July 25, 2015

Yet another Blog post about Police Brutality. In the context of Victim Shaming.

by nkwilczy

I want to talk about Sandra Bland, and I want to contextualize it within a fundamental characteristic of the American experiment. That being the concept of “freedom” or liberty. I find the word problematically stripped of meaning and so I want to explain why I think that it absolutely includes the right to question the police or to complain to them. This seems like a minor detail in a story that is totally horrifying. You see the tweets and facebook posts about how “she shouldn’t have talked back” couched within admissions of the policeman’s guilt, people say, of course he shouldn’t have done that, but. Maybe I’m splitting hairs. I split hairs. I quibble about every minor detail. I am a minor detail guy.

And I always just want to talk about freedom. It’s the single political issue that has most excited me and inspired me in my time as a political activist. I understand that the reason freedom is so important to me is that there were times in my life when I did not feel in control of my own circumstances. That, right or not, I felt voiceless, disempowered, and hurt by decisions which I did not feel enabled to participate in. I did not like the feeling. I did not want to feel it myself and it pained me to know that others felt similarly. But in an important way this meant that I came to conceptualize freedom, rather simply, as the ability to do and say what you thought was best for you to do or say without any official reprimand. So I read my Orwell, my Voltaire and that Nietzsche-inspired Russian expat and for a while I hung out with those kids who want their corporate overlords to have more authority. Because even when you use the word a lot, maybe especially when you use the word a lot, you can still fail to contextualize it. You use it as a slogan, but you take the meaning all out.

And we have a lot of authorities now, there are a lot of people who command incredible respect for absolutely arbitrary reasons. Without any checks upon their power. This concentration of authority, this ability to arbitrarily define consequence or alternatively, coerce cooperative behavior, that is incompatible with the basics of freedom.

I do not think most people conceptualize freedom. I’m not saying that people are lazy or stupid, but we just hear the word a lot. We hear it in a wide variety of contexts that capitalize on nationalist connotations but which do not contribute, or which contribute in a confusing way, to the denotation of the word “freedom.”

Because if you can read the first amendment in a way that prohibits questioning the police, or even cursing at the police, you do not understand what freedom is about. That police officer is bound by the first amendment not to attack you for speaking. There are rules about this sort of thing.

There are people who hold the opinion that if Sandra Bland had kept her mouth shut and obeyed the cop that she would still be alive. My problem with that solution is that it is what people do when they live in totalitarian police states. Those are the assumptions people make when they live in totalitarian police states.

It is about race, white people do not live in the same totalitarian police state. The things I’ve said to cops, the things I’ve heard other white boys say to cops, so often it was so much worse. The attitude of repression still comes out of these cops, sure, I’ve paid my share of bail for mouthing off. But Sandy didn’t get out of jail. The difference there is not that she said anything worse than I said.

That comes from an attitude about authority that these cops have. Where they have the right to do what they want (within racially defined limits) to people who talk back to them. They do not have any such right. If you can’t curse out the cops then you might as well live in North Korea. That is not hyperbole. This is America, and in America the cops are supposed to protect and serve, not coerce and surveil. That isn’t supposed to change if I give them lip. Have you ever WATCHED Andy Griffith?

If we concede that right to them against anyone, regardless the color of their skin or their religion or their assorted crazy ideas, at that point we have given up on freedom in a significant way. If that is the case we have ended the national experiment with any sort of actual “freedom.” If we can see the police murdering people as compatible with living in a “free” country, at that point Freedom is just a bumpersticker to justify the next war.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to ask you to at least sign a petitioon either on moveon (who will spam you) or at change.org (who will not spam you) demanding that the Justice Department investigate her death, because that is not happening automatically, and it wouldn’t be totally out of line for us to at least tweet at our elected officials or call them on the phone and tell them to advance police reform. We need more than cameras. We need to end quotas. We need to end broken windows. We need more external oversight. We need more accountability.

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June 4, 2015

Run Bernie Run

by nkwilczy

I dunno if you are familiar with MoveOn.org. It’s a progressive advocacy group that works on various campaigns and their most recent campaign was called “Run, Warren, Run” and it focused on persuading first term Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to seek the Democratic nomination.

She hasn’t appreciated the attention and has repeatedly denied any interest in seeking the nomination. It was well meaning, it carried on a little long for my liking, but whatever, it was the sort of cute that you hope, as a child, makes your first clumsy, chopped up valentine enough to woo your intended.

But it is not going to happen and so MoveOn now requires some direction. If you can read this, if you are still alive, I encourage you to send an email to Ilya Sheyman  moveon-help@list.moveon.org and advocate for MoveOn to pick up the banner of one Bernie Sanders. I mean, do your own research, but as far as I can tell he seems like a decent guy.

