speaking freely, fragments 5-8
by jason hedrick

Fragment Five

[This segment is mostly based on Elaine Cassel’s “The War on Civil Liberties.” Later, I get into quoting some actual news stories on protester’s rights, but the “ACLU employee” a few lines down is not an ACLU employee, as I was corrected by an audience member at St. Cloud who knows him well. He is a peace activist in North Carolina. Also, there used to be a longer introduction by Elaine Cassel before this Ashcroft bit...]

Attorney General John Ashcroft (12-6-01): Each action taken by the Dept. of Justice, as well as the war crimes commissions considered by the President and the Department of Defense, is carefully drawn to target a narrow class of individuals—terrorists. Our legal powers are targeted at terrorists. Our investigation is focused on terrorists. Our prevention strategy targets the terrorist threats.

Cassel: Now, secret lists govern whether you can get on an airplane, open a bank account, or buy a house; there is secret surveillance of e-mail and the internet; and new laws allow the government to search your home, your bank records, and your medical files without your knowledge of the search itself or of the information obtained.

Ashcroft (Minnesota Public Radio, 9-19-03): If your idea of a vacation is two weeks in a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, you might be a target of the Patriot Act. If you have cave-side dinners with a certain thug named bin Laden and if you enjoy swapping chemical weapons recipes from your Joy of Jihad cookbook, you might be a target of the Patriot Act.

Cassel: The more drastic incursions on civil liberties resulting from the Patriot Act include:

Speaker 1: The FBI Can obtain warrants that “follow” a person across state lines and trace telephone or computer usage.

Speaker 2: The FBI can monitor and tape conversations and meetings between an attorney and a client who is in federal custody, whether the client has been convicted, charged, or merely detained as a material witness.

Speaker 3: The FBI can order librarians to turn over information about their patrons’ reading habits and Internet use. The librarian cannot inform the patron that this information has been provided.

Speaker 4: Librarians, on the whole, are outraged at their new role; some have taken to posting signs in the library warning patrons not to use the Internet, others to destroying their logs of Internet users.

Speaker 2: Law enforcement can gain access to information on citizens by obtaining a secret warrant—known as a “sneek-and-peek warrant”—that gives no advance notice to the person whose home or possessions are to be searched.

Speaker 4: The FBI can conduct aerial surveillance of individuals and homes without a warrant and can install video cameras in places where lawful demonstrations and protests are held.

Speaker 1: An ACLU employee in South Carolina is being prosecuted for the federal offense of being in a “restricted area” at the Columbia, South Carolina airport in October 2002, when President Bush made a political campaign appearance.

Speaker 2: He was not arrested just for being there, but rather because he was displaying an anti-war placard.

News Reporter: When Bush came to the Pittsburgh area on Labor Day 2002, 65-year-old retired Steel worker Bill Neel was there to greet him with a sign proclaiming:

Bill Neel: “The Bush family must surely love the poor, they made so many of us.”

News Reporter: The local police, at the Secret Service’s behest, set up a “designated free speech zone” on a baseball field surrounded by a chain-link fence a third of a mile from the location of Bush’s speech. Neel refused to go to the designated area and was arrested for disorderly conduct; the police also confiscated his sign. Neel later commented:

Bill Neel: As far as I’m concerned, the whole country is a free speech zone.

News Reporter: Pennsylvania district judge Shirley Rowe Trkula threw out the disorderly conduct charge against Neel, declaring:

Shirley Rowe Trkula: I believe this is America. Whatever happened to “I don’t agree with you, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it?”

Fragment Six

(Intro Music: “Rocked by Rape” by Evolution Control Committee)

Speaking Freely News

[This news segment has original “Weekend Update” style material by Antonio Castillo, and some material from the Onion. None of those jokes ever got past the hand-written stage. Later in the segment, two guest editorialist/rappers would come out and deliver this next segment—as a note, this started out as one “left-wing” rap, and the “right wing” come-back was added for the second version of the show. “Static” by Steve Buchanan and Lee Newman...]

Steve: I got too much clutter in my attic
So bringin’ static is automatic
In this system democratic
I speak my mind like the truth addict

Lee: I walk with Jesus like Kanye West
Organized religion always knows what’s best
With God on my side I don’t need to invest
In a Kevlar vest for my chest to deflect
What these fools profess
In the way I express
We ain’t got money to feed the poor
Cuz we start wars on more shores
Than Busta’s got Rhymes
You selling nickels and dimes?
We put you away for lifetimes.
It’s a crime how I find
All this time to write rhymes
Like a cokehead does lines
Dy-no-mite like JJ from ‘Good Times’
Strike you deaf, dumb, and blind
Lookin like Tommy,
You sound like a commie
The way I bring truth
To the booth it’s uncouth.

Steve: I wanna laugh at it
But sometimes it makes me weep
Y’all call me a creep
But then you sneak a peek
At my rhymes and my beats
You recognize, with eyes wide, realize
I’m rappin’ ‘bout freedom of speech
Not the poor and the elite
It’s all about how you treat the subject at your feet.
Or in your hand or in you fist
I would be remiss
If I didn’t insist
That my purpose not be missed
The censors might be pissed
But my point is just this:
You have a voice, use it!
Cuz we all might lose it.

Lee: I keep my kids from listenin’
To the likes of Ludacris n them
Other rap stars, pushin’ hot cars
Don’t they know a Benz
Is made for old white men?
You wanna “pimp my ride”?
Got the weight of the world on my side
And you can’t heft this, leftist
Talkin’ senseless.
I blame this duality
For the erosion of morality
This country’s got a cancer
But I’ve got the answers
I show ‘em off like pole dancers
Give you the prescription
To counter all that fiction
Don’t like it? Suck my diction.

