Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Chinese Dissident Blogger Stabbed During Bookstore Reading

Posted in censorship, internet by allisonkilkenny on February 15, 2009

Times Online

china_stretcher_487440aOne of China’s most famous bloggers was stabbed at the weekend.

Xu Lai, the writer behind Pro-State in Flames, was speaking at the One Way Street bookshop in Beijing on Saturday afternoon when he was attacked, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported. He had been speaking for a couple of hours and was answering questions when a fracas erupted.

His wife said that two men forced Xu Lai into the men’s toilet. She chased after them and found that one was holding a vegetable knife and the other a dagger. The men escaped, leaving Xu Lai on the ground with a cut to his stomach.

A report on the English-language blog Black and White Cat noted that “Xu Lai may not have the megastar status of Han Han, but he’s very much an A-list blogger.”

The Southern Metropolis Daily said: “Xu Lai is a low-key sort of person and he’s just a science journalist who wouldn’t provoke anyone. However, there are many things on his blog that can touch a nerve and he has probably made enemies that way.”

The newspaper quoted a witness as saying that they heard one of his attackers say: “You brought this on yourself. You know why we’re doing this, don’t you?”

However, this could also refer to a personal feud as much as to any ideological vendetta over views expressed in his blog.

Mr Xu is famous for his biting and often sarcastic style in commenting on social and political issues. He is an editor at the popular Beijing News daily and his book Fanciful Animals was published last November. His blog is believed to carry many entries penned by other contributors.

Blogs are extremely popular in China, where newspapers are heavily censored. Cyberspace police patrol the internet, swiftly closing sites deemed too risqué, but they remain the most important medium for self-expression in China.

George Carlin: Comic, Artist, Fearless, Old Bastard

Posted in censorship, comedy by allisonkilkenny on June 23, 2008

George Carlin: May 12, 1937-June 22, 2008

Carlin was arrested because of his “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television.” He was charged with violating “obscenity laws.”

In 1973, a man complained to the FCC that his son had heard a later, similar routine, “Filthy Words”, from Occupation: Foole, broadcast one afternoon over WBAI, a Pacifica Foundation FM radio station in New York City. Pacifica received a citation from the FCC, which sought to fine Pacifica for allegedly violating FCC regulations which prohibited broadcasting “obscene” material. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the FCC action, by a vote of 5 to 4, ruling that the routine was “indecent but not obscene”, and the FCC had authority to prohibit such broadcasts during hours when children were likely to be among the audience.

Carlin was the first-ever host of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, debuting on October 11, 1975.

Carlin: By Jamie Kilstein

“I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.” -G.C.

Watching standup on TV today you would think the quote was “I think the duty of the comedian is to find the line, then run from that line as fast as humanly possible, hide behind a nearby tree, then write that family comedy spec-script you’ve been kicking around for years.”

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When Carlin and Bruce were playing dives, standup was still counter-culture. You could get arrested for speaking. They got arrested for speaking. George used to be a wacky-faced suit-and-tie observational standup until the day he saw Lenny Bruce — until he saw what standup could truly be: the art of pushing peoples’ buttons. I know a lot of people felt the same way when they saw Carlin for the first time. That “oh shit” moment when you realize you’re a fraud and everything you’re doing is dogshit. Many comics ran home to their notebooks after hearing Carlin talk about drugs, censorship, or religion. Most, after that long night of soul-searching, got on stage two days later and talked about their girlfriends’ periods, completely selling out last night’s soul, instead opting for the easy road to Nowhere. How many comics still talk about what people already know, and what no one is afraid of because they figure there will always be guys like George? Well, now there aren’t.

Anytime a club owner, a member of the audience, a parent, an agent, a college agent, a manager, or a TV executive tells you “You can’t say that,” say “Fuck you. I just did. That means you’re wrong.” Then, think of George: hippy in handcuffs being dragged out of a club after knowingly breaking the law by saying what he wanted to say, smiling big, and thinking about how he would work this into the act.

I only met him once. I was with my best friends at the time and we thanked him for paving the way for edgy comics. He looked at us, and referring to the many people that would tell us what we could and could not say, he said: “Eh! Put a finger in their eye!” Perfect.

The good news is this: the comics he did influence will take this art form even further, and find more lines to cross. There may only be a few, but there was only one Carlin and look what that motherfucker did. George Carlin died today. He got high and wrote jokes ’til his last breath. Perfect.

