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Rules That Just Fall From The Sky
By Kirsten Anderberg (

American government and corporate CEO’s alike, have learned that
bureaucracy is a special kind of effective veil. It disperses
accountability in so many directions as to make grabbing onto the culprit
a noble feat pursued only by the strongest attorneys, basically.
Bureaucracies like to make the people in charge, the rule makers,
inaccessible, behind many layers of yes men and women. Receptionists are a
brilliant use of a human firewall around an executive, for example. But I
have really come to understand the complexities of bureaucracy, oddly
enough, from hippies, vaudevillians, anarchists, and the sex activist
community. My first hand experiences and frustrations trying to figure out
who is making the rules, and how the power hierarchy is laid out, in these
communities have made me villain and hero, but the fact remains, the
bureaucracy in the hippie world smelled just like bureaucracy in the
mainstream world. It was not hard to identify.

My first real struggle with the kind of bureaucracy that says it is
“against bureaucracy” was at the Oregon Country Fair. I began performing
at the well-attended Midnight Show there in 1983. You had to receive a
“draft notice” from an unidentified “Midnight Show Committee” every year
to be in the show. I played the show every year from 1983 to 2001,
sometimes also emceeing parts of the show, sometimes closing the show.
Performers and activists were constantly coming up to me and asking me if
I could get them into the Midnight Show. But I, honestly, did not know how
I had been invited for all those years. Then, I started to want to have
women more visible in the show, as I was often one of very few solo woman
acts on stage all night. And since I had been a popular act in the show
for years, I tried to use my clout to get more feminist and independent
women acts into the show on a consistent basis. I began to argue with the
few men I could identify as having control over the Midnight Show, that
they needed to include more women juggling acts and less solo male
juggling acts. I argued we needed more women emcees, and more solo women
comedians and vaudevillians on stage, to equal numbers with the men

I find often that when there is a group in power who will not admit who
they are, you can just start stomping around, and they will reveal
themselves, as you step on their toes, and they speak up. As a matter of
fact, doing just that is a service to others. (I am thankful to performers
who push the obscenity envelope so I can see how much leeway I still
have.) It took years for me to figure out who was on the Midnight Show
Committee. I figured out partially who runs the Midnight Show by saying we
needed women emcees in the 1990’s on stage, and seeing who yelled at me
for that. We figured out other committee members only by posting to a list
of vaudevillians and having all but a small handful (that we already
suspected) deny they were on the committee. We pieced together the names
of those who were making decisions and in charge of a large oracle for our
own performer community. The way the hierarchy of the Midnight Show
Committee was run, without faces or names, created a vacuum of power and a
patriarchy, without any input or accountability, over the performer mass.
An elitism grew through associations, induction into the committee
remained among men primarily, and the torches were passed internally
without input, as if this was a Mason Lodge for performer men in the
Oregon woods! A layer of yes men and women evolved, of people who would do
anything to get into the show, and to this date, only a small group of
people know who the actual Midnight Show Committee is, even though it has
power over a large group of performers. This is happening at what is
termed an “alternative” community celebration. As a veteran performer at
the Midnight Show for almost 20 years, I would have preferred consensus to
blind rule by men behind a curtain.

“The tyranny of leaderlessness” is an interesting phrase I came to
understand in the late 1990’s. The idea is that by never knowing who is in
charge, there is a tyranny of unaccountable process present, which is the
essence of bureaucracy, really. People on the bottom have zero input or
say, and the people on the top answer to no one and do whatever they want
like dictators, yet remain anonymous. I saw this played out with a small
sex activist community. Many people wanted to join this small group of
people and it was never clear how one became a member. Most of us were
invited by a few preexisting members and unspokenly were “sponsored” into
the group. After a while, we assumed we were part of the group, as we were
invited to join their celebrations, etc. So at one point, this group was
getting bigger fast, and it was not clear how the induction processes were
taking place. Who was “really” in the group, and who was not? Who could
induct people and who could not? If you had been in the group a week,
could you bring someone in the next week? There was supposedly no leader
in the group, not even a round table or board, the concept was
“consensus.” We knew who had been in the group, but now many new people
wanted to join and it was not clear how one “joined.”

The original group, along with some of its newer members, discussed the
issue of membership. It seemed the group was in the process of making
decisions to have no hierarchy and to discuss in a consentual manner what
people wanted. But then at the monthly meeting, “rules” were handed out!
Three pages of rules were given to the members, and potential new members,
of this group. Two of the senior members acted as if God had handed these
rules to them and they claimed no authorship of them! They also claimed to
have not known who gave the rules to them! They said these were just the
new rules. Period. I said, “Wait. Who wrote these rules again?” The elders
said “No one wrote them.” I said, “Why should we be following rules
written by no one, or someone we do not know or get to discuss the new
rules with?” And the elders were really impatient with this line of
questioning and began to just read the rules off the paper.

I sat in amazement that this group which had claimed consensus and
nonhierarchy, was now functioning just like a hierarchy, and without
consensus. I saw people on the edges get worried they would be kicked out,
if they were even “in” yet, if they did not just go along. Others knew
there were problems, but were too lazy to care. Others got angry and
contested the rules, which caused a community split, over this authority
issue. I talked to one of the group’s founders, who left the group, and is
a noted sex therapist and educator, and she said it is “the tyranny of
leaderlessness.” And that really did sum up how this felt.

Besides the use of power tactics by hippies and sex activists in rule
making and invitational/membership powers, I have also noticed a trend of
men who run popular websites that become a community hub, but refer to
themselves as “collectives.” One such man ran a sex education site, and
claimed he did not own it, and that a “society” ran it and owned it. Yet,
as I had said all along, he ended up with Sole Proprietorship rights over
all the site. And whoever the “society” component was, I saw only him
working on most of the things connected with the “society.” He even
complained about that online constantly. I began to see that him alone did
not have the appeal of him as a society. Thus he spoke using “we” all the
time, instead of “I.”

Using the tyranny of leaderlessness, an individual can pretend to have a
big or small group; it is up to the person in power to assert how many
“followers” he has, basically. (I am sure more than a few religious cults
claim more members than they have in this way, as well, to build the
leader’s power.) Or let me put it this way, if you want to raise money and
sell your own art and work, it is probably easier to pretend you are an
organization, to talk in “we” instead of “I.” And as long as you hide your
organization’s membership, you can invent all kinds of group support.

So in the hippie and vaudeville community, I saw how never identifying who
is in the decision making committee could control things. Then in the sex
activism community, I saw the tyranny of leaderlessness again, with more
clarity. And in the anarchist and sex activist communities, I have seen
individual men trying to hide behind or claim membership in faceless
groups. I really see no reason to follow any rules written or handed down
by any group that does not have the courage to face me when they hand down
such “consensus” edicts. I also see no reason to follow rules written and
handed down by a group too cowardly to identify itself. It seems to me if
you are gonna make rules you expect others to follow, you are gonna need
to be identified, and accountable for those rules. I am not buying the
Book of Mormon story here for things like sex activist community rules.
Someone made up the rules we were handed, not a God, and I think only
cowards make rules, then pretend they did not write them. Hiding behind a
curtain like the Wizard of Oz is an old power tactic, and one that seems
to be used across the board, whether you live in the status quo, or are an
activist in the underground. I think we need to rip those curtains down
NOW and to quit giving power to a tyranny of leaderlessness.

Suing “God” and “Satan” Versus Glorifying “Him” in the Supreme Court
By Kirsten Anderberg (

Last week (March 4, 2005), the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments
about the legality of 10 Commandment displays on public property in two
states, Kentucky and Texas. What has followed in the public and press has
been an interesting display of circular arguments, doublespeak, and even a
rewriting of basic American political history. One of the most interesting
phenomenons is the sheer excitement of the Religious Right over this. They
seem to think this will give them a license to plaster this Christian mark
upon every American public school and courthouse from here to eternity. It
seems Christian fundamentalists are watching this case, holding their
breath, feeling they are on the edge of some serious religious “freedom”
shortly. If you google the issue, you will find the Religious Right is
really active online, more so, in my opinion, than leftist activists over
this. Yet it seems leftists and activists should be viewing this as a
serious threat to democracy, as a country that follows “God” is hardly
accountable. You cannot even serve legal notice on God, as any first year
law student will realize.

In law school, we learned about a case; United States ex rel. Mayo v.
Satan and His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (Pa. 1971). Mayo complained that Satan,
“on numerous occasions caused plaintiff misery” and caused his downfall.
The court refused the case as it was impossible to serve Satan with notice
to come to court. The same philosophy was extended to another case we
learned about that involved a sidewalk caving in and injuring someone. The
sidewalk had been weakened by a recent freak flood, and when the injured
party sued the City, the City claimed it was an “act of God.” Since God
could not receive notice to settle this party’s claim, the case was
dismissed. The plaintiff then served notice on local churches, as
representatives of God, in the case. Ultimately, her efforts failed, but
it was an interesting trail of legal logic.

In the 1994 earthquake in Los Angeles, Ca., I saw a similar use of “God”
to deflect property ownership liabilities. My apartment building collapsed
in a few seconds during the 6.8 earthquake centered in Northridge, Ca.,
where I lived. My building was in the most heavily damaged area of the
entire quake zone, sitting on top of the epicenter. The building
supposedly “sustained shock levels of 1.8Gs,” according to the landlords.
The building was built after 1971, when quake codes were significantly
upgraded after the devastating Sylmar quake, which collapsed local
hospitals, broke a local dam, and required an evacuation of 80,000 people
from the San Fernando Valley floor. If the post-1971 codes had been
followed, or if the City inspectors had cared that the 1971 codes were not
followed when this building was built, then it would probably not have
collapsed. So, the owners bought the building, assuming it was up to code.
Now, the building collapsed, and all of our belongings were lost inside a
building we could not enter upon leaving with a 16 second warning. And who
assumes liability here? When I started the chain of liability with the
building owners, their response was a letter that said, “I suggest the
issue of liability is very clear. This was an act of God and He bears full
responsibility.” Oh, if all of life were so easy! “I am sorry, I cannot
pay my rent on time this month, it is an act of God, and He bears the

I worry very much about a president and government, and society, that are
willing to talk about God as if it is a male entity, and it is a governing
dictator out of reach by all but the divine and blessed men, basically, in
His view. The interpretation of what a Christian God is saying, by people
who supposedly look like God, white males, is something that has been
manipulated against women and people of color historically in America for
too long already. Or as Mary Daly so eloquently put it, “As long as God
is male, the male is god.” And no, I do not trust G.W.Bush when he says
that God is telling him to do things. And how is that different from men
like Bin Laden who say Allah is telling them to do things, which G.W.Bush
writes off as sheer insanity? What stuns me most is the hypocrisy and the
double standards Christians tend to embrace, and defend, as if they are
ignorant or blind to these hypocrisies, which are truly *problems.* Why
does G.W.Bush expect us to immediately poohpooh the idea of Islamic rebels
getting their guidance from God, or Allah, but to immediately accept the
concept that G.W.Bush is the REAL one getting God’s messages? Bush is
using an identical set of criteria for his claim to world domination that
Bin Laden is. And since there were no weapons of mass destruction, this
really is getting to be more and more a war about God, is how it feels.
Each side saying “god” is telling them what to do, while innocent
children, women, elders, are massacred and humanity sits on the brink of

When I hear Bush say God is guiding his leadership, I look at those words
no differently than the law suits I cited earlier, wherein people tried to
*sue* God, or Satan, and the courts found it impossible. I would like to
implore the Supreme Courts use the same reasonings for why people cannot
sue God or Satan, as the reason we should not have Christian creeds
displayed in courts, schools, and public spaces. Because God and Satan
*are mythical characters that do not exist in reality!* I cannot believe
that it is so hard for anyone to say that out loud! It is almost like
Christianity has become so entwined with America now that it is treason to
question a Christian God’s existence as many of America’s founding fathers
did. American courts laugh at plaintiffs who want to sue the devil or God
as lunatics, yet they praise a president who leads us into war on nearly
as sound an argument.

The Christian Coalition ( is taunting the Supreme Court, “When
the justices are considering their decision, they should remember that the
Supreme Court chambers include a carving of Moses holding the Ten
Commandments.” Yes, the Supreme Court will have to look at the mote in its
own eye, if it rules that it is a violation of the separation of church
and state to display Christian propaganda on government and publicly owned
property. I am hearing the Religious Right argue that “In God We Trust” is
on our money, and “One Nation Under God” is in our pledge of allegiance,
so our forefathers meant to include Christianity in our government. But
that is a rewriting of history. The forefathers of the American
Constitution abhorred the inference of governance by the church and worked
very hard to try to separate the two. Then, during the McCarthy era, in
the 1950’s, we saw the insertion of the “One Nation Under God” line into
the pledge, and the insertion of “In God We Trust” on all our paper money
and coinage as an act of Congress. But prior to the “anti-commie” hysteria
of the 1950’s, those insertions and inscriptions *were not* part of the
“foundation” of America, and to imply so is to be divisive.

I even saw a journalist on a liberal Sunday news show use the circular
argument that since it says “In God We Trust” on our money, it is okay for
the 10 Commandments to be displayed in schools and in courthouses. But
thank goodness, a level-headed journalist chimed in quickly and said, “So
then is a Jewish Star of David fine to display over a courtroom door?” And
then the discussion began, as it should, about the slippery slope that
this type of thing avails itself to. If we are saying freedom of religion
means Christians can display *their* creeds and symbols in public and
government places, then what is to stop *all* religions from having a
rightful place, then, over courtroom doors and in schools? Are we willing
to actually embrace the religious freedom we tout as Americans and allow
for *all* religions to have equal display space for their religious creeds
and symbols, because that is where this *has* to lead to, if we embrace
diversity and are not just a Christian nation, fighting Christian wars,
with non-Christian countries.

Rightwing Christians have already tried to use the inscription of “In God
We Trust” on money, to try to get their Christian foot in the door at
public schools, by posting those words in the school, if the school boards
will not allow the 10 Commandments. Apparently, several states have
participated in this attempted Christianization of American public schools
through the display of “In God We Trust” (see If the
Supreme Court does not rule against these schools in Kentucky and Texas
for displaying Christian propaganda on school property, then the Religious
Right will use that as a carte blanche to do whatever they want and
basically to erase, constructively, what they teach in those schools about
separation of church and state. Kids will instead learn doublespeak, as
kids are not dumb, and it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out
that putting Christian propaganda in public schools is not separation of
church and state. Kids in high school will get a good lesson in hypocrisy
over this one.

There is a bumper sticker that says “Freedom of Religion Requires Freedom
From Religion” and I think that is very true. I grew up in America with
the idea that I am allowed to believe in God, to not believe in God, to
believe in a female God, or in a non-Christian God or gods, and that I did
not have to adhere to one dominant God system to be an American. Yet that
really is not the message you get when you see something like the 10
Commandments displayed in the highest courts in our land. I think it
honestly *is* long overdue that the Supreme Court remove that Christian
symbolism from its property. People say that the 10 Commandments are
displayed in the Supreme Court for two reasons, predominantly. One group
says it is simply to announce America is a Christian country. Another less
fanatical group claims the 10 Commandments are a basis for law systems
that America’s founding fathers used and thus, as part of our heritage,
they belong on display there. But there were many other legal systems that
America used to form its governmental skeleton as well, and I do not think
taking only one of those influences and displaying it exclusively is
helpful. Unless the Supreme Court is willing to give equal room and
prominence of display with pagan requests for a Sheela-Na-Gig to go over
an important area in the Supreme Court, then, this really is about
prejudice, Christian Supremacy, and nothing else.

One woman has set out to “de-God” her money
( She describes how she
makes a red circle with a bar across it over the word “God” on all of her
paper money. But one should not have to “de-God” American money. It is
“de-God”-ed by the separation of church and state. It was an extremist
reaction to “communism,” not unlike the current portrayal of all things
Arab as terrorist and insidiously dangerous, that put the “In God We
Trust” on our money in the first place. That same hysteria, that went on
to kill untold numbers of Vietnamese and Americans in the Vietnam War
“fighting communism,” is responsible for the insertion of the “One Nation
Under God” part of the pledge of allegiance. Let us not use the hysteria
of past prejudices, to justify current prejudices. And let’s not pretend
that displaying Christian propaganda on government property is returning
to the foundation of America. Nothing could be further from the truth. And
if we allow this trend to continue and prosper, announcing America is a
Christian nation to all, then it may not announce religious freedom any
longer, as that is a lie. A Christian nation is no different than an
Islamic nation, both are run by religions. I prefer the model of
government that openly announces an intention to steer away from the
religious and political dictatorship of an untouchable and unaccountable

I feel it is very important that people see what slime women are having to
deal with in anarchy and alt media. You all know that this man Joe
Bargeant wrote a so-called poverty article saying he likes blonde pussy in
the first sentence, that was posted on front pages at
and Infoshop additionally banned ALL discussion about this
man's sexism and defended this sexist crap. I now have to bring you an
online interview that has come to my attention with this man Joe. This
selfproclaimed anarchist. Here, he tells you about HIS WIFE BARBARA (I DO
NOT ENVY HER having to put up with a middle aged husband advertising for
blonde pussy in his articles, no wonder she doesn't read his articles!)
and how he fucked up his kids, and how he loves America and was in the
military and hung out with some of the biggest sexist pig names of the
60's and 70's!

And you can see his picture at this url also, which, as I suspected, shows
us a fat older military man, who is most probably saying he wants thin and
young women to have sex with him, not just blonde women, I mean, pussy. He
is the exact type of guy who wants to be allowed to be fat and old, but
expects women to diet and be eternally young for his male fantasies and
trophy status for him. The ole double standard the boys club lives in. We
must look like made up dolls while they look like unkept pigs. I wonder if
he has those gross mudflaps with the tit woman on them on his truck? After
reading Joe's pathetic emails to me about his liking blonde pussy (well,
we know he likes WHITES now don't we, and in the erotic community in
Seattle at least, the blue eye, blonde hair descript is really a way many
use to mask their racism, they look for blue eyes and blonde hair but what
they really MEAN is "white"), I read this and thought well, it is a man's
world...and this is a man's man. A WHITE MAN'S MAN EVEN. PLAYING THE
POVERTY CARD and stupid anarchist male editors bit, too! I would never
have been stupid enough to publish a white male's "poverty" article
without first READING IT! And anyone who READ IT, saw a red flag in the
first sentence, hello! And he was just published by men, for men. On sites
run by men. And I am more than happy to leave ANY site that publishes this
man's work. Period. I do not WANT to sit NEXT to Joe Bargeant EVER! Nor
do I even want the edges of my articles touching his slimy existence.
JOE BAGEANT. And I hope he uses birth control, since he says he fucked up
the kids he made with his own wife.

This article is from

You have probably read one of his articles, but who exactly is Joe
Bageant? We interview him on his life, his work and his newly found
internet cult status.

Iwas first contacted by Joe Bageant back in April this year, when he sent
me, out of the blue, his article Sleepwalking to Fallujah. That article
was written in a way that only a top writer can, and soon afterwards, more
pieces followed. From his work and some email exchanges, I realized that
Bageant is an extraordinary man as well as a very gifted writer, with a
unique take on the American political situation that ensures the huge
popularity of his articles and his growing internet cult status.

A product of a working class Virginian background, 35 years experience as
a writer and editor, as well as personal friendships over many years with
some of the most progressive thinkers of our time — including Timothy
Leary, Stephen Gaskin, Allen Ginsburg, Trungpa Rinpoche, William
Burroughs, John Lilly and Marshall Mcluhan — have given Bageant an
education that would be the envy of any Ivy League graduate, a writing
ability that is certainly comparable to Gore Vidal's, and an obsessive
drive to champion the ordinary men and women of America.

Many people mistakenly believe that Bageant is somehow anti-American, that
this openly socialist writer hates his country and democracy. The truth is
Bageant absolutely loves his country and its democratic ideals, which is
why he writes such vitriolic articles about what the Bush administration
is doing to these ideals — hijacking patriotism to support a corrupt and
insidious government that is rapidly turning the US into an Orwellian
police state, and other countries around the world into US military bases.
In his view, America, the icon of freedom, is being played in the same way
that the Nazi Party played pre-war Germany. Bageant is a man who, like
Michael Moore, feels compelled to speak out for freedom, justice and
democracy, the bedrock of the country he loves; although, in our
topsy-turvy world of disinformation and ignorance, he fully accepts that
such sentiments will often get one labeled as "unpatriotic" or
The reason that you have probably not heard of him before, is that Bageant
is not an ambitious writer, and has been happy to live the life of a
low-profile magazine and newspaper editor, although as a senior editor
with Primedia Magazine Corp., publishers of over 300 American magazines,
he is certainly highly regarded within his profession. All that changed,
however, when Bageant discovered the internet earlier this year and
realized that it gave him the perfect platform to freely speak his truth.
Writing a string of uniquely perceptive articles during these dark times
in America's history have put an end to that relative obscurity, thrusting
Bageant and his message of a true and caring democracy squarely into
public awareness.

I am privileged here to present an exclusive interview, the first as far
as I am aware, with this extraordinary writer:

* * *

AP: Thanks Joe for agreeing to be interviewed by a tiny online magazine
like ourselves. I know that you are a person who has always championed the
little guy. Why is that?
Bageant: Well. hell. I come from a long line of little guys. My daddy
never made more than $55 a week in his life, until he was finally so sick
he had to go on the dole and get Social Security. He never got past the
eighth grade and worked his dick into the dirt. Had his first heart attack
before he was 40. And I myself have worked construction labour, in car
washes, loaded rail cars, even once had a job chopping up dead rotten hogs
with an axe on a big hog industrial farm. I come from America's invisible
and non represented people, the ones who shovel the shit and seldom
complain. So now I am finally in the middle class, sort of, but I still
write from the vantage point of my people because it's the only thing I
really know much about. That and lobbing hand grenades at this rogue
nation of mine.

AP: Tell me something about your childhood in Virginia? How did a Lefty
come out from the cradle of Neocon America?

