Checking My White Privilege

Repost from 10/29/18

My inner-racist/classist/transphobic/homophobic

(etc.)

Disclosure:

Even though I am a fat Latinx who has mental illness, am physically disabled and a sex worker on the LGBTQI spectrum, I have a massive slew of inner (and outer) work still to do. I was raised in the American-Anglo world… the middle-class, English-speaking, able-bodied, white world… with white privilege.check-privilege-gif

I so want to be helpful in the various “causes” going on in our world, around the world.

I do not want to be hurtful.

Not here in my Navelgazing Writer blog.

Not in my Tumblr blog…

And most especially, not in my life.

Where I know I still need work (and I acknowledge I surely have blind spots yet to be discovered):

(in no particular order)

#Black Lives Matter

I speak up for #BlackLivesMatter often, as often as I can in as many places as possible. I believe in the Movement with all my heart. I follow along, watching the debates between #AllLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter and even the dissension between the ranks about the Movement itself. I write about #BLM where I can, use the hashtags, engage family and friends and am seriously considering a #BLM tattoo. Yet it still isn’t remotely enough. I know that. I want to do something. Do something more. I keep looking for where I could be of more use. I will explore that here.

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Islamophobia

I have a really good friend who is Muslim. I am struggling with Islam in ways that make me cringe and hold my head in utter confusion. As an atheist, all religions are confounding to me, but at the moment, Islam stands front and center of my inner conflict. Separating Islam from Muslims seems daunting, as much as separating Islam from cultural beliefs that are Islamic. I am just beginning to figure this stuff out.

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Transphobia

I will write about this extensively, surely over a several year period, but it has to come out. My former partner of (then) 25 years, came out transgender, medically and surgically transitioning from female to male. From announcement to phalloplasty was a little over 3 years. About 6 months after the phalloplasty, we separated, then divorced. So very much to say about the myriad of emotions that transpired during our transition time together.

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Internalized Homophobia

Even though I initially came out lesbian when I was 18-years old and then again when I was 25, dating only women… and being in (what I thought was) a long-term lovership/marriage (off and on) with a (then presenting) woman for 28 years, I know there are still stereotypes and -isms I need to look at and work through.

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Racism

This topic is so broad, it will take many different posts to work through. Even my own inner-Racism as a Latinx will need to be worked through. But the stereotypes of different races and cultures jump to the forefront of my mind when I least expect it… and that shit needs to stop.

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Xenophobia

Interestingly, I don’t feel I have a lot of xenophobia, but I could be deluding myself and need to work on it as well. I just don’t have issues with migrants, immigrants or refugees. I’ve worked with migrant Hispanic women (at the Farmworker Association of Florida and at Planned Parenthood as well as in midwifery school in El Paso, Texas), but that is a specific group of folks, leaving hundreds of other cultures and countries still mentally untouched.

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Fetishizing

Ugh. This one is going to be fucking difficult to work with since I am a sex worker who often creates scenarios and writes pornographic stories that specifically fetishize men and women… both cis and trans. I struggle with the line between attraction and fetishizing in my own mind. I adore black and Asian men. Love “Big Black Cock” and speak and write about it a lot. What are my values and am I contributing to the degradation of oppressed people by having my own desires and, more specifically, fetishizing it in my job.

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Reevaluating Law Enforcement

There have been police officers and Deputy Sheriffs in my family and friends since I was born. My disgusting police officer step-grandfather molested me (several times), in uniform once. My former partner was a Deputy Sheriff for 10 years of our relationship. I have been arrested and jailed twice, including being extradited back to San Diego, California from Orlando, Florida. Yet, my attitude towards law enforcement has generally remained one of a positive viewpoint.

And now, watching the videos of black men being killed for zero reason has jarred me into reevaluating my beliefs. And the really sucky part is until videos started being shown, I barely took notice of the mass of killings of black men, women and children. Even the mass incarceration of People of Color went over my head. I am horribly ashamed of this, but it’s the truth. This really, really is fucked up.

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Sex Workers

My sister was a dancer. I have several close friends and family members who were dancers as well. I am a Phone Sex Operator. One of my family members and I have discussed the inner confusion between feminism and sex work several times. I love what I do, but there are degrading moments that make me feel like I want to wash my mouth out with soap sometimes. Lots to think about.

