The Fish
for 4 January 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
 
Suck Staff
 

Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff
Editor in Chief

 

Terry Colon
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Art Director

 

[the fixin' pixie... ]
Emily Hobson
Production Manager
and Rhythm Guitar

 

Heather Havrilesky
Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor

 

[Ian Connelly]
Ian Connelly
Marketing Manager

 

[Copy Edit]
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Suck Alumni Text
 

Carl Steadman
Carl Steadman
Co-Founder

 

Ana Marie Cox
Ana Marie Cox
Executive Editor

 

Sean (Duuuuude) Welch
Sean Welch
Suckgineer

 

Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
Copy Editor

 


T. Jay Fowler

Production Manager

& Ass Kicker

 

[yes, it's a plunger. i'll l
eave the rest up to your imagination ... ]
Erin Coull
Production Manager

 

Monte Goode
Monte Goode
Ghost in the Machine

 

Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager

Trance Mission

I read your article at
www.suck.com today and found
it interesting.

Speech itself won't turn you
gay or straight. Exposure to
one form of speech or another
will turn a kid (or grown-up)
pro- or anti-gay, something
the Christian Right knows
perfectly well. Dobson,
Sheldon, and company don't
want kids seeing pink
triangles, because those kids
will grow up being gay. Kids
that don't care about fags
grow into adults that don't
care about fags ... and one
more source of revenue for
conservative Christians is
lost.

I guess, in some ways,
evangelicals are right ...
fags recruit. However, they
recruit supporters, not fuck
buddies.

Fags have a different
perspective. A friend of mine
was walking home from a bar
one Saturday night last year.
Three days later, he woke out
of a coma. Turns out some
skater punk smashed him up
with the wheel end of his
skateboard. When they brought
him into the hospital, the
nurses said he didn't look
human. His skull looked like
a hard-boiled egg someone
dropped - the egg looks whole
but the shell has a lot of
cracks.

There's no point in
describing the problem my
friend faces now. The
question is, why did the kid
smash up my friend's face?
Because the fact is, from Tom
Wappel (Canada's answer to
Trent Lott) right down to the
kids next-door, kids grow up
learning it's OK to hate
faggots, including people who
might be faggots. Shepard
isn't the only guy who
learned this lesson the hard
way. In Florida last winter,
a 19-year-old boy from
Ontario was brutally murdered
by a gang of thieves who
mistook him for gay.

When did public opinion about
faggots change? It changed
when faggots stood up and
told people they were tired
of being called faggots.
Speech can change public
opinion. Sooner or later
public opinion is translated
into action. When enough
people stand up and say
"beating up fags is wrong,"
the gay-bashing rate drops.
When enough people stand up
and say, "Gays are out to
destroy families" or "Gays
are on the same level as dogs
and pigs," innocent people
end up beaten, tortured,
raped, and murdered.

Hate speech encourages people
to hate. In some people,
hateful thoughts turn into
hateful actions. It's not a
big leap. Maybe 90 percent of
that action takes place in
the polls; an
anti-discrimination law is
repealed, an anti-gay Senator
is removed from office. Maybe
another 9 percent of people
are encouraged to take a more
direct form of action. They
assist in collecting
signatures for a petition.
There will always be that 1
percent whose actions and
reactions to speech are
extreme. Those are the
protesters who disrupt church
services as a reaction to
homophobia in religion. Or
the hick in Wyoming who
decides nobody's going to
miss one little faggot.

If faggots claim guys like
Lott and the pope cause hate,
it's because we've had
centuries of brutal
oppression to contemplate the
correlation.

Cheers man ... keep writing.

Mike

It seems to me that
"exposure to one form of
speech or another" will "turn
a kid (or grown-up) pro- or
anti-gay," but I really don't
think that public speech
matters all that much,
relative to family and
peer-group messages. I just
don't picture someone raised
with thoughtful, consistent
values of kindness and
acceptance turning around and
swinging a skateboard at
someone's head because the
Christian Coalition takes out
a lot of ads.

I mean, I get what you're
saying, and I don't dismiss
it: Families and peer groups
are influenced by someone,
somewhere; there's a chain of
causation, not a Big Bang out
of nowhere and boom there's
hatred on the planet.