Bageant: I grew up very poor at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains on
the Virginia/West Virginia line. My first 14 years of life were spent in
the country. Actually they were rather happy years, despite the relative
poverty. Nearly everyone else there was poor too, and we never thought
much about it. We feared god, hunted deer, worked hard and never expected
much, materially speaking.
But I was especially lucky because I saw the end of an era in Appalachia,
a peaceful subsistence farming lifestyle of my grandparents. I went to a
one-room schoolhouse, the same one my father and grandfather went to,
carried water and chopped wood and had countless hours of solitude playing
in the forests and imagining things. Hell, we didn't have a lot of toys
and crap, so we had to use our imaginations. I think it had a lot to do
with becoming a writer.

Then when my dad moved us into town so he could work at a gas station,
life got complicated. There were class issues among the town kids. In my
hometown of Winchester, Virginia we have a throwback class system, left
over from the days of English settlement. If you don't have the right last
name in my town, or are not useful to someone who is from the right
family, your name is shit. You're gonna have to leave to be anything in

So I left. Quit school in the 11th grade and went into the Navy at age 16.
Later I got a high school equivalency diploma and went on with school.
Much later.because when the Sixties started happening I jumped in head
first, stark nekkid and screaming for glory. Headed west to join the
counter cultural revolution. Lived in a school bus, worked all sorts of
labour jobs, ate lots of acid and began to write. That went well from the
very beginning, in as much as everything I wrote got published somewhere,
usually in hippie or student newspapers, and sometimes in national mags.
People seemed to like it. So I figured what the hell? I must have found a
vocation in life! It also eased my soul a lot. I wrote approximately in
the same way then that I do now. It was shallower though because I didn't
have as much experience in life. Fewer convictions.
AP: Who were the people who were most influential to you growing up?

Bageant: At first I worshipped my father and grandfather and all my rough
and tumble uncles who knew how to butcher a hog, plant by the stars and
fix any damned mechanical thing that ever got broken. Real survivors. Real
men of the old school. But as I began to develop an intellectual life, we
had less and less in common. Finally, by my early teens, we didn't
understand each other at all. I retreated into books about art and music
and never came back.

As far as writing goes, I was influenced by all the usual suspects of my
generation, Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson, Gaye Telese, William Styron,
Genet, and especially all the Southern writers, Welty, Willie Morris.. not
to mention a lot of people who never got the respect they deserved,
especially poets like Marc Campbell of Taos, New Mexico and Jack Collum of
Boulder, Colorado. Their works really clued me in on the connection
between words, your brain and your heart.

AP: Your writing is certainly passionate. Tell me something of your years
at college and how they formed or changed you? Is that where you leaned to
write so lucidly?

Bageant: College? LOL! I took classes along the way, but never cared about
any kind of serious program. I just studied what I wanted, painting,
history, writing, comparative religion, and journalism. It was the Sixties
and I didn't give a fuck about degrees or jobs. I wanted to design my own
intellectual life. I was already meeting what I considered the important
artists and writers of my day, and professors were begging for
introductions to them. Also, I had a wife and son early in life and was
far more interested in my hippy family, communes, and the self-realization
movement. Like I said, everything I wrote was getting published and I was
getting choice cultural and media assignments. For very small bucks but I
always got the good ones. So hell, I was a pretty happy guy.
AP: How did the likes of Timothy Leary, Stephen Gaskin, Allen Ginsberg.
Trungpa Rinpoche, William Burroughts, John Lilly and Marshall Mcluhan
become your personal friends and mentors?

Bageant: I spent 14 years in Boulder Colorado, much of that time
interviewing or writing about those people for regional arts and culture
and rock and roll rags. The counterculture's heroes were always coming
through town, or hanging out at the Buddhist university there, Naropa. So
I got to know some of them. In fact, part of the reason for writing for
papers and mags was so I could get to meet them and hang out.

They were heroes of mine long before I ever met them. For example, I named
my son for Timothy Leary before I ever encountered Leary personally. As
for them being mentors, nobody was sitting me on their knee and telling me
the secrets of writing and magicianship. But I was accepted in their
company and at parties and got to watch them live their lives creatively
and with passion. I came to the conclusion that this writing thing and the
arts in general had as much to do with how you lived as anything else. It
was clear to me that I should watch and learn from people like Ginsberg,
who was the most famous poet on the planet for a reason.even if he
couldn't keep his goddam hands off your ass. And it only took a few
minutes to see for yourself that even though the shallow media never
understood him, Tim Leary was a scientist philosopher bard, a Galileo of
consciousness and one of the great thinkers of our time who had lifted off
from this earth and didn't mind waving bye bye to the inhabitants of
planet yokel.

As for Trungpa Rinpoche, I never got him at first, and made fun of him the
whole time he was alive. Then years later, after his death, he hit me like
a sledgehammer. I finally got it. Or at least enough of it to do some
AP: You seem quite passionately political, and yet you are also devoted to
Buddhism, a religious system that advocates detachment. How do you hold
such differing perspectives?

Bageant: I do not find them all that differing. Both are concerned with
mankind, people together and as a whole. Socialism covers the material
side of it, and Buddhism deals with the spiritual aspects. But both
acknowledge that we are in this river of life together, that we are
presented with struggle from the day of our birth, and that we have to
make individual choices. That we will only arrive at the other shore
together. Both are about the path, not religions. Sure, Marxists are too
much focused on the material aspects. But that doesn't negate the deep
wellspring of Marxist thought. And Buddhism, despite the pop Euro and
American notion of its supposed bliss and pacifism, has a place for
violence in its cosmology. That's why there were many Buddhist resistance
fighters against the murderous Chinese takeover of Tibet.

AP: What is your biggest gripe about America today?

Bageant: At my age and with my high blood pressure, I can't afford to have
heartburn type gripes with America. But I do have a sadness about my
country which, for the sake of interest and readability, I express in,
shall we say, "highly animated fashion." I have always loved my country —
which is not by the way, the same as loving your government. But now I
fear it.

I have fished for bass at night in its once beautiful rivers, and I have
played stink finger with its young Southern girls who wear no panties on
August nights by the light of its many moons. I have grown what can almost
be called old now, with its earth beneath my feet and its legends in my
eyes. And now a bunch of cheap murderous cocksuckers have hijacked the
place that made me what I am and are busily turning it into one vast
capitalist gulag. Stealing my children's' dreams… everything I ever
experienced and cared about has become irrelevant. I don't care about my
own experiences disappearing into the void so much as I care about the
blackness now descending. I am here right now to tell you that America is
a rogue nation and the greatest threat afoot to civilization. That doesn't
mean that every American is Hitler and it doesn't mean that there is no
hope. But we gotta cop to what is going on. When a nation refuses to
acknowledge the need for world tribunals for ethnic cleansing and refutes
the Kyoto agreements, and murders tens of thousands to keep its stock
market afloat, then that nation must be called malignant upon this earth.

AP: When do you think the slide towards a fascist totalitarian state started?
Bageant: Immediately after World War II, when that much-deified dickhead
druggist Harry Truman set in stone the intelligence and military
industrial complex that had been established during the war.

AP: I don't need to ask you your opinion about President Bush — you make
that plain in many of your articles — but how do you think someone so
unsuitable could get elected to office?

Bageant: Because America has become an ignorant bloated culture of comfort
and consumption. Our religion is comfort and engorgement. Not all of us,
but enough of us to keep it all rolling. Hell, even our churches preach a
baptised version of the American Dream, which comes down to "anything I
can get my goddam paws on and devour — fuck the environment and screw the
starving millions. We are a nation of belligerent lard-asses willing to
kill anyone and everyone to keep our cars running and the god dam Cheetos
(which I openly admit that I eat when I am blind drunk and stumbling under
the thundering of gins' poisoned hooves) on the coffee table. Angry? Nope.
Just the plain facts my Limey friends. You still think your guy Blair can
partner up with a psychopath and ensure a supply of oil. Maybe even score
one last ruddy-nutted English victory over the sand niggers you once
ruled. Ya know, I don't think you Brits understand that when the last
blood of dinosaurs is drained from the Middle East, we will bomb the fuck
out of you in the competition for the last drop.

As for Bush getting elected, it's the same as Hitler. Bush represents most
Americans, or at least a slim majority. But it's a mean majority and we
can expect a Reichstadt fire sometime during the next 10 years. Bush may
be gone, Kerry may get elected, but we've got an oil habit kiddo, and a
lust for empire and you will be roadkill if you get in the road. Sure,
there will be some slobbering gutless Democrats elected along the way, but
all it will be is a feel-good exercise of an expiring empire. People put
too much faith in political parties. They should have taken to the streets
15 years ago.

AP: In a nutshell, what has Bush done for the average American?

Bageant: Given them faith in their own desperate hubris.
AP: If that is the case, and the average American is far worse off under
Bush, then why is it that he still has such strong support, often from the
very people whose quality of lives is most depreciated by this government?

Bageant: Because we have institutionalised our hubris in the schools and
the churches and everywhere else. Because Americans think obesity and
belligerence are virtues, and that Jesus Christ and a five piece band came
down and made them the new chosen people.

AP: Why is somebody like yourself, who champions the ordinary American,
regarded as unpatriotic for opposing a government and its policies that
are so clearly destroying the American ideals of democracy and liberty?

Bageant: Because the government has nothing to do with real patriotism.
Patriotism is a love of the place and the people who have shaped your
heart and mind. not your willingness to die for oil or, as Napoleon said
"for those baubles pinned on the chests of dead soldiers."

AP: Coming from the South, your views cannot be very popular with your
neighbours. How do you deal with them or protect yourself from them?
Bageant: Well. for a while I was some kind of goddamed anti-Christ around
here. All kinds of scary threats, and such. Now I have been laying low
like old Bre'r Rabbit (You Brits don't have the slave tales of Bre'r
Rabbit do you?). The locals are so consumed with being good Germans amid
their neighbours, they do not even think about the internet stuff. They
are busy keeping mental lists of which liberals they are going to put on
trial when the Republican Reich finally dawns.

AP: In your articles you seem to indicate that it is hopeless trying to
convince many of your compatriots that they are actually supporting a
government that is not in the interests of the American people or of
American ideals. Do you see any way through this?

Bageant: Nope. They gotta find their own way. That's what democracy is
about. People finding their own way. Or not finding it.

AP: In "The Covert Kingdom" you illustrate the mentality of the Christian
Fundamentalists that the progressive left is up against, a mentality that
is only matched by Muslim Fundamentalism. How can we, in a democratic
system, keep such destructive segments of society from harming the less
vocal majority (assuming that they are not a majority!)?

Bageant: It can't. Until the progressive left gets out there on the street
and recruits every ignorant piece of white trash and person of colour it
ain't gonna happen. But here in the US, the so-called left is comfortable
being in the catering class of college professors, managers, journalists,
school teachers and others required to keep the capitalist system humming,
they ain't gonna take any risks. They just don't get it that if they do
not love their labouring brothers, beer belly, ignorance, crack habit and
all, their ass is grass too. It's only a matter of time. But they simply
do not believe these people are their brothers, or even human, for that
matter. America is a class system first and foremost.
AP: Tell me some of your views on freedom. Many would accuse you of being
left or communist. which can also be totalitarian.

Bageant: I am not a communist. I am a universalist humanist socialist. I
would be a commie, but for the fact that communism seems too easily
hijacked by despotic thugs. I don't know why, and at this age I do not
have the time to find out. I'll run with what I know so far. Stick my
spear in the ground and tie my leg to it and do the best I can.

AP: If you were President, what are the first things you would do to move
the US away from fascism and back to democracy?

Bageant: I would cut the Pentagon budget in half and spread the dough
around to health care and education here and in third world countries, and
spend billions on peace studies and the ecology. I'm a simple fucker.

AP: When did you first go on the internet and what is your view of this

Bageant: In April of this year. I loved the Internet from the very
beginning as I had decided a while back that I was sick of the
paint-by-numbers journalism that has ruined the print world, and was
looking for an outlet in which I could say exactly what I wanted to the
way I wanted to.The internet may well be the political hope of the world.
Maybe someday we will have internet referendums on what to do with the
world's wheat supply. Maybe someday the global corporations' knees will be
broken and every knee will bow in humble submission to the needs of
humanity. Every pharmaceutical company will be distributing AIDS drug to
the beating heart of Mother Africa. But first there is going to be a lot
of death and destruction. The Twin Towers were just the cartoons before
the movie of global revolution.

AP: Are you surprised at your meteoric rise to cult internet writer
considering you have only been online such a short time? How do you
account for this?

Bageant: Yes, I am. I have always had good response to whatever I put into
print. But that stuff was always distributed within defined circulation
boundaries such as those of a magazine or a newspaper. If a magazine has
150,000 readers, then that is about all a writer is going to reach through
that medium. But the internet can aggregate people of similar opinion and
outlook with power and speed that is unimaginable in print.

Working in magazines for so many years, it seems to me that magazine and
book publishers still just do not "get" the internet. They still suffer
under the illusion that people will not read anything over 1500 words,
etc. Yet a reader is a reader. They also get too trapped in "marketing
segmentation," demographics, psychographics, and all that crap that was so
hot with marketing people ten years ago. The net is an ocean of human
beings and you gotta swim among them to understand them and what you need
to do to stay afloat. There is no magic marketing plan you can wire into,
other than provide what people really want on the sites they go to get it.

Half the nation doesn't read and never will. So they will be looking for
small takeaway bites from the net. Fair enough. But people who care about
ideas and information will devote just as much time to the net as to a
book, and probably buy a book related the internet source too if it
further serves their purpose. For example, I began restoring an ancient
slave banjo from information on the net. Then later I bought a book by the
same author I was reading on the net. That would not have happened if the
net had not provided instant access to that luthier's advice. It also
happened a lot more quickly than if I had had to research the subject by
traditional means.

By the way, I did not just recently discover the net. I have been into it
from the beginning. However, I recently decided that it was better to give
my articles and essays away for free than to piss around with any longer
with the restrictions of print and the talentless and gutless people and
corporations that so often own or manage it. And hell, I am one of those
people! So I understand why and how the corporatization of media has
reduced our once-thriving American dialogue to a warm puddle of commercial
piss. With the exception of a few good magazines like Harpers, there's
nothing left to read in this country. Yet, I can go on the net and find
some extremely talented people with something to say and web editors who
are not afraid to let them say it, if I devote time enough to the search.
They may not have the writer's craft, but their ideas and insights as
human beings move us and feed our minds.

AP: How hopeful are you about the future?
Bageant: In the long view, very. But we are talking about centuries here.
I won't be around to see it. Neither will you. The bad news is that you
young'uns are going to have to take up the fight. A worse fight than I
ever knew. The good news is that it won't be over in your lifetime either.
So your victory does not have to be complete. There are laws of physics
and the universe neither of us can change. Right now Americans believe
they can deny the second law of thermodynamics.

But in the end some upright hominid will be scraping lichens for food off
a radio active rock with a computer chip shard and once again starting the
slow upward trajectory of humankind toward the stars. That's the thing
about this smear of biology on a speck of cosmic dust called earth. It is
a virulent strain, and assuming a new biology on a ruined planet, it will
send its silver seed, even if robotically, away from this gravity well
called earth into the singing interstellar void. As any Buddhist
understands, it's never over. It's just a ripple in the atomic tides of
the universe.

AP: Please describe to us your utopian or ideal society.

Bageant: Ain't no such thing. Just struggle. Constant struggle, and if you
do it right, you get to struggle for beauty and truth in a society that
allows them to exist.

AP: I understand you are a family man. Tell me about your wife and children.

Bageant: My wife Barbara is a historical archivist and a feminist, and was
a Madison Wisconsin radical feminist during the 1960s. She is currently
involved in establishing and restoring a slave school museum here in
Clarke County… a historical record of the post-slavery experience in
Virginia as expressed by their descendants. She has a son, Spencer, who is
a gifted popular culture expert in Seattle.

I have three children by two previous marriages and I am now married for a
third time. Let's just say I have been happily married more times than the
average person. I have a 37-year old son by my first wife, Cindy, named
Tim — for Timothy Leary. He grew up in the midst of the entire Sixties
adventure, saw it all go down… the glorious and the ugly, the strangeness
and the joy. Lived in school buses, ate snails with Hunter Thompson,
traveled to Latin America with me… And because of all that he understands
me more than anyone else on this earth. He is my deepest and most constant
brother, son and friend. In that I have been a lucky man. He sees through
this country's bullshit with x-ray vision.

I have two other children by my second marriage, Patrick, who is a good
lefty and getting ready for law school. And Elizabeth, who just returned
from a long stint as an AIDS worker in Mozambique. She is destined to save
the world.

AP: How did you bring up your children… did you do anything to try to make
them more aware of what was going on in society around them?

Bageant: No, mainly I just fucked up a lot in front of them and they seem
to have learned from my mistakes.
AP: What do your family think of what you write?

Bageant: As far as I know, they do not read what I write. They have seen
me be a writer for many, many years. It's just a fact of life to them. I
am not the center of everything in my family. They are intensely involved
in their own lives because they are self-realizing people with dreams of
their own. It works really well for all of us. I do suspect however, my
wife Barbara will probably read my book. She's a big reader and will
probably want to know where all the recent money came from.

AP: Finally, what are your personal plans or goals for the future? Are you
going to have your own website soon, radio/TV show or write a book?

Bageant: Dammit kid! You ask NOTHING BUT hard questions! Can I adopt you?
I am starting to get book and movie offers. Enough of them that I had to
get an agent. Jimmy Vines of New York. If they do come through, (and I am
not pounding my meat over the possibility) I plan to have a cottage in
someplace like Andalusia, or French Martinique. someplace VERY cheap that
I can go and write and snipe at the Republic of terror. One man never beat
a mob in its own turf. I'll stroke my wife's sweet snatch, pet my dogs and
give heart to my children (every one of whom is a good lefty) in some dry
place where my arthritic fingers will loosen up enough to learn to play
flamenco guitar. I'm serious folks! There is not a person on this earth
who can say I never did what I promised… eventually. And every reader
here, every son and daughter of good yeoman liberty and decency, as it is
defined by the suffering poor of this planet, is invited to come visit,
eat tapas and drink wine at my table.


Joe Bageant can be contacted at

The very famous Bingo the Philosopher Dog… sitting on some guy called Joe.
There is not a person on this earth who can say I never did what I
promised… eventually. Joe Bageant


Born 1946 in Winchester VA, USA

US Navy Vietnam era veteran

After Navy became anti-war hippie, ran off to the West Coast…. lived in
communes, hippie school buses… started writing about holy men,
countercultural figures, rock stars and the American scene in 1971…. lived
in Boulder Colorado until mid 1980s…. 14 years in all… became a Marxist
and a half-assed Buddhist… Traveled to Central America to write about
third World issues…

Moved to the Coeur d'Alene Indian reservation in Idaho, built a cabin,
lived without electricity, farmed with horses for seven years…. tended
reservation bar (The Bald eagle Bar), wrote for regional newspapers…
generally festered on life in America… Moved to Moscow Idaho, worked on
newspaper there…

Then moved to Eugene Oregon, worked for an international magazine corp…

Then back to hometown of Winchester VA to settle some scores with the
bigoted, murderous redneck town I grew up in. I love'em but they need a
good ass kicking.

Died in 2000 when George Bush got elected, along with 275 million other
Americans… Plan to rise again from the dead when he is tossed out…maybe
reincarnate as a Commie terrorist on Wall Street…. maybe as a sex worker
in Amsterdam…. can't decide… both have their advantages.

19.02.05 - Take Back Your Entertainment
By Kirsten Anderberg (

Entertainment is an industry with as much power and influence over our
daily lives as any other. There are many ways to reclaim entertainment
back from industry; by using local and cultural references and
personalizing art, or by learning to use public spaces for educational
art, or by creating music venues that are not driven by alcohol sales,
etc. We can make our own music, we can write our own comedy, we can
support our own venues and agendas. One of the first hurdles an artist
usually faces is the dilemma of needing to make money to sustain the art,
but dreading making money from things the industry requires artists to do
to get paid, such as making “non-offensive” material, or fitting into
commercialized conformity. Bar owners want you to sell beer, they do not
care what music you use to do it. The same goes for recording industry
executives, but they are selling more than beer. I would argue there is a
higher calling to art than merely selling a product in capitalism, and we
need to liberate that calling, to liberate ourselves.

Television, and the music and movie industries, have been staple
readily-available entertainment venues throughout my lifetime. But several
twists and turns in life, and random experiences, have shown me that DIY
and grassroots entertainment is often of a higher quality, and more
fulfilling for all involved, from performer to audience, than commercial
entertainment products. This may be due to the wider range of artistic
freedom allowed in self-made art. Local and cultural art can sometimes
pass under the radar of censors, because censors don’t understand what is
actually being said, which is the beauty of slang. (I remember one tune
from the 60’s had back up singers using “dit dot dit” background vocals to
spell out obscenities via Morse code!) But using slang and other means to
evade censorship can add a charge to the audience and performer, knowing
that potentially illegal things are happening on stage, but no one is
going to tell.

I have experienced this repeatedly on the street, where I will be going
down a very slippery radical slope with a crowd as I busk, and no cops are
near, and we all just go there together, knowingly, and when the police
show up, we all change the channel, wide eyed, guilty together…it is quite
amusing and bonds the audience and performer. And then, as cops stand
there trying to censor, you can refer to things said prior when the cops
weren’t there yet, but without specifics, and it is really a blast. You
are sneaking subversive political thoughts into society against the will
of the police, but by the will of the people. It is a weird feeling to
know that the audience is protecting you from cops to get their
entertainment. I have found radical politics and uncensored street
performance have made some of the most alive performances I have
experienced, both as a performer and audience member, and I can see how
censored art is dead from the lack of this type of live energy exchange.
We know the law hates anything spontaneous, and street art is just that.
But it is almost like good art always stays one step ahead of the law.

