Vague rules, re: ‘free speech’ keep the ‘sheeple’ in check –with insights to Settler realities
article from twincities.indymedia.org (subsequently edited for clarity and elongated, see bottom)
Rez border-town, MN–A human being called artist had only begun experiencing the vagueness played by local persons holding “authority” when he did more experimenting with truth, Ghandi-style.
“I’ve been wanting to do a couple things and have been following through with them for awhile now,” our visionary friend said. “I wanted to experience life just beneath the surface in Settler life, from the perspective of a Settler, but in a kind of Ghandian passive way.
“I thought, ‘What would happen if I tried practicing my alleged ‘rights’ as a Settler–supposedly much more privileged than others?’ So since a few months ago, I began exploring this: First on the border of an area Rez, then last weekend during a local fair, and then later outside of several area bars.”
We asked the visionary about that context, this idea that Settlers “supposedly” are much more privileged, as that attitude is certainly a bit unorthodox, and even right on the edge of being possibly a little too alienated a way to measure. Because, it seems obvious that Settlers have many many privileges. Especially when compared to ‘people of color’, i.e. area indigenous folks whom have been seeking to explain the realities they face on border towns for at least decades.
“Well, we settler people do have privileges, as long as we conform to our programming. As long as we go along with the program in relative silence, in my view. We can mumble our disapproval all we want, we can get drunk and complain loudly amongst each other amidst loud music, but if we go out openly into Colonial Society –especially without first asking the “proper authorities” permission, well, we start to see realities.”
And the picture isn’t as cut and dry as people would naturally assume, especially when thinking about Settler privilege over indigenous experiences of the truth.
So what happened is, this visionary went to the local public library to show his fine art. He wasn’t selling anything, per se. He wasn’t asking anyone to donate money. Tho he did have a sign asking for donations *if* passerby liked his art. But he wasn’t pushing it on them; they’d only see it if they actually spent time looking.
“Few stopped, in the two or so hours I was there. I got one donations of $3.”
Just before that, the library manager came out and right off (without even looking at the art first) was asking whether our visionary artist was selling anything. When he realized that our artist wasn’t, he then began characterizing things very curiously.
“He used terminology as follows: That I was impeding the sidewalk. When in reality I had my art situated on the periphery. Some of it even propped up at the edge of the garden. Well, he got quite defensive, I thought; telling me his reality about ‘policies’ and ‘rules’ and that people can’t just come out and do free speech (or protesting, he said), without first obtaining ‘a permit’.
“Well, he shook my hand multiple times and then went back in after saying that he’d tried to call the city hall but he couldn’t get ahold of them until Monday, so he implied that I could be out there until then. But he pulled ‘a fast one on me’; he called the cops.”
One soldier called cop showed up and was suprisingly even-handed. The library manager explained that he didn’t call them to ask that our artist leave (nor did he call 911), he merely wanted to hear their take on it, he said.
“I was lucky that this municipal soldier wasn’t having a bad day and didn’t want to take it out on me. He did try to ask me if I was local or not, but then I told him I was remaining silent and that that line of questioning is irrelevant.”
A weekend before, an official with the fair that our Free Speech/First Amendment artist/advocate experienced had seemed relieved to find out that he was “just passing through.” Or something.
“Gaining this line of intelligence about a fellow Settler (whether they’re an ‘Outsider’ or Not) seems to be a main concern of locals, I’ve noted. Especially when they realize that my art isn’t the same old crap.”
It’s actually quite radical art, as it takes on and demystifies a variety of topics including racism (or, in our artist’s words “fear of difference”) between Settler folks and indigenous folks.
“The biggest reason I’m out here in these places, away from the so-called radical ghetto, is to bring information to people whose reality is deeply controlled. My fellow settler people in towns like the ones I’ve been interacting with really have few –if any– ways to even objectively explore ideas outside the box of what is given them by colonial so-called authority. So I’m exploring and experimenting with truth on these issues, and I haven’t seen many who dare do anything like this at all.”
Usually, he says, truth-speakers outside of the box remain amongst their own groups, and don’t even try to really reach out to others.
“There’s a co-op here, and a college, so that seems to make things a little less rigid. So that’s an opening. That’s why I am trying this. But when I was out at the Rez border? Whoa, I was pretty afraid.”
“I’ve gotten my dose of local fear-mongering, for sure. But I’ve been going through that fear, and reaching out to people; and tho most indigenous folks themselves are obviously cynical –and certainly have good reason to be– i’m keeping at it anyway. Reaching out to both ‘sides’, and seeding, I guess, the truth that there are other realities we can walk.
“But I’m definitely afraid to go out away from the usual ‘radical’ ghettos; but someone has to. What is life if we’re so cowed that we never really take any real chances? So much of what passes for art these days, even amongst anti-authoritarians, is sooo corralled. The gallery scene, that’s, I think, just another way that colonialism re-captures our power.”
Does our artist hold animosity towards the officials he interacted with?
“Not for them personally. I just see how their careers are getting in the way of the narrative we’re all imbued with. We’re told that we have “freedom”, but if we have to always run over to some official to get their permission first, well, we may as well live in a police state. Think about that one. In a police state you have to ask permission, or you face harsh consequences. Here on the rez border area, I have the privilege not to be quickly detained or arrested (like apparently many indigenous folks) for not conforming adequately, my art confiscated, and etcetera. Away from border towns, the rule is much different, I think.
“For instance, I wasn’t totally cowed when the municipal soldier (and they do carry M16s in the cars, I’ve noted) began telling me that I was in effect ‘panhandling’! I challenged him a little, I cut him off twice, even. He didn’t like it, but he’s I think mandated to give Settlers a little more leeway.”
So, right now, Settler folks in rez border towns have a little lee-way –if they’re lucky and a cop isn’t looking to unload a little of their oft pain. That may change (and we are certainly programmed to almost expect it, I think) in the future.
“And if I’m viewed as someone who is just trying to be ‘smart’? Well, you can see how tyranny can work to keep people’s heads bowed and letting the same old again continue without change.”
(article ends) (sharing may possibly continue, depending on how well this computer works from here)
==============elongation of sharing starts here==============
The local bar scene:
Had a multitude of interesting times, for sure! Two guys bought me drinks, one ended up giving me major financial support; another seemed to hope i’d pay for his drinking (before i’d gotten so much financial support, seeming to assume i had the extra money); others, a bit intoxicated, challenged.
On one occasion, after being talked into taking my art show over to the American Legion, I was sitting outside it where my ‘friend’ who wanted to drink with me said i ought to try, when we both discovered that one of the ladies who’d been sitting on a bench near us had LEFT HER PURSE. Well! What did I do? I immediately took it into the Legion, without even looking to see if there was any cash in it or anything!
And the good things that came of it?
Wow. A barmaid paid for two drinks for me and my ‘friend’ (who i later ditched when he began showing his true street-style colors); and on a subsequent night, another bar-lady gifted me coupons for two MORE drinks!
Incidentally, while at a grocery store there was a wild bat loose in the store and people were chasing it and trying to kill it, and when I saw this, i intervened and caught it with my hat and took it outside, and got a FREE MEAL from the deli!
So, some good even tho i’m sure locals will be trying to paint my activity here as purely “trouble making” and the like. (Such a cynical term; but of course, reflecting the true reality of heavily conformist Settler existence.)
Digressing, sure, but why not?
Read about my action on the actual border of a Rez below.
The basic underlying intent of my work in these parts, as anywhere? Solidarity with informal humanity! This is post-Left, non-Right-wing, decolonizing in various levels of action!