Finding ways to be heardSteve Hammer
Across the street from the NUVO headquarters is an apartment building that's undergoing extensive renovation. Every few weeks, a crew of men comes in and starts bashing out windows with baseball bats. It's a pleasing sound to work by, the sound of breaking glass. There's something exciting and almost sensual in it. I hope that renovation never ends.
Maybe I like it so much because it's the sound of abrupt and sudden change. I'd love to be one of those guys smashing the windows, because there's never been a more urgent need for sudden change.
Most of us feel like we don't have any power to change things. The power of protest, its actual ability to effect change, is at an all-time low. The president keeps protesters well away from his sight so he never has to see them.
Even Indianapolis policemen are finding out that carrying around signs - and having a valid argument - doesn't mean jack these days. The cops want more money; the mayor is giving them the middle finger. The mayor will win.
Maybe if the policemen started rampaging through the heart of downtown, smashing windows with their nightsticks, the mayor would listen to them and give them a livable wage.
It's ironic that in a time where, in theory at least, our voices can be heard throughout the world via the Internet, our individual voices carry such little weight unless you're a member of the super-rich or the Illuminati.
Think about it. I can e-mail people around the world for free but I can't get my apartment manager to call me back about my loud and destructive neighbors. I can talk to South Africa on the phone but I can't get good service from Comcast.
It works on the aggregate level, too. Millions of people listen to Howard Stern every morning and enjoy him, but an unelected official like Michael Powell can bitchslap him off the air. There were millions who saw Janet Jackson's breast and didn't die of embarrassment, but a few who were mortified can change the broadcast laws and keep everything fun off radio and TV.
I'm not sure what the answer to our collective disempowerment is. If individual protests are ignored and mass protests are dismissed by our government and institutions, then it seems as if there's no hope.
But that's never the answer, so it must be something else.
My proposed solution is to think creatively about the problem. We just need a little ingenuity to cut through the red tape we face every day. We need a way to throw the enemies of freedom into chaos and confusion.
Nixon and McCarthy lost credibility as leaders because a small but dedicated group of people just wouldn't shut up about them. After terrorizing America for years, both Nixon and McCarthy were eventually publicly humiliated, stripped of their power and left on the trash heap of history. The only people interested in them now, besides Ann Coulter, are scholars of sociopathy and mass hysteria.
The only way we - and when I say "we," I mean the powerless and voiceless middle- and lower-middle class people - will ever get anything from the aristocracy that runs our institutions is to bombard them with our voices.
We need to start screaming at the powerful people until they have no choice but to listen to us. We face unprecedented attacks on our freedoms and it's only getting worse as each day passes.
At this rate, in 10 years it will be illegal to criticize the military government or to travel to Ohio without our national identity card and proper sector passes.
While we try to figure out ways to bamboozle our enemies, we should at least have a little fun while we're at it.
One small way many of us had fun last week was by messing with the Web-based Bush/Cheney Sloganator. Until they pulled the plug on it last week, it was a tool on georgewbush.com where people could enter text and create their own official Bush/Cheney re-election poster.
As soon as I saw it, I realized it was comedy gold. My first entry was "We fooled you once, now let us fool you twice." My second was "Their fists. Your face." My third, "If we don't win, we'll steal it again!"
The Web site wonkette.com - an absolutely wonderful news and commentary site, by the way - began collecting individual contributions to the Sloganator. Here are some of the best:
Fewer Dead American Soldiers Than LBJ
They Sure Smell Like Old People
We're Hiding Osama Until October!
Making The Rich Even Richer
Please, Dear Lord, Not Again!
All of this mirth disguises the fact that, despite everything, and even without an October surprise, it is still more likely than not that George W. Bush will get re-elected to four more years of ignoring our concerns. If that happens, impeachment will be the only tool left.
That's why it's so important to register and vote. I realize I keep beating it into peoples' heads, but it's my little way of trying to save America. The system doesn't want you to vote, but I do. Go to your public library, license branch or to www.in.gov/sos/elections/vote_reg.html and fill out the form.
You'll get a card back that will allow you to go to the polls 229 days from now and speak your voice. If enough people do that, maybe we won't be ignored much longer.