This is how I put it:

Dear MoveOn,

I understand that it is probably inappropriate to address this to your organization rather than to you personally, but if I’m being honest I have my doubts about whether this email will be received in a personal way. Gmail names you Ana Zamora, but the email that gave me the address instructed me to address Ilya Sheyman. I imagine that if this email is read at all it will be read by a third, as of yet unnamed, party in the employ of MoveOn and as someone who works for advocacy groups not unlike your own I am hoping that this third party will not take offense at my confusion or in it’s simplistic resolution to address MoveOn as an organization rather than a particular individual.

My own solution is to just use my personal email for all of my work stuff. Well, I didn’t invent that solution but I do think that if Hillary had simply tried to explain that she had no desire to receive emails addressed to “Mrs. State Department,” it would have been easier for her to cope with what is. let’s admit it, a history of pretty well documented corrupt practices at the State Department during her tenure as Secretary. Such well documented practices that even after she Nixoned the tape there is still a lot of evidence of extremely shady behavior.

In any event I feel confident saying that we both know that she is absolutely a representative of the corporate wing of the Democratic Party, and I do believe that you and I agree that the corporate, pseudo-Republican, wing of the party is already overrepresented in our Federal Government. Bill might have balanced the budget but he also signed NAFTA and repealed crucial financial sector oversight such as Glass-Steagall. We can do better, and I think you know that.

Which is why, if I may be so bold, I assume you were promoting the potential candidacy of Elizabeth Warren. Warren is a great public servant, I had the honor of working on her Senate campaign and it was inspiring there to see that money doesn’t really matter in politics. That the truth can beat well funded attack ads, all money can really buy is pamphlets and fliers stacked thirty high on doorsteps. Those people didn’t vote Warren in because they’re Massachusetts and they even voted for McGovern, they voted for her because her message resonates with people. Speaking the truth is powerful, and it interrupts the scripts of our media outlets, it inspires people to get involved, it mobilizes grassroots action. I think you know that since, like I said, you were encouraging her to consider running until only recently.

But Elizabeth Warren will not be running for president. We need to fight the Republican wing of the Democratic Party and even if Hillary becomes our nominee we need her to commit to rebuilding the middle class. The best way for us to force her to commit to rebuilding the middle class is with a strong progressive primary challenge. Someone who knows what questions to ask and who is not satisfied with easy answers. Someone who is so separated from the Corporate Democrats that he runs for Senate as a Socialist

I want you to think about that. I want you to think of a more reviled term in the American political lexicon than Socialist. National Socialists, Bolshevik Socialists, such people have had an incredible impact on the American psyche and Bernie Sanders just says “I’ll carry all that baggage around,” and does it while being the third most popular Senator in congress.

The man has raised millions of dollars already, he is inspiring the Warren Wing. He is speaking our truths. We must stand in support of Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination.

Because I know what you’re afraid of, you are afraid that Bernie Sanders will win the nomination and lose in the general. First off, I know that fear, that is a fear of your own power and it lets you know that you are on the right track. I want to remind you that there is no guarantee that the woman who failed to win the Democratic primary eight years ago could win a general election.

I say, let’s scare the establishment of the Democratic Party let’s change this whole national discourse. Win lose or draw, let’s stand on our principles and speak our truths.

Let’s back Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Wilczynski

So go ahead, your email doesn’t have to be that long, just a quick note letting them know how to proceed. They asked for input and I think that they should throw whatever resources they have behind Sanders. He is the candidate who can threaten the primary, he is a man who yells the truth directly into people’s faces, he is a person we need to keep around and the best way to do so is by supporting him in the primary. The primary is the fight, the primaries can be won.

February 27, 2013

Book Sale

by nkwilczy

I’ll be running a book special from now until the end of March, if you buy a copy of Upright Citizens direct from me I’ll give you 4 dollars off the cover price and throw in a complimentary copy of the Abortion Clinic Music album by Perhaps 2 Klever.

Greensboro people have my phone number for super-direct sales, but if you happen to not live in Greensboro NC then I am glad to accept paypal and offer shipping for an extra dollar. I can be reached by email at nkwilczy@gmail.com (coincidentally, this is also my paypal payee code), through Facebook messages or on Twitter. I will need an address for shipping.

With the album that’s a 33 dollar value, yours for only 11 bucks. Don’t wait, this offer expires at the end of March.

 

Still available full price on Amazon.

January 25, 2013

Sorry for the Absence

by nkwilczy

BookCoverPreview

It seems that there are not enough hours in the day. But expect more updates in support of the above project.

May 24, 2012

Sometimes

by nkwilczy

Sometimes I struggle, and sometimes I strive.

But I’m like Eddie Vedder, yo, I’m still alive.

May 11, 2012

Don’t Tase Me Bro!

by nkwilczy

Amnesty International reminds us that in the last decade over 300 American citizens have been killed with tasers.

And in Germany last year the police fired a total of 85 bullets. We don’t keep statistics on that sort of thing in America, but we do know that last month police in LA and New York used over twice that amount of bullets in two individual incidents.

I mean, we talk a lot about freedom in this country, but you wouldn’t think that freedom would involve that much state sponsored violence against the citizens.

