Friday, October 5, 2012
The First Time I Learned Something During an Obama Speech
Originally Written on October 5th and 6th, 2012
Edited on February 15th, 2016
On the afternoon of Thursday, October 4th, 2012 – the day after the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney – President Obama spoke at the top of Bascom Hill on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. The event was planned four days prior, and it took place during a severe lull in Obama's campaign schedule. Earlier, Obama had cancelled a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; purportedly due to scheduling conflicts.
At about 10 A.M., I showed up on Library Mall, which lies about a block away from the bottom of Bascom Hill. I got there early, so that I could protest the people attending the rally, to meet people and show them some of my signs, to inform them that I was running as a write-in candidate for U.S. House, and to tell them about the most murder-filled controversies of the Obama Administration, of which they'd probably never heard.
One of the signs I carried displayed 124 possible Obama murder victims on one side. The other side read, “Pakistani Innocent Children Killed by Obama's Bureaucratic Authoritarian Militaristic Autocracy [P.I.C.K. O.B.A.M.A.]” and “Palestinian Israeli Conflict Kontinues thanks to Random Old Miser Nobody Ever Yearned for” [P.I.C.K. R.O.M.N.E.Y.].
Coincidentally, there was a huge pro-life display set up on Library Mall. I say “coincidentally” because the pro-life group had planned their event several months prior, and thus, had no idea that Obama would be around on the same day, until probably the day before, or the day of. Their display featured at least a dozen three-foot by five-foot posters, at least half of them showing aborted fetuses.
The pro-life group was comprised of about 20 people. They represented the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, based in Ohio. Significant portions of their display were dedicated to defending the notion that abortion is akin to genocide, being that discriminate murder can be targeted towards those of different ages and genders, in addition to nationality. What I took away from it was this: fetuses don't have they own country, so there’s no genocide and I ain’t gotta listen to ‘em.
A 30-year-old man in a cowboy hat named Darius spoke to me. He told me that he was brought up atheist, then converted to Christianity. Using amplification, he asked me about my views on abortion. Darius emphasized the desirability of an objective defense for a position, and I admitted that I had no objective justification for my pro-choice stance. We considered the legal, philosophical, ethical, and religious justifications for abortion.
His defense for his pro-life position was primarily religious, philosophical, and ethical. I defended the notion that subjective defense of the right to life is objective, in the solipsist sense articulated by the likes of René Descartes and Max Stirner, that we cannot know that anything outside our own perception is real.
I put forth what I should have recognized as an overtly “might makes right” type argument, in attempting to justify my views on abortion, and explain my general views on rights. I forgot that the point that I was trying to make was that the capability to exercise a right should be taken into account; not that it is necessary and sufficient to justify any and all action.
Darius pointed out that my justification of abortion rested upon the ability to abort a fetus. The farthest that Darius and I got in the discussion was agreeing that what the issue comes down to is whether responsibility and consciousness are necessary to deserve the right to live.
At one point, a few passers-by stopped to talk to an older male member of the group. I barely overheard him saying “women don't have penises”, for some reason or another, in defending his pro-life views. I immediately felt an urge to shout “I got some links that'd prove you wrong”, or “that's a generalization”, but I noticed that that would have been inappropriate, because there were teenage girls nearby. So I quickly turned around, to mask my maniacal, stifled snickering. For some reason, I have an aversion towards offending Christians, except when it comes in the form of very politely told jokes, or in the context of politics.
I especially hate to put-off beautiful creatures such as Sarah, a freckled, blonde activist in her thirties, whom I met at the event. To have been aware, right off the bat, that my interlocutor was so brave, devout, conscientious, and empathetic, made for such an astounding experience of the conversation; especially in those brief moments when I was attempting to hold her gaze, and we discussed our common interests (namely Ron Paul, Alex Jones, and hating on Obama).
