Tag Archives: freedom of speech

‘Anonymous’ : Vigilante Justice turns vigilante injustice.

‘Anonymous’ — the self-identified hacktivists — have shut down the official website of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Take a look: http://www.aa.org

Vigilante justice always turns into vigilante injustice. Batman is just a rich guy in a bat suit after all.

They believe they’re promoting freedom of speech by obstructing other people’s right to their own. Like fighting for peace, as they say.

It’s unfortunate & sad that ‘Anonymous’ has turned into a menacing gang driven by self-righteous extremism when they were once — seemingly — compassionate human rights activists.

Makes me question my original enthusiasm for their shut down of the Westboro Church’s string of malicious gay-hating websites.

Am I willing to sacrifice my freedom of speech just to silence the voices of those I disagree with? No.

Freedom of speech extends to everyone — yes, even those I vehemently disagree with.

Anonymous has lost one supporter in me.


Tic Toc the alligator chimes — And Bradley Manning’s on my mind.

3:17 am or so …

I’m blogging with one finger on my annoyingly tiny android keypad. The power in the house is out, which means no computers are available to fiddle with and distract me from the ocean breeze reverberating through my ear.  It sounds as if I’ve had a concha shell pressed against it for hours.

I have SO much to do. If only I could use my computer  RIGHT now, but alas I must wait till’ morning.  The email replies, personalized query letters with accompanying press release, and book packages for mailing to reviewers will just have to wait … until well, later today.

Tic Toc the alligator chimes in the ambience of night.  My To Do list can’t be ameliorated and Bradley Manning overpowers my anxiety.  He’s become louder than the simulated concha shell reverberations.

Bradley Manning has been on my mind for the last several weeks.  Since I first read his story.

Please read it Here 1 & Here 2.

I keep replaying his quote about simply wanting to have had a normal life, to have had a nice family, help others …

All the things most of us middle-class Americans were raised to want to do and be …

I keep thinking about how his wanting this too genuinely, too purely has cost him his freedom and safety, the rest of his life.

I keep thinking about his humanity — how his humanity got the better of him, made him  susceptible to self-sacrificing heroic acts, and vulnerable to getting caught and punished for them.

I keep thinking about how Obama, one of life’s sad disappointments, gets the Nobel Peace Prize based on no real showmanship, but on Hope that he’ll show half the self-sacrifice, half the compassion, half the conscience, half the heart of Bradley Manning. Beyonce sang before millions of viewers at Obama’s inauguration while he and his wife shared a proud and tender dance.  We all hopefully celebrated that dance as one of two well-intentioned people who wanted to promote fairness — peace, freedom, equality, honesty — in the world  through their leadership and guidance. We rolled out the red carpet and handed over our futures, and the social security funds of our grandparents, to this union hoping that they’d embody the integrity and bravery of Bradley Manning.

And what do we do with the real, as opposed to symbolic, Bradley Manning?

We allow him to be charged with espionage, to be locked in a cell where he’s stripped naked, humiliated, and tortured off and on for almost a year (and counting). We allow our military to seriously consider sentencing him to either the death penalty or life in prison. We allow our elected leader of hope, our nobel prize winning Commander-in-Chief, to punish — in this 23-year old man — all the courage and compassion we profess to unitedly stand for.

I won’t lie. I get nervous posting such political rants — voicing my disappointment in the president of the US and the way he’s run his presidency (not like a Nobel Peace Prize winner), voicing my support for an “enemy of the state” —  in such a heated political climate on such a public forum.  Probably because, as I write, I wonder whether political allegiance or opposition to any person and/or party is even worth the risk?

I come from a Cuban family who supported a revolution that became the dictatorship which stripped them of all their rights. What did all their self-sacrificing support get them?  Immediately following its success, their “for the people” political party (communist) and its leader (F. Castro) turned their beloved Cuba into Alcatraz.  When they grew tired of his tyranny, disagreed, and tried to leave, that political entity quickly deemed them “enemies of the state.”  My mom would get beat up by kids at school who called her “gusano” while the teachers cheered them on. Where did my family’s risky and self-sacrificing political involvement get them?  As soon as they exercised their basic human right to disagree with the politicians they helped bring to power … harassed, robbed, and exiled.

Was it worth it? Opposing Batista, supporting Castro, disagreeing with the Castro regime … getting political at all?

I guess I could ask the same about Bradley Manning.  He’s a brilliant, beautiful, blue-eyed All-American boy from a military family who worked in a cush well-paid military intelligence job, behind the front lines — far away from harm. He had no need or obligation to sacrifice his limitless potential for prosperity, but he did anyway.