February 10, 2012

Reading Remix

by nkwilczy

I was dissatisfied with the original take of Reading Rainbow in a number of ways. So I redid it, I feel like it’s a proper job. Hey, lyrics in the video! Neat!

Thanks to Ace B Mr. Hitchcock for the Beat.

December 5, 2011

Scooter Champion

by nkwilczy

There is a small boy, too young to have a concept of long division, who rides his scooter on the sidewalks of my apartment complex. I do not know much of the context of his existence outside of the scooter, from which I must constantly pull my dog who is convinced that there must be something unnatural to the smoothly gliding mechanism. His name is Tyler, Erik, or something else appropriately ethnic, corresponding to the pale hue we share, another thing to set him awkwardly apart in the slum where we live.

But I do know him to love his scooter, lightly gripping the handles while guiding it into graceful leaps at all hours of the day. On rare occasions he falls, and on those occasions I have heard him complain to his mother, a slight hint into his home life is that I only see her alone, that he needs pads and after a brief moment where I shared his childhood passion so intensely that I considered going immediately to provide those pads I wondered instead if it would be better for him to go without, and learn the hard lesson of never falling.

In that moment I found myself imagining a future for this boy, scooter champion, doing all the greatest tricks and aerial acrobatics that have not yet been imagined for his machine. I am old enough to have seen skateboarding rise from idle play to multi-million dollar industry, and I hold out hope that those like him will hold on to their passions and see them through to new and unimagined heights. And for him to be a great, to be a pioneer among his peers, he will have to learn the lesson of never falling.

When I was his age it was poetry for me. What I loved was words, and in them I found my ability to smoothly glide forward with the wind at my back. The path, some might say, of least resistance. The place where I could slide unencumbered, be they idle thoughts or no, into a satisfying conclusion, bringing to my own face the sort of wanton smile I see on his when he lands a jump.

I wondered, later, in my own idle time, whether he would keep with it. Would he be a master of his art, obsess over the form, spending years and years riding that scooter in his dreams until the temptation to live out those fantasies becomes too much to resist? Or will he whittle his life away in compromise, living day to day, trying to flee from the things that hurt him and serving the things that threaten him?

When the bills are due and obligations must be fulfilled, when we are angry and alone, it is often too easy to forget about the things that first lit our souls. But life is short, and we will only have this chance to enjoy them.

November 10, 2011

How To: Democracy

by nkwilczy

A Professor today, towards the end of a class which had predominantly featured the Frontline Special “The Long Walk of Nelson Mandella” asked us how democracy could be “taught” to people inexperienced in its practice.

The words, though I know he did not mean them in such an abrasive way, struck me as thick in Western thoughts of cultural superiority; I had this vision of unwashed masses beseeching the wisdom of a “more experienced” people. I saw Kipling, and he asked me to share his burden.

But I know my Rousseau, so I tried to explain that a government of any sort, and especially a democracy, if it is to succeed it has to be tailored to the needs and customs of the people who practice it. Greek democracy did not look like German democracy, does not look like American democracy, and none of these look like Japanese, Brazilian, or Swedish democracy.

So I tried to go into details, about how you have to know the nuances of a culture, that the concepts must be translated into their intellectual pantheon building on what these hypothetical unwashed masses already know and believe. Most of all, that if what you seek to impose on these masses is an idea formulated by foreign academics without popular support, then what does democracy even really mean? It must build on the democratic tendencies of the culture and seek to combat the harmful civic tendencies, or else it fails to incorporate the ideas of the governed and fails primae facie to be a democracy.

Like many things I say, no one seemed to understand.

So, after a few moments of awkward silence he ended the class with the question, “Well, who would want the job of teaching these emerging countries about democracy.”

No one raised their hand and I was not surprised, it is hard enough to teach people in the United States about democracy.

November 1, 2011

Honor Among

by nkwilczy

It was death, or the brig, or the stocks,
And I’m known for my skill picking locks,
So I said with a grin
As the stocks shut me in
“It’s just like a ship taking dock.”

In that spirit I sought to embark
Before night sent a trial or a lark
But there were rakes, there were whores,
And the crew went ashore,
And left me locked up in the park

I’ll vouch for my skill shooting spit
And my pick in my mouth it did sit
But when I tried for my hand
On the ground it did land
And my spirit enraged it was lit

So I shouted and started to holler,
And after about like an hour
A stranger arrives,
He was young, by his eyes,
Bade me quit if it was in my power.

So I asked him to hand me my pick,
But he thought it was some sort of trick,
“When I let you go
Then how should I know,
You won’t try to rob me as quick?”

“Crime perhaps is what got me here,
But I promise you no need for fear,
If you hand me my tool,
I swear we’ll be cool.
And I’ll make it right out of town clear.”

He took up the pick off the ground,
“I think that I’ll keep what I’ve found,”
I could use a martini,
But I am no Houdini
So I resumed with my thrashing around.

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