#TailorSnarkWars Foundation (Original thread: October 6, 2018, on Twitter)
Let me tell you the story of the State Lege trips.
My mother comes from a small town; her family has been in the area for almost 200 years now. Her great-great-great-grandparents on both sides founded 3 of the small towns in the area. She’s related to everyone.
Yes, it’s possible to be both local aristocracy & white trash.
Smother is also one of those people who will claim someone else’s tragedy if it attracts attention to her, especially if she’s far enough away that she doesn’t have to actually DO anything about the tragedy.
Which happened. When I was a small child. A distant family member got HIV from a blood transfusion, got kicked out of school, and Smother became an HIV/AIDS activist, 2000 miles away from the actual sick kid. Her activism consisted mostly of throwing parties (aka fundraisers.)
The kid had been my sometimes playmate & was someone I loved as much as a little kid can love, when separated by many hundreds of miles & extremely expensive long distance.
But even fundraising is valuable. Somebody’s gotta hang crepe paper & make cheese balls, right?
So... at 8, I started being an activist. Which at 8, meant making soup & freezer casseroles for people who were too exhausted to cook & clean. I did laundry. I swept porches. Kid stuff. It was something I could do. It helped.
A couple years into this, mother got bored. That’s her mode. But by then, I had built relationships that I needed in the HIV/AIDS/LGBT community, so I kept up to the best of my ability. I had time after school, I knew how to use a phone, so I kept doing the work.
The best that can be said for my parents is they sure as hell made their kids self-directed. They wouldn’t pay for music or sports; they didn’t drive us to after-school stuff. If I wanted to do something, I was allowed, as long as I got myself there & back, & paid for it.
So I called the HIV center (at a local church) or stopped on my way home from school; I wrote letters & did chores & made soup. By then, we lived in a small, mostly base town, in a conservative state, but the advantage of a smallish town? Everything was walking distance close.
I was the latchkey kid, even during summer, because I was responsible enough to be left on my own, and my siblings were TOO young to be in my care, but the parents didn’t want to pay for daycare for a 10 year old, so I got to do pretty much what I wanted when not in school.
(No one said I have good parents, but benign neglect was preferable.)
Let me be clear: even in a community that small & remote from the big centers, I owned a funeral dress. At 10. And I used it, about once a month, in the bad years. Black cord jumper, white blouse.
There was no HIV funding; the federal government’s attitude was something along the lines of “let them die & god will sort it out.”
So sick people loaded themselves, and their oxygen tanks, and their IV bags, into minivans and lobbied the State houses, hoping for scraps of funding.
Articulate little kids who can talk about a ‘cousin’ & can sit still & have benignly neglectful parents & are willing to touch someone with AIDS?
So... yeah, during summers when my parents weren’t paying much attention? I went to more than a few lege hearings.
3 hours in a car, 3 hours in the hearing room, 3 hours in the car.
In the desert southwest, 3 hours is not a long trip.
Those trips were treats for me: Air Conditioned cars & lege buildings. (My parents like 92 F. Me? 67 is getting a tad warm.)
I didn’t use much seat space.
Those trips were exhausting and shortened the lives of my friends, but it was that important to them.
Because they were literally dying.
This was the crucible, and all I can say is I still have my pin. And it still makes me cry.
That’s my first experience of activism: existential threat.
That warps someone, but in a good way.
It means that when things go bad now, I can look at the law & who is getting hurt, and that’s how I make my decisions. I’ve been lucky that for most of my adult life, I’ve been able to focus on mental health activism.
Yes, people with mental illness have been dying of police violence & suicide and social neglect, and for the last many years, we didn’t have BIGGER existential threats rolling around.
The last 20 years have felt so very easy compared to growing up.
But we’re back to bigger existential threat.
Children are dying from medical neglect. Respiratory disease thrives in confined conditions.
At least six* children have died because they didn’t get medical care. More will follow. (10, as of 12/2018)
We’ve got a TYPHUS epidemic breaking out in LA, because the SoCal housing market is so fucked that 15K ppl are living on the streets, which means body lice have a chance to spread, which leads to the disease that killed Napoleon’s army, and in the concentration camps.
