Thursday, March 29, 2007

about free thinking/speaking/acting

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Reply to an email by Halima Christy, host of Sage Health Online, member of the Free Speech Movement.


Theoretically, I agree with the Free Speech Movement.

Here's my issue: the infrastructure is not in place to support it.

Our culture DOES NOT encourage THINKING freely, for damn sure.

Education is so bad that less than 30% of kids in Detroit graduate with a High School diploma.

Video games, released by Bill Gates' (Mr. Philanthropy) company give bonus points if the player "kills" prostitutes.

We don't have an informed democracy; lobbiests control the GOP, thanks to Rove et al; GOP spin doctors are calling people faggots and "immoral."

Mega churches get federal funding for social "services" which promote homophobia and sexism, not to mention superstition and doomsday prophesies. AND they own TV channels & radio stations for which -- apparantly -- Liberal faiths have nothing to offer by way of equal time or alternative channels. Example: WHY, after all these years, does not the Unitarian Universalist Association produce a Liberal broadcast???

I was just verbally assaulted by a drunk when I walked to the corner restaurant for a hamburger. I expect such things on the streets. But I don't want it in my house!

I know: just turn off the radio. Right. Some solution.

Our culture is SATURATED with visciousness, terror and hate.

I won't question Street Beat, its personnel or its program content . . .


IF I see a genuine, heart-felt commitment to generating even MORE, local programming in which such issues are addressed in a SERIOUS attempt to HEAL some of this venom! Or, at least, invite an attempt at such dialogue.
And I don't mean some ivory-tower, upper-middle-class academician, pontificating the illusion of "objectivity" on NPR news.

And I DON'T mean some sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, I-know-more-than-you-do, Chicken Little commentator for the Party Line of the Left, either.

When I produced KUNM's segment of the live, national call-in show for the Homelessness Marathon, Queer kids from the streets walked into the studios of KUNM for the first time and "spoke truth to power" to an enthusiastic audience. Street hookers, drug dealers, incest survivors... people who are affected intimately by hate speech FINALLY had a venue to express their joys and sorrows. It's one of the greatest accomplishments of my life.

What have we contributed to the Homelessness Marathon since?

And I'm NOT saying I'm Saint Rogi, avenger of the downtrodden and that all programming on KUNM should be done the way I do it.

It doesn't MATTER to me WHO produced that program; it matters to me that it WAS PRODUCED.

IF we, as KUNM, have a commitment to address these life-and-death issues, to contribute even more to an informed democracy, to spotlighting aspects of our community infrastructure which are disintigrating from neglect and corruption, to encourage the genius of our fellow New Mexicans -- if that, then I have no problem with occasional, problematic lyrics in music programming (and, yes, Don, especially spoken word programming.)

I still assert that it seems healthier, to me, to attract a thousand people who'd donate a dollar each than to pander to ONE donor of a thousand dollars (because of the potential for undo influence, corruption, etc.)

The way to attract those thousand people is to address their issues: the issues that put their daughters in danger as they walk to school, that endanger their sons with violent behavior and emotional disability, that take money from their wallets and food from their tables.

That's my opinion.

Believe me, I'm accustomed to rough language. I can dish it out, too. No problem.

I want safe harbor for every aspect of our community: respect, dignity, education, inspiration.

I know: I'm living in a fool's paradise. It's not going to happen, right?

Well, it won't happen if I don't try to make it happen.

We've got Ann Coulter to teach us how to call people faggots.

I'm just wondering if we need KUNM to do it, too. At least, do we need KUNM to broadcast such things WITHOUT any discussion, dialogue, examination, conversation?

PS, Don: I was using the term, "gangsta cRap," to describe a SUBGENRE of hiphop, not the entire genre. I'm sorry that wasn't clear in my writing, but that's what I mean.

And, Bob, as to the issue of self defense, I do defend myself. But some people can't. Those people still deserve the right to walk to the store in peace. That's all I'm saying.

Monday, March 26, 2007

"gangsta" cRap on KUNM

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My problem with "gangsta" cRap music (institutionalized exploitation by white, recording executives who only see the bottom line and RESTRICT diversity of opinion/expression in the hiphop genre) is that it CONSCIOUSLY encourages oppression, racism, sexism, Black-on-Black violence, internalized racism & self-hatred (drug use, alcoholism, measuring success by "bling" intead of moral integrity, REFUSAL of fatherhood, unsafe sex, etc.)

Shakespeare utilized violence for artistic effect, for social commentary as WELL as for entertainment. I believe the same could actually be argued for "Mack the Knife," which was one of my favorite, childhood songs, too, by the way. I was a strange child.

The Bible is part historical record, part allegory, part morality apologia and part Entertainment Tonight (in my opinion, informed by several years' study for the ministry.)

Sure, there are lots of socially-unconscious examples of icky subjects in art. Picasso exploited the hell out of women. Most commercial, motion pictures still ARE racist and sexist.

In the "gangsta" cRap industry, people are making CONSCIOUS decisions to promote the WORST forms of oppression, of the very people they've pimped out to record it!

It is institutionalized hate speech. It is designed to produce contempt, anger, hatred (all masquerading for fear, I believe) between people.

My neighbor just pulled up. He blasted his sound system. Racial and gender epithets filled our flower-dotted street. Threats of the most hideous tortures and abuses bounced off our neatly-painted walls.

A fetid, murky fog of hell settled over our street. Neighbors looked at each other in our yards with such helpless grief. We don't want to hear it. We don't want our kids to hear it. It's toxic.

I can't WAIT 'til that pack of yahoos gets evicted!

There's a difference between art and propoganda and hate speech. Yes, they often lop over onto each other.
But this is BRANDED hate speech. It depends on racism, homophobia, mysogyny, violence and internalized versions of the above to prosper.

