Audacity

My beloved readers, I must confess that I was, just a little, intentionally provoking you with my “Peaceable Assembly” post just to kind of test-run some shit I’d been thinking about before I actually put it on screen. (Does that qualify as a “covert liberal agenda?” I’m not sure.)

Let’s ask ourselves a question. Why the fuck can’t someone–gay or straight–contemplate whether Jesus masturbated? It’s just a penis, boys, not the source of every dirty, shameful, evil thing in the world* and thinking about or talking about the things y’all do with it isn’t necessarily proof that you are a deviant or going to hell or shamefully reinforcing stereotypes about various ‘perversions’. Christ, if sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, sometimes a penis is just a penis**.

No, let’s ask ourselves another question. Why should liberal women learn how to shoot large guns? No, not just as a big ‘fuck you’ to the Democratic party–with its continued consideration of ‘women’s issues’ to be side issues to be dealt with only as an afterthought–, though that’s a good reason.

Okay, fine, let’s ask ourselves a third question. How closely linked is your every day understanding of what a good person is with that person’s willingness to refuse to act? Let’s go back to the neo-Nazi discussion and consider the way that Sarcastro links freedom, peace, and safety.

Kleinheider says “just because someone does something meant to instill fear and intimidation doesn’t give you a right to attack them nor do they forfit their right to protection by doing so.” Peg, I think, comes at this from another angle, saying “I remember wondering at the time why they just didn’t let the assholes do it, and why their strategy wasn’t just to have everybody stay home and let them do their march on a deserted street.”

And it seems to me that what A.C. and Peg are both trying to get at is that there are cases in which non-action is the best response, that it diffuses an activity of its power. If no one shows up to oppose them, can the neo-Nazis be said to be having an effective protest? One side being willing to keep the peace insures the safety (and maybe by extension, the freedom) of both sides.

Still, I think one of the reasons that the neo-Nazis make such an interesting illustration is that they intentionally invoke history. They, themselves, have little or no power, but they mean to refer back to a very powerful regime.

And in that context, asking people to do nothing in the face of them also has historical resonance.

I’m not saying that throwing rocks or rioting or robbing bars is an appropriate response. I’m not sure I know what an appropriate response is. I’m just saying that when you ask groups who have been, historically, unable to effectively respond to deadly violence against them, to refrain from responding when they can against the echoes of that violence, you have to see how the finer points of non-action as appropriate response versus non-action as an inability to respond might be lost.

Which brings me back to Sarcastro’s trinity of societal values***: freedom, peace, and safety.

Do they really sit together so easily?

I actually think that they don’t. At least not often. Peace and safety definitely go together in interesting ways. But what goes better with freedom than audacity? How else is freedom achieved than through audacious behavior?

No one with any power in America is sitting around handing it out willingly to people who don’t have it. No, instead, racial minorities, women, and gays have been told to just sit tight and leave it to the straight white men to take care of things. Don’t worry, as John Adams said, “We have only the name of masters.”**** Keep the peace, in other words.

But it’s only outrageous and audacious behavior that gets anything done. It’s only because we had the audacity to demand the vote that we got it. Our freedom depends on audacious behavior. Being free practically demands a “bold departure from the conventional form” as the OED puts it. There’s no other way to be free.

You have to upset the peace and you have to put yourself in harm’s way if you want to be free.

You have to have the audacity to upset things.

[Shoot, this deserves a better conclusion, but I'm out of lunch time...]

*And the fact that your host, a self-avowed feminist, has to remind you of this… Well, it just shows you how weird the world is.
** Though the fact that there’s such heated discussion on a site called “Hard Right” has not been lost on me.
*** Yes, I’m well aware that he linked those together on the fly and I’m now holding them together as if he was taking some well-thought-out position instead of just making a comment, but that’s just how things are.
****And only the vote and laws written in his favor… but still, reading the correspondence between him and Abigail, you can’t help but be charmed.

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19 thoughts on “Audacity

  1. Jesus had a penis and testicles. And we assume they were all in working order. That being said…Jesus was also Jewish. And according to Jewish law masturbation is a HUGE sin. Since Jesus was sinless in order to be our perfect sacrifice (lamb without blemish) to atone for the sins of mankind, contemplating whether or not He masturbated is a major affront to Christianity AND Orthodox Judaism.

    NOW, could He have had a wife? Sure. Did He? Who knows. Is it germaine to the issue of salvation and atonement? No. But masturbation is. Therefore, that’s why it’s such a big deal.

  2. Every sperm is sacred and freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.

    Is that thought out enough?

