deep, green & uptight
July 14, 2013 5 Comments
Ever since its inception, Deep Green Resistance has been plagued by very obvious logical inconsistencies that defy in-depth political analysis. There’s a simple reason for it, too: the organization was created by two philosophers with very polarizing (and very specialized, esoteric, hard-to-understand) philosophies.
It’s just that simple.
It needs to be pointed out that I am not an activist. I’m not really sure I ever was. I tried once (of that I’m sure) but if I were to be honest with you (and with myself) I would have to admit that I suffer from mental health issues that are not conducive to productive organizing. And for years I have made it my business to separate myself from the activist milieu, assuming that, if I could help at all, this was how I could help the most. By taking a big fat dive and getting out while the getting was good. Because being crazy in public is embarrassing – especially around really uptight activists with hipster-beards, fancy diplomas and… culture.
It also doesn’t make the “movement” look very good when the people within the “movement” are crazy.
But during the short course of my activism a really great union organizer said something to me I’ll never forget.
He said: “You’ve got to meet people where they’re at, not where you’re at.”
I have a really good friend who happens to be a junky.
She stayed over a few nights ago because she was trying to kick dope.
She left a pamphlet on my floor about abscess prevention and how to procure clean points. On the cover it had a picture of the clean-rig-van and above it said: “Meeting You Where You’re At,” and, when I saw it, I immediately remembered my old buddy, the Union Organizer, in Seattle.
A light went off over my head. The words I’d been searching for ever since Deep Green Resistance hit the “street.”
In his article he tells us why it’s not funny to verbally abuse people.
As a friend says, “cruel humor is the humor of sociopaths.” Any boundary set by another, any boundary placed on humor, will be broken. And to them, that’s what makes it funny.
Far from “just jokes,” this is a serious social problem. As psychologist Lundy Bancroft writes, “[H]umor is . . . . one of the powerful ways a culture passes on its values.” What does this say about a culture in which, from the most personal level to the mass one, abuse is merited funny; in which there exists so-called “gay jokes” and “rape jokes” and “race jokes”; in which humor is rated congruently with the scale of oppression or atrocity it invokes?
This is ridiculous – and it’s obvious why: Rape jokes are fucking hilarious.
In case Ben Barker hadn’t noticed, a huge number of people in the United States love The Family Guy and only a very (increasingly) small minority of humorless cultists love Deep Green Resistance.
On a Cartoon Network message board some guy commented that:
Me and my buddy were talking, and we noticed that FG (Family Guy) is averaging around 1.5 rape jokes every 15 minutes.
(Which is hardly enough.)
Now, let’s return to the premise of this stupid blog:
The majority of people aren’t apathetic. If you pointed to a problem, convinced them adequately that it really was a problem and then provided them with a realistic solution to the problem, they would probably do what they could to help.
For example, my junky friend – turns out she’s Vegan. She was even wearing a Food Fight t-shirt.
I thought it was cool because it’s not often you meet Vegan Anarchists living under the Morrison bridge – and homeless junkies are usually not as judgmental or mean as the hipster activists at PSU or SCCC.
I was really excited to tell her: “Hey, I’m Jasper Wilcox.”
She’d never heard of me.
She didn’t care about my stupid blog or my stupid politics. She just liked dogs a lot and she saw the silly magazines at Food Fight. Turned out she used to like a boy who thought he was a member of the ALF (but who was not).
He’d given her a jacket with a bunch of (sick) patches on it. Bands that broke up 10 years before she was born.
We didn’t talk about politics for long. It bored her to death.When I tried to draw the conversation back to politics she quickly changed the subject.
We did, ironically, watch about 400 hours of Family Guy episodes on my crappy computer and we laughed at every single one of the rape jokes.
It just feels good to lay around all day and watch cartoons when you’re sick.
I think the majority of people in the world would agree.
I don’t think this makes us sociopaths, like the young (idealistic) Mr. Barker would have us believe. I think that, like most people, we’re not perfect. I think that, like most people, we have no desire to become saints.
Of course most people aren’t Vegan Anarchists. Of course most people aren’t junkies. Of course most people aren’t emotional cripples (like me).
But in a way, I think, we do represent most people.
Two fuck-ups with (more-or-less) good intentions trying to overcome the day-to-day ugliness of life in a sick, fucked up world… by laughing – by indulging in a little naughtiness.
We all have to get through it somehow.
I’m sure Ben Barker wouldn’t approve of our little indulgences during those three or four days of dope-sickness.
It’s not that Barker is wrong. To a certain extent I even agree with him.
I live day-to-day in a world of sexual assault and rape. Every female I’ve ever met on the streets (and I’ve slept outside in twenty-three states) has been the victim of sexual assault or rape.
It affects me every day.
Every day I walk through downtown Portland and every day I see the same fat asshole sitting on 3rd avenue with a spange-sign knowing damned well he raped my best friend under a bridge when she was passed out drunk. And I know that, aside from the punch I applied to the right side of his face, there’s not much I can do about it.
But the kid who’s kicking dope gets veto power over the clicker… every time.
And I’ll tell young Mr. Barker this.
Had this young lady been sleeping at his house and had he tried to tell her she was a sociopath, or brow-beat her with political idealism, or criticized her political naivete, she would have left.
She would have gone right back to the Morrison bridge squat and done a fat dose.
This is the world we live in – not the world Ben Barker wants us to live in.
This is a world where, when a person’s intentions are generally good, it’s okay to compromise.
It’s okay to take a day off when we’re sick and try to enjoy the little stuff.
Sometimes it’s all we can do.
The truth is, Deep Green Resistance doesn’t want our help anyway.
Deep Green Resistance wouldn’t have met us where we were that day. It would only accept compromise if we were the ones compromising.
I don’t think I’ve ever laughed at an appropriate joke.
Nobody in the world is perfect. Most people don’t want to be perfect. Deep Green Resistance talks about creating a mass movement, then tells us it’s impossible to create one.
But it’s not impossible.
The only thing that’s standing in the way (and this goes for Earth First!-ers too) are petty squabbles, a complete absence of short-term, achievable goals and idealistic rigidness that alienates almost every single non-activist on the planet.
The mass movement you need isn’t going to drop everything and meet you in the activist ghetto just so you can tell it how vile and stupid it is. You’re going to have to come out here, make some compromises, be nice, and try to accomplish goals without alienating your allies.
It’s okay to laugh at dirty jokes.
Ben Barker might not like it, but who the fuck’s ever heard of Ben Barker?
Most people, like my young friend, have never even heard of Noam Chomsky.
You don’t have to get offended just because you disagree. Just because a person says something you don’t like doesn’t make them your enemy. It’s time for us to stop thinking ideologically and to start thinking pragmatically.