Friday, September 25, 2009
Several years ago, when I was still participating in Lindsay Perigo’s SOLO website, a firestorm erupted over a New Zealand Libertarian named Jim Peron. A group called the Locke Foundation had published a report indicating that Peron was a NAMBLA sympathizer and a proponent of “boylovers.” Peron is a notable writer in Libertarian circles, and many allies came to his defense when the charges surfaced. I don’t recall who all was on which side, but Lindsay Perigo led the charge against Peron, while Barbara Braden (author of The Passion of Ayn Rand) sided with Peron.
Perigo’s vitriolic criticism of Branden led to her departure from SOLO. Soon thereafter, Perigo split with his partner in the SOLO website Joe Rowlands and created a new site called SOLO Passion, which is still in operation under his management. Barbara Barden’s ally Michael Stuart Kelly (MSK) started his own website, Objectivist Living (OL), on which Branden is a regular participant. The two sites then engaged in a propaganda war against each another – one which continues to this day.
I didn’t conduct extensive research on Peron or read the Locke Foundation report when all this went down. I didn’t have a dog in the fight, and I wanted to avoid the fireworks. But I did review some of the evidence against Peron, most significantly excerpts from an article he wrote and published himself in which he defends “boylovers” who molested him as a minor. He probably deserves the criticism, I thought, and he definitely warrants close scrutiny. But I didn’t care enough about it to investigate further.
The Peron issue continues to resurface, mostly as a battlefield issue between SOLO and OL, with both sides lobbing hate-filled rhetoric and moral accusations with gusto. I am not now a regular participant in either website, but I recently commented on a thread devoted to Peron on OL. In four pages of comments, every participant had expressed virtually unequivocal support of Peron. I responded that the article Peron had written was very incriminating, and that I was surprised its content had not been considered in the discussion.
These comments incited derisive and dismissive replies from several OL participants, especially from MSK himself. MSK claimed that I didn’t know all the facts, that Peron had been framed, and that I was a “liar” who was “smear[ing]” Peron without justification. I challenged him to publish the evidence against Peron, and he posted links to the Locke Foundation report and the publication Unbound, in which Peron’s “boy love” article can be found.
I read the Locke Foundation report for the first time today, as well as the entirety of Peron’s article Abuse: One Boy’s Story. Taken together, these documents are comprehensive, crushing, and conclusive: Jim Peron is most certainly a NAMBLA sympathizer and a proponent of “man/boy love” (or at least, he was 20 years ago and never owned up to it.) Just a few details from the report:
• Peron sold NAMBLA literature in his San Francisco Libertarian bookstore.
• NAMBLA held regular meetings at this bookstore.
• One of his associates at the book store was arrested for sex with minors, as were several others who contributed articles to Unbound.
• The report contains verbal and written accounts from various sources affirming Peron’s position on “boy love.”
• Peron published at least one issue of Unbound himself, and contributed an article to it. This issue contained nude pictures of children and multiple erotic stories about children, some seemingly autobiographical. Peron’s story was definitely autobiographical. In it he describes how he was subtly molested (or otherwise treated in a sexually inappropriate manner) by several different men at a military academy beginning when he was 12. It made him feel good, he says, and these “boylovers” contributed greatly to his emotional health.
A few passages from Peron’s article warrant particular attention (Warning!!! Many will find these passages to be disturbing and offensive!):
“I remember Mr. C., he was the science teacher. On so many weekends he would take me with him to get a hamburger at McDonald's or to see a movie. There was his friend, Mr. D., who came to work as a substitute houseparent. He used to let me sit in his lap. There was Mr. R. who used to slip his hand down the back of my pajama's. He said it was to make sure I wasn't wearing my underwear to bed but I knew it was because he liked feeling my butt. That was o.k. because I liked it too.”
Note: This one is longer, but worth quoting at length, as it contains a more explicit defense of “boylovers.”
“I also know something about man/boy love and I know it from a boy’s perspective. I vividly remember the men I met after my fathers death. My mother could no longer care for us so she sent us to a military school. It was there I met half a dozen boylovers.
It seems quite natural that these men would come to a boy’s school. I remember them vividly. I remember them because they were the only staff members who gave us genuine affection. They treated us with dignity, they treated us as if we were human.
For five years, between the ages of twelve and sixteen, I spent much of my time with men who were boylovers. At no time did they force themselves on any of the boys. What they did do was genuinely love us and for that I am greatful.
So I can say from first hand experience what it is like to be abused. And I utterly reject the hysteria about the “abuse” of man/boy love. I reject it because I know the truth about abuse. I know what these so-called “child care professionals” have only studied. I have been beaten within the confines of the family and I have been affectionately cradled in the arms of a “pervert.” I have felt the stinging pain of a fist across my face and the tender caress of a man’s hand across my butt. As a boy I personally experienced both kinds of “abuse” and I can only thank God that I met these boylovers.
Throughout the gay community, pompous, politically correct fools, some elected, spout off about “abusing” children. They dissociate themselves from boylovers. They repudiate them. They say “there is no place in the human rights movement for these people.” Gay politicians throw boylovers to the lions every chance they get. All, they say, to prevent children from being abused.
Enough is enough…”
With this article, Peron nails in his own coffin. Even without all the other evidence against him, this article alone strongly implicates him as a proponent of pedophilia. It should be noted that these passages are preceded by an extensive chronicle of violent abuse Peron suffered at the hands of his father. These are clearly the words of a suffering soul who found solace in the only form of affection he had ever known. While this emotional response is understandable, and Peron’s harsh history pitiable, his subsequent support of pedophilia as an adult (and later public denials of this) are not pitiable. His actions are reprehensible, dishonest, and, in his capacity as a public figure, dangerous.
I cannot imagine how anyone who read Unbound and the Locke Foundation report could question Peron’s pedophilia sympathies. Yet MSK says he has read it all, and he publicly proclaims that Peron was “set up,” that the outrage after the Locke report surfaced was part of “an orchestrated smear job,” and, most fantastically, that he “stakes his name on” this position.
MSK is “staking” something, alright – himself, right through the heart. With their wildly irrational defense of Peron, MSK and friends have completely annihilated any credibility they might have (a credibility many argue was non-existent in the first place). Only a fool could look at the overwhelming evidence against Peron and conclude that he was “set up.” Set up by whom? The Locke Foundation + the San Francisco Police Department + the FBI + the New Zealand Government + some of Peron’s NAMBLA associates + Lindsay Perigo and his harem of “hate-mongers” + at least 10-15 other people noted in the Locke report? It must have been the same group who framed OJ! This conspiracy theory nonsense is so ridiculous, it warrants no further discussion.
