The pillow actually wasn’t that important, but the pillowcase certainly was. I rubbed the pillowcase between my finger and thumbnail, sleeping on the central heating vents in the floor and driving my father crazy with all of it.
A Look at My Father
I would love to say that my father isn’t a bad man.
But he is.
That’s a difficult thing to say and accept, but I have to stress that it doesn’t really make me love him any less, and that the dominant emotion I have for my father is pity. Even so, I would be lying if I said that he was a good man who simply made some mistakes; that isn’t the case at all. He’s a bad man who has made some good decisions, not a good man who has made a few bad ones.
His own childhood was no walk in the park, damaged by my alcoholic and abusive grandfather beating the hell out of my grandmother. Though not much of that has been shared with me, I can certainly relate to what he has said, and it’s clear the recollections are as painful to him as it is for me to recall the abuse my mother endured at the hands of alcoholics.
At some point, my grandparents divorced—Go, grandma!—because my grandmother wouldn’t put up with the abuse. My grandmother is easily worthy of her own story, because she is an unsung hero of the feminist movement without even trying. In the sixties and seventies, she left her violent husband and blazed her own path in Mississippi, won the house in the divorce, and then worked at a college until she retired at the age of 67.
True to the family history, my grandmother endured her own screwed up childhood, and was even sent away by her mother to live with Uncle Bill and Aunt Edna on their farm. Evidently, Aunt Edna didn’t like my grandmother one bit, and was very unkind to her. What internal strength caused my grandmother, in what must have been the 40s, to graduate as the valedictorian of her class? What quiet resolve allowed my grandmother to learn the necessary skills to work in the administration section of a college during the 60s?
These are questions to which I would love answers, but I’ll never have them, because they are not things that my grandmother is willing to discuss. Questions about her past are met with short answers, and I can’t blame her for not wanting to talk about it.
On one particular drunken rampage, my father held a gun on my grandfather so that my grandmother could limp out of the house. While I truly hate that he had to do such a thing in the first place, I’m also jealous that he was old enough to do something about it. When my mother suffered under Everett’s hands, I was in the second grade, and too young and weak to do anything to intervene.
For years, my father insisted that he was drafted to Vietnam, and he even talked about how he was called a murderer and spit upon when he returned. Eventually my sister and I realized that there’s no way this is true. Either he was actually the oldest between him and his brother (and thus wouldn’t have been drafted), or the Vietnam War ended when he was 16. In this little alternate reality he had constructed, he had to be older than our mother was (which was blatantly false—she had always been recognized as the older one), his brother had to be lying about his own age, and almost everyone had to have falsified birth records.
He changed his story to say that he was in Vietnam during the 80s, through another offensive that we did, but I have been unable to find any military record for him. Whether he actually fought in Vietnam, he did mislead us into believing he’d fought in the Vietnam War, which is a lie of such magnitude and scope that one has to marvel at it.
He is a religious man, though it’s hard to tell by his behavior: heavy drug usage, constant lies, and steady manipulation. Although he is less religious than other family members are, his secularism is applied selectively, and he’s generally as fundamental as everyone else is. He continues to believe that President Obama is a Muslim, is more or less openly racist, and is a diehard Republican, despite that he’s effectively a ward of the state who benefits substantially from liberal policies.
I obviously don’t see eye-to-eye with him, but we do have some similar interests. It was he who introduced me to Fantasy literature and tabletop gaming, both of which almost immediately became passions for me. In turn, I exposed him to the tenth installment of a popular roleplaying video game, and I’m still happy that I was able to show him to something that he enjoyed so immensely. He must have played through it a dozen times, and he certainly discovered more of its secrets than I ever would have.
There is some kinship between us, and I do love him, despite the numerous differences, and in spite of the fact that he has done me far more harm than good. More than anything, I pity him, because his childhood evidently destroyed him; he is one those who did not escape unscathed. He was swallowed by the mentality that the world owes him something, and oblivious to the reality that the world will never give it.
The rifts between us began because I was not the son that he wanted. He hated that I loved sleeping on the heating vents—I’ve always loved heat. I wouldn’t sleep anywhere else. I had to sleep on one of the floor vents, and the heat had to be on. There in the floor, I had the pillow and pillowcase that I refused to sleep without, and the blanket that I required as I slept.
My father hated all of these things. We went to visit some relatives at one point, and I left my blanket and pillow at home. With no other way to shut me up, my parents took me to a store to get a new pillow, and there I went from one to the next, tearing open the plastic just slightly, and “testing” it until I found one that was satisfactory. When we got back to our trailer a few nights later, dad went outside and told me to bring my pillow.