Static, predictable music and comedy is more draining for me as an
audience member or performer, than original material with a creative
spark. Examples of static performance are the predictable apple biting
routine from jugglers, women folksingers lamenting about lost male lovers,
skit plots with meaningless violence or sexist clichés, groups of
middle-aged people singing terribly uncreative political rewrites of
standard songs, etc. I want to see people dressed like pink flamingos on
stilts posing in unison on sidewalks in front of government buildings as
lawn flamingos. I would prefer all food establishments revamp their “no
shoes, no shirt, no service” signs, to read “no shoes, no shirt, no
nukes.” I want slackrope walkers in downtown Seattle at lunch hour and
sword swallowers on staff at every high school.

There is no reason to “color within the lines’ with art. Paint by number
“art” sucks. And neutralized, censored art is dead. Part of the challenge
is to reeducate audiences to recognize live art as having worth without
being told it has value by someone else. The entertainment industry tells
people what they like, selling them production churned out from air
conditioned cubicles in the Hollywood Hills. We need to teach audiences
the freedoms of thinking for themselves once again. And that is part of
the excitement of homemade art…the audience understands it is a part of
something new, feeling a new freedom to be an interactive audience,
instead of a blind comatose consumer. In a very real way, homemade
entertainment uses the audience as part of the act in ways commercial and
industrialized entertainment venues cannot. You see, when you smile at
live entertainers, they smile back. Live, DIY, and homemade entertainment
is a two way circuit. Hollywood entertainment is a one way circuit.

One of the coolest art forms I’ve witnessed is “mummery.” Mummery is the
art of mimicking lifestyles, essentially. Risk of Change Theater Troupe
(ROC) is a wild group of talented artists who have continually challenged
me as a human, with their mummery. My first vivid recollection of an ROC
interaction was as I was walking down a crowded path at a counter-cultural
event in Oregon, in my nun’s habit, as I had just finished a show. It was
approximately 1990. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by bible-thumping,
hard core evangelists, who were thankful to find another person of God
“amidst all the heathens.” They began to make a huge scene, dressed very
conservatively, preaching loudly, dragging me right into their spontaneous
show, amidst all these freaks who were loving it. It was an intellectual
and artistic challenge to keep up with these folks and I learned a lot
that day about improvisation.

Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir is on a similar path. His
legendary spontaneous performances at Starbucks, amidst other places,
embrace the surrounding environment as they find it, and entice the
audience to interact with them, making it fun and unpredictable for
performer and audience, cop and Starbuck employee, alike. David Lippman
(, as George Stumps, also does an act that is so
convincing as to be alarming at first. When he got on stage at an
alternative venue, and began to rail against environmental defense
activists, in his Texas drawl, and cowboy hat and boots, for a moment, I
thought we had been tricked. But then his words got more and more
extravagant and it became comedic, and by the end, thousands of
pro-environmental defense activists were roaring with laughter at this
redneck saying how bad we were.

Lippman was also part of the legendary mummery group out of San Francisco
called Ladies Against Women (LAW). LAW would humorously protest feminists
protesting beauty pageants, wearing fake fur, wigs, horned rim glasses,
etc. Again, they exaggerated conservative women so intensely that it
became live satire. And it is really fun as an audience member to interact
with a radical posing as a fake Republican. It is challenging for the
mummer to keep coming up with spontaneous material in character, and it is
harder than watching a passive TV set, to come up with fun ways to
interact with such a character as an audience member. But the hardness,
and scariness of spontaneous art, is well worth the fulfillment attained
from such risk taking, and adds to its excitement.

Risk of Change has scared me, forcing me to perform spontaneously with
them, several times with mummery. I fear them as I see them coming, yet
they leave me with some of my most fantastic memories. Once I was running
to get to a performers meeting at a fair. As I got to the bridge, I saw it
had been taken over by trolls. I knew the trolls were an ROC production,
but ROC does not take its troll time lightly. This troupe is blessed with
superior costume designers amongst its ranks, and the troll masks they all
wear are disturbingly real looking. And even scarier, is they have
children, teens, and adult male and female trolls. The children are the
scariest, honestly. And when ROC puts their troll masks on, they allow
themselves to “become” trolls. Immediately, they begin belching, and
become gross and devilish, even the kids. So I needed to cross these
trolls to get across the bridge. Dare I? Oh god. On my first step onto the
bridge, trolls jumped out from under the bridge, adding to those already
on the bridge, and I was surrounded. They began to heckle and hassle me.
For a brief moment, I was truly frightened (which I find to be priceless),
but then I kept reminding myself, “you know these people, these are humans
really…” Through much improv, I was finally allowed to pass, but man, that
was a heavy act for all who watched and interacted!

Yet another ROC interaction that both terrified and liberated me
simultaneously was them playing “mud people.” I had just finished busking
in the aisle at a fair and had a crowd of people around me still, and was
talking to folks as they put tips in my case. Then I saw them. A pack of
naked men and women, covered in brown mud, with wild messed up hair, and
lots of straw adornments. They were coming towards me and I knew I was
doomed. Before I could run, I had a pack of 20 mud people sniffing my
hair, grunting, touching me all over with prehistoric wonder. All of a
sudden, I felt like I was performing for the audience in front of me that
I had just finished performing for. They wanted to see how the nun would
interact with a pack of mud people. I was able to speak English with the
ROC evangelists, talked some English with the ROC trolls, but now as mud
people, we were beyond English. It is forever a new challenge interacting
with these folks, I swear. But it is so much more entertaining than TV!

Once I ran into ROC at a fair doing a mummery scene of a French picnic.
They were along the side of a path with a blanket spread out, and they
were eating French bread and cheese and drinking wine. A painter in a
beret with an easel painted the scene, as they all spoke in French. They
also have really beautiful redwood tree costumes and walk around as
friendly old growth at fairs, talking to kids.

Homemade instruments also seem to be a standard in my community. We have
people who play saws, spoons, jugs, washboards, washtub basses, and more.
Many people do not realize there is a statue of a famous saw player, Tom
Scribner, a cousin of my tribe, at the top of the Santa Cruz Mall. And
Artis, the Spoonman, has been using cutlery for decades, in ways I had not
seen utilized prior to his performances. I know about a dozen professional
washboard players, and have been one myself. The father of my child is a
professional washboard player. Each washboard player I have met has his
own style and attachments to his board. Classic washboards have wood
frames and brass plates. Additions to the wood frame are easily made. My
washboard, for example, has the bells from inside an old phone going down
its left side. When hit with thimbles, each bell has a different tone, but
when played in succession, they sound like chimes. I also have a metal
chain hanging down over a side of the brass plate. This provides a nice
snare effect for quieter songs when rubbed against the brass grooves.
Washboard Jackson used a metal dog brush to scrub his washboard as he
plays instead of the traditional thimbles. Billy Hultz has a trademark
metal urinal he plays on his washboard, and at one point Reggie Miles
attached so many contraptions to his washboard, he had to make legs for
it. Reggie attached a harmonica rack on his board for slide, train and
siren whistles, and he also had a trademark bubble bear on his board that
he would squeeze and blow bubbles from, as he played.

Washtub bass players also have unique features. Doctor Rhythm uses a bass
drum in place of the metal tub on his version of a washtub bass. Like
washboards, the washtub bass is part of the rhythm section, and often
washboard and washtub bass players perform as a unit once they get a
groove going. Traditionally, washtub basses are made by drilling a hole in
the middle of the bottom of a metal washtub. You then bolt a washer and
metal eyelet into the hole, and tie a thick rope to the eyelet. You tie
the other end of the rope to a drilled hole in the top of a stick or broom
handle. Make a groove in the bottom of the stick so it sits on the edge of
the washtub. You play it by plucking the rope like a string with one hand,
while holding the stick with the other. To alter pitch, you either tilt
the stick to make the rope more or less taut, or fret the rope with your
stick-holding hand, moving up and down the stick like a fretboard.

I also know professional sword swallowers. Moz Wright swallows solid metal
swords, several at a time, and then bends, jumps, etc. He also eats fire.
Once I saw him performing at around midnight at a private party. On the
stage in the woods was this classical quartet and a professional opera
singer belting out an aria. Around the stage perimeter, Moz was prancing
about in a Pan costume, eating fire. He had a bare chest, and then from
the waist down, he had hairy legs, a tail and hooves. He produced long
sticks with fire, and ate them, as the music reached a crescendo behind
him. It was quite amazing for folk art in the woods, honestly.

Another performer in this tribe blows square bubbles, among other things
he calls bubble magic, made out of standard kids’ bubbles. We have several
of the world’s best box jugglers in our crowd. Box jugglers angle,
shuffle, and balance many cigar boxes as an art form. Hacki is a
clown/mime from Germany in my performing tribe. He won the Golden Nose
Award for Clowning in Europe several times. His visual representations of
things are amazing. Even simple things, like once a show needed to look as
if water was under a raft on stage. Hacki immediately suggested we use a
clear plastic tarp on the stage floor, then 4 people make the tarp move up
and down subtly from the 4 corners of the stage, and sure enough, when
tried, it made the stage look like seas they were now sailing on. (This
was a skit about Bad Mime Island, where they send all those bad mimes who
do bad stair climbing, bad box confinement, bad rope pulling, etc. When
arrested and taken to Bad Mime Island, these bad mimes were given the
right to remain silent.)

With this level of talent in the alternative community, it is like an art
university. Once I needed to show I was nervous and trying to bide time on
stage, but I needed to get it across nonverbally. I went to Hacki and UMO,
another performing troupe in our midst, and asked for advice. They told me
to 1) look at a fake watch on my wrist, and 2) to fiddle with my collar to
show anxiety. Those were excellent tips, and they worked perfectly. We can
teach each other how to make better art by sharing our skills.

One of the craziest DIY performers I have seen is Reverend Chumleigh. This
man used to get crowds to hold a rope, that was tied at the other end to a
lamppost and then would slackrope walk, in socks, and a one-shouldered
leopard-print leotard with a tail. Slackrope walking is actually really
hard and this is a very respected skill. Chumleigh is legendary for
unbelievably creative performance, but one other such stunt he did that
impressed me was his underwater escape on the street. In his leotard
again, he got audience members to hold him, upside down, while his hands
were chained and padlocked in a bag, and they dunked his head all the way
under water in a cut off Sparklett’s bottle! The audience counted to a
previously announced number, as Chumleigh stayed under water, and then the
audience members pulled his head out of the water, and his hands,
hopefully, were also freed.

What stands out to me is that the entertainment I cherish the most does
not involve electricity, contracts, club owners, network censors, or even
status quo mores. When you throw my performing clan into the woods, we
entertain others during the day. But what is truly amazing, is what
happens when entertainers entertain each other at night in the woods
alone. I have laughed so hard I thought I was going to never breathe again
watching jugglers, magicians, comedians, and clowns battle each other for
attention around a campfire as talented musicians played Klezmer music on
clarinet, accordion, washboard and fiddle behind them. I am not sure where
I could pay for such experiences, even if I was rich. And I am thankful my
kid has grown up watching performing legends TV has never seen.

Homemade entertainment is so much funner than TV, for both performers and
the audience. Learn to tell nature fables with cat’s cradle string
figures. Learn to twirl a lasso. Learn how to walk on swords, or to spin a
ball on your fingertip. Make your own washboard or washtub bass. Write
empowering feminist comedy and perform it on the street. Form a mummery
troupe. Teach yourself how to entertain, while learning how to be an
energetic audience member. Nothing is more draining for a performer than a
dead audience. Learn how to feed performers on stage from the audience and
how to feed audiences from stage, like really good sex. Demand
entertainment that is a two way circuit, not a closed circuit,
mass-produced consumer product.

18.02.05 - Bankruptcy: Welfare for the Middle Class
By Kirsten Anderberg (

Bankruptcy costs America far more than welfare grants do yearly. Yet we
hear lots of complaints of “welfare bums” and next to no complaints about
“bankruptcy bums.” I contend that bankruptcy is a middle class (and up)
luxury, as you need to have property ownership to get the credit to
initially run up $100,000’s to go bankrupt on. Most “welfare moms” get
approximately $450 a month, and that goes straight out to real estate
owners for rent, and child care providers so she can work, which is
mandatory for her receiving the welfare grant. Yet I have watched what
money spent in bankruptcies goes to most often, and it goes into personal
business investments and more property ownership. I read an article
recently that argued health care was too expensive in America and that
bankruptcy lenience was a solution. But my experience is the poor never
use bankruptcy: that is a middle class thing, it is a property-owning
class thing. Bankruptcy is a way to keep the middle class *in* the middle
class even when they recklessly lose their money. And my experience is
also that the poor are victimized by middle class people going bankrupt
with their paychecks, etc.

My first experience with bankruptcy was when my mom, in the 1970’s, sued
my father in federal court for $10,000’s in back, unpaid child support,
which had in turn landed her on welfare, while my dad lived lavishly as an
aerospace engineer bachelor. (I was his 3rd daughter he did not raise or
support, and we all came from 3 different women, as well!) When he was
served the papers from my mom’s attorney for the back child support, he
went bankrupt. And he got away with it. So we stayed in poverty, and he
remained a swinging bachelor, protected and insulated by a judicial and
economic system that was and still is CLEARLY slanted to privilege white
men with property ownership. My mom used to say she could “never afford to
go bankrupt,” and I know exactly what she means.

My next experience with bankruptcy was at age 17. I was a homeless teen,
and took a minimum wage telephone soliciting job in Seattle, Wa.
Eventually, I got a cheap room in a rooming house, and then my boyfriend
and I began to live together in an apartment. He began to work for the
telephone soliciting company also. Then one day we both went to get our
two 80 hour paychecks, and the office was emptied, and the business was
gone. Since this meant that ALL of our money was just taken by a business
owner, he put us into homelessness. We had no money, after working 160
hours collectively. Since I do not sit well with things like that, I
hunted the owner down. I found his home address. He owned a rambling
estate. I called the police, ignorant little 17 year old I was, and
reported a theft of our money and reported his address and name as the
thief. Once the police got into HOW he stole my money, they would not do
anything. I finally called the home of the man myself, getting his wife,
and asked if I, a 17 year old, could come eat at their home since her
husband and family just robbed me of food and shelter. They changed their
phone number shortly after I gave it out to every member of the crew he
went bankrupt on that I could find. It turns out this man had done this
going bankrupt on his employees dance before. Several times. And the
people who got hurt the most were the minimum wage employees. As we were
the ones with no insurance, no safety nets, no back up systems to protect
us from homelessness if this business owner goes bankrupt on our
paychecks, while he keeps his rambling home. Homeless, hungry and furious,
I pursued this boss heavily only to find out he was 100% insulated by the
business and bankruptcy laws and courts. Just like my dad was.

It seems odd to me that the business owners are allowed to pocket the
profits of weeks’ worth of work from poor employees, yet are seen as
victims and protected when they lose their money in business deals. No one
offers welfare moms thousands of dollars to start businesses, to rent
office space, equipment, hire employees, etc. and then when they fail, to
just smooth the way for them by forgiving all their debts, into the
$100,000’s! Instead, welfare moms are stigmatized and degraded for the
missing parent’s portion of childcare, which according to welfare grants,
is about $450 a month. When I look at how many business owners go bankrupt
on employees with no stigma at all, it is crystal clear that American
courts are slanted to protect the business and property owner in a way
that no poor person could ever fathom.

My next vivid encounter with bankruptcy was with a family in Seattle, in
around 2000. This family was working class, yet had begun to live far out
of their means, sporting shiny new things daily. The woman involved became
a shopaholic, literally addicted to shopping, and having to BUY something
new every single day, and when she was barely making over minimum wage,
that shifted the burden to her husband. He, also, is a working class man,
and in no way could ever afford the money his family was spending on new
cars, new house, redecorating rooms every month, new clothing, new video
games for the kids, etc. They became dependent upon equity in their house,
which was bought via help from their families. So, the two of them ran up
enormous debts for really stupid crap they never needed at all. They redid
their bedroom, buying new wallpaper, paint, bed, bedding, furniture, etc.
to “change its color theme.” They redecorated room after room, and when
done, they went back, and redecorated the rooms they already redecorated!
Their spending spree was voracious and my son and I watched, wondering how
they were pulling it off, as we lived in one room in poverty, and both

After a few years of spending like there was no tomorrow on really gross
amounts of plastic and trendy crap, and “new color themes” in every room
repeatedly, this couple went bankrupt. They went bankrupt on $200,000. And
then immediately bought a new convertible once the bankruptcy was
finalized! This couple also condemns all people receiving any welfare
monies and hates welfare moms so much that they mimic them in the Seattle
Public Schools. This family, that spent $200,000 and then just went
bankrupt on it, lies to the Seattle Public Schools, saying they are
separated and poor, so their kid can get free lunches at the local
elementary school. They feel they “deserve” free lunches because they “pay
for them.” But DO THEY? They just went bankrupt on $200,000. Now, most
welfare moms get a check to subsidize the missing parent’s childcare for
about $6000 a year. At the rate those people are going, they could have
just paid a welfare father’s childcare subsidy via a mom’s welfare grant
for what, 40 years? Who is costing society money here? And why is one
given a free check and the other not? Welfare moms need the money for food
and rent. These people needed bankruptcy money for redecorating?

The double standard of debt forgiveness in America between the middle
class and the poor is astounding. Business owners with large houses can go
bankrupt on homeless minors working for minimum wage, and who will be
stigmatized? The homeless teen, of course, not the bankruptcy guy. The
poor cannot be forgiven if they steal food from a store and must be thus
criminalized, but the business class is forgiven if it steals food
directly from families’ mouths. The poor cannot be given any leniency in
late rents, yet the property owners are given free checks to the tunes of
thousands just to redecorate their rooms over and over. I am tired of the
tiers in this class chasm. Bankruptcy seems to be welfare for the middle
class. I have never met a single poor person who has gone bankrupt, though
I am sure they exist. I have met quite a few *home owners* who have gone
bankrupt though. And they did *not* lose their houses, like I lost my
rental housing when my bosses went bankrupt on my paycheck. I do not think
fighting to protect bankruptcy laws really does anything for the poor. And
if people are going to complain about welfare father’s taking out state
subsidies of $450 a month that go to the moms for basic survival, then
that same critique and stigma should apply to middle class people who go
bankrupt in equal and much larger amounts. The bankruptcy class should
suffer even greater stigma than the welfare class for their debt
forgiveness, as they had an advantage to begin with, and the debts they
are racking up for forgiveness overshadow the welfare grants received in
stellar proportions . My mom was right, poor people cannot “afford” to go

11.02.05 - Capitalist Termites in the Walls of Social Services
By Kirsten Anderberg (

People tend to think of social services, such as welfare grants to single
parents and Section 8 rental assistance, as purely humanitarian aid. But
the industries of welfare and housing assistance are laced with capitalist
profit seekers and even documented corruption, such as the mess that
Clarence Thomas had a hand in at HUD before becoming Supreme Court
Justice. And I would argue that it is *because* business and industry have
found a way to turn social services to their own advantage, that the
skeletons of these social services programs that exist today survive at
all. It is clear to me that the job training offered by social services,
such as WorkFirst, are meant to benefit business, not the welfare client.
Not only does the business community dictate what “careers” welfare can
train workers in based on their funding of these “job training
partnerships,” but they actively lobby against social services programs
training competition in their own fields! The business community needs low
paid service workers. And that is what they will fund training for. They
do not need scientists, attorneys, or even business owners. They need
nurses aides, they need childcare workers, they need cashiers and office
support staff. But they do not need competition from well educated poor
folks. Additionally, Section 8 payments go straight into the hands of
corporate real estate on the whole, and clients on Section 8 are not
allowed to use their monthly rental payments towards mortgage or rent to
own land or housing to purposely keep them from property ownership,
securing that privilege to those who already own land, so they will not
raise a fit about Section 8 programs. Section 8 is confined to the
government handing real estate investors large sums of money to
temporarily house poor people.

It is interesting how the government and private industry put a spin on
social services as if they are huge community burdens, and industry and
government act as though the business communities are making sacrifices
for those social services programs. Businesses tout these investments in
social services as charity they “give back” to the community. But let’s
look at what is *really* going on here. They are literally auctioning off
women to the lowest bidder down at WorkFirst stations nationwide.
WorkFirst regulations say that single parents receiving food stamps and/or
welfare grants, must attend WorkFirst to obtain a job and get off welfare.
No one *dares* address the reality that there is a missing parent and that
welfare actually subsidizes the missing parent’s portion of childcare, not
the parent who is present. Most often the present parent in welfare
scenarios are women, and the men, whose childcare portions are subsidized
by the state are *not* sent to WorkFirst. He can sit at home, with no
childcare duties, and not pay childcare, while the single mom not only
must pay for childcare to attend the mandatory WorkFirst to get her food
stamps and welfare grant which is lower in amount than rent in nearly all
cases, but she must also pay minimum wage to someone to provide childcare
while she works the minimum wage job welfare requires her to take through
WorkFirst. With this system, the woman pays repeatedly for her “sins,” the
man never. And the woman takes all the stigma, the man, none. This is a
form of institutionalized sexism. The disproportionate numbers of single
parents that are women with children at food banks and welfare offices is
a form of institutionalized gender and class oppression.