One purpose of this blog post is to (re)expose Peron, who I believe is currently living in the U.S. But there is another purpose, one more important to me personally. I wanted to explain why I will never, ever again have anything to with Michael Stuart Kelly. This includes participating in his website, private correspondence, even casual polite conversation at a random academic conference. MSK, you are truly a disgusting human being. You have used your website to defend a proponent of pedophilia; you have distorted the facts about Peron to the members of your website (most of whom are too lazy or too uninterested to look into the facts for themselves); and you have rudely assaulted any who challenge you on this issue. You are a dishonest, delusional, irrational piece of shit.
I have never cared for the culture of condemnations, dissociations, and extreme sanction conscientiousness within the Objectivist community. I have rarely, if ever, dissociated myself from a group or website, and certainly not with grandstanding fanfare and barrages of vitriol in the wake of my warpath. But MSK and OL have well-earned my ire. I’ve participated in OL sparingly over the past few years, mostly as a dissenter on a variety of issues. But I regret that now. I simply cannot be party to such a concerted defense of a clearly exposed pedophilia proponent.
It doesn’t matter whether Peron himself ever committed any crimes, or if he’s changed his mind on these issues, or whatever. I am not here passing judgment on Peron, though he has been thoroughly dishonest in his own defense since the Locke report surfaced. I don’t know Peron, and I don’t particularly care about him, though I’d be concerned if he lived next door to my family.
The point is that OL, MSK, and his close allies have shown that they are poison to the Objectivist movement. A very weak poison, to be sure, but poison nonetheless. Just as we must dissociate ourselves (in varying degrees) from anarchists, Republicans, and pedophilia supporters, so too we must distinguish ourselves from other “Objectivists” who support and promote these people. What if a young person interested in Objectivism stumbles first upon MSK’s notorious website? Good god, what if the press picked up on this crap? Objectivist Living makes us look bad.
I’ve sent a request to MSK to remove my membership from his website. He’ll likely denounce me as a “co-conspiring hate-monger,” part of the “orchestrated” effort to “smear” Peron. You are so delusional MSK, I have no words for it. For the record: This blog post represents my own judgments based on research I personally conducted and evaluated. I have no connection whatsoever with Perigo and SOLO. Though I admit I feel a little kinship with Perigo as a result of this. In this case, he delivered MSK and OL their just desserts.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
- "Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proven innocent."
- "A generation which ignores history has no past -- and no future."
- "What a wonderful world it is that has girls in it!" (A personal favorite! --D.E.)
- "History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis."
- "If you don't like yourself, you can't like other people."
- "No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops and, in the long run, no state ever has."
- "It is better to copulate than never."
- "Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks.
- "Little girls, like butterflies, need no excuse."
- "An elephant: a mouse built to government specifications."
- "Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as 'bad luck.'"
- "In a mature society, 'civil servant' is semantically equal to 'civil master.'"
- "Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How's that again? I missed something."
- "Autocracy is based on the assumption that one man is wiser than a million men. Let's play that over again, too. Who decides?"
- "Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil."
- "If the universe has any purpose more important than topping a woman you love and making a baby with her hearty help, I've never heard of it."
- "Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed."
- "You live and learn. Or you don't live long."
Thursday, September 17, 2009
All I can say is eewwwww! We're gonna stink this year. Delhomme picked up right where he left off -- with 4 interceptions in the first game. Made me sick then (during last year's playoffs), makes me sick now. Add a fumble by Delhomme, an interception by another QB, and another fumble from a wet RB, and that makes !7! turnovers. It doesn't matter how good your defense is, if you turn the ball over 7 times you're going to get beat. It's as simple as that. The offensive line hasn't gelled, we don't have a QB, and the formerly formidable 'D' is getting either too old or too expensive (or both). Steve Smith can do nothing if no one can get the ball to him. We do have two great running backs, but they can't win on their own, especially not with an O-Line that is sucking wind.
I considered accepting Jesus into my heart just so I could pray for victory (or a quick death). If I thought it would help I might do it, but nothing can help the Panthers now. 4th place in the NL East would not surprise me. Hopefully, we can trade for a new QB at some point early in the season.
My Gamecocks I'm much happier about. The offense didn't look too great in their opener against NC State, but Coach Spurrier brought in a very conservative game plan. Against Georgia, he was playing to win -- and they almost did. What a show by both Georgia and South Carolina last weekend! Loved it.
QB Garcia has grown up fast, and I'm excited that we're going to have him three more years (including this one), assuming he doesn't go to the NFL. He throws hard, makes good reads, and isn't afraid to run the ball if he thinks he can get a 1st down out of it. Very spunky kid. Several WR's and a massive TE will make this a special season for Garcia.
But the real story from SC is the crushing defense. They've only gotten better. NC State and Georgia weren't giving away the ball like we normally do, we were taking it from them: interceptions, strips, and fumble recoveries. LB Eric Norwood is a one-man wrecking crew. On any play, run or pass, he has the potential to turn the game around. I'm so glad he decided to stay instead of leave early for the NFL.
Prediction: Carolina will defeat at least two top-15 teams this year and will be ranked in the top 15 themselves at some point. If you doubt me, just ask Eric Norwood...to his face.
The Tigers are in a similar position as my Gamecocks. They have some special players on both sides of the ball, and are unranked but riled to kick some unlucky team off its pedestal. Clemson, too, may take out a top 15 team this year.
Unlike the Panthers, Clemson has a serviceable QB, a tough offensive line, an a strong complement of WR's (especially Ford) to go along with their killer RB's. C.J. Spiller is set to break some records this year, and I'm going to enjoy watching it.
How far will Clemson go? For me, it all depends on Coach Dabo Sweeny. If he's got the skills to pay the bills, then the Tigers might see a decent bowl game this year.
And that concludes the Crappiest Ever Edition of Praise Galt for Football. I'm make sure not to get arrested for legally protesting next year, and do it justice. :)
Monday, September 14, 2009
First, here’s a summary of his lecture from my notes, with comments:
In Part 1, Jason connects sexual attraction to objective values. This is the strongest part of his lecture, filled with concrete examples, and Jason seems very familiar with the material. He places a special stress on sexiness as healthiness, and I’m diggin’ it. I always feel squishy when Objectivists acknowledge the importance of mind and body on issues like this. Good work, Jason.
