Things Fall Apart, BBC Radio 4, BBC Sound, written and presented by Jon Ronson, produced by Sarah Shebbeare and Sam Peach

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/series/m0011cpr

Jon Ronson has the kind of job I’d like. He meets interesting people and writes books that are worth reading. Here over eight episodes and around four hours he investigates the culture wars in American where he lives. They’re happening here in Britain too, with the little Trumpet Boris Johnson lying about Brexit to get elected and pretty much lying about everything else. But this is America, where the lies are bigger and more stupid. What strikes you when listening is the power of the Christian Evangelic movement. And how such nasty fuck-ups have come to represent the life-affirming words of Jesus Christ, taken off the cross and his face rubbed in shite. No vision of a risen man, but attempts to keep others down where they belong with the other wretched strangers, carrying no luggage, the fathers of the nation in exile. About suffering, Christ was never wrong. William Blake, the strangest of men, but in his poem suggested Every Thing That Lives is Holy, but that was written before the father of lies was born, Donald J. Trump and elected President. Politics is one of the oldest tricks in the black books of history. But there is bitter black hope.  Tammy Faye Bakker did perform a minor miracle. Jon Robson reported he received his greatest feedback after that Podcast. My notes are below. Don’t bother reading. Listen to the broadcast. But I know from experience those that listen to the broadcast are those that don’t need to listen to the broadcast. I’m tired of that wretchedness and repetition. Things fall apart.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) The Second Coming.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosened and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction; while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi.

[Spiritus Mundi>World Spirit]

1000 Dolls.

Cultural Wars: everything people yell at each other.

Buffalo, New York.

1960-70s. Switzerland. Fundamentalist commune Frank Schaeffer. Francis (father). Shelter. How Christians should engage with modern art. Eric Clapton. Billy Zeoli, Christian channels. Evangelical. Directed niche documentary. How Should We Then Live?

Satre’s relativism: help an old woman across the street or run her down (slippery slope argument)

Human fetus, unborn baby. Roe v Wade 1973, unborn child considered not to be a person. Ear shift. Christian evangelic not-yet-in the field of abortion.

Make last two episodes about abortion. Me and Jeannie were teenagers. We’re having the baby. We love her.

Showed to audiences of 15-20 000 eg Madison Square Garden.

Mass audio-cassette machines. Francis Schaeffer sensation in evangelic word. My da’s book selling 5-1 of contemporary fiction.

Frank take what the evangelics didn’t want to think about. Give me a piece of family business.

Second series, all about abortion. Ghost children. 1000 dolls anti-abortionist doctor standing in the Dead Sea. Slaughter of the innocents. 

Dad’s last books sold a million.

Second tour, no one came.  Launched a crusade. Out of ego and belief. Trying to get abortion on the agenda. Editorial board of Christian magazine. We’re not pro-life.

New York Post. Strange avante-garde film. Picketed by anti-feminist movement. Turned up and picketed by evangelical women, not because they were pro-choice, but because they other. Local news also turned up.

East Coast snobs. Us v Them.

Muscling in on their issue.

Pickets and protests became enormous. Abortion clinics bombed. Shot. Kopp.

The man who killed my uncle, Barnett (Bart) Slepian,  was Kopp.

Part of the job. I know we’re not taking care of children we do have. They stopped doing it. No way is a bunch of idiots bullying me out of my job.

They followed his kids to school. Amanda,  October 8th 1998.

All of them began with Scaefer documentaries. Jim Kopp, supposed to be a doctor. Schizophrenic by 17, became religious. Couldn’t become doctor.

Fan, Kopp travelled to Switzerland. Francis Christian manifesto. If you’re a Christian, act like it.

Oct 1998. Travelled to Buffallo New York. Went to Synagogue. There was this ping. I think I’ve been shot. Bullets. Children between ages of 7 and 15.

Frank long gone from the movement. Jerry Falwell. The Moral Majority. I’d just take them out the back and shoot them. (Homosexuals).

So uncool and so ugly.

Cut 20 minutes, show-reel. Agent, off and running. 1982-1986 directed 4 films.

Ripples, Last 30 years trying to undo the damage.

Publishing memoir, Crazy for God.

My father and I have blood in our hands. I have no words…I am ardently pro-choice.

Rev Rusty Thomson. Operation Save America. We go to exposed areas where child sacrifice and

I believe it is more of a man’s issue, to protect, guide and care for children.

All that changed with Donald Trump’s election 2016.

Installed 3 judges to Supreme Court.

Activists joined ‘Stop the Steal,’

Some of our leaders were there. A great opportunity. Set up a powerful sound system.

Abortion. Culture wars. Ambitious kid wanted to make it in Hollywood.

Sept 2021. Texas allowed to cut off abortions after six weeks. Schaffer ripples.

2) Dirty Books.

A writer living in America.

Origin stories. Pebbles causing ripples.