(Correction: Closer to 100K. I found a better census.)
This BTW, is worse than regular typhus, because this is flea typhus. Which are harder to eradicate than body lice. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/typhus-outbreak-los-angeles-county-surpasses-100-patients-n926496
Women are being jailed for ordering grey market drugs to end pregnancies. Women are being neglected to death during and after pregnancy because we focus on the baby, not the mother. Women are being forced to continue pregnancies because their insurance doesn’t cover abortion.
People are medicating themselves to death because we don’t have functional health care, and when the medication runs out, they turn to heroin & fentanyl, because they’re available.
All of these are part of an intentional plan called Feudalism With Better Plumbing (for some).
I don’t know why some people turn money into score-keeping and desire control and domination over everyone else they can manage to screw.
Let it be they’re assholes & stop worrying about their motives. Their motives are selfish. That’s all we need to know about their motives.
Oh, and that they’re old and they’re dying.
This time, we can outrun & outnumber & outplan & out-organize & out-fight them.
We can make them waste their money.
We can annoy them into a stroke and irritate them to death.
And we have to.
It’s existential again.
We give them nothing.
If they’re family? No holidays at our table. No $5 token gifts. We don’t return their calls. We don’t babysit their kids.
It doesn’t matter if we love them. We must isolate & reject them because our attention is our only leverage.
If they’re customers? They don’t get second chances on their paperwork. They don’t get more assistance than we’re required to give. Follow every regulation, every single rule. No smiling. Their convenience is more than our job’s worth.
Cooperation & accommodation are voluntary.
A coworker? You only have to cooperate as much as your job description requires.
You don’t have to make the coffee. Don’t have to share cookies. Don’t have to participate in their party or plan their birthday. Why provide emotional labor to someone who would happily see you dead?
They’re your elected official? You do know that you can rent your own robocaller to call their office(s), right? robotalker .com (Use carefully, mostly with state GOP & county GOP offices. They’re not listening anyway.) Make their staff miserable.
(Lotsa cheap robot services.)
Never forget the goal of Simple Sabotage: make people quit hurting others by making them so miserable they capitulate.
Causing physical harm is counter-productive; better to humiliate & frustrate & irritate them. Make them waste their money and time and attention.
When my friends got Medicaid funding? It wasn’t because anyone in the state lege gave a damn about gay people. They still wanted my friends to die. But they didn’t want my friends dying in their office.
They didn’t want to see the Karposi’s sarcomas and feeding tubes.
We made them so fucking uncomfortable & ashamed of themselves that they gave us what we wanted so we’d go away and die quietly elsewhere.
By being dying people in their offices, we made HIV deaths untenable.
And we got what we wanted. Most of it, anyway. Research $$.
The existential crisis is here again. So spite them. Make their lives suck.
Thrive on oppositional defiance and anger and being a pain in the ass.
The time for demonstration and petition and asking nicely is over. We’ve spent 2 years being nice & it’s made conditions worse. It’s time to get to fucking work. And if our work breaks their shit? Oh fucky-darn. Better to frustrate their shit than break our lives. Better to frustrate them. Better to make them waste their time picking TP out of trees or scrubbing chalk off their windows/sidewalks EVERY DAY.
Non-violent action doesn’t mean pure passivity. It also means passive aggression.
Rosa Parks didn’t sit there because she was tired. She was a) making a damn point and b) being a pain in the ass.
We are now called to be pains in the ass.
SO: Think like a pain in the ass.
It is unnatural, but do your damnedest to figure out ways to frustrate and irritate your GOP neighbors, co-workers, family members & elected reps.
Especially ways that are perfectly legal but irritating as fuck.
Make it a game.
If you have the resources to afford a night in jail that is likely to be dismissed/misdemeanor, find your local Friends Service Committee or ACLU or Peace & Justice center, and get their training. Get prepared for it. If you can’t, then still contact those orgs, and be on the bail team. Because arrests and occupation and being difficult is what’s coming. Sorry. We have squandered our demonstration time. Now it’s all about direct action.
Welcome to Dresden. Sorry it’s Hell.
(Part III tomorrow)