Part 2 is titled “Philosophy and Sexual Attraction.” Jason starts off strong here, but gets weaker towards the end. He does make a critical point – that instantaneous attraction or “love at first sight” is an automatized response to visible sense of life characteristics -- but if one is not exceedingly familiar with the “sense of life” concept, then he gets lost here. Jason doesn’t define “sense of life” and provides very few examples in this section of the presentation. For instance, give me an example of a sense of life characteristic I would see in a woman, causing attraction? Where does this come from, and what precisely am I seeing? His theories here are essentially correct, but are not concretized fully enough, and without examples it’s unclear whether he has integrated them appropriately.
Part 3 is where Jason gets where he really wants to go: the issue of homosexuality. First he presents Rand’s views, using Galt and Dagny as archetypes of sexuality from Rand’s perspective, along with quotes from her. He does a good job here. He goes on to discuss Rand’s views on homosexuality, and then transitions directly into his own views. From the way Jason handles this, it seems that the entire lecture is designed to deal with the homosexuality issue. His key objection to Rand’s view, from which all other criticisms arise, is that she believed homosexuality was immoral.
In Part 3, Jason discusses why he disagrees with this, and presents a new theory which will avoid the question of gay morality. Jason proposes a revised definition of masculinity – “one’s embodied maleness, combined with a desire for penetration.” For women, it’s the same with “femaleness” substituted for “maleness” and “reception” substituted for “penetration.” This definition can apply to hetero and homo alike.
Part 3 is where Jason’s approach and mine begin to diverge significantly. Jason’s contention that homosexuality is perfectly moral comes across as a flat assertion without sufficient foundation. The argument proceeds like this: 1) Homosexuality is moral. 2) Rand’s view implies that it is immoral, therefore her view is inadequate. 3) Here is a new view of the foundation of sexuality which will not imply that homosexuality is immoral.
I agree wholeheartedly with premise #1, but I do not believe that Jason fully establishes its truth. As for the rest of the premises: I doubt that he intended his argument to flow as I summarized it above, but based on the content and execution, this is what it amounts to.
While I appreciate his (appropriately) passionate defense of gays, I don’t see that the existence of homosexuality can serve as a foundation for a preliminary, fundamental inquiry on the topic of sexuality. One must account for it at some point, to be sure, but one can’t automatically presume that it is ethical, and one ought not define sexuality in such a way as to ensure that homosexuality is subsumed under the definition.
At one point in the speech, Jason asks: when two men have sex, do both feel masculine or only one? But this doesn’t cover all possibilities. How about neither? If there were no such thing as males and females, if the human race were a-sexual, then there would be no such thing as masculinity or femininity. I’m not asserting that gays don’t experience a gender-specific form of sexuality – I honestly don’t know at this point – but the possibility must be taken into account in any exhaustive inquiry, especially if one makes homosexuality a central part of his thesis.
Regarding the ethics of homosexuality: Arguing that gays don’t experience a gender-specific form of sexuality is not tantamount to claiming that homosexuality is immoral. Jason may accept this false dichotomy, considering how hard he works to take sides here.
All in all, this was a great effort on Jason’s part. Some of the sections were very strong, and the essay as delivered was well-written. He has a good understanding of the connection between values and emotions, and he does not discount the importance of the physiological when it comes to sexuality and attraction. I have some issues with his argument, as indicated above, but within the framework it flows reasonably well.
While he does a decent job with delivery, varying his tone and keeping the listener interested, for next time he may want to consider the differences between presenting an argument in print vs. in lecture format. His argument was constructed for the page, not for the lecture hall. Next time around, I would suggest restructuring the argument slightly and committing it to delimited points on note cards. This forces you to really know your presentation inside out, and allows you to make eye contact with the audience instead of keeping eyes locked on the page. There’s plenty of time for him to master these skills, though, and it was an honorable initial effort.
Jason’s now working on Chapter 2 of his eventual book on the subject, and he indicated in email that I may get a sneak preview! [Wringing hands]. I look forward to it.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Since it's after midnight, today is officially September 11, 2009. Among other things, I've come to think of this day as "National Military, Cop, and Firefighter Appreciation Day." These civil servants get so little appreciation for what they do, and often get little support from the government to execute their dutues. So 4 years ago, I decided to give Thank You cards to local military, police, and firefighter stations. They were so appreciative, I decided to continue the tradition in New York when I lived there. Now that I'm back in South Carolina, I see no reason to break tradition.
Since I was going to be up at the police station today anyway for issues regarding my recent arrest, I picked up some Thank You cards on the way and dropped one off at the downtown Law Enforcement Center. I even took one to the Detention Center next door, where I had been a guest over the weekend, to show there was no hard feelings. Then on my way home, I dropped by the local Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Recruiting stations to drop off more cards. I encourage anyone who appreciates what these folks do -- and what they stand for -- to adopt this tradition for himself. I paid $3.53 for Thank You cards today. How much do you think it means for them to know how much they're appreciated? Well worth the money and effort! Here's what I wrote:
To the Cops
Better a day early than a day late. Some of us will never forget what happened 8 years ago. To life, liberty, and happiness -- may you serve and protect them always.
To the Military
Better a day early than a day late. Some of us will never forget what happened 8 years ago. To life, liberty, and happiness -- may you always kick [expletive], and look pretty doing so, in their defense.
*Update: To the Local Fire Dept., delivered today (9/11)
Some of us will never forget what happened 8 years ago. To life, liberty, and happiness -- may you always serve to stoke the flames of these values.
I wrote about my 9/11 experience two years ago, and reprised it on my blog last year. Another new tradition in honor of this fateful day? Why not:
For me, September 11, 2001 began as a normal Tuesday morning in Greenville, SC. I got up, had breakfast, got dressed, and drove to StereoVideo, where I worked as a retail salesman. I arrived at work at about 8:30am. As usual, most of the staff met in the back of the store for a bull-and-smoking session before opening up. At about 8:50am, the owner (who was always late getting in) called to tell us that a plane had crashed into a building in New York City. We wanted to see what was going on, so we turned on the store.
StereoVideo is a high-end electronics store specializing in large, high-definition televisions and powerful audio systems. When we turned on the store, hundreds of thousands of dollars in audio-visual equipment brought the height of consumer technology to bear – to show us a scene of terror. The World Trade Center was on fire. The Sony high-def rear-projector shot rays of light on the wall, displaying a plume of smoke 10 feet tall. The $10k Infinity floor standing speakers boomed their built-in subwoofers as the second plane exploded on impact. It was a terrible spectacle of light and sound.
