21:20 - 05 May, 2005
I'm writing this in response to the spectacle that occurred in the LBJ Library on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005, when Ann Coulter, a diabolical, ignorant, but nevertheless charismatic right-wing pundit, came to speak at the University of Texas at Austin.
The title of the Daily Texan front-page story covering Ms. Coulter's speech was "Arrest Made at Coulter Speech." You could also have caught it on CBS or in the Austin-American Statesman. The general idea is that some jackass made a scene, and Ann Coulter was also there.
In his article, which I enjoyed and commend him for, Mr. Sampath quoted the former president of the Student Events Center, the organization which arranged the event. He wrote:
Matt Hardigree got it spot-on! From the beginning I was yelling obscenities along with my friends, roaring at Ms. Coulter's right-wing bullshit festival the way no one else had the balls to. Mr. Sampath writes in his article that (and this is my take) the protestors were told to be good all along. They were told to sit in the back and hold their signs and leave quietly. No wonder hippies get such a bad rap nowadays; protestors today might as well be ornaments on the Rightmobile. When I want someone to know I'm pissed off, I'm going to throw down and give them a good shit-ruining. I wanted to show Ms. Coulter that people are down if she wants to hold a circle-jerk, but we're not gonna do it her way. Not me, at least.
So yes, the Q&A session came around, and it was pathetic. Her slack-jawed fans got up and licked her face so she could pat them on the head--one schmuck offered to be her bodyguard, and she smiled, doubtlessly making a mental note that she wouldn't touch his nether regions if she were King Midas. Liberal protestors posed well-intentioned but woefully timid questions and got shot down in a hail of ignorant shitfire from the She-Dragon. Standing in line awaiting my turn, I watched her send a moderate Republican, who had questioned the sheer incendiary magnitude of her rhetoric, walk away in tears when she tore him apart for daring to question her.
So yes, I saw my "opportunity to say something lewd and offensive." And I took it.
She had just said something about gay marriage, the typical rightwing bullshit spiel that is still convincing people that the Bible is really the Constitution. Knowing that taking the time to say something insightful, specific, or even slightly critical would get me a lame comeback and a ticket back to my seat, I realized that the only way to win this battle was to fight fire with fire. Or bullshit with bullshit. So, as reported in yesterday's Texan, I fired:
"You say that you believe in the sanctity of marriage," said Ajai Raj, an English sophomore. "How do you feel about marriages where the man does nothing but fuck his wife up the ass?"
And the crowd fell silent. Ms. Coulter stood stunned atop her stage, unprepared for a jackass to say something so utterly crude and to the point. Her pompous and mean air is enough to stump questioners into timidity; I wasn't about to let her stop me. The audience members looked at me with raw disbelief; later, even friends who know me well admitted that they'd been surprised at how vulgar I'd been. The others in line for Q&A, mostly liberals, looked at me like I'd set their cause back forty years.
Did I give a shit? No. If I had a message, it's that the whole thing was a joke--hell, our whole political scene today is a fucking joke. Everyone's out to either pat themselves on the back for being right or whine about how they're being wronged without ever lifting a finger to fight for it.
So rather than dignify anyone else, I "made masturbatory gestures" as I exited. Again, bingo! I danced a jig and set my hand a-jerkin' at crotch-level, sneering for the crowd and letting them know I was ready to roll. I yelled to my friends that we were gonna split and made for the door.
Two cops approached me. I figured they were going to tell me I had to leave, so I said "You can't fire me, because I quit!"
"You're under arrest."
It was my turn to be shocked. I tried to ask them what for; saying "fuck her in the ass" at a college isn't a crime, last time I checked. They apparently mistook my inquiries for aggression, and grabbed me roughly and slammed me into the door. Within seconds the backmost two or three rows were surging forward, following the scene as the cops dragged me out the door. They yelled and chanted; my friends were more outraged than I'd ever seen any of them before. As they pushed me into the car, I heard my good friend Jeffrey Stockwell scream, "THIS ISN'T A JUSTICE SYSTEM! YOU CALL THIS PROTECTING AND SERVING?!" The crowd took up a chant at the UTPD officers: "Shame! Shame! Shame!"
Shame is fucking right. When I asked the cops why they thought I needed cuffing, they told me that they didn't even see anything that happened, they were just doing as told.
As a good friend pointed out to me, it's a scary thought that people who are given weapons and the authority to forcibly detain people can act without knowledge of a situation.
I'm writing this at 7:15 A.M., Wednesday, having recouped over a few cigarettes and some coffee after being released from jail around 3 A.M. I had a party waiting for me--twenty or so friends and supporters who showered me with gifts such as a card, sodas, cigarettes, food, and a Blondie CD (go figure.) Several civil rights-interested associations approached me, offering pro bono legal representation and showing their support.
I have no regrets. Was I jackass? Yes. Oh Christ, yes. But here are the questions people ought to ask themselves: Did I deserve to be arrested? Did the cops need to rough me up for saying bad words at what was at least masquerading as an open dialogue? Do the people of Texas--hell, of America--feel that "potty mouth" belongs on the list of punishable crimes along with "aggravated assault" and "armed robbery"?
As stated in the Texan article, I am charged with Disorderly Conduct, which is a Class C Misdemeanor. Other Class C Misdemeanors include DWIs, possession of drug paraphernalia, and speeding tickets. Without getting into the justification for all of those, were my naughty words and crude hand motions as imposing a danger?
This isn't about politics anymore, however it might have come about. Either you think it's an absurd outrage or you think swearing is a crime. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are Republicans, for Christ's sake. Raise your hand if you watch South Park.
This is about drawing a line in the sand. It made me proud to see people standing up and calling bullshit when bullshit needed to be called. All politics aside, people ought to ask themselves, how far should our representatives of "justice" be allowed to go? Do the American people believe in censorship rights for the rich and famous?
I know I didn't slay the insidious evil that is Ann Coulter, but I did give her pause. She can easily go to another college or hoedown or whatever and spew her tired rhetoric without worrying about me. But I'm not the only one who feels this way. Other people will call her on her shit.
And hey, Ann, don't come back to UT. We're better than your bullshit here. And I can think of at least one jackass here who can dish it out better than you