Complicted interesting people stripped of nuance and weaponised

US, Spring 1968.

Martin Luther King protesting racism and Vietnam war. Rejected conformity of 1950s.

Alice Moore moved with 5 children to West Virginia, St Albans, most churched place in US. Pastor husband. School having sex-education programme. Cut-away of woman and man. Complained to Superintendent of Schools. Nothing you can do about it. We’ll see about that. They needed something in the inside. Signed up for school board. Focussed from the start.

June 1974. New school textbooks. None of us had read and reviewed them. Had 325 delivered to my house and started reading them.

Christian Evangelics tended to live separate lives. 2000 came to the meeting. Their children were being taught angels didn’t exist.

Everything about war was negative.

Contextual ethics. That’s there’s no answer. Jim a pastor. She took over. It was all black and white. God said it> I read it.

Suspicions. Why did publishers introduce them in Virginia? Conspiracy theory.

She was invited on local tv.

Poem about making love on a bus. Roger McGough. Moral sentiment, you can’t just give way to your feelings. BBC colleague.

Special thanks to Roger McGough. For her ambiguity, nuance, didn’t matter.

That’s what really woke things up. Alice’s following grew. Boycott of schools. Picketed businesses.

Textbooks removed. They won.

Jim Lewis, Pro-text-book pastor.

Eldridge Cleaver. Black Panther movement, who has been convicted of rape.

But he was featured in one book. His misdeeds didn’t explain why other black author’s books were rejected. Langston Hughes.

Ron English asked to represent black authors.

Her support came mainly from poor white communities. The Hollers. What you heard rather than what you heard.

Twitter prompt, read an article before sharing.

Not being heard. Respected. It could have built common ground.

Why would some

Dick Gregory. Was committed to non-violence. Former comic. Flatfoot. Sit down. Sensation. Appeared on Tonight Show 1960s. Full time activist. Not OK for him to be OK sitting in a hotel room and simply sending a cheque. Struggling with how white his world had become. Sat down and told us the family came second to the movement. You’re taking me off the front line.

1964 wrote memoir. Contentious language. ‘Nigger’. Memoir, 10 years later on her list.

I can’t remember specifics. Where the BPanthers were talking about killing the pigs

1974, KKK, Rev Marvin Horn, on steps with them.

I never saw a Klan member.

Alice getting death threats.

Shot fired. Bill fired a weapon. Who survived.

Oct 18th, 5 shots fired at school bus. No children aboard. Bombed school.

Midway Elementary School. Dynamite before sunrise.

Levity in Alice’s voice. Skip first shot by pro-text book advocate.

Martin Horn jailed for 3 years. School returned textbooks.

I had to remove books and they were all burned up in basement. Unused. You have to get rid of them. 

27% take the bible as the word of god.

One book on banned list still causes turmoil. ‘Nigger’, Dick Gregory. These were from my own collection and she was fired.

Textbook wars. Causes more uproar.  

Just like Alice wasn’t interest in intention, but impact. To dominate social justice.

3) A Miracle.

Watershed and harmony in brutal cultural war.

20th Century, Evangelics kept away from mainstream society. 1970s Francis Shaffer and Jerry Falwell. Satellite TV Old time gospel hour. Vast audience. Jimmy Swaggart.

They didn’t try to entertain. Until one did. Pzzas. Tammy Faye Bakker. Steve Peters.

Odd and awkward and surprising.

Tammy Faye Bakker. Poor. No movies. Son James. Met Jim at Bible college. Eloped and preached. Children’s puppets.  Fans of modern trends. PTL. Jim and Tammy show. Only network.

Jerry Falwell wanted to rule the world.

They were on all the time. Mum 10 broadcasts. Dad 6 broadcasts. TV pledge drives. Heritage USA. Theme Parks. Christian Walt Disney. Passion Play every night.

Evanagelists appalled. Telly Tubbies supported gay agenda because Tinky Winky’s antennae was like a gay pride symbol.

Tammy anxious and upset. Feeling of not being enough. Overdose on medication. Jay was 11 then. He knew what to do. He rebuked her hallucinations. ‘I rebuke you in the name of God’.

Brooklin schoolteacher died of unknown disease. Rare form of ‘cancer’ AIDs. End of 1981 131 died. End of 1982 12000.

Aids and herpes,  Jerry Falwell. Reagan silent to please his political action group. The Moral Majority.

Mum did interview with somebody that had aids. Sept 15th 1985. Steve Peters.

What a brave thing. Now you’re going to show you’re an openly gay pastor with AIDs. Given Rev Steve Peters, still alive 2021.

What brought him? Christian pastor’s worst were Jerry Fallwell and Jimmy Swaggart. They’d talk as if homosexuals were paedophiles. They’d come and take your children.

1982. All manner of disease. 1984 full-blown AIDs Near Death Experience. They revived me. 2 weeks before Tammy Faye interview.

