Friday, August 1, 2014
Also Done With Mirrors
Also Done With Mirrors
From The El Paso County Jail
In jail now for contempt of court, i can only hope that i will not be punished for thought, given my intent with this piece more or less to publicly scorn the same court and many of its agents represented here at the misnamed Criminal Justice Center of El Paso County. I will concentrate on this local example for specifics because of intimacy, but recent news and broad history supports my encouragement to the reader that (s)he extrapolate freely.
I’d almost rather sleep than pace around here like a tyger in a fucking zoo, but i am as i have been formed. I really don’t think you fuckers can make me sleep without some kind of assault. It’s possible a dispassionate observer might develop the notion that you can piss me off, so to speak, that you can make me blow my Zen, but no–that was i, and i’m over it already.
Here at the El Paso County Jail, called the “Criminal Justice Center,” uniforms abound and each, of course, conveys a message. All the prisoners are color coded. The deps and “specialists’ and nurses and “contractors” are all of a feather, some with fancier tails as it were, expressive of assorted specifics. Variation is for the most part strictly verboten, (sorry to misuse the language for such a purpose, T. You know what i mean.)
Prisoners are separated by severity of “crime,” degree of danger to self or others, and some by a certain degree of “privilege” (these are called “trusty”). Deputies are generally demarcated according to “authority.” Some have little shoulder insignia indicating rank, “honors,” or extreme pathology. “Civilians” in various “house nig…um…servant,” (ahem), positions bear yet further uniform garb, while certain haughty nabobs glide around in suits carrying clipboards, heads high, presumably to be the more able to reach the rarefied air that must sustain them with their pinched aquiline nostrils.
With irony that may or may not be intentional on someone or something’s part, the same uniforms described as so expressive also squelch some communication, which would be quite freely broadcast in ordinary circles. Certainly “club” colors are vigorously banned. Stuff like those placeholders for my ears. Some shit slips by: Many Department of Corrections guys, (prisoners), are recognizable by “penitentiary” labels on personal clothing. Haircuts, though highly imperfect at clarity, often show fondness for a martial life. The richest bearers of information of all apart from coded wristbands we wear under a pretty fair degree of duress are tattoos, freely and openly displayed by all but the besuited clipboard crowd.
The deputies have prevented me from wearing the little protective posts made of comb teeth i put in my ears, meant to keep the piercings from closing, as an experiment in boundaries, and as an expression of my identity; a bit of communication through appearance; silent aesthetic vocalization. One pleasant deputy said to me with great concern and chagrin in both his voice and his eyes, “Oh, no! This is terrible!” I asked him about his concern and he played it off as a joke; “Sarcasm.” But to me, “this”–that is, a bit of aesthetic experimentation that serves to announce my separation from a society i find abhorrent–is a marvelous thing, rich in multifaceted, radiating, information-bearing emanations. We all do these things, and some of us then wonder why we are rejected by those for whom we define ourselves as Other by those choices of appearance we make of our own volition.
No one can do anything about skin color, for example, and we ought not make assessments about human beings that are based on unchangeables like that, but we do anyhow. And life probably works out to support those assessments. Whether the differences are real or not, when two segments of society conspire to call one another’s members hateful names, like “nigger,” or “cracker,” or “Palestinian,” or “Jew,” the intonation of Otherness establishes a state of polarity where the prophecies inherent in the expression all become true, eventually. That’s pretty crazy in itself. At The El Paso County Jail the most desperate of prisoners–the mixed-color-teal-and-yellow crowd–are garbed thusly so that they are easily recognizable as homicidal-suicidal. They seem to live a miserable existence, isolated from everyone because of mutual fear, from which font their own dreaded behavior springs. The nurses in the medical unit where many of these saddest of souls reside sometimes and apart from regulation wear colors so similar that i have been startled by the spectacle of those shades in unexpected places. But i have had conversations with EPCO jail employees that went something like, “You should find something to do that doesn’t eat your soul.” “Oh, I’m fine–I get home and just forgetaboutit. Turn it off,” with a motion like flipping a switch. “Do you really think partitioning your personality–your life–your Self–to that degree so you won’t flip out is healthy!!? Isn’t that exactly how ‘multiples’ work things?” So just who are the crazy ones?