The way WorkFirst works is predominantly women fill up WorkFirst “classes”
all through the day. You are scheduled by the first letter of your last
name often. Women are sent to WorkFirst mandatorily from the welfare
office. So daily, you are to buy childcare, then go to WorkFirst where
businesses come in, do a little presentation, and then hand out
applications to all the women in poverty. The women fill the applications
out, and if any of the women are offered a job, and do not take it, they
will be removed from food stamps and welfare benefits. Often the women do
not understand they have the option to not fill out these applications,
and just “say no.” The industries that come into WorkFirst need service
workers for low wages to exploit for maximum capitalist profit. It is
almost like WorkFirst is whoring out low income moms to the lowest bidder,

And when WorkFirst talks about education, they NEVER talk beyond voc tech
schools EVER! Professions are NOT offered to poor people in WorkFirst.
Instead A.A. and A.S. degrees, which are primarily vocational degrees to
provide a low paid service for industry, are what poor people are
encouraged to pursue in their schooling. They are told they cannot afford
a university education like the privileged people get, they must go into
job training for a low paid low status and quickly trainable career, not
professional schooling for high status and high paid careers such as
doctor, lawyer, engineer, dentist, etc. The WorkFirst and voc tech schools
target low income students, funneling them into voc tech even from high
school, while middle class (and up) kids are funneled into universities,
straight from high school even. I have the test scores showing my son
scored in the 99% on standardized tests in high school, and I, also,
excelled at school work in high school, yet neither of us were given even
a minute of counseling toward attending a university from our high
schools, due to our social caste. Even when I got to a community college,
again proving I could excel at schooling, the counselors would not take my
questions about how to get to a university seriously and I had to FIGHT
for that information and I mean it. I would argue that poor women cannot
afford voc tech school as the job training offered there is for low paid
and low status jobs, which is what keeps people in poverty. So, poor
people, *more than the middle class* need to pursue university and grad
school degrees, not vice versa. Let the middle class fill up those voc
tech schools. The poor cannot afford them. This is a ploy by the upper
classes to remain class insulated while they use the universities our
government buys for them, and keep the poor down in training for servitude
for those who are allowed professional training.

When you ask why WorkFirst and social services job training programs will
not pay for higher education and will only pay for “career training” in
subservient jobs, the answer clearly is “because the business community
pays for the social services job training programs and they need workers,
not competition.” When welfare programs did try to train women in higher
paying jobs than previously offered, such as electrician and plumber, as
compared to childcare worker, nurses aide or secretary, the predominantly
male electrician and plumbers unions lobbied loudly against their tax
dollars training competition in their own fields and those programs were
cut quickly. I suggested decades ago that Santa Cruz, Ca. give first
priority for all city jobs to qualified welfare moms if they were going to
complain about people being on welfare. And what I found out is: there
are not enough jobs to go around. Everyone cannot be employed, and thus,
even though people complain about poor people on welfare, they are not
willing to give up their good jobs to get these people off of welfare into
their positions! Basically, welfare can only train for jobs no one will
protest training poor people to do! Think about that.

Another scam is Section 8. Touted purely as a philanthropic government and
business collaborative charity for the poor, reality reveals again, how
business benefits and that is why it is shutting up about those programs.
If Section 8 programs truly were just about giving housing assistance to
the poor, then the property owning class would not tolerate it. The dark
side of Section 8 is it PURPOSELY locks the poor out of home ownership and
PURPOSELY redirects all of its money straight into the hands of land
owners and corporate real estate. With the rents that people pay, it is
clear most renters could buy *some* house, if the opportunities were
presented. But there are catches. If Section 8 allowed its clients to use
their rents towards home ownership, then it would be working towards
helping the housing crisis. But it is not by accident that Section 8
purposely WILL NOT allow the rental payments to be used towards ownership
payments towards the rental unit. That is to squelch the complaints of the
real estate business and property owners. This way, any property owner
can get Section 8 money to pay their mortgage, to subsidize their land,
via a poor person. So, no complaints there. No threat there. The threat
would be if the people on Section 8 could use those monthly rental amounts
towards BUYING property, and THEN the privileged class would break out in
screams heard nationwide.

So my belief is that WorkFirst is really a place for business to mine for
cheap female labor, and labor who MUST accept the job to not lose the only
safety nets she has via social services in the way of medical, etc. I
believe that WorkFirst is essentially auctioning women off to the lowest
business bidder at social service agencies. And I believe that it is no
coincidence that poor women are being funneled into voc tech schools, and
low paid, low status service training via job training services at welfare
offices across America. And additionally, I charge that Section 8 is
really a government to property owner scam, with little regard for the
poor renter at all. Section 8 recipients are merely a go between that
property owners and the real estate industry use to get government money.
But it is no coincidence that home ownership is not part of the goals of
Section 8 programs nationwide. That is on purpose, so that real estate
owners will not throw a fit. We need to look at who really benefits from
these programs. I propose we let the middle class do the voc tech service
training as they do not need the money as much, and we can then send the
poor to professional schools and universities to become the doctors,
lawyers, architects and engineers for their communities. I propose Section
8 PROMOTE home ownership programs for the poor, using the rents as down
payments and mortgages. I propose we quit blaming the poor for their
poverty, when it appears quite clear that the privileged class will only
support job training in jobs they, themselves, do not want. And will only
support housing assistance if the money stays in the hands of the property
owners. Look at these programs before you judge who the real benefactors
are, as people on the inside of these systematic institutions of
oppression are very clear about who they are here to serve.

10.02.05 - Mortgages Versus Rent
By Kirsten Anderberg (

People do not go from home owner to homelessness. There is always an in
between phase…renting…before the home owner hits bottom. I hear people
trying to gain sympathy for owing mortgage payments, as if that is somehow
equal to a person struggling to pay rent to avoid homelessness. No, one is
about holding on to property ownership, the other is about buying property
for someone else. You cannot become homeless with equity in *a house.* You
need to first lose all equity in your house, then rent at prices higher
than you can earn, then, and only then, will homelessness loom. A mortgage
paying home owner is absolutely different than the welfare mom in her
fifth, or fifteenth, year of struggling to make rent for another month, to
avoid living on the street with her child because welfare grants, that
cover the missing parent’s nonpayment of child support, do not subsidize
her working income enough to equal childcare costs, as well as typical
rent prices in most, if not all, American cities. After 40 years of living
in apartments, my mom will die with nothing to show but someone else’s
property ownership, and I, too, will only be able to show immediate
shelter, and no property ownership, for 25+ years of paying rent as well.
I will inherit no property, my son will inherit no property. Someone
else’s kids will inherit property due to my mom renting apartments, and my
paying apartment rents, and now my son paying his own apartment rents, for
our lifetimes.

It seems that the poor understand the middle class quite well, yet the
middle class literally need tutorials about what poverty *really* is, as
they pity themselves “poor” in the most ridiculous and privileged
circumstances. And when it came time for people to own apartments, the
condo phase came. So, you can even *own* your apartment, if you are in the
ownership class. I am not. I have spent my entire life paying rent for
other people to own income-producing property, as well as lavish homes.
These are “people” that I can pay rent to for 10+ years, and who will
throw me out homeless in one month if I do not pay them their rent. The
heartlessness that landlords somehow justify as business above humanity is
stunning and disgusting. Somehow, and I do not know how, the land owners
have turned this thing illogically on its head so that we somehow believe
that landlords are victims and need to be inhumane for their profits,
never questioning their rights to said profits in the first place. So
after years of collecting profits off of me, if I miss a month’s rent, I
must be evicted because during one month, a profit will not be made. Think
about how truly SICK that is. It is war mentality, it is “us versus them.”
And just like war, and how we immorally invade another country and then
mourn our dead, not theirs, one side is forcing itself onto another in
these real estate wars, then claiming itself victim, in Iraq, and in land
ownership wars in America.

I have yet to meet a landlord who does not regard himself as an unwilling
victim of his renters, who feels he must be as a vigilante regarding rent,
tuning out all human needs to guarantee his class privilege at the cost of
his own humanity. There seems to be this concept among property owners
that the number one most important thing is to maintain an edge, an
economic foothold above others, through property ownership. They guard
their property that no one uses too, with fences, alarms, security guard
companies, etc. I had a landlord last year who would literally come into
our spaces we rented and complain about how little money he had on a
nearly daily basis. This man grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth, has
never not had every cool gadget he wanted, has never been homeless, hungry
or worked a minimum wage job, and has owned premium property his entire
life. What was he wanting? Me to volunteer to pay an even *higher* rent
than I already paid him so he had more spending money? It was sickening!

Once I had a boss named Susan who would yell at us in the office daily
about how she did not have enough money, shoving bank receipts under our
noses screaming, “Look at this! I only have $40,000!” She seemed to be
implying we, the minimum wage workers, should work for less an hour or
some hours for free, or something, to relieve her problem with money. She
lived in a lavish 3 story house, with her husband and one child, and she
would literally be whining about not having enough money, while showing us
the new Persian rugs she bought for thousands of dollars, which we would
see in a year, with matted dog hair on it, in the living room no one sits
in, that we all worked to buy her. She had leather seats in her Volvo that
heated up. I, her worker, took a bus, and lived in *one room* with a
teenager, as that was all her wages afforded me. There were periods when I
would not see the boss for days on end, and I ran the office

It is interesting that both bosses and landlords try to play for pity from
their workers and renters, or those they rip off, as if they are victims.
It is a manipulative move, and due to the power inequity in renting and
being a worker, there is an implied obligation to pat these idiot gluttons
on the back, consoling them, as a slave would a slave owner, out of fear
and the necessity for survival, not out of true concern or compassion. I
certainly do not give one crap if my boss has only $40,000, when I did not
have $4 to my name, and worked a lot more hours than she did a week! But
the workers would pretend we cared and the minute her back was turned, we
would roll our eyes. But we had to feign giving a crap, as we were ripped
off. That is the beauty of class inequity and is how the middle class
remains oblivious to the reality of the poor. The poor are forced to sugar
coat reality for the privileged, so they are allowed their guilty
ignorance, so they can keep on skimming workers’ profits and charging
sinful rents, and somehow rationalize that. Somehow buying a poor person
saying that a privileged person is not privileged, works for the
privileged folks. Part of our job as poor people, as workers and renters,
is to reassure the boss and landlords that we respect them, and do not
feel they are ripping us off, even when we do not respect them because we
*know* they are ripping us off! It is our job to relieve the guilt of
these landlords and bosses by pretending we relate to their troubles like
our own, which is a lie we play for them due to inequity. We would not
tell those lies to them if they did not control us.

My boss Susan’s family was raised in one house their whole life. I have
known them for almost 30 years. Susan’s mom owns a 4 story, 5 bedroom
house in one of the more expensive areas in Seattle. Susan’s family has 5
children. I grew up hanging out with this family, while my mom rented a
*studio* apartment and I slept on her couch as a minor, who had been
homeless prior. Now, the amazing part is that this family announces to the
world that they grew up in poverty. Susan’s younger sister Linda was so
sure she had grown up in poverty, that somehow advisors at Evergreen
College allowed her to write her senior thesis on poverty, which is
something she knows nothing about. As she read me her thesis on how poor
people evolve and behave in her mind, I was stunned and highly insulted!
She theorizes that since her family had to go on food stamps for a brief
period of her childhood, she was poor and thoroughly understands poverty.
But she grew up in a 4 story house in a privileged neighborhood! She grew
up with continuity, with community, with roots, with neighbors and
neighbor kids, and with home and neighborhood safety. She grew up not
moving all the time. She grew up in the same schools, with the same
neighbors, her entire life! And her mom’s house, and that neighborhood,
are still there for her now as an adult, thus she could never be homeless!
She can always go home! Because her mom has a home! (Ironically, when I
was homeless with a 2 year old child, and the kids in Susan’s family had
all moved out, and their mom lived alone in this huge house, she refused
to let me stay there as a homeless mother in poverty!) All of the things
Linda or Susan ever wanted to store from their past, have a place in their
mom’s basement. Linda and Sue could bring kids home to play, when young,
and there was somewhere other than a studio apartment, one room, to play
in. Linda had a basement, a yard, a deck, a bedroom, a living room, a
dining room. And she literally thinks she was equal in poverty to me and
my mom in a one room studio apartment that we paid rent to stay in.

A mortgage means you can sell your home and become a renter. That *is* the
next step down on the class ladder, and don’t you forget it. A renter in
poverty, in contrast, has nothing to sell, and so their next move down the
class ladder, is homelessness. Home owners have a safety net in their
“poverty” that renters do not. A mortgage means you took a loan on your
property ownership and means you owned something of worth to get those
mortgage loans. Well, the poor cannot get loans for monthly rent to thwart
homelessness, so already, mortgage privileges are well out of the league
of the poor. As I said, mortgages are about keeping property ownership,
renting is about temporary shelter, and that is all.

When I see people like my boss Susan screaming at low paid workers to work
for less and harder for them, I wonder how Susan can live with herself.
Susan’s sister Carol also used to work with Susan. I used to call Susan’s
house, “the house that Carol built,” as it was Carol’s decades of labor
that bought Susan her house really. Carol, in contrast, lived in cramped
quarters out of town, with three kids and a husband, who also worked for
Susan. So, Carol and her husband worked full time for Susan, and could
barely afford a cramped little house (yet they still owned a house). Yet
Susan somehow deserved a house 4 times the size of Carol’s with 1/3 as
many kids. I am sorry but it does not take a genius to figure out
exploitation is occurring in these situations. Carol finally quit working
for her greedy sister, taking a lower paying job to get out of the
constant harping to work harder. And yet, Carol has home ownership. And a
mom and a sister who own big houses. And in a worst case scenario, Carol
can sell the house and become a renter, just as my mom was forced to do
decades prior. And then she will be in another class level altogether. But
first, she will have to lose the mom who owns the house to get on the
level of the rest of us who are truly poor.

I have not lived in a house for the last 20 years, as I could never afford
it. And I absolutely abhor apartments. As soon as I had a child and began
to look older, it got much harder to find group housing. I would like to
live in a house, but they are well out of my price range, even just to
rent. And group housing that includes 45 year old moms is rare.
Additionally, cohousing is just a yuppie class separation project that
people like me are locked out of. Houses are for “the other people.” In my
youth, I lived in a house for about 6 years. My first 4 years I lived in a
house with my parents, then after the divorce I lived in small apartments
with my mom on welfare, moving constantly. In the third grade, for
instance, I lived in 4 states, attending 5 schools. The longest I ever
attended the same school was 2 years, in my whole life. I left my mom’s
custody the second I hit the age of consent, which is 13, and lived in a
house with my dad from ages 13-15, until I was expelled violently onto the
streets at 15 1/2.

I lived in some houses during foster care. My cousins and friends had
houses, and they always preferred their home to mine for sleepovers and
playtime. My play area was the parking slots at our apartment to play
handball in. And my mom might be passed out on the couch in the living
room, and we had to be quiet not to disturb her or all hell would break
lose. Their play areas including tree swings, tree houses, and lots of
room for us to set up elaborate troll settlements…and their houses usually
had food, as well. Mine did not. The people who had houses, seemed to have
guardians around too. My mom was rarely around or awake. I feel like I
grew up in other people’s houses.

Most of my friends inherited money or property, or used equity from their
parents’ property, if they own a house now. I will inherit nothing, as my
mom paid 40 years of rent for someone else’s kid to inherit property. And
my son will inherit no property, as I, too, was forced into servitude,
into paying rent, thus I bought someone else’s kid property rather than my
own kid…and that breaks my heart. And I do not see it stopping anytime
soon. My kid is now buying someone’s kid property via rent. People have
got to quit equating mortgage payments with rent. They simply are not the
same at all. If you have a mortgage, you have a safety net before
homelessness still. If you are poor and rent, you have no safety net. And
that is the difference, in my opinion, between true poverty and feigned
poverty. True poverty means NO SAFETY NET. You cannot own property and
claim you are in the same economic boat as a person with no property.
Losing your property is not the same as never having any property to lose.

Wrongful Convictions and the Questionably Dead:

By Kirsten Anderberg ( ( is a great resource for anyone desiring concrete and recent evidence that serious problems exist within the criminal justice system in the U.S. today.
For those people who still live with their heads in the sand, insisting only criminals plead guilty,and that only guilty people end up in prison, this site is here to burst that in sulated bubble.
Long lists of actual names, and court cases, on this site, document a wide swath of abuse from the state that no one can deny. The site says, The case profiles here consist primarily of media reports, the majority of which are accounts of wrongfully convicted persons who have been exonerated. The articles profiling the innocent who remain imprisoned provide details of compelling evidence of innocence. The reason is simple: People just don't believe that anyone who is innocent can be convicted
of a crime he or she did not commit, much less that it can happen to them. It is our hope that the number and strength of the cases presented here can erode the wall of denial. Then we can all get down to the business of rectifying the errors that have destroyed so many lives.

I am very impressed by the thoroughness and professional presentation of this site. It is an educational site and should be required reading by all high school students. The site says its purpose is to educate the public regarding the vulnerabilities in the U. S. criminal justice system that make the criminal conviction of wholly innocent persons possible. When we say
"wholly innocent," we mean a person who had absolutely no part in the crime charged. An innocent person is deprived of life, liberty and the opportunity to contribute to society, while the guilty party is free to commit more crimes against unsuspecting victims. In many instances, no crime was committed in the first place -- a suicide is charged as homicide, or an accidental fire is mistaken for arson. How does this happen? Faulty eye witness identification, tunnel vision investigators, over zealous prosecutors, bad science, compromised experts and a politicized judiciary are major factors, along with a credulous public. Why should you be concerned about wrongful conviction? The cases here make the answer clear: it can happen to anyone, including you. What can you do? Educate yourself. Ask questions. Think. Stop rewarding malfeasance. It starts with just one person. It starts with YOU.

A sampling of recent cases displayed on this site, demonstrates both the potential for injustice and the difference that individuals can make in preventing it. The Recent Cases page includes approximately 200 cases, mostly from the last 5
years, from across the U.S.A., where people served long prison terms for crimes they did not commit, and these people are now walking free after years of trauma and abuse, released to their lives which were shattered by the state. But we must not just blame the prosecutors. Alas, the public defenders *could have* stopped the wrongs as well, that was their job, and many of the prosecutors mistakes, that later lead to the release of these victims, were obvious at the time of trial. Also complicating matters is the fact that these coerced plea bargains erase the right to an appeal, prolonging the rectification of these abuses. The listed reasons that these cases were overturned are amazing. They are widely varied,from new DNA evidence, to journalists digging up evidence the prosecutors overlooked, to obvious misconduct by prosecutors and outright lying by police. If you ever needed evidence that the criminal justice system fails innocent people, this is a good page to refer people to.

Their Innocent Imprisoned page says, Some fears are universal. Death. Disease. The loss of a child. Going to a jail for something you didnt do. The people listed here are living the last one, their lives wasting away in prison for crimes they did not commit. This page lists approximately 70 names from across America, including specific information about their cases.
A Wrongfully Convicted Cops page lists cases where cops had odd convictions. One highlighted case is about a cop who let an innocent cop sit in jail for 6 years for a crime the guilty cop committed, and the guilty cop just turned himself in, supposedly due to conscience. But now, the innocent cop cannot get his job on the police force back, etc.

This sites Death Penalty page addresses serious issues and problems with death penalty cases. This page has a very haunting picture of Gary Graham, pictured in his prison uniform, with his fist raised, inside the jail. He was executed by Texas, even though there were serious doubts about his guilt. There is a wealth of information here for anyone desiring intelligent critique of the death penalty in America. The page also gives over 50 examples of problematic death penalty cases.

Eyewitness Identification problems are also addressed: Eyewitness identification is one of the most potent and effective tools available to police and prosecutors. It is compelling, and time after time, it convinces juries of the guilt of a defendant.
The problem is, eyewitness identifications are WRONG at least 50% of the time! The site then gives actual cases and arguments about wrongful convictions based on faulty eyewitness identifications. Junk Science in the Courtroom is another area this site covers, saying, Juries usually believe expert witnesses. Unfortunately, juries rarely understand the expert testimony they hear, and don't know what weight -- if any -- to give to terms like "consistent with" and "matching" and "virtually excluded." The lawyers and the judge rarely understand the science that is presented by these experts, either. Our criminal justice system is adversarial and often dog-eat-dog. When the expert falls short of the minimum standards of the profession, or worse, is an outright fraud, it can spell disaster for the wrongly accused. The Junk Science page then lays out a list of cases where bad science has wrongly convicted people..

Wrongful conviction of arson, oddly, has its own page. When there's a fatal fire and someone survives, the survivor will be charged with arson and murder. ~ Gerald Hurst, Ph.D., the page says. There is also a page for False Child Abuse Claims,€ a page in the manner it has been here. Or rather, perhaps this sites owners do not have proper experience and expertise in this area to address this issue with the respect and dignity that it deserves. I noticed lacking on this page were cases of children abused by the state, in various forms, such as child protection institutions, foster care, et al. This page seemed to have too many familial, custody, and divorce, components, that were questionable, for my comfort, in all honesty. And the discouragement of reported sexual abuse has gone on for so long, that we must think about throwing the false accusations term around so lightly,in my opinion. But, as I said, this is the only weak link on this site.

There are many innocent and/or ignorant souls out there who still believe police do not lie. Yet one visit to this sites extensive page ( is fabulous. It is packed with testimonies from people whose lives have been ruined by faulty criminal prosecutions and inhumane treatment by the criminal (in)justice system. Misrepresentations, outright misconduct by prosecutors, coerced plea bargains, and more, fill this educational page.

The site also is a resource for Innocence Projects around the country. Innocence Projects provide representation and/or investigative assistance to prison inmates who claim to be innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. There is now at least one innocence project serving each state except Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota. Most of these innocence projects are new and overwhelmed with applications, so waiting time between application and acceptance is long. Wrongfully convicted persons should not be dissuaded from applying to Innocence Projects because of this, but should have realistic expectations regarding acceptance and time lags. The site also offers an excellent recommended reading list, a discussion board, and a monthly online newsletter on this site.

But most importantly, this site has its own Life After Exoneration ( page. That is an issue not talked about nearly enough. The page says, The wrongly convicted face further injustices when they are exonerated. Unlike parolees,they are entitled to no social services, no job training and placement, no counseling to help them adjust to living in a dramatically different society than the one they left years earlier. In many instances, family and friends who supported them have died. Few states offer any financial compensation for their ordeal, and employers are wary of hiring them. Just as innocence projects were formed across the country to free the wrongly convicted, so too are resettlement programs being formed to help them after they have been released. One can easily see how a person could become a victim of the states abuse twice in the situation of wrongful incarceration for years of your life. We must help these people,even though the state just chews them up, and then just spits them out. How broken must a soul be after such trauma? These people deserve our help, they are battered, for sure. This website is a good place to find ways to hook up with information and organizations addressing these issues of dire import, such as life after exoneration and junk science in the courtroom.