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BDSM vs. Physical Abuse

I’ve been in the BDSM Scene since 1995, mostly as a submissive to my former partner Zack and now as a Domme in my sex work job. I consider myself somewhat of a pain slut, do bottom to others; much of my life is taken up in the Scene.

In 1990 or so, I wrote a piece in the San Diego Lesbian Press about how BDSM is nothing but a pretense for allowing/encouraging physical and mental abuse to vulnerable women (that was the angle; today I would say “people.”) For anyone following the Scene, this is a common argument and one I’ve considered (and reconsidered) over the years. There is ongoing inner discussion.

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Visible Dis-Abilities/Challenges/Differences

I have mobility issues because of being fat (a separate obstacle all on its own) and having brittle bones. As I write, I can think of about 20 preconceived thoughts about physically challenged folks that need to be purged. And not just my own.

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Mental Health

I have Bipolar Disorder 1 with omnipresent hallucinations, more depression than (hypo)mania and have had other psychiatric issues (anxiety & agoraphobia) fluctuate over the years. I honestly think this will be the area where I have the fewest concerns to work with/through. Being in therapy since I was 18 and starting on medication not long after that, I left the stigmatizing beliefs behind long ago.

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Size-ism & Fat Phobia

This will, most assuredly, lead to the most emotional posts of all (that I can predict at the moment). Having been fat my whole life, a gastric bypass in 2001 that initially was awesome, but now 15 years later is fucking with my body’s health and continues fucking with my head. Once in the Fat Activist Movement and still believing in a fat positive outlook, I also believe much of today’s Fat Positive representatives are deluding themselves about the long-term effects of being fat. Lots and lots to say about this.

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Cultural Appropriation

I was a Japanese Geisha Girl for Halloween growing up. I wore cornrows in the 70’s. I wore a medicine bag with crystals and sage around my neck in the mid-80’s. I did mendhi in the early 2000’s. I’ve participated in Blessingways over 30 years as a midwife. I’ve made flower crowns, worn harem pants and love Disney movies.

All of this before I learned what Cultural Appropriation was. It mortifies me seeing how disrespectful I was to so many people over the years. I look around and wonder what I am doing now that I’ll recognize in 5, 10, 15 years that will equally mortify me.

Know better, do better.

My Plan for Continued Inner Work

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I will continue reading articles, books and essays by people of different races, religions, cultures, socio-economic statuses, genders, abilities, sizes, etc. I will believe what they say even if what they say is different from what I know, what my experiences are and what I learned in school and/or in my white culture.

I will delve more into the histories of the people I am not familiar with, learning the things I did not learn in school. Actually, un-learning the things I learned in school.

However…

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Where I have an issue with exploring/learning on one’s own, is it requires some skills some/many people might not have or have access to:

  • Internet access
  • Ability to read
  • Ability to read English
  • Advanced English comprehension

I think there needs to be some alternative plans in place for those who need in-person learning/education of these social phenomena, especially when they are asked for.

Where I Struggle

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Where I do struggle, however, is in how to learn from the communities and cultures themselves. I absolutely understand the reasoning behind not asking the oppressed to educate me/us about their issues/concerns/struggles. I do promise to do my best in educating myself, but the reality is, with some of the exploited/misunderstood/unheard people’s problems/concerns, I am clueless where to even begin.

And then the black holes. Even as I research, digging deeper and deeper into subjects, learning new words to Google and building on my knowledge, there are still going to be gaping black holes I won’t even see until someone points them out to me.

Are there whites that I should ask instead? Isn’t that similar to playing telephone, getting the information second-hand? Wouldn’t speaking to the actual source be more appropriate? Wouldn’t I learn more hearing it directly? I will keep looking for the answer to this puzzle.

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If you see my bullshit, don’t hesitate to re-orient/correct/challenge me. (Without my expecting a lesson from you of any kind. I will be sure to research on my own and try again.)

I need to be more conscious. I promise to work on it every day.

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My Inner Islamophobia

With all these horrific Islamophobic things happening in America, I’ve been trying to see my own inner Islamophobia more clearly.

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You know how it sounds when someone says, “I have a black friend/boyfriend/partner,” and are saying in parenthesis, “So I can’t be racist,”… how racist that sounds… how racist it is? It is the same with my making loud declarations of having a Muslim friend. I am clearly professing, “See me? I’m not Islamophobic, but I am a really progressive liberal atheist who can sidle up to a person that much of the world wants to destroy,” making it All About Me.

I find that really disgusting.