All day we watched – surrounded by 100 televisions, all showing the same nightmare. As the events of September 11 unfolded, StereoVideo continued to operate. I fought back tears as the wave of attacks continued. People kept coming into the store and would stay for hours, transfixed by images of destruction. To my utter shock, a few customers still wanted to chat about setting up their new home theatre system. So we loaded Shrek into a few of the DVD Players, and Princess Fiona pouted – next to images of tragic murder victims hurling themselves from the top of the World Trade Center. It was surreal.
After we closed the store, I went to a sports bar near the Blood Bank in downtown Greenville. All of the televisions were tuned to news channels, and the bar was alive with sad, angry, and patriotic discussion. I spoke with three or four strangers who shared my grief and rage. We all agreed that whoever was responsible for these attacks deserved prompt and utter destruction. We were at war.
As I approached the Blood Bank, I saw that I had to park half a mile away in order to get close to it. Many others had the same idea as me, and the place was mobbed with patriots offering their blood. A police officer that had just given blood advised me to come back the following day. The staff at the Blood Bank was overwhelmed. When I went the next day, they said to come back in a month, as they were already filled to capacity with blood donations.
In the days and weeks following the September 11 attacks, the country seemed to come together in a way I’d never seen before in my adult life. I finally understood why the adults around me were rejoicing so much when the Berlin Wall fell. Americans demanded justice, and a significant portion of the public had the moral courage to support an all-out war against Islamic Totalitarianism.
Unfortunately, that window of opportunity has passed. Most Americans seem to have forgotten what happened that Tuesday in 2001. It has become just one attack of many – perpetrated by some terrorist group or other – all tied-in to some nebulous “War on Terror” that is going nowhere fast. That is why, every year on the anniversary of September 11, I take the time to remember where I was that day. I remember where I was, how I felt, what I thought, and most importantly, what we need to do to make sure it never happens again.
Where were you?
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
[Photo deleted pending copyright inquiry with The Greenville News. The photo initially posted here was an image of me holding up a sign reading "I Support This War." The photo was on the front page of The Greenville News in 1998, the day after Madeline Albright spoke at the University of South Carolina in support of action against Iraq (they had just kicked out the weapons inspectors). 50 or so protesters were there opposing action in Iraq, and were heckling the mass of military personnel and politicians there. I initiated a one-man counter-protest, sitting on the steps above the protesters, and pointing my sign in their direction. While they used my image on the front page, the article in The Greenville News made no mention of the 50+ protesters at whom my sign was directed.]
[Supporting Action Against Iraq (Support Now Retracted) -- Columbia, SC, 1998]
[Tea Party -- New York, New York, February, 2009]
[Mug Shot, Arrested at "Emergency" Curfew Protest -- Greenville, SC, September, 2009]
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." -- Thomas Paine
"Those who fail to uphold the rights of minority groups of which they are not a member, will inevitable find themselves in the shoes of the oppressed minority some day." -- Dan Edge
Monday, September 7, 2009
[Mug shot photo courtesy of the Greenville Police Department, by way of Channel 7 News]
The following is a chronicle of the events preceding, during, and after the downtown protest I organized against the “emergency” curfew ordinance – events which led to my arrest for "contributing to the delinquency of a minor."
On Friday, 9/4, I read an article in The Greenville News announcing an “emergency” curfew ordinance enacted by Greenville City Council. Disgusted with the oft used justification to restrict the liberty of the responsible majority in response to the lawlessness of a deviant minority, frustrated with the lack of attention given to proper support of local law enforcement, and reminiscent about happy memories of enriching cultural experiences in Greenville’s nightlife as a minor, I resolved to write an editorial about the ordinance articulating my disapproval.
In the process of writing the editorial, I realized that the “emergency” curfew ordinance presented a unique opportunity to uphold 1st Amendment Rights while demonstrating to all the folly of the Nanny State mentality. I began to consider organizing a protest, something I’d never done before.
My first call was to City Hall. A gentleman in the Special Events Department referred me to Major Gary McLaughlin at the Greenville Police Department. I left a message on Mr. McLaughlin’s voice mail describing my intentions, then continued working on the editorial and hand bill I planned to distribute at the event. I realized that I needed to act fast in choosing a venue for the protest, but I did not want to proceed without first consulting with Law Enforcement. I called Greenville PD’s general dispatch number, and was put in contact with a member of the Communications Division there. This gentleman offered preliminary advice for how to execute the protest peacefully, but he told me that I would want to speak to someone else about it, and that I could expect a return call.
Major Gary McLaughlin, also referred to (by me) as “Gentleman Good Cop,” returned my call a short time later. Mr. McLaughlin was courteous, knowledgeable, and professional – a true credit to his rank and uniform. He assured me that his department intended to protect any expression of 1st Amendment Rights. He advised me on appropriate options for venues, emailed me a copy of the City’s ordinances on picketing, and offered sound advice for ways to make the protest safe, legal, and effective. I emailed to him copies of the editorial I had written, the hand bill I intended to pass out at the protest, and the letter I had written to inform media and political outlets about the event. I sincerely thanked Major McLaughlin for all his help, on the phone and in email. Making his acquaintance was one of the highlights of my experience. Notably, he made no mention of any potential for me to be arrested for "contributing to the delinquency of a minor."
I spent the rest of my day Friday making copies of the editorial and hand bill, purchasing poster board and markers, and emailing media and political outlets about the event. I woke up the following morning excited about the prospects of the day. I looked forward to promoting: individual rights, a more significant police presence in downtown, and the numerous cultural benefits of the downtown Greenville nightlife.
In the early afternoon, I received an email reply to my media announcement from Mr. Richard Walton, a journalist for The Greenville News who later contributed to an article covering the event. In the email, Mr. Walton requested that I call him to discus my plans for that evening, which I did. During the course of this conversation, I found that he was polite, respectful, and seemingly sincerely interested in my point of view. In response to his questions, I related to him some of the arguments presented in my editorial on the issue, which he had received as part of my media announcement. He said that he would be downtown Saturday night reporting on the curfew ordinance, and that he would look for me there. He did eventually find me just before 10pm in front of City Hall. Details of that encounter are described later in this chronicle.
I arrived downtown at about 7:30pm, and began to distribute hand bills as I made my way to the front of City Hall, the venue I had chosen for the protest. When I got there, I saw concrete lamp fixtures that seemed ideal for posting announcements about the event. I began to tape hand bills, editorials, and a poster to the concrete lamp fixtures adjacent to City Hall. Just as I was affixing the last of the hand bills, I heard a voice that I’ve grown deeply to despise over the past 24 hours – that of Mr. [name omitted pending further consideration], a bicycle cop who’s unprofessional and unconscionable actions would lead to my arrest some hours later. To Mr. [omitted], a near perfect foil for Gentleman Good Cop McLaughlin, I have assigned the moniker “Bicycle Bad Cop.”