Those Crazy Liberals!

Posted in activism, censorship by allisonkilkenny on January 21, 2008

Those Crazy Liberals!

Last night, two Dennis Kucinich supporters screamed during Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. They rudely interrupted Jay’s Bill Maher interview. The audience seemed confused, Bill and Jay seemed pissed.

In Bill’s defense, the Loose Change crazies have been hounding him for years now, and periodically infiltrate his Real Time sound studio to shout their poorly synchronized slogans. So Bill’s not that keen on people shouting crap at him, and he might have thought it was 9/11 conspiratorial nonsense. I’m assuming this because Bill Maher should know more than anyone the importance of free speech, and surely he doesn’t believe the only people allowed to express their opinions are individuals with HBO talk shows.

The Kucinich supporters yelled two slogans: “Let Dennis debate! Stop censorship! Help save democracy!” and “GE, NBC, Put Impeachment on TV!”

Jay asked the audience if anyone could understand what they said, the crowd murmured, a few smatterings of “no,” and the show moved on.

The entire interaction was about a minute long. It was awkward. I cringed through the whole thing.

Why do crazy liberals do things like that? I say liberals because you rarely see a suit-wearing Conservative hold up a sad, limp piece of cardboard during the Republican debates with a psychotically lettered message of: “MORE PRIVATIZATION!!!” scrawled across its face.

“TWO, FOUR, SIX, EIGHT!….KEEP DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING! THINGS ARE GREAT FOR US RICH PEOPLE!”

This is uncommon because random acts of desperate protest are reserved for a repressed, voiceless minority. Except, in America, the silenced minority is actually the majority. Most of us are poor, can’t afford health insurance, think the Iraq war is pointless, and would like to mend our country’s world image.

With all that being said, why are people continually shocked by these random outbreaks? I’m shocked there’s not MORE of them.

Maybe it’s because the protests of the sixties, and all the hippy girls placing flowers in the barrels of soldiers’ guns, are considered cliché because liberals are way too cool to protest now. To protest you have to be — like, you know — angry and shit. It’s very uncool to scream passionately about something. It’s disruptive and rude. It doesn’t accomplish anything. We’ve heard all these reasons to shut up and sit down before.

And yet, people keep protesting. Their numbers are fewer now, but you still see them. They’re the annoying hippies that get in the way of your daily routines. They’re the 80 activists in Washington, who wore orange jumpsuits and black hoods outside the Supreme Court, protesting Guantanamo. Sometimes, they lay down in streets to block traffic, or they walk into St. Patrick’s Cathedral and lay down in the aisles to symbolize the causalities of the AIDS epidemic as the ACT-UP members did in 1989. Sometimes they ride bikes, or paint their faces, or wear crazy outfits.

The point is: they keep resisting. They keep resisting even when most citizens give them the stink-eye when they cause traffic jams and make a lot of noise.

Why would any sane person publicly humiliate themselves like that? What force drives people to stand up and start screaming like they’re on fire?

Sane people only scream when they feel they have no other outlet for their voices. Bill Maher and Jay Leno have a public stage from which they can voice their political views. Jay uses his stage for comedy (I’m using the loose definition of comedy,) and Bill uses his stage for comedy (real definition), political discussion, and to show off his balls of steel when he dismisses the existence of God.

Whoever these Dennis Kucinich supporters are, they clearly felt enough desperation to risk embarrassment and jail time in order to reach a mainstream audience about what they perceived as social injustice. That’s not crazy. That’s brave. That’s braver than most of us will ever be during our measly little lives.

I propose this: those protesters didn’t interrupt a late night talk show. That late night talk show interrupted what should be our collective outrage. We should all be so furious and outspoken. Instead, we all slowly blinked and stared glassy-eyed at the television and computer screens, our mouths opening and closing like grazing cows’.

Protesting is a healthy part of any democracy, and yet it is increasingly marginalized as a form of communication. Instead of carefully regulating media activity, the FCC and its soulless Harry Potter king, Kevin Martin, have opened the door to all kinds of insane mergers of already monstrously large corporations. Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp recently absorbed The Wall Street Journal and the latest word from Wall Street is that the Sirius and XM merger is back on the table. All the while, more fringe voices are forced out or silenced by new uber-management at the helm of these giant corporations.

