In The Desert Of Seth

By G. B. Marian

Violent Self-Defense and Violent Activism Aren’t the Same

In an editorial on Gods & Radicals from this month, Rhyd Wildermuth criticizes the American middle class for being afraid of violent protesters like Antifa and the Black Bloc anarchists, who incited the violence and destruction of property that occurred at UC Berkeley last month. According to Rhyd, nonviolent protest “is a strategy that coddles the concerns of the middle classes, especially their fears.” He also contends that “coddling” the middle class in this way is precisely how we’ve ended up with Donald Trump as our President. Rhyd then talks about how Antifa and Black Bloc groups are “breaking the spell of police invulnerability,” demonstrating to the American people that the state does not own a corner on the market of “legitimate violence.” Finally, he wraps up his editorial by questioning why he and his fellow resistance fighters should care about trying to win over the middle class. After all, “What good are allies too worried about what their neighbors might think if they risked arrest to change the world?”

There is much truth for us to consider in this editorial. For one thing, Rhyd points out that minorities and the poor have long been victims of police brutality, and that it is unreasonable to expect them to resist nonviolently when they are attacked. When some asshole in a uniform is busting your head in with a nightstick, wouldn’t you want one of your friends to come over and fight him off? I certainly can’t argue with that. If I were homeless and defenseless and some crooked cop were coming after me for no good reason, you’d better believe I’d do whatever I could to protect myself (which admittedly wouldn’t be much).

But that’s not what happened at UC Berkeley this month. It’s not what happened at the Presidential inauguration in January, or at the anti-Trump rallies back in November either. These were not situations in which minorities or the poor were being brutalized by the police. These are situations where peaceful anti-Trump protests were hijacked by assholes who specifically went there to commit violence, as well as to provoke further violence from the police. They even attacked innocent civilians who weren’t doing anything harmful or illegal, pepper-spraying them in their eyes and busting their ribs. And while it’s hard to be sure without knowing their identities, I’m willing to bet that many of these vandals are middle class themselves.

Don’t get me wrong; Milo Yiannopoulos is a major asshole, and he can go eat a bag of dicks for all I care. The peaceful protesters at Berkeley had every right to go out there and protest him being allowed to speak at the university. (Why an institute of higher learning would even want a devolved right-wing mutant to speak there in the first place, I’ll never know.) But we can react to jerkolas like Yiannopoulos in ways that will disturb people and make them think, but which don’t involve harming or threatening anyone physically. If spending a night in jail is one’s measure of success for these things, why not take some notes from Femen? Strip naked in public for everyone to see, and take a big ol’ dump on Donald Trump’s portrait. (“Dump-n-Trump!”) Lots of people will think it’s horrible and crass, and one will definitely be punished by the system for it somehow (starting with arrest, jail time, some restraining orders, and probably lots of fines). But people will certainly notice it, and they will certainly talk about it afterwards. I have much more respect for that sort of thing than I do for smashing windows, attacking people, or setting cars on fire. Do we want to take a stand against the system in a way that actually involves some personal risk? I say do it in a way that doesn’t involve forcing that same level of risk on everyone else; otherwise, one is just as much of a tyrant as the people one claims to fight.

At the end of the day, resorting to violent self-defense and staging a violent public demonstration are two different things, and we can appreciate one while rejecting the other. I side with the innocent who experience dubious “justice” at the hands of our police and government, but I don’t side with turning an otherwise peaceful public situation into a riot. It would be one thing if these people were to patrol their neighborhoods like those real-life superhero groups, looking for situations where police officers are brutalizing minorities or the poor. If they were inserting themselves into those situations to try and save the victims’ lives (despite any physical or legal repercussions), that would be far more commendable than upstaging nonviolent protests.