But I wonder if it doesn't
shift responsibility from
individuals to aggregated,
faceless notions - and
politicians, who are
professional aggregated
notions packaged in human
bodies - to blame violence
and intolerance on an
atmosphere of repression.

Repression is a series of
specific, particular actions.
And even if that turns out to
be an oversimplification -
which, sure, it probably is -
it seems to provide a more
useful base from which to
fight.

Ambrose Beers

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Dear AB,

Since you're mostly right
(and the ways in which I
mildly disagree, primarily
focusing on when "just
talking" becomes so
inherently objectionable that
a state may legitimately ban
it, do not lend themselves to
such a truncated forum) let
me just comment on some of
your initial remarks: Where
on earth have we come up with
the idea that just seeing
something briefly, or even
"seeing" something
subliminally, has any effect
at all?

The nice people at Pepsi and
Coke spend hundreds of
millions of dollars yelling
in our faces to drink their
products, and mostly we
ignore them. The Republicans
and the Democrats spend
hundreds of millions of
dollars and mostly we ignore
them too.

If marketing based upon
intensive motivational
research, careful focus-group
analysis, and test marketing
using all the latest bells
and whistles, can't make you
drink Coke, why does anyone
think that flashing the word
"Coke" for 3 milliseconds
under your nose will?
Probably for the same reason
that people think gadgets
emitting ultrasound that they
can't hear will keep animals
and pests they can't see
away. None of this stuff
works; any second-year psych
student can do the tests that
prove it doesn't work. People
believe it anyway. Why?

Because we're afraid. We're
not sure what we're afraid
of, but we know they have bad
juju and are after us, so
we'd better get our own bad
juju and use it against them.
And, unfortunately, there is
more money and power and
prestige to be made selling
and encouraging this sort of
fear and envy than there is
telling people to shut up and
grow up. So it never gets any
better. And that - the
conscious, or even
unconscious, repetition of
meaningless noise, the
continual emphasis on
getting-and-spending - is the
real enemy. What is being
sold doesn't matter; it's
that always something is
being sold.

Pity that we have so much
money with which to advertise
fizzy water and none left to
teach poetry. Otherwise,
people might be encouraged to
read that sweet bugger Auden
and learn that we must love
one another or die.
Truthfully, that is the whole
of the Law; all else is
commentary.

Alan Kornheiser
The Doctor Is
Depressed

Ah, but wait: Auden, it turns
out, was peddling Coke all
along. Want proof? "Sonnets
from China," 18th stanza:

Chilled by the Present, its
gloom and its noise,
On
waking we sigh for an ancient
South,
A warm nude age of
instinctive poise,
A taste of
joy in an innocent mouth...

See it?

Sorry.

Ambrose Beers

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Trance Mission

Ambrose;

Another in an
ever-lengthening list of
brilliant riffs. Superb.

I want to heartily endorse
the need to reassert the
specificity of crimes,
criminals, and victims. The
single lasting effect of
sociology (one of the worst
ideas of the 20th century,
along with Amway and tofu) is
the reduction of every event
to an exemplar of a social
order or condition. While
these things may in fact
exist, I've never met anyone
who claimed to embody one.

The most horrible thing about
the Shepard murder was the
protest at the funeral. I'll
repeat that: Protest at the
kid's freakin' funeral. Good
God, is that not totally
devoid of any redeeming
humanity?

Thanks again - I look forward
to your continued punditry.

Rob Seulowitz

The people who demonstrated
at Matthew Shepard's funeral
needed to have their fucking
knees broken. (Any Suck
readers in Wyoming?)

And there is nothing wrong
with tofu. High in
isoflavones! Don't be pickin'
on soy products.

Ambrose Beers

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

I'm a Penn and Teller fan
from way back. Once, I
watched them on Geraldo, back
when the Phil Donahue Show
was still on. They were
showing how to make jello
bleed like a stuck pig when
you cut to serve it.

Anyway, in a Q&A with the
audience, a woman asked
whether or not Penn and
Teller were a bad influence
on children. Penn Gillette
replied at length about the
culture of voodoo. He defined
voodoo as the belief that
manipulating the image of a
thing influences the thing in
the real world. He said that
censoring the image of
violence in media for the
purpose of reducing violence
in society was akin to
sticking a needle in a voodoo
doll to zap somebody.

