In defense of the freedom of speech in the age of hypocrisy

Everyone has their pet issues. Everyone – even you. This one is mine. It has always been this way for me, even when I was a child – and if you know me that’s not a surprise. Much of this essay includes things I’ve been meaning to get off my chest for some time now. It’s a bit long-winded, but bear with me, it’s important.

This morning, President-elect Dipshit announced that he thinks that people should be thrown in jail or lose their citizenship for burning the American flag. This pushed my buttons on several levels and it should yours as well. The hypocrisy coming from both sides of the political spectrum this past year stink like diseased whale shit.

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Some people are self-professed “gun nuts,” I am a self-proclaimed “free speech nut” and proud of it. I’m “speech crazy,” – a real freedom freak. I don’t hide that fact nor shy away from it and I am often challenged on it because it’s pretty rare!

I should preface this by saying that I am an atheist. I came out of the closet as an atheist years ago and things have never been the same. That alone puts me in the extreme “minority” category when it comes to the freedom of expression but I am also a Chicano, which damns me even further as a heathen square peg in a holier than thou round hole world. So it goes, but I relish the right to express myself freely and defend it with all my being. So should you.

This is why I write. This is why I publish. This is why I create and why I continue to resist the boot of censorship, regardless of which foot the boot is on. That’s difficult for many to understand because most people fight only for things that benefit their side.

When I was a kid, moving from big city America to small town America ad nauseam, I fought tooth and nail for the right to listen to the kind of music I wanted and to have long hair. I even fought against my parents for these things. I fought against the armies of religious fundies for the right to challenge their bible beating mind control and proselytizing. I fought against the religious right damning me to Hell. I fought right wingers and left wingers for the right to call myself Chicano. I fought the popular kids for the right to be myself. I fought to lowride freely in the streets against the fascism and batons of racist police and I fought to protest things like Columbus Day, punch neo-Nazi skinheads in the face and much more.

In my day, democrats like Tipper Gore and their pearl-clutching cronies, tried their damnedest to ban music they found offensive. I found solidarity in the music community who fought back against this kind of fascist censorship and never looked back.

This carried over to defending my right to express myself any way I saw fit and it continues to this day, amidst the growing and rabid population of the politically correct SS who helped elect a moron. In fact, there’s never been a day where my right to express myself hasn’t been challenged in some way shape or form. The thing is, I defend this right for not only myself but also for others, and that’s where things can get weird and or hairy for some.

People like Frank Zappa became my heroes because he challenged thought control. I hail from the church of Hunter Thompson, William S. Burroughs, Charles Bukowski, Chuck D., Corky Gonzales, Allen Ginsburg, Jimi Hendrix, Jello Biafra, Bill Hicks, George Carlin and Oscar Zeta Acosta just to name a few – all people who gave a big freak finger to the establishment and status quo.

I’ve said many times that I consider what I do to be “punk” and I wave my freak flag higher than ever. My longstanding discontent with nanny government control, fascism and oversight, thought control and my criticism of the government administrations of Reagan, Bush, Clinton, W., Obama and now Trump have never waned, because all of them, some more than others, have tried to dictate what I can think. Fuck that! And fuck YOU if you try and tell me what/how to think!

Not terribly long ago, I found myself at the forefront of this battle while fighting against the banning of books in Tucson, Arizona. My response was to publish a book of my own: ¡Ban This! So, as a publisher, I am not new to this lifelong battle against censorship.

And yet, all these years later, I still find myself fighting…and not always against whom I would expect.

Why bring this up now? Because it’s important, goddamnit! It’s relevant. And because, hopefully, my friends on the left will once again find their spines, their brains, be energized and fight for the freedom of expression, because they can now (again) see clearly why it’s important to protect it.  To say I have been disappointed with the left these past few years is an understatement.

I have spent the past eight years arguing with liberals about the freedom of speech, which has been frustrating because the years before that were spent in solidarity championing it against W’s administration and fascist conservatives. But for whatever reason, the Obama administration caused many so-called progressives to turn a blind eye and ear to things which would normally have them fighting back.

These past four years, however, have been spent arguing with a population of deaf, dumb and blind neoliberal zombies and the delicate snowflake, temper tantrum group known as “social justice warriors,” who want to censor and ban everything they personally find offensive. Fighting against this group is so goddamned bizarre that it deserves its own Twilight Zone episode, but lately, I expect Rod Serling to introduce each day every morning I wake up.

