“Can We All Come Together?”

This week (in addition to other far less culturally sensitive holidays), National Coming Out Day is observed.


“Rainbow umbrella , Gay Pride 2007, Paris, France” photo © Olivier

Do you have an acquaintance who will occasionally say things like “I don’t have a problem with homosexuality, I just wish Teh Gheys weren’t, ya know, so… in my face about it“, presumably because they have mistaken your distraught Oh-God-I-Feel-So-Trapped-and-Small-Right-Now silence for tacit approval? Frightened into denying your sexuality or your gender identity when a gaggle of high school kids pull you into the bathroom to interrogate you? Tired of turning the other cheek when your church-bake-sale-organizing grandma makes decidedly unChristian comments about Chaz Bono during your dutiful seasonal phone calls back home?  Stung when someone rolls their eyes or accuses you of being hypersensitive after you voice disapproval of casual slurs? Tormented that you can’t be more forthcoming about your personal life at the office without it resulting in being ostracized from the unofficial-but-highly-influential social club that you know being a part of will ensure your career a more, well, straight-and-narrow ascending trajectory during these scary economic times? Heartbroken that your relatives require you to call your domestic partner your “roommate”, or to answer to an incorrect pronoun, when you’re around their Rotary Club friends?

Friggin’ sucks, doesn’t it?

No one should ever feel unduly pressured, strong-armed or bullied into coming out when they’re not ready, don’t feel like they have a safe environment in which to do so, or simply don’t wish to. But here’s a cheerful idea for everyone who’s feeling a bit stifled (whether out, closeted, or somewhere in-between): maybe, just maybe, today’s as great a day as any to randomly unleash some loving Kevin Aviance style glossolalia on the more backasswards, empathy-challenged weeniepoopers in our lives…

SRSLY. Even those of us who are not in a safe enough space to run our LGBTQA banner all the way up a social flagpole can observe today with more subtle gestures of acceptance, and honesty. Let us each consider bringing some bright “Din Da Da” DaDaism into the world!

Can’t say “I’m gay”? Say “DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN BRAAAAP. DOOKUH BRRAAP.” Can’t say “I’m bi”? Cry “BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM. BOW. BOW.” Trans and can’t say “c’est moi”? Just say “MMMWAH” and plant a big, warm, hella non-”heteronormative” smooch on those sourpusses, then walk away. Think about it: even if they have no idea what the heck just transpired, it’ll probably the most exciting thing to happen to them in ages! Maybe they’ll get the message. Maybe they’ll recalibrate a few things. Even if they don’t, chances are that a spontaneous “RRREEE BOBBA BREEEE BUUPPAH” tinged outburst of voguing will, at the very least, lighten the mood.

“Can we all come together?” Can we all come out, free of fear? Coilhouse hopes YES. Maybe today’s not that day for all of us. But someday. Let’s continue working toward it. In the meantime, we can keep visions of super-out, super strong, super-gorgeous Kevin Aviance dancing in our heads in that florescent pink top hat.

And may today be full of friggin’ rainbows, damn it.

Occupy Everywhere: The Language of the Occupation

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second installment of musician, activist and citizen journalist Kim Boekbinder’s ongoing series for Coilhouse, “Occupy Everywhere”. Click here to read her introduction. Don’t miss Jeff Wengrofsky’s recent essay, “The Praise of Motherfuckers“, either.  The blog’s #OWS scrapbook post is also being updated periodically with new links and pertinent clippings.


All photos and video in this post provided by Kim Boekbinder.

On Speech

The participants of Occupy Wall Street have been denied the use of any amplification instruments – no microphones, no loudspeakers. So, to amplify a speech, they use “The People’s Mic”, a technique in which short sentences are repeated in waves (called “generations”) through the audience, sending the message further than the reach of one human voice.

It is quite powerful. It means the audience is listening carefully to learn what they will be repeating, then they repeat clearly what has been said. And because everything is repeated you hear each thing 2-4 times. Repetition has been a powerful pedagogical tool for a long time for a reason: our relationship to words changes when we use them ourselves.

The People’s Mic falls over sometimes, speech gets garbled, speakers get carried away and forget to wait for all the generations to iterate before starting their next line, but the mic is easily recalibrated when this happens.