So as the public airwaves are bought and sold to huge conglomerates, the networks’ voices become narrower and simultaneously louder as more mergers occur. They pump into the public one truth — their truth — and silence any form of protest.

This brings us back to little Dennis Kucinich. NBC is a major network owned by a multinational conglomerate, GE. When the higher-ups (several of who include contributors to other presidential candidates) decided Kucinich’s voice was not essential to the debate, they nixed him several days AFTER telling Kucinich’s people he met the requirements to debate.

Using insane doublespeak that would make Orwell vomit blood, NBC claimed Dennis Kucinich was violating THEIR first amendment rights by fighting, biting, and clawing his way onto their precious, pure network, and sullying everything with his liberal propaganda. To be fair, though, I hear Dennis is terrifying in real life. Brian Williams says his eyes glow red in the dark.

And so we arrive back at forms of protest. Forced off NBC’s airwaves, Dennis appeared on DemocracyNow!, a daily independent news program hosted by Amy Goodman. Goodman showed footage of the NBC debate, and then periodically cut back to Kucinich so he had time to give his answers.

How sad is that? That’s what Democracy is becoming in America…a fake debate. Goodman and Kucinich should be applauded for their form of stubborn protest, but everyone else: GE, NBC, and all participants of the fake Nevada debate, should feel ashamed and embarrassed for our supposed democracy.

The Lamest Tug-of-War Game Ever

Posted in censorship, media, religion by allisonkilkenny on December 9, 2007

By Allison Kilkenny at Huffington Post

The Lamest Tug-of-War Game Ever

NBC finally caved and will air the commercial from the Conservative website, Freedomswatch.org.

I visited the Freedomswatch.org website. There’s a bald eagle on the front page’s banner, which flanks an American flag carved in the shape of the United States. As you probably guessed, the central color theme of the page is red, white, and blue.

On the sidebar, there’s a picture of primarily white individuals (it’s nice to see Republicans have stopped pretending a lot of black people vote for them) beneath the exclamation: THANK YOU! And beneath: “Learn how you can Support the Troops by clicking here.”

I can honestly say there wasn’t a single minute that I feared for my life or the sanctity of my most sacredly held liberal ideologies. Sure, Conservatives run the site, but so what? There’s wasn’t vicious libel anywhere – no one called Hillary Clinton a bitch or liar. The group wants deregulation and hates radical Islam. They want drugs off the streets and lower taxes. No one should be surprised by this agenda.

Last week, FOX news refused to air a commercial staring Danny Glover. The commercial’s thesis was that President Bush and his cronies are destroying the Constitution. Actually, taking the Constitution and putting it through an office shredder, if one interprets the commercial literally.

FOX’s ban stunk of fear, and so did NBC’s initial ban on Freedomswatch.org. If your ideologies can be destroyed by a 30-second clip of an aged actor from Lethal Weapon, they probably weren’t made of the same minerals upon which God chiseled the 10 Commandments.

So NBC caved, and FOX did not. This is a model of larger United States politics: the liberals cave, the conservatives give everyone the finger.

The two parties (and television stations) are obviously at odds, and I’m not saying there can ever be hope of some kind of victory until liberals stop pretending like we can co-exist with bible-thumping, racist, xenophobes.

However, if we can’t even air each other’s commercials, then we’re in more trouble than I initially thought. People can’t seriously talk about uniting the country, debating religion VS. science and diplomacy VS. military when we fear each other so greatly that we can’t bear the exposure to an opposing philosophy for the duration of a fart.

At least with FOX, they’re not pretending to tolerate the liberals on NBC. NBC is the only one guilty of pretending to be tolerant. They smile and condescendingly pat the “crazy patriots” on their heads, and they play their little commercial. Meanwhile, liberal elites chuckle about the silly illiterate zealots.

At summer camp, you were always guaranteed victory in tug-of-war by securing the alliance of the fat kid. With him as your team’s anchor, you were destined for victory.

But how do you win an ideological tug-of-war?

Martin Luther King Jr. said you march to peace. George W. Bush said you bomb the shit out the darkies. FOX and NBC say you build walls, cover your ears, and scream so loud that you can’t hear your neighbors.

Despite my distaste for the cultural elite, I am glad NBC chose to air the commercial if only to show they are full of love, tolerance, and forgiveness…kind of like this one bearded dude, who lived a long time ago. Stick that one in O’Reilly’s craw.