05.02.05 - Class Exploitation Versus Racial Colonization
By Kirsten Anderberg (

Today, I was listening to a recording of a “Free Huey Newton” Rally, held
in Oakland, Ca. in 1968. Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown gave moving
revolutionary speeches, full of social commentary and relevant insight,
still right on the mark today. Many of the comments made in this nearly 40
year old speech, sound as if they came from today’s headlines: “…our
political situation *must become international*; it cannot be national…It
must be international because if we knew anything, we would recognize that
the honkys just don't exploit us, they exploit the whole Third World:
Asia, Africa, Latin America. They take advantage of Europe, but they don't
colonize Europe, they colonize Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Understand
*that*! If we begin to understand that, then the problems that America's
heading for becomes uppermost in our mind. The first one that they're
heading for is the conflict in the Middle East. *We must declare on whose
side we stand*! We can be for no one but the Arabs,“ says Carmichael. But
what I really found interesting was Carmichael’s class and race analysis.
He said, “I will not deny that poor whites in this country are oppressed.
But there are two types of oppression: one is exploitation, the other is

Carmichael said that we need to understand the difference between
exploitation and colonization. He said that poor whites are exploited by
other whites, whereas people of color are oppressed by whites, as well.
“Exploitation is when you exploit somebody of your own race; colonization
is when you exploit somebody of a different race. We are colonized; they
are exploited,” says Carmichael. “If I am black and I am exploiting you
who are also black--we have the same values, the same culture, the same
language, the same society, the same institutions, so I do not have to
destroy those institutions for you. But if you are of another race--if you
have a different culture, different language, different values--I *have*
to destroy all of those to make you bow to me. And that is the difference
between poor blacks and poor whites: poor whites have their culture, have
their values, have their institutions; ours have been completely
destroyed,” said Carmichael. “So when you talk about alliances…Poor white
people are not fighting for their humanity, they're fighting for more
money.” That is a very powerful statement, that will ruffle the feathers
of progressives as well as conservatives, but I think it is true. Although
I think Carmichael underscores the stigma even poor whites are subjected
to, he is right, the stigma is still from other whites. It is still about
exploitation, not colonization. I think that whites need to admit these
things out loud. Even amidst class oppression, being exploited is
different than being colonized.

Carmichael said, “We have been so colonized, that we are ashamed to say we
hate. And that is the best example of a person who is colonized. You sit
in your house, a honky walks in your house, beats you up, rapes your wife,
beat up your child, and you don't have the humanity to say, "I hate you!"
You don't have it. That is how dehumanized we are. We are so dehumanized
we cannot say, "Yes! We hate you for what you have done to us!" Can't say
it…And we are afraid to think beyond that point. Who do you think has more
hatred pent up in them, white people for black people, or black people for
white people? White people for black people, obviously. The hatred has
been more. What have we done to them for them to build up this hatred?
Absolutely nothing. Yet…we don't even want to have the chance to hate them
for what they've done to us, and if hate should be justified *we have the
best justification in the world for hating the honkys*! We have it!” That
is very powerful. First of all, he is saying that it takes humanity to
hate, which is very interesting. His example that not hating your
oppressor due to the fear of hating them, or the inability to muster the
energy to hate after being beaten down long enough, shows dehumanization,
is a valid one. It is an interesting argument that we need to allow the
oppressed the humanity to say “I hate you” to our oppressors. That is not
what they are teaching down at the local Peace Camp for Yuppies in
Seattle, but it is a hell of a lot more realistic for today’s world

Carmichael brings up the very obvious and brilliant point that if anyone
was going to hate anyone in this situation between white and black
America, it would be the blacks who would have the righteousness reasons
to hate whites. Whites had *no* justification for their race hatred.
Blacks had valid reasons. Yet still, whites have mustered more outright
race hatred and I would have to attribute that to dehumanization, yes.
Colonization, yes. To fear. And power. But not to actual hatred levels
that exist below the surface. Thus Carmichael appeals to the dispossessed
to get in touch with their anger and even hatred. He argues to love, you
must also allow hate. Carmichael quoted a Langston Hughes poem that asks,
"What Happens to a Dream Deferred?" The poem answers, “Does it dry up like
a raisin in the sun? Or does it fester like a sore and then run? Or does
it sag like a heavy load? Or does it explode?" And that is what we wonder
about this colonial dehumanization. When Carmichael gave this speech, it
was almost 40 years ago. These conditions and social diseases have now
festered and mutated for decades without resolution, and thus the issues
he raised in 1968, are now even more potent, more important, more
immediate, and more relevant, than they were back then. And as you can see
from this article’s first paragraph, not all that much has changed
politically over time.

In Carmichael’s class analysis, he goes on to say, “Now for white people
who are Communists, the question of Communists becomes first, because
they're exploited by their other people. If we were exploited by other
black people, then it would become a question of how we divide the
profits. It is not that for us…It is a question of how we regain our
humanity and begin to live as a people.” That pretty much sums up, quite
succinctly, the difference between being poor and white in America, and
being poor and a person of color in America. Granted, poor white people
spend time trying to regain dignity in their poverty as well, but you have
to admit once again, who are they regaining their dignity from? Who is
robbing poor white folks of their dignity? Primarily rich white people.
So, it is exploitation, not a struggle to regain culture and personhood,
on top of dignity, as people of color in poverty are dealing with.

In what may also become a rerun of 1968 issues, this recording had
Carmichael speaking about the draft for the Vietnam War. “For us, the
question is not going to Vietnam anymore, the question is “how can we
protect brothers who do not go to Vietnam from going to jail?” That's the
only question we have to face in our community today. So that when one
brother says, "Hell No!", enough people in that community (are) around him
that if they did dare come in, they're going to face maximum damage...We
are talking about survival.”

I also found it interesting that Carmichael said the pattern for U.S.
colonization was the “three M’s: The missionaries, the money, and the
Marines.” He says that all over the world the way it always works is they
send in the missionaries. Then if that doesn’t work to extinguish a
culture, they send in money for poverty programs. When the people will not
trade their culture and humanity for money, then in come the Marines. This
is what we watched in South Vietnam. That seems to be a very astute and
correct analysis that can be applied to many a U.S. invasion, including
Iraq today. But oddly, now, with this renegade and admittedly Christian
American government, we do not have to send in missionaries, as the U.S.
government is now missionary and military combined! It is a Christian
army! I think back in 1968, the U.S. government was trying to give more of
an appearance of a separation of church and state. But Bush seems to have
given up on that illusion completely, and is gung ho to move forward as
American Christian missionary Marines with money. I think the “three M’s”
analysis is a good one.

At the same Free Huey rally, H. Rap Brown also spoke quite eloquently on
the struggles people of color face daily. He said, “…class differences
will not save you. There is no such thing as a black middle class…The Man
does not beat your head because you got a Cadillac or because you got a
Ford; he beats you because you're black! Class structures are a luxury
that we cannot afford. They cannot divide us by saying that you're middle
class or you're lower class. He kills you because you're black.” And I
would argue that that statement could also be interpreted backwards, to
say, it does not matter if I am middle class or lower class, I do *not*
get killed by The Man *because* I am white. And that is the difference
between exploitation and colonization, as Carmichael said.

H. Rap Brown said that “green power is a myth. [There's] no such thing as
green power as long as that honky got the power to change the color of
money.” Brown had some other interesting comments during his speech,
including talking about Santa Claus, “a white honky who slides down a
black chimney and comes out white,” the difference between concessions and
progress or victory, and how more black Americans believed in Huntley and
Brinkley’s words than Catholics did the Pope’s. “See, it's no in between:
you're either free or you're a slave. There's no such thing as second
class citizenship. That's like telling me you can be a little bit
pregnant,” said Brown. He also shared an old African leader’s wisdom,
saying “leadership should never be shared; it should always remain in the
hands of the dispossessed people.”

To listen to a recording of the 1968 rally I am referring to in this
article, visit UCBerkeley/Radio Pacifica’s “Social Activism Sound
Recording Project” site at The recording
is over an hour long, but very exhilarating, and educational, to listen
to. If I was a high school or college teacher, I would definitely bring
this recording in to my class to listen to, and then discuss afterwards.

04.02.05 - Does Feminism Mean Blind Support of All Women?
By Kirsten Anderberg (

Does being a feminist mean we must support all women, no matter what their
agenda, because they are women? The answer I have come to is “no.” After
careful consideration of this dilemma, I have decided that my feminism
means I do not support the patriarchal agenda, regardless of the sex or
gender of the messenger. I have belabored this issue of what feminism
means, and who that lends support to, long and hard for years, and have
decided to use a patriarchal meter, so to speak, to make my decisions. If
a woman supports agendas that hold women back and promote sexism, I do not
lend support. If men or women’s agendas give women equal opportunities and
work towards stopping harmful gender stereotyping, then I want to support

Over the years, I have watched sexist men use women against women. I have
seen women do it willingly and of their own volition, as well. Curious as
to what would make a woman act against her own best interests, I began to
analyze the situation. What I began to realize was that these women did
not perceive feminism and equal opportunity to be in their own best
interests! They perceive maintaining the patriarchal status quo, and
thereby maintaining their power by attaching to the males around them, to
be in their own best interests. Diminishing the males’ power meant
diminishing their own power to them. Women who have invested a lot of time
perfecting the whole sexist power thing through false breasts, tons of
makeup and playing into the male fantasyland of womanhood, will especially
resent all that work being for nothing, as funny as that sounds. I noticed
when I saw a tour of the Playboy mansion on TV, with interviews of the
many women living there right now, that the women were doing their nails
and tending to little toy poodles. None of them talked about using this
opportunity with Hugh to go to college. None of these women were reading,
they were all just “available” and hanging around, thoughtless really,
just looking like a toy for men, like their dogs were for them. Their
“job” is to look buxom, submissive, and stupid, it seems. A brainy woman
who read a lot, perhaps a graduate student, would not fit into the Playboy
mansion was my take on it. And why is it that educated women are not
flocking to Hugh’s mansion? He could pay for many a woman’s medical or law

So, some women will *fight* feminism, alongside patriarchal men. These
women are also in no position *to* fight for their own freedom and
deserved privileges, as they are usually dependent upon the men around
them for housing, food, transportation, money, support, privileges, etc.
These men reward “good” women, and as a woman, I know what “good” woman
behavior is. Speak when spoken to. Walk and speak quietly, softly, rarely.
Do not think “too much” or ever complain, that is unladylike. Do housework
or cook, or take care of your poodle. A submissive woman is a good woman,
is what I see reinforced all around me, in both the mainstream, and
alternative worlds, honestly. Women who make feminist waves, challenging
patriarchal privilege and gender stereotypes, loudly, independently, are
yes, “unfeminine.” And dangerous. And need to be nipped in the bud.

I remember first thinking about this dilemma in a college Women’s History
class. One of the first states to give women the vote was one that was
trying to pass polygamy laws. Their religion had women in a subservient
position to men, and thus if men had three wives, then it was like he had
4 votes to himself. The men supported women getting the vote, not so the
women could vote independently, as the men felt they could control things
to avoid that by limiting women’s access to information, education,
reading and writing, etc. These men saw getting women the vote as the more
wives a man had, the more votes he had, essentially. I thought about that
long and hard and realized how sad that was. It is so often in history
that things that seem progressive on the surface have ulterior selfish
motives. Rape laws could seem to be progressive for women when they were
first introduced in history, yet they were written, and remain written
today, in a fashion as to reflect the protection of one man’s property
from another man, rather than a woman’s right to her own body from all men
as her own. Women got the vote in some states because men thought they
would just control the women’s votes, and thus saw women’s votes as just
more property for the men to own, since laws then said women could not
possess any property anyway. The history of votes in America is part of
why I burst out laughing when people go on their patriotic “America was
founded on freedom” speeches! No, America was founded on genocide, and
banning votes in this “democracy” from *the majority,* and then giving
votes only to land owning white males! That is the antithesis of freedom
for everyone but the minority, which is the land owning white males! I see
American women argue America was founded on “freedom” daily, which I can
only attribute to a lack of education and factual historical information.

The next vivid memory I have of this dilemma of patriarchal women versus
pro-feminist men was at the University of Washington during the student
body elections. I was in several women studies classes at that time, and
we discussed this in depth. Should we just vote for the women candidates,
regardless of their stands on issues, because they are women? And we just
need to up the number of women in power positions? Or is a pro-feminist
working class male better for women on campus than a class insulated,
privileged white sorority sister? I argued the man was a better choice,
even if he is male. The sorority sister is going to probably protect her
own social class privilege, and what is worse, she is so class insulated,
as to not understand the real issues of the majority of students. I would
prefer the working class and pro-feminist mentality as the person I could
appeal to for coverage of issues within my school. The working class
pro-feminist male would potentially care about tuition hikes, equal
funding of women’s sports, student health care, financial aid issues, and
childcare subsidies, while the sorority sister would be doing petty
fundraisers and Greek Row activities that are quite race and class
insulated, and benefit a very small few, if to anyone, honestly.

This issue came to a head again, backstage, at the Oregon Country Fair
(OCF). I went on main stage, in front of about 5,000 people, after
midnight, and announced that I had been in 16 midnight shows over 16
years, and we had never once had a woman emcee it, and I was sick of it,
and I hoped in the 1990’s all that was going to change. I got thunderous
applause and put the patriarchs in charge of the OCF midnight show under
tremendous pressure. Essentially, I was saying, on stage, I was willing to
emcee, and since I was one of the most popular women acts, there was
really no way out of this for the men. So, the following year, knowing the
audience expected women emcees now, one of the men’s right hand women came
out on stage in high heels, with a wand, and played a “good witch.” She
acted like an idiot, she talked in a squeaky unnatural voice, and it was
obnoxious to me that they could not just allow a real woman to emcee, like
the men! I also found out through the grapevine that the men in charge of
the show had asked many women performers to emcee that year, anyone but
me, but all of those women told those men that they needed to ask me to
emcee first, since I blazed the trail. The men performers did not want to
reward me, so they got this gal to dress up and act like an idiot “witch”
in heels. Yeah, that was an alternative to my feminist emceeing! After
this fairy/witch squeaked some stupid incoherent crap which was not funny
or clever, one of the Karamazov Brothers came on stage with a cigar in a
tutu. He said something to the “good witch” like he heard there were not
enough women emceeing the show and so he had come to emcee in his tutu.
She left the stage, and we went back to all male emcees again. Some
pro-feminist men and women performers booed this from backstage.

Now it is rare to get booed from backstage anywhere! The audience can boo
you, but your own performer peers generally will not do such a thing. But
it happened. I did not boo out loud, as I was in the center of this
controversy, but I did laugh when others booed this crap, as did many
others. I got a flaming hot letter in the mail the next week from the
woman who played the “good witch” emcee. She said she could not believe I
would boo a woman on stage. And how that violated my feminism. At that
moment, I realized I had little to nothing in common with this woman. She
had chosen her alliances, and they were with the men in charge, the people
I was trying to get to let go of absolute control and power. Other women
performers were offered the woman emcee part and refused on the grounds of
integrity, saying I should be asked first, in solidarity. This woman had
already betrayed any feminist bond we may have had by doing the boys’
work, was my take on it. She was not my ally. My allies included men who
booed that sexist crap and demanded female emcees, not more men in tutus.
My allies were women who said out loud that was cowardly of the men to try
to avoid real women emcees for yet another year, and the men who also said
they supported women emcees and thought that it was foolish to be playing
such stupid sexism games at this stage in our supposed alternative
lifestyle evolution.

Another OCF thing happened to really drive the division between
patriarchally aligned women and pro-feminist men home for me. A bunch of
the women who are predominantly very dependent upon the patriarchal
hierarchy for their privileges such as camping passes and camping space,
as well as stage time, made a “Girl Circus” at the OCF. It was promoted as
a thing where women and girls would present a female-centered and produced
circus. The first red flag for me was the “girl circus” logo. It was a
piece of lingerie, a bustier. Women and girls sold pins of a bustier and
the words “girl circus” on them, which immediately made me uncomfortable.
Little girls do not need to be associated with bustiers, in my opinion.
Girls do not need to be sexualized. I certainly do NOT want to see a bunch
of 10 year old girls paraded on stage at an “alternative” gathering in
bustiers! I was stunned that this group of women performers was
brainwashing, in my opinion, our fair family girls into thinking acting
“sexy” is either required of females performers of all ages, or is “cute.”

I was hoping the “girl circus” would show girls that they could do neat
things like juggle and do prop magic. Instead, this group of women was
leading girls in stereotypical skits of women acting stupid,
predominantly, with subpar writing and acting. The woman conducting the
chorus and band doing what seemed to be lounge music, was wearing high
heels, a bustier, and long gloves to her elbows. All of the women in the
show wore bustiers with clown wigs, as well. A few of the women in the
show were actually professional level vaudevillians, thus I was sad to see
them denigrating this with bustiers. But most of the women in the show
were not high quality performers, and I was repulsed when I watched a 40+
year old mother of one of the girls on stage, a wife of one of the
patriarch performer males, turn around on stage at the girl circus, lift
her dress, and literally shake her underwear and ass at the crowd as if
this was a form of entertainment! I guess when your material fails, you
can always turn around and shake your ass to titillate the men? I was
disgusted that this was what they were offering the girls and that 8 year
old girls in the front row witnessed this woman acting like a mindless
idiot on stage. I can imagine much better role models for girls than that.

I could not align with the “girl circus.” Here it was being touted as some
great feminist thing, now there was a “girl circus” at the OCF. But I did
not understand how the girls fit into it, as the women were dressed like
bar maids and acted like that as well. I was deeply saddened at what I
saw. I saw this as nothing new, nothing progressive, nothing that
challenged old stereotypes and pigeonholing of women into one role,
always, on stage. That of sexual titillators. We did not need to know how
to swallow swords, juggle chainsaws or walk slackropes like the men, we
just needed to look cute and show our panties on stage. It made me ill. As
a woman performer, I always relied on quality feminist material, rather
than wearing a bustier and heels. I felt that to wear a bustier and heels
would just prolong stereotypes, men could do that themselves, or try to
get other women to do that, but I was not going to. I wanted to show girls
that you could do a funny show, with quality material, and that was enough
to earn respect. Just like it was enough for the boys. Girls and women do
not have to sell themselves as a sex object in every thing they do. I was
a feminist comedian, nothing more, nothing less. But it showed me that
women who were fighting for independence, even at alternative
environments, had to wade through layers of women who have already
invested in the patriarchy, and it was a much more complex fight going on
here than just separating down sex and gender lines. Feminism is not about
men versus women, or vice versa. It is about dismantling patriarchy.
People need to understand that very crucial and fundamental difference.

And yes, there are Republican feminists. These are women who did challenge
sexist limitations, such as the first woman Supreme Court justice, Sandy
Day O’Connor, but these Republican “feminists” still support the
patriarchy vehemently. It could even be argued that these are the types of
women that men in power in a patriarchy would logically advance, to prove
women had opportunity, while not threatening their own reign as kings.
Yet one cannot deny that Sandy Day O’Connor *did* blaze a new path for
women. But it is ridiculously pathetic that there was never a woman
Supreme Court justice in American history until within my short lifetime.
The racism and sexism on America’s Supreme Court is a perfect example of
the laughable “freedoms for all” in America. Even when we cannot define
feminism wholly, really, since there are Republican “feminists,” et al, we
can still tell what benefits a patriarchy and what does not. It is not
that hard to decipher. So, using a methodology taught to me decades ago by
feminist scholars, I find it relatively easy to reduce things into 1)Who
benefits from this, 2)Who loses from it, and 3)Who is promoting/supporting
it. In a patriarchal analysis, I always start there. But again, there is a
lot of gray area. As Sandra Day O’Connor *did* blaze paths, even if she is
conservative and often votes against women’s rights. But is she more
harmful in her politics than the progressive move seeing a woman in her
position bestows on us? That is up for question.

One of the funniest exaggerations and satires of this problem is the group
“Ladies Against Women,” or LAW, out of San Francisco, Ca. I have not seen
them in years, but back in the 1980’s, I would see them at the oddest
places, satirizing conservative right wing women. They would speak out to
the media, *on behalf* of conservative women at events, confusing things
considerably. They would do things like picket the feminists who were
protesting the Miss California pageants as objectifying women as meat, and
would hand out fliers with satiric spoofs on Republican women, using the
feminists as the catalyst for their humor. The humor was respectful of
feminism and absolutely hilarious. They came with big hair and fake fur
stoles, horned rim glasses and signs that said “I would rather be ironing”
and “ban the poor” to events. They sold frosted pork rind puffs outside
the Republican National Convention as a bake sale to raise money for the
White House’s Star Wars plans years ago. We need more of this type of
thing. We need to do social aikido on conservative anti-feminist women, by
imitating them and speaking *for* them to the press at events! Some
friends and I joined “Concerned Women of America” and my god, is that ever
a good training ground for the right wing conservative woman’s
techniques, language, issues, and mannerisms!

So the question still remains, what is a “real” feminist? Are all women
feminists inherently due to sex? Should we support conservative women
trailblazers over progressive working class pro-feminist males? It is
definitely a deep topic, with many arms and legs. This article is not
about answers, really, but again, just about questions. Asking the right
questions. Even if we do not know the answers. But I am firm on the idea
that I do not blankly support all women’s agendas, and that I do not look
at all men as enemies. Again, feminism is not about men versus women. It
is about patriarchy, and equal opportunity. It cannot be reduced to what
sex or gender you are. It is about a life philosophy. It is about
respecting women as equals, for real. It is about sharing, and caring,
about prejudice and equal playing fields. It is about power and politics,
it is not about what sex organs people have.

