Friday, September 11, 2009

Have the Terrorists Won?

I’m honestly not sure how to start this one. Today isn’t a celebrated holiday, so I can’t say something like, ‘Happy 9/11, everybody!’. It isn’t really a national day of mourning or anything. (Not eight years later, anyway.) I’m just not sure of the current status of September 11th anymore.

Yeah, it’s the anniversary of (arguably) the most horrible day in American history. But life went on, and here we are.

I’m mainly here today to bitch and moan. (“So what else is new?” asks the dozen faithful members of my audience.) I’ve had a few complaints rolling around in my head for awhile now. Complaints about what? About certain aspects of life in post-9/11 America.

If (Fill In the Blank), Then the Terrorists Win

When the terrorist attacks hit, everything came to a halt. People were scared of another attack. Nobody was really sure what to do.

But then people like Rudolph Giuliani and George Bush started making the speeches. With a sentiment that can be summed up as, “If you _______, then the terrorists win.”

Basically, the message was, “if you allow yourself to be frightened by these acts – so frightened that all you do is spend your days hiding under your bed – then the terrorists win.”

What else went in that blank? Man, oh, man, what didn’t end up in that blank?

If you don’t go back to work, then the terrorists win. If you don’t go back to your regular lives, then the terrorists win. If you (the television networks) don’t go ahead and start the fall season, and give us new TV shows for people to watch, then the terrorists win. If you don’t start buying crap again (thus returning to your position in the economy) then the terrorists win.

Well, what about this? What about “mask”? Does “If you aren’t allowed to wear a mask in public, then the terrorists win?” Or “POBox”? “If you aren’t allowed to rent a post office box and receive mail under a pseudonym, then the terrorists win?”

Welcome to today’s topic.

You Can’t Wear a Mask in Post 9/11 America

Before Zeitgeist the Clown was the sex, kink, BDSM, and fetish persona you all know and love, he was something else entirely. A careful combination of clown and anti-clown assembled with great care for the intention of attending a science-fiction convention.

I had a costume quality oversized tuxedo (yes, oversized for a large fat man – yikes!), white fingerless gloves, a ‘bling’-style Crucifix ring on my finger, and because of greasepaint allergies . . . the mask. The mask was put together using instructions I’d found online in an article entitled: “How to Make a Duct-Tape Bondage Helmet”.

The final layer of the mask was white duct tape, and the clown make-up was applied with colored Sharpie. I looked stylish. (Or frightening. Take your pick.)

This was to be my first ever hall costume for a science-fiction convention, and I was excited.

Of course, when I arrived at the hotel and went to check in all decked out clown-wise, the clerk behind the desk told me, “You can’t wear that mask in here.” He then went on to explain that the hotel didn’t allow anyone to wear anything that fully covered their face in public areas. He specified that I was allowed to wear it in my hotel room if I wanted. And that if it was okay with the convention committee, I might be allowed to wear it inside closed rooms where convention-only activities were taking place, but not in the hallways moving from closed room to closed room. And certainly not in the lobby.

I was shocked. On one level, because I’d pumped a lot (for me) of money into the outfit. But on another level, I was shocked because this was OryCon. This was the home of the person with the fully covered head roaming the hall. My memories of this event from years past were filled with things like exquisitely made Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes that left NO visible human skin showing. Full head masks on all manner of hall costumes.

I asked the guy, “Why?”, and he gave me a sad look. Partly for the situation, I guess, but partly because he thought I might be slow not to know the reason myself. His only answer was, “Welcome to post-9/11 America.”

It’s now years later, and you still can’t wear a mask outside of Halloween. (And I’m sometimes surprised that the government hasn’t simply cancelled that holiday as a threat to Homeland Security.)

I abandoned the original Zeitgeist the Clown concept after that initial costume fail. Only to reclaim it later on when I needed a scene name for the kind of stuff I normally write about here.

I have a new mask (which I wore to Darklady’s circus-themed Masturbate-a-Thon party this year in my capacity as The Official Portland Masturbate-a-Thon Solo Sex Circus Clown) that my sister helped me make (/ made for me).

I like masks. I’d start making and collection Zeitgeist the Clown masks, if only I’d be allowed to wear them. But like the man said . . . welcome to post-9/11 America.

The POBox Hassles

I originally got myself a post office box back in about 1987 or so. If I remember right I used a bill from Columbia House for proof of address, and an Oregon DMV learner’s permit that had expired a year earlier for ID.

I had that POBox until 2002 or so. The last time it came up for renewal, I simply didn’t pay for another year’s rental. The previous year I’d gotten a grand total of ZERO pieces of mail that weren’t just junk mail, and so I figured it was no longer really worth having. (Big mistake on my part, as I’d later come to learn.)

Late last year I decided that I needed a POBox again. I kept putting it off until early this year. When I finally went in to the post office to figure out what I all needed to obtain said POBox, the ID that they required was more than I had.

[Then I subsequently discovered that obtaining some of the ID they required took more ID than I had. Sheesh!]