The technique forces speeches to be made in short bursts which are easily articulated and quick to repeat. There is a rhythm, an art. It feels good to be part of the speech, to be repeating the sentences so that others can hear. We are all in this together. My favorite part is when the speaker introduces themselves.

“My name is Katie.” says the speaker.

“My name is Katie.” First generation of voices.

“My name is Katie.” Second generation of voices.

The weakness of The People’s Mic is that speeches are chopped up into bite size morsels which tend to sound extra “revolutionary.” Everything sounds like a big, epic, shouty thing. And the complex topics, the nuances of the Occupation, cannot be expressed easily in two to three word bursts. Taken as the sparks that are meant to begin conversations the speeches are wonderful: we all heard it, we all said it. Whether we agree or not we can now continue the discussion in smaller groups.

New amplification techniques will need to be found as the crowds grow and split, but for now it’s a great triumph over adversity. And it’s fun.

On Hand Signals

When the General Assembly meets the people use hand signals to convey how they feel about what is being said. The use of hand signals allows the speaker to continue talking without interruption, though the audience is still communicating their approval or disagreement.

Wiggling your fingers to display your agreement with a serious political issue feels silly, but this is a movement that is not afraid to be silly. Have you seen “Occupy Sesame Street”? It’s hilarious. Making fun of your own movement is an amazing tactic. Occupy Wall Street is very serious, but it also has a sense of humor. And who wants a revolution without laughter?

Occupy Everywhere: An Introduction

EDITOR’S NOTE– This is our friend Kim Boekbinder:


Photo by Marianne Bijou.

A musician, artist, and writer, Kim is currently venturing across the United States on her crowd-sourced, pre-sold Impossible Girl Tour. Over the next few weeks, Kim will also attend several Occupy Wall Street demonstrations taking place in various cities that she’s traveling to, and document her experiences on Coilhouse. What follows is her first installment: an introduction, and a call to join the conversation. Thank you, Kim.  ~Mer

_________________________________________________________

On the subway I saw a girl and boy, ages 13 or 14, talking about whether or not to go to the protest.

“It won’t make a difference.” The girl said, “We’ll never change anything.”

“I used to believe like you,” said the boy, “But you always gotta believe that you can make a difference in the world.”

They spoke about the movement and what it means, the First and Second Amendments, how many people lived in their homes, the color of different dog breeds, and dancing the Macarena, before getting off the subway at Fulton St – the stop closest to Liberty Square.

Occupy Wall Street has started a conversation. And right now a lot of that conversation is about the conversation itself.

While exploring the culture of Liberty Square today, I was randomly interviewed four times in the space of one hour, each time by a citizen journalist. One man wanted to make a video for his Facebook page to spread the word. Two young women were collecting interviews for their college newspaper; they weren’t working in any official capacity; they just knew that they needed to get this information back to their school and hoped the paper would publish it. These people came out with cameras, iPads, and pocket audio recorders, to learn why they were here and to share that with the world. And each time I was interviewed, I then interviewed them in return, and we would laugh together at the absurdity of this. We are all amateurs here. We are all experts.

People around America are confused, interested, annoyed, supportive, angry, joyous. But no one seems quite sure what Occupy Wall Street is.

“It’s like the 1960s.”

“It’s the democratic answer to the Tea Party.”

“It’s just dirty hippies.”

There are as many explanations for what Occupy Wall Street is as there are people involved in it.

The energy here is electrifying. We can all feel that something important is happening. And we’re all looking for why or how or who or what it is exactly. But the movement is young, and plastic, it is changing and growing quickly. Politicians who want to co-opt it are not sure what that means. Seasoned journalists are confounded as to how to report this to the world. The minute you think you have it figured out, it slips away and changes, reconfigures itself into something exactly like, but also exactly unlike what you were just looking at.

The power of this movement right now is its openness, its caring organization. There is information everywhere. People who are unsure of whether or not they support the movement are openly invited to engage in the conversation at the info booth. There is a feeling of immediate inclusion, if you want it. Passive observation is also welcomed. Tourists wave as their tour buses pass by. Skeptics dig for signs of failure. Journalists interview each other. Wall Street workers can be seen moving through the crowd, investigating this occupation of their hallowed ground.

