by Phil Rockstroh
(Swans - March 28, 2005) It has been proclaimed: Worldwide, freedom is on the march. The footfalls of the marchers echo from the shopping malls of America to the bazaars of Syria. The resounding joy is captured on surveillance cameras monitoring the shooting sprees at the nation's high schools to the dying exhalations of Iraqis whose violent deaths have been chronicled on self-made DVDs, filmed and produced by amateur, US serviceman videographers; and, freedom's voice is heard in the triumphal exaltations when these masterworks of the American Cinema of the Psychopathic are privately screened, as is occurring at the present time, to cheering, whooping, fist-pumping the air, homeland audiences, comprised of the soldier/auteur's family, friends, and other assorted casual acquaintances in homicidal complicity across the length of this land...a land whose inhabits rise in reverence at the very mention of the word freedom and who yowl in primal satisfaction at the sight of foreign blood spilled in its name.
We Americans love our freedom; apparently though the freedom to revel in acts of mass murder ranks high upon our list of national pleasures. Nothing new and surprising here, folks: From Wounded Knee to Fallujah, genocide has always been our favorite blood sport. As proof of this, one simply needs to consider the impressive body count of Iraqis that we've rung-up in only two short years of our freedom fructifying crusade in their country. No need for a congressional hearing into this matter: We've rung up the high score without any steroid enhancement.
Additionally, we have the freedom to hate, with boundless abandon, all the weirdoes, and accused criminals, and those cartoon characters who are alleged to have homosexual tendencies that the mass media can parade before us.
(It would seem the beleaguered Michael Jackson makes two of those categories all on his own...possibly all three.)
Come on America, let's be honest for a moment: We could give a fairy's fart whether Michael Jackson diddles little boys or not...that's beside the point...he's just been far too weird, for far too long and it's time he was taken down.
The nerve of him -- lounging around there in his so-called Neverland Ranch while the rest of us have to work.
If you're going to have the sort of wealth and privilege that greatly exceeds the reach of the rest of us and you are compelled to construct for yourself a multi-million dollar ranch where you can escape into an imaginary world -- would you at least attempt to look like a regular guy...drive a truck and chop wood and eat barbeque like Dubya? -- don't stock the place with exotic animals and look like your existing on a diet exclusively comprised of ten-dollar-a-pop bottles of foreign water and fresh llama jism and then having so much cosmetic surgery your face resembles what store mannequins must look like in Hell.
Damn son...you're just begging for trouble. If you want to harbor bizarre beliefs and comport yourself accordingly, and you want to get to away with it -- then it's imperative that your strange antics be sanctified by religion...though not just any religion, mind you -- but one that is sanctioned by those in positions of power.
Then you can be as warped as you damn well want to be. It will even be socially and politically acceptable to claim that God speaks to you...even to the point of proclaiming that, due to the fact the time of the Rapture is nearly upon us, it is His will that you destroy the natural world by depleting its resources and that you may kill any godless heathen who gets in your way as you go about the job...and when you are raptured you and the other believers' clothes will fall from you as you rise to Heaven, where you will dwell in the Guarded Gate McMansion of the Lord forever and ever.
(Modest Christians, God adds: don't be alarmed at the shedding of your clothes: In this case, God-sanctioned nudity is permissible...for the reason that all good Christians will be busy rising heavenward, hence can't be shocked, offended, forever traumatized, and, therefore, in dire need of contacting the FCC for protective regulation. But Lordy, the sight of all those fat, saggy, repulsive bodies of the congregation of the American Church of the Perpetual Buffet floating in the air will resemble anything but the dawning of eternal paradise -- but will more likely look like an endless tape loop of a porno movie made for fat fetishists that was filmed in a zero gravity chamber.)
Ever since the first fantasy-prone Puritans slogged upon these shores, believing they were establishing the New Jerusalem -- a shining city on a hill that's grace and purity would serve as a beacon of divine light to drive the darkness from this sin-blinded earth -- and possessing the absolute conviction that the natural world (as well as the native occupants of the land) were unholy manifestations of that eternal darkness (their darker skin color was all too telling of their fallen and craven state) -- their conception of freedom was and remains: they had been endowed with a god-given mandate to subdue and exploit that demon-haunted wilderness, scatter and kill the indigenous population dwelling there, and, in general, persecute, stock and block, and burn at the stake anyone among within the vicinity who might resist (nor simply just not fit into) their divinely-ordained agenda.