Try to reach an audience more of us LGBT couldn’t reach.

‘Tammy is sick and is cancelling the show’. I later learned that was a lie. Camera crews fears. Satellite hook-up.   Both ear-pieces keep popping out.

Have you ever had a sexual experience with a woman?

I’ve necked. But my orientation was towards men.

When she started in with haven’t you given women a chance?

When you found out you’ve had AIDs. I’ve experienced remission.

Did you feel lonely? Everybody so deadly frightened. Same air.

Asked not to use toilet. Served on paper plates. Steam-cleaning cups I’ve used.

How sad.

I remember after the interview was done. I hadn’t done very well. I thought nothing would come of it.

I knew she was doing something radical. (her son)

Steve got home and forgot about the interview. Troy Perry. 1000 people stood up and cheered. Steve heard from Tammy’s people too. Apparently, people phoned up and said she had a son that she thought was going to hell, but now she knew he was going to heaven.

She sent me this song. Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle. Don’t give up. Remember you’re not alone.

I’d sing along and got my miracle. I was blind and now I see.

I dunno, I know a lot more faith than me, that didn’t survive. One in a million chance, why not believe and act accordingly. I set out and did all the right things. Laughter therapy, diet, etc.

I am one in a million.

Two years and the Tammy empire crumbled. Jim jailed for financial theft.

She took Jay, her son, to hospices and to gay parades. Extraordinarily helpful. Same-sex marriage.

Emily Johnson, aural history, it had a huge impact. A more accepting world.

Tammy showed you could be gay and Christian.

Tammy died 2007.  I knew she was getting an eviction notice from her body, because I’d been there. How ironic she’s the one to die first.

Steve heard the enemy talk in a calm cultured environment.

4 Believe the Children.

We can lose all reason.

What happened to turn so many Americans so irrational during the 1980 and 1990. There is a cultural war for the soul of America.

Anathemas of Pat Buchanan, Republican Party.

The idea that gay men and women can have the same rights…

Abortion.

Radical feminism.

Discrimiation against religious schools. We must take back our culture and our country.

Bob Erdogan The left had won. And taken over the media.

Cultural running away from them.

Bob Larson. Arizona. Death Metal bands, blood lust and…

Culture war and liberals they should be left alone.

Is there some diabolical scheme, plotted in hell himself. Radio show from listeners. Killing babies. Eating human flesh. Secret cabals abusing children. Dead cats nailed to pulpits.

I saw myself as a reporter. Bob wanted to spread the warning and novel ‘Dead Air’.

You had intergenerational occult. Passing a woman or child through a dead horse and takes away from…

QAnon, derived from same spring.

Bob Larson. Numbers of people telling me the same story. You can’t go to a ceremony. They’d do things so bizarre. You’d not been

John Trott critic v Bob Larson on Larry King show. If it’s true. Where’s the evidence. 90% US population, Christian.

Ramarez, report on Satanism. Highest ever ratings.

Police: we have kids being killed, cattle mutilated. Child abduction.

Kelly Michaels live in Pennsylvania. 1985.

Just out of college. Artistic bent. Lived 20 minutes from New York.

Where you aware of Satanic panic?

I was aware of some case in California. McMartin case were satanic case where children claimed underground tunnels and…

Daycare centre. Took the job. Stepping stone for life. WeCare DayCare. Accountants. Lawyers> Moderately affluent.

Better paid, and different job in another daycare centre.

3 detective. Investigating child abuse in WeCareDayCare.

Complaint about mother, doctor’s office. That what happened at school. But not with thermometers. Good cop. Bad cop.

We can take care of this if you admit it. They seemed satisfied and drove me home. I thought it was wrong. A reasonable if bizarre event.

One child told them about making poo-poo and pee-pee cakes and then they were all at it.

Six-year old taken from school.

Frequent talk of abduction and satanic rings.

Mothers that used to stay at home and now at work.

They said I’d played the piano naked and making them drink urine off the school floor for 150  days. It took two years. It took that time to convince parents that this could have happened. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention.

Guilt about abandonment to centre and guilt involved. Horrified about lack of awareness. 245 accounts of abuse against over thirty children.

All over America this happened to different carers.

‘We Believe the Children’ movement.

Children very calmly answering questions. Absence of trauma, meant more trauma.

August 1998. First charge. Taking temperature rectum. Thrown out. Then the guilties began.   Sentence 47 years in prison. Aged 27.

I was taken to punishment wing. I couldn’t process of crimes that no only I didn’t do, but didn’t happen.

2 years later. Harper’s Journal. Kelly Michael innocent.

Journalists who prided himself

Case overturned. Ambiguously

Parents faded back into life. No apologies to Kelly.

Bob Larson, I didn’t have an axe to grind.

The world’s most foremost expert in the occult. I do exorcism.

I survived this..I was accused of abusing children. It’s so injust, but I can’t do anything about it. I’m this nice little church lady. And they can’t believe it.