Manning joined the military to help his country because, rarely enough, I think he actually respected and believed what it stood for.  Apparently he loved its values — life, liberty, and justice for all — too sincerely because he laid everything on the line to promote them.  Manning seemed motivated in his “treasonous” actions by a genuine disturbance with the inhumane murder of civilians and the military’s hypocritical cover ups.   Manning seems to be a person with heightened empathy and an evolved conscience who cared simultaneously for the welfare of our nation and that of the nation we invaded.  It’s understandable that someone with such a unique double-edged guilt would seek relief from it by confiding in another person. In the person who ratted him out — Adrian Lamo.

I’ve compiled a couple of quotes of from Manning’s IM correspondence with Lamo:

‎”Manning: ive been so isolated so long… i just wanted to be nice, and live a normal life… but events kept forcing me to figure out ways to survive… smart enough to know whats going on, but helpless to do anything…americans have so many more rights than non-americans, its awful… i guess i follow humanist values though, have custom dogtags that say “Humanist” … i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public…i dont believe in good guys versus bad guys anymore…  only a plethora of states acting in self interest… with varying ethics and moral standards of course, but self-interest nonetheless”

Read most of their IM Discussion here.

Now he’s locked up, his rights trampled on, and his name dishonored in the name of our national security.

So yes, I’ve been thinking of Bradley Manning a lot lately.  About how we live and die politics, are benefitted or harmed by each other’s political actions,  whether we choose to “get all political” or not.

As an artist, I acknowledge that art usually affects its political landscape subversively.  This often gives an artist the luxury of either negating or accepting the truth that all art is innately political, and every artist responsible for the messages in their work.

As a literary artist, I’ll many times say literally exactly what I mean. Obviously, there’s nothing subversive about this blog post.  It’s political and apparently so am I. Ugh.  It runs in the blood.

Please read more about this American war hero & SIGN the petition to save his life!

Also, please “like” his facebook page to receive regular updates on his trial.

Thanks for reading!


Tunisia & Egypt: Revolt. As I drive home from the LAX.

As I drove home, after picking up and dropping off my mamushka and baby sister (age 17) from the Los Angeles International airport, I lowered the window of my 2003 Ford SUV and savored the fresh winds trickling through the post-rain midday sunshine.  On the corner, I spotted an aged, tattered American Flag waving listlessly above a rusty yellowed 89-cent store sign.  I felt then, in my bones, the blessed luck life had dealt me.

How truly lucky I am to live in a country where I can work towards and for my dreams : Where I can brazenly express my sexuality and personal beliefs : Where I can live as an independent woman without obligations to a man : Where I feel free to discover myself and be wholly me.

My internal dichotomy lies in the fact that I’m simultaneously a staunch liberal and proud American citizen.  I’m grateful that my Cuban family, and by association me, aren’t stuck in Castro’s oppressive regime where material poverty and worse, lack of basic human rights drive many to madness.  An existence so overbearing my grandma has described it, “The stress overwhelms you to the point that … Every night it felt as though the sky were falling on me … ”

That being said, I’m not blind to the injustices mi querido US of A imposes on other nations and their people.  Most days I feel towards the United States like I’d imagine the daughter of a big 1930s mob boss might feel — Grateful for the protection, care, and opportunities he affords me yet heartbroken and angered by the criminal brutality, the cruelty he wields upon others that stand in his way.

As I drove closer to home, I was filled with a sense of relief that only Home can breed. Home: Where I snuggle into my bleach-stained worn soft pajamas, crawl under the warm covers of my perfect humble little bed, turn on the space heater, and write all night — If I want to.  Yes …

While basking in that relief, I began thinking about all the women my age in Tunisia and Egypt that could not do the same.

Their corrupt, oppressive, and greedy governments have created morose and hopeless living conditions, which have most likely kept them from experiencing this type of relief.  In Tunisia the Ben Ali regime for 23-years and In Egypt the Mubarack regime for 30-years.  Dictatorships financially backed by my U.S. government for reasons that are best summed up by these two articles: Tunisia & Egypt.  Long story short, we basically backed them to gain the usual: Power & Money.  NOTE:  Although I’ve linked the Tunisia & Egypt political history summaries to Liberation, which is a socialist newspaper, I do not identify as a socialist or a communist or a democrat or a republican or a capitalist or a viking.  I do not belong to any political party. I am loyal to my personal ideals and ideas, which are in constant development over time and age.  I merely referenced that paper’s summaries because I think they give a pretty accurate description of what’s been politically going on in those regions over the past 30 years.

