Monday, January 23, 2012

Our Strange Culture and the Patriot Act

Before I get started, allow me a moment to wish you all a Happy Chinese New Year of the Dragon. Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) and Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese)! I hope this new year becomes a happy event for all.


Now to get started. We do have a rather "Strange Culture" anymore, from what I know of it, anyway. First, let me just say outright that we need to repeal the so very unpatriotic (and so called), "Patriot Act".

I see nothing Patriotic in it. In fact, it strikes me as a rather cowardly, fear mongering act of a bunch of "cowboys" who were in office at the time (cough, cough, Bush, Bush....).

We do not now have a culture like we did when that act was being discussed, nor like when it was passed, nor even afterward. IF there are "terrorists" out there trying to get us, I have two things to say about that. One, we have laws covering this already. Two, if there is a culture in the world where people want to kill us, we need to be adult about it, intellectual about it, figure out what the problem is, and fix it. Or simply draw faster then they do.

Also, this is what we have "intelligence" agencies for. If you cut their resources so they have no money to do their job, as they started doing in the 80s, then this is the situation you will find yourself in. But you don't throw out the constitution because this is hard on us. That, is what I find "cowardly".

Otherwise, the Patriot Act is simply yet another American easy way out method of "fixing" our troubles.

I just watched a documentary called, "Strange Culture". What a strange thing it was. Strange, scary, irritating. Remember when the government used to fun the Arts? Why did things go so wrong, that this is a no go any longer? Who was mismanaging our Government so that we cannot afford to move forward on the path to more leisure for our citizens, and more arts and sciences? And not sciences solely for the benefit of the corporations.
Hope Kurtz
The "Strange Culture" documentary is about an art Professor and professional artist woke to find his wife had died in bed. She was young in her forties, attractive, and fully supportive of her husband and the art collective he was involved in. When the paramedics came to their home, they saw part of the new art project he was working on and called someone. Soon, the FBI got involved.

It's a cause and a situation that had brought in the likes of actress Tilda Swinton as Hope, Jay Ryan as Steve, along with Peter Coyote and Wallace Shawn Thomas.

From Wikipedia:
Steve Kurtz - Really, this guy is a Terrorist?
"Steve Kurtz is a professor of art at the SUNY Buffalo, former professor of art history at Carnegie Mellon University and a founding member of the performance art group, Critical Art Ensemble. He is known for his work in BioArt, and Electronic Civil Disobedience, and because of his arrest by the FBI in May 2004. His work often deals with social criticism."

Rather than simply first listening to what the artist had to say and checking it out, they became proactive and rather than check out intellectually, using "intelligence" (in the information gathering sense, as well as in the use your damn head, sense) to discern what he had actually been doing, which would also have saved the US citizen millions I'm sure, they instead treated the Professor like he was a "terrorist".

This man, who was distraught over the death of his wife, was harangued, harassed, indicted, and put on trial. A process that lasted several years and cost him his money, time, energy, and nearly his sanity and his health and could have ended him up in prison. For having done, nothing, illegal.

Is this the kind of America we want? Because it seems to me that if it is, then we aren't any longer the tough, self-assured kinds of American I've always known us to be. Rather we have somehow morphed into a bunch of school girls, fearful of the playground bullies.

Steve's friends started a petition when all this started up. Some of his art students signed it. But some were afraid to. Why? Why, were US citizens, of the "greatest country in the history of the world", afraid of their own government, of speaking out under the First Amendment, of standing up to say they believed someone was innocent? Innocent until proven guilty. Unless someone labels you as a "terrorist".

And what is a terrorist? Is it someone you "think" might be one, or do something that makes them one, or is it someone who has done a terrorist act? Yes, it would be nice to catch terrorists before they act. But look at what it's gotten us. People afraid to speak out when they know someone is innocent.


The "Patriot Act".


  1. First off you have to remember that we are also a nation of, and please forgive me here, the "Idiocracy" environment. I loved the movie and laughed hysterically but when I actually thought about the basis of that story it saddened and frighgtened me because it rings all too true. Education has gone downhill in this country. I agree that Bush began all this but we as the American people sat back and allowed it to happen. This is what happens when we allow our government to control every aspect wthout understanding the consequences or seriously questioning their motives. I really feel that this is at least partly to do with the Idiocracy factor. If some of the people, and not just Americans but every nationality that lives in our country were more educated it is possible they would better understand the way the government works and be able to make independant decisions more easily. Moreover they would tend to question more readily and would be better prepared to argue the powers that be about government decisions that have lasting effects on us all. Just my humble opinion.

  2. I fully agree. We do have an education issue here. But one might expect the FBI's "Special" Agents to have, uh, better education and intelligence just from the reqs for being able to BE a Special Agent (Why are they so special?). What I've also noticed though, is that people in positions like that, tend not to want to speak up and push to their surperiors (used tentatively) to go about things in a more effecacious way, to get to the point and to find out the truth and therefore not waste our resources as happened in this situation. Thanks.

  3. Under the guise of fighting terrorism, the Patriot Act was adopted WITHOUT public approval or vote just weeks after the events of 9/11. A mere 3 criminal charges of terrorism a year are attributed to this act, which is mainly used for no-knock raids leading to drug-related arrests without proper cause for search and seizure. The laws are simply a means to spy on our own citizens and to detain and torture dissidents without trial or a right to council. You can read much more about living in this Orwellian society of fear and see my visual response to these measures on my artist’s blog at