Thoughts on Censorship, Oppression and Revolution

My wife’s grandmother lives near the center of Sarajevo. from the window of her small two room flat is a stunning view of green slopes of Mount Trebevich, its lowest approaches a patchwork of terra cotta rooftops. in a sheltered alleyway, pressed between buildings and shaded by small tress is a cluster of small booths; something of a flea market for books, clothing, and kitchenwares. Near the center, almost directly beneath Ana’s grandmother’s window was a small booth where a couple local boys sold music CDs. I would show up with beers and ask the guys to play for me local artists. It was just after the war and before the internet had proliferated to any meaningful extent around the planet. I was eager to discover local music and, with the abject destruction of the war, even save and preserve some of that lost culture.

Yugoslav Rock musicians throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s had been eager to show relevancy and solidarity with the audaciousness inherent in Rock, punk and other genre’s of contemporary music that heralded, it seemed a cultural revolution. I found, however, that Yugoslav Rock musicians, as well as emerging Bosnian, Serbian, Slovenian and Croatian Rock musicians always incorporated strong elements of regional folk. there was always a traditional element regardless of how contemporary the banded intended to be. It caused me to look at contemporary music in the US differently. bands I’d grown up with like Three Dog Night relied heavily on songwriters like Hoyt Axton and Paul Williams whose roots were in folk and country. Paul Williams penned the lyrics for “The Love Boat” theme.

all too often those who run the spectrum in society between discontent and revolutionary forget or ignore their own traditional underpinnings. Rarely if ever is anyone truly transformed completely in their humanity. The relics, the attitudes and ideas of our times and places are woven deeply within each of us. nit is imprinted, or becomes imbued without our realizing just how fully we are compromised, or incorporated into our world, our history and our culture.

It has become vogue in our culture to extol and demand the right of free and unencumbered expression. We can insult the police, berate the president and verbally assault one another with relative impunity. The First amendment becomes our shield and our burden. never in human history has the common citizen held this degree of expectation of free speech. It is revolutionary, but is it so revolutionary that we are free of those traditional underpinnings of a past in which speech was much less free. We all believe in our right to free expression while conjuring ways to curb the expression of those we disagree with.

I am in broadcasting. Broadcasters are the one place in which it is possible to understand the hypocrisy of what it means to assert truly free and independent and unencumbered speech. Stations in the past have cautioned me about certain limits about what I could and could not say. One station promoted verbal attacks on one political party while quietly forbidding dissent against its opposition. Today I was researching FCC rules on obscenity. In training new hosts I brag about the station’s policy of non-censorship, then advise them that they can be fired for not supporting the station’s policy of defending diversity in the community.

While I defend the right of groups, minorities and traditionally oppressed segments of society to fight against the willful and blatant use of offensive language and terms I also understand that there is a right of free expression that even protects offensive speech. The goal there should be to teach and build a society that respects the rights and sensibilities of others, and that often speech is the cornerstone of oppression. Offensive and oppressive speech should go out of vogue rather than be legislated out of existence. Words must never be banned, because words by themselves are not culprits. We are the culprits.
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The American tradition is strongly rooted in reactionary politics and justice. While a narrative has arisen that positively challenges the reactionary and oppressive rhetoric and systems it also has characteristics of that other heritage. We have seen it with attempts to ban certain types of speech. Groups like Anonymous, which has done great work against oppression and injustice too often condoned by society and government, also at times acts extra-constitutionally as judge, jury and executioner. There is tremendous responsibility in that, and great peril as well. Across colleges and universities there are movements to highlight oppressive and offensive speech. That effort is vehemently resisted by the powerful forces benefitting from and supporting oppression. The frustration level pushes one to the point of restricting speech, but that ultimately is a zero sum game.

The effort is never to trade one type of oppression, one oppressor for another. the ideal is to create true revolutionary change, not merely have the oppressed and the oppressors change hats in an endless cycle.

The ideal should be not only justice; but fair, honest and humane justice. It should be equitable and accountable. The system change we champion must be that or we become the oppressors, while the newly oppressed, or those who believe they are oppressed scheme and conspire to overturn the balance.

The same is true for the incarcerated and those who have been incarcerated. What sort of justice and society do we pretend if those who have been sentenced and deemed to have paid their price are forever branded and excised from society. We eschew other cultures for the barbarism of cutting off a hand, or a foot, or putting out eyes, and yet we do the same to those who have been punished. There is no evolution of thought or justice or society. We are the lynch mob on the lawn circa the early 1900s. We are not learning from and evolving out of the relics of the past which have done nothing but perpetuate societal cancers.

