Columns » Penny Post by Andrei Codrescu



I've censored myself a lot lately. I'd be walking along with Laura and I'd say, "xxxxxzxxxzzzk!" and she'd say, "You better not say that out loud," so I'll say one more time for emphasis, "xxxxxxzzzkxxck," which is even worse, and she'll say, "If your loving public ever hears you sayin' that, you're in for it, buster." So I say it one more time for good measure, "xxxxzzzkcks ..." and then I say, "I'm going to make a list of all the self-censored things I stopped myself from saying." Here is my list:

1. xxxxzzkxxxzk (hint: homoerotic cult of Osama bin Laden)

2. xxxzzzckkkxzxkk (hint: if you gonna profile, profile!)

3. zzzxxxxkxxxck (hint: splat! blam! Iraq!)

4. kzzzzkkkssss (hint: bunting nausea! What can you do?)

I self-censor myself all the time now, in private, in public, and in print, but not because my thoughts are at odds with the majority. Quite the contrary. I censor myself because I'm right up there with the jingoistic worst of them (most of the time, see no. 4). I blush to think how my critical, antiestablishmentarian, anarchistic former self (from about two months ago) must be taking this. Not to speak of my public. Are you, public, going to abandon me the way you abandoned Peter Finch in Network when he went from raving against capitalism to praising it? I hope not, because I've still got a good whine or two in me. I haven't totally lost it. For instance: If you listen to Rumsfeld, Powell, Ridge and the surgeon general on the same day, you'll start screaming. They are all contradicting each other. This is worse than if they were actively trying to lie. It sounds like they don't even have anything to hide. Makes me nostalgic for the days when the government used to lie to us regularly and there were conspiracies everywhere. Now the only conspiracies are the ones against our government, and they take all kinds of forms, including versions of our old conspiracy theories, translated in Arabic and plastered all over what passes for media in the Islamic world.

The Age of Whining did really end with a bang, but a lot of whiners keep going on, because it's the only thing they know how to do. They whine about censorship, by which they mean that they are pissed because nobody cares for their opinions. Facts they are fresh out of. There was a big hue and cry when some companies pulled their sponsorship from Bill Maher's lame TV show Politically Incorrect. There wasn't anything "politically incorrect" about Maher: night after night he let actors babble about things they hadn't a clue about. Besides, it's commercial TV, folks: the people who pay the bills can pull out any time they want. Ever-concerned interviewers are always asking, "What about the other point of view?" Well, guess what? There is no other point of view in this war. What's the terrorist point of view? Who gives a xxxfk?

When whiners find it convenient, they speak of the United States as a monolithic entity, responsible for everything that's wrong in the rest of the world. Homegrown tyrants, medieval superstitions, tribal warfare, profound ignorance, they are all the fault of the United States. When that doesn't wash, they speak of "the people" and "the government," as if they were irreconcilable entities. If pushed, they will speak of "elements of the government." No serious whiner ever really cares about the people, because he assumes that the poor things are deluded, narcotized by TV, and dragged to the polls by advertisements. I did. Until a couple of months ago. Now my thoughts run like this: "xxxxxzkkksxxkk," and the polls are backing me up.

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