It’s Your Right, Just Don’t Exercise it

Pistol Packin DCupDCUP here. I want to share with you a post by one of my regular readers and commenters.  In his post This Is Why I Worry About Their Future, Spartacus tells a story on the micro-level about how we’re discouraged from dissent in today’s America.  Since I know my weekend is going to be consumed by ballet and high culture in the form of proud parenting, I thought it best to share something like this with you.   You’re my pals, why punish you with more photos of my brats?

Take it away, Spartacus…..

A few days ago, my little one was given an extra credit assignment in either English or Social Studies class to write a letter to a soldier in Iraq, a scan of which I’ve posted here.

Letter to SoldierThe point of the letter was to provide some words of encouragement and comfort from the home front and to send them needed supplies like toothpaste and foot powder.

Clearly, from the text of this kind note, he’s more concerned about the local sports teams than he is about why the soldiers are there in the first place. Of course, contrarian that I am, I asked him why he thinks the soldiers are there?

Me: Do you think that they should be there?

L1: I dunno Dad! It’s just an extra credit assignment.

Me: Yeah, but why write a letter to them telling them about home when you could write a letter to our congressman, our senators, or President Bush to demand that they bring the soldiers home and experience it for themselves?

L1: Because that’s not what we were asked to write. Mom! Dad’s being a jerk!

Indeed, I was being a jerk and E. laid into me for turning a simple extra credit assignment into an exercise in politics. According to her, this letter was not about expressing an opinion, but expressing empathy and compassion for our brave men and women in uniform. “The ones who are making us safer fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan?” I snarked.

“Yes,” E. says. “Jerk.”

In that moment I realized what’s wrong with this country — we are unable to disagree with some decorum of civility, especially when it comes to politics. I told E., “They don’t need our fucking empathy or supplies, which, by the way, should be paid for from DoD budget. What they all need is to be brought back home.”

I slammed the front door on my way out to take Chester for his evening walk. I was pissed. All I could think about was how people are simply not allowed a voice of dissent anymore.

Tell someone you’re against the war, and you’re branded as a soldier hater.

Tell someone that the United States, by Constitutional decree, may not endorse any one religion over another, and you’ll get shouted down that ours is a “Christian nation.”

Tell someone you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are not good choices for POTUS in 2008, and you are now a misogynistic, race baiter, who hates all things Oprah (yes…Oprah does drive me nuts. Always has. And in the same exact way that Cosmo Kramer goes spastic at the sound of Mary Hart’s voice. It’s that bad.)

It really pains me to think that this is the legacy we’re leaving for our kids. Somehow, some way, it became taboo to speak your mind whenever you disagreed with someone. It is considered offensive and in poor taste to tell someone you’re against the war or any currently popular stance, like (Latino) immigration reform. Never mind, that the basis of our Republic — what is constitutionally guaranteed — is our right to dissent. You just can’t do it.

Allow me to offer a hypothetical question here.

What if my son decided to hand in to his teacher a letter to Hillary Clinton or Chuck Schumer expressing disapproval over the war and the Democrats inability to impeach that imperialist bastard Cheney and his Bush puppet? It’s doubtful he would write such a letter because the little one is only 11. But I also think it’s because he is very much afraid of the repercussions at his school. I could easily see him being sent to the dean’s office for his “misconduct” in not completing the assignment as requested. And E. would be no help in this sense because the other night, she was telling me to shut the fuck up. I have no doubt that the little one — nay, all our kids — got the same message.

Soldiers GraveBut with the latest count on the butcher’s bill now at 3,879 confirmed American soldiers dead, the largest majority coming after it was “Mission Accomplished”, I can’t see myself shutting the fuck up now, because if I do, I fear it will not be long before I’m the one in this photo contemplating my loss at the marble slab marking 13’s and the little one’s final resting place.

~ by dcup on November 30, 2007.

20 Responses to “It’s Your Right, Just Don’t Exercise it”

  1. You’re so right, man. We can’t shut up, can we? YOU see, as I do, that real people are dying because of the lies and the greed. And if we don’t stop it, if WE DON’T STOP IT, our children will be in that pool of people who get fed into the warmill.

    And you’re right again that any dissent or disagreement is viewed as “fighting words.” It’s part of the New Paradigm of Othering, and the fear of repercussions for speaking out.

    I hope you won’t mind if I link to this; you’ve said so succinctly what we all need to hear.