Revolutions should be by revolutionaries, striving to create something new with a critical sense of where our common shortcomings exist and where are common strengths lend themselves to actual and demonstrable positive progressive change. anything less shows we are as culpable and guilty and destined to repeat the mistakes and injustices of the past as our reactionary predecessors.


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray with Jack Hammond and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com

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I Love Ebola!

I know that democrats, Republicans and corporations love Ebola as well. In fact, they love it so much, they are counting on you to fear it, become obsessed by it and ignore everything else they are sliding by you while their media dangles the shiny keys of the Ebola crisis in your face. Here is the short list of things they want you to forget about:

1. Trans Pacific partnership: This trade agreement will override the constitution, negate congressional oversight, reverse gains on the environmental front and loot the US treasury in favor of corporations. Obama wants to fast track ratification after the election.

2. XL keystone Pipeline: The administration put off a vote on this until after the mid terms. The US will see minimal job gains; in the dozens, not hundreds or thousands. The US will see no benefit in lower gas and oil prices. We are essentially the mule for Canada’s dirty fuel which will ultimately be shipped overseas. The Koch brothers will, however, reap tens of billions.

3. Fracking: With the US essentially a pin cushion for frackers communities are being deprived of water, contamination is on the increase, communities are endangered by radioactive waste from fracking, and earthquakes are on the rise in places that have never seen earthquakes before, like Ohio and Arkansas.

4. ISIS The cost not the war: estimates are for $40 billion annually. Pentagon sources say we could be at war with ISIS for 40 years. Sounds like someone is thinking of long term profits. By last count ISIS was thirty thousand men or so. How did we beat the Germans and Japanese simultaneously in the Second World War with a combined force of about 25 million soldiers?

5. The economy: The administration has hit the markers on traditional economic metrics in the economy, like the stock market and the unemployment numbers. The real indicators are private debt, savings and consumer spending. One is way up and two are way down. 85% of the stock market is is controlled by the top 10% earners in the nation. Your 401k, and those of a hundred million other working class Americans is merely the lubricant to the market and represents a miniscule fraction of the market. What they really want is to get a hold of your Social Security. Think of that the next time you are trying to afford the heating bill and there is one of those regular market corrections!

6. Police Militarization: The issue came to light nationally out of the Ferguson issue. A debate on the militarization and growing brutality of the police was just beginning to take shape in the country right about the time the CDC flew home an Ebola patient. A month later the first patient trundles into a Dallas emergency room. Suddenly Ebola is the greatest threat to the union.

That’s just the short list. There are many more things you should be concerned about before Ebola. I didn’t get to government spying, foreclosures, the banks, the next Attorney general, Global Warming, racism, manipulation of gas and oil prices by the government for political gains, global warming induces invasions by insects destroying crops and soil fertility, corporate and special interest interference of the education system, privatization of government services that drive up the cost and inefficiency of government, and more than $1 trillion in subsidies and tax forgiveness to corporations.

If 50,000 people had Ebola your chances, in a country of 380 million, of catching it would be slightly better than winning the lottery. The wife and I have been playing Lotto for about 10 years, 2 tickets per week and haven’t won a penny. The government says that you can only catch it from exposure to an infected person’s feces…never going to be a problem…having someone vomit on you…avoid that…and blood…if you are living in a Law and Order episode! Relax America. There are even worse diseases that are far more common. Heart disease and strokes kill almost a million annually, mostly because people eat way too much fat and salt, but I don’t see authorities setting up checkpoints to confiscate contraband packs of Kraft Mac N Cheese!


CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com

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The Living Constitution and the Amendment that dare not speak its name!

WARNING: After this you may never view the constitution the same ever again.

It is a matter of perspective, it would seem, dividing the Left and the Right on which constitutional amendments are the most important. To the paranoid, frightened or dangerously immature, the second amendment would pretend to be the most important. Fear not, however, this is not just another gun-grabbing Liberal dirge I actually see value in responsible gun ownership, with reasonable oversight. And if I may for a moment, the perverse every man, woman and child packin’ 24/7 culture is the mark of idiots not patriots. By that measure child porn should be legal, or screaming the N-word in church should carry no repercussions because they are the ultimate fulfillment of the First Amendment.

Too much? The NRA has fought even the most “liberal” gun restraints, advocating for guns to be carried everywhere, and that people should own machineguns, and that there should be no restrictions at gun shows- shown as the primary source of guns that end up on the killing streets of this nation. Rep. Joe Walsh on his nightly gun porn-propaganda program argues for guns everywhere and screamed his paid for outrage by advocating a boycott of Starbucks simply because the CEO requested-requested-requested that patrons not bring weapons into their coffee shops.

