I’d like to discuss the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution with you, for I feel it has somehow become a question that is open for debate. But that’s the idea of it in the first place, isn’t it? And so of course we all shout at each other about what The Constitution means, and we have more than a thousand variations on what we think is right. This is our protection. This covers everything–The First Amendment. Like a Commandment. “Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me.” Within that narrow scope, nothing else matters. “God” acknowledges there are other gods, but shoves Itself past all competitors, like that rude prick in the deli who ignores everyone and pushes his way to the front of the line. Or someplace: (http://www.famous4thstreetdelicatessen.com/preview/html/index.html this is a wonderful delicatessen-style restaurant in Philadelphia, at 4th Street and Bainbridge Avenue. Great food. Most of the customers–and half of the staff for that matter–are terrible, terrible people.)
Now I’d don’t want to bash on God today. I have certainly done this enough in literally every form of communication I have been capable of utilizing. And a talk on the 1st Amendment could certainly be used to back up every blasphemy. Only . . . we live in a world where saying too much can sometimes lead to catastrophe.
Today is September 11th, 2018, the seventeenth anniversary of the moment in my generation’s lives that we can either venerate, or stand in a silent, angry huff. It is our greatest national tragedy, this era–and the first really serious one since our Grandparents were scared and outraged and angry after Pearl Harbor was attacked. Then came the blah, blah of the Cold War, a mythology of numerous sorts of ideological bullshit being yelled back and forth from across the room by a couple of diplomatic assholes. They threaten each other, but have no true desire to die for a cause.
Yeah, the Cold War saw its share of other wars, and also the years of conspiratorial mistrust that followed and pervade into today. People started listening to whatever crazy and angry people with a platform had to say. Joe McCarthy. Roy Cohn. People who believed in J Edgar, and in the Kennedy’s; Martin Luther King and LBJ; Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad and the Ayatollah Khomeini, all self-styled prophets.
There are cult leaders like Jim Jones and David Koresh and Charles Manson, people who tell their follows they, themselves, are actually God.
Space alien cults. Dogmas. Angry barks. Even Richard Nixon at the start of his first term had a messianic feel as the suit and tie generation gave way to a greedy and self-obsessed age of people just looking for a return to peace and quiet. Reagan certainly brought this cult back. The Clinton years were an age of growing Generation X cynicism. Both of his terms were a big fuck you to the moral world. We can be disgusting assholes and still be successful. This was all of us. Fuck you if you don’t like it! Besides, to be such a ladies man one would have to be an instant charmer.
George 2 was no one’s god, but a pleasant enough man who had to suffer through a time that most people weren’t expecting. (Maybe some agents had suspicions, maybe there was even a team watching this, but I am talking about everyone. Most people anywhere had no idea that this was going to happen). He just had shit awful luck. Throughout American history, George Bush, Jr. will have a far greater impact than his mostly noble and barely corrupt father. Dad never had that Reagan wit, named for his predecessor and exemplified by Bill Clinton, Sonny Boy George W, and Barrack Hussein Obama. (Donald Trump is a new sort of monster and is better left for discussions not involving American history and government. The future is happening before our eyes. In here Trump will only be alluded to, a few paraphrased quotes, and the implications of history).
When JFK was assassinated (we can date the generations by reflecting on the transformation of each age’s most horrible event). When he died, the 1960s truly began. It had been sixty-two years since McKinley was assassinated. It was not the balmy spark of generation after generation seeing a president’s murder. Lincoln. Garfield. McKinley. The next generation only heard these stories as myth. Then for most of their lives their children didn’t know just what to think about the hopeful world until the day the music died.
Of course it’s true that ideas on the ‘worst thing ever’ vary greatly, because to some people 9/11 was a triumph. These psychopaths don’t think of themselves as villains. To them they are soldiers in the Army of God, which means they will march up against the world with apocalyptic fanaticism. They are very much like the frozen zombies in Game of Thrones, with their swarming ant colony style of conversion. Believe us or die, is the key to scripture. This is the gospel of End Times.
Most of us think that view is nonsense; or, if we believe in Something, we view the afterlife in a far more pleasing manner than standing guard outside the doors to Heaven, before the holy temple (or shrine), and keeping the heathens out for eternity. Enter only when you have seen the light.
With Christianity (yes, the other was Islamic Fundamentalism, often Islamic Terrorism. Let us say this out loud. That is exactly what it is.), even Hell has a certain charm. Yeah, yeah: the devil and torment and pitchforks and some great big, everlasting S+M session where you are whipped and beaten by God. It humiliates you, It doesn’t let you cum, being forced to jerk-off forever. You are wiping your ass and can never get clean, no matter how much of what’s left to come is tissue and blood. You are climbing towards Heaven, trapped like a Sisyphus, on this terminal task that you can never get done completely done. Guys can’t get hard and girls are always dry and cracked, scars and sores all over the place, a hidden stink coiling out in red plumes. These are the perverted fantasies of Hell. It is hard to understand the sort of person who fears such a place unless you are one of them.