Accountability, transparency, communication, nonviolence, and compassion are not just fetishes or dogma here: they are the foundation on which everything that happens next is being built. We have the technology now to ensure instant accountability, transparency, and communication. And we have a history of highly successful compassionate and nonviolent movements to draw from.

So while the movement figures out what it is and how to communicate that to the world, it is also constantly checking itself, holding itself accountable, sloughing off anything that deviates from the message it is still forming. It is no small feat– amazing to watch, even more amazing to be a part of. There is no such thing as a neutral observer here, because each person here is recognized as a vital part of the process.

I’ve been gathering samples of the movement for days: observing, recording, asking, listening to speeches, interviewing people, singing along to songs, wiggling my fingers to express my consent or dissent. I am both passive observer and passionate activist. I know exactly what is going on here, and I don’t know how to tell you. You must read, watch, hear, experience as much of it as you can. You must agree and disagree for yourself.

The conversation is yours, we cannot have it without you.


Liberty Square, October, 2011. Photo by Kim Boekbinder.

In the following days and weeks I will be exploring OWS and other Occupations around America as I tour: NYC, San Francisco, Portland, New Orleans, Boston.

There is continual coverage from many good media sites. My favorites for today:

The Praise of Motherfuckers

Another thoughtful article by guest contributor Jeffrey Wengrofsky, “The Praise of Motherfuckers” looks at intergenerational warfare and the use of the word “motherfucker” in counterculture. NYC readers, take note: Jeff’s latest film (with the Syndicate of Human Image Traffickers), “The Party in Taylor Mead’s Kitchen,” is an Official Selection of DOC NYC 2011, the documentary film festival of the Independent Film Channel. It is scheduled to make its premiere on November 6 at New York University’s Kimmel Center at 7:30 and on November 7th at the Independent Film Center at 3:45. The film depicts the romantic beauty and squalid dereliction of the bohemian life as embodied by Beat poet and Warhol Superstar Taylor Mead. It’s being shown with “Girl with the Black Balloons.” Grab your tickets here. Congrats, Jeff! – Ed


“WALL ST. is WAR ST.” Photo by Larry Fink. More photos here.

There is a … sort of madness… which the furies bring from hell; those that are herewith possessed are hurried on to wars and contentions… inflamed to some infamous and unlawful lust, enraged to act the parricide, seduced to become guilty of incest, sacrilege, or some other of those crimson-dyed crimes…  ~  Erasmus

Not long ago I attended a lecture on youth rebellion in the 1960s.  The presenter noted with disdain that the word “motherfucker” was used by some of the speakers at the notorious demonstration against the 1968 Democratic National Convention.   Use of this term, so the argument went, was emblematic of a movement that was politically inept if not inherently self-destructive.  And the most immediate casualty of the unholy coupling of “mother” and “fucker,” it was alleged, was the candidacy of Hubert Humphrey, who lost to Richard Nixon.  For those outside the Convention, however, Humphrey’s nomination – pre-ordained by party insiders – offered a continuation of the Vietnam War and seemed to make a farce of our democracy.


The Motor City Five get it on (and duck stray bullets)

Well, it got me to thinking, and I soon made the personal discovery that Motherfuckery was all over America in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  No, not literally, of course.  The phrase was, however, in conspicuous currency among New Leftists in a way it had not been before or has been since.

On that fated afternoon in 1968, Rob Tyner of the MC5 had, indeed, shouted his shibboleth – “It’s time to kick out the jams, motherfuckers!” – to ignite his band’s performance, as he did for nearly every show.  After hours of peaceable, if raucous, assembly and rock’n’roll (the MC5 were the only band with the gumption to perform), Chicago mayor Richard Daley dispatched 23,000 police and National Guardsmen to beat and gas the protestors.  And when Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff noted, on the floor of the Convention, that Daley was using “Gestapo tactics,” Daley himself fired the epithet of the era right back at the rostrum: “Fuck you, you Jew son of a bitch! You lousy motherfucker!”