As I stepped out into the night air, I saw him kneeling just outside the small stone circle beside our front steps. It had once been a flower garden—conceived during one of mom’s highs, when she was bolstered with energy from painkillers. The high wore off, but the flowers remained in that little circle of rocks—at least for a while. Then they died, shriveled, neglected, and forgotten.
Almost like a demon out of a child’s horror story, there was my dad, grinning devilishly and eagerly, urging me to throw my old pillow onto a mess of crumbled newspapers soaked in lighter fluid as he held his flaming lighter above it. “We need to burn it!” he said, but I refused. There was no need to burn it. They were already making me throw it away—they were already making me discard this pillow that I loved and had slept with every night for years. Was that not enough?
“We need to burn it!” he said again, as I ran inside and cried to mom that dad wanted to burn the pillow that I loved. It may seem strange that I had such attachment to a pillow, but I did, and both of my parents knew it. My father certainly knew very well that I loved that pillow.
That’s why he wanted to burn it. Because I loved it.
We didn’t burn random things, and I doubt that we ever burned anything there at all. He wasn’t content to force me to throw away this pillow, the symbol that I was an emotional person and not the crass son that he apparently wanted. The pillow had to be destroyed in flames because I loved it, and because “real men don’t love.” This silly, feminine weakness, this emotional attachment to an object—it had to be gotten rid of, and in the most dramatic way possible.
It was not the pillow that my dad wanted to burn.
It was my heart.
My mother intervened, though my father came inside and continued insisting that we needed to burn the pillow, because he was afraid that I would be able to talk my mother into letting me keep it. One has to wonder why it was an issue that I wanted to keep it. In the end, I placed it gingerly on top of the garbage can in the kitchen and told it goodbye. I hated to do so, and I cried, because it didn’t make sense to me.
It’s understandable that I developed such strong emotional ties to objects, as neither parent spent much time with me, and there was not much hugging in the family. Mom and dad were always high on one drug or another, lying on the couch and borderline comatose. I don’t know how Brandi handled it then, or what she did in order to get through the long and miserable days, but it was surely as awful for her as it was for me. Unlike our older brother, we didn’t have friends with whom we could go hang out. Or, at least, I didn’t. Brandi was friends with a girl who didn’t live too far from us, and I hope that my sister was happy then.
Aunt May and Kay-Kay
For a while, mom did work, as did my father. While Brandi and Eric were gone to school and my parents were at work, I was babysat by our great aunt who lived next door, a relatively kind woman who I remember as mostly humorless. My father fleeced her out of most of her money, just as he did to my great-grandmother, and just as he is currently doing to my grandmother. However, I was too young to comprehend that, and there isn’t much that I remember about Aunt May.
It was horrendously boring at Aunt May’s. There were few places worse for my pre-school self. I wasn’t allowed to take my Nintendo, which left me there alone with an eighty-year-old woman and very little to actually do, because there was no one to play with and nowhere to play at. Aunt May wasn’t unkind, but she was also not particularly joyful. I don’t blame her for that—she was a very old woman, and probably not happy to babysit a four-year-old.
I should have been outside having fun, rather than sitting in a living room with an eighty-year-old woman and playing with paper dolls that she cut out of a magazine. Of course, such things seem droll only from a modern perspective, but I was accustomed to video games and cartoons, the heightened entertainment possibilities of the late 1980s. In the 1880s, a child would have been thrilled to sit on a couch in an air-conditioned house and idle away the hours with paper dolls.
However, imagine the horrified response one would get if a modern child was asked to spend day after day in that environment, with only a very old woman as company. There would probably be allegations of child abuse, though I’m not making that claim. However, many modern parents would likely consider that to be, at the least, borderline child abuse. To me, it was simply boring, and the time passed so slowly that I probably lived more moments there at Aunt May’s house than all the moments I have lived since.
I don’t intend any of this to be disparaging to Aunt May. I have no doubt that she did the best she could, and significantly better than many people in her position would have. Still, I dreaded those days when both parents had to work, and it was routine for me to ask mom each afternoon, “Do you have to work tomorrow?”
Aunt May had a moustache, as well, but I never noticed it. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and I was shown a picture of her that I learned she had a moustache. I was pre-kindergarten when I spent time with Aunt May, so the idea that a woman didn’t have facial hair wasn’t in my head yet, so it seemed perfectly normal to me. My father had a moustache and Aunt May had a moustache. Cars had tires, and houses had walls.