I can't justify giving it more air time than it already gets.

Subscribing to KUNM is a lot like paying taxes. Oh, it's more voluntary, sure. But I can't earmark that my taxes not pay for nukes and health clinics that won't discuss birth control and "faith-" based Queer bashing in homeless shelters. And I can't tell the Development or Programming Departments, "hey, can my money go to generating original Queer and feminist programming, and not hate speech?"

I know we're in the middle of a pledge drive, and these are dangerous words. I've already alienated KUNM management a lot with my raggedy, off-the-wall self.

But I live on less than seven hundred dollars a month. And I gotta wonder, am I supporting something that supports me if I subscribe? I mean, am I REALLY? 'cuz hundreds of thousands of dollars to NPR and Performance Today could SURE buy a LOT of alternative news (like WINGS, the international women's news broadcast) and could sure fund a LOT of locally-produced programming that's part of the solution, not part of the problem.

I'm just asking.

Friday, March 23, 2007

It's Friday night

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. . . and people are tired.

Let's not get too cranky about the whole Street Beat thing, ok? We're all trying to do good radio. It's just that we don't agree on what that means. Let's not spill each others' blood, in an attempt to make our points. I guess I'm to blame, too, since mine was the first, very assertive opinion. I'm sticking to it, by the way.

I understand the value of free speech, believe me. I would have been active as a volunteer several years earlier, if not for the General Orientation I experienced under a different Volunteer Coordinator.

When discussing the concepts of obscenity and indecency (our policies have modified since then, btw), I became concerned as to the viability of discussions of human sexuality. Specifically, I was concerned that any programming about safe sex for women -- especially Lesbians -- couldn't be broadcast, except during Safe Harbor hours. How does one discribe the placement of a dental dam on female genitalia, the use of female condoms, etc., without mention specific body parts? How could one broadcast a story -- either during regular news broadcasts or during Women's Focus -- without getting the FCC on our backs?

My concerns were met with silence by the Coordinator and by sniggers by the potential volunteers assembled. I stopped attending Orientations and didn't volunteer at the station until several years later. It was an uncomfortable experience.

We need more, not less, conversations among ourselves as to our motivations, visions, etc. for KUNM and its programming.

Nobody's suggesting micromanaging programmers, or the Program Director, for that matter.

See, for me, this isn't an intellectual exercise in philosophy. I've attended too many memorials, made too many hospital visits, cried over too many news stories of hate crimes to be "objective" on these issues.
Frankly, I question the very concept of "objectivity," as portrayed by the Academy. I have a sneaking suspicion this so-called, "objectivity" IS an opinion, even though it's concidered bad form to admit it.

I don't want my speech curtailed, for sure. I always think I'm right. And I want others to hear my opinions, and those of people I respect.

'course, I'd say that, for the most part, I'm pretty responsible about my speech. I realize it's not just a right; it's a responsibility.

I hate being called epithets. I hate hearing others called epithets. I SERIOUSLY believe it leads to physical violence and discrimination.

I also think a bunch of white business dudes are pimpin' angry Black men who can rhyme to sell CDs to angry white men who can't. I don't wish to encourage that dynamic. Yes, I, too, saw that PBS special on hypermasculinity and latent homoeroticism in cRap music.

I wish we could have this discussion on air. I wish we could have it on Street Beat.

Anyway, this email's too long.

We all have a commitment to KUNM; we just have different approaches. Frankly, I think it's good for the station & its programming that we DON't agree on the approaches, but all approach.

I'm trying my damnedest to appreciate the fact that people with whom I SERIOUSLY disagree are just as committed -- probably more so -- as I am to the station.

Have a good weekend, everybody.

Thanks for caring SO MUCH about KUNM.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

KUNM Show Promotes Discrimination

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A volunteer at KUNM posted an email to the volunteers' ideas list, with a link to a letter in the UNM "Daily Lobo"

KUNM Show Promotes Discrimination

The Program Director replied with some limp arguments about how the program in question, "Street Beat," is broadcasting programming that wouldn't be heard anywhere else.

Here's my reply:

I have a great idea!

Let's get some students, volunteers and community members with an interest in art for a project!

Let's send them out with dump trucks and shovels to collect feces from male bovine.

We'll have them bring it up to the 3rd floor lobby in wheelbarrows and smear it all around the lobby, leaving big piles for people to walk through!

It'll be an art installation.

True, people will slip and fall in it. It'll cause diseases. Lots of people will suffer, because the smell will drift all around the community. It'll affect progamming, staff efficiency and the number of people willing to either volunteer at, or contribute to, the station. We'll have a pretty bad reputation, all over the state. It'll be dangerous and counter-productive.

But we'll say it's art and freedom of speech, even though everybody else calls it a steaming pile of bullshit.

If Nazis broadcast that crap, someone would complain to the FCC and we'd lose our license. That's in addition to the protesters outside.

We're just lucky so few people even listen to a program that's produced by people who don't even interface with the KUNM community, staff, listeners or other volunteers.

People are DYING from hate speech. We need the air time for REAL programming.

As to outreach and inclusiveness, we need to look to our own house. When a former Volunteer representative to the radio board can sit in a General Meeting and blithely question the capabilities of a staff member, simply because that person has no bachelors degree, without any interest in that person's life story, AND that person is Black, AND it is said in the presence of another staff member who is struggling to complete said degree, how can we not say we've alienated the hell out of the community we're supposed to be serving? Prejudging people, based on tickets, economic privilege, ranks and credit ratings is just as oppressive as racism, sexism and homophobia. Nobody -- including me -- challenged that person in that General Meeting. It has been a source of constant shame and frustration for me, ever since.

I can't worry about the consequences. The State of New Mexico, PARTICULARLY Gay men in rural areas, NEED a voice, not excuses.