A Tale of Two Savages
by Saab Lofton
"The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."
--Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936)
"No romance without finance ... your silky words are sweet, but your pockets sure look empty."
--from the song Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But The Rent by Gwen Guthrie
As of this writing, I'm being kicked out of an apartment complex for what is known in activism as counter-recruitment. I'm currently living in a suburb of Seattle -- where the Navy is as dominant as the Mafia was in Chicago circa 1928 -- and there's this Navy wife who was bragging about how her man is on a NUCLEAR submarine, so I asked if she ever watched Crimson Tide (a submarine movie about the narrow aversion of an accidental nuclear holocaust). The Navy wife claimed we supposedly have to have nukes because you never know when the bad guys will ...
... then I cut her nonsensical ass off and pointed out how nuclear disarmament is like sexual abstinence: If you're abstinent, there's NO chance of you catching AIDS. Likewise, if there are NO nukes on the planet, there's NO chance of there being a nuclear holocaust. Well, the Navy wife (among others) complained to the apartment complex's management about how there's this long-haired commie niggah talkin' mass quantities of shit about sailors, and since the comfort level of a white American woman is sacrosanct, I have until June to find a new home.
Please don't advise me to seek legal council, OK? The apartment complex in question is where my mother lives -- and I'd been living with her because I'm STILL looking for work, so if I couldn't afford my own place, how can I possibly afford a decent lawyer? Class consciousness, people ...
It's high time for me to move out of my mother's apartment anyway, but that still doesn't change the fact that there are precious little opportunities for a writer such as myself (let's just say I make Rev. Wright look like Clarence Thomas*). After my award-winning newspaper column fell victim to corporate censorship in 2005, I looked to The Seattle Stranger for employment, but its editor, Dan Savage, said, and I quote: "Saab, we're afraid your column will alienate our advertisers."
What a coward! I don't approve of the censoring of dissidents in Cuba, but I understand it: There's a historically legitimate fear that a counter-revolution will take Cuba's free, universal health care away. In contrast, what are Savage's motives? Ensuring that some spoiled yuppie will never know a moment of discomfort? Again, the exhalting of white America's comfort level ...
I am totally against the death penalty, but I love Troy Duffy's The Boondock Saints and wholeheartedly recomend it to everyone I meet -- even though the movie is very much in favor of killing one's enemies (The Boondock Saints are Irish twins with the same ethos as The Punisher from Marvel Comics). What does that say?
a) I'm far more open minded than the advertisers Savage is so damn afraid of alienating.
b) There's definitely a double standard insofar as which stories are funded and which ain't.
Those who read The Stranger are always stunned to hear this because of its undeserved reputation of being so radical (when all it really is is occasionally raunchy). The sick irony is Savage's column appears in The Las Vegas CityLife -- the very paper that censored me ..! Alas, that's one Savage, let's look at another ...
According to Wikipedia, "Donahue was the highest rated show on MSNBC at the time it was canceled, managing to beat out even Chris Matthews' Hardball in the ratings." And yet, on February 25, 2003 (soon after the largest peace marches in history occurred), Phil Donahue suffered the same fate that I did (white skin privilege and a willingness to be subtle* kept him from having to move back with his mother, though). As Wikipedia put it, "soon after the show's cancellation AllYourTV.com reported it had received a copy of an internal NBC memo that stated Donahue should be fired because he would be a 'difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.'"
So who was the face that replaced Donahue's? None other than that fascistic bigot Michael Savage! Now, it's a given I'm ideologically opposed to him, but I received the following e-mail ...
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2008 12:36:46 -0500
Subject: Huge success with NO SAVAGE
Dear activists, colleagues and friends, You did it! What an amazing outpouring of intelligent, thoughtful letters, emails and calls to the Savage advertisers. Already, four major companies have pulled out, and QUICKLY. So savor your good work, and know that in fact your actions do make a difference. You didn't just yell at your radio or TV. YOU DID SOMETHING, and it made a difference.
... and I'm disappointed that my comrades at bravenewfilms.org are essentially trying to do to Michael Savage what Dan Savage did to me. As I said, I love The Boondock Saints, even though I completely disagree with the film's message; if variety is the spice of life, then allowing advertisers that much say over what the public disseminates -- or talking them into denying necessary investment (airtime and column space ain't cheap, people) -- is DEATH. If you really want to hurt someone like Michael Savage, tell Dan Savage to hire me! If that bigot is seen by a million people, guarantee that I'm viewed by TWO million. The answer is more speech, not less. The name of the game is FAME.
Author Natasha Saulnier reported, "the Department of Defense's budget for recruiting reached a record $4 billion for the fiscal year 2003 according to a Government Accounting Office report, and the portion of that budget devoted to advertising nearly doubled in the past five years, from $299 million in 1998 to $592 million in 2003. In the same period, the Army alone increased its advertising spending by 73 percent to $197 million, and the Air Force the same budget by 395 percent to $90.5 million. The advertising cost per new enlisted recruit has nearly tripled from $640 in 1990 to almost $1,900 last year."
In contrast, Al Leskys of Peace Now in Las Vegas wrote, "there's no question but that the local antiwar movement took a big hit when Saab left CityLife."
By finding me a job (and NOT worrying about whether I'd offend the spoiled, and thus, putting their comfort above my survival), the peace movement would go a long way towards counteracting America's evil influence. Censorship for any reason is savage.