Just a year earlier, Everett LeRoi Jones decorated a poem celebrating the race riots that would permanently cripple Newark: “All the stores will open if you say the magic words. The magic words are: Up against the wall mother fucker this is a stick up!” Magic words indeed, but the “joosh stores” did not “open,” they closed and remain shuttered to this day or marked only by empty spaces in their footprint.

The phrase “motherfucker” had already been in circulation in hip, African-American lingo long before Jones tapped it, referring to someone who may be evil, a passionate musician, or simply a force to be reckoned with.  It is important to note here that mainstream African-American society, ever-struggling for respect, was possibly even more hostile to the use of the term in polite company than America as a whole.

In New York City, Ben Morea, a ballsy street urchin whose totalizing, uncompromising politics was wedded to a phrase befitting his society of self-proclaimed “suicidal sidewalk psychopaths” known as “Up Against the Wall, Motherfucker,” “The Motherfuckers,” or, most simply, as UAW/MF – though they referred to themselves collectively as “The Family.”  Perhaps significantly, Morea “did not know his father [and] did not want to tell his mother he was a Motherfucker because he did not want to disappoint her.”  Osha Neumann, another Motherfucker, also had a twist in his family romance: his father’s best friend, a man who had lived in his house like an uncle (Herbert Marcuse), married his widowed mother.

The Motherfuckers declared war on “the totality of reality as shaped by” the financial, military, and cultural elites by disrupting the suburban commute at Grand Central Station and high mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  In the middle of the garbage strike of 1968, Motherfuckers dumped bags of rotting garbage from the scummy streets of the Lower East Side onto the pristine promenade of the newly-minted Lincoln Center.  They “ran free stores and crash pads…organized community feasts…[and] propagandized against the merchandizing of hip culture…” And, in the middle of the attempted “exorcism of the Pentagon,” only the Motherfuckers actually got inside the five-sided hole of power.   Puritanical Roundheads on the frontline of America’s “cultural revolution,” they fought the police and sometimes against other radicals, criticized both the war and the naive embrace of the Vietcong by the left, shot blanks at poet Kenneth Koch (who may have fainted or told them to “grow up”), printed and distributed fliers in solidarity with fellow traveler Valerie Solanas after she shot Andy Warhol, and forced Bill Graham into letting them use the Fillmore East for free once a week.

When Detroit’s MC5 came to play New York’s Fillmore on one such night, free tickets had not been distributed to the Motherfuckers and their ilk, unbeknownst to the band.  The sight of the MC5 pulling up in a limo provided by Electra Records the Motherfuckers then took to be a sign of bourgeois bedfellowship, so they trashed the Fillmore and sent that otherwise courageous band into rapid retreat under threat of grievous body harm.   The Motherfuckers were so feared that they once closed the mighty Museum of Modern Art by simply revealing their plans for it.  Their slogan was put to music by David Peel and Harold C. Black, lo-fi renegades calling themselves “The Lower East Side,” in a feisty ditty on an album whose cover demurred from disclosing the word “motherfucker” although it was otherwise brash enough to be titled Have a Marijuana. More than a regional phenomenon, the Motherfuckers were the only non-student branch of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), were admitted to and then purged from the largely French Situationist International, and had their slogans scooped up by San Francisco’s Jefferson Airplane for their song, “We Can be Together.” (Jefferson Airplane would actually voice a parricidal fantasy in a different song: “Hey Frederick.”)

Occupy Wall Street NYC’s First Official Document For Release / Collection of Pertinent Links, Video

Hey, all! This is just a quick scrapbook post to gather together some information about the activism building in NYC (and elsewhere in the US) since September 17th, with an emphasis on bits and pieces that a) touch on the evolution of open source counterculture, b) examine indie media/social network coverage versus MSM, c) convey the increasingly surreal (and sometimes funny), stranger-than-speculative-fiction nature of much of what’s happening, or d) relate directly to longtime members of the Coilhouse community. It will be updated over the next few days/weeks, with all additions and edits clearly marked.*

Are you currently organizing/protesting in NYC, or elsewhere in the States? We’d love to hear from you in comments. The more dialog that gets going about all of this, the better. Interesting times, indeed. Certainly galvanizing. And, potentially (hopefully), healing? Fingers crossed. Best of luck, everyone.