Anywho, I know that governments have been and probably always will be corrupt. That isn’t new news to me — the child of disillusioned ex-communists who fled the island of Cuba after the communist revolution THEY SUPPORTED won and turned its back on the Cuban people for … dun dun dun … Power & Money.

The futility of pointing out the obvious is creeping in on me, but I’ll do it anyway:

It hurts to have your country — a place where you enjoy so many priceless liberties, where you’re allowed to exercise most basic human rights such as freedom of speech (for the most part. okay, the USA ain’t perfect, but we’re doing better than Egypt ovah’ here!) — support the repression of millions of other peoples’ basic human rights.  Knowing that the people you helped elect to office suppress other folks’ right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness … well, sucks.  Yeah, the gas I put in the SUV I drive (which I make up for owning because I help ALL my friends move so don’t gimme grief bout’ it’), has cost an entire country of people the special sense of relief I enjoy when I arrive home.

Government. Government’s only role is to serve the welfare of its people and represent their interests & values on a global front.  That’s IT.  To help ensure the greater good of the whole, to protect the basic human rights of every woman, child, and man within its borders, to represent their values and principles in foreign affairs, to establish a system where by its citizens can live healthy and liberated lives.  It’s not as vague as it sounds.  Really.  Affordable healthcare and quality education for all.  Tax the super rich, allocate more money away from the military and toward public education and mental health programs, stop punishing the middle class with bogus tax hikes, stop destroying and preventing democracy abroad, ETC.  You get the drill.  I’m not a politician.  I just know what makes sense and matters to me.

First and foremost, above all, FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.  Secondly, the opportunity for quality healthcare and education for all.  Thirdly, the opportunity to earn a fair living for all.  Fourthly, respecting the RIGHT of every other nation to do the same for their people.

A 24-year old college-graduate set himself on fire to show his Tunisian government how BADLY its citizens needed it to change.

Inspired by the victorious Tunisian revolt, the Egyptians too protest their dictator Mubarak.  According to The Associated Press:

“This is the revolution of people of all walks of life,” read black graffiti scrolled on one army tank in Tahrir Square. “Mubarak, take your son and leave,” it said.

Isn’t the role of government to serve the people?  If the people don’t want you — LEAVE!  SERVE THE PEOPLE!  Don’t shut off their bloody internet, you bloody sociopaths!!!

Other important tidbits of information about the revolt in Egypt as relayed by The Associated Press:

Egyptians were emboldened by the uprising in Tunisia — another North African Arab nation, and further buoyed by their success in defying the ban on gatherings …

One army captain joined the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, who hoisted him on their shoulders while chanting slogans against Mubarak. The officer ripped apart a picture of the president.

“To hell with Mubarak; We don’t serve individuals. We serve this country that we love, just like you,” yelled another soldier to protesters from atop a tank scrawled with graffiti that said: “Down with Mubarak!”

An ARMY CAPTAIN ripped the picture of his own “president.”

NPR reported on January 29th:

… protesters have been receptive to the army, cheering soldiers and welcoming them “like heroes,” said NPR’s Nelson. Many are standing on top of tanks with soldiers, as if they’re on the same side though the army is still being deployed by Mubarak.

NPR reported on Jan. 28th:

“We don’t want him! We will go after him!” demonstrators shouted. They decried looting and sabotage, saying: “Those who love Egypt should not sabotage Egypt!”

The Internet blackout in Egypt shows that a country with strong control over its Internet providers apparently can force all of them to pull their plugs at once, something that Cowie called “almost entirely unprecedented in Internet history.”

Yeah President Obama, it’s time to stop our cash from flowing to the Mubarak Dictatorship.  If you’re going to keep puppet governments all over the mid-east could you at least have the decency to pick ones that grant its citizens the basic human rights we enjoy here in the US of A?

Ugh. Okay, governments are going to be corrupt.  People with power and money often turn into greedy green-eyed monsters that do brutal unjust things to augment their power and money.  Politicians are notorious for being beasts of this nature. Okay, fine.  I just say: Either A) Let other Nations rule themselves & keep out (which will sadly never happen) OR AT LEAST B) Support puppet governments that watch out for our western interests WHILE implementing democratic rights for their people like the ones we Americans enjoy.

My heart goes out to the Tunisian and Egyptian people.  May the governments that rise to power in the absence of their crumbled and crumbling dictatorships serve them better. May they not end up with extremes like Fidel Castro or Mubarak.  May humanity have mercy on itself.  May politicians that actually serve in office grow A HEART and employ the principles they profess to value.

After all, everyone’s one hell of a saint on the campaign trail.  May politicians one day embody in practice what they profess to stand for on podiums.


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