So The Country’s Screwed. What’re Ya Gonna Do?
So The Country’s Screwed. What’re Ya Gonna Do?
By Mark Drolette
Well, here I am, presenting my periodic Pearcy piece (plus a pinch of personal pathos).
What’s a Pearcy, you ponder? Actually, there are two of them, Steve and Virginia, friends of mine who have stirred things up a bit here in Sacramento a few times in the past year by audaciously -- publicly, even! -- utilizing their First Amendment rights of free speech.
Brazen of them, to be sure, but then, what’re ya gonna do? They’re my pals, so I’m kinda stuck.
I know what you’re thinking: Don’t these two troublemakers know that quaint concepts like constitutional rights are deader’n Dick Cheney’s soul? (Sorry, poor analogy; this implies he once had one.) Why can’t they get with the fascist Bushco program like millions of their fellow citizens who act like happy clams, and just clam up? Don’t the Pearcys understand that, to George W. Bush, who besides likely not even knowing what the damn thing says (‘cause, for one thing, it’s written in English), the Constitution is no better than a big old sheet of olde toilet paper, except it’s all notched up and parchmenty (ouch) and yellow? (If there’s one thing we know Bush knows, though, it’s yellow, so, there’s one thing he knows.)
Believe me, I have tried telling my anachronistic amigos they are quixotically operating in an America that no longer exists, but they’ll have none of it. So, being the faithful friend I am, I have signed on for their idealistic-if-bumpy ride, and, despite Steve and Virginia’s impenitent peace-loving, freedom-flaunting, pro-American ways, continue to enjoy their fine company. (Well, it also doesn’t hurt they’re always good for a column every so often, but that’ll just be our little secret, eh?)
The Pearcys first made local (and national) news last February with two anti-war displays (U.S. soldier mock-ups bearing signs saying, respectively, “Your Tax Dollars At Work” and “Bush Lied, I Died”) hung from the gable of their Land Park neighborhood home, both of which were quickly ripped off by gen-u-ine patriots who sure weren’t about to let a little thing like the law stop them from assailing the rights and vandalizing the belongings of folks who think differently from them.
Or at all.
It was during this time I first met Steve and Virginia. Within days, I was attending the weird shout fest outside their home one night at which about 125 of us nostalgic types who found the late Constitution kind of bitchin’ faced off against a like number of howling, pro-death/destruction/torture/imperialism jingos organized by Move America Fascistically, uh, Forward.
At scream-a-thon’s end, no minds appeared to have changed on the other side of the street. (Not surprising, since no minds appeared to have appeared on the other side of the street.)
Then, this summer, the Pearcys once again became the recipients of voluminous vitriol, sparked this time by Steve’s entry in an art exhibit at the California Department of Justice (DOJ) headquarters in downtown Sacramento. His painting shows the continental U.S., superimposed with Old Glory, in a toilet. Down the canvas’ left side are the words “T’anks to Mr. Bush!”
Pretty cheeky, don’t you think, to crack on Bush for dumping America flush down the crapper?
Predictably, another batch of hysteria was whipped up amongst the regional right-wing rubes by a potty-mouthed (ironic, huh?) radio non-personality and, of course, our friends at Make America Feudal, finally culminating in fulminating in front of the DOJ building. This latest display of herd imbecility was successfully countered, naturally, by another trusty group of local liberties-loving good guys and gals.
A couple of weeks later, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer (a Democrat), in whose first-floor cafeteria Steve’s work had been displayed and whose office had till then resisted all calls for censorship, caved. “T’anks” was quietly removed and relocated upstairs, well away from the public; Steve wasn’t even notified. When he finally found out and requested an explanation, he was told it was done, per Lockyer spokesman Nathan Barankin, “out of concern for the events going on in the Middle East right now,” because, you know, in that historically stable part of the world things have just now begun heating up a notch after millennia of peace and brotherhood and forget that Pearcy’s painting carries but a tangential reference to the Middle East at best anyway while other pieces in the exhibit that stayed put overtly comment on that neck of the world and besides we got your gargantuan red herring right here considering the whole entire issue begins and ends with the First Amendment period and hey no wait stop please don’t pull that curtain back lest it become even more apparent we’re nothing but a bunch of spineless rat bas…fffzzzttt…bbrroinngg…
This was the second time a prominent public official had jobbed the Pearcys by failing to protect their rights and/or home: the first came when Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully refused to prosecute the neo-brown shirts who’d trespassed on the Pearcys’ property, climbed up on their house and stolen their protest pieces. Scully pleaded “insufficient evidence” and “no witness[es],” despite the fact that all miscreants involved were caught full on camera at various stages of their thievery by on-site media crews.