For others Hell can mean politics. You are shit on the bottom being poked by some ten foot, grinning she-devil, standing there with goat legs, a furry tail, her jiggling fat tits exposed, fire everywhere, and with a terrible job to do. It’s voice is a gargling bark, a tone of commend. Shovel that burning shit into those flaming ovens over there and don’t ever stop, never!
Hell is ridiculous. Hell is funny. It is why all of us sometimes want to sit back and watch a horror movie, seeing a version of reality where things so much more horrible than will ever has happen to you are on display, happening to people you really don’t care that much about. ( http://www.americanhorrors.com A great place to see some extremely violent and many excellent and obscure horror movies. Some of them have the feel of a 70s soap opera mixed with really dirty dubbed Italian pornography.) It takes us away from the real world horrors that continually beat you down, that provoke madness and anger and mortal outrage and regret. We want to speak out. We want to call the world out for its all of its sins and lapses.
When I think on the First Amendment, I realize that the phrase’s ultimate definition is that we are all allowed to be assholes. The State says it’s fine. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil has been processed and merchandised, open to all tastes and moods, and has become the greatest seller of anything in all of human history. We have ignited wars throughout the centuries–bloodier and bloodier wars and then suddenly things get even worse. We tear apart the world we are living in: lakes on fire, damns bursting, volancos, floods, hurricanes . . .
The summer gets either too hot or too wet, or it can get strangely cold (sometimes all three in the same day. Winter is brutal and icy and cold, or it is unseasonably warm, ice caps melting, the Ocean rising. Some places are so hot that year after year they break records for hottest place on earth since we’ve developed the technology to actually record something’s temperature, like the first time we stuck our hands into the fire. We wonder, briefly, if there is a link between the beginning of understanding and the arming of ourselves to face the coming end of the world.
Even this creates a ridiculous ideological battle. Gods says! or Science says! and we argue the merits, or lack thereof, on every side of the debate. It comes to Knowledge versus Faith. It’s an unfair battle. Hardly anyone changes their beliefs. Being born again is being terrified, being sick of the life you are living and wanting to start all over again–good little boys and girls, now on the path for redemption. Of course it does not mean that just because you’ve found God you are any less the of piece of shit you were before falling upon hard times.
Our age is a time of radicalism–of anger and bitterness because the sun is too hot and those Muslims and Christians and Jews are making threats against one another and we need the oil but the oil is growing scarce, and we need the water but the well is filled with poison, and the Blacks and Hispanics and Whites and the Jews (again?) Monkey Fuckers and the Bis are busy fucking everything up and now we vote for people believing whatever the nonsense passes for wisdom in the political moment.
The First Amendment is a joyous thing–the only right that really matters; the only actual right, really, of free humanity. All those other distractions are things that follow this one divinely granted right. The ‘you can do this, but you can’t do that’ are the rest of the Book of Laws, not the god-given rights. These laws define crime, and states how it is that you are able to get away with robbing people.
With the First Amendment you can say whatever you want: so all you niggers and spics redskins, kikes (x3!), and faggots, creeps, losers and goddamned white motherfuckers. All you blind Nazi pricks, and The Dyke Womynists, (a 1990s college band’s name turned into a radical movement after two of the girls broke up and the ex went off and married a man). All you A-rabs, and Greezers and Punks and the Pakis and the Palies and the Puerto-Rick-Ins and you Westsiders, or the East Coast Crew or Gang or Brotherhood and talk about Satanists and Mugwumps or weird egg perversions, and everything and anything we say to call each other, hoping to find a way to hurt another person.
The first amendment allows this to happen, for better or for worse. But this is the world we have created for one another–the broad, endless, violently opposed voices that shout out a babbling echo of biases, coming to represent the masses into a simple way of generalizing everything so we don’t have to think so hard anymore. God may be in Its Heaven, but we can still be all alone here down on earth. Every path is open and every path has yet to be taken.
Now if we can only let people be the crowd of stupid assholes all of us nearly are, who is going to have the energy left to fight for anything you truly believe in?
I dedicate this to every person directly involved in any way whatsoever with the September 11th attacks, whether they were actually ‘there,’ or are simply coming up with a theory about what really happened afterwards. This is for the all of the victims and all of the saviors, all the firefighters and cops and brave citizens just trying to do what is best. To all the people running and scurrying in horror, truly terrorized. To every confused animal wandering around in the streets. Every horse. Every dog. Every cat (even sewer rats). To every child and every drug-induced failure, to all the useless degenerates living with damp, filthy aliases. I dedicate this to the joy of the first Amendment (that is the title of this piece: “The Joy of the First Amendment”) and to every fucking asshole that thinks all the rest of us are shit. Fuck you, motherfuckers. Fuck America and Fuck Socialism and Fuck Humanism and Theoreticalism and Vampirism and Fuck God and the Republican/Democratic Party, and fuck everything that brings us together or pulls us apart. This is for heroes and villains and fighters and the sad, lonely person wondering just what to do with their lives. For humanity, all the killers and monsters stalking us in the darkness. It is for the First Amendment, for the idea of America. The idea. The Idea of America. For America: I love you you wrong-headed, vulgar bitch–