Professional people, but under certain conditions, they can succumb to moral panics (more easily). And the media. I was shocked. Surely The New York Times will say something.

They didn’t.

Social Media shaming. When something terrible happens. Steamroll reality and facts.

We’re all primitives.

Escalators of cultural wars, Christian right. With the internet it moved online.

5 A Scottish Jewish Joke.

A war who the internet belong to?

1980s before the World Wide Web. Brad Templeton. Epiphany, use computer to talk to other people. Usenet.

Central square. Your computer calls other computers.

Brad Software company. He was in his 20s. Audience, more elite (needed to access through colleges).

Brad, 1982, Full stops in email address. That shows how it begun.

Set up own message board.

Rec.Humour. Funny. 24 K subscribers. Jokes. One a day.

Automated programmes. Approved joke. Pick one at random and send it out. First person to be publicly shame because of something he did online

Kristlnacht. Night of Broken Glass.

Scotsman and Jew having dinner. And the Scotsman pays for it. The next day, headlines, Scottish ventriloquist found strangled?

Jonathan < shared flat with Amir. He clearly was affected by. Something important about the date. But the date was set at random.

LookingGlass Software. But running my own software company.

Next turned to the Usenet Community. But almost nobody took his side.

Amir my parents emigrated from the UK.

If something like that was left unchecked…

We hatched a plan. Hit the University of Waterloo through bad press.

Lousie…I thought this was a very important story. I read these jokes and I heard my stomach turning. In traditional media you can go to someone.

The way I described that joke…University of Waterloo system used to send racial jokes.

1980s, Italian and Jewish and in a struggle to be taken seriously. Made me feel marginalised and denigrated.

UseNet.

Brad: An actual Nazi contacted me.

University suspended Brad Templeton account.

Brian Reid. What a fool, they think they can ban? It was uncensorable. Built into design. Brad’s page, up right away.

Stanford University.

Campus in 80s. Progressive. Conservative. Eric Charles. Conservative. I don’t understand why anyone would join the military. And I was in the military.

Are you a conservative that wants your voice heard?

Peter, quiet (cold and calculating). Lamenting political correctness.

Standford polarising.

Do you believe in freedom of speech of not.

Jean Genus? Scottish Jewish joke. I thought it was funny. Then the whole hoo-ha. John Sack. Director of Stanford Data Centre.

How Stanford respond? Ban the joke or let it stand?

Town and gown. Birth of Silicon Valley. Navigation of shoals of how much to do for people. Engineers of the internet. Steering the ship?

Brad’s page, banned. Rationale. Stanford’s freedom of expression…

John McCarthy. Founder of Artificial Intelligence.

What kind of man was he, I’m not going to answer that. He attacked my mother. Eugenics. Personal. Speech codes online

Gathered 100 000 signatures online.

John Sacks> John McCarthy’s argument (break things and move) we’re reaching the limits of free speech, lets run into it and test it.

2012 Free Speech wing of the Free Speech party (i.e. Twitter).

Brad, because of this kerfuffle. One of the mostly widely read on the internet.

Peter> went off to Wall Street. Thiel. Started PayPal.

Dave Ruben report. Peter Thiel.

Louise De Amato. White lives matter? March? Torn apart on Twitter. What happened to him, happened to me.

John Sack, who tried to get Brad’s jokes banned, thinks he was hemmed in by binary thinking.

6 Many Different Lives.

She asked if I was a woman? And I said, yeh. And she said Michigan is for women born women only. And you have to leave.

Nobody in this story intended for these things to lead to hatred.

Rebecca. Mixed race babies, unfamiliar. Race of familiar black. Race white. Mother black.  wrote The Colour Purple (Alice Walker).

Alice and Melvin’s goal to embody ideas. Vagaries of marriage. She moved to San Francisco and two years in Washington. My mum partnered with afroAmerican. Father, Jewish woman.

Wizard of Oz, auditioned and was given the part of the wicked witch of the North. I fancied a white boy. Brian North.

Back in black life. More accepting on the whole. Black relatives call me a ‘cracker’. Demonic, based on their horrendous treatment of black people. Part of whiteness. Moving from world to world like different planets.

Gloria Steinem was her godmother. New wave of feminism. 2nd phase of feminism. Betty Friedman’s book. 1963. Women had been struggling alone. Protesting for change. Equal rights. To have a job. To have respect. Won Roe v Wade 1973.

I had grown up in very feminist community. Propaganda against feminism incredibly strong. Called lesbians. Wouldn’t shave their legs. Whether lesbians should be included etc. Extremist movements. Post-feminism.

UCLA, intersectional feminists.

How can we re-define what the movement is?  I am not a post-feminist. I’m third generation feminism. Third wave.

They accused us of matricide. As if we had been replaced (murdered). We’ve been talking about this forever. This is not new.