Two subsequent anti-war displays have “disappeared” from the Pearcys’ property. That’s just the beginning; I got this e-mail from Steve the other day:
“Another of our ‘Bush Lied, I Died’ soldier displays was ripped down and stolen yesterday from our Land Park home. This is the 4th time in the last 8 months that this has happened, and the 2nd time in less than a month.
“In addition to these 4 attacks, the following things have happened since last February:
“1) our cars,
our guests’ cars, and our house have been egged on several
2) Bush re-election stickers have been affixed to our living room window;
3) our house was fired upon with multiple rounds of paint balls at 2 a.m.;
4) U.S. Marine stickers were affixed to several windows on our house;
5) a shovel was stuck in the middle of our front lawn between two orange cones spaced about 7 feet across from one another (the way a grave site is marked for digging in a cemetery);
6) numerous ‘hate’ letters have arrived in the mail;
7) numerous threats on our answering machine have been left;
8) we’ve received numerous annoying hang-up calls;
9) garbage has been thrown on our lawn on many occasions (McDonalds bags, beer bottles, etc.);
10) someone subscribed us to about 40 different magazines (which fill our mailbox quickly since we’re away often);
11) police have mysteriously and inexplicably come to our house while we were in Berkeley [the Pearcys have a second home there];
“Last week, I tried to seek info about one of the vandals by using craigslist. I posted a photo of the 2nd vandal in ‘Missed Connections’ and asked for info about the person. However, my messages kept getting flagged. When I complained to Craig, the craigslist CEO (Jim Buckmaster) e-mailed me back and accused me of berating them and said I should use someone else’s site. So I asked people to e-mail Craig to encourage him not to allow flaggers to thwart my attempts to identify the right-wing vandals. Many of you e-mailed Craig, and I thank you for that. Craigslist people, however, have continued to allow the flagging.
“We’re getting a bit tired and disappointed. It’s bad enough that we have to challenge the right about so many of their outrageous policies and acts, and that the justice system (police and Jan Scully) looks away when they don’t like the politics, but when ‘liberal’ organizations such as craigslist indirectly assist these right-wing nuts, then we feel like all of our other efforts are futile.”
I’m aware, certainly, of craigslist, but don’t know much about it, other than it’s a place on the ‘Net where people go to hook up for things like stereos and roommates and anonymous sex. I’ve never personally used it (well, not to find a stereo or get a roommate).
Anyway, I fired off an e-mail asking Craig or Jim or Slist, even, to not give in to suspected right-wingers “who insist on ‘gang-flagging’ messages…from Steve and Virginia Pearcy as they engage in a perfectly legal attempt to locate an individual who trespassed on and destroyed their property.” (All info posted by the Pearcys is in the public domain.)
Here’s Craig’s reply:
“Mark, you've been misinformed. We're not even sure what the deal is, but there's a lot of disinformation going around on this.”
So here’s me:
“Thank you for your response. How, exactly, have I been misinformed?”
Here’s Craig again:
“we're not sure yet, but we're finding that a lot the guy says isn't honest. he seems intent of (sic) portraying the antiwar movement in a negative light.”
Disregarding entirely the bizarre assertion that someone who, along with his wife, has gone through much personal hell for several months protesting the war is, in reality, what, a woefully inept agent provocateur?, and also the not-inconsequential fact I cannot stand small letters where capital ones should be (I have never said I am not anal), I pressed onward:
“Thank you, again, for your response. I am confused. How can you categorically say I've been ‘misinformed’ but then say you're ‘not sure yet’ how? Have the Pearcys' postings been removed or not? And if so, why?”
here’s craig, I mean, Here’s Craig (damn!; see why I doth protest?):
“Mark, it's easy, we know that there's disinformation out there, and we just don't know the whole thing.”