Millennium: “Monster” (Season 2, Episode 4, 10/17/1997)

Everything changes in the second season of Millennium. It all starts when Katherine Black is abducted by someone who later turns out to be a former Millennium Group member. Whatever it is this guy experienced during his tenure in the Group, it’s driven him totally crackers, and he gibbers some mishmash about being Jesus. It turns out he isn’t Jesus, of course, when Frank tracks him down and kills him, saving Katherine’s life. But Katherine’s experiences with her abductor have convinced her that the Millennium Group is dangerous and that Frank should cut all ties with it immediately. Frank really can’t argue with her, but he can’t bring himself to just walk away. He cares too much about some of the Group’s members (e.g., Peter Watts), and he figures that if their leadership truly is corrupt, then he wants to help those members get out. So Frank is determined to continue working with the Group, and to investigate them from the inside while he does so. But the way Katherine sees it, Frank is really choosing the Group over his family by doing this; so she takes their daughter Jordan and moves into an apartment across town. This is only the first of several heartbreaking things that will happen during this era of the show.

Meanwhile, the Millennium Group’s leaders decide that Frank should be initiated to the next level of his candidacy. They authorize Peter Watts to send him on cases that go far beyond anything he experienced during the first season. In the episode entitled “Monster,” Frank is sent to investigate a series of child abuse allegations that surround a rural child care center. He’s partnered on this case with another Group candidate named Lara Means (played by Kristen Cloke), who works as a forensic psychologist. The thing is, Lara has a special ability just like Frank does; while he can see demons, she can see angels. And there seems to be one angel in particular who follows her around, appearing to her whenever she’s in imminent danger. For the first time ever, Frank finally has a colleague who actually understands what it’s like to see into a higher plane of existence, and who understands just how heavy a burden this can really be. What’s more, their otherworldly sources are telling them both that there’s something far more sinister at work here in this particular town than any of the locals are willing to acknowledge.

Kristen Cloke as “Lara Means”

This is one of the all-time greatest episodes of Millennium ever. Lara Means is probably my third-favorite character (after Frank and Pete), and Kristen Cloke gives an exceptionally strong performance in the role. Bringing in another character with abilities similar to Frank’s was also a smart move on the writers’ part. There are two scenes in particular that always give me chills whenever I watch this episode. The first is when Frank and Lara meet for the first time; you can almost feel the planets going into alignment when it happens. The second is when Frank and Lara get to discussing the case they’re working on. This discussion is still one of the most well-written pieces of dialogue I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. In fact, I’d say it does more to encapsulate the soul of Millennium than just about any other scene in the rest of the series.

I might also mention that the case Frank and Lara investigate together in this episode is inspired by the real-life “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s, in which many innocent people (especially day care workers) across North America, Great Britain and Australia were accused of being in an international Satanist conspiracy to sexually abuse and murder little children. “Monster” gives an excellent demonstration as to just how such a rumor panic can escalate to the point where people are arrested and imprisoned without any substantial evidence to implicate them at all. To think that such a (literal) witch hunt could take place in such an “enlightened” age as ours is truly horrific, and this episode of Millennium doesn’t shy away from exposing the flaws in our legal system that allowed it to happen.

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A visit from Lara Means’ heavenly informant.

I’m All Out of Bubble Gum…

I can't even believe this is a thing that happens.

I can’t even believe this is a thing that happens.

John Carpenter Is Fighting With Internet Nazis Over His Cult Classic They Live

Sweet Seth O Mighty! So this happened a month ago already, but it’s still one of my happy thoughts for this week. Thank you, John Carpenter, for being so awesome!

“I’ve come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass…And I’m all out of bubble gum.”

Approved by none other than the Maestro himself.

Approved by none other than the Maestro himself.

Editorial: An Open Letter to Pagan Leaders

I don’t necessarily agree with everything Rhyd says here, but the ultimate message is so dang important right now, I’m rebloging to boost the signal (to whatever extent my limited sphere of influence can allow). Thank you sir for a fantastic post.

GODS & RADICALS

MAYBE YOU’RE the high priestess of a coven or the chief druid of a grove. Or you find yourself at the head of a Pagan seminary, a news site, a blog portal, a Pagan convention, a witch tradition. Maybe you’re the owner of a publishing house or a witch-shop, a teacher of seminars or on the board of a non-profit. Or maybe you’re just an activist or a well-known writer with a huge audience. Regardless of how you got there, whether or not you ever intended to find yourself in a position of ‘leadership,’ you’re there.

I won’t talk about the responsibility such influence comes with. You probably see it already. If you’re like me, it maybe even scares you a little. You maybe didn’t ask to be here, and definitely not during the rise of far-right nationalism in the United States.

Most of you tend to lean towards the…

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