Hundreds of protesters were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday. (Photo via)

Occupy Wall Street’s First Official Statement (via the Daily Kos):

This was unanimously voted on by all members of Occupy Wall Street last night, around 8pm, Sept 29. It is our first official document for release. We have three more underway, that will likely be released in the upcoming days: 1) A declaration of demands. 2) Principles of Solidarity 3) Documentation on how to form your own Direct Democracy Occupation Group. This is a living document. you can receive an official press copy of the latest version by emailing c2anycga@gmail.com.

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

Crackpot Visionaries of the Month: Various Concerned Citizens of Santa Cruz, CA.

A brilliantly edited montage of public statements by a motley assortment of local denizens, documented at fairly recent meetings of the Santa Cruz City Council/County Board of Supervisors:


Via Fitz, with thanks.

Hail To The V: A Vaginal Journey Through Time

There are, on this staff, any number of people who are, without a doubt, more well spoken and better qualified to comment on this subject than me. Many of them are in possession of the biological equipment that this product is, uh, aimed at. One of the staff has even commented on this brand’s questionable advertising only a few weeks ago. I must apologize in advance then. In the end you are not getting the insightful, well-reasoned and well-informed commentary that you, the loyal and erudite Coilhouse reader, deserve. Instead you are getting the blathering of the Catacombs’s most puerile and juvenile prisoner occupant.

“Hail to the V” is a new commercial for Summer’s Eve “cleansing wash and cloths”. It features an authoritative sounding voiceover by a woman with an authoritative British accent. (Which is redundant, really, because as any American and, of course, Summer’s Eve knows, a British accent is, by its intrinsic Britishness, authoritative. That is why it is in this commercial.) Anyway, this voice leads us through a number of different “historical” scenarios meant to illustrate just how gosh darn important vaginas are. Especially your vagina. Yes, you there, miss.

So, first we are shown a Neolithic woman, clothed in the skins of animals, holding aloft a neonate (also clothed in animal skins) while British Lady intones stoically about the cradle of life. Flashing forward in time, we are presented with another woman, costumed in order to suggest Egyptian royalty. Looking out over her subjects, she throws up her arms in a massive V (like the one in vagina) and British Lady refers to “it” (also, your vagina) as “the center of civilization”. Do you see where this is going, ladies? Do you? “It” (or, your vagina) is pretty damn important. But how important? Relax, we’re getting to that.

Now we come to the longest part of the ad. We find ourselves in a bamboo forest. There are two Asian gentlemen in this forest with us. One has a sword, while the other has a long, rubbery looking staff. They are fighting in a manner that Americans associate with Asia. There is also an Asian woman in the background, looking on, dressed in a manner that Americans associate with Asia as it was long ago. British Lady begins to pontificate on how, throughout history and all over the world (hence the excursion to Asia), men have “fought for it”. Quickly, we cut to Medieval Europe. There are knights on horses. They are jousting. They drive their horses towards one another, their immense, phallic weapons undulating angrily in front of them. There is a woman here, too, looking on. Some men, British Lady informs us, breathlessly, some men have even died for it. One of the knights falls, which pleases the woman who has been watching. As the victorious knight raises his visor to look at her, British Lady concludes with “One might say, it’s the most powerful thing on Earth,” which is true, I suppose; one might say that. But, then again, one might say all sorts of things when trying to market douche.

Finally, we are approaching our terminus, the payoff for this weird trip through time and space. We have, at last, been returned to the present. Inside a store, a woman is thoughtfully pondering a Summer’s Eve product. She nods her head and mutters to herself, presumably to signal her agreement with that last line from British Lady when, suddenly, American Lady — familiar, jovial, and friendly — cuts in and gets to the point, saying, “So come on ladies, show it a little love,” which, again, is something you might say when trying to market douche.

I’m just not sure it’s something you should say. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with a full minute of advertising that repeatedly references disembodied genitalia. “It” is the cradle of life, but isn’t “it” attached to someone? “It” is the center of civilization, but “it” isn’t the one throwing up its arms. But the strangest, most uncomfortable section is that last part, the longest part, the part where men are fighting for “it” — killing to possess “it”. That section is really weird because what I get from that section is that men have made war upon one another for your vagina. They have killed each other for your vagina. They have leveled cities and razed the land for your vagina.