Umbrella to gather under. For example, sexuality

Judith Butler, rethink gender categories. Trans-positive.

One is not born a woman. One becomes one. Simone de Beauvoir.

Isn’t tied to societal facts, but women’s movement should open up these categories.  

Mitch fest? Michigan fest. 1981 Overwhelming impression was breasts. Women removed their tops and shirts.

Lying on small bamboo mat. And smiling

Campsite for and built be women. Some partying. Some overthrowing patriarchy.

Nance Barcholder?  Mitchfest 1991.

I’d been cross-dressing over the years, but I knew I wasn’t gay. I went to see a therapist. I want to be a girl. Gender reassignment 1983.

I wasn’t go to come right out as trans. Went next year. Nancy’s friend, went away. A couple of women came up and they said we need to talk to you. This festival is for women only. Are you a women?

I said yes.

She asked, if I was transsexual. And I said, it was none of her business. I had a driving licence. I had a work record. And here I was being rejected.

Laura comes back and we drive away. We fly back to New Hampshire Bay Window, Boston magazine.

Acknowledged there were other transsexuals. But they didn’t ask gender.

Janice conducted survey. 75% felt they would have been very happy to be there. Following year, where we set up camp, across the road. Went back next year. Camp Trans. Hundreds of people came out.

Most festive goers are open-minded. Atmosphere of love and joy will bring us together.1995 Camp Trans escorted onto the land.

Camp trans and Mitch Fest under own group.

Pre-op, shouldn’t they be allowed into Mitchfest, because they couldn’t afford it? Point of division.

Mitch Blyh? Angry emails about Mitch fest no allowing trans into their festival. They wanted a name. Trans-Exclusionary-Radical-Feminist.

How TRANS people should be recognised. Self identify. Not having the medical establishment in Britain for example have you live as a woman for two years before gender reassignment surgery.

Mitchfest shut down. 1992. Became associated with exclusion. Third wave become fourth wave.

Rebecca? All experiments need to be rigorously accessed. 

Tone set by both sides, Alienation?

7 A Secret Behind a Fake Wall.

Edges of Hollywood. Isaac Kappy.

Filled with people imagined they’d been abandoned. Takes us

Wendy Kappy, mother born New Mexico.

Probducing acting.

Best friend ross. Hung out. Get on our bikes, cruise around. Monster Pools. Champagne Bikeride. Picked up.

Breaking Bad. Thor. Paid pet-store clerk.

He wanted to be a star and famous. Saw himself that way. Looked like could happen. 2011, Albuquerque industry died. Left and went to LA. Competing with 100 times number of people.

Issac struggled to find work. New best friends. Paris, Michael Jackson’s daughter. MacAulay Caulkin. He’d been a conspiracy theorist. About 9/11 being an inside job.

2016, during primaries.

He was a Bernie Sander’s supporter. They did all they could to stifle him. Felled by conspiracy. Took steps down rabbit hole.

Pizza Gate, secretly sex headquarters delivered children for sex and to eat.

Alex Jones, Pizza Gate is real.

December 4th  2016, family Pizza joint and opened fire. Admitted there were no dungeons. Intel. Not 100%

Then something happened.

Ross: I don’t know if I got the whole story. It’s a little uncomfortable, to talk about that. The incident. Tallies with March 2017. Confided with them, that certain people in Hollywood part of world-wide conspiracy. They told him he was right. And if he wanted to become a famous man. He had to come and rape the child behind a fake wall.

I got asked to join the Illuminati.

During the weeks that followed. Hollywood friends disturbed him further. He truly believed they had a child in a dungeon.

Came to Albuquerque. Stayed for a month. Breakdown.

After sitting on his secret for 8 months. On Alex Jones. Names his well-known friends. After that experience I tried to black it out. This is not a media stunt. I believe it.

When you go on Alex Jones and even he debunks your information.

Started posting periscopes online. Life links. QAnon. Trump had a masterplan to eliminate the Illuminati and Satanist child abusers. Narcissists.

Diagnosed with being a narcissist. Posted online. Paranoia. In LA asked a group of police officers to arrest him for his own safety.

Naming with no evidence, continuing names of Hollywood stars, with zero evidence. Went online. QAnon started re-posting his videos.

Ross: He got worried and stopped going out.

Answering questions from QAnon fans. Once I found out about PizzaGate…Maybe I’ll be back later.

Set off to visit his parents. He went over a bridge and died. Flagstaff, Arizona. Two men tried to save him. Fell backwards.

Ross talked to him last time. He apologised for things he’d done.

Incident happened around 7.30am. We were informed about 4.30pm.

Lowest things, people obtained pictures of his corpse and posted them online. YouTube refused to remove them.

May 13th 2019.

But this isn’t where his story ends.

Lin Wood said he’d been murdered. John Ziegler writing about him for decades.

Been deformation Covington Kentucky, as  if they were taunting native American, wearing Trump hats. Racists. Outrage.