At the time, I was much
swayed by the rationality of
his argument. However, Penn
deftly side-stepped the fact that
voodoo does influence real
world events when the culture
believes in it.

Drawing a mountain on a map
won't create one on the
surface of the earth. But it
can change the plans of those
who use that map later.

Sorry this is so rambling. I
didn't have time to make it
shorter.

Simon Peter Adkins

I've seen rambling, and this
ain't it. And I love the Penn
and Teller thing.

OK. So. People who believe
in voodoo can be manipulated
by it - but they believe in it
first. To drag the
analogy back to the real life
we're talking about, the
people who use that
map have seen at
least some of the landscape;
if they choose to believe the
map, who's the jackass? The
guy who drew the false map,
or the guy who used it even
though the flat, empty desert
was right in front of him?

The burden we should all
expect one another to carry
is the burden of empiricism.
Matthew Shepard was a human
being; the men who killed him
were human beings; the pope
was not in the room. The
landscape was clear and at
hand, and they made their
choice.

How do you make jello bleed
like a stuck pig when you cut
it?

Ambrose Beers

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Just a quickie to say that
YOU ROCK!

I just sent a friend a
blistering critique about
what bullshit hate-crime
legislation is after he sent
me one of those endlessly
huge emails "sign here to
support ..." regarding
Matthew's murder.

"Hate-crime laws are
bullshit! Is it somehow worse
for someone to beat to death
a man because he is gay
than it is for someone to
beat to death an 80-year-old
woman in a home invasion?

People should be accountable
for their ACTIONS in a
criminal court, not in their
thoughts. Trying to prove the
motivation behind a crime is
pure conjecture - even if
it's obvious.

The real problem is that
police and prosecutors do not
investigate violent crimes
against homos with the same
vigor that they investigate
the property crimes against
their rich old white buddies.
The problem is systemic.

Governments can pass new laws
with ease because it makes
them look like they are doing
something, but this does
nothing to change the
institution of law
enforcement. It's a cop out."

Your story is well written,
your analysis right on, and
your illustrations sumptuous.

Bravo, and thank you,

Cheers,

Handy

Um. OK. If the real problem
is that police and
prosecutors don't investigate
violent crimes against - ahem
- "homos" thoroughly enough,
if the problem is systemic,
then how do you propose
changing the system?

Hate-crime legislation, like
Affirmative Action, is an
imperfect but necessary
attempt to change a system
that's fucked up, and to draw
attention to attitudes that
are beyond fucked up. When a
black man gets dragged behind
a truck in Texas, is that a
bigger deal than an
80-year-old woman getting
shot in the act of robbery?
You're goddamn right it is.

A Dissenting Suckster

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Ambrose, Joey,

Suck has, well ... sucked for
some time now, the columns
often chock-full of awkward
conglomerations of
graduate-student-speak
10-cent words that both
obscure what the writer is
actually trying to say, and
make someone like me want to
run for the nearest outbound
link.

So today I tuned in, I'm not
sure why because I haven't
been back in six months to a
year. Wait, I remember. I
couldn't hit another Web site
and I thought, "Gee, I wonder
if my company's connection to
the Internet is down." So I
typed in a random URL, the
first one that came to mind,
http://www.suck.com, to see
if I could get another site
to come up.

Suck came up just fine. Our
connection to the Internet
was surely up! And low and
behold, today's column
("Trance Mission") is just
wonderful. It's clearly
written, lucid even, and it
provided me with a few
chuckles at the frequent
absurdity of our "protect our
children," paranoid culture.
(Yeah, chuckles just like in
the old days of Suck.
Amazing!) This encourages me
to stop by more often in
hopes that this kind of
journalism will continue, or
should I say, return, to the
pages of Suck.

Craig Mitchell

1. They're 14.578 cent words
- we've been acquired by a
publicly held company, and
the stock market is HOT!

2. Funny that ours was the
first URL that came to your
mind, don't you think? Isn't
it just a little bit possible
that a certain someone has,
admit it, missed us just the
tiniest bit
? (Don't be
bashful - it's OK to love!)

3. Crack. Canadians. Big
rabbits. See what I mean?

A journalist in the old Suck
style,

Ambrose Beers

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

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