Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 11/23/02
In a prior
essay I detailed my disgust over the bastardization of such
terms as Liberal, Conservative, & Libertarian. My beef was with how the
current claimants to those terms bear little relation to the original meanings
of those terms. For example, no true Liberal would support Political
Correctness, no true Conservative would be against gay rights or abortion, &
no true Libertarian would be against unfettering government constraints against
corporations because that is antithetical to the idea of individual civil
liberties, as are the aforementioned stances on PC, gay rights, & abortion
antithetical to their respective causes.
In this brief piece I want to detail some of the hypocrisies I’ve encountered on a personal level in my dealings with so-called Liberals. The 1st is an encounter with a Unitarian group I had in the early 1990s. I had started attending a singles group at the First Unitarian Society in Minneapolis. It’s a stone’s throw away from the famed Walker Arts Center. I did not hide my reasons- I was there to meet babes. Unfortunately I encountered a closed-mindedness & bigotry more apropos to a John Birch Society. Initially we would do ‘Singles-type’ stuff, & the conversations would follow along such lines. Not too soon I noticed a subtle kind of indoctrination process. The leaders tried to enforce a very PC Elitist attitude. Naturally, this conflicted with my sensibilities. When talking about great films I mentioned D.W. Griffith’s Birth Of A Nation. I was scorned for even mentioning it. How could I even remotely defend such a work of propaganda? Well, of course, the idea that a work of art should 1st be judged by its artistic merit was lost on them. Of course, I find its message revulsive, but there is opportunity to learn from the film- especially its impact during the time. Another area where I was a walking solecism was when I argued against the ideas that gay people are born that way. I argued against that from 1) my own personal knowledge of gay people I knew & worked with, & learning their histories, & 2) from a philosophical standpoint that that reduces people to automata merely controlled by random chromosomes & proteins. Nonsense, I said, if there was a way to ever empirically get to the root of a person’s sexual orientation & you had 1000 gay folk to study, my guess is you’d have damn near 1000 complex reasons for why that person was the way they were- JUST AS the same would be true were you to group 1000 shy people, or 1000 Conservatives, or 1000 body builders. Needless to say, I was branded a wanton homophobe- a term, incidentally, that no gay person has wafted my way. Why? I suspect it’s because I am a civil libertarian, don’t give a damn who’s fucking who, or why?, support the rights of gays to kill for their country, marry, have families, & enjoy all the benefits non-gay folk do. Hardly the resumé of a fag-basher! 1 day I’ll go in to why I believe the term homophobe is misleading & downright wrong when applied to most folk uncomfy around gays- but that’s another essay!
So, here I am as live & let live as they get, yet branded a racist & homophobe. Of course, the grim specter of misogyny was not far behind! I asked out several of the woman, in my usual direct style, I was rejected by them- 1 girl had a panic attack & moved out of Minneapolis, & another- a substitute school teacher, a few years later when she saw me at a local mall, LITERALLY hid behind a counter to avoid me. It was comical but sad. Of course, their reasons for rejection were my prior ‘acknowledged’ status as enemy to black & gay folk both. Oh, did I mention that there were no black or gay folk in this group of 25-30 who labeled me a racist & homophobe? These were all well-fed whitebread Minnesotan white collar liberals- in short, neurotics. There was a lactose intolerant girl whose fiancé was an Air Force Reservist- she would have panic attacks whenever anyone would ask her to explain an opinion. There was a girl with a mustache that had similar difficulties dealing with challenges to her own world view, There was a guy with tics who would uncontrollably twitch when spoken to- not just queried, but if you said hi! There was a tall stunningly good-looking & ripening Amazon girl a few months shy of being legal- her schtick was rebelling against her mom, who was a local Republican politician. Then there was the ostensible group leader- a neurotic who welded penguin statues to the top of his car- don’t ask. Another guy also had panic attacks- I forget the particulars but they differed from the others in slight ways. The only positive was I met my best male friend, Joe, there. This is not to say that he did not have issues, to boot. He’s just more in touch with his own failings & strengths. Like me, he was there to meet babes, & actually succeeded in taking the mustache girl’s virginity!