One deputy said to me, “Sixty to seventy percent of the cops in this town are just doing their jobs.” This is so multi-dimensionally wrong: Only a mental pathology allows a guy to perpetrate violence against an unwilling subject for a mundane paycheck that is derived in part from money confiscated from that very person being so victimized. This is deeply parasitic and also pretty fucking stupid in that biologically, the most successful parasite is one that works a symbiotic relationship with its host. The relationship of our government, (and virtually all governments), to its host our society is now and will soon prove to be catastrophically vitacidal. Meanwhile, what are the other forty percent doing? My estimation figures the best part of this minority is enjoying the sanction of the same gullible society to be violent for pay and false “honor.” Some of these two groups are actually deluded to imagine they are helping people.
“Can’t break the rules just doin’ my job nothin’ personal behind that blow to the head gotta paycheck to collect gotta family to feed….”
Assuredly history’s most spectacularly egregious crimes, and lest any reader seeks to comfort himself with false abstraction, those of this very day, this very moment, have always been committed beneath the false flag of “The Rules.”
I’ve heard it said in the context of “appearances” that the men and women of “Gateway” “represent El Paso County,” so that they are not permitted to wear a Mohawk, (or i suppose, bits of comb in their ears). Now, be alert that i am not a Gateway man, exactly, but i am here because of appearances, at least in part. To be clear, i don’t represent El Paso County, by any means and i give but the merest of fucks for appearances. I represent some higher Thing, and not by my choice at all; but having been chosen for this i serve my purpose while Judge Williams serves his. We are what we are, and what each of us represents is so far beyond El Paso County that i can’t see its apex from here and i suspect that Judge Williams has scarcely even apprehended its Its truth, having heard of these things only in forgotten dreams. I hope you aren’t hurt, dear Judge; these lots of ours are assigned, not chosen.
I certainly never meant to cause you harm, or even pain, though i can’t deny i have been quite angry; far more at your system than at you, personally. It’s up to you how much grief will be in this for you, but: Fear not, sir; for as i have said, this is all perfectly safe, And again: We are in this together. All of us. Like it or not.
*Submitted with respect to those EPCO Schindlers who struggle daily to avoid division by zero. And i’ll have to talk more about Gateway, later.
A set of videos in Tribute to the writing of Hannah Hurnard, “Hind’s Feet on High Places” to Art of Breezy Kiefair i just put music and art to a book that has been a favorite since childhood… my mother used to read me that book…. call it a tribute to her and an introduction of the book to an audience that may otherwise remain unaware of it. I recommend it for anyone with anxiety or PTSD
Preface to the allegory
The Preface chapter to Art of Breezy Kiefair and the Music of Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Hinds’ Feet on High Places
|Hinds’ Feet on High Places|
|Publisher||Christian Literature Crusade|
|Media type||Print (Hardback &Paperback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0 86065 192 4|
Hinds’ Feet on High Places is an allegorical novel by English author Hannah Hurnard. Hinds’ Feet was written in 1955 and has become a very successful work of Christian fiction, seeing new editions published as recently as July, 2005.
It is the story of a young woman named Much Afraid, and her journey away from her Fearing family and into the High Places of the Shepherd, guided by her two companions Sorrow and Suffering. It is an allegory of a Christian devotional life from salvation through maturity. It aims to show how a Christian is transformed from unbeliever to immature believer to mature believer, who walks daily with God as easily on the High Places of Joy in the spirit as in the daily life of mundane and often humiliating tasks that may cause Christians to lose perspective.