  2. How old is the little one?

  3. Thank you for the wonderful post. I agree that it irks me to no end for people to think it wrong to speak one’s mind. It’s pervasive in our culture, in our homes. Most people don’t agree with our soldiers being there, statistically speaking (I have not stats to taut, but have heard… shut up,) but we aren’t yelling in the streets about this like thousands of transport workers would about their pensions or gov’t people in France because one of their many paid holidays is threatened. We have been bullied by the corporate media to “Have a coke and a smile” and say we’re “Lovin’ It” while they fuck us in the ass with no condom. Maybe I should say that at the dinner table at Christmas this year. That’ll go great.

  4. Say it, Gurrrl. It needs to be said, and *tag* you’re it!

  5. We won’t be shutting up. We are incensed at the license to murder so generously handed to the moronic monkey by the spineless CONgress. We are even more incensed that the little monkey and his lawyer-blasting drunkard retard buddy thought themselves too good to go do what they so gleefully send others off to do.

    If those guys are patriots, then I’m Uncle Sam.

  6. spart

    you said it so well and so intelligently —- the fact that people who dissent from the “will of the govt” have always been marginalized and mocked — but not this time…… the MSM and powers that be dont really fully understand that hey dont control all the information distribution anymore — that it is slowly (yes slowly) slipping away. Believe it or not when Chimpy came to power (illegally) in 2001, the internet – while still strong — was not nearly as powerful as it is today — and those players like pundits and Rove and congresscritters — didnt understand that a new way to get the message out was coming

    yes they still have power and they still have the power to squash and marginalize — but i think (maybe i am just the optimist) – it is slowly slipping away

    btw — great meeting you and you are so terrific

  7. Man, 100% correct. This shit is so pervasive. Sounds completely unrelated, but SamuraiFrog had a post up about the warnings on the new Sesame Street DVD sets, unsuitability and all that. The system is geared more and more to create automatons.

    Don’t question, just regurgitate.
    Look at your college prospects solely in terms of your job prospects and how much money you can contribute to the GDP.
    Instill the same in your children.
    Get old and sick, losing all your money to for-profit insurance companies.

    Our oldest has been getting into it with her art teacher. Not about politics, but I was so happy to hear her stand up for herself. Of course, her grandparents – wingnuts – were sad that she would dare question Der Classroom Leader. These people were raised by those who fought in and worked during WW2. You know, when we fought fucking Nazis.

    Always question. Always.

  8. All – The more I the more I think about it the more I believe that WE are not only in a fight for our lives, but for the lives of those who will follow us. I’m 44 years and one week old and while I hardly consider myself old, I mention my age because I have lived. My sons (Scarlett, the little one is 11) and daughter have not. I see my kids and they are oblivious to the world around them, insulated from anything political until something like 9/11 happens or if a school program gets shut down. Like many of us, they turn to their news outlets — TV mainly — to help them understand it all. But because we can no longer rely on that source, the urgency to speak up becomes even greater.

    For those of you who have kids or nephews, nieces, whatever. Talk to them. Ask them what they think of the war and engaged them in discussion. Value their thoughts then feed them yours. Teach them to discuss and disagree if necessary; encourage them to stand up and be heard.

    Peace all!

    CR – thanks for the link.

    DCap – Last night’s NYC blogger meet up was awesome. Thanks for making the evening so special.

  9. Wow- amazing. I did not yet get to read this in full at either your place or Kelso’s so glad to see this here.

    It is all part of the fucked up propaganda machine. It starts out simply enough- let’s be nice to the soliders in harms way, but it is really tacit support of the mechanisms of death.

    Sadly, my nieces and nephews are taking the kool aid courtesy of their parents. My step daughter does think the war is “bad” but clearly does not want to talk about it. I do try but have to mind my boundaries so we don’t have a war of our own around here.

  10. People don’t seem to be able to recognize fascism but that is exactly what’s happening right here in River City. The super wealthy have protected their assets by buying up the media, bribing the legislators and fixing the electoral process. Most everybody else is in so much debt they’re too afraid to protest.

  11. Let’s not forget that classic barb;

    Since ya hate America so much why don’t ya just get out?

    It always makes me wonder how many nice Germans got speared by a similar line in the 1930’s.

  12. Dcup- Great post! When you said that your 11 year old son would probably not write a letter about disapproval for the war because of possible repercussions at school it hit a note with me. In the high school that my son attends, they aren’t allowed to wear any T-Shirts that have an anti Bush or anti war message. They do have military recruiters there all the time. My son said they have a table in the cafeteria and they are there every month.