It has been foretold that we will all one day know the word of G-d. So why dwell on our differences, instead of love and care for one-another, as son and daughter of the same Creator, in the meantime? I wouldn't be surprised if the quality of our care of and empathy for one another hastened the arrival of the Kingdom of G-d. Oh, my Christian sisters are such angels! I'm so proud of them, especially those as patient, calm, and open-minded as my Sarah. Sister Sarah, daughter Sarah, mother Sarah, L-rd, “I knew you before I created you in the womb”, and I knew I loved you the moment I met you.
We all share a common thread. We all help write one another's stories. We all help create one another. We all help give birth to one another. The nature of our intercourse is objective, because of its mutual subjectivity. We are all universally relative, and relevant to, and familiar with, and the family of, one another. As Martin Buber explained, “they” disappears, and only “we” remains. It is gnosis over logos; experience over word. Revelation incarnate, as carnal knowledge. The most devout marry only the L-rd. Engage me, wife. Namaste.
Any-whatever, most of my discussion with the pro-lifers took place between noon and 5 P.M.. I spent the 11:00 hour with an Army mechanic named Cory, who described himself as “kind of a nihilist”. Minutes after meeting me, he mentioned George Carlin's jokes about pro-lifers. I recited Carlin's line “Have you ever noticed that people who are pro-life are usually people you wouldn't want to fuck in the first place?" This sentence is to remind you, for the sake of juxtaposition, of the subject matter of the previous paragraph.
Although he was in the military, Cory didn't know who the governor of Wisconsin was, didn't know who Tammy Baldwin was, and didn't even know who was running to unseat Obama. He kept referring to Obama as “my boss”.
Cory talked about his neighborhood on the East Side of Madison (which is remarkably diverse, given its proximity to the rural parts of the metropolitan area), and about his neighbor's kids. He said the kids would ask him if he ever shot anyone in the military, and even though he was only a mechanic and never saw combat, he responded to them, “If I told you, I'd have to kill you. …Join the military!: I thought that was pretty damn nihilist of him. Cory had "cognitive dissonance", "Nuremburg Trials", and whatever the fuck Sartre was talking about, written all over him.
After I informed Cory that I was running for Congress, he insisted on buying me a soda. The “soda” turned into “let's go into a restaurant”, turned into “two sodas and a red brat”, turned into “it's 11:15 in the morning but fuck it, I'm gonna order two whiskeys anyway, and hey, why don't I order two cheeseburgers, even though I'm not hungry, and let you take them home”. Dude paid for a bunch of food for me without even batting an eyelash. I guess even the mechanics in the military get mercenary-level compensation.
Cory was out of his fucking mind. He talked to people randomly on the street a lot of the time during which we were walking down State Street together, while I wasn't talking to him for the time being. I was worried that he was going to piss someone off.
He asked when Obama was going to speak. I told him that Obama would speak at noon, but I later found out that noon was when the entrances opened; Obama ended up speaking from about 3:00 to 4:30. I told Cory that he would have had to print out proof that he had already R.S.V.P.’d, and then present it at the security entrance to the event. Security at the event was tight; people weren’t even allowed to bring their own water into the event.
Cory told me that he knew of an unguarded entrance into the building in front of which Obama was going to speak; Bascom Hall. Cory said he was going to try to sneak in, and then get into the rally without going through security or having legitimate access.
Every time I heard the attendees applaud an indecipherable, distant “uuuhhh… blah-blah-blah…” – it was the clearest I’d ever heard the president articulate his ideas – I got creepy Satanic chills. After those ideas poured out of Barack Obama’s dick-sucking, crack-smoking (not that there’s anything wrong with that), lying mouth, for an hour and a half, the rally let out, and hundreds upon hundreds of Obama supporters poured from Bascom Hill onto Library Mall.
The Obama supporters passed me, while I held a protest sign aloft, and shouted about Gabby Giffords having been targeted as a Fast and Furious whistleblower; that presidential advisor and Air Force undersecretary Jack Wheeler ending up dead in a landfill because he knew Dick Cheney tried to hijack control of between one and 50 nuclear weapons and redeploy them to the Middle East war theater; and that Obama was doing practically jack-fucking-shit to end the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, the Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Yemen.