Soon, I was kicked out- because the FUS could not tolerate people who questioned their values. I answered I never signed up to take a class in their values, just to meet babes. What was funny was how they kicked me out. The penguin guy was too gutless to do it so he got this old, fat ugly woman named Peg Bundy (or something akin) to do his dirty work. So, at the meeting they did it we were there & penguin guy no-showed. In walks this moral monstrosity of a woman & she, phony smile plastered on her face, starts shaking people’s hands & introducing herself, & asking the group member’s names. When she gets to me her smile disappears & she & 1 of the tic guys go in to another room. She decries me as a racist, homophobe, & other things, & says I should never come back. Stunned at the group’s lack of maturity, deception, & cowardice, I decided not to make a scene. Later that night I spoke with Joe. He said he was shocked at their treatment of me, but- in fashion to his true wimpy self- he did not quit the group in protest- he still saw more opportunities for poon-tang. Years later, when local tabloid City Pages did a story on me, Joe related this tale & was a bit deceptive as to the circumstances, & the Unitarians’ duplicity in their treatment of me. He also neglected to mention that about 2 years later the Unitarians booted his ass out after he refused to tithe part of his salary to them. Yes, they expected a TITHE! All-in-all, aside from the ills this group, & its individual members, suffered from they also had a rampant classism against me, & a few other members who were not white collar. But, I was the only person who suffered from this who stood up & tossed it in their smug faces.
I don’t doubt that the majority of these mental cases consider themselves liberals, although their actions clearly revealed them to be left wing bigots, vote straight Democratic lines, still wallow in their self-indulgent neuroses & such. & it’s a shame, because my views were very reasonable to an unbiased eye. But today’s ‘liberals’ believe they cannot be bigots, even when they practice exclusionism, classism, & downright snobbery! The unfortunate thing is that these liberal Unitarians seemed to have far more in common with the more traditional religiots they scorn for their own brands of intolerance & bigotry. It’s people & groups like this that make it so easy for other left wing nuts to see nothing but hate & fear in all organized religion. By contrast I see nothing but weakness & delusion. Religion, like homosexuality, has little to do with my everyday existence. I’m not gay. I’m not religious. But that does not stop my mind from opining on those & other subjects not dear to me.
The genesis for these musings lies in my recent attempt to participate in a live & online group called the Dead Theologians Society. This is a group founded my radio personality & would-be holy man Ian Punnett. Punnett is 1 of the few religious folk who genuinely seems open-minded. In a way he much reminds me of UPGer Bruce Ario. Unfortunately, the online DTS (to which IP has no control over) can be sort of the mirror image of the FUS- the online postings have thinly veiled (although to me ‘nonexistent’) strains of genuine homophobia & intolerance. When confronted with this, & revelations of some of their illogic, & dissembling, it should surprise no one that their reaction has also mirrored that of the FUS- even down to their claims of being tolerant. But, Conservative hypocrisy is another essay’s topic &, of late, this group has shown some signs of positive growth. Let me return to the Liberals with this final tale, & some discussion.
