April 26, 2017

Dear Dispatches –

I live in Berkeley and grew up here—was actually conceived underneath the cop car that Mario Savio leapt onto during his famous “throw your body on the gears of the machine” speech (that’s precisely what my parents did, in the junkyard where that piece of history came to rest)—so I think I have the creds to respond to your taking down of the “ultra-Leftists” who object to Ann Coulter’s campus lecture.

Free Speech for Poets Dispatch #1: Defending Ann Coulter!

Yes, there are narrowminded control freaks on the left who would prefer no one spoke except in a kind of avant-gargle choir for voices: where everyone plays a part and the parts are prefab and drilled in and there is no id. The right is handier with the id. The riot costumes tell the whole story: It’s American Gladiator crossed with Mad Max—a dash of Ren Faire geek on the finish—vs. black bodysocks of the Antifa darting unpredictably yet with reptile unity, much like stagehands striking the set between scenes. The left strikes while the right playacts! At the Berkeley rumble two weeks ago, they were literally wearing jousting helmets. That’s hard right couture. It’s like the Ben Hur reboot got hit by a wood chipper.

“Couture”—so close to Coulter. Of course she should be allowed to speak, though I wish she would sing. But here’s the thing: If people don’t like her, they have a right to say so. They have a right to show up and yell, wouldn’t you agree? They have a right to come together and make noise and learn from each other just what they’ll need to say and do next in terms of rhetoric . . . recapturing the flag (of free speech) and all that. First, they’ll need to find their own inner goofball. The dopiest thing about the left is its straight face.

But actually, I’m not even sure the poles “Left” and “Right” conduct a political current any more. No one I know goes around calling themselves a Leftist . . . and has anyone ever called himself a Rightist? It’s a an artificial separation of a deeply mixed up population. The only speech that makes any sense these days is loving kindness. We are on the brink of global cataclysm—total breakdown of human society. The Golden Rule turns out to be as seminal as Duchamp’s urinal.

What I guess I’m saying is that the Coulter struggle simply doesn’t matter. Everyone who gets sucked into it is getting suckered by a big blinking Goodyear Blimp of Geraldo falsies. People are getting shtupped by hokum. Squatting on Huck Finn’s raft watching their own brains get flipped inside out like a hot wet placenta. The main issue—the only issue, I’m tempted to say—is meaningful survival: It’s the soul’s grain. How can we spread this lovely grain to more and more people all over the world? We can’t have a harvest till we broadcast the seeds.

So by that token: Ann Coulter should come to the Berkeley campus and talk to the Young Republicans . . . and no one should care, no one should show up in protest. People should be too busy finding a way to love each other and crying with laughter, too busy turning the Americas into one vast chain of solar light rail and Babylonian hanging gardens, to give a hoot about who thinks s/he owns the narrative. Let ’em have it! Tell a new story.

But that won’t happen. The Antifa will unfold. They will try to block the streets so the limos can’t come through, and they’ll punch babyfaced fascists in the noodle . . . and the babyfaced fascists will come to get punched in the noodle and pretend they didn’t start it. And so, ipso facto, groucho zeppo, the show will go on.

And everyone who wants a part in that show has a right to it.

Julien Poirier