The promise of the constitution has always been hard-fought and won through non-violent action. Photo courtesy of Jerry Boyle and Occupy Chicago

The promise of the constitution has always been hard-fought and won through non-violent action. Photo courtesy of Jerry Boyle and Occupy Chicago

Walsh, the NRA, Beck and other gun pornographers attest that the right to bear arms at church, while shopping, during sex is a God-given right. Simply because someone writes the words down as a God-given right doesn’t…does anyone believe that god appeared to the so-called founding fathers to proclaim that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”? Seriously?

True to the letter of the law, I should be able to keep a bazooka in the car, or own a rocket launcher or be able to lay landmines around my property. They are all “arms” after all. But we don’t allow such arm-aments of warfare in civil society in America, do we? Reasonable people understand that Thomas Jefferson likely did not anticipate a Predator drone or even the Thompson submachine gun, which was responsible for unprecedented carnage, even by today’s standards, on the streets of this nation before being banned during the 1920s and 30s.

On the other hand are primarily Progressives, Liberals and centrists who believe that the First and the Fourth amendments are the most sacrosanct. And there is a substantial case to be made that no other freedoms are possible without the right of free speech or the prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure remaining strong. Many would argue that the current masturbatory-schoolyard impassion over guns points to a notion that the constitution is a historic document in need of constant scrutiny, oversight and evolution. That argument is supported by the fact that women and blacks can vote, and that prohibition went into effect banning liquor, and then was repealed by reasoned souls.

In defense, a bit, of the gun-pervs, no change should ever be made lightly, and must always be viewed in context of the past, present and most especially the potential for future abuse. But the constitution is very definitely a living document. The all but forgotten 3rd amendment that protects all of us from soldiers quartering in our homes is a shining example. It is an example that neither the Left nor the Right seem to refer to much. The Left simply ignores it as a relic of the past, while the Right just hopes that it remains safely in the shadows where it won’t be used again their flimsy as toilet paper arguments for gun proliferation. The 3rd amendment truly is the amendment that dare not speak its name

Many will find this shocking, some a heresy and others outrageous, but despite pretense, the constitution and these United States is a deeply flawed document, only curtailed from being a document of oppression by the diligence and sacrifice of citizen activists. Every defense-every defense and expansion of civil rights for the truly common citizen has been hard fought, not by gun slinging Tea Party types, and definitely not the cottage-cheese assed playground bravado of talk radio hosts, but by the stalwart, unflinching activism and organizing of citizens compelling change through non-violence. That the state and status quo media have always tacitly and often explicitly encouraged or supported violence against those activists underscores the oppressive tendency a static or unchanging constitution would protect.

Need more evidence? Everything is, as we have seen, in the perspective, and perspectives by their nature inform interpretation. The very first line of the constitution may be interpreted to completely negate all of the amendments to the constitution. Through that interpretation every American may be stripped of their “God-given” rights: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

It is this that becomes the most dangerous threat to the freedom of Americans, “… insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare…” First of all, they spelled “defense” wrong, at least by contemporary standards-part of that living document thing. But “insure domestic tranquility?” That is a dangerously broad and interpretive phrase. What becomes the bulwark against its abuse is the weight of the citizenry, not with guns. That has never worked, but with true pressure by an active and engaged citizenry…

Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at RevolutionandBeer.com. Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.

ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.

BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at www.glunzbeers.com.

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A Breath of Freedom: The Tragedy and Triumph of Herman Wallace

I can’t stop the tears right now. I am not sure if they are tears of joy or something else, some cemented emotion-f105c1793a0879d0 that mixes rage and sorrow and elation all at once. Sitting on the couch with a bit of breakfast, the patio door is open to the courtyard and the world beyond. Away from the partisan bickering of ideologues who, like so many of us, take the autonomy to come and go for granted, who never question the freedom imbued in every breath, Herman Wallace never knew those luxuries.

On Tuesday, Brian A. Jackson, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana ordered a dying Wallace released immediately from Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison, overturning his conviction for the murder of a prison guard in 1972. Wallace was placed in solitary confinement where he remained for 41 years. Wallace, now 71, is dying of liver cancer.

The circumstances of the guard’s murder were immediately in question. State witnesses against Wallace and two other men, dubbed the “Angola Three” were later discredited, and the physical evidence against the 3 may have been fabricated by authorities in retribution for efforts by the three to bring reforms and better living conditions to the prison. Judge Jackson granted Wallace’s petition over violations during the 1972 trial of his constitutional rights. It is notable that even the guard’s wife maintains that Wallace is innocent of the murder.