One horrible day, as Aunt May sat in her recliner, concealed from view of the kitchen as I sat on the couch near the front door, there was suddenly a crash in the kitchen. The backdoor entered into the kitchen, and I will never forget the fear that fell over this old woman’s face. Someone had broken in through the back door.
She and I hid in the living room, cowering in the corner behind her chair. I don’t believe she ever called the police (she didn’t have a phone), or did anything about it, but my memory of that ordeal is vague. I recall only the noise, the unmistakable terror in her eyes that I was able to recognize even at four years old, and the hiding.
Because she was very old, it simply wasn’t possible for Aunt May to always babysit me, and I had another sitter called Kay-Kay—a hefty, middle-aged woman who seemed to be doing pretty well in life. She had a house, at least, which I recognized to mean that she was okay—we lived in a trailer, and most of the people we knew lived in a trailer. Living in a house… That was a grand thing to me. I didn’t mind that we lived in a trailer, and I was much too young to know that being the child of two fast-food workers (even if they were supervisors) who raised Confederate flags, shot up heroin, and ate Xanax made me the definitive example of “trailer trash,” but I knew that it was a great thing to have a house.
Kay-Kay was an ordinary woman, and there was much going on beneath the surface that most people never saw. As I sat in one of her bedrooms, playing a video game, there was suddenly a banging on the door and people shouting, demanding to be allowed inside and promising that, if Kay-Kay refused, they would tear the house down.
Although I was shocked and scared at first, Kay-Kay put my fears to rest by handling it expertly. She answered in an almost aloof way, as though she had no concern about it. Even as they banged and screamed, I was unafraid, because Kay-Kay didn’t appear to take it seriously. After a minute or so, the banging stopped, and then the rhythmic pounding echoed through her home, coming from somewhere in the back.
“They’re going to tear the house down!” I shouted to Kay-Kay, scared once more. In my head, I had the image of two enormous, burly, and angry men outside with huge hammers, smashing away the bricks and crashing through the walls.
“Oh, no, they’re not, sweetie,” came Kay-Kay’s reply as she dropped to a knee and hugged me. “They’re just mad. They’ll get over it and leave in a few minutes.”
Sure enough, Kay-Kay was right: they did leave shortly thereafter. In actuality, they probably just had given up on the front door and gone to try the back door. Finding it locked, they banged and shouted some more, and then left. I never learned what it was about, and Kay-Kay asked me not to mention it to my parents, which made sense: that isn’t the sort of thing a mother wants happening at the selected babysitter’s home. I didn’t stay quiet, though, and that was the last time Kay-Kay ever babysat me. It was also the last time that I saw her.
The Rise of Tumult
There was a “friend of the family” called Doc, and I liked him a lot. Everyone liked Doc—he was a friendly, charismatic person. Being my parents’ friend, he was heavily on drugs, but Doc was also in a motorcycle gang, which created a problem, because shooting up was explicitly against the gang’s laws. Just to be clear here: this is the world I grew up in. This was normal to my three-year-old self. On any given day, I was likely to see one or both of my parents shoot up heroin with a buddy who was in a motorcycle gang, smoke a joint or two, and collapse onto the couch in a stupor and droning out “Yeah…” to no one.
I watched my mother, laid out on the loveseat, look to my father on the other side of the living room. She held up, toward my father, a syringe full of some red liquid, and then she asked in a seductive voice, “John, do you want some of this?” And as she spoke, she pressed in the syringe and sent a jet stream of this stuff—whatever it was—flying across the living room. They were both out of their minds, just high as hell.
Disheveled, frantic, panicked, and terrified, Doc stopped by our trailer and wanted to sell my father a half-pound of weed for fifty bucks. My father had twenty dollars he could pay. Knowing my father, it’s amazing that he had any money, but he did, and he explained to Doc what he had.
Doc in turn explained that he had to get out of town. “Had to,” he said, and my father understood what that meant. The gang somehow learned that Doc was shooting up, so Doc had to get out of town before they found him and forced him to run “The Gauntlet.” Because, apparently, that actually happens. My father bought the weed, and Doc fled, but it was to no avail, and he was later found dead.
We frequently drove north to visit my Aunt Diane and Uncle Danny (the man who would later go to prison for murder and, in all likelihood, killed my mother, though there is no body or evidence), as well as our cousins. One of these trips proved to be one of the most traumatic experiences of my childhood.