It would seem that the stock and block and public burnings were the Puritans' early version of news infotainment. And, even though, through the centuries, the methods of persecution have been refined, the intent remains little changed...subdue, break, or destroy the nonconformists, the outsiders, and those with darker complexions, and, at the same time, entertain the general population with the spectacle of show trials and public punishments -- and, of even greater importance, instill fear within the populous...as, all the while, more wealth, control and power are accrued by and for the ruling elites, by the means of the age-old canard of creating the illusion of their own moral superiority. Sounds familiar, huh? ...We'll be right back to more Jackson/Blake/Peterson/steroid hearings/Schiavo/Janet Jackson's boob/latest loner's shooting spree coverage after these commercial messages...
And if your start to sink under the weigh of all that top-heavy control, you have the freedom to medicate yourself...but only with the proper, corporate-approved drugs...only the sort of drugs our Puritan and Calvinist forefathers would have approved of...only those substances that do not provide pleasure nor expand the mind...those that do not make one question the necessity of -- or any manner inhibit an individual from -- giving over a large measure of their existence to mindless work. Particularly sanctified are the drugs (caffeine, SSRIs, Provigil) that enhance one's ability to endure long hours of tedious labor, but without getting one too high to impair the ability to work...until, at shifts end, one is left restless and empty -- hence craving the palliative of consumerism. Late capitalism is a Woodstock Nation for legally medicated automatons. But the comedowns are a real bitch...Your head pounds, your stomach seizes up -- as the realization comes...that you've been made a slave to the addiction...your existence is not your own...somewhere along the way your life went missing.
But rejoice. We have been divinely endowed with the blessing of freedom. We possess: The freedom...for the powerful to exploit the weak...to torture and kill without remorse; for pseudo pious power freaks, who invoke the Lord's name, to oppress and manipulate the desperate, the ignorant, and the gullible; to have mass market mountebanks fleece us, because, somehow, we came to believe that we have been divinely endowed with the freedom to be perpetually stupid, greedy and vain; to create a culture where mall-waddling consumers have the freedom to get their kids as fat as steroid-fed, corporate-farmed livestock -- by the means of overfeeding them steroid-fed, corporate-farmed livestock...as well as anything else dispensed at a mall's food court, through a drive-thru window, and out of a cardboard box delivered by a corporate franchise chain...Yes, we have been endowed with the freedom to shovel high fat, high carbohydrate, high sugar-content, processed food into the little bastards' grousing gobs, all in a desperate, futile attempt to stuff down the boredom, the anxiety, the lassitude they suffer due to their confinement inside the commoditized, repressed, empty, holographic facsimile of childhood we have created for them.
It should be no mystery why the swelling legions of fat children across America overeat like neurotic domestic pets. As is the case with housebound, bored, anxious domestic animals, what do they have to look forward to -- but dinner? And the corporate food industry provides plenty (at a bloated profit, of course) of junk food -- the table scraps fallen from the table of the ruling elite of our fat-ass empire -- to keep them (and all the rest of us) obese, obedient, and anxiously waiting by our master's table for more.
In a related manner, recently, we Americans have learned we have the freedom to be brain dead and be fed free snacks though a feeding tube, as we linger on and on, in a state of awareness that hovers around that of your average item on a supermarket produce aisle.
Perhaps this is the motivation that drives those highly screened, jackboot-licking participants who attend those faux town meetings Bush Inc. contrives to rally the faithful (read: suckers) and bedazzle the common folk (read: spittle-dribbling imbeciles): Maybe these folks are terrified that if we started pulling the plug on everyone in the country who was certifiably brain dead this would put a crimp in their own future plans to remain breathing.
Oh! Land of the free, home of the brain dead...
Some call it freedom, but it smells like death.