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Tired of Ugly Fat

by Steve Albini

The new left has become the new right and I'm fucking sick of it.

I'll admit it right out: I used to think of myself as a liberal-to-left in the classic tradition, but I can't anymore. My opinions haven't changed--I think we ought to be allowed to do just about anything we want to, short of fucking up other people's lives--but the ideas and perceptions currently held onto by much of the left seem so restrictive and reactionary that I don't want to be associated with them.

Much of this stems from deeply-rooted puritanical values and ethics for which new definitions have been whipped up.

IT IS A a tenet of puritanical conservatives that individuals should submit to a common ethic and substitute allegiance to the "common good" for any personal choices.

In Victorian days, this notion meant that individual free will should be stifled when actions were deemed "dangerous" to the morals of society. The effects or results of anything became insignificant; what mattered was whether any act or expression conformed to a predetermined set of "proper" actions.

Under this system, gays and libertines were persecuted for their "immorality," free expression of critical opinion was limited and erotic art was disposed of as "lewd and obscene."

Just as harmless actions were quashed, dangerous and demeaning activities were elevated to acceptable status because they conformed to notions of penance or propriety.

Currently, the rabid left is using a similar line of thinking, if not identical criteria.

A PRIME EXAMPLE would be the Vancouver Five, who get a lot of support from hip punk bands, not out of any true empathy, but because they're friends of DOA, and they're a hardcore cause celebre.

The Vancouver Five have been charged with a half-dozen various acts of terrorism, none of which can be justified by the humanist values that old-line liberals held dear, but because the acts conform to new-left constraints, they are commended and defended.

Before this gets any more abstract, let's define the terms. Among other things, the Five are charged with firebombing video rental shops that carried X-rated videotapes, attempting to blow up a hydroelectric facility, and stealing vehicles, machine guns and explosives.

The Five aren't contending that they didn't do this stuff, only that these were excusable acts--trifles--compared with the evils they were combatting.

YEAH. THE PROLIFERATION of old guys yanking their puds to Marilyn Chambers flicks simply must be stopped, and it's gonna take more heroic acts of destructive incendiary bombing to do it.

Yeah. and blowing the shit out of a clean electricity source is the perfect way to protest the development of nuke plants. And safe, too: provided there aren't any people anywhere nearby, or any people depending on that electricity for their lives, or their jobs, or any animals nearby who might be frightened.

And stealing machine guns is okay, especially if you're going to use them on non-human, non-animal life forms, like police or suspected sexists or suspected homophobes or (ugh) men (they're all part of the sexist-macho-powertrip-domination conspiracy anyway).

The whole thing is so fucking silly it would be hilarious if it were a Michael Palin script. Unfortunately we have to live with this, and attitudes like it all the time now.

If you justify these means for these ends you open the door for every redneck with an unpopular idea or two to take it out on society with high explosives and small arms. Violence is violence and pretending it isn't won't change anything.

FOR ALL THEIR trouble, what have the Five accomplished? Well, they brought about a big-ass police crackdown. Search and seizure restrictions have been relaxed, probable cause limitations dropped and a near-martial law police state has developed in Canada. All the causes the Five were championing, environmentalist, feminist and anti-nuclear, have fallen into public disapproval by association.

Thanks a lot, guys. You've been a big help.

The new rabid left is all mouth and no brains. These people scream about puny, insignificant issues (pornography, animal rights), tilt their tiny lances at windmills so big they'll never even smell them (nuclear war, imperialism), or cry wolf over the smallest of imaginary prejudices (sexism and racism) that they've ceased to have either an impact or a logical basis for their thoughts.

Take a giant step back and look at what they're doing and saying. "War is bad." Right, I know. I figured that out in fifth grade. Hearing silly songs about it is like having a toddler remind me repeatedly that I have to wipe my ass after making number two.