I’d mentioned an article about me in the tabloid City Pages. The paper is a typical MFA-fed poorly-written, corporate-funded, yet ‘independent’ & ‘alternative’ media outlet. The writer was a fellow named Brad Zellar, & the tale sensationalized some aspects of my persona & dropped others. BZ interviewed me for nearly 6 hours, yet the bulk of the story was derived from about 90 minutes where I correctly ripped the local & national poetry scenes. To this day the tale is still 1 of the 3 or 4 most popular pieces CP has ever done. Yet, nearly 3 years later I still suffer from its backlash- primarily in a series of assorted attacks against me from local artists who were envious that CP did the story on me, not them. 1 of the things that angered me was that the paper got over 100 email replies & about 90% were pro my opinion, I know this because BZ forwarded me some of the unpublished emails from a (now ex-) CP staffer, who also forwarded me some of the other unpublished laudatory pieces. Yet, only 5 of the 21 published replies were positive- 6 were neutral, but 10 were negative. Here, again, CP was willfully distorting to sensationalize. Yet, this prided bastion of liberalism saw no hypocrisy in this. The result was that this tale of a ‘controversial’ poet (aided by the fact that BZ had the editorial control of the piece taken from him, by his editor, who added some sensationalism & deleted a page or more of BZ’s analysis & praise for my poetry) was further distorted by the fact that their editorial slant showed a 2 to 1 printed opinion against me, whereas the truth was I had about a 9 to 1 true opinion for me. Were this done in a political election the FCC would be involved & lawsuits would be pending. Of course, the negative pieces were all from people who had either left the UPG, were envious of my talent, 1 bisexual who made a pass at me & never forgave my rejection, a mental case who had kicked me out of another poetry group, & other people who were upset because I gave an honestly negative opinion of their bad poetry. Of course, no prefaces were allowed for the letters & my rebuttal, which addressed these points, was conveniently edited to omit these facts. In short, don’t let anyone fool you that the media does not distort!
But, most disturbing were some of the accusations hurled at me that I was somehow a bad person, or a loser, or such, because of this fact: my elderly mother lived with me! Yes, ‘liberals’, who spout a belief in humanism & decency, were chiding & deriding me for actually being a good son! That my mother suffered from emphysema, & assorted other physical & psychological ills, & had been dependent on me for many years, well….what’s the truth mean to a hypocrite? Granted, CP contributed to this misportrayal of me as a ‘mama’s boy’- the 1st (& laughably only) time I’ve ever been accused of such- by failing to mention my mother’s ills. Several of the letter writers nastily impugned both me & my mother. Yet these were the same folk who were supposedly upset that I decried the deceit & hypocrisy that goes on in the publishing & poetry worlds. There was also, yet again, that sneering ‘Liberal’ brand of classism in the air. As an urban kid to the bone I did not, like most suburbanite Minnesotans (in fact, I often refer to Minneapolis as a suburb without a city), get a car on my 16th birthday. It took 3 generations for Schneiders to become home owners. Poor folk stick together, live together, & help each other out far more than their limousine liberal counterparts. Of course, none of this mattered- the fact that I cared for my elderly mother ‘proved’ to these ‘liberals’ that my views on poetry were suspect since I’d never been weaned into the world. That I was a ‘street kid’ at age 6, & saw more life & death than 10 of these ‘liberals’ would see in 10 of their pathetic lifetimes- again, why bother to belabor the obvious? I’ve often thought that if taking care of my mother for the 2+ decades since my dad’s death so got them foaming, what would these bastions of open-mindedness think if they knew that when I got my 1st ‘on the books’ job my mother insisted that I pay for my sister’s way to college? Let’s listen: "That slimy son of a bitch! Does he think he can redeem himself by buying his way to respectability?!"
So, pardon me, if I pooh-pooh most PC Elitists’ charges of this or that strain of bigotry. Granted, right wingers also accuse me of such things as being a faggot, fag-lover, nigger-lover, & other such things. Not that I need such reinforcements that my ethics & belief systems are correct, but it is nice to know that I am demonized by fringe elements in both directions. That said, I must confess, that it is the faux liberals’ damnations that are the most disheartening. Why? Well, by definition a Conservative is someone who seeks to narrow the purview of their experience while a Liberal, ostensibly, seeks to always broaden theirs. This is where the bastardization of such terms really hits home. The fact is that none of the people I mentioned, at the craven FUS, nor the dissembling budding psychopaths who would spend years harassing me after the CP story, are true Liberals. They are faux ‘liberals’- with a heavy emphasis on the lower case l & the parentheses. So, onward I go, into the world- striving to find moderation, middle grounds, maturity, honesty, principles, & other such noble traits. Oh shit, I really am damned, ain’t I?
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