As Brandi and I rode with dad in his yellow truck, in a secluded area where the road was surrounded by steep ditches that spelled death for anyone who lost control and went over, a truck driver decided to pass us. The trucker blew his horn a few times, and then he went for it. As he passed, he veered to the right—or dad swerved to the left. The enormous side view mirror of the rig crashed through the window beside dad and sent a spray of glass shards through the cab of our truck. Luckily, neither my sister nor I sustained any injuries.
The fault was probably my father’s (driving under the influence of one drug or another), but the reason officially given was that the highway wasn’t wide enough to pass. This excuse came much later in the day, after the trip got significantly worse.
We passed through Memphis as we traveled, and came upon an intersection. Not paying attention, I couldn’t tell you exactly how it happened, but there was shaking and noise. We rear-ended another vehicle. It’s possible that my father didn’t stop quickly enough, and it’s possible that he pressed the gas too hard and too quickly after the light turned green. Regardless, we hit the vehicle hard and sent it careening into the intersection. Reportedly, it traveled fifty feet from the impact.
The woman driving that car died on the spot with a broken neck.
Someone obviously called the police, and they arrested my father. The police placed Brandi and me in the back of the police car with him, which made us feel as though we were also being arrested, and that is terrifying when you’re four or five years old and have no comprehension of what is going on. As though we were playing out a scene in a movie, the very same trucker who had hit us earlier happened upon the accident, and presumably told the police that dad was driving erratically. The next thing I knew, the trucker was banging on the glass beside me, shouting obscenities at us—not just at our dad, but honestly at the five-year-old children, too. I was terrified, confused, and frightened out of my mind, and it didn’t help that dad, with his hands cuffed behind his back, was frothing at the mouth, rocking the police car, and demanding to be let out so that he could fight the truck driver.
My sister and I were taken to the hospital, and police, doctors, and therapists repeatedly questioned us about the accidents. We were separated from our father, but also from each other, and that made the experience more traumatic than it had to be. We were finally told that we would be going into the care of Aunt Diane and Uncle Danny briefly, and they were the ones who picked us up from the hospital. My grandmother acquired a good lawyer for my father, and he was able to go to rehabilitation rather than prison, or something to that effect.
For a long time, my nerves were absolutely shot, and it was nearly impossible to get me into a vehicle, which is probably the normal response of a four year old child after being in two accidents in a single day, one of which resulted in a death, all because the parents didn’t mind driving after eating a bunch of pills. Naturally, their solution was to shove pills down my throat, giving me what they called “nerve pills” that were probably Xanax or Klonopin. This was the only way to get me into an automobile for several months after the accidents, because otherwise I would scream and throw fits. Eventually the anxiety faded, but knocking me out with drugs was the only way to get me into a car for a while.
Things returned to what we considered normal, though that isn’t to say that either of my parents stopped doing drugs. I doubt either parent was clean for any notable period, and they continued inviting friends over. These parties, while they were more or less tame and consisted of people drinking, doing drugs, and playing spades, would not constitute “normal” for most kids.
On one such occasion, one of the people with whom they were hanging out decided that it would be a brilliant idea to inject peanut butter. Presumably, he’d heard that “The high is incredible, man!” and wasn’t much interested in maybe asking a doctor before doing something so horrendously and creatively stupid. According to my father—who is a known pathological liar, it’s worth remembering—the man died on the spot, so they took him home and left him on his couch, dead. I have no memory of this, but it allegedly happened sometime around my fifth birthday.
I started kindergarten, and I loathed it. Up until that point, my life was fantastic. I could wake up whenever I wanted, spend the entire day watching cartoons and playing videogames, snacking whenever I desired, and just doing anything I pleased. Then suddenly I couldn’t do that any longer; I had to wake up at a specific time, go spend the entire day in a boring school, and then only had a few hours afterward to do the things that I enjoyed doing. As early as kindergarten, it struck me as absurd: if the point of life is to be happy, as everyone constantly insisted to me, then why did I have to go to school?
We were poor—dirt poor, as you might expect, given the heavy drug usage. Although both parents were managers at various fast food restaurants at times, my mother eventually quit working altogether and got onto disability for her migraines. It was with tremendous excitement that we were approved for food stamps, and we waited for weeks with palpable eagerness in the air, though I had no idea what it even meant. There are two times that I distinctly recall the entire family waiting anxiously for something to happen, and the anticipation was identical on both occasions; we waited for food stamps and we waited for our cable to be activated with the same sense of impending thrill, as did I, even though I had no understanding of what either meant.