The same goes for sexism, racism and all the other dross of society that most of us discarded in adolescence. If you don't have a point to make, don't repeat the cliches. If you do have a point to make, think it through first.

Free the Five? No, fuck the Five, and the mentality that spawned them.

Tape dump. Tripod Jimmie. Chrome 45s in the Wax Trax bargain bin.

Response from Matter 10

Dear Matter,

Hooray!! I've found a new person to hate--well, let's say violently disagree with. In case there's any doubt, it's Steve Albini (is he related to Don Howland?). Steve, please let me know if I've misunderstood you in any of this. I found myself agreeing with everything you had to say in "Tired of Ugly Fat?"--that is, until a few paragraphs toward the end. So, pornography is a "puny, insignificant issue," and sexism is "the smallest of imaginary prejudices," huh? Do you know why you're able to think things like that? Because you're a man, you twit! In spite of everything the women's movement has accomplished over the years, the great unwashed American public still thinks that they're all a bunch of militant lesbians (sure, some of them are--so what?!), and this is still a man's world. Steve, I know you're not so naive as to think that all pornography is "old guys yanking their puds to Marilyn Chambers flicks"--I kind of wish it was, then it would be just an irritating nuisance instead of the violent horror it is. Scum-sucking pomographers are murdering women and children (children, Steve) every day. The madonna-whore complex runs rampant in this country (and the world) and I don't have the faintest idea how to stop it forever--is it the fathers' fault? Do they take their little boys aside when Mom isn't around and brainwash them with this bullshit?? I wish I knew, but being a woman I probably never will.

Steve, I totally agree--violence begets violence, it has never solved one single problem in the entire history of mankind, it's stupid, pointless, mindless and childish. Instead, our little boys have to be told that women are human beings just like they are. I think this would go a long way toward solving these problems. As for those other issues you mentioned, I really don't feel qualified to taik about them, and besides, I hate politics. I really do.

And now (oh no you're not getting away yet) I would like to comment on your hatchet job on the Smiths. That record must have affected you very deeply, must have touched something way down inside that maybe you're loath to acknowledge, or your review wouldn't have been so violently vitriolic. Think about it. Again, if I've missed your point, tell me so I won't feel like such an idiot later. See, I never went to college--my opinions are my own.

Marisa Bemethy
Seattle, WA

Albini replies: No, you're obviously not an idiot. I don't think and didn't mean to imply that sexism is an imaginary prejudice, only that it is suspected far more often than is warranted and is used as a straw man to whip the like-minded into a righteous rage. Pornography is different, in my view, from other forms of cultural refuse only in that it is concerned with naked, humping people. My inferences drawn from it beyond that are formed by the persistent reactionary notion that sex is "dirty" and "nasty," or that the depiction of sex somehow debases or degrades women more than men (that, I would regard as a sexist notion--inferring degradation solely of women}. Pornography, in this instance has to be differentiated from pornographers, who are almost all dirty and nasty. So what--so are my favorite bands. Pornographers are probably responsible for a very few deaths. Pimps many thousand times as many. Johns and other slashers about as many as that. Police probably more. If violence against women is the concern in this issue, that concern is better vented at other targets. Pornography remains the domain of old men, their puds and Marilyn Chambers films. The more ingrained sexism that permeates our society is indeed evil, but sex {intercourse, pornography and rape) has little to do with why we don't elect more women mayors or why our moms cook while our dads sleep on the sofas. What galls me most about the furor over pornography is that it is a thinly veiled mutation of puritan morals. Righteous religious and moral arguments against pornography have failed, so the deeply-rooted societal notion that pornography is evil has found another vent: the pseudofeminist cause. If you think porn is unpleasant because you are uncomfortable looking at naked people, fine, but don't rationalize that socialized response with "enlightened" indignation. As for the Smiths, no, they didn't touch me anywhere--they haven't got the substance to make any impression at all. If they had disturbed me, I would applaud their depth and honesty, which they haven't got.

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