Islam

I know very little about Islam and discussing it with my friend has taken us into really uncomfortable territory. We’ve pretty much abandoned the topic because my atheism is so contrary to his deep beliefs. I have Googled and read about Islam, sharia law, the different ways to be Muslim, Islam in the United States versus in mainly-Muslim countries and, the really tough part, Islamic extremists and why violence is so important to their causes.

modislam

Islam is an incredibly complex and varied religion, much more so than Christianity or Judaism, both religions I know and understand pretty well, having been both in this life. I’ve been told that it can take many years and a plethora of scholars to explain the Qur’an. How does a heathen learn about Islam when it is such a pain in the ass to understand?

Just looking up “Moderate vs. Radical Islam” images for this piece brings intense emotions for me because the hate in the photos and comics are so, so despicable. (Is my friend considered a moderate? A liberal?) I don’t even know what to believe anymore. Is Islam a cruel religion that does not delineate between a Muslim here or in Syria? Are all American Muslims really potential terrorists given the right circumstances and their anger level at how they are treated by Americans? (This is, I have found, one of the most common beliefs and it is excruciating for me to even utter it because I know how my friend is going to hear it.)

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One of the nicer comics I could find.

For fuck’s sake, how brainwashed am I? Where did it come from? Islam is a brand new experience in my life comparatively. The horrible things I’ve learned have all been based on violence against others… against the LGBTQIA+ communities, women, American journalists, random strangers who’ve made life difficult for the killers… really skewed pictures and stories that have clearly imprinted in my mind.

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How do I counter these negative beliefs? I am not sure where exactly to look because the information on the Internet is widely contradictory and, I have learned, laced with radical ideas the murderers use to recruit marginalized Muslims. When I’ve asked my friend for help, things devolve into major discomfort so we just agree to let the topic go.

I’m lost, but I don’t want to be anymore.

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Immigration Ban Horror

How can this be happening? Just when you think nothing can get any worse with that horrible, evil man who is our president, he descends deeper into a hell the world has to cope with.

Of course, those fleeing torture and death… they definitely have it worse than many of us… directly affected by the sweeping executive order that slams the door of salvation in their faces.

Does This Make You Sick? Cry? Want to DO Something?

 Syria Navelgazing Writer

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5-year old Omran Daqneesh

Tonight at JFK Airport

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How can these horrible “christian” people and lawmakers turn their backs on human suffering? I cannot wrap my head around any kind of logic they could conjure. Pro-life? Fucking pigs. What about the children who are dying waiting to enter our country? The women being raped and tortured in refugee camps? Men, hopeless, feeling useless and powerless.

I wish I had answers. I suppose letting our representatives know how we feel? They don’t give one shit. No one has the cajones to stand up against that fascist dictator we now have “leading” our country.

Thank you Canada, Germany and France for stepping up and saying they will accept those trapped in American red tape. Strangling red tape.

My heart feels like it is going to fall out on the floor, I am in so much distress over what is going on. All I can do is write my feelings, trying to see through the tears, knowing I am not alone dealing with this disgusting, horrid man.

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Weltschmerz: World-Pain

the depression you feel

when the world as it is

doesn’t reflect

what you think it should be

thin grey line

This Roberge sculpture comes close to how I feel right this moment.

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Rising Cairn by Celeste Roberge

What does Weltschmerz mean?

Weltschmerz is the depressing feeling you get when comparing the actual state of the world to the picture you have in your head of how the world should be, and knowing that the picture in your head can never exist.

What does Weltschmerz literally translate to?

Weltschmerz is a compound noun made from the words Welt (world) and Schmerz (pain). It therefore translates to ‘world pain’.

What is the nearest English equivalent to Weltschmerz?

World-weariness. It is also sometimes compared to a state of depression.

I’ve personalized the iconic photo below of the stunned-shocked Omran Daqneesh from a few days ago as a representation of the feeling that’s been growing in my heart for many months now, often threatening to drown out the real-life world I live in. The past few days have been increasingly difficult to plow through as I feel more and more helpless to do… or change… one thing going on around me.

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Omran Daqneesh, 5-years old, Syria

From Trump (spit spit spit) to ISIS killings to the never-ending Boko Haram insurgency to child suicide bombers to laboring pregnant Syrian women being bombed on the way to the hospital, their babies born dead and needing a miracle to bring them to life to the heart-wrenching photo and story of Omran and the death of his brother Ali and and and… the list of armed conflicts multiply on top of each other; it’s just so horribly overwhelming.