Being approved for food stamps felt like having a birthday, and so did the cable company finally coming out, after weeks of waiting, to connect our cable television. While I understood that having cable meant that we would have Nickelodeon, there was no way that I understood the concept of food stamps, so my excitement was surely nothing more than a mirror of my parents’ own eager anticipations. It was just months after this that I began school, and that mom became convinced that dad was not really working, that he was only disappearing while he was supposed to be at work.
It was a school day when it happened, because we were supposed to be in class, but mom kept us at home. My much older brother, my slightly older sister, and I were told that we were leaving dad, and I’m sure I handled that as well as any six year old child would, which is to say with naked emotion untempered by the jaded self-control we are taught to exercise in later years. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I was devastated nonetheless. First, the life I had come to know and love was wrecked by having to go to school, and then what little semblance of it remained was being irretrievably shattered by this upheaval. I spent the entire day in tears, as did my sister. Whatever was going on between our parents had nothing to do with us, and our lives were being cast into the hurricane because of it.
Too young to truly understand what was really going on, my primary concern was whether to leave my father “the good Nintendo” or the bad one. They both worked, but one of them was much more difficult to get working. Both my dad and I were big on video games, and so was my older brother, and even my mom and sister played occasionally. There were lots of family moments when we all took turns, and we even had a device that allowed four controllers to be used.
I agonized over that decision far more than a six year old should, and my mom didn’t give the situation nearly as much attention as it deserved. My entire world, prior to school, consisted almost entirely of playing video games. That I even debated which one to leave was a tremendous indicator of how much I loved my father, how much I didn’t want to leave, and, above all, how poorly equipped I was to cope with the chaos I suddenly was confronting. Mom was tearing our family apart, breaking it into two pieces, and she never sat down with my sister and me to explain what was happening, to assure us that we’d still see our dad, or to promise us that it would be okay. While to some extent that’s understandable, since she had to pack and load things up, the utter failure to remember that she was literally wrecking her youngest kids’ lives is very difficult to excuse.
To make matters worse, she was cowardly about it, too, because all of this happened while my father was at work. We lived in a trailer on my grandfather’s land, and it’s very likely that my grandfather was the one who alerted my father to the moving truck that was at his home. However, seeing as my grandfather later offered to shoot my mother for my dad, I doubt he would have showed the restraint simply to inform my dad of what was happening.
Regardless, dad pulled up while we were finishing and preparing to leave. The next little bit is a blur of anger, hostility, and shouting from which I am able to pull very few details. In a flash, dad went from anger to pleading, but mom refused to listen; her mind was made up, and she cranked the car, put it into gear, and hit the gas. Dad threw himself into the side of the car and then hit the ground, fell onto his back, and then lie there in the grass. My sister and I screamed and cried—our dad had just been run over!—and mom shouted at us to stop yelling. I gazed out of the back window at my father as we drove away, and there he was, lying unmoving in the grass, and all I could think was the horrible thought, “Dad is dead.”
There in the back of the car, crying quietly, having just watched my father die from being hit by a car, I sat at the age of six years old, being shouted at by my mom to shut up because I freaked out when I saw her kill my dad.
Want to read the whole story? Well, now you can! For a limited time (until June 15), Dancing in Hellfire is finally available for sale, for only $3.49. You can buy it here, through this very site, using PayPal or a typical credit/debit card (payment is processed by PayPal, so I don’t see the info), after which you’ll be given access to the book as both a PDF and an ePub.
Anyone who has seen the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode called “The Drumhead” will probably have a pretty good idea of where I’m going with this. In the episode, a klingon happens to be a spy, and is caught–however, an accident that occurred at around the same time went unexplained, and, worried about saboteurs and collaborators, Starfleet began an investigation into the crew of the Enterprise.
What began as a seemingly justifiable investigation devolved almost immediately into a witch hunt, or, as Picard put it, a “Drumhead Trial”–a mock trial put on by a military tribunal where punishment was swift and decisive. It’s a well-known episode, and generally considered among that series best’s. It’s a pity that we learned nothing from its rather anvilicious lessons.
That doesn’t mean that, say, Michael Flynn, who just invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying on the Hill, doesn’t have problems related to past payments from the Russians.
Er… No, Howard Kurtz, that’s not right. The way this is phrased creates the default idea that Flynn has those problems, and that his invocation of the fifth is evidence of that–otherwise, why even link these two things?