Other videos questioning narrative. Lin Wood got settlement for kids.

They were out there going after those young boys. Cause celebrity among Trump world.

I though he was fantastic. Very logical. But in 2020, after Trump went overboard. Avalanche of insanity.

Bush, Clinton, Obama involved in child sex abuse and murder.

Kappy was about to heroically deliver the tape to Trump before he was murdered.

He’d been working to try and get the election changed.

Trump’s official lawyers told zero chance of getting elected.

Outside lawyers. Came in. Insane solutions. Lin Wood. Online elements. Read the same stuff online. Information silos.

Jonathan’s story inside Trump’s head.

Sidney Powell, information conspiracy. Trump puts her on mute. Then unmutes and asks her what are we going to do? Sometimes we need a little crazy. So what are we going to do?

Insurrectionists, support Stop the Steal.

Lin Wood any attempts to connect them to insurrection are nonsense.

It’s good v evil.

Trump allowed this destabilising farce because sometimes you need a little crazy.

8 A Mock Slave Auction.

How the school text book wars have become so pervasive we can’t escape them. So You’ve Been Publically Shamed,  Jon Ronson.

Traverse City, Michigan.

Naeve Walston? aged 16. Last April 2021. Hey, Snapchat? my friends trying this group. Late at night. texted. This is really bad. You were in it. You were sold?

Invite only. SnapChat.

92% Travis City White.

Auctioned for $100 but went for $3.

Some of the stuff being said. Good for cotton. Cherry picking. All blacks should die. Eugh and gross.

1.2million slaves sold 1760 -1860.

I’ve lived a sheltered existence. Kinda tension when slavery was mentioned. Never experienced racism in LA. Wow, this town isn’t a friendly as I thought.

Scheduled school board meeting. Just regular meeting. 7 school board meeting sit in circle. 3 minutes questioned by public.

Not an isolated incident. Paul Sinclair, educator. Mr Sinclair, but as soon as I walk out the door, black man. Stopped 13 times in a month by police.

2 page draft resolution. Immediate opportunities to learn about racism. Anti-hate learning.

School board meetings no longer modestly attended.

Identical scenes across America but fundamental change.

‘God loves you, but I’m not judging you’ (but I am).

Let’s look under the hood…CRT (Critical Race Theory) shorthand for all racist ideas. Tucker Carlson.  Robin DiAngelo White Fragility.

John McWhirter. Nobody

Robin DiAngelo white role in systemic racism. Death threats. Single mum. Living in car. Feed of clothes of house us. Mom became sick. Cancer. Don’t tell anyone. She died when I was 11.

Went to college when she was 28. Career centre. Divesity training. Go out into field. Typically, 100% white. Meanness. Any suggesting racism was systemic.

Origin moment. Essay. Then book.

Fragility how little it takes to cause offence.

2018. Black Lives Matter. Books sold in droves. New York Times bestseller. George Floyd’s murder. That’s the narrative. But it had already been in the top 10.

I signed up for one of Robin’s workshops. Bowled over for couple of hours. Seas of white faces. Statistics. 93% white what shows we see. 82% school teachers.

Unsure, living in car. I knew it was better being white. How can you measure that? White priviledge. Eg Opiod addiction

Robin. How are we going to help people with opioids? How are we going to criminalise these (black) crack addicts?

If you are white your opinons are going to be superficial and ill-informed. Devote years to study and practice. Everyone’s opinion aren’t equal.

Dick Gregory ‘Nigger’.

Dean fired/suspended. Student pushing for dismissal. All that mattered was the impact.

Robin: I think intentions irrelevant? What we’ve got to focus on impact.

We emailed her, the gist of what I offered that student.

Dick Gregory, where the willing to engage in academic discourse?

I tell Robin about Traversee sister.

‘Yes, our ancestors made mistakes…’

Let’s move on.

Robin, oops. I made a mistake…

Being silenced. I’m going to go the biggest elephant in the room. People with investment in the status quo.

Anger, in Traverse City, people being told they need to be good in a different way.

Isn’t Robin’s fault. 1300 CRT mentioned on Fox News.

Trump mentions it again and again. Something to rally against.

Naeve. We acknowledge racism and we’re going to do everything we can. No teaching of CRT.

Fudge. Appease divided community. Many echoes of past repetitions pulling more and more things into its orbits.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed?

How we should be more empathetic. Fleeting mentions of bestiality and porn-shoot. As with Roger McGough, an optional book.

Two teachers suspended for putting the book on the reading list.

Biggest ambition, culture  wars not becoming culture wars. After Tammy’s episode, so many messages of support.

Saved by a Stranger, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, Presenter Anita Rani and Director Toby Trackman.