Bicycle Bad Cop’s sharply-toned introductory comments boomed over my shoulder: “I’m going to watch you take every single one of these down and throw them in the trash. Right now!” I turned to see a threatening grimace flaming from an animated middle-aged figure. This, I thought, was a man who relished in intimidating civilians. He seemed almost disappointed when I told him I didn’t know that this kind of posting was illegal, and immediately began taking everything down. This I did in short order, occasionally enduring Bad Cop’s rambling lectures about “doing his job” intermixed with overt threats to burden me with a citation. Any attempt to discuss the matter was perceived as “back talk,” quickly interrupted with said threats and lectures.
After removing and disposing of all the items I had posted, I proceeded to the West End of Greenville, distributing hand bills and engaging in debate along the way. In distributing protest materials, I did not discriminate based on age, sex, or race. I handed them out to everyone, and found that opinions on the issue pro and con were roughly a 50/50 spread. As I reached the entrance to Reedy River Park, the younger demographic became more prominent. Many youths, above and below the age of consent, expressed concerted agreement, and some said they intended to attend the demonstration.
The police presence in the West End was impressive – I saw no less than 10 officers in the vicinity of Reedy River Park, many of whose vehicles were parked in the middle of the road on the Main St. bridge over the Reedy. This, I thought, is the appropriate magnitude of rights-protecting civil servants to control the specter of civil disorder that necessarily must accompany explosive commercial growth, the sort of which the West End has been a prime example in recent years.
In the course of distributing information and debating with West End patrons, I had the opportunity to discuss the issue with a few police officers who were manning the fort. One officer in particular – an Asian gentleman with a confident voice and professional demeanor – offered his views on the subject, which were contrary to my own. While I disagreed with his conclusions, I greatly appreciated his efforts to articulate his position in a firm, respectful, and thoughtful manner.
Other of Greenville’s finest listened on, but none came to the forefront to concur with my views. In several discrete (read “unofficial”) conversations with police officers over the past few days, I’ve discovered that a significant number, perhaps a majority, agree with my position – that the answer to this “emergency” is more and better funded cops, not more laws. I made this point in my editorial, but it bears emphasis: if the City had kept police funding on par with the explosive growth of the West End, this issue would likely never have become an “emergency.”
I suddenly ran out of hand bills, and walked briskly back to my car to get more. As I passed City Hall (whether on the way to my car, or on the way back, I do not recall), I was approached by Bicycle Bad Cop and another officer who I believe was his immediate superior (Bad Cop Boss?). This new officer indicated his intent to allow the protest to take place, given that City picketing ordinances were obeyed. I assured him that I had reviewed the ordinances provided by Major McLaughlin and fully intended to comply. Our discussion was amicable until he asked me if I planned to instruct any minors to leave the protest at 10pm. “No,” I said, “In all honesty I planned this as an act of civil disobedience. I will inform any minors present of the content of the curfew ordinance, and if they ask my opinion I would advise them to stay.”
Bad Cop Boss then became agitated, informing me that if I proceeded as planned, I would put myself and any minors in attendance at risk of detention or arrest. He asked if I was willing to go to jail for this cause. “Yes,” was my firm reply, though I indicated that I didn’t expect it would come to that, as the protest was planned with the knowledge and advisement of the Greenville PD and was intended to be extraordinarily docile by any modern standard of protest intensity. (This exchange constitutes, in my mind, the entire body of evidence which could be used to “prove” my guilt. Neither of these officers, nor anyone else, ever observed me actively advising the course of civil disobedience to anyone.) But Boss’s words resonated in my mind, and I was forced to reconsider.
For the next several minutes, as I walked back along the Main St. drag towards Reedy River Park, I did not speak to anyone or distribute any hand bills. For a few seconds, I considered abandoning the entire project and simply standing by at the protest site to inform attendants that it was canceled. But I had already distributed so many pamphlets, and had invested so much of my heart and soul into this, that I decided instead to alter my approach in announcing the protest to young-appearing individuals.
From that point on, whenever I spoke to people about the protest, I warned them that there might be trouble if they were minors and stayed there after 10pm. I explained the letter of the curfew ordinance, based on the information supplied by the City Council’s website. My understanding of the ordinance, which I communicated to all listeners, was this: minors are not allowed to be in downtown after 10pm without supervision of a legal guardian. Young-appearing individuals may be subject to police inquiry and asked to provide proof of age. If no identification is available, or if an individual readily admits that he is underage, then the police will ask him to leave the area and give him the opportunity to do so. If the individual refuses to leave or comes back, then he may be subject to detention at City Hall until his guardian[s] arrive to pick him up.
I advised any young-appearing potential protesters that they would likely be questioned by police in reference to the curfew ordinance. When questioned by police, I told them, they should have the opportunity to make a decision: either leave immediately without consequence, or stay and risk detainment. I made no suggestion as to which alternative was preferable for any particular individual. In one or two cases, in response to direct questions, I confessed that if I were a minor present at the protest, I would consider “sitting-in” as a form of civil disobedience, and risk detainment. But I did not actively recommend this course of action to anyone at any time. I implored those present to use their own judgment, and to take into consideration the wishes and wisdom of their parents.
As I walked back to City Hall, my confidence began to mount. I believed that this protest could be executed peacefully and to positive effect. The wind in my sails waned significantly, however, when by 9:40pm rain had begun to fall and no other protesters had showed up. As I continued to make my protest signs, I resolved to take heart in my efforts no matter the result. Even in the worst case scenario I could then imagine: that I would stand alone in the rain with a sign in each arm, a seeming raving lunatic in a sea of Greenville patrons – I would still take pride in what I had attempted to accomplish.
A few minutes later, my spirits rose again as a few passersby offered to help make signs. They were on their way to a previous appointment and couldn’t stay, but I greatly appreciated their help and moral support. A few minutes after that, a pair of young gentlemen walked by who expressed excitement at what I was planning. I had already made at least ten signs, and I told them to feel free to hold them up proudly, or to write any message they chose (barring profanity) on blank poster-boards with the permanent Sharpie markers I had brought along. They each opted for a pre-made sign and held them high for the viewing of auto and pedestrian traffic (while being careful not to obstruct such traffic, per my request). One of the young men commented that he had never before exercised his 1st Amendment Rights, and told me through grinning teeth that doing so “[felt] really good.” If nothing else positive ever comes out of the events of this past Saturday night, I consider this one sentiment to be well-worth my night in jail.