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We live in strange goddamn times, man. I grew up with religious fundies beating me with a bible over religion and now I find myself fighting with their cousins, the social justice warriors, over the same kind of principles and delicate sensibilities. Don’t offend me!!

You know them as the fanatical college kids who want their safe spaces and a unicorn dictatorship where the thought police Gestapo stomp out everything they find offensive…that particular day. These kids want to send any and all to the guillotine/gulag for disagreeing with them and or not using the correct gender pronouns. How we arrived here is anyone’s guess but holy shit is it bizarre.

Make no mistake: the SJWs of today are every bit as rabid and fascist as the religious fundies in their intolerance to everything that makes them clutch their pearls. These groups do not like it (or me), when I go to bat for the freedom of speech. I, and many others, like to refer to them as the “regressive” left. I’d be tickled pink if ISIS and SJWs had tea. They’d realize they have more in common than not…before killing each other.

As author Jim Goad once said, these groups want to hang me for my views, whereas I just don’t want to “hang” out with them. Big difference.

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I have been called every name in the book for my defense of the freedom of speech these past few years, and not by rabid Klan members – quite the opposite. Recently, I have been called a racist, a Nazi, a Nazi-sympathizer, a misogynist, heathen, a cuck, a trans-misogynist, a neoliberal, a fascist and more. Why? All because I dare to defend the freedom of speech with a broad brush.

What’s interesting to me is that I would defend the right of these folks to express themselves just as much as I would any other group, short of causing actual physical harm. And that, my friends, is the key part.

My support of the freedom of speech does NOT mean the endorsement of all ideas, just their freedom to be expressed. I don’t have to agree with you in order for me to defend your right to do so. Read that part again because it’s important that you understand that.

Just because I support the freedom to express yourself does not mean I support your ideas, dipshit.

I often ask people who are against ideas that offend them, what would you have done? Do you think that people who believe in X should be rounded up and shot? Thrown in jail? Does that sound rational to you?! At that point the discussion usually devolves to name calling.

Listen, I was 20 once too, okay? I get it. I can’t stress that enough. Man, if you only knew me then…whew! I too showed up at neo-Nazi demonstrations to crack some skulls. I too threw rocks at people like Tom Metzger and tipped over cop cars and lit shit on fire because I was pissed the fuck off.

I laugh at the people freaking out right now about neo-Nazis walking the streets because I grew up with actual neo-Nazis walking the streets! The people flipping out over the “alt right” weren’t there when I was a kid in high school fighting real, bona fide skinheads. I was. And we kicked the shit out of them with glee.

This is a touchy subject for many people, especially these days. People ask, “You’re okay with Nazis having free speech?!” And when I say, “Sure, but…” people freak out. I tend to lose readers over this. But I have to repeat myself yet again: just because I’m okay with them assembling does not mean I am supporting their ideologies or their violence!

In fact, they disgust me. I loathe neo-Nazis. I grew up fighting them on a daily basis and would do so again, in a heartbeat, should the need to defend myself or others arise. But that’s where I differ with most people: words by themselves don’t scare me.

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The moment one of those bald-headed fucks tries to assault me? The moment the so-called alt right tries to throw down, it’s on like Donkey Kong. I never said don’t defend yourself you snowflake nitwit. Fuckin-A – smash those fuckin’ pukes into the dirt if they give reason. But I don’t believe in silencing them or their ideas or any other group, no matter how “offensive” it is to others. I do, however, believe in a wicked self-defense.

Thoughts and ideas don’t scare me and I don’t think that silencing them helps. I’d rather know who the racists and bigots and fascists are, rather than force them to hide and suppress it. Again, my rabid defense of free speech causes me to defend those I abhor…but that’s the whole fucking point! If you’re not willing to defend that speech which you find most offensive then you are not really in favor of free speech.

This makes me an enemy of the State, current sjws, delicate liberals, the al right, neo-Nazis, bootlickers, bigots and many others…and I am A-OK with that because I have studied history, not memes.

My defense of the freedom of expression pits me against liberals and conservatives alike. I find myself, often solitary, in my defense of it because most people who say they support the freedom of speech only do so until they find something that personally offends them. To me, that is hypocritical and I loathe hypocrisy.

This happens again and again, throughout the decades, and the groups in support of switch sides and flip flop back and forth depending upon the offending flavor of the day. Me? I’m one of those rare mother fuckers who really means it when it comes to defending that right. I know…weird, right? I don’t give a shit who’s in power – the right remains the same.