Protesting Prisons: Rights and Reforms
By Kirsten Anderberg (

Jail is a place where dehumanization is high on the agenda of the state
and guards, and thus humane interactions from the outside are greatly
needed for the preservation of prisoners’ sanity. This necessary jail and
prison support can take on many forms. You can visit prisoners, organize
legal help, write press releases, send prisoners books, phone cards, money
and letters, organize rallies, help translate testimonies, and more. A
wide variety of organizations are devoted to prison abolition and reform,
and prisoner support. Just as there are many ways to help prisoners, there
are many distinct populations with specific problems in jail, as well.
Mothers with children may have special needs, gay partners have troubles
penetrating the immediate family visitation rules, reintegrating into
society after serving a long sentence requires help, translation issues
need more attention, prison conditions themselves are an issue, as well as
scams within prisons, such as those that overcharge prisoners for phone

The Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) Network
( is a warehouse of information on
defensive and offensive jail support. They define defensive support as
educating the community about the problems within prisons and the legal
system, as well as working with prisoners through legal teams and support
groups. They define offensive work as direct challenges to the prison
conglomerate, which includes protesting prison conditions, and getting as
much press as possible focused on these issues. The ABC says its goals are
“struggling to expose injustice, corruption and oppression; supporting
prisoners who (consciously or unconsciously) are combatants against the
state; providing advice and support to activists who put their bodies on
the line in defense of freedom and revolution; and seeing our continued
activism, campaigns, etc. in the larger picture of prison abolition and
revolutionary change -- as well as our own experiences in creating
conditions for change.”

The ABC website says that the Anarchist Red Cross was formed in Tsarist
Russia to organize support for political prisoners of the Cossack Army.
Then during the Russian civil war, they changed their name to the Black
Cross to avoid being confused with what is now known as the Red Cross. The
Black Cross has died down and resurfaced several times. The site says the
North American sector of the Black Cross started in the early 1980’s. The
ABC focuses primarily on anarchist and class war prisoners. Their website
provides an extensive list of anti-prison support resources. ABC
organizations exist all over the world. Some of the countries with
organizations listed on the central ABC site are: Australia, Mexico,
Canada, Denmark, Germany, the UK, Greece, South Africa, Sweden, France,
Poland, Spain, the Czech Republic, Argentina, Brazil, and the U.S.

Many prisoner support groups exist for different jailed sectors. For
instance, there is support for anarchist prisoners
(, as well as vegan prisoners, Chicano
Mexicano prisoners (, Earth
Liberation activist prisoners (, gay
prisoners (, parent prisoners
(, juvenile prisoners
(, etc. There are also specific
support groups for individual prisoners, such as the support networks in
place for Leonard Peltier (, Jeff Free Luers
(, and Mumia Abu-Jamal (
There are groups that work for the abolition of prison, such as the
Coalition For The Abolition of Prisons, Inc.
( and Critical Resistance
( Excellent prison activism resources
exist online, such as,,, and Pen pal programs exist, and there are also
organizations that help prisoners sell their art, such as Prison Art

Books for Prisoners programs are very important. An Ohio books for
prisoners program reports that the most requested books, that they cannot
keep up with the demand for, include dictionaries, health books, books on
Native American and Black studies, and books by Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky,
Mumia Abu-Jamal, Louis Lamor and Anne Rice. The types of books the Ohio
books for prisoners organization needs are GED and college level
educational materials, legal texts, history books, especially on struggles
of peoples, art books, fiction, skill/trade books, revolutionary writings,
and medical texts. The Anarchists Black Cross site lists books for
prisoners programs in PA, WA, LA, CO, MD, GA, OH, NY, IN, OR, MA, NC, CA,
and MN. They also list programs in Canada.

Once you are in prison, your choices are so limited. You rely on people
outside for your freedoms in so many ways. You rely on help to place phone
calls that are expensive, to mail letters that take stamps, to reach the
press and legal aid; it all takes more than one prisoner’s arms and legs,
and money. We often take our freedom to walk outside when we want for
granted, yet we also acknowledge that injustice is rampant within the
criminal justice and prison systems in America. It is frightening to think
of the people in prison for crimes they did not commit. There but by the
grace of God go you or I in that situation! And political prisoners,
again, it could have been me, and it may be me before we are through. I
think any time invested in prison activism is time well spent. And it is
something you know you would want someone to do for you, if you were in

02.02.05 Wrongful Convictions and the Questionably Dead:
By Kirsten Anderberg ( ( is a great resource for anyone desiring concrete and recent evidence that serious problems exist within the criminal justice system in the U.S. today. For those people who still live with their heads in the sand, insisting only "criminals" plead "guilty," and that only "guilty" people end up in prison, this site is here to burst that insulated bubble. Long lists of actual names, and court cases, on this site, document a wide swath of abuse from the state that no one can deny. The site says, "The case profiles here consist primarily of media reports, the majority of which are accounts of wrongfully convicted persons who have been exonerated. The articles profiling the innocent who remain imprisoned provide details of compelling evidence of innocence. The reason is simple: People just don't believe that anyone who is innocent can be convicted of a crime he or she did not commit, much less that it can happen to them. It is our hope that the number and strength of the cases presented here can erode the wall of denial. Then we can all get down to the business of rectifying the errors that have destroyed so many lives."

I am very impressed by the thoroughness and professional presentation of this site. It is an educational site and should be required reading by all high school students. The site says its purpose is "to educate the public regarding the vulnerabilities in the U. S. criminal justice system that make the criminal conviction of wholly innocent persons possible. When we say "wholly innocent," we mean a person who had absolutely no part in the crime charged. An innocent person is deprived of life, liberty and the opportunity to contribute to society, while the guilty party is free to commit more crimes against unsuspecting victims. In many instances, no crime was committed in the first place -- a suicide is charged as homicide, or an accidental fire is mistaken for arson. How does this happen? Faulty eye witness identification, tunnel vision investigators, over zealous prosecutors, bad science, compromised experts and a politicized judiciary are major factors, along with a credulous public. Why should you be concerned about wrongful conviction? The cases here make the answer clear: it can happen to anyone, including you. What can you do? Educate yourself. Ask questions. Think. Stop rewarding malfeasance. It starts with just one person. It starts with YOU."

A "sampling of recent cases" displayed on this site, demonstrates "both the potential for injustice and the difference that individuals can make in preventing it." The "Recent Cases" page includes approximately 200 cases, mostly from the last 5 years, from across the U.S.A., where people served long prison terms for crimes they did not commit, and these people are now walking free after years of trauma and abuse, released to their lives which were shattered by the state. But we must not just blame the prosecutors. Alas, the public defenders *could have* stopped the wrongs as well, that was their job, and many of the prosecutors' mistakes, that later lead to the release of these victims, were obvious at the time of trial. Also complicating matters is the fact that these coerced plea bargains erase the right to an appeal, prolonging the rectification of these abuses. The listed reasons that these cases were overturned are amazing. They are widely varied, from new DNA evidence, to journalists digging up evidence the prosecutors overlooked, to obvious misconduct by prosecutors and outright lying by police. If you ever needed evidence that the criminal justice system fails innocent people, this is a good page to refer people to.

Their "Innocent Imprisoned" page says, "Some fears are universal. Death. Disease. The loss of a child. Going to a jail for something you didn't do. The people listed here are living the last one, their lives wasting away in prison for crimes they did not commit." This page lists approximately 70 names from across America, including specific information about their cases. A "Wrongfully Convicted Cops" page lists cases where cops had odd convictions. One highlighted case is about a cop who let an innocent cop sit in jail for 6 years for a crime the guilty cop committed, and the guilty cop just turned himself in, supposedly due to conscience. But now, the innocent cop cannot get his job on the police force back, etc.

This site's "Death Penalty" page addresses serious issues and problems with death penalty cases. This page has a very haunting picture of Gary Graham, pictured in his prison uniform, with his fist raised, inside the jail. He was executed by Texas, even though there were "serious doubts about his guilt." There is a wealth of information here for anyone desiring intelligent critique of the death penalty in America. The page also gives over 50 examples of problematic death penalty cases.

"Eyewitness Identification" problems are also addressed: "Eyewitness identification is one of the most potent and effective tools available to police and prosecutors. It is compelling, and time after time, it convinces juries of the guilt of a defendant. The problem is, eyewitness identifications are WRONG at least 50% of the time!" The site then gives actual cases and arguments about wrongful convictions based on faulty eyewitness identifications. "Junk Science in the Courtroom" is another area this site covers, saying, "Juries usually believe expert witnesses. Unfortunately, juries rarely understand the expert testimony they hear, and don't know what weight -- if any -- to give to terms like "consistent with" and "matching" and "virtually excluded." The lawyers and the judge rarely understand the science that is presented by these experts, either. Our criminal justice system is adversarial and often dog-eat-dog. When the expert falls short of the minimum standards of the profession, or worse, is an outright fraud, it can spell disaster for the wrongly accused." The Junk Science page then lays out a list of cases where bad science has wrongly convicted people.

Wrongful conviction of arson, oddly, has its own page. ""When there's a fatal fire and someone survives, the survivor will be charged with arson and murder." ~ Gerald Hurst, Ph.D.," the page says. There is also a page for "False Child Abuse Claims," which is the only controversial part of this website that I saw. This is a serious and thorny issue, and one that perhaps cannot be reduced to a page in the manner it has been here. Or rather, perhaps this site's owners do not have proper experience and expertise in this area to address this issue with the respect and dignity that it deserves. I noticed lacking on this page were cases of children abused by the state, in various forms, such as child protection institutions, foster care, et al. This page seemed to have too many familial, custody, and divorce, components, that were questionable, for my comfort, in all honesty. And the discouragement of reported sexual abuse has gone on for so long, that we must think about throwing the "false accusations" term around so lightly, in my opinion. But, as I said, this is the only weak link on this site.

There are many innocent and/or ignorant souls out there who still believe police do not lie. Yet one visit to this site's extensive "Police, Prosecutorial and Judicial Misconduct" page should throw up some serious topics for debate. Their "How the System Works" page ( is fabulous. It is packed with testimonies from people whose lives have been ruined by faulty criminal prosecutions and inhumane treatment by the criminal (in)justice system. Misrepresentations, outright misconduct by prosecutors, coerced plea bargains, and more, fill this educational page.

The site also is a resource for Innocence Projects around the country. "Innocence Projects provide representation and/or investigative assistance to prison inmates who claim to be innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. There is now at least one innocence project serving each state except Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota. Most of these innocence projects are new and overwhelmed with applications, so waiting time between application and acceptance is long. Wrongfully convicted persons should not be dissuaded from applying to Innocence Projects because of this, but should have realistic expectations regarding acceptance and time lags." The site also offers an excellent "recommended reading" list, a discussion board, and a monthly online newsletter on this site.

But most importantly, this site has its own "Life After Exoneration" ( page. That is an issue not talked about nearly enough. The page says, "The wrongly convicted face further injustices when they are exonerated. Unlike parolees, they are entitled to no social services, no job training and placement, no counseling to help them adjust to living in a dramatically different society than the one they left years earlier. In many instances, family and friends who supported them have died. Few states offer any financial compensation for their ordeal, and employers are wary of hiring them. Just as innocence projects were formed across the country to free the wrongly convicted, so too are resettlement programs being formed to help them after they have been released." One can easily see how a person could become a victim of the state's abuse twice in the situation of wrongful incarceration for years of your life. We must help these people, even though the state just chews them up, and then just spits them out. How broken must a soul be after such trauma? These people deserve our help, they are battered, for sure. This website is a good place to find ways to hook up with information and organizations addressing these issues of dire import, such as "life after exoneration" and "junk science in the courtroom."

27.01.04 PDX IMC: A Nice Place To Sexually Harass Women
By Kirsten Anderberg

The situation regarding me and my writing, and what Portland’s IMC (pdx
imc) *allows* men to do to women there is SEX ABUSE AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT.
There is no other way to look at this. To pretend the problem is *me* is
ridiculous. I give the pdx imc excellent articles and I get back *sex
abuse.* I see *other* women sexually harassed on the pdx imc site as well.
This is an issue for *all* feminist writers, and humans, at the pdx imc.
It is an issue for the pdx imc that they literally *support and publish*
sexual abuse and harassment of women on their site.

Seriously. I just posted an article about homelessness to the pdx imc at The story was about
homelessness. It is linked to a story about homelessness that is
headlining right now. So what is the comment on that homelessness article
right now? Let’s look at that comment. It’s subject header is “Hate Crimes
by Women Against Men.” By “Bluto,” dated Jan. 26, 2005 08:35. The comment
is: “Just the other day, while I was working at an icecream shop, this
woman came in and bent over in front of the icecream display,
intentionally allowing her shirt to open. She exposed her breasts to me.
She even had the nerve to grin while she was at it. I am angry at this
inconsentual instance of sex with a woman. I did not ask to be boobie
wagged. When will someone do something to stop this! Any suggestions?
Should I have pointed at her boobies and announced loudly, "Hey, look at
those tiny boobs! Their just like real boobs, only smaller?" Any

Yes, I have some thoughts. This is sex abuse. It is sexual harassment. It
has gotten to a point where I now hold pdx imc responsible for *spreading*
and *providing a forum for* sex abuse of women. If pdx imc cannot secure a
*safe space* for *women* to NOT be *sexually harassed and abused* on the
pdx imc, then what good is it?

From an article I wrote in Oct. 2004, I quote, “Last week, I wrote an
article on how to feed vegans and vegetarians during the holidays. It was
posted to the Santa Cruz IMC. And three comments appeared. Among them
were: “Why don't you write a diet book, you hog” from “amused,” “What, you
are a vegetarian. How did you get so damn fat?” from “jmango,” and another
with a picture and mean words from someone using the name “veganboy.”
First of all, why on earth would someone post that crap three times on one
article? Secondly, what does it serve IMCs to facilitate attacks like that
on women? Thirdly, why are IMCs just “hiding” such comments, rather than
DELETING them? The comments in question above, went to a hidden section of
the IMC, where people can still read them. Why on earth are we filing
things like I need to write a diet book because I am a hog?? What is the
importance or relevance to *anything* in that comment? Why would IMCs
waste space holding on to such nonsense? Is it in the name of
anti-censorship that I am permanently called a hog on an IMC? What about
*my* rights to *not* be called a hog? Where is the line here? So these
people can spew racist, sexist, classist slurs, and we are going to
publish them forever for these trolls? Why? And how is that different than
the media we are trying to be an alternative to? This is pretty weird
stuff.” As you can see, I have brought this up before, and it seems
worthless to keep trying!

Look, I have tried to look the other way. But this is sex abuse, plain and
simple. It is sexual harassment. I am being *literally sexually harassed
and the evidence is on the site right now.* I have also been sexual
harassed on the Santa Cruz IMC, and at this point, I want to know why the
IMC’s foster sexual harassment of women and then are taking it out on the
women writers, instead of the stalking sexual harassers.

I have tried to give IMC’s good material. That is absolutely *impossible*
without being sexually harassed it appears. If I am not being sexually
harassed with off topic comments which the IMC guidelines SAY would be
pulled but rarely are, then I am being told to go on a diet, something
male writers are not having flung at them. The *rampant sexism* that pdx
imc is ALLOWING to take place on its servers is amazing. That is far from
progressive to allow women to be stalked and degraded online for merely
writing quality feminist articles.

I posted a story on the pro-choice rally in Seattle on Jan. 22, on the pdx
imc this week, as it was sickening that the Seattle IMC had no mention of
it, it was not in any newspapers I saw, and I felt someone in the
alternative press needed to cover it. I decided to take a grand leap of
faith and to post some of my other articles on the pdx imc as well. But I
can see that pdx imc is still a haven of men stalking strong female
writers with sexual harassment and the pdx imc is still condoning it
apparently. So, forget it. The pdx imc is NOT a safe place for feminist
writers. We risk sexual harassment, if not sexual abuse, for posting
there. And what is worse, we do not seem to have support from the pdx imc.
Instead we are bemoaned as a hassle if we complain about this.

The above comment from pdx imc today had ZERO to do with the homelessness
article. It had to do with belittling my work around feminism, it is
around belittling my pleas for sexual safety for women, it is laughing at
sexism in its face. The comments on the Santa Cruz IMC constantly posting
pictures of fat people and constantly posting “go write a diet book” also
got very old. So is it the duty of the writer, *herself,* to bring these
dirty comments to the editorial dept.’s attention? But then I get labeled
the whiner. I assert here and now that it is THE PDX IMC’s RESPONSIBILITY
to KEEP SEX HARASSMENT off their site, just as it is their duty to keep
racism off their site. I do not think a person of color could be ridiculed
and get away with it, the way this blatant sexism is flaunted and allowed
at pdx imc.

I no longer will accept the blame for pdx imc’s sexist environment. It is
up to the pdx imc, and *no one else,* to make women safe as writers there.
At this point, I am going to have to promote a *boycott* of the pdx imc
until they quit promoting sexual harassment of women writers. They promote
it by allowing those comments to stay, and by demeaning the women writers
who complain, rather than protecting us and providing a safe space for
strong women writers.

I should not have to be sexually harassed to write for IMCs. I have
brought this up numerous times. And I am bringing it up again. Whether you
like my articles or not, you still do not have a right to SEXUALLY HARASS
me. I take that comment on the pdx imc today as SEXUAL HARASSMENT. It has
*zero* to do with the article, and *everything* to do with sexually
harassing me. And I am one of the most visible women writers on the IMC
system and feel it is my DUTY to up this thing and DEMAND that pdx imc
begin to secure SAFE SPACE for women writers. I MUST demand this for my
other sisters who write. And my brothers who do not approve of sexual
harassment of women writers as well.

I demand that the pdx imc QUIT allowing the sexual harassment of women
writers such as myself on their site. Today. And we women who have been
abused there would like an apology. This is not an issue between me and
online stalkers. It is an issue between me and editors. Editors are
*allowing* women to be sexually harassed on the pdx imc site. They are
aware of it and do nothing.

I give up on the pdx imc. Until that imc can get it together to STOP men
sexually harassing feminist writers there, I am boycotting it. It is NOT
the fault of strong feminist writers that we are sexually abused on the
pdx imc and strong women writers do NOT deserve to be sexually harassed,
especially not in public. At this point, the pdx imc has facilitated
sexual harassment of me, and I am sick of it. Posting on Portland’s IMC as
a strong women writer? NO THANKS!

21.01.05 Practicing Spontaneity To Increase Our Collective Courage
By Kirsten Anderberg (

All Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and grassroots movements require the ability to
think for yourself, on the part of organizers and participants, against a
tide of corporate advertising assaults, and amidst conflicting religious
and political agendas. Somewhere inside this whirl of spin doctors and
commercialism, exists a people who still operate free of the machine.
There is great freedom in knowing you can trust your own intuition,
independent of peer pressure, the status quo, or criminalization of
thought. Most great art, music, literature, et al, comes from people who
follow their own drummers, to paraphrase Thoreau. The cost for this
thought freedom is courage. The courage to follow your own eyes, beliefs,
instincts, logic, and visions, off the beaten path, is like the boy who
points and shouts the Emperor has no clothing. It is dangerous and risky,
but necessary. And you are sure to have failures as well as successes.
That is also one of the prices for this freedom: accepting the risk and
reality of occasional failures. But the only real failure is the failure
to try.

Dostoevsky wrote that freedom is the thing that humans fear *most.* He
said humans will do anything to avoid their own freedom. This is profound
and seems quite true at times. It is scary to blaze forward into uncharted
territory, with no leader, no guarantee of success, no safety nets, and
with no measure of success or failure, really, due to novelty. It takes
tremendous self-confidence and trust in one’s self to follow your own
drummer and to act on your own beliefs.

Henry David Thoreau’s famous quote says, “Why should we be in such
desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man
does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a
different drummer. Let him step to the music that he hears, however
measured or far away.” You notice he says the person *steps* to the music.
Acting on one’s beliefs, is important, freeing, and frightening.

While attending the University of Washington (UW), I was inspired to
protest the Miss Seafair Pageant taking place on my campus. The pageant
claimed to be a scholarship program for women, but the first “judged”
event was a fashion show at a J.C.Penney’s store, modeling swimwear and
evening gowns. There was no GPA requirement, but there was an age
requirement of 23. The male counterpart to Miss Seafair, King Neptune, is
always about 50+ years old, and he is elected by the business community.
Miss Seafair, instead, is kept to an age limit, and had to prance around
in swimsuits for an “academic scholarship.” Even though no one had ever
protested this pageant in 42 years of Seattle history, I wanted to do it.
But I was afraid I would end up one person, outside protesting, and that I
would look stupid and be ineffective or even counterproductive. I called
Ann Simonton for advice, since she had originally inspired me to protest
beauty pageants.

Ann told me to go ahead and plan the protest. She said even if no one
came, and it was just one person protesting, it would get on the news,
which would get people talking. I have never forgotten that advice when I
was afraid to try something “crazy” again in the future. Or as Rob Brezsny
says, “Oh God, please let me be disciplined enough to go crazy in the name
of creation, not destruction.” I put out notices to the UW Women Studies
classes and also to community groups. About 30 protesters showed up, we
wore tiaras, and banners over our chests with names like “Miss Ogyny,”
“Miss Behavin’,” “Miss Taken,” and “Miss Understanding.” Several people
held a large banner that said “Beauty Comes In All Sizes, Shapes, and
Colors.” I sledgehammered a bathroom scale out front. It was great fun,
and we were in all the local media the following day, from TV news to
newspapers. The following year, we did it again. And that year, the UW’s
student paper did not run *any* listings of events around the Miss Seafair
pageantry in their publication, then the day after the crowning of Miss
Seafair, they published my picture, with “Miss Seafair” under it. The
Seafair officials were hopping mad at the UW Daily!