    The residents of Toledo were free to engage in counter protesting the knucklehead’s march, up until they decided that looting Max Klinger’s House of Falafel and Vintage Dresses was part and parcel of that protest. The freedom of the Toledododians doesn’t extend onto the property of others.

    This audacity bit sounds nice on a bumper sticker and all, “Non-Audacious Women Rarely Make History”, or whatever is currently being peddled in the Womyn’s Studies Department. But, when your audacity spills onto my yard or my business, you can expect me to take action to preserve my peace and safety, through my freedom to own large guns.

  3. Your point about the ‘the finer points of non-action as appropriate response versus non-action as an inability to respond’ is well taken. I would, however, make the distinction between using that rationale for Nazis as compared to the treatment of minorities, women and homosexuals. And while there are certainly those groups that would condemn advancements by all of those groups (the Nazis, say, or fundie nutjobs), I would also say that most (enlightened) people agree that conditions for those other groups are slowly, yet surely, breaking down barriers to acceptance that are long overdue, while the Nazis’ policies and manifesto are universally condemned. As far as my previous point about the ignoring, I will liken it to my experience as a mother when a kid pitches a fit: if there is behavior you don’t approve of or want to encourage, I have found that by ignoring it and removing the audience, their interest in continuing that behavior usually wanes rapidly, or, as you more succinctly put it, diffuses the activity of its power.

    And I’m all for audacity, sister. I have been called many variants of ‘spunky’ in my day, so I know it gets the job done.

    Now, what was the topic again?

  4. Kat, I don’t see how contemplating whether he masturbated is any affront. Deciding he did? Sure, but contemplating whether? I’m not seeing it.

    Peg, you are wise. As always. As for the point… I’m not sure I have one yet.

    S., hmm. Who knew a simple y could make me so enraged? And yet, it took me nearly all afternoon calm down and to not want to drive around town, find you, and throw things at you.

    But I’m calm now.

  5. Good point. Bad phrasing on my part. Asserting that he did would be an affront. Thinking about it, while pointless, isn’t.

  6. Aw, man, you hit me right where it hurts! My poor car. My beloved car, sitting outside of Franklin, so far from me.

    Womyn.

    I find that to be the single most offensive thing to come out of the feminist movement. It implies a complete misunderstanding of the history of the English language and a rejection, based on that misunderstanding, of a very fine and important ancient way we are firmly rooted in the the very language we speak.

    I find it highly insulting.

    Man, in the oldest sense of the word, was gender neutral, with y’all being wapman (or the folks with weapons) and us being wifmann (or the female folks, and in some interesting sense, the trading folks).

    As per my earlier point, probably because y’all have such issues with your “weapons,” you dropped the prefix and declared yourselves just “man.”

    But why the fuck should I have to change my word’s spelling to exclude any reference to “men” like there’s some validity to the weaponed folks claiming that word solely for themselves? That’s bullshit.

    And the fact that you would even joke like I would find that mutilation of my own language for such assinine reasons even remotely acceptable? Makes me a little irrationally angry.

  7. Hey don’t blame me, blame your feminist systers who came up with that little gem, even though they weren’t too clear on their hystory.

    Now, what exactly did the trading folks have to trade?

  8. Dude, it’s HERstory.

    (I agree with B. about “womyn.” Makes my skin crawl.)

  9. Now, what exactly did the trading folks have to trade?

    You know, same as now. Some of us trade a hard-day’s work for some shiny metal. Some of us trade childbearing for protection. Some of us trade love and affection for like.

    Others of us trade hot sex with men capable of breaking furniture for big fake tits.

    The latter is usually frowned-upon, but it gives those of us in the former catagories something to think about during boring staff meetings.

  10. Oh wow. A misread preposition is always a bad thing. The first time I read that comment I saw “men capable of breaking furniture with big tits”.

    I wasn’t sure whether the man had big tits or was using someone else’s big tits to break the furniture.

    Then I reread it and it all makes sense.

    I will trade my big tits for chocolate ice cream and a good, unworn copy of Tom Jones. (the book not the man.)

  11. I could make a phone call for you and chocolate ice cream could come from Franklin. You’d just then be stuck with the Butcher through Lost, I imagine, if he had to drive out there to deliver it.

    Tom Jones, though… I can be of no help.

  12. I got the Chocolate ice cream. Still have the tits, though. Maybe if I lost 50lbs I’d lose those along with.

    Funny. Perhaps NOT having the chocolate ice cream would have been a better choice. Eh.

  13. Having to give up chocolate ice cream under any circumstances seems inhumane.

    S., was that a little too much? I thought it was funny, but maybe it was a little too much.

  14. Yeah, keep it up. Tomorrow I have the car and I’ve got a desk full of small but heavy things to throw.

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