The Most Basic of Rights

“Where are you coming from this evening son?” asked the cop, who might have been two years older than me.

“What do you need that information for sir?” I asked with as much contempt as I could pack into an eight-word sentence.

“This is police business. Don’t try and get smart on me. Where are you coming from?” he repeated. This time I could SWEAR that his hand moved closer to his baton. As if to let me know that he was not afraid to beat my brains in for not answering his questions EXACTLY the way he wanted them answered.

“Once again, SIR”, I said with extra sarcastic emphasis on “Sir”, “If you could tell me why you need that information, I would be glad to think about letting you know.”

He huffed like someone had just given him an SAT level math problem, and then walked briskly back to his cruiser. He sat there for a while GLARING at me under the brim of his State Policeman’s hat. I saw him slap his dashboard and shake his head as if he were disappointed about something. He then walked back to my car and literally threw my license and registration into my lap.

“This could be easier next time.” He stated with an air of “how dare you!”

“Yeah, you could have something on me before you pull me over. That would make everything easier.”

“You want to step out here and settle this son,” he said excitedly. There was a tone in his voice that I hadn’t heard in a long time, but I still knew it. This guy wanted to destroy me. He wanted to take me out of my car, get me to throw a punch, and then beat me in to a coma, or worse.

“Are you threatening me sir?” I said with genuine shock. At this point, I was BEGGING for another cop to pull up and see what was going on. But there’s never a cop around when you need one.

He stared into my soul. This guy had flipped. He had reached a point in his head where something didn’t make sense. Everyone that he had pulled over that day had handed him their license and registration and then proceeded to tell him their life story. They made SURE that they cooperated with his every whim, just to get out of a ticket. No one wants to be a criminal right? No one wants to be suspicious of anything. And if a cop pulls you over, he must have you on something. Right? RIGHT?! Wrong.

We live in a time on this earth when people are giving up their most basic of rights in the name of safety and paranoia. Forget the constitution for a minute. Forget the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness just for a moment, and let’s get down to what REALLY matters. Your most basic right in life is to exist an anonymous human being. No one has the right to track your movement. No one has the right to hunt you down and tag you like some rare species of lizard, but that’s what’s starting to happen RIGHT NOW.

There is an old story that says if you put a frog in a pot of water, you can eventually boil him to death as long as you gradually turn up the heat on the stove. He’ll just keep getting comfortable with the heat. No need to escape right? The temperature will get tolerable sooner or later. Is this happening to us? Are we allowing the government to pass laws that take away our freedoms, simply because we are comfortable with the way things are? Are we so complacent that we let things like the Patriot Act and Domestic Security Enhancement Act 2003 just slide through without anyone griping, simply because we don’t want to be labeled as domestic terrorists?

The Domestic Security Enhancement Act 2003 states that the government doesn’t need a warrant if they suspect you as a terrorist. Section 501 of this document states that anyone found breaking a law during a time of war could be considered a terrorist. Before that, section 201 says that the government never has to release the whereabouts of a jailed terrorist. Pretty nice and neat huh? First, we’ll grab you off the street, and then we’ll lock you up and no one ever has to know. And why do things like this get through? Why would we let something go through our government that allows them to completely wipe their ass with the 4th amendment? People are scared to stand out. It really is that simple. People have convinced themselves that if they haven’t “done anything wrong”, and then they don’t have anything to worry about. They are secure in their head that there is no way that the government would mobilize troops on it’s own people. Ask the people that were at Ruby Ridge what they think about that thought process.

The new trend coming through America now is the microchipping of kids. Just take your rugrat into a specialist office, like the ones at a place called Verichip, and just get a little microchip implanted beneath the skin. This chip can be scanned to verify identity, social security number, medical information, place of birth and whatever else you want to be known when those chips get scanned. Why is this a concern, you might ask? Well, think about a government that has total access to the movement of all of its citizens. Think about how easy it would be to declare martial law on the citizens of this country, and then herd them all up into camps, or wherever they wanted us to go. And hey, it’s for our safety right? There is no way that the elitist, rich, power hungry government would EVER put it’s own citizens into camps for no reason right? Well, unless we were at war, and it was the 1940’s and you were of Japanese or German decent. They don’t tell that story too often, now do they?