The least you could do is ignore those damned health warnings and make sure it doesn’t smell.

Wooo! Historic Vote for Same-Sex Marriage in New York!

“We knew it was going to be a matter of when – not if,” said Robert Ostergaard, 44, of Chelsea. “That’s the arc of history.


Photo by James Keivom

Congratulations, New Yorkers! Tonight, we’re celebrating with you.

(California, you’re NEXT. Time to step up.)

The Friday Afternoon Movie: “Until The Light Takes Us”


Fenriz of Darkthrone. Still via Black Metal Movie.

[Video removed in response to copyright infringement complaint. Buy the film here.]

Screaming and corpse paint on this entry of The FAM as we take a look at Until the Light Takes Us, the 2009 documentary directed by Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell which details the goings on of a small group of individuals who took the Norwegian black metal scene and propelled it into infamy with vandalism, church burnings, and, eventually, murder. It specifically sets its sights on two of the individuals: Darkthrone drummer and producer Gylve “Fenriz” Nagell and ex Mayhem member and one man band Burzum creator Varg “Count Grishnackh” Vikernes who, at the time, was finishing out a 21 year sentence (the maximum under Norwegian law) for four of the aforementioned church burnings, as well as the murder of fellow Mayhem band-mate Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth.

The reasons for this decision are apparent from the start, as they are almost diametrically opposed to one another. Nagell continues to remain active in the scene, making music with Darkthrone and running his record label. He is also, seemingly, apolitical. Vikernes, on the other hand, is anything but. He waxes at great length about the ills his country and culture have suffered under the tyranny of everything from McDonald’s to Christianity. Indeed, of the two, he is far more charismatic. He is also the most problematic.

Critics have pointed out that Vikernes may have charmed his interviewers into complacency, and I can’t help but agree. Little is done to expand his views of Christianity, and yet it seems that most of those issues revolve around the fact that it is an offshoot of Judaism. It is also not mentioned that, for a number of years after his conviction, he identified as a neo-Nazi. (He has since created the term “odalism” to differentiate his beliefs, though those differences do not pertain to either racism or anti-Semitism.)

In a sense, then, Until the Light Takes Us serves much better as a history lesson, a snapshot of the early days of Norway’s burgeoning black metal scene. It serves little in the way of critique save to ponder how society has co-opted the scene, rendering it somewhat toothless in the eyes of its forefathers; and while this is an interesting diversion it is more observation than analysis. In the end, it could have used a more insightful vision. Aites and Ewell spent two years in Norway making this documentary and getting to know their subjects. It may have helped to get some distance.

Birdwatcher Arrested, Subjected to Strip and Body Cavity Searches For Possession of… Sage?

Probably one of the more despicable leads you’ll read in American news this week, via the Orlando Sentinel:

Bird watcher wrongly arrested for possession of pot had sage in backpack. Deputy thought herb was marijuana; State Attorney’s Office ordered arrest without lab test.

Robin Brown was thrown in a Florida jail on felony charges of marijuana possession three months after sheriff deputy Dominic Raimondi mistook the sage she had in her backpack for pot. A field test had yielded a false positive, and after Raimondi filed his report, the State Attorney’s Office ordered for Brown’s arrest without ever conducting a crime lab narcotics test.

The 49 year old birdwatcher was taken out of her place of work in handcuffs and driven down to the station to be stripped, subjected to a body cavity search, and spend the night in jail. Such was Brown’s punishment for possession of a personal use-sized amount of marijuana plant… that wasn’t actually marijuana plant.

News of this story came to my attention via my friend Stephen, who comments: “Body cavity searches are getting to be a disturbingly common occurrence. Folks complain about sex education corrupting children, but when law enforcement wants to poke around inside your orifices, that’s just patriotic.”

There are many, many different ways in which Robin Brown’s story disturbs me. I’m not even sure what aspect to focus on; I just know that I owe it to myself to think actively and critically about what an increase in occurrences like this might mean, and that reportage of incidents like this should be shared as widely as possible.