Reminder: my film Seder-Masochism screens at the Virginia Theater in Champaign IL tomorrow at 7pm! Details here.
Mike Nayna just released part 3 of his series about Evergreen State’s…I don’t know what to call it. Cults? Mobs? Cultural Revolution? Clusterfuck? Lord of the Flies? Whatever it is, it’s not just happening at Evergreen. My blacklisting is part of the same wave, so if you want to understand what’s happening to me, please watch these.
Some of you may know I embarked on a social media fast a few months ago. A big part of my recovery has been writing by hand. I am gradually transcribing those pearls of wisdom gleaned from my notebooks, but it’s taking a while. Jumping ahead of my backlog, here is today’s entry, hopefully to be collected with the rest into a treatise tentatively titled Death on Mount Ladyfeels: Reflections of an Internet Scapegoat.
I doubled my daily social media allowance to 30 minutes, in order to promote the May 8 Seder-Masochism screening at the Virginia, and already my addiction is more active. I made an event page on fecebook with fliers and links to the GoFundMe. I posted these on my timeline as well. Of course there are comments and “reactions.” Of course I’m vigilant for counter-reactions: denunciations, protest organizing. Those will take a few days, although I already screen-capped my first denunciation on Twitter, calling out the Virginia for promoting a right-wing white supremacist (that’s what they think I am now).
My impulse is to check the internet to find out “what’s happening” — who is reacting to me, to my event, to my film; what are they saying, thinking, doing. They say abuse survivors are “hypervigilant”; it’s a symptom of PTSD. Certainly those being actively abused are. Social media supplies abuse and enables hypervigilance, everything a victim needs to trauma bond with technology. It’s perfect for compulsively monitoring your abusers. Every social subtlety is significant, a cue and a clue to your safety, who will come to your aid and who will betray or condemn you, as Robin Dunbar elaborated in Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language. We constantly need to know where we rank in the hierarchy, who our allies and enemies are, and how those alliances shift. We need not only keep track of our friends and enemies, but our friends’ friends and enemies, and our enemies’ enemies and friends. For this, the human brain was designed; language evolved merely to keep better track of ever-shifting ranks, alliances, and enmities, according to Dunbar. No wonder fecebook is so addictive.
Blacklisting is familiar to many American Jews. Both Robert Naiman and I are “red diaper grandbabies”: his Jewish grandfather was blacklisted, as was my Jewish great-uncle, and my Jewish grandparents were terrified former Communist Party members in rural Indiana. When I was a child, my mother sternly warned me never to say her parents were Communists out loud – she had grown up in a climate of terror and silence.
Many American Jews have been Communists. Many more have been deeply committed to Civil Rights, particularly Free Speech. I understood better why on a recent trip to Poland, where I met not a single Pole who had ever attended a Passover seder. This included Poles descended from Jews, who are legion. In Seder-Masochism, I wonder aloud why my father, an atheist, raised us observing Passover. In Poland, I got my answer: Because he could. Because in America we were free to do Passover — to not only be ethnically Jewish, but to say out loud what Jews were forbidden to say in Poland. This meant an annual Passover seder without fear.
While today’s ACLU is a disgrace, in its better days its membership was disproportionately Jewish. American Jews understood the importance of Speech, including – especially – speech you disagree with. Although the ACLU no longer understands this, some of us American Jews still do.
We wanted to screen Seder-Masochism during the week of Passover. Robert signed a contract with the Art Theater and made a deposit, but when the Art’s Executive Director realized the film was by local witch/scapegoat Nina Paley, she cancelled the contract. I’ve been blacklisted in Champaign-Urbana for saying the forbidden: that women don’t have penises. For this, my screenings have been cancelled, my voice silenced, and my life threatened. Those responsible may think this has nothing to do with Jews, but they are re-enacting patterns very familiar to Jews indeed. Patterns that never end well, for anyone. Patterns that resulted in most Poles having no idea what Passover is.
Blacklisted by the Art, Robert turned to the only centrally-located theater left, the 1,463-seat Virginia, a beautifully restored movie palace owned and operated by the Champaign Park District. As a government enterprise, the Virginia must respect the First Amendment. (It also helps that, unlike the Art, the Virginia is not run by repressive ideologues.)
The theater is truly gorgeous, and huge. It will be a struggle to fill all 1,463 seats. Can you help? Admission is FREE, you need only get to Champaign, IL. If you can’t make it, you can still support the event’s GoFundMe. (Donate $250 or more, you get to have dinner with me and Robert in downtown Champaign (restaurant to be determined) before the screening. A donation of $1,463 gets you this beautiful Goddess quilt.) But the greatest gift would be to see you at the Virginia Theater on May 8, because Free Speech is priceless.
At The Virginia Theater, Champaign IL, May 8 @7pm
Date/Time(s): Wed, May 8, 2019 – 7pm (doors open at 6pm)
Seating: General Admission
Tickets: FREE and open to the public
(2018) 78 Min, Not Rated
Loosely following a traditional Passover Seder, events from the Book of Exodus are retold by Moses, Aharon, the Angel of Death, Jesus, and the director’s own father. But there’s another side to this story: that of the Goddess, humankind’s original deity. Seder-Masochism resurrects the Great Mother in a tragic struggle against the forces of Patriarchy.
The film features the voice of the late Hiram Paley, known to many C-U residents as former mayor of Urbana, U of I math professor, and lifelong free speech advocate.
For more, visit sedermasochism.com.
The screening will be followed by a live panel discussion featuring filmmaker Nina Paley, Just Foreign Policy Director Robert Naiman, and other special guests.
Presented by Just Foreign Policy.
Admission is FREE. Donate to our fundraising campaign here: https://www.gofundme.com/manage/lets-save-lives-by-investigating-Passover