By about 9:55pm, at least a dozen individuals had stopped to pick up signs or make their own. We had a burgeoning protest on our hands. This is when I first saw Mr. Richard Walton of The Greenville News. Or rather, he saw me and asked if I was Dan Edge the protest organizer. I pled guilty as charged, and he began to interview me in a manner similar to our previous phone conversation. Consequently, I gave similar answers, along with extrapolations and clarifications gleaned from the evening’s experiences.
At one point, I noticed a pair of police officers approach the protesters nearest me and advise them to stay within a certain area, so as not to obstruct pedestrian traffic. I paused my interview with Mr. Walton to ask the officers to repeat their instructions, so I could make sure that I fully understood their efforts to maintain order. I felt that it was, in large part, my personal responsibility to ensure that the protest proceeded within the bounds of City law. When hecklers in a passing car elicited a profane reply from one of the protesters, I made it clear to the young man that any use of profanity would be counter-productive to the cause. I joked that any lawlessness would elicit a response from the 6’ tall, bald redneck that planned the event. Though my comments were purely in jest, as I had complete confidence that the cops could and would prevent any outbreak of civil unrest, I was more than willing to help prevent and contain any lawlessness myself, in the extraordinarily unlikely event that such was necessary.
At about 10:15pm, I walked with Mr. Walton over to another group of protesters who had taken station in the area adjacent to the Poinsett Hotel. I recognized one of the non-protester onlookers as a gentleman who had expressed contrary views to mine during my previous romp around the city. I jokingly suggested that Mr. Walton interview this “counter-protester” for an alternative view. The gentleman responded that my position was “too stupid” to warrant debate, and that the “kids” sitting near him were too young and ignorant to offer any worthwhile opinion on the matter. At this point I addressed the group of young men, two of whom were destined to be detained by Bicycle Bad Cop, saying: “In my experience, if someone criticizes your beliefs, not by making a reasoned argument, but by claiming that you are too stupid or ignorant to wager an opinion,” at this point I spoke a little louder to drown out the “counter-protester” turned heckler’s derogatory comments, “then the best course of action is to ignore his words, as if nothing has been said.” Which, indeed, nothing has – nothing worthy of reply, anyway.
I continued to talk with Mr. Walton, the clock now reaching critical mass, approaching 10:25pm. This is when the proverbial dung hit the draft. Bicycle Bad Cop, seeing his opportunity to engage in a tour-de-force of rampaging rights-trampling, burst onto the scene. In fact, many police officers had arrived in short order, and they began to make inquiries of the youthful-looking men and women regarding their age. Several admitted that they were minors, were asked to leave, and did so immediately and peacefully. The two young men who were first to pick up posters in protest, in my view learning a valuable lesson in 1st Amendment expression, were the first to leave. The smiles thrown my way as they departed, posters still in hand, were to me another highlight of the evening’s events.
But then things started to turn ugly. Bicycle Bad Cop roared toward the stage where three young men sat holding signs and demanded that they submit to immediate police inquiry…”NOW!” I quickly found that “YOU!” and “NOW!” were Bad Cop’s two favorite words, especially when bellowed at high volume along with a withering, threatening gaze. Over the next 60 seconds, one could easily characterize Bad Cop’s seething string of commands as a generic, cartoon-inspired cacophony of malevolence: “YOU! [Yabba Dabba Do It!] NOW!” And he found ample opportunity to indulge in his belligerent manner of issuing intimidating commandments. Since the next few moments are critical to the outcome of the evening, I will chronicle them as accurately and specifically as I can. After confirming the guilt implicit in their age, Bad Cop addressed the three young men:
Bicycle Bad Cop (BBC): “YOU! Get out of here! NOW! YOU! [Addressing other bystanders] Get Back! NOW!”
Frightened Young Men: “OK, OK…We’re leaving.”
This next serious of events is particularly crucial to understanding how the evening unfolded as it did. The three young men rose to leave, but one of them found himself temporarily blocked in. His two friends had identified creases at their flanks and escaped, but other police responded to Bad Cop’s bellowing and began to close in. The remaining youth, eyeing an opening in the melee, rose to leave with haste. Literally less than 10 seconds had passed in the interim. But then he made a critical mistake, at least in the eyes of the BBC: he turned to face me, said “Thanks,” handed me back the poster I had given him earlier, then whirled around to make good his escape. Apparently, this was all the provocation needed to effect his detainment. The proceeding moments went by with confusing rapidity, filled with more “YOUs” and “NOWs” than I care to count, but I remember them well enough for an accurate telling of the events. Here is a transcript from memory following the unfortunate youth’s unforgivable sin of offering his thanks before departing:
Future Detainee #1: Thanks. [Hands protest poster to me and turns to leave.]
Bicycle Bad Cop (BBC): YOU! You are now being detained! I told you to leave! You are being detained!
Now Detainee #1: Are you serious? Sir, I was just trying to leave, really! Are you serious? I wasn’t…
BBC: Shut your mouth! You are being detained!
Dan Edge: Hey! He was just trying to leave. He was just saying “thanks” and handing me the pos…
BBC: YOU! [Addressing me] Step away, right NOW! I said right NOW! YOU! [Now addressing Mr. Walton] Back away, right NOW! YOU! [Addressing other random passersby] step back NOW!
Detainee #1: [Continues to express shocked disbelief, declaring his innocence and his intent to comply with BBC’s threatening commands. His “back talk” was met with more intimidating verbal assaults from BBC until he was seemingly cowed.]
Future Detainee #2: [Arrives back on the scene less than a minute later, having noted that his friend was not in tow.] Hey, what happened? We were just leaving…
BBC: YOU! You were told to leave! You are now being detained!
Now Detainee #2: What? But I was just…
BBC: Shut your mouth! You were told to leave and refused! You are being detained! Step over there, NOW!
Dan Edge: [To Mr. Walton] Can you believe this? That kid was just trying to leave! All he did was say “thanks” and give me the poster…
BBC: [Now addressing me] YOU! Shut your mouth! NOW! Stand right there! Don’t move! I’ll deal with YOU in a minute!
Dan Edge: By what right are you detaining me here? By what right do you order me not to speak? What am I being charged with?
