POEM: I cannot threaten death (an erasure poem based on MLK’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech)

I cannot threaten death

(Original Text: “Beyond Vietnam”
by Martin Luther King, Jr.
4 April 1967)

this magnificent conscience
leaves us in full accord
these words call us in time of war
of dreadful conflict
we must move
the silence of the night is limited
but the darkness seems so close
I called for the heart of the King
Aren’t you hurting?
I trust
I believe
I come not to the ambiguity
nor to the resolution
they are never resolved
I wish to speak
I am shining as if
I would never see an enemy
eight thousands liberties die
in brutal silent cruel manipulation
awareness would change our nation
the violence in the boys
we chose
O America America America!
now America destroys
I cannot threaten death
God is helpless and outcast
bound by human hands
madness within the people
hear their broken cries
we refused them
poisoned the land
we were reckless, tragic
the peasants watched
as we read promises of peace
where they know our bombs
they watch their children beg
our tortures are
their most cherished bitterness
to speak of liberation as aggression
is the right question
we are bombs, armies
we do not negotiate
they moved the truth
claimed that bombing, shelling, aggression
are the process of the sophisticated
I calculate the image of violence
I begin
we must make
we must provide
we must continue
we must be
we must protest
the struggle is a reality
and a dozen other names calling God
we have seen helicopters napalm
the peaceful
incapable of justice
the Good Samaritan beaten and robbed
capitalists with no concern
burning human veins
year after year
the United States of poverty
insecurity and injustice
shirtless and barefoot in darkness
our only hope
in the final analysis
is in the ultimate reality of love
we can afford the oceans
we are fierce, naked, adamant
we must move
let us tell of hope
of solidarity, of history
as every nation comes in truth
each goes by truth and behind the shadow
we will make our world beautiful

/ / /

Jason Crane

NOTE: You can hear this poem and see it in context here.

Bigotry and plain language

Yesterday I posted this uncharacteristic message as my Facebook status:

“Hey, all you opponents of gay marriage: F*CK YOU! (What? That’s not helpful? Oh, sorry. But, uh, f*ck you bigots anyway, OK?)”

This, as you might imagined, generated quite a few comments:

Dean Bowman at 1:36pm April 23: What about opponents of marriage?

Heather Dingman-Glenn at 1:40pm April 23: The majority of students at my school feel that all rights should be equal and are open to all kinds of relationships. However, I would say the boys have it worse than the girls. This is a high school where the majority of the parents are military.

Jason Crane at 2:48pm April 23: @Dean: I’m with you, man. State recognition of unions for legal purposes, and then let folks follow religious practices if they choose, with no state sanction or recognition whatsoever. (Unless, of course, you were just being funny.)

Wendy Ramsay at 2:59pm April 23: Snaps to that!

Julie White at 3:23pm April 23: Ideally, I think that the majority of the rights that come with marriage should just be given to people as basic human rights–you know, like health care, adoption for anyone who’s a fit parent and wants to make a family with anyone else–but as long as we live in a state that thinks that monogamous committed relationships should be rewarded, then … Read Morelet’s at least be equal about that. But in Julie’s utopia, no one kind of human relationship (as long as it’s consensual and doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights)would be privileged over another (I know, dream on)… off my soapbox…but this is why I actually have a hard time with the gay marriage issue…a lot of ambivalence.

Jason Crane at 4:07pm April 23: @Julie: Right on! Although I don’t think any of those rights should be given. We’ve already got them. I think we need to stop letting the corporate state take them away. But that’s just me being a punk. And shamelessly stealing from Utah Phillips.

Brenda Yarger Abel at 4:27pm April 23: Wow! Way to promote tolerance.

Jennifer Cornish at 4:59pm April 23
I’m strongly opposed to asshole marriage. Letting assholes get legally married just sullies it for the rest of us. It’s just sick. I mean, there are all kinds of statistics showing that assholes are behind the majority of domestic violence attacks, robberies, burglaries, bombings, wars and crappy BSG season finales. And I’m pretty sure that being … Read Morean asshole is very strongly correlated with being a pedophile. I mean, how can we let these people get married and (GOD FORBID) have kids? It’s like they ruin marriage for us decent people who just want to raise our non-asshole kids to be non-assholes. I’m not saying they should be discriminated against for being assholes. I mean, people can be however they want to be in the privacy of their own homes, but when public schools teach that it’s ok to be an asshole, that’s where I draw the line. Once we let them get married, they’re going to turn the rest of us into assholes too.

Jason Crane at 5:14pm April 23: Amen!

Jason Crane at 5:59pm April 23: @Brenda: It’s always hard to tell if someone’s kidding or not on this here Facebook. But in any case, I’m kinda over being tolerant of intolerance.

Jennifer Cornish at 7:57pm April 23: Is tolerance of bigotry ‘tolerance’? Interesting question.

Brenda Yarger Abel at 10:12pm April 23: Is it not possible to oppose gay marriage, without being intolerant of those who support it? Since bigotry, by definition, is intolerance of anothers beliefs religion or opinion, it would appear that the one F-bombing those who disagree would be a better example of the bigot.

Jennifer Cornish at 2:30am April 24: I think that by saying ‘Fuck You’ to gay-marriage opponents, Jason is being less of a bigot than those people fighting to take away the right for responsible, consenting citizens to get married and live their own lives in peace. I wouldn’t try to actively take away a bigot’s right to be a bigot. 🙂

Jason Crane at 7:13am April 24: Thanks, Jenn. You’ve said it better than I could have. I’m just tired of having people’s religious views imposed on my supposedly secular government. Discrimination and bigotry in the name of religious opinion are still discrimination and bigotry. No excuses.

Many people who are smarter than I have made the following point more intelligently, but here goes: You don’t get to shout “intolerance” when people oppose your bigotry. If you try to deny people their civil rights based on your religious preferences, then you are a bigot, and no one — absolutely no one — is bound to respect your point of view or shy away from denigrating it.