The book takes its title from Habakkuk 3:19, “The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”
The story begins in the Valley of Humiliation with Much Afraid, being beset by the unwanted advances of her cousin, Craven Fear, who wishes to marry her. The Family of Fearings seems to have some strong similarities to the Addams Family. Much Afraid is ugly from all outward appearances, walking on club feet, sporting gnarled, deformed hands, and speaking from a crooked mouth that seems to have been made so by a stroke or the like.
The Good Shepherd is tender and gentle with Much Afraid, especially in the beginning. However, His many sudden departures may strike the reader as bizarre, given the human penchant to expect kindly souls to never do everything that may be interpreted as rude or as hurtful in any way. Yet, though the Shepherd leaves in a moment, He returns the same way at the first furtive cry of the forlorn little protagonist. “Come, Shepherd, for I am much afraid!”
When Much Afraid intimates that she would love to be able to dance upon the high places as do the surefooted deer, the Shepherd commends her for this desire. In order to accomplish this, he offers to “plant the seed of love” into her heart. At first sight of the long, black hawthorne-looking seed, she shrieks in fear. Soon, she relents, and after the initial intense pain, she senses that something is indeed different in her, though she still looks the same, for now.
Just when the reader thinks that Much Afraid is about to reach the High Places, the path turns downward towards a seemingly endless desert. There is incident with an extremely high cliff that must be ascended by a steep, slippery and very narrow zig-zagging track, with the help of her two companions, Sorrow and Suffering. Then days are spent in a forest that is shrouded in a thick cloud of fog. During this time Much Afraid is sequestered with her two friends in a log cabin. The climax is an unexpected twist that comes as Much Afraid despairs of ever reaching the High Places.
Allusions/references to other works[edit|edit source]
Bosman, Ellen. “Hind’s Feet on High Places” in Masterplots II: Christian Literature. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 2007: 779-782. Bezzina, Christopher Felix. ‘Journey to the High Places. Hannah Hurnard’s Spirituality and the Song of Songs.’http://www.amazon.com/Journey-High-Places-Hurnards-Spirituality/dp/1620320983
- About the Name: Hinds Feet on High Places (inthehighplaces.wordpress.com)
- A Lovely Lesson from Much Afraid (bethanyhart.wordpress.com)
- With Hinds Feet in High Places- Moving Forward at Breakneck Speeds/Prophetic Word (missyhood.wordpress.com)
I’m Steve, a friend of wonderful Breezy. She asked to add a little content here, since she likes my thinking sometimes. I am in fact a pot activist and have been for decades, but not exclusively so. You can expect me to have stuff to say about other things here, for example this piece about my trial and conviction for camping on public property during an Occupy rally last October. I apologize that there is a bit of a back story that would be unwieldy to give, but you can find it if you poke around the links some [I’ve discovered these links aren’t here. They are here, if you care to look: .http://hipgnosis21.blogspot.com/2012/08/high-crimes-and-hijinks.html%5D Part of my reason for airing this stuff here is to enable me to refine my own thinking through feedback and questions. I already know I’m an asshole and an idiot so if that’s all you have, start your own page and don’t clutter ours, please.
Below this little intro is a conversation i had with my lawyer, kinda; some stuff i wrote to explain myself to her, and have since edited into near unrecognizability. Had i been able to clarify the whole bit better before the trial things may have been different, but probably not. When i was first arrested in Colorado Springs on 18 October of 2011 for the heinous crime of camping on public property, i figured lawyers from the ACLU or something would swarm me like rats on a dying prisoner in the Bastille. I mean, really– advocates for the homeless have been up in arms for years over these no-camping ordinances, and i did the thing as an “Occupier,” rendering the political motivation for my act as obvious as a drag queen’s Adam’s apple. I thought hard about doing the thing pro se, but when i’ve taken that course in the past i wound up trapped in a paper maze of procedure. So i contacted the National Lawyer’s Guild, (NLG), and they connected me with the one attorney in Colorado Springs hot to take an Occupy case pro bono, Patty Perello.