Brixton born Marc

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000vlpr/saved-by-a-stranger-series-1-1-karl-and-emina

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000vszb/saved-by-a-stranger-series-1-2-marc-and-peter

 The format for this serious is simple, and it’s in the title. People who have been caught up in some traumatic, life-changing event, and some stranger has stepped in to help them. I’m sure I watched the last series, but can’t remember if I did. It’s a feel-good programme.  

The cynical part of me suspects if  an American documentary maker made this programme there would be supernatural elements, but the only angels here are real people. Anita Rani meets with Karl and Emina in the first episode and Marc and Peter in the second episode and does a bit of acting: Will we find these strangers, she asks? That’s like asking will Kylie and Jason Donovan marry in the final episode of Neighbours—of course they will—and live happily ever after?

Karl was in the train carriage where 26 people died on London’s Piccadilly underground line on the 7/7/2005 (another 26 died when a bomb went off on a bus). He was a student dancer, training to be a professional. After the explosion, he prayed to God to let him out, ‘I won’t be gay any more’, was his bargaining chip. God knew he was lying, because He was God, but He also had foreknowledge of the 7/7 bombings and that Karl would push past the stranger that held his hand and told him it would be alright, in his rush to escape from the carriage.

God would also know about the atrocities in Sarajevo during the Bosnia and Herzegovina war in 1992. He would know that a doctor would arrange for Emina and her sister, Edina, who required surgery and had Down’s syndrome to escape on a bus, taking young mothers and kids out of the sieged state to live in Birmingham. God would know that some of the older boys would be taken off buses and shot, and buried in mass graves. Buses would be blown up crossing bridges. But Emina and Edina and their mother would make it to safety. He would know that their dad made the right choice not getting on the bus, despite their mother begging him. And he too would join them in Britain. God would know Britain hates refugees—and poor people, in particular, even their own citizens that have the wrong colour of skin— but since this is a feel-good story, we’ll kid on we don’t. He’ll know that Anita Rani will go through the charade of not being able to find the paediatric doctor who now lives and worked in Holland.

God, despite hating gay people, killing them with AIDs, and in the words of former police chief of Greater Manchester, Sir James Anderton, ‘swirling around in a cesspit of their own making’ will know he’ll get the backing of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Brixton born black boy Marc will be diagnosed with HIV at the age of seventeen. Marc will find a saviour in a counsellor called John (Wilks) and a place of safety in the Landmark Centre. God will know that the Tories will unleash savage policies in the name of fiscal prudence which took money from the poor to give to the rich and shut off local authority programmes like Surestart and close places like the Landmark Centre.

God will know about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. He’ll know about the Brexit border and every lie that Boris Johnson has told. Yet, God will know that the English voters found the little Trump to be good. He’ll know about Peter being shot in the legs by Ulster Protestant paramilitaries in 1979, and how his wife suffered post-traumatic stress disorder hit the booze and died young. God knows Peter will make it and have a pile of grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Peter will never forget the angel, a nurse called Betsy that pulled him through his darkest days in hospital. God knows Anita Rami will go through the usual hee-haw of being unable to find her, but then, suddenly, a chink of light. Ahhhhhhhhh…that’s nice.    

Prejudice and Pride: The People’s History of LGBTQ Britain, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, director James Giles.

download.jpg

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p0578x02/prejudice-and-pride-the-peoples-history-of-lgbtq-britain-series-1-episode-1

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08zn99q/prejudice-and-pride-the-peoples-history-of-lgbtq-britain-series-1-episode-2

Presenters Susan Calaman and Stephen K Amos take us viewers through 50 years of LGBTQ history from before and after the (partial) decriminalisation of homosexuality in the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer people (quite a mouthful) could no longer be prosecuted for being LGBTQ.  But as we see here it was a bit like the Hays Code in Motion Pictures. Gay men had to have sex behind closed doors with other consenting men, and they had to be 21, or look older than your dad. They couldn’t put one foot on the floor or being seen to be enjoying themselves. They couldn’t join the armed forces or they’d soon by forcibly ejected.

I know you’re not meant to find that funny, but I thought of my old man, Dessy and his mate Jimmy Mac. They were boys, young men, that saw their army  pals die during the Second World War in the Gothic Line. They were mirror images of each other’s prejudices. But Jimmy confided to my da, one drunken night, that his son was a poof.

Dessy shook his head and told Jimmy, ‘we cannae have that. You’ll need to have a word wae ‘im’.

Homosexuals are marginalised in our society. As we become less tolerant, in other societies, more conservative, homosexuals can be stoned to death.  LGBTQ  ask all of those rich, white men, who make the rules a simple –existential- question: who are we? And more importantly, why do we need to pretend?

One of the characters in the novel I’m writing, Bruno, mirrors those ideas. He name-checks Peter Tatchell in an argument about adoption (which reminds me I’ve probably spelt his name wrong).