What I had neglected to consider was that all these hundreds of Obama supporters saw, was me in the middle of a shit-ton of dead fetus pictures and shouting pro-lifers, holding a sign that said “Obama murders” on it. I tried to make it clear – at least at one point – that I wasn't holding a sign with a list of a bunch of names of dead fetuses on it. I did this by drawing attention to the fact that Obama is spending his supporters’ money to kill innocents abroad; I said “Obama is killing babies, and I’m not talking about fetuses, I’m talking about Pakistanis!” I wasn't all that successful; I got asked to defend the pro-life position by a couple people by mistake.
I was told by the people walking by, that my beard probably smelled bad, and that nobody was listening to me. Another guy told me, earlier in the day, that he liked my “face-pubes”. A black woman walked by, and yelled at a pro-lifer – whom I hadn’t heard say anything – that you shouldn’t even talk about abortion unless you know what it’s like to be black. I miss the connection there.
At one point, I yelled “Ahmadinejad for President!”, referring to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the leader of Iran. I turned around to notice three Tunisian guys. I told them that I think conservatives are lying in their attempt to portray Obama as insufficiently supportive of the State of Israel, when Obama is a staunch Zionist whom has repeatedly promised to do everything in his power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Incidentally, it's a lot easier to get a dude from a Muslim country on board with my views on Israel than it is to get Christians on board with them; not that Darius wasn't intrigued and receptive about it.
At another point, I yelled “isn't it great to get bombed by a liberal president for once!?” This language heightened while a black helicopter or two buzzed past overhead. “This is change!”, I yelled. “This is freedom! This is liberal America!”. Stuff like “Freedom is the right to choose whether a liberal or a conservative will monitor you with drones!”.
One of the people who thought I was pro-life, was a speedy blonde girl, probably a college freshman. Before finding out I wasn't pro-life, her response to my list of Obama murder victims was “What president gets into office without killing a shit-ton of people?". I responded, naturally, “are you saying murder is acceptable as long as other people do it?”.
She'd assumed that I was bitching about Obama because I supported Romney, which I didn't. I told her that I supported Gary Johnson and Ron Paul. She asked why I wasn't focusing on the shit that Romney has done, and I responded that it was because Romney wasn’t currently in power, and because I haven't heard of anyone Romney might have had killed. If Romney showed up, I’d be focusing on how Romney sucks; not on how Obama sucks.
Incidentally, I have told people that Romney accepted campaign donations from Robert Lichfield, the founder of W.W.A.S.P. (the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools), a teen boot camp program that abuses at-risk minors both physically and psychologically.
I told the girl that a consistent libertarian shouldn't vote, but also that I wasn't one to talk, because I was a congressional candidate. I said that I wanted to take the system down from the inside, and she responded that every candidate says that, and they never follow through. I responded that Obama never said “I want to take the system down from the inside” publicly, nor verbatim, in the same manner that I was willing to do. That was enough to convince her to support me, but unfortunately, she lived in Minnesota, and couldn’t write my name on the ballot for U.S. House in Wisconsin.
A few minutes later, I saw my Democratic opponent – Wisconsin State Assemblyman Mark Pocan – walk by. A few days earlier, I found out that I had been excluded from the Rotary Club's 30-minute debate, and also from having a guest speaker spot at a general membership meeting for local black businessmen's organization 100 Black Men of Madison; due to time constraints and failure to achieve ballot access.
I shouted “Hey, Mark!” He turned, presumably noticing the “Obama murders” sign in my hand, to watch me point to my own face while shouting “Joe Kopsick for Congress!”. He didn't react much, and continued walking. I later told this story to a friend, whom remarked that that interaction was all the debate access that I would be allowed this election season. Later in the month of October 2012, I ended up speaking for five minutes at the end of a debate in DeForest, Wisconsin, between Mark Pocan and Chad Lee.