Almost all the Occupiers involved have argued passionately that our actions, including my setting up a tent in specific violation of Colorado Springs’s “no-camping” ordinance, were protected by our First Amendment free-speech rights. I knew this was futile since the U.S. Supreme Court has already shot that line of thought down, and sorry, but i agree with their reasoning. Though other U.S. municipalities experienced more direct 1st Amendment oppression, we were always free to stand around with signs in Colorado Springs, as the argument goes. Occupying, camping, and even merely sleeping on public land are activities that cut much closer to the quick, as it were, boring through several layers of political patina to make painful and deeply suppressed connections in people’s consciousness, and in some ways tying the bulk of the Occupy message into a tight package.
The business of land use and ownership has been high on my list for years and, i think, key to much of what grieves us.It’s why i write about Henry George sometimes. I hoped to get this point across to Perello, but none of this was ever heard by the jury. Also critical is the troublesome 8th Amendment angle. More stuff silenced by Spottswood Williams.
Anyhow, i’m about to start to say again what i only meant to introduce. Below this is some stuff i wrote to explain myself to Ms. Perello. It’s the gist of what i actually wanted to say in court, but was barred from so doing. I can still explain myself on a street corner or here online if i want to, but not in a courtroom:
With a seemingly inexorable inevitability homelessness–poverty– is becoming criminalized in the United States of America. The phenomenon of Occupy protests brought to light in lurid, graphic terms the country’s sensitivities concerning land use, civil disobedience, liberty, and ideas and expression that make us uncomfortable or seem to threaten our aesthetic and ethical sensibilities. The widespread and oppressive action against Occupy encampments by law enforcement was necessary to maintain the prevailing political logic because it was simply an extension of currently habitual oppression directed toward the very poor, i.e. homeless people. There can be no Occupy permitted, because our “aesthetic” experience may be sullied by those wretches that will surely coat-tail upon any license to physically occupy public space in such an objectionable manner. This may be the essence of why the homeless population is both integral to and alienated from the Occupy phenomenon worldwide, since even many participants don’t get the connection.
The past several years have seen a proliferation of categorical laws designed to harass the homeless. The National Coalition for the Homeless, The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, and The National Homeless Civil Rights Project have produced reports that thoroughly document the national trend to discriminatory law-making, selective enforcement, and generally mean-spirited gestures toward those at the bottom end of society’s economic score sheet. We assert that the attached reports provide an apt description of exactly the sort of directed antagonism toward the very poor embraced by the City of Colorado Springs when it so carefully worded its ordinance to allow the pursuit of the homeless while slithering around the spirit of the Constitution. While we understand that protestation and occupation are not necessarily the same, the congruences with the Occupy protests rendered problems with the City’s “no-camping ordinance” germane, and are simply too pointed to allow full separation of the two matters. Bad law put in place as a means to directly truncate the liberties of a particular class of people was brought to bear on another distinct but overlapping set of political protesters engaging in behavior included in the previously established ordinances, resulting in still further loss of natural rights by everyone.
We recognize that no-camping ordinances in general and Colorado Springs’s in particular have been thoughtfully crafted to avoid curtailing First Amendment rights. As has been observed, i have every right to express political views at the spot i was arrested for camping, (although the City’s implication that one ought engage in such expression without provision for safety or comfort is of as suspicious motivation as the suggestion that no-camping ordinances apply to all and not merely to those whom they are likely to affect). We argue that nonetheless the no-camping ordinance is unconstitutional because of its inherently discriminatory nature, and contrary to the spirit of American foundational principles, as well as modern ethics.
