gwen (gwenix) wrote,

I am kneeling right now before a table of Zines. The second such table in the Comic art exhibit I am attending at the Miller Gallery on CMU campus. I suspect I will have to break from typing this, but a lot of things have given me thought, and so I kneel here now typing this entry into my Handspring Visor.

Last night, Kevin, Joe, and I stayed up very late discussing a lot of matters political, personal, and general, as we are wont to do. One of the stories I shared from my past was about the Allderdice Free Press (AFP). You see, I went to Taylor Allderdice High School, a very academic oriented institution (if you were from the right class of society, but that is not for this discussion) of a public high school. As such, there was a large liberally erudite student body. My freshmen and sophomore years, I got to know, and largely hung out with, a bunch of these folks from the classes one and two years ahead of me. It was during this time the Supreme Court decreed that censorship of student newspapers in schools sponsoring the newspapers was not a violation of the First Amendment. I remember sitting in Stacy Mates house as she, and many others, decided that they would start a Free Press, one which was sponsored by the students only, and thus not subject to the censorship of the school administration. This was the birth of the AFP.

The idea was to put up a submission box, and any student could submit articles, stories, puzzles, comics, whatever else they felt like putting in print. The editor, a student, would then go through the submissions and deide what was printed based on their interpretation of quality, not any input by the administration. And for two years the submissions came in force. At first almost everything was printed, later many were not printed for reasons of space. And the circulation was high. I remember thoroughly enjoying the upcoming issues.

Then tragedy struck. One of that group was murdered in my junior year, Karen Hurwitz. I remember then sitting in a counsellors office looking around at the group of young liberals who two years earlier were so full of zeal, now a friend lost in the worst way. Half of that group had already graduated (Stacy Mates included), and the ones left were now in their senior year, and stunned. They started handing over the workings of the paper to new people, but they had lost the zeal to explain it to them. Then they grauated.

I also had fallen out of touch with the AFP that year, but heard something horrible the next. The new editors of the AFP couldn't figure out how to fund it, so they were going to get a school sponsorship. I went to a meeting again, my hands full of notes I'd taken talking to my mom and my grandfather, both PR specialists in journalism and newspapers (my grandfather ran his newspaper even, my mother was the first women in Industrial Management for her efforts). I illustrated a plan in which we could keep the paper for ourselves, appeal to the local community for support by publishing minor ad space. This was not acceptable, they said, and turned it over to the administration. I don't think another issue even came out. after that.

I tell this story now to illustrate the importance of being able to make your voice heard without the official sponsorship of the people you are likely talking about. Censorship is inherent in our society in a number of ways, even now protests must obtain permits to happen. Yes, you can argue there are reasons for this, but I will argue that there are very strong reasons for being allowed to protest without official sponsorship.

One of the points in support of his war arguments a friend on here has made is that countries we consider in the Axis of Evil would jail a person for protesting like I am doing now. Well, as I took to the march with 5,000 (police estimate) of my fellow protesters, and many of my friends today, in a raging blizzard, I found out that many were arrested in yesterday's Southside marches (which I missed). I don't know the details of these, the only word they would say is "well, apparently the ones arrested were the anarchist kiddies, so who knows." I don't. But I do know that my friend from the Netherlands marching with our group was afraid of being too close to the police officers because if she's arrested, she could be deported.

After the protest, we visited this Comic Exhibit to see the PMS literature (and the exhibit), as both my compatriots here are PMS girls (Caroline and Wandi). I am still sitting here, amazingly, beside them wondering when I'll be done typing.

But here's where I come to what has caused me to sit down and tell this story. I randomly picked up two zines, and of course they were political/punk zines. I grabbed my PDA and took some notes. The first passage shows more of why we need to have an uncensored voice, and a good point about how permissions and money can lmit a diverse voice in publications and art. The last passages are about the protest in DC from September, and the arrests that were made there. I encourage you, who is reading this saying "but people aren't arrested without a reason here" to read them.

"Punk Rock Hardcore Materialism" in Fucktooth #23

Do we even need to begin a discussion here of how the ability to pay high collector prices is an indication of privilege and of a kind of class system within punk? This createes a separation betwen those who ave and those who have not.... for punk to be self sustaining and viable we need to be able to communicate our culture to others in an accessible way. As oof this moment, the most common and most accepted way to communicate these ideas is through our records and bands, with zine and personal interaction competing for a distance second place. What is saying that soon, and to some extent, at the very moment, tat those who have access to our ideas and culture are those who are privileged enough to be able to afford it?... Is it no wonder that punk is so white and "middle class?" And if this issue is a factor in why punk remains so white, male, and middle class, what can be done about it? this about this the next time you dismiss an argument aobout how much someone selse their record for or how much a door price at a show is. Really think about what effect a $20 CD is.

This is in no way a kind of purist romanticization of "the old days", which I wasn't even around for to begin with. I don't think that the punk community should resist change or that we should cling to the ideas put forth by founding bands and zines, but I cringe at the thought of welcoming corporate culture (our own, in the form of large indepently owned labels which resemble the majors, as well as the majors and the media campaigns) with open arms.

"Crimesolver speial report"
Washington DC, USA
for immediate release
(Crimethinc, debris de corps)

Michael Brune & Christina Pino-Marina, Washington Post staff writers

So, whats it like to be rounded up during a protest? Confusing and intimidating, to say the least. Despite having identified ourselves as news reporters several times, we were grabbed forcefully by police officers in riot gear, handuffed and led to Metrobus No. 8771 with 34 protesters and an indignant United Press International reporter. Aboard the bus, no charges were ever announced...

POLA german exchange student

tere was no reason for stopping the people/demonstrators to protest and articulate teir interest. Maybe it is because I don't know the American law enough but even if there is a law that justifies, that peaceful people can get arrested, it is way beyond democracy in my opinion.

Verner german exchange student

This was the second major demonstration I went to. I really tried to stay out of troul for various reason, primarily because I am a foreigner. I was so shocked that I actually got arrested for nothing. I have been aware of the injustice towards protests like this one for some years now, but I always thought you had the possibility to get out if it gets too extreme. Now I know it is not like that. I am actually happy to have found out, because now I think it is more importatnt for me than ever before to get serious about expressing my thoughts and feelings about all the political decisions, which slowly change my future into a world that is going to end up destroying itself completely.

Jeff Barham Georgetown Univerity lebal observer

My name is Jeff Barham and I am a 3rd year law student at the George Washington University. I attended the weekend's activities as a Legal Observer with the National Lawyers Guild. We wear hideous neon green hats and badges to make our presence clear to police and protestors and take careful notes and pictures of the police/protestor interactions. Our hope is to prevent police misconduct and protect people's first amendment rights to free speech.
Just afer 7:46AM on Friday 9/27 I was shoved by a line of officers with batons from my position on the sidewalk of Vermont Street opposite from the main group of 2-300 protestors who had been penned in by the DC MPD. All any offier would say to me was "step back" as they shoved me with their batons, which I tried to do. However, at one point I found myself in the middle of two lines of police who took turns shoving me into the other line.
Eventually, they forcefully moved me into the main group of protestors trapped against the plate glass window of Citibank. For about 10 minutes, the police pushed so violently against the mass of protestors, that my back began to go through the plate glass window which had begun cracking an breaking from the weight of our bodies. At 7:55AM a large group of protestors sat down so that they couldn't continue to be pushed by the police. At 8:00AM, the police started arresting the seated protstors, and when they were all cuffed, the police started grabbing standing members of the crowd three at a time, putting us in cuffs and loading us on buses.

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