Goin’ out on a limb time: This might just be what Steve meant when he told me later that Craig’s e-mails had been “vague, ambiguous, unhelpful, meaningless and non-responsive.” (Food for thought time: CBS reports craigslist is helping Long Island Marine Corps recruiters try to hike lagging enlistment numbers.)
I’ve since given up on Craigslist, (there, that’ll show ‘em), as have the Pearcys. Steve and Virginia’s growing frustration is completely understandable, for how long can one continue taking nonstop flak for simply trying to employ one’s constitutional rights before wearying of the whole surreal business?
Steve’s mention of becoming “tired and disappointed” and feeling like his and Virginia’s “efforts are futile” especially caught my eye, for those feelings, along with despair and hopelessness, have become quite familiar to me lately. (Take heart: I can’t stand maudlin -- or middlin’ -- columns, so I’ll try to keep the morose factor low and entertainment value high.)
Recent readers know I consider America a lost cause, and plan to retire to Costa Rica in about a year; “flee” is the more accurate verb, frankly, and, yes, it is, foremost, for political reasons. After the publication of my last column, which reflected this theme, I half-seriously wondered if I would write satire/commentary/morbid self-reflections again.
Because, really: How many different ways are there to declare the Bushies baby-eating monsters? (With apologies to real baby-eating monsters.) So I backed off the keyboard, thinking, “What’s left to say?”
But thank goodness for the continued existence of what has, by far, always been the great, beating heart of this nation: its real citizens. We, the people or, in this case, you, the readers -- involved, informed Americans who still give a fig about the fate of this forsaken place -- have written to the rescue.
I’ve received a number of e-mails during the last couple of weeks from folks bidding me the best, encouraging me to continue writing regardless where I end up (does Gitmo have typewriters?), and even two or three thanking me for inspiration of some type.
Well. It is now I who wish to express gratitude, for, by telling me my words generate the occasional ripple, you have sent one back this way. As some of you have gently mentioned, there is always something to say, and now that some personal perspective has returned, it sounds pretty dumb (and egotistical) to contend otherwise. (I have never said I am not vain.)
The Pearcys inspired me even before I met them. They regularly put themselves squarely on the line to stand up for principles -- true American principles -- in which they believe. I share their sentiments and hope they keep going, for I see them as leaders, as activists. (Update: Steve e-mailed me tonight with a photo of their fifth display they’ve just put up. Go Team Pearcy!) I do not consider myself in their league; my “activism” mostly involves writing and attending demos.
Which leads to something else of which you, dear readers, have also so kindly reminded me: No matter the label, whatever one does (and from wherever one does it) to help counter the horror that is Bushco, counts -- or maybe, even, it doesn’t. (How Zen is that, or is that Zinn?) But the point, of course, is that nothing should be dismissed that is done to try to raise the sunken ship that is America since we (almost) never know what particular action may lead to another that then leads to another, and so on. The key is to just keep plodding. This is all very elementary, I know, but despair’s fog can sometimes fog up the brain and make it all foggy-like until even a simple concept gets lost in the, um, brain fog. (I knew I was in trouble when I started that one.) Anyway, the one thing that is certain is that if we do nothing at all, the result is sealed. (Whew! I figured I’d get there eventually.)
So, that’s that for today. Thank you, friends, for the refresher lesson. I’m not really sure if I avoided maudlin or even middlin’ in these concluding paragraphs, but, hey, there’s always next time.
Besides, what’m I gonna do? I’m kinda stuck.
P.S. Wouldn’t it be neat if my dedicated readers contacted Craig Newmark (firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or Jim Buckmaster (email@example.com) of craigslist to impart various thoughts about the Pearcys’ treatment there? ‘Cause you never know how much difference six or seven people can make! (Yes, Mom, this includes you.)
Copyright © 2005 Mark Drolette. All rights reserved.