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Boko Haram murders

As I write around the Web, I keep being asked, “What can I do to help?” I’ve gathered some well-known (and hopefully properly-run) organizations we might find a way to assist. Obviously, this list will not be complete or exhaustive, but it’s a beginning. I wish I could have helping agency connection links to all the conflicts/wars/evil around the world, but this post would run on forevermore.

While I crouch filled with rocks, I will try to do even a grain of sand’s worth of love for those in excruciating pain and circumstances.

Ways to Help in Syria

WARNING: I need to preface this with, as I searched, I came up with sites extremely negative and even violently angry about every one of the following organizations. I have been warned that ISIS is pervasive online and I saw that clearly during my research. When researching individual organizations, be aware of the hate out there in the Netiverse.

SAMS Foundation – SAMS Foundation is a nonprofit humanitarian organization established in 2007. Its volunteer physicians deliver direct medical care in Syria, Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon. Charitable gifts are tax-deductible.

The White Helmets – “When the bombs rain down, the Syrian Civil Defence rushes in. In a place where public services no longer function these unarmed volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need – regardless of their religion or politics.”

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières – “We help people worldwide where the need is greatest, delivering emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters, or exclusion from health care.”

Islamic Relief Syria – “Whoever saved a life, it would be as if they saved the life of all mankind.” (Qur’an 5:32)

The UN Refugee Agency – “USA for UNHCR helps to save, protect and rebuild the lives of millions of refugees and others forced to flee their homes due to violence and conflict.”

A wonderful article, “10 Ways You Can Actually Help Syrian Refugees” offers even more legitimate organizations that need immediate help.

How to Help Refugees (& Others Around the World)

As you can imagine, the list is exhaustive, so I encourage you to Search: “How Can I Help Refugees” or “How Can I Help <fill in the Conflict here>” You can even Search: “How Can I Help Refugees Without Money”

Lastly, SPEAK UP! I know it is heart-wrenching to look at the images, to imagine the horror these people are going through, but we cannot look the other way any longer.

We must do something.

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Weeping Buddha

“Make a choice. Speak up. Unsubscribe.”

Jarrett Hill wrote an OpEd piece called “White People, It’s Time to Use Your Privilege, Whether You Believe You Have It or Not,” for NBCBLK September 24, 2017.

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Writer, Reporter – Jarrett Hill

It began:

“A message for white people:

“I know how jarring it may be to hear a non-white person, or maybe anyone, even say the words “white people,” as it can take on a pejorative connotation. That’s fine. This isn’t always comfortable to have to say, but that doesn’t make it any less true, necessary, or timely.”

The challenge is for white people (myself included) to stand UP, (and kneel DOWN), speak UP and stop being complicit in the systematic and so-deeply-ingrained-whites-don’t-even-see-it-anymore prejudice and hate against People of Color.

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“Sorry, but not sorry, you’re going to have to take a side. And yes, you have to do it now.”

The United States has always had a divide between races. But now, with the dotard “president,” it has become a chasm, one that grows more visible and wider with each new tweet. White people just cannot keep their… OUR… mouths shut anymore. We have kept silent and turned our backs for far too many decades.

Stand alone if need be

Blacks are being killed by the police nearly every day. Latinx are being confiscated from their homes, from schools, their places of employment and even in hospitals and churches. Muslims are accused of violence simply because of their religion… one many of us do not understand (myself included), but the harassment and death threats are just not what the United States was founded to represent. All of this in order to fulfill the dotard’s horrific ideas… and plans… to rid the country of anyone not white.

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“It’s very likely, and understandable if you feel this is unfair, this is inconvenient, it’s frustrating, it’s difficult, it’s embarrassing, it’s going to alienate you from people you know, love, work with, watch the game with.”

Too fucking bad. SPEAK UP! Speak for those who get killed when they open their mouths, receive death threats when they kneel at a football game (exercising their First Amendment exquisitely). We whites cannot leave Black & Brown people hanging out there alone anymore.

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I read an article yesterday (that I cannot find again for anything) where a Black Medical Resident was leaving work after a more-than-30-hour shift in the Emergency Room and a white man in a car started screaming the N-word at him, over and over again. He added some other racist epithets, but mostly it was the N-word. He said the white man was laughing so hard at his hilarity the doctor thought he would have to give him aid when he finally collapsed in hysteria.