With nowhere else to go, even after the 1967 Act, one homosexual man admitted, cottaging, was easier and even fun. He pulled out a map of London and showed viewers the route he drove in his Ford Cortina. Those were largely happy memories for him.  George Michael was also caught having sex in a public toilet in the United States, which for a multimillionaire seems a rather queer thing to do, or maybe not.

The AIDS epidemic that hit America and was imported into Britain had a devastating effect. ‘God’s wrath,’  ‘Gay plague,’ and I think it was Tebbit that described it as a ‘cesspool of their own making.’ Thatcher, or course, tried to ban gays from being gay, local authorities and schools in particular from promoting homosexuality. Just the same as Prime Minister David Cameron held up a list of people, living off the state, and having the wrong kind of children, poor children, to demonise and publicly excoriate, we have here the controversial schoolbook that kicked it all off, Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin.  Whisper it, Eric and Martin are men, homosexuals! They probably went to Heaven nightclub in London, which was meant to be rocking and the place to be. Kenny Everett went there, which was probably a good reason for going somewhere else. Each to their own.

Thatcher’s wrath was worse than God’s wrath. At least God doesn’t drone on about leaving a better society. Emmm maybe He does. This documentaries not Calvinistic doom and gloom, and I told you so.

The legacy of LGBTQ was played out in Brookside, East Enders and Queer as Folk. Even Catholic Ireland voted to allow civil marriages of persons of the same gender. God bless us all, equally, apart from the Tory’s.  That’s nothing to do with gender. It’s to do with a lack of class. I’m sure God doesn’t give a flying fuck what we do with our squiggly bits, and neither do I. But if you’re a Tory, you’re scum to me. And you can go and fuck yourself. We’ve all got our prejudices. There’s mine out there. Why should we pretend?

Damian Barr (2013) Maggie & Me

 

 

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

henrietta lacks

In Nick Hornby’s book About a Boy made into a 2002 film, also about a boy, but with the big buck’s bonus of Hugh Grant as the lead, Will Freeman, bonds with a young boy and kids on he’s a single parent to get into the pants of Rachel Weisz, who’s definitely all woman, and not an LA hooker, the fiction is that Freeman can only live the life of Reilly because he inherited the rights to the song ‘Happy Birthday’. Every time it was sung in the world it began to rain dollar bills on him.

Imagine a world in which the family of Bill Gates couldn’t afford a computer were living on welfare or locked in a cycle of dead-end jobs or prison. Imagine a world in which ways of editing the germ-line of genes, Crispr, and changing the face and bodies of humanity and other species, curing cancer and AIDs, worth billions of dollars is the frontline of research by the growing biotech industries and go back to 1951.

Maverick scientist George Gey’s assistant took cell samples of tissue from Henrietta Lack’s cervix, which proved to be cancerous. 15 000 women a year were dying from cervical cancer. Herietta Lacks was no exception. She died in agony in the public wards of John Hopkins hospital segregated from white people ‘the blackness be spreadin all inside’ her. They were sure Henrietta Lack’s tissue would die too, as so many tissue cultures had died before it, but it did something extraordinary, it lived on to circle the earth and be taken into orbit by astronauts. HeLa cells were the Adam and Eve of tissue culture. It was traded and sold and still exists, but in modified form, much as the original Windows operating system lives on.

Rebecca Skloot (2010) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks wasn’t the first to investigate what happened to the husband and three small children, two still in diapers, she left behind, but she was the most comprehensive, gaining the families trust, and in particular that of Henrietta’s daughter Deborah. All of the family have health problems. Deborah for example quotes what the Social Security people said about her.

I’m paranoid, I’m schizophrenia, I’m nervous. I got anxiety, depression, degenerating kneecaps, bursitis, bulged discs in my back, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cholesterol…’

Deborah doesn’t wish to be immortal.

Truth be told, I can’t be mad at science, because it help people live, and I’d be a mess without it… but I won’t lie, I would like some health insurance so I don’t got to pay all that health insurance every month for drugs my mother cells probably helped make.’

Henrietta’s youngest son is mad, constantly beaten as child, nicknamed Crazy Joe as an adult, he found Islam in prison, where he served time for murder after stabbing another black men straight through the heart with a knife, and he changed his name to Zakarihya. New start. Same old Crazy Joe when he came out. The truth teller.

Them doctors say her cells is so important and did all this and that to help people. But it didn’t do no good for her, and it didn’t do no good for us. If me and my sister need something, we can’t even see a doctor because we can’t afford it. Only people that got any good from my mother’s cells is the people that got money, and whoever sellin those cells—they get rich off mother and we got nothing.’

Crazy Joe recognises there is a law for the rich and a law for the poor. But Rebecca Skloot gets inside the nuclear family, even though she’s white, by being honest, hardworking, sympathetic and poor. We need more Rebecca Skloots clones in this world. Ask yourself this question would a biotech company exploit a nice middle-class boy like Hugh Grant in the same way? Crazy Joe is the sanest man this side of the moon.

http://unbound.co.uk/books/lily-poole