In the episode I mentioned, a young man is revealed to have lied about his heritage, having claimed to be half-Vulcan when he was actually half-Romulan, and the Romulans were essentially Star Trek’s Russians. During his publicly open interrogation, with dozens and dozens of people watching eagerly, he was asked about his true lineage, and he invoked the fifth (or, actually, Starfleet’s version of the fifth).
Immediately, the whispering and gasps rang out. Rumor swirled, and he was instantly assumed to be guilty.
Kangaroo done hung the juror with the innocent.
We would all do well to watch this tense episode once more, but allowing it to hit closer to home. You’ll see in the inquisitor none other than Democratic leadership, relentlessly pursuing every possible lead in their quixotic quest to find a collaborator or saboteur. In those nightmarish circumstances, where even Picard is ultimately brought in for questioning, even pleading the fifth becomes evidence of a person’s guilt.
The moral of the story is that we’re never more than one accident away from a witch hunt. We saw it last year when the clown sightings began–fully hysterical reactions from people over clowns who had done nothing to anyone and may very well not have existed in the first place. It’s entirely possible that there was never even a single clown, much less several, but that didn’t stop panic and hysteria from sweeping the nation: schools were locked down, clown masks were pulled from store shelves, and police investigations were launched.
Of course, we can look to an actual witch hunt if we’d like to depress ourselves, since 40,000 people were killed in puritan America for being witches–and, the reasoned mind of today understands that none of them were witches. The accusation alone branded one guilty, and often the trials involved horrific things like “Drown her. If she’s innocent, God will save her.”
Eyeballs deep in muddy water, fucking hypocrite.
I’m honestly not scared of much. I’ve had someone put a gun in my face and tell me to drop to my knees and beg for my life, whereupon I defiantly replied, “You’re gonna have to kill me, because I’m not doing that.” I’ve been left beaten and bloody in at least three parking lots. I’ve had picking up hitch hikers backfire on me in spectacular ways. But none of that scares me.
Hysteria, however… Hysteria terrifies me.
How long did McCarthy and Hoover’s reigns of terror last? There has even been talk of recognition the House of Un-American Activities. My death–who cares? It would likely be painful, but after that, over, so it’s really not something to be scared of. However, a witch hunt can go so very far beyond that–into tortured confessions, corrupt interrogators, presumed guilt rather than presumed innocence…
We played with the fire after the Orlando Shooting, as well, when people asked how this person who had been investigated three times by the FBI had been able to acquire guns. It is simply assumed, in their worldview, that a person is guilty if the FBI investigates them. Never mind that this could easily be part of the anti-Muslim witch hunt. “He was investigated three times? Then he’s guilty. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire! Besides, look what he did!”
Yes, but the fact that “what he did” was something he “hadn’t yet done” at the time he was being investigated is of critical importance. You can’t apply current knowledge about him to decisions people made about him in the past. And we damn sure can’t assume people are guilty just because we have an out-of-control investigatory agency that is perfectly poised to begin and instigate witch hunts.
I don’t know or care whether Flynn did whatever it is that he’s being presumed guilty of doing, and I don’t care if Trump played a role in it. Even if they do manage to demonstrate guilt (as opposed to assuming it), they still have to demonstrate why the whole thing is of any consequence at all.
Now people are talking impeachment. There’s no doubt: impeachment was on people’s minds on Election Day, as soon as the results came in. If the idea of having a hardcore religious nutjob as President sounds appealing, then, by all means, proceed with impeachment. People seem to think that we can make a Democrat president if we impeach Trump, or that we can spark an emergency election. Neither of these things will or can happen.
Kangaroo be stoned, he’s guilty as the government.
If Trump is impeached and remove from office, then Mike Pence becomes President. And any impeachment proceeding would look far more like a Drumhead Trial than anything that resembles a fair court. And, really, I think such an act could very easily spark a civil war, given that Trump has been in office barely four months and hasn’t done anything out of line with what previous presidents did. Removing the president that people chose before that president has even had the chance, in his supporters’ eyes, to do what they wanted him to do… I hope Democrats are ready for the fallout from that, because it won’t be the sunshine and daisies they seem to expect.
We have a problem, though, and the problem is fear. We are terrifyingly prone to panic, and that should be what scares us, not whatever bogeyman we’re panicking about at the given moment. Panic and hysteria shredded much of the Bill of Rights already. What is next in our witch hunt?