So when is enough, enough? When do you stop using your credit card with the little magnetic strip on it that tells the bank, and everyone else who wants that information, where and how you spend your money. How do we stop the use of things like face recognition software out of malls and schools? How do we prevent city and state governments from putting cameras on every street corner? How do we keep things like the national ID card from coming to fruition? The answer is a LOT simpler than people might like to think; we simply MUST care where our freedoms go. They CAN’T pass these bills and spend our money this way if we don’t let them. The root of all of this comes back to us as citizens. We MUST shake the apathy from our collective brain, and take the country back from the people that would abuse it and our freedoms.

The Death of the Music Industry

The music industry as a whole has been in desperately terrible shape for some time now. I think you could probably blame the 1980’s and that whole era of crapulence, but it might be impossible to pin down the exact moment that this lumbering giant started it’s slow decent in to the pit of image over function. Whatever started it, it would appear that the end of the “big label” is quickly coming to an end, and I’d like to think that I can explain to you why, and how truly thankful I really am that this industry is going to implode.

First of all, let’s talk about modern times. Let’s look at the very thing that the music industry is blaming for the decline in record sales; downloading music!! You do it, I do it, and I am going to guess that your dad does it too. Well, how else is he going to get his mitts on a copy of Golden Earring’s “greatest hits”? Anyway, the point is that downloading music has had ZERO effect on the music industry in a negative way*. The fact of the matter is that the labels are SCARED that people will hear the absolute TRIPE that they are demanding that their artists put out, and in return, no one will buy the disks. It’s a valid fear; I would challenge you to find ten CD’s that have been put out in the last year by the major labels that contain more than one or two decent songs. And at the end of the day, those people don’t want you to know that you are shitting SEVENTEEN dollars down your leg by purchasing a musical abortion. Their hope is that everyone buys the disk the MINUTE that it comes out so that no one has time to listen to it and tell their friends not to waste ONE LOWLY DOLLAR on an album that you wouldn’t break in half and slit your own wrists with.

Secondly, when was the last time that someone came out with a song that didn’t sound like it was written by a troop of two year old, autistic chimps? Can I quote some Nickelback lyrics for you? Thanks:

I like your pants around your feet
And I like the dirt that’s on your knees
And I like the way you still say please
While you’re looking up at me
You’re like my favourite damn disease*

I’m sorry? What? Is this what people are passing off as lyrics these days? Now, this shit might fly when played at the local school for the deaf and rhythmically challenged, but I HOPE that the average person is insulted when this garbage flows in to their speakers. I like to pretend that people are OUTRAGED when some redneck uses monosyllabic words to describe receiving fellatio from his dentally handicapped mother. I like to imagine a world where NO ONE buys this disk and then the guys from Nickelback go into some sort of weird early retirement as gladiators, forced to fight lions and tigers to the death, armed only with nerf baseball bats and their “ROCK n ROLL ‘tude”. But I guess my dreams are all I have for now.

Finally, I put some of the blame on the consumer. Yes, you. If there weren’t people outside record stores, waiting in the rain for the newest Shaggy release to come out, then I suppose the companies would stop writing them checks and allowing them to make “music”. Whether the average consumer puts together that the music industry is pure business or not is beyond me. Most people I talk to seem to think that success is marked by the pure numbers of disk that you can sell, not the quality of the art that is created. If it’s strictly a numbers game, then doesn’t that put the Backstreet Boys and *N’Sync up there as some of the “greatest artists of all time”? How many people threw twenty bucks in to the shitter by adding that “soundtrack to the end of the world” to their collection? 2.4 million in a week*. TWO POINT FOUR FUCKING MILLION PEOPLE IN A WEEK. You mean we have people STARVING TO DEATH in the streets, but 2.4 million people can shell out a crispy, new Andrew Jackson for a disk of songs performed by guys that can’t even tune a fucking guitar? You people have NO shame.

So what am I saying? Am I saying that music is dying? Am I saying that no one will release any more disks? No, I think you will find that the major labels are going to dry up and blow away like so much rancid dog shit, and the Indie labels are going to push through even harder now. I am saying that you should pay attention to labels like Trustkill, Solidstate, Rhymesayers, Def Jux and Victory records. The bands that deserve the attention will eventually find a way to get the attention. I keep hoping for a repeat of the early 1990’s. I keep hoping that some little band on a little label will come along and kick the music industry in it’s collective balls and give the music back to the artists; Not people named Ludakris, Nelly or Scott Stapp.