I gotta tell ya, folks, as a fierce proponent of free speech I get a real kick out of watching people from all political spectrums try and define “art” and what constitutes as “offensive.” I remember “Piss Christ”!

One day, a cartoon frog is labeled as a “hate symbol” by the State and the next, an artist as a “Satanist” and “evil” by the mob. And then flag burning is deemed “criminal” by the Dipshit in Chief. Good stuff. Guess what? I’d defend all of it. I’d defend you too, because fuck censorship! Fuck ALL censorship!

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I was one of the few who defended South Park for daring to draw Mohammed and was disgusted by the censorship of it!

If you have any wonder I stick my neck out and lend my credibility to the defense of free speech it’s because of shit like what Trump said this morning.

This is why you don’t grant the power of censorship to authoritarians/the State/mob mentality. Because the “art” line always changes, depending on who is in power.

This is also why I don’t hold an allegiance to any political party. My allegiances are to art itself and to the freedom to create/express it. So fuck your party and all the pearl clutchers in it. Art will still be here long after you rot.

I’m neither shy nor embarrassed by my views and no amount of trolling, smearing, libel, threats or attempts to silence me will change that. Many of you who have known me for a while already know this stuff but it bears repeating here:

I am a publisher for crissakes!
I am an author.
I am Chicano.
I am against State censorship.
I am against book banning.
I am against silencing dissent.
I am against mob mentality.
I am against silencing those you disagree with.
I support the free exchange of ideas, even offensive ones.
Especially the offensive ones!
I am against the thought police.
I am against the idea Gestapo.
I have published books to fight State censorship.
I am not new to this.
I am proud of what I do and what I stand for and represent.
I will continue to so because freedom matters.
It is important and if you can’t see that then I wish you luck at your 700 Club/ISIS pot luck.

I enjoy the freedom to hang a flag upside down in the garage and or burn it should I desire to do so! I enjoy the freedom to NOT believe in god or worship at a church/mosque. I enjoy the freedom to openly mock organized and unorganized religion – all religions! None of them are above criticism or mocking! I enjoy the freedom to say heinous and offensive things without fear of prosecution, hanging or burning at the stake. I enjoy the right to offend people and for people to be offended! Offending people should not be illegal!

My hard-line support of the 1st Amendment puts me at odds with all sorts of people now and I never cease to find this amusing, nor tiring, because it causes me to “explain myself” all over again, depending on what’s deemed “offensive.”

You want to know what makes America “great”? It’s the freedom of expression. It’s the freedom to express all the things that you want without fear of prosecution by the government or fear of witch hunts from the mob.

I cannot tell if the angry kids standing in traffic are patriots or defectors. I suspect they don’t really know either. Why?

Because you cannot scream from the rooftops that you abhor this nation and rally your brothers and sisters “abolish” it in one breath, while demanding your constitutional right to do so in the next in the next. It doesn’t work like that, geniuses.

AmeriKKKa might be flawed, it may be damaged, it may be a charity case, and scarred and diseased and have fleas, but it most certainly is worth fighting for, because it guarantees your right to dissent without fear of persecution. I wish more people understood that these days. And you should be willing to fight for that right.

If any of this causes you to part ways with me, I’m okay with that and wish you luck. This is who I am. These are indeed bizarre times but know this: agree or not, I will defend your right to express yourself as I would expect you to defend mine, short of harming any one. I will continue to fight censorship and the thought police, regardless of political affiliation. And I will continue to publish, write and create any way I see fit because that’s what I do and what I represent.

Just one publishers opinion. Thanks for reading.

 – S|J|R

 

3 Comments

  • PKCox Reply

    Thank you – this post needs to be read by everyone, now more than ever. It is what our country was founded on and fought for. I find it very telling that there is an online petion for Twitter to dump Trump’s account. You put it perfectly when you expressed the danger of suppressing speech. You won’t know what people are really thinking if you suppress free speech- as ugly as it may be. I never felt more like burning the flag than when I read Trump’s post. But I won’t let him have that power over me. I’m looking forward to your next book, SJR!

    • Sarlos Cantana Reply

      Thank you! It’s something I feel strongly about as evidenced by this 2700 word rant, lol.

      • PKCox Reply

        Rant on! I always get a healthy dose of truth from you, as I may be one of those liberals that you discussed in your post. When someone feels they have the moral high ground (liberal or bible thumper evangelicals alike) it’s easy to get lost in the polemics. Freedom of speech/expression is a bulwark against that. Intolerance of whatever stripe is corrosive to society. Your point about physical threat being the limit is also well taken, and equally important.

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