I also learned about following your own drummer as a street performer and
vaudevillian. I loved that people I knew were writing our own culture
into our music, and entertaining ourselves. We were independent of
commercial profiteering, such as when we performed in smoky bars to sell
beer for club owners. We had no censors and no advertisers. We were not
even using electricity when we played the streets. We were out in the
public square, reclaiming that space for entertainment and free social
commentary and interactions. Street performing in the Pacific Northwest
was a high art form in the 1970-80’s. We had amazing professionals in all
arenas of entertainment from an amazing slack rope walker who tied ropes
between two light poles and walked the rope, to a sword swallower who
really does put 4 metal swords inside him and then jumps, to now-famous
box jugglers, to people who sledgehammer cinder blocks on another’s
stomach while they lie on a bed of nails, to people walking on knife blade
steps, to all kinds of crazy vaudevillian disciplines. We also had some of
Seattle and Portland’s best musicians amongst our ranks, as well as some
of the best songwriters of the region. We had many jug bands of cutting
edge subversives playing homemade political music on everything from saws
to spoons, to washboards to washtubs, to jugs to concertinas, to upright
basses and tubas. Our written music collectively was intelligent,
political, funny, and moving. We all faced the common enemy of censorship,
we all hated mainstream entertainment, and we all faced the problem of
harassment for street performance by cops and commercial residents. We
created our own culture and we still can entertain ourselves out in the
woods at night, waltzing by the fire, wowing each other with crazy
vaudevillian schtick, and laughing at our own hilarious songs. Who needs
TV or CDs?

But being a street performer is scary. Even 25+ years into it, I still
*hate* the first few songs while you gather a crowd. You change a sterile
environment into an interactive stage when you break the silence with your
voice and it is scary to be the person behind that voice. Even though I
have done it a million times. It is awkward, uncomfortable and takes
courage, but in return, I get the freedom to get people thinking and
laughing and interacting with an entertainer in the public square, and
that is a worthy trade off, honestly. It takes courage to stand alone on a
street corner and to start entertaining people, interacting with those
around you, breaking walls of personal space, and luring them into a
collective and spontaneous group experience on the street, in the moment,
with you. It is also scary to then offer up your own political insights,
that violate the status quo, to them as the reward for their attention. I
have tried to use humor to sweeten the pot. But it takes a lot of trusting
your own gut. Doing what is already proven to be safe is boring. Often the
risk takers are the artists we look forward most to watching. And as a
performer, I can say rote recitation of material is deadening to the
artist as well. I like surprising myself with spontaneity in my own act,
especially by allowing the audience to interact with me and surprise me,
making each show unique for me, not just the audience.

The Flying Karamazov Brothers juggling troupe used to say in their shows,
“This part of the show will be completely spontaneous. We know because we
have been practicing it all day.” Although that is a funny line, it is
also true. They *were* practicing “jazz juggling” during the day. They
were not practicing a routine per se, they were practicing random shot and
spontaneous juggling. They were practicing spontaneity, as odd as it
sounds. You can practice following your own drummer by just doing it more
often. Instead of following the crowd or social pressures, ask yourself
what *you* really belief and what kind of world *you* want to work now to
materialize. And then stick to those beliefs the next time they are
challenged, as a start. These are the steps to learning how to *step* to
your own drummer, not just attesting to the drummer’s existence in the

Often defiance is contagious. I know when I read’s
material, for example, I am absolutely inspired to keep *stepping* to my
own drummer, no matter how many waves I cause. Open defiance inspires us
collectively to act more often and more courageously. Being courageous is
a service and gift you can give others. We learned that mainstream news
had ulterior motives and followed our drummer to create a strong, new,
grassroots alternative media for ourselves. We realized the corporate
stronghold on our medical community, and created community clinics and DIY
health resources. We want our own music, and we make it, in our diverse
communities, in neighborhoods all over the world. Learning to trust
yourself is a service to your community, as you will act more often and
with more breadth of creativity if you can trust yourself. I often go on
stage like jumping off a cliff. I have no idea what is going to happen, I
have a loose framework, then let it roll. It is the most fun that way. And
street performing is only a hair away from street protesting. Often the
spontaneous direct actions are the best at a protest, and learning how to
listen to your own instincts, and follow them, spontaneously, can be
crucial at such times.

I also write in a similar fashion to busking, throwing my impassioned
thoughts into articles, then letting them rip…with no safety net. I rarely
have anyone to tell me whether an article is “good” or “bad,” until after
it is published. I have to use my own judgment, which is sort of scary,
and it definitely involves following my own drummer, without help from
outside. But I have learned to trust my instincts from decades of
practicing spontaneity, like the Karamazovs say, and thus now, it is fun
more than scary, to improvise. You have to move through the
uncomfortableness in the beginning. And you have to accept some failures
amidst successes, as they are inevitable. To use a juggling metaphor, the
Karamazovs say that while juggling, they are pins if you catch them, and
clubs if they hit you. That is true of all things we try to juggle. But if
you can learn how to enjoy improvising, you will have achieved some amount
of self-trust, and you will feel the warmth of the freedom that trust can

18.01.05 Two web Reviews For You:

By Kirsten Anderberg (

Well, look what I stumbled on! Apparently CopMail
( was created to “show off your profession.
CopMail was created by Law Enforcement Officers, for Law Enforcement
Officers. CopMail provides a safe and reliable place for LEOs to
communicate with each other. Whether with our free email accounts” or on
their sister site’s ( discussion boards, “you'll get a
place to discuss ideas, tactics, laws and other items with LEOs from
across the 'Net.”

From the site: “What is CopMail?
Free CopMail is a full-feature free e-mail service for Law Enforcement
professionals everywhere.
Globally Accessible Send/receive mail from any computer with any browser
anywhere in the world, even if you change Internet service providers.
Connect to CopMail from home, work, and even your patrol car. If you can
connect to the Internet, you can log onto CopMail
Permanent Your CopMail account and e-mail address are yours forever.
Private Your private e-mail will be protected from your employer and
others - only you can read it.
SPAM-Free Our service uses the latest technology to block SPAM before it
can reach your mail box.
Versatile Our e-mail feature includes attachment capabilities so you can
send images, photo, or documents.
All Yours It's email to fit your style, your attitude, your state of mind!
- CopMail is for true blue Law Enforcement Officers!”


AUTONOME.ORG: An Inspiring Site for Class Revolution
By Kirsten Anderberg (

Autonome ( is a stark site, yet still wonderfully
inspirational. They have a nice cache of downloadable posters which I wish
were on light poles everywhere I went. One poster says, “We Don’t Want The
Bread, We Don’t Even Want The Bakery, We Want The Whole Damn Wheat Field
Back” over a background of wheat. Another poster shows children in a
factory, and says, “Minimum wage is the smallest amount necessary to keep
us all from revolting in the streets. Therefore, the more often we revolt,
the higher minimum wage will be.”

The site says “Autonome exists as a reminder to all working people: We are
not alone. We are not powerless. We are not machines, or puppets, we are
not easily discarded or forgotten. Some of us were slaves, some of us
worked for wages, but none of us ever really had a choice. Through love,
labor, determination, and friendship, we built this world from the ground
up years ago, only to have it seized out from under us in recent times.
And now, finally, we will ask for it back. And we won't take 'no' for an
Reminder: This is only a website, not a revolution. What you see here is
not an end unto itself, but the necessary beginning to a never ending
story. Don't be content to just read the writings of others, go and live a
life worth writing about. The only hope we have is each other. This is the
problem: We’re tired, broke, and pissed off, and we hate the fact that the
time we spend working is wasted on somebody else’s dream.”

”Philosophers, coal miners, guilt-ridden politicians and fast food
employees all over the world have identified the problem before. This is
nothing new here, and if we want to go any farther than a collection of
catchy slogans and an overdose of nostalgia, we have a lot of work to do.
The question now is, how do we change the situation we’ve found ourselves
in? And how do we do it without leaving any one of us behind? It might
take a revolution... so where do we start?” –

Hate Groups Against Homeless People in America
By Kirsten Anderberg 10.01.05 (

You know what a hate group is. You know what a hate crime is. You know
there are hate crimes based on race, nationality, gender, and religion.
Well, there are also hate crimes based on economic class. But they do not
break any laws, because economic equality *is not* guaranteed in our
Constitution anywhere. I finally figured this all out one year in a
Constitutional Law class. I figured out that to say we have a *right* to
equal economic treatment would equal socialism or communism to many, and
we all know what America’s past with those two “isms” is: not good. No,
America is founded upon capitalism, and exploitable, if not slave, classes
for labor and profits of the privileged few. Thus, there is *no*
protection, Constitutionally, regarding class prejudice. So when we see
homeless hate groups appear, there is no law broken. These people can spew
the most prejudiced garbage in the world about the poor, and somehow, it
is not seen as a hate crime. Well, I am starting to revamp my thinking and
language to include the bashing of homeless people as a *hate crime* and
groups who promote such activities, I shall now call *homeless hate
groups* which is what they really are. They are not “community” groups for
“fair process.” They are not victims, as they act. They are prejudiced
bigots, plain and simple. This article’s purpose is to promote increased
activism against homeless hate groups. A new intolerance for homeless
person bashing and hate groups whose message is one of hatred must be
fostered and direct action must be more common against homeless hate
groups. We must connect the dots, the names to the organizations, just as
we had to do with the KKK and their sheets.

We have a sterling example of a hate group against homeless people in the
Seattle area where I live. It is called the “Brickyard Area Community for
Fair Process.” This group has no website, or public information that I
could ascertain via the internet, other than reports about their presence
around tent city protests in local papers. (Tent Cities are local
encampments in a different place every month, hosting homeless people
living in tents). Some of these news stories refer to a website at When I did a “” search to find out
who owns, lo, and behold, the owner is “Brickyard
Area Community for Fair Process.” So who is in this “Brickyard Area
Community for Fair Process?” A little digging in past news articles
reveals an article with this line in it: “said Riedmann, who called her
newly formed group the Brickyard Area Community for Fair Process.” In a
Seattle Times article, Lesan Riedmann is again given founding rights: “She
organized the Brickyard Area Community for Fair Process.” So connecting
the dots, we have Lesan Riedmann to Brickyard Area Community for Fair
Process to Right?

But then I pulled this up off the internet…“Steve Pyeatt, leader of that
group, King County Communities for Fair Process, has become a veteran
opponent ever since he heard Riedmann talking about the issue on the
radio. He offered to set up a Web site,, which now
functions as information and command central for tent-city foes. As a
result, Eastsiders frustrated or angered about the tent city need to look
no further than the group's Web site for ways to direct their energy. The
Web site provides contact information for government officials and carries
schedules of protests, public meetings and court dates.” So, then it is
Lesan and Steve’s baby? Who *is* the “Brickyard Area Community for Fair
Process?” Why is there no information available on them? Who is the “King
County Communities for Fair Process?” Their cites on the web lead back to Why all the secrecy? There is not a single contact
name or editor listed on the entire site that I
could find. As a matter of fact, there is a very bizarre *lack* of names
on this site. I do not think I have ever seen a site, that was not a
government site, with so few names on it before.

Let’s visit, and click on their “Solutions” page,
shall we? They have labeled the Solutions section, “Alternatives to living
in a tent.” Now, these people come out in
force and picket anywhere that people might extend a welcome mat to the
homeless to pitch their tents for a month. They petition and pressure
local government officials to not allow homeless people to camp in their
communities. And what is most heinous, and laughable, and disgusting, is
they play off this blatant hate group behavior as being borne out of a
genuine concern for the homeless! So let us see what these people, who
have a *better idea* than letting the homeless camp with blessings, offer
up. At we find their list of alternatives to tents
are: “Adopt a Homeless” (I swear that is the exact wording on their
webpage), “First Step House,” “Home Share,” and “Life Coaching.” There is
no detail, or even any evidence, that these programs actually exist, that
I could ascertain. They are a few lines on a website.

But let’s assume for a minute that Lesan Reidmann and her homeless hate
group and website actually run productive and successful “alternatives” to
help out the homeless in these programs. I would like to interview some of
the “graduates” of these programs, but there are no news stories ANYWHERE
about these successful endeavors of the or BACFP
folks. All the news says about them is they protest homeless camps.
Nowhere are there simultaneous stories running about the great community
works within the homeless community by these people. For one, I am
absolutely *offended* at the wording “Adopt A Homeless” as their program
title on their webpage. Does that not sound like homeless people are
inanimate objects that they want to take home and treat like they do their
pets on a leash? And the “baby step house,” oh wait, it is a “first step”
house, for ADULTS who have been to hell and back, well, again, I am
offended. Having to placate ignorant class insulated idiots to get housing
is definitely a desperate measure. Being treated like an infant by the
middle class is not an empowerment, it is a disgrace. It lacks dignity, it
does not forge it. And god knows that the middle class is no bastion of
morality so this paternalism is gross.

Personally, the idea of sharing a house with these hate activists against
homeless people is not a pleasant one to me. Their idea of hand picking
one homeless person to groom, like their own personal play of “My Fair
Lady,” like a hobby…is disgusting. Homeless people are not playthings for
the middle class. And they are also not laboratory experiments either.
Homeless people are PEOPLE. A reader once made the comment that she did
not like the use of “the homeless” to mean homeless people, and preferred
the use of “homeless people” instead, as it humanized the situation. I try
to follow her advice as often as possible and belabored the terminology of
“homeless person hate groups” versus “hate groups against the homeless” or
“homeless hate groups.” I still do not have that wording down, but we need
to find a short way to say “hate group that works against homeless
persons.” I still believe we need to use the wording “homeless people”
instead of “the homeless” as often as possible. Or else you end up like
Lesan Reidmann, and her groups, advertising programs with names like
“Adopt A Homeless!”

We are supposed to believe that’s advertised
programs of “Life Coaching” and “Adopt A Homeless” are going to eliminate,
or supercede, the need for tent cities now, so Lesan and her “community”
group picket churches who would welcome the homeless encampment. And if
she is qualified to be among those in judgment and up for “life coaching”
of others, it is imperative we look into Lesan’s life for a moment. From
combined news reports, I can ascertain she lives in Bothell, Wa., and is
trying to promote herself as an artist as her job since 1998. She lives in
a three bedroom house on the Eastside, which is known to be more
expensive, and she lives in that house alone with her husband, from what I
can tell. It seems she has one 22 year old son who lives at college. She
is 41 years old. But here is the kicker; she presents herself as a victim
of homelessness for 13 years, so she “knows what (she is) talking about”
when she says we should fight homeless encampments!

Somehow Lesan went from supposedly being a homeless person to now owning a
three bedroom house in the more expensive side of town, yet we cannot find
any testament to her great achievements that gave her a house of her own
anywhere on the internet. Googling her does not give you anything but
information about her tent city protests and her recent art career. So
what has Lesan been doing the last 30 years to own a 3 bedroom house in
Bothell? Who knows? It was something grand enough to lift her from
homelessness to protesting homeless people with her home owning neighbors.
Assuming she is telling the truth about being homeless in her past, what
could make a woman turn so cold, if she did in fact *know* the horrors of
homelessness? Is this a fear that she may return to the poor, so she must
bond with the privileged and turn her back on those she was once like?
What is it that would make a woman who claims to have been homeless in the
past, now actually organize and protest against accommodating homeless
people in her town?

I have a privilege theory. I believe that people like Lesan need to
convince themselves that they “deserve” more than the poor somehow, and
for them to “deserve” so much more than people who work harder than them,
they must berate the humanness of the other. If poor people are bad, and
middle class people are good, then poor people deserve poverty and
hardship and privileged people should not mess with god’s plan. The theory
goes like this: the privileged convince themselves they deserve more than
others due to superiority, and thus to balance that, they have to believe
that the poor deserve their fate due to inferiority. But a simple logic
test shows that the poor are abused with high rents and the profits of
their labors skimmed for the privileged to have more than they deserve or
worked for. So it is not that the poor work less, they work more. It is
not that the privileged work more, so deserve more. They work less, then
claim they deserve more. This twisted logic depends on twisted action to
back it. The dehumanization of homeless people and poor folks is based on
the middle class needing to justify its excesses that it does not deserve
or earn. It steals that wealth and privilege, from the poor.

The opportunities that Lesan had to jump classes from homeless to home
owner reek to me of marrying out of a class. I see no other explanation
that is apparent. Hard work does not buy a house or every farm worker
would be a home owner. Very often the only way women can jump from the
lower class to the middle class is to marry a male of a higher class or a
property owning male. I look at this as a form of prostitution,
personally, but it makes sense in a patriarchy. Almost every single woman
I have ever met who has gone from homelessness to middle class did it via
marrying a male in the middle class. Not by her “pulling herself up by her
bootstraps,” such as in her becoming a “professional,” or becoming
“successful” at business, like the men they marry to get the houses. I
have met many a woman who claims to have been poor, who is now in the
middle class. And I ask them how they made that leap, and there is no
answer, except, “I got married.” And thus, you see welfare offices across
the country teaching marriage coaching…(almost all of the legislators who
voted for those marriage classes in welfare offices are divorced, but oh
well). So apparently, “get married,” or become some white man’s house
slave, is what many of these hatred groups aimed at the poor are
recommending as the solution to homelessness and poverty! But just as easy
a solution would be equal pay for equal work so men did not have the
economic advantage due solely to sex!

The site is laughable, but tragic, as well. One
flier they have posted says “Warning! Do you want this in your
neighborhood?” And then it shows a picture of a tent city. The poster goes
on, “To learn about tent city and what you can do to protect our community
from this lawless social experiment, go to” And
then it shows another picture of tent city with a large headline
superimposed on it that says, “Say Hello To Your New Neighbors.” Now that
sounds like the voice of compassion, trying to *help* homeless people,
right? Under the Finn Hill Photo Gallery on their site at, you can see
“photos of mail theft in Finn Hill.” First of all, these are pictures of
some mail, and no thief! But this is *just* why I call these people bigots
and accuse them of hate crimes against homeless people. Why is that on
their site? Do they have some sort of proof that homeless people stole
mail? Or are they going to just throw a few pictures of some ripped up
mail on a site, label it “photos of mail theft” and just hope people make
that leap to ASSUME that homeless people, from Tent City, stole mail, even
though there is absolutely NO evidence to that effect, nor were any
charges filed by police. This type of thing, where these bigots throw all
kinds of suspicion upon a certain group of people is heinous.

These tent city haters and their hate groups against homeless people are
not respected, in any way, shape, or form, by *any* legitimate housing
rights or poverty action organizations I know of. Organizations such as
SHARE (Seattle Housing and Resource Effort) and WHEEL (Women’s Housing,
Equality and Enhancement League) are hassled by them. So if they are
supposedly offering new solutions, they do not have the support or
endorsement of *any* of the trusted names or organizations who work with
homeless rights for the last few decades in this area. Their claims to be
helping the poor and homeless are absolutely ridiculous. All evidence
points to an opposite reality.

The website throws out some double-speak, again
trying to act like they are the friends of homeless people. They claim,
“we steadfastly support the rights and plight of the homeless.” I guess
they are so used to watching GWBush lying in such a manner, they thought
they would try it. No, you do not support the rights and plights of
homeless people by picketing their very presence and being, slandering
them, making up stories about them stealing your mail and harming your
kids, and putting up antagonistic, disrespectful posters on your website.
You do not see posters saying “Do you want this in your neighborhood?” and
accusatory pictures of supposed crimes by homeless people on legitimate
poverty action rights websites, sorry. Their whole war cry is based upon
this idea that tent cities are not a solution to the homelessness problem.
But we all agree on that. It is a temporary educational move. It educates
all these privileged folks that this homelessness problem exists when tent
city comes to THEIR neighborhoods, and it gives people a temporary place
to live while homeless without being criminalized. These hate groups
against homeless people such as Lesan has organized offer NOTHING. NOTHING
at all. Then condemn the actions that people are trying to coordinate to
further the rights and improve the lives of homeless people. Homeless
people do not need bigots spreading lies that they steal their mail, for
instance. Regardless of the mumbo-jumbo on their site, DOES NOT support the rights and plights of homeless
people AT ALL. That is a BOLD LIE. As bold a lie as Exxon and Weyerhauser
are “environmental” companies. goes on to claim “Tent Cities are not a permanent
solution.” Right, we all agree to that. So since we cannot have a
permanent solution, let’s do nothing then. That is the solution of As I said, this group has NO discernable track
record in community action based around poverty or homelessness issues. It
also has no endorsement from ANY progressive organizations that I can
identify. Then they go on to complain that the “elected officials must be
wise stewards of public land.” Now, we do not see these folks come down
and lobby over logging and our paying to build logger roads so our natural
resources can be plundered for corporate profits…but when land use comes
down to homeless folks, well, all of a sudden, they care about land use
and the stewardship of our natural resources! Again, this is laughable.

And then lastly, claims that “citizens deserve a
real, meaningful role in the process.” So what role are they allowing the
homeless folks to take again? And I LOVE this line off their site, “We
believe that residents of the East side are just as willing as anywhere
else to extend a hand to those who are less fortunate.” Yeah, you would
not really want to test that belief out in real life! They go on and on
about how we must not allow tent cities in deference to a long term
solution “to help our homeless find ways out of poverty and into
affordable housing. As a community, we are willing to accept our
responsibility to help the homeless, as other communities in the region
have done.” First of all, look at that wording again. “OUR” homeless?
Again, homeless people are not an entertainment system for the privileged.
Homeless people are no more middle class people’s “projects” than the
class insulated are “projects” that homeless people have taken on to
educate and refine. And also, it is not true that the same people who
underpay workers and overcharge renters are going to also accommodate
affordable housing. It has not happened yet and will not happen on its
own. As MLKing, jr. said, the privileged are not going to just hand over
their privilege. And in the case of Lesan and her friends, they are going
to fight sharing *anything* (but words) with homeless people, tooth and

On the site, they list “Effective Arguments Against
Tent City.” Again, they opt to rail for no services since absolute 100%
support and care is not provided. They try to say there is no support for
the tent cities, which is a lie. They say that residents of tent city
should be directed to social services, not allowed to camp. And here is a
good one…even though people have bent over backwards to placate these hate
group against homeless people bullies, such as requiring background checks
with the police to sleep in tent city, these groups are STILL intimating
that tent cities are full of criminals, with lines such as “Questionable
oversight: Rules of conduct are in place, but there are news stories from
residents that indicate they are not well enforced and there is drug and
alcohol use, among other problems.” Well, guess what?! There is alcohol
and drug abuse going on IN THE HOUSES of people who are protesting tent
cities too! And how about these people cough up some PROOF that crimes are
being committed instead of always intimating these are criminals. This is
getting to be like the weapons of mass destruction. Tent cities are not
full of criminals. Middle class America is full of criminals who rip off
other people’s labor for their own excesses though. The way these homeless
hate groups intimate homeless people are criminals sickens me.