Wallace is now only hours from death in a New Orleans hospital. Still, the authorities in Louisiana at first defied the order by Jackson, who then threatened contempt charges if Wallace was not released immediately. That defiance underscores the malicious nature of the state authorities, a disturbing legacy played out more and more, and with greater and greater ambivalence to human dignity and constitutional rights across the nation.131001-herman-wallace-hmed-930p_380;380;7;70;0

But this piece is about the breath of freedom, which for Herman Wallace are only too few. And I know a little of what it means to lose freedom. Perhaps that is why this resonates so strongly, but I don’t know what it is like to face the retributive atrocity Wallace endured, borne from nothing more than vengeful authorities directly confronted with their own inhumanity.

And so I am watching this morning on “Democracy Now” the images of Mr. Wallace, all but hidden on the ambulance gurney. An oxygen mask covers his face, but his eyes are bright and filled with the light of freedom, if only realized a moment. But what struck and touched me most was that Wallace never conceded. He never gave up his dream, the right stolen from him, to be free. That it was realized for only a short time is both n injustice and an inspiration.herman-23

And the lesson learned from Wallace is that freedom is not a given, and is most imperiled by the state. It is our duty to humanity, our burden and our cause to champion freedom. Not a knee-jerk spasm that trades short term gain swathed in long term hypocrisy. Not the freedom that secures privilege and blessing for a few, but for the dignity of each person, on all colors, genders and religions. Let Herman Wallace be the face of that struggle, if you wish. He is but one of many millions around the planet and in this country. But stand for one just as you would stand for all.
Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at RevolutionandBeer.com. Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.

ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.

BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at www.glunzbeers.com.

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The Manning revelation and the beer fuel musings of a nerd

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Many of us on the Progressive side really are unphased by Manning asserting his gender identity. Those of us who have friends who are trans-gendered or who embrace their own internal imperatives towards gender identity in the face of a bipolar gender world applaud his bravery. There is no greater freedom than to break from the co-called normative arrangements of socially described gender roles and identity. And because what is considered normal by a majority might work in various permutations for most of us, as straight or in varying degrees of bisexuality, it is cruel and ignorant to impose that upon everyone. And if we truly uphold freedom,. Liberty and self-determination as the standard then the embrace and definition-or lack of one-of an individual’s sexual and/or gender identity must be of their own choosing.

Just to be clear, what I mean by bi-polar sexual and gender identity is simple. Much of humanity is entrapped in assumptions, all too often laced with hostility, violence and secret self recriminations about individual identity. It is assumed that there are men and women, both with clearly defined and god-given sexual parts meant to fit in a specific and holy way. Indeed, recently a Mexican legislature proposed anti-homosexual measures against marriage because, in her words, homosexuals can’t get married because they don’t look each other in the eyes when they have sex. Setting aside a bit of a creep factor, and a glaring lack of coital imagination, and web pages filled with Karma Sutra positions which all but eliminate the possibility for eye contact, not to mention joint dislocation, it is nice to know that Michelle Bachmann has a cousin south of the border.

Still, I can’t help but wonder what the fallout will be for others not in the media spotlight that face or struggle with issues of gender and sexual identity in a frequently inconsiderate world. For too much of the human race there remains too great a stigma against anything that deviates from ideas of bi-polar sexual and gender identity. The Manning revelation seems suited for a media dead set on affirming predetermined gender roles. The Rightwing media made great sport of it today. Lost was the substantive conversations by real people who struggle daily outside of the spotlight, whose stories are not sensationalized, but are characterized by those around them and the communities in which they exist, people, like my very dear friend, Rebecca Kling.kling

Last year Rebecca, who starred in my first Play, wrote a book about her transgender reality called No Gender Left Behind. http://www.amazon.com/Gender-Left-Behind-Rebecca-Kling/dp/1481115561/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354819641&sr=8-1&keywords=rebecca+kling. Educator, activist and performer, Rebecca’s book was one of the most intimate and honestly rendered narratives I have come along in a very long time. But her story and approach to this issue is quieter and deeply personal, not a target hoisted by a media meant to poke fun, marginalize or mock as anything that challenges the so-called norm.

Bradley manning, whom the media has already described as a traitor, simply becomes a larger target in this “revelation.” Those searching for identity, or fearing the discrimination from the status quo are not served at all by this attention to Manning. In my very humble opinion they are done the greatest disservice by it.
Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at RevolutionandBeer.com. Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.
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ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.

BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at www.glunzbeers.com.

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