    However…it’s ok for them to have posters all over the school advertising a club that is anti gay. The posters have anti gay messages on them, and the school does allow that.

    This is what happens when the schools are taking federal money…you either comply to the current government ideologies, or you don’t get your money.

  13. Mary Ellen – First a clarification. The author of this post is actually Spartacus who blogs at My Saturday Evening Post. (Check him out if you haven’t already! I’ve been kicking his ass about posting more frequently.)

    Anyway, I’ll let him respond, but I have to say it’s hair raising that our kids are being fed propoganda along with those crappy school lunches.

    I have to say, though, I’m not sure that the way school administrations behave has to do with money as much as it is a reflection of the go along to get along or the rightwing ideaology of the school administration and the community served.

    Where I live in NW Georgia, we’ve got In God We Trust 9/11 posters with flags all over the fucking schools. When I asked about it, I was told it fulfilled a need to demonstrate patriotism and support for our country.

    It wasn’t about supporting Bush so much as it was about reflecting the flag-waving as patriotism beliefs of the influential people who live in the community. Here influential equals two things…on the school board and parents who are often in the schools doing volunteer work, etc.

    Shutting up now so Spartacus might respond.

    Best regards,

  14. Mary Ellen – I am indeed the author of this post, which I first put up at My Saturday Evening Post. But truth be told, anyone in my shoes could have written this post. I saddens me that STFU seems to be the prevailing message in our neighborhoods.

    But what’s happening in your schools alarms me. Have you thought of contacting the ACLU? Have you thought of raising this with your school board? My point in writing this post was to galvanize people to speak up.

    DCup – Thanks for the encouragement. Sometimes a kick in the ass is just the thing I need to get me going.

  15. Thanks for the clarification on that D-cup.


    I’m sorry about the mix-up…but either way, it’s a great post.

    I did bring up the anti-gay posters in the school and, although they did take them down and put up new ones without the anti gay remarks, but still advertised the club, shows me that they will allow the club to continue. The last I heard, there was someone who made a complaint to the school district who said they would “look into it”. This is my son’s last year there and he doesn’t want me to push it for fear of reprisal by other students, parents, or teachers. I have to abide by his wishes in this matter.

    As far as not allowing the kids to wear anti Bush or anti war t-shirts, they say they have that right because it falls under the rule “clothing that causes a distraction”. However, I have the feeling that if someone wore a shirt that says, “I heart Bush”, that wouldn’t be so distracting.

  16. Seems to me it would be cowardly not to speak up. After all, aren’t we in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”?

    Opression and suppression of speech is one means of total control.

  17. Only 13 U.S. senators voted against the Iraq war authorization — only 13, and Hillary Clinton ain’t one of them. In fact, Clinton said she would get the troops out of Iraq by the “end” of her first term.

    That means, in Hillaryland, another 4 years of needless deaths of Americans in Iraq will continue unabatted. But, she owes a large part of her $30 million dollar campaign nest egg to the military, industrial complex.

    These are dark days and I am not hopeful for the future.

  18. My little one is 11 but she probably would turn in a letter criticizing the administration and saying she thinks GW is a drunken idiot loser. And then we’d get another phone call from the school….

  19. Mary Ellen, thanks for the compliment and for the update on your son’s school situation. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the “distracting clothing” rule now in place in many schools because it is too open to interpretation and abuse. It’s one thing to be wearing an article of clothing spouting obscenities or an article of clothing that barely covers one’s anatomical parts. However, when one’s clothing is being used to control one’s right to free speech or self-expression that is not obscene or revealing, that’s where I have a problem. This is part and parcel with the STFU mentality that is so pervasive in our rural and suburban communities.

    PoP, I could not agree with you more. But I wonder if cowardice is a learned behavior of genetic trait; that perhaps some people are born to raise Cain so to speak…or not.

    Chris, your stats are a stark reminder why we need to do more as Americans. Iraq and Afghanistan are meat grinders not just for our own soldiers but for the people who live in those countries. Why are we in these countries if we’ve actively given up the hunt for Osama and WMD are not to be found? Are these countries a threat to our security? Or the security of our (read certain corporate) interests?

    Niblet, you should turn your 11-year old on to Public Enemy. Have her listen to Fight The Power and then see what kinds of letters she writes for her school. You think you’re getting calls now… ha ha.

  20. Niblet – we have got to get our kids together! We can bird and they can fight the power.

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