BBC: We’ll figure that out in a minute. I’m going to go deal with these minors, who are now under detention, then I’ll talk to my superior and we’ll figure out what you’re being charged with. But right now, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll sit right there and keep your mouth shut. Earlier, you said you respected my uniform and my need to do my job. I’m just doing my job. Just sit down right there! NOW!
Dan Edge: Listen, this guy [referring to Mr. Walton] is a journalist. Are you saying I’m not allowed to speak to the press?
BBC: You are now in my custody. You can either sit right there and keep your mouth shut, or I will put you in hand cuffs and throw you in a squad car right now. Is that what you want?
Dan Edge: Hmmm… [Considering the inevitability of arrest] I’ll have to think about that…
BBC: There’s nothing to think about! I’ve taken you into my custody! Now I’m going to deal with those detainees, and I’ll be back to deal with YOU in a minute. Sit right there!
Mr. Walton: [Stands idly by, complying with the order to step back a few feet, a seeming look of shocked disbelief on his face.]
Other of Greenville’s Finest: [Some, especially younger officers, share the look of shocked disbelief, but quickly come to the aid of their colleague Bicycle Bad Cop, and do their duty to maintain order in the chaos and confusion.]
Adjacent Officer: [Addressing Mr. Walton and a camera crew setting up nearby] I’m gonna have to ask you folks to step back a bit. [Continues to give firm but polite instructions.]
After this, I was escorted to a squad car, hand-cuffed, and hauled off to jail, where I spent most of the next 17 hours in a detainment cell drunk tank. My experiences there are potentially relevant, but not critical to the essence of the story outlined above. I may continue this chronicle in the near future, and tell the rest of the tale up until my release from jail Sunday afternoon.
I challenge any of those present – including police officers, journalists, the detained youths, or uninvolved bystanders – to dispute the accuracy of this version of the events. I may not have remembered everything perfectly (it would be impossible for me to recall every single word said in unfailing detail), but this is what happened. I assert that this telling of Saturday night’s unfortunate events is the most sincere, most accurate, most detailed account that will ever be presented – which is why I felt so strongly the need to disclose the truth.
I have more to say on this matter, including the lessons learned from these past few days’ experiences. I acknowledge some errors of judgment on my part in planning this protest; in particular I wish I had had the forethought to schedule it a few hours earlier so that minors could attend without risk of being detained. I will be posting another article within the next few days, outlining my preliminary evaluations of the police’s response to what happened (it is my contention that the vast majority of Greenville’s finest acted most honorably, with a distinction proper to their uniforms), the media reports, particularly of those who were present at the incident (I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt at present, but it seems to me that some crucially relevant facts about what happened were conspicuously absent from news reports), and the media and public responses I have witnessed thus far.
Thanks for reading!
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Distinctively absent from this video is my only statement to the camera, "I have been forbidden from speaking to the press." Just before I was arrested , I had been speaking to a journalist who was interviewing me. After policemen started detaining the two teens, who had been trying to leave as asked, one officer told me to "Sit down and Shut up!" "This man is a journalist," I said. "Are you telling me I can't speak with the press?" His reply, "You're in my custody now. You can either shut your mouth or I will cuff you and throw you in a squad car right now." It was this exchange which precipitated my (un-aired) comments to the camera.
I will post a more extensive chronicling of my experience over the next few days, but I want to set the record straight on a few points right now. From my comments on the Channel 7 news video:
"I was the adult who organized the protest. I did not encourage any minors to ignore orders from police. All of those who were asked to leave did so peacefully. The first teenager who was detained had complied immediately when asked to leave. His unforgivable sin was to turn his head my way, say “Thank You,“ hand me back the protest sign I had given him, and begin to walk away. Based on those actions, a malevolent, disrespectful police officer began screaming, “You’re being detained! You were told to leave! You’re being detained!“ About 30 seconds later, one of the young man’s friends walked back towards the group to see what had happened to his buddy. The same unprofessional public servant leapt into action again, screaming, “I told you to leave! You’re being detained!“ It was on the basis of these two detainments that I was arrested for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.“ I spent 17 hours in jail before my arraignment with a judge, who promptly released me. I will publish a chronicle of my experiences over the past 24 hours on my blog, http://danedgeofreason.blogspot.com, where you can also find an editorial arguing my position on this issue."
Friday, September 4, 2009
• I Don’t Need a Nanny
• NO to “Emergency” Curfew
• Live Free or Die Hard
• NO to Nanny State, DOWN with Big Brother
• None of Your Damned Business
• <-- Responsible, Law-Abiding Citizen
• Youth ≠ Deviant
• Young, Ethical, and Proud
• You Are Not My Daddy
• “Give Us Us Free!” -- Amistad
• Greenville Born and Raised, Downtown Nightlife Approved
• You Are Not My Son’s/Daughter’s Mommy/Daddy
• You Protect My Rights, I’ll Protect My Kids
Constitutional and Historical:
• Unite or Die
• Freedom Fighter
• “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness…To Secure These Rights, Governments are Instituted Among Men” – Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence
• “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!” – Patrick Henry
• “Any Society That Would Give Up a Little Liberty to Gain a Little Security Will Deserve Neither and Lose Both.” – Benjamin Franklin
• “Liberty Means Responsibility. That is Why Most Men Dread It.” – George Bernard Shaw
Messages to Political Leadership:
• We Need More Cops, Not More Laws
• Explosive Growth + Insufficient Police Support = Civil Unrest
• Knox is Knot My Daddy
• The “Emergency” Curfew: City Council’s Admission of Poor City Management
• Permanent Curfew for Political Nannies
• You Asked For a Bigger Downtown, and You Got It. What’s the Problem?
• Do Your Job, City Council: Protect Our Rights, Don’t Trample Them
• City Council – This is Our Downtown, Not Yours
Support of Greenville Downtown and Police:
• We ♥ The New Downtown
• We ♥ Greenville Cops
• Greenville, SC – The New Cultural Center of South Carolina
South Carolina is one of the last bastions of Constitutional liberty left in the U.S., but recently we’ve begun stampeding towards the Nanny State mentality of our Northern and West Coast kinsmen. Many people in our great state still value individual liberty, personal responsibility, and Constitutional principles. But the tide is turning, as evidenced by the Big Brother solution proposed by the city leadership to deal with today’s “emergency.”
As Greenville grows, so will the risk of deviant youth wrecking havoc on city streets. But so too will grow the potential cultural, social, and educational benefits of the downtown experience. Along with many other Greenville natives, I was greatly enriched by experiences, conversations, and new friends discovered in downtown Greenville – some even after (gasp!) 10pm on a weekend night – and I never committed a crime or created a nuisance there. These experiences enriched my life and contributed to making me into the cultured, responsible adult I am today. It would be a great shame to take that same opportunity away from responsible young men and women, especially in a time when Greenville is becoming more and more a rich source of southern culture.