While that part is gross enough, the part that was the most offensive to him (and me) is the whites in the parking lot who said NOTHING.

Bystander guilt 7

NOTHING.

He said they skittered away, trying not to get involved.

What the holy fuck, white people!

SAY SOMETHING! SCREAM BACK! 

Yeah, I know… they might have a gun. If they do, they do. You are supporting/protecting/showing love for another human being that is in the line of fire. If you believe in a God, He will surely reward you for speaking up.

“That’s privilege. Someone once said, “when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” This is a taste of equality.”

It’s tough to say something when we are so used to just walking on. We cannot just walk by anymore.

WE CANNOT IGNORE THE ISSUE ANYMORE.

WE HAVE TO SPEAK UP!

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OPEN YOUR MOUTHS, WHITE FOLKS!

SCREAM when others simply cannot or are hoarse from doing so.

Annie Owens yell
artist: Annie Owens

ENOUGH.

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One of my heroes… Colin Kaepernick.

 

The Tarnishing of Trump

I have this vision of the Oval Office having “FUCK FUCK SHIT FUCK”s bouncing off the walls like molecules pinging in boiling water.

It is not uncommon for that now-golden-hued room to hear expletives, but I’m betting that as the days unroll with the word “Russia” in each sentence, the “Shit, fuck, damn’s” have been accelerating and getting progressively louder. (And amusing side note: When searching “trump White House expletives,” the suggestions at the bottom of the page all had Bannon’s name in them. Hilarious… and expected.)

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For 100 days, I cried and wrung my hands in terror that someone in the White House would accidentally (or on purpose) hit The Red Button and our world would be annihilated.

nuke button

During those first 100 days, with every stroke of the president’s pen that removed women and children’s rights, that signed away our natural resources so the rich could get richer, that created enormous doses of xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, ordering the confiscation and deportation of people struggling to stay alive and on and on and on… and with every bizarre cabinet appointment, my heart broke and despair settled in.

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I was directed by my doctors to stop watching the news because all it did was submerge me deeper into depression. I was joined by millions of others who had the new PTSD diagnosis called President Trump Stress Disorder, our nation’s leader now holding the distinction of being the first president to have an anxiety disorder named after him.

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Will Durst says in President Trump Stress Disorder (Baxter Bulletin):

An epidemic is sweeping the nation, causing sufferers to experience feelings of hopeless doom, certain annihilation and cataclysmic collapse. It’s an existential plague manifesting itself by enveloping the stricken in a black cloud of despairing suicidal thoughts. The malady that is striking down innocent citizens left and lefter is … the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. It is literally making people sick.

>100 Days

But now, with the variety of Russian headlines intertwined with you all in that Oval Office, I am glued to the TV, the real news, (what you call the “fake news,”) and I sit on the edge of my seat waiting for the next delicious morsel of information.

And I am no longer depressed.

It is no longer Opposite Day in America.

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Instead of my being unable to sleep, now it is your turn to toss and turn all night, worrying about your futures. I, on the other hand, am finally able to sleep soundly.

And every morning since Day 100, I wake up smiling again.

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The Birth of Censorship

Today I read about a library in Evanston, Illinois, outside Chicago, having several Islamic-oriented books defaced with slurs and swastikas.

Evanston Public Library Books About Islam Defaced With Swastikas, Racial Slurs

book-defiled

One book about the Qur’an, pictured above, said “bullsh*t hatred cover to cover” with a swastika drawn below it written on the title page of the book. Neal said other books in the same library section were also defaced. She wrote in her post to urge readers to speak out against hatred and intolerance.

“Evanstonians like to think we are safe in a bubble of tolerance, but none of us can afford to pretend that we are not affected by the hatred that surrounds us now,” she said. “None of us can afford to sit this out, to hope it goes away, and leaves us untouched. Whatever your politics, if this kind of hatred and intolerance disgusts you, speak out today.”

Censorship Begins

It might seem a stretch, if not ridiculously impossible, for this one defacing act to have anything to do with Censorship and the end of the Free Press, but I promise, it absolutely is just the beginning of the encroachment of the boot heels of those-soon-to-be-in-power onto the fingers of the writers of, not only books, newspapers and magazines, but also on the keyboards of little blogs like this one… all because we/I dare to question the status quo.

Their goal of erasure of conflicting opinions has begun.

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