Another one of the arguments against tent cities they present is there are
“no homeless issues on Finn Hill or Kirkland.” I know, I am laughing just
typing it. So apparently, Kirkland and Finn Hill have left the planet!
They say to deal with homelessness in their community is “importing” the
“homeless problem” to their neighborhoods, rather than locating the camps
where the problems exist. I am sorry! I am laughing so hard here. Um,
earth to Kirkland, Wa.! The reason we are moving tent cities to your
pristine white middle class insulated neighborhoods is because your
inflated rents and skimmed profits from our labor are making us poor, so
we are coming to YOUR neighborhoods with the problem YOU created now! The
poor did not create the poor, the privileged class who took more than they
earned did. This is a classic example of what Thoreau talks about in
Walden Pond, about how those who take more than their share CREATE the
poor. So, yes, we are moving the poor that the middle class created RIGHT
TO THEIR OWN FRONT DOORS! And apparently, this group does not get it, that
the rest of us are laughing at their discomfort at the poor they created,
landing on their own doorsteps!

Another argument the bigots at present is: “Is it
really humane to have people outside in winter? Would not the more
Christian way to reach out be to open the doors to the church or create a
shelter?” So did these church-going Christians offer up THEIR church? No.
Did they create a shelter? No. All they did was block an encampment. How
can anyone take these folks seriously? They even bring this up as a
suggested argument: “Co-habitation of unmarried homeless people” at tent
cities. So, now they are the moral police too? When does this stop? But
wait, it gets better, they continue on, “Under normal circumstances this
would not be an issue. But when you are talking about people who can not
support themselves, why would we want to risk pregnancy which can further
increase the homeless problems? In public forums, newspaper articles and
at county hearings, many residents sited the need for tent city because it
provides alternatives to gender-separated living.” Wow. So we should just
sterilize homeless people is really what these folks are suggesting. I am
telling you, writing this makes me irate.

The site goes on to say that tent cities are too
close to schools, again intimating criminals who endanger children are in
tent cities. They cite some incidents where some of the tent city
residents were found to have warrants and made to leave. They do not cite
that as them doing as asked by the bigot groups, but somehow now use that
as evidence criminals *were* there! I am sure if we went door to door
throughout houses on the Eastside, we could find people with warrants in
*nice houses* too. They also argue that since the tent cities were not at
100% capacity, there is no need for them. They also offer statistics such
as these: “66% of homeless have substance abuse and/or mental health
illnesses, 54% have been incarcerated, 38% report problems with alcohol,
36% with drugs, 39% have mental illnesses, and 20 – 25% meet criteria for
severe mental illness.”

I do not buy the feigned ignorance with which these eastside residents are
trying to cloak their prejudice in. Every bit of their site is about how
filthy and unsafe the poor are, and how we need to help them, and so we
need to NOT help them. It is stupid and makes no sense. And every damned
one of these people against tent cities are white home owners, from what I
can tell. It feels like they probably did the same kind of “community
organizing” about the “race problem” in the past, if these communities
have even broached the issue of racial integration yet, which I am
doubting. Certainly one of the last places tent city was has no visible
minority population whatsoever. I can just hear their ancestors, or maybe
them even, saying, “we don’t have a race problem here, why are you
bringing your race problems here where we don’t have any?” The world is
not an oyster shell for middle class white Americans, and no matter how
many gated communities or bars they put on their windows will that reality
change. You heard the same kind of biased prejudice against racial
minorities, almost verbatim, actually, that we are now hearing about
letting homeless people into “THEIR” neighborhoods.

On the news today, I heard an old white man in Kirkland saying “Putting
people in tents will teach them nothing.” So what will forcing them on the
street like criminals teach them, Mr? Hate activist against homeless
people Steve Pyeatt said in a newspaper article, "Tent city doesn't come
free; it comes with a cost, which is why we encourage people to get
involved with some real solutions [for the homeless]." Big words little
man. Where are these REAL solutions that these hate groups are touting? I
call bullshit. Let’s see the work these anti-tent city activists have
created now for the poor, they have been talking enough. So, have they
begun building a shelter? No. Why would they? They claim there is NO
homeless problem in Kirkland. Have they petitioned THEIR churches to open
their doors? No. I find it hard to believe that people who protest tents
in their city for homeless people, would somehow be more comfortable with
homeless folks living in their church as they themselves suggested! But I
guess since they are not really going to do *anything* anyway, they can
present all kinds of solutions they would never touch. But okay. I just
hear these folks talking and talking and producing NOTHING but hardship
and discrimination against homeless people. I cannot name a SINGLE good
thing these anti-tent city people have accomplished.

In a local paper, Pyeatt said, "If tent city comes to your neighborhood,
we are coming with it." Yeah, it is about time that human rights activists
showed up at these protests as well, to protest these protesters. Yes
Pyeatt, if you go, I am going too. It is time we stepped up homelessness
activism from passive to aggressive. We must call these bigots on their
prejudices. And we need to connect the dots so we know the names of these
bigots, not just their web URLS and their group names. I still want to
know WHAT “Brickyard Area Community for Fair Process” *is* as well as who
owns And more than anything, I want to know why the
owners of hide their names. But until that day, when
the cloaks come off, my new year’s resolution is to make life a living
hell for people who try to make life hell for the poor. No more passive
poverty activism. This is a call for us to actively seek out people who
oppress the poor and to “out” them with their real names and to boycott
their businesses, to picket them and the places they work, to research
them and how they got their privilege, to follow them with the persistence
they follow things like tent cities with. Protests should be occurring in
every privileged neighborhood just for their being there, as those
neighborhoods are CREATING the ghettoes, the homeless population and
poverty, worldwide. We should make MOCK tent cities and multiply that
concept out just to rile the privileged into spewing forth their true
colors. I am certainly glad to know who the bigots in my community are now
that these issues have surfaced. Make life for the privileged
uncomfortable. REALLY uncomfortable. They would do the same for you, if
you were homeless.

Why Do the ACLU and National Lawyers Guild Protect Violent Riot Police?
By Kirsten Anderberg (

On June 2, 2003, I was falsely imprisoned and violently assaulted by
Seattle riot police on 5th Avenue in downtown Seattle. On March 22, 2003,
my son and I were not just falsely imprisoned and assaulted by Seattle
Police, but also Federal riot police, and several Federal agencies,
including the Department of Immigration, who were armed and on site as
well. We were not attacked alone. About 300 hundred, or more, fellow
unarmed citizens, committing no crimes, in an area with a city permit for
the protest, also suffered my fate, in both instances. After these
incidents, the National Lawyers Guild, the Washington American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU), the Seattle City Council, and the Office of
Police Accountability (OPA) solicited our written accounts of these
illegal cop riots. Additionally, two “activist” lawyers, Larry Hildes and
Paul Richmond, showed up on the scene, and solicited their services to the
pool of victims. I gave my two city claim cards, filled out, to Paul, and
that was basically the end of that. Never heard about it again. So,
myself, and hundreds of other victims, sent detailed reports to all of
these agencies and people. And I have not been contacted about these
events by a single one of all these people or organizations since I handed
them detailed reports of illegal police brutality on Seattle streets upon
hundreds of people in front of my eyes, even with details of which cops
did what, with their physical descriptions and the numbers from their
uniforms and helmets. (Oh wait, the OPA did send me a humorous form letter
saying the police did nothing wrong. And finally I contacted Hildes this
week and I cannot, honestly, tell what he is saying regarding these cases
other than no class action cases are filed in the courts in either case).
At this point, I feel I should not have even identified myself as being
present at these protests, much less where I was, or what I saw, for these
people and agencies to deliver…nothing…for that vulnerability.

To what can we attribute this insane sheepishness regarding police
brutality upon hundreds in the town square in broad daylight? There seems
to be no controversy that unacceptable and unprovoked police violence
occurred on both occasions within the community. It would not be hard to
find hundreds of people to testify about unnecessary police brutality on
both occasions, certainly hundreds witnessed these events. The Seattle
City Council told me they received a lot of written complaints which are
in the city records as well. Yet even Seattle Weekly writer Philip Dawdy,
who in the past seemed to be a proponent of police accountability, has
turned his back on recent memory. In a recent WTO anniversary issue of the
Seattle Weekly, he actually said that a good byproduct of the WTO riots
was that Seattle Police learned not to use indiscriminate use of weaponry
on protesters. That statement is absolutely laughable. The amazing part
for me in Philip saying this is that Philip was present at the June 2,
2003 LEIU protests, and he saw the police indiscriminantly attacking us
all, him included. I would be surprised if Philip, himself, did not fear
for his physical safety at some point during the LEIU protests turned
police riot. I know I feared for my physical safety, and talking to Geov
Parrish when we were there together that day, I know he was also very
apprehensive that we were all going to suffer physical injury via
unacceptable police brutality. So local press knew about this violence and
experienced it first hand, but now somehow Philip can report something
like the Seattle Police have not used indiscriminate force on protesters
since the 1999 WTO protests and riots? How does this happen? You can go
back to June 3, 2003, and read the Seattle Post Intelligencer headlines,
and see the police spraying pepper spray on the P-I reporter! How
indiscriminate is *that*?

I want to know why the ACLU asked for all of our written accounts if they
did not intend to do a thing about it? And why did the National Lawyers
Guild solicit us for written accounts as well? So we can just build up
their files on activists, and activist contact information, and
activities? To build up their files of testimonies about civil rights
violations they are not going to do anything about? For god’s sake, more
than 300 people are available for a class action suit against the City of
Seattle for the March 22, 2003 police riot. The documentation of abuse on
that occasion is rampant with statements released by clergy, local
activist organizations and groups like the ACLU, in addition to the
detailed first hand written accounts that I know many of us submitted. Can
someone please tell me what possible justification the ACLU or National
Lawyers Guild could have for *not* filing class action law suits on our
behalves in these cases by now? Twelve anti-war protesters in Portland,
Oregon were just awarded $300,000 in damages from the City, for similar
behavior from the Portland Police in a similar time frame. Yet there is
not even a lawsuit *filed* in Seattle for the police brutality here on
hundreds of people in 2003 at anti-war protests and the LEIU protest. Why
did these agencies solicit my personal information and testimony almost
two years ago?

Let me tell you what happened on March 22, 2003. I feel it is important
people understand the level of brutality I am talking about here. People
who have not witnessed police acting like violent thugs firsthand cannot
even imagine what I am talking about but I swear, I am telling the
absolute truth about what happened here. Anti-war protesters had proper
city permits to hold an anti-war protest at the Federal Building in
downtown Seattle for several days once the war was declared in March.
There was a stage, with a sound system. (The sound system, by the way, was
rented to the peace community at a hefty price by a local “activist” who
also plays the role of “police liaison” to the protesters, as we are
attacked, which has made me laugh at the concept of “police liaisons” now.
Fuck police liaisons. They are self-appointed mini-cops and do not protect
protesters from anything. They endanger us, is my take on it.) So, I took
my 19 year old, near draft aged, son to the protest with me that day.

When we got there, the Federal Building was lined with shoulder to
shoulder riot police, maybe one in ten (?) had a visible name tag, and
they wore helmets that looked like Darth Vader, and had plastic body armor
on their shins, torso, etc. They all had huge baseball bat sized sticks,
and they kept pounding them into their palms in anticipation. Some of the
police aimed machine guns less than a foot from our heads. Others aimed
“less lethal” guns at my son in front of me. These cops would not speak
when spoken to, nor would they identify the agency they were with or their
names when asked, as required by Seattle Municipal Code 3.28. They were
apparently playing out some Star Wars fantasy on human beings on Seattle
streets. I felt like I was in a bad sci-fi video game. Across the street,
snipers aimed guns at us from rooftops and plaza courtyards. Government
helicopters circled above. Tanks, yes I said *tanks*, were parked on the
streets surrounding the Federal Building. Police cars from cities near and
far lined the streets and unmarked black shiny government cars circled the
building continually, taking pictures of protesters all day long. I have
never seen so many black shiny cars on the streets as during those March
anti-war protests. It was like the streets were full of them at all times.
So, for you people in “third world” countries that America is now
liberating so you, too, can have American free speech, this is what it
looks like. American free speech looks like Darth Vader with a machine gun
barrel aimed a foot from your nose, with Darth taunting, “Go ahead,

In the late afternoon on March 22, people decided to go for a peace march.
Accompanied by the Infernal Noise Brigade, several hundred people
peacefully walked down sidewalks, crossing with the lights, chanting
anti-war slogans. Everything was peaceful and fine until all of a sudden,
riot police blocked the protesters from the sidewalks on 1st Avenue, at
Spring, just before the Pike Place Market, and forced them into the
street, where police then began to attack them for being in the street!
Lines of robocops began running down all the side streets around us. It
was freaky. Everywhere you looked, through all side streets, you saw lines
of running black robots. And wondered about your immediate fate! Once they
had all their squads in line, the robocops pushed the protesters all into
the area between Marion and Madison, on 1st Avenue. I was literally just
standing on the sidewalk at 1st and Madison with my son, when, bam! I was
all of a sudden contained.

Police, not protesters, came dressed to riot. Police, not protesters, came
armed. Police, not protesters, were all pumped up to riot, and they were
gonna riot, damn it. You knew all this armor and personnel could not just
sit on this kind of tension for days, so we were going to get the wrath of
their police violence. Because they had planned to riot on protesters. To
intimidate us. I swore that day to be a staunch anarchist and never buckle
to violent intimidation to silence my free speech for the rest of my life.
The police began randomly beating people. My son looked at me with pure
black dilated eyes and said, “Mom, they are beating up old men!” He had
just seen them beating Tim Young, an older peace activist, whose head was
bleeding from the police violence. My son and I watched police brutalize
people in front of us, as I furiously wrote down physical descriptions and
any numbers I could find on the helmets or uniforms of the violent police
in front of me.

After about a half hour of containment, my son and I went to the copline
to the north at Madison, and said “Let us out.” They said we had to go to
the south end, at Marion, to exit. My son and I went to the south end and
demanded we be released. They said I had to go to the east side to get
out. We went to the east row of cops and they said I had to go to the
north side to exit. My son called it the “revolving exit.” There was *no*

I specifically *asked* to be let out because I went to law school and I
understand the elements necessary for a false imprisonment. There is a
legal issue here in that my son and I were committing no crimes. We were
merely standing on a sidewalk on a public street. We were given no warning
to leave or be contained. And most importantly, when I asked to leave, I
was refused, repeatedly. An element necessary in false imprisonment is
that you felt you could not leave, but more importantly and more
persuasive, is if you *did* ask to leave and that request was flat out
denied. Well, that element was amply met on March 22. I even have a
witness that I asked to leave and was refused. That is called false
imprisonment. You cannot hold someone against their will, who is
committing no crime, for no reason, with no warning, even after they
demand to be released, without it being a false imprisonment, unless you
are a cop, apparently, and you do it to hundreds of people at a time!

The way my son and I finally got out of this containment was I took off my
Palestinian scarf to try to reduce my standing out so brightly in the
crowd for police terrorism. I made it into a ball and put it in my front
vest pocket, which made a bulge. All of a sudden a Seattle cop grabbed me,
and said, “Let her go, she’s pregnant.” Am I glad I never diet now! (And
women, remember this tactic to use later: a rolled up sweater under a coat
can make you look like you are pregnant, which scares violent cops
apparently.) I grabbed my green haired son and bickered for a moment to
make them let my son go out with me. We only got a few steps up Madison
towards 2nd Avenue when a line of Federal riot cops in green and brown
uniforms came marching down the street, and pushed me in my chest, saying
“Get back down there.” My son and I were pushed by the Federal riot police
back into the containment. I went right back to the Seattle Police who let
me out originally, and they argued with the Federal Police that I was
pregnant and should be let out. I was finally let out with my son, after
about 40 minutes of containment, against my will, in yet another violent
episode in the history of the Seattle Police Department *since* WTO in

The Federal Police touching my chest, and pushing their fingers into me,
pushing my body down the street, was a battery. And them pushing me back
into the containment was a second set of false imprisonment. I was
definitely falsely imprisoned, several times, by the police on March 22,
but I probably was also assaulted. Assault is about “fearing imminent
danger.” The difference between assault and battery, at least as I was
taught it, is that an assault occurs if you had *fear* of bodily harm,
battery occurs when you *experience* bodily harm. You can be assaulted,
via threats of torture, if you believe you could be tortured and such
torture could be imminent, even if no torture or physical contact
occurred. The threat became an assault. Battery occurs when action
happens. But battery can occur without warning, without apprehension of
harm, without an assault. Most batteries involve an assault, but many
assaults do not include a battery.

I sent reports to the OPA and City Council with detailed physical,
geographic and numeric descriptions of what police did on March 22. I
attended City Council Public Safety Commission Meetings and testified
repeatedly about this. I gave detailed reports (and any of you who read my
work, know that when I say detailed, I *mean* it), to the ACLU and the
National Lawyers Guild. I filled out city claim cards and gave them to
Paul Richmond as he instructed me to do. I had reoccurring nightmares of
assaults, batteries, and false imprisonments by robocops, and that is
fully documented with a local psychiatrist. So in the nearly two years
that has passed, what has happened regarding hundreds of citizens’ loss of
civil rights on Seattle streets? Zero. Absolutely nothing that has been
brought to my attention, and I am in the class that would be represented
by such an action.

On June 2, 2003, the Seattle Police rioted again on unarmed, nonviolent
protesters with a city permit for the protest. This time, the cops wanted
to put on a show for the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit, which was
having its national convention in Seattle at the Red Lion Inn. From their
rooms above, LEIU conference participants cheered as riot police
brutalized minors, clergy, mothers, and journalists on the streets in
front of them. As violent police indiscriminantly fired concussion
grenades into the crowd and drenched protesters with pepper spray, the
LEIU participants were titillated. Machine guns and “less lethal” guns
were again aimed less than a foot from our heads, and again, more police
did not wear name tags than did. We had unidentified gangs attacking us
right on our public streets, and you didn’t need to call the cops, as they
were already there! Again, there was a public outcry, letters were
solicited, testimonies taken. And absolutely zero has been done that I can
ascertain. No law suits have been filed against the City of Seattle for
the June 2, 2003 police violence.

What disturbs me most about this is the message this sends to the cops and
state. If we do not even have our act together enough to file class action
suits when clear evidence of violations exist, then why would cops feel
they have *any* accountability whatsoever? If cities were forced to pay
out, like the $300,000 awarded to the 12 anti-war protesters in Portland,
for similar events during a similar time frame as our Mar. 22 event,
cities would rein in their violent cops, as it would cost the city too
much money to let them run loose. If no one files a class action case in
these two instances, then it is like handing police a carte blanche! I
feel it is *imperative* that the City of Seattle, and Federal government
really, as well, be sued for the March 22 riots on innocent civilians. The
City of Seattle *must* be sued for the violence at the LEIU protests, as
well. Otherwise we are just handing the police a free check to abuse us
endlessly. And we are reinforcing that free check, every time we leave
these violent events unchecked as has happened here in Seattle over the
last few years.

The statute of limitations is running on these claims. There is a three
year SOL on civil rights cases. So we have a little over 1 year left to
pull this into a courtroom and demand justice. There appears to be no
effort at all on the part of the Washington ACLU to represent us. Or at
least they are hiding such intensions from the actual class members, which
seems odd. The National Lawyers Guild is not representing me, Larry Hildes
and Paul Richmond are not representing me. Hey, does anyone want to sue
the City of Seattle and Federal government with a class action for
documented violence against masses of people on two separate occasions in
Seattle in 2003? I am willing to be the class representative and I meet
the representative requirements. If an attorney does not step up to the
plate soon, I am tempted to take this to small claims court, if nothing
else. I want a judge to explain to me how I exercise my free speech in
Seattle without fearing imminent bodily harm from police and false
imprisonment, due to the past behaviors and unaccountability of the
police. I want to know why I was attacked and contained. I want to know
what warranted the machine gun less than a foot from my son’s head. I hope
to never see a machine gun aimed at my son’s head ever again, thank you. I
want explanations.

After this experience, I have to ask what good are the ACLU if they will
not defend hundreds of citizens that they publicly acknowledge were
wrongly attacked? The ACLU released a letter publicly condemning the
violence on March 22, but then stopped there. If they acknowledge the
violence was wrong, enough to write letters to the press and City of
Seattle about it, shouldn’t they also be pursuing this in the courts? And
is there not a single competent attorney in Seattle willing to take these
cases to courtrooms now, years after the events? I am willing to be your
client and I will help you write the briefs. This needs to be adjudicated.

And my advice to others after similar events of police violence is to be
very guarded with your words. If agencies such as the ACLU want your
written testimony, ask what they are committing to for that testimony. And
do not ever, ever, give any testimony to the police department or any
public agencies who claim to be police accountability groups but who are
actually controlled by the police themselves. It makes no sense to
cooperate with the enemy. The police would love nothing more than to get a
hold of all the protesters’ personal complaints in writing before they get
to courts. Not to mention all their contact information. Be stingy with
all government agencies, and even non profit legal groups, who claim to be
your ally after protests and police riots. Ask what you will get for the
giving over such information *before* you talk. I wish now I had not given
*any* reports to any agencies, seeing now they were not collecting them to
help us, but rather more likely to spy on us. Find out who runs a police
accountability group before you trust them. And here is a tip: Groups that
use the term “CopWatch” are usually more trustworthy than those who use
the term “police accountability.”

More articles by Kirsten translated into German:

Erziehung versus Protest? (Germany IMC, Feb 2004)
Neue fragwürdige Praktik am UN-Tribunal (Germany IMC, Nov 2003)


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