Eventually, after changing my political party affiliation in order to get a new voter registration card to use as the final necessary piece of ID off of their list of acceptable forms of identification, I went back in again. And while filling out the form to apply for a POBox, a horrible thought occurred to me.

I asked the question, and discovered my fears were confirmed. In order to receive mail, you have to have ID. Even once you have the POBox, in order to receive mail at that postal address, you have to have ID that matches the name on the envelope.

When I had my first POBox, I received mail under my name, two pseudonyms, the name of the ‘company’ I published all of my zines under, and I had yet another pseudonym (never really used) listed under the ‘who can all receive mail at this address’ section of the annual renewal form.

But after planes hit towers, the rules changed. One of the main reasons that I wanted a POBox was so that Zeitgeist the Clown could receive mail. But Zeitgeist the Clown? He has no ID.

I tried finding ways around this. Looked for loopholes. Didn’t find any I could afford. The easiest way would be to start producing a zine entitled “Zeitgeist the Clown” (which I could easily do, just start dumping blog posts into booklets “Best-Of” style – I could even do it on CafePress and not have to do any real physical work for the project), and then spend $100 a year on a small business license. Huh. Yeah, not really a viable option for me, finance-wise.

I’m still thinking about getting a POBox. It just saddens me that I won’t be able to use it to it’s full potential.

Welcome to the Homeland

I’m an American. I live in America. And I was raised to believe that America was the ‘good guys’, and America’s enemies were the ‘bad guys’.

In World War II, the bad guys were the Germans. During the Cold War, the bad guys were the Russians.

According to my fellow Americans, the Germans lived in Germany. The Russians lived in Russia. But if you asked the Germans and the Russians where they came from, Germany and Russia wasn’t the default answer. It was, respectively, the Fatherland and Mother Russia. Mother Russia was sometimes also called the Motherland.

On September 11th, 2001, our enemies were terrorists. And they redefined the ‘bad’ in ‘bad guy’. None of this Geneva Convention-friendly, “Hey, load your weapons and meet us out on the battlefield” stuff. Nope. No declaration of war, just flip the switches from ‘airplanes’ to ‘massive flying bombs’ and crash them into buildings filled with civilians.

Lots of stuff happened here in reaction to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, not the least of which was the formation of the Department of Homeland Security.

Department of Homeland Security. The first time I heard it, my jaw dropped. Wow. I couldn’t fucking believe it. They’d already signed the USA PATRIOT Act into law. And after so many years of fighting villains who came from places like ‘the Fatherland’, and ‘the Motherland’, (the _______land) suddenly our country had gone from America, the Good ol’ U. S. of A. . . . to the ‘Homeland’. It made me stop and wonder if it was a sign of things to come.

“Papers? Papers, please? Papers?”

Terrorized But Not Terrified

When 9/11 happened, one of my biggest wishes was that I had a way to print and sell T-Shirts. [This was before I’d heard of CafePress. Long before any of my – so far all horribly failed – experiments with selling product through them]

I wanted to sell T-Shirts with the slogan, “Terrorized But Not Terrified”. Sure, you’ve struck us with terrorist attacks, but are we scared of you? Fuck no, we’re Americans, damn it! If anyone should be scared, it should be you. Scared of what we’re gonna do when we catch you little bastards.

I had a couple different designs in mind. The standard, with just the slogan. Then I wanted to add on to the slogan, for those really feeling manly and up to the challenge: “Terrorized, But Not Terrified – Come and Get Us”. And then (and I was never really sure about this one), the same basic elements, but with the slogan on the back and a bullseye on the front. A bullseye composed of thirteen alternating red and white circles, with the center spot being blue, and containing fifty tiny little white stars.

That was then. This is now.

We were terrorized on 9/11. I’m starting to get a little terrified now. Just . . . not of the terrorists.

You hear it all the time from people living in neighborhoods that have gone 'bad'. "This used to be such a nice neighborhood. But now I've had to put bars on my windows, and I'm scared to walk down the street at night."

They're aren't putting bars on the windows in my neighborhood. Think bigger. The government is putting bars on the windows of my country.

A long time ago, Benjamin Franklin said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Much more recently, the Ghost of Benjamin Franklin said to me, "Those who would be forced to give up essential freedoms to purchase a little temporary homeland security are obviously living in post-9/11 America."

Ah, I'm Just In a Cranky Mood

I'm not anti-American. I'm not even specifically anti-Government. (At least, not since we got rid of Bush. Heh heh.) I'm just cranky. I want my POBox. And my mask. Me and my friends want some of the other stuff that's been denied us by the USA PATRIOT Act. And we don't want to live in constant fear that the bizarre and wide-ranging powers granted to government agencies by said piece of legislation will allow them to stomp on us for whatever they want, whenever they want.

Anyway, next post, Time Delay will be back to it's usual variety of sex, BDSM, kink, fetish (and whining about how I can't get anyone to engage in sex, BDSM, kink, or fetish play with me).

Oh, and remember: If you and your friends (and their friends, and their friends' friends) don’t read my sex blog . . . then the terrorists win.


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