The only legitimate purpose of an “emergency curfew” would be to give the City time to figure out how better to perform its job: protecting the individual and property rights of downtown businesses and patrons. This manufactured “emergency” is tantamount to an admission that the City is unable or unwilling to do so. In either case, one must assume, downtown Greenville is a dangerous place to be avoided by all. I propose an alternative solution: keep the police presence in downtown on par with the population and commercial growth in the area. The City Council ought to do its job and protect our rights instead of trampling on them.
I am planning a sit-in protest for tomorrow night (Saturday, 9/5), to begin at 10pm at the intersection of Main St. and Court St. I encourage like-minded advocates of freedom and responsible southern youth to join me in this act of civil disobedience. Join me in saying “No” to the Nanny State, ”No” to violence, vandalism, and substance abuse, and “Yes” to the freedom to live and the liberty to learn.
Dan Edge, Greenville, SC
Dan Edge is a Greenville native, a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a BA in Philosophy, a student of Constitutional principles, and an ardent advocate of liberty. He is not affiliated with any political party or public advocacy group.
Please join us on Saturday, September 5th @ 10pm for a sit-in protest at the intersection of Main St. and Court St. If you are part of the vast majority of southern youth who are responsible, law-abiding individuals – if you are a freedom-loving adult who was culturally enriched by experiencing downtown Greenville’s nightlife as a minor – if you agree that the unlawfulness of a deviant minority is no justification to restrict the liberties of the rights-respecting majority – then please join us in protesting the Nanny State mentality inherent in the City’s “Emergency” Curfew initiative. Join us in saying “No” to the Nanny State, ”No” to violence, vandalism, and substance abuse, and “Yes” to the freedom to live and the liberty to learn.
Feel free to bring your own signs, since only a limited number will be available. Copy and distribute this flier at your leisure. Snacks, cameras, and musical instruments are all good items to bring. We will be happy to have you, provided you agree to the following conditions:
• No violence of any kind
• No vandalism or property damage of any kind
• No drugs or alcohol – anyone appearing intoxicated will be asked to leave
• No heckling or provocation of police officers – we are here to protest peacefully and promote the liberty of responsible, law-abiding youth
• No badgering of downtown patrons beyond a polite offer to distribute a pamphlet and/or explain the reasoning behind our display of civil disobedience
• No interference with auto or pedestrian traffic – if a cordoned area is provided by the police, we will remain inside it
For more information contact Dan Edge at: email@example.com
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Here's the lyrics:
Hey Dan, why don’t you and your momma sing that Football song y’all wrote this week. The Gamecocks are playin’ in their first game tonight, and I bet they’d shore appreciate that song. Dan? Dan! DAN!!!
Football, football fall is here
Time for cook-outs, time for cheer
Pound the run or bomb the pass
Figure out that offense fast
May need to replace Delhomme
Me I want a Super Bowl
Championship of SEC
Please Gamecocks win for me!
Clemson, Clemson Tigers time
This team too I claim for mine
Greenville born, SC degree
Dominate the ACC
At season’s end we’re enemies
But till then we can be friends
Please Tigers fight to win!
Carolina Gamecock Football begins tonight! In honor of my favorite season -- for the beautiful colors as well as the football -- this morning I (re)wrote a famous holiday tune. I call this Football Time '09, sung to the tune of The Chipmunk Christmas Song:
Football, football time is here
Time for cook-outs, time for cheers
I’ve been patient for the fall
Kill that man who holds the ball
We may need to replace Delhomme
Me I want a Super Bowl
Championship of SEC
Please Gamecocks win for me!
And never fear, faithful readers (all 4 of you). Praise Galt for Football VII will proceed as scheduled, not two weeks into the season like last year.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
*Note: The above image is a photograph of the artifact which inspired this poem, hanging on my own chest. It is a medallion I found when cleaning out my parent’s attic. On the reverse side, it bears the inscription, “To Beverly, From Roy, With Love.” It was a gift my father created for my mother before his untimely death in 1985. My mother gave it to me, and over the past few days, I’ve conducted research on the meaning and source of the symbol – if any. An article describing my findings and their symbolic connections to my own life will be forthcoming within the next few days.
A new chapter in my life begins
The time to wallow in Hades sorrow
With head in hands for former sins
Is history now – today is tomorrow
A search for symbols to personify
Rebirth of mirthful personality
Revealed a motif etched in steel
My birthright and my family seal
A long dead father’s form of love
Bartered for my mother’s kiss
Melted, molded, made into
A symbol for a son amiss
A longing look at what was found
Remembrance of long time love lost
She bequeathed a seeming simple seal
A chain-linked loop of steel embossed
Smelted with a workman’s hands
Meaning mixed in metal’s skin
My father poured in lover’s gift
All the very best in him:
A mind of mettle, like a snare
To trap Demeter ladies fair
Southern gentlemanly attitude
And metallurgical aptitude
All these things my father poured
Into a molten mixing kettle
Resulting in a symbol with
More meaning than mere metal
Within the hearth of beating heart
I feel the Phoenix Flame arise
The Hero’s Hike to Passion’s Peak
Brings reborn Hephaestus eyes
To the meaning melted in
This round medallion on my breast
I add my soaring spirit’s sails
A stolid mast where steel meets flesh
I stand now on the precipice
Of passion’s deep with future bright
A symbol of metamorphosis
New life in me begins this night!
**Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Mom and Kim, whose love and support have helped make these lines a reality. To Carol, Fred, and Sherry, to whom I will be paying it backwards for the rest of my life. To Chad, Cory, Dave, Dorian, Kelly, Lou, Lynn, Melanie, Nancy, Ryan, Stella, and Todd, whose friendship and love have meant so much. To rekindled and newfound friends Curt, Greer, Kate, Lean Mean Dr. Tamara, Natalie, Sultry Leslie Sayrah, and the rest of the EC Crew, whose benevolence served to stoke the Phoenix Flames. To Jessica Jasmine the Boar-Hunting Heroine, who provided inspiration in her own unique way.
***This poem may not be submitted for publication without consent of the author. Permission is granted to publish on personal blogs and online discussion forums – provided it is reproduced in its entirety in original formatting, complete with acknowledgements and this message – along with a link to my own blog, The Edge of Reason. Comments are welcome. My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.