At some point, soon after the rally had ended, I saw Cory the Army mechanic again. He told me that he had sneaked into the basement of Bascom Hall, and had gotten into the rally. He even claimed that before the event began, he was in the basement of Bascom Hall, and saw Obama in the hallway. Cory – whom was dressed in black slacks, a dark blue button-down shirt, and a black tie, and had very short hair – told me that he walked up to Obama, put his finger into his own ear, mimicking the action of a Secret Service agent wearing an earpiece, and gave the president a high-five. Cory told me that Obama was convinced that Cory worked for him (I suppose that Cory does work for him, regardless). Initially believing his story, I told Cory that he was a madman, and that if he had wanted to, he could have taken the president out.
One of the people making rounds during the pro-life protests, was a University of Wisconsin genetics student named Michael, a secular-humanist whom had grown up Jewish, and described himself as an “anti-theist”. I sat near him while he used geological and genetic science to debate pro-lifers on creationism. He told me that each Sunday, in the summer of 2011 – during the farmers’ market on Capitol Square in Madison – he had debated creationists for solid six-hour blocks. It showed.
Two pro-lifers – one of them about 20 years old, and the other about 50 – debated Michael about creationism. The older one tried to defend the notion that people who believe in the scientific method, also, to some extent, base their epistemology on faith. I invited Michael to comment on Terence McKenna's remarks that the scientific method is flawed because the conditions of experiments are never perfectly repeatable. Michael admitted that I had a point, but he countered that conditions can and must be satisfactorily repeatable, and I agreed.
Then I noticed the 50-year-old pro-lifer had walked away. Too bad for him, I guess. That wasn’t the only point that day when I defended some pro-life arguments; I corrected a young woman who claimed that fetuses do not have any legal protections.
I told Michael, and also Darius (one of the leaders of the pro-life protest), about a gnostic experience which I had in Georgia at the age of 23. I explained to Michael that my interest in Judaism largely stemmed from my interest in Israeli politics and anti-Zionist Jewish thought, and that I felt that the supernatural experience which I had, confirmed that the subject matter in which I was interested at the time was mostly correct, and should be explored, especially considering the substantial knowledge of the topic which was possessed by the people whom I had met shortly before the experience.
Two of the other people I met that day, comprised a lesbian couple in their mid- to late- twenties; a freckled redhead, and a brunette hipster-ish woman. The couple spoke to some of the pro-lifers, promoting alternatives to abortion, such as contraception and homosexuality. Of homosexuality, the brunette said “that’s the solution I choose.” I fought the urge to quip, “Oh, I didn’t know homosexuality was a choice; I thought people were born that way”.
Rude shit like that went through my head all day. The pro-life group dismantled their display, and packed the pieces into their truck. A black dude beat me to saying that the stack of posters of aborted fetuses was reminiscent of the menu at Denny’s. Fry them shits up!
Before leaving Library Mall, as the group dismantled their display, I made sure to give four different protesters handshakes goodbye. Just as I finished my third goodbye, the group leaders called the members together, to do a sort of prayer circle. I made my way towards Sarah to say a quick goodbye, and noticed her hug a fellow member or two.
Seeing that, for the time being, that she was in the hugging mood – and seeing her shoulders buck forward the slightest bit, while catching her gaze, and reaching for her hand – the urge to hold her in my arms, tugged at me. But once again, just like another experience I had in Minneapolis, it was to no avail. With every woman I meet, these are my options: to choose to sin by disregarding their – and my own – needs for affection and connection, or else to lose their friendship.
As I left the scene on foot, waves of amusement washed over me; and also of longing, but also of irrational, rationalized content. I walked to a friend’s house, smoked some dope (being a dope-head), told him what had happened to me over the previous seven hours, and decided that I needed to blog about it.
So, in conclusion, it turns out that you really can learn something during an Obama speech. And that’s why I’m voting to re-elect Buh-Black Blow-Blah-Blah to the presidency in 2012.