M.J. and Dan, (the CSPD “Homeless Outreach Team” cops that actually arrested me), have both characterized the City’s ordinance as an important if not now tending toward indispensible “tool” for dealing with the “homeless problem.” The fact that they express their sense of the ordinance’s purpose and use thusly is really just sort of a semantic Freudian slip, but it derives from the same mindset i found at the planning meetings i attended at the United Way wherein “The Homeless” are a problem, rather than “homelessness.” The no-camping ordinance was conceived as and is now being utilized by the C.S.P.D. as a specific means to move the visibly homeless from the aesthetically offended public eye. Although cities including Colorado Springs have avoided utilizing terms such as, “homeless,” that would reveal the unconstitutionally discriminatory nature of similar ordinances, it remains that laws banning necessary, life-sustaining behavior such as sleeping, eating, bathing or storing belongings in public are likely to affect only those members of an economic class that finds itself forced into the targeted behaviors by circumstance. I observed and participated in the process of development when this ordinance was under consideration, and if anyone wants to get up and say it is not aimed directly at the homeless, i’ll stand in open court to call them a liar.
It remains that whether or not one possesses the means to do otherwise, a camping restriction places constraints on a heretofore traditional civil liberty that had been closely entwined with a central thread of American foundational principles. I wrote previously about my perception of the rights involved with camping ordinances as proto-constitutional. A homeless camper’s pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness are at stake in opposition to any restriction, and have been found weightless in the face of public demand for “aesthetic” sophistication, [Joel v. City of Orlando, 232 F.3d 1353 (11th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 149 L.Ed.2d 480 (2001). Can’t find a free link to this one; it’s summarized here]. We don’t deny that a legitimate tension may exist between societal quality-of-life preferences, (i suspect in these instances this amounts mostly to the quality of perceptions held by the business associations that invariably champion anti-poor-folk laws), but we assert that those ought not carry so much weight as to eliminate the very last of life’s options for those with none other. While it is true that the physical presence of a camper diminishes the ability of others to enjoy the specific space he utilizes, the same is true for any park user at any time given the restrictions of physics. Parks are “first come first served,” to the limits of available space at all times. So, the primacy of uncomfortable business advocates is dubious
If i have a house i can set up a tent in the yard and spend the weekend screwing around out there with my kids. If i have no house i may not do so, not even to stave off frostbite, hypothermia or death, and certainly not as an expression of political sentiment. Ahem. The right to “aesthetic” comfort for the business class currently trumps the rights of the very poor to simply exist. They are required by law to be very poor somewhere out of the line of sight of sensitive society.
If, as is the case with Colorado Springs’s ordinance and others i can’t decline, being forced into “shelter” is the same as incarceration. To further bolster this perspective, the conditions at partially available shelters in Colorado Springs are awfully reminiscent of those at any jail or prison, if not worse by some measures. Also, because i lack the ability to pay a fine, i and others in the same circumstance face incarceration anyhow. All sorts of similar ordinances criminalize necessary behavior. We argue that incarceration or any sort of punishment for carrying out necessary activities where necessary is “cruel and unusual,” and violates the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. [e.g. State v. Folks. No. 96-19569 MM (Fla-Cir. Ct., Duval County, Nov. 21, 1996)]
The cynical establishment response to the 8th Amendment argument has been to assert that ordinances with provision for forced sheltering and the like cannot be unconstitutional since the force takes place prior to conviction of any crime, i.e., it is not punishment. That gimmick is such bullshit that i had to pause after writing that last sentence to keep my head from exploding! Unlike the 1st Amendment argument, this one is both more pertinent, (IMHO), and not entirely settled. Although the ridiculous semantic tango above has emanated from courtrooms, delivered with straight faces no less, some adjudicators have called a duck a duck, so higher courts may well be influenced against some lower decisions in the future. [State v. Folks, linked above].
Anyway, the deed is done and i am a convicted camper, as we expected from the City court. I have a month from last Friday to file an appeal, which can yet afford hope for change. It remains to be seen how much support exists for this cause. I don’t think i can pursue the thing alone.
Finally, i’ve made suggestions above that i have yet to really substantiate. I’ve been quiet a while, sorting things a bit, but this stuff in my head deserves an explanation. Expect more.
- Colorado Springs may limit begging (denverpost.com)
- Formerly homeless couple marries in Raleigh’s Moore Square (newsobserver.com)
- Homeless influx raising concerns (gazette.com)