Steve: Patriot ain’t just a cruise
Missile, here’s the fact
It’s an act
And that rhyme might be whack
But since the attack
We made a trip to Iraq
But before that
We surrendered our rights
To the first leader in sight
With militant might
And just the right hype
Because of terrorists
Because we were scared of this
Wolf at the door
This declaration of war
And what might be in store
But we settled that score,
Sent troops to foreign shores
Now it’s a fight for OUR freedoms
They can’t just delete ‘em
If we take a stand we can beat ‘em
On the Richter Scale I’m not a Ten
They got Swords, I got a pen
Now can I get an AMEN?

Lee: Gotta protect my child
From Girls Gone Wild Steve (aside): Can he get a Sieg Heil?
Where’s the Amen for the records I spin?
B-U-S-H in the White House again
Keepin family values straight
Won’t have any debate
About what gender you can date
Cuz there’ll be no more hate
If y’all participate
In our Olde World Order
Cuz we got tanks and mortars
To defend our borders
And crush terrorist thugs
Like we won the war on drugs
Now we gotta plant bugs
Like a thief in the night
Flip you the bird like I’m a Mooninite
Harder than I ever have before.
Like John Ashcroft I “Let the Eagles Soar”
Nine-One-One ain’t a joke no more.
Even though he’s dumb as a dinosaur
I’m glad we had Bush instead of Al Gore
To see our country through these times of trouble
With a clear vision, just like the Hubble
Now I don’t mean to burst your bubble
Since his 4 years just got doubled
All you libs will be in Barney Rubble
Kim Jong Il is the new Saddham
And the perfect excuse to drop tha bomb.

Steve: Like Marvin Gaye said, “Let’s get it on”
Unite and fight the system like Tron
Before the Bill of Rights is gone
To Bush and the Neo-Cons
Or to the FCC
Who wanna tell me what’s obscene
But what the fuck does that mean?
If my ideas are extreme
Will this corporate conspiracy
Succumb to hypocrisy?
When cash rules everything around me
I got too much reality for their TV

Lee: But they won’t silence me
Cuz I’m the Great One, G
Like Wayne Gretzky
Or Mohammed Ali

Steve: I float like Number Twenty-Three
Sting like The Police, See?

Lee: I’m like Ortiz and Manny
I’m the M-V-P

Steve: I hit ‘em up lyrically
Like Q-B sacks from L-T

Lee: I make these weak MC’s
Weak in the knees

Steve: Like my name was Bradley
Or Snoop D-O-Double-G
I’m well qualified to represent the L-B-C.

Lee: Yes, Yes, Y’all
I spit it fast like Quick-Draw McGraw

Steve: You play a dork like Anthony Michael Hall
In the Breakfast Club.

Lee: More like a Thug,
Me and 50 in da club

Steve: You into makin’ war, not into makin’ love
Comin up from Texas like a bunch of killer bees

Lee: I don’t need no Strategery
I got more guns than Nugent, Put you in a stranglehold

Steve: Hear what ya bein’ told,
I’m like the General of Soul
I gotta get on up

Lee: I set the roof on fire like my name was Milton

Steve: You gonna turn Baghdad into the Hanoi Hilton

Both: Ho-tel, Mo-tel, Holidaaaay Iiiiinnnn…

Lisa Jergins: Say What?!


Lee: Well I guess everybody agrees on Sugar Hill Gang.

[At this point, the news anchors would thank their guests and introduce a portion of the show called “Anchor Face Off,” which goes something like this...]

Thad Davis: You fucking liberal bitch...

Lisa Jergins: You fucking neo-con prick...

[Then they break into the a fight. After one full completion of the fight, they continue in slow motion over the next two poems.]

Fragment Seven

September 1, 1939, by W. H. Auden (read poem here)

Fragment Eight

[Ariana Waynes, “To the Patriots and the Activist Poets”]

i sit in the audience

reeling from the words of the soft-spoken revolutionaries

wondering if i should hate my country

as i am strangled by my stars and stripes

mexican, armenian, cuban, puerto rican, yugoslavian, bosnian

children cry for inclusion

would you have me forget

that the blessed first amendment of these united

states that i can raise my voice to shake the world

or at least the termite-infested foundation

of this atrocious, ferocious

land that i love

but have never exactly been proud of

would you have me forget

that when i come upon the box

check if you are black-but-not-hispanic,

would you have me forget

that I am African

and Cuban

and native american

and irish

and jamaican

and chinese

would you have me forget

that I am more than the sum of the census bureau’s statistics

or the stereotypes held against me

that I am the product of my everything

that my ancestors butchered

my ancestors who enslaved

my ancestors who raped

my ancestors who drove

my ancestora out of their land

would you have me forget

that i am not my ancestors

and i’m proud to be an american

where at least i know i’m free—

that is if i don’t exercise my freedom

too loudly or act too naturally me

that is as long as i don’t offend

my country men,

don’t color outside the lines of

‘good girl.’

would you have me forget

that there are millions literally dying to be included in that

we the people

who hold these truths to be self-evident

that all (straight) men upper-middle class, conservative and christian

will be treated equal—

would that make my friends non-people?

oh, beautiful, for bright blue eyes

for amber golden hair

as long as you’re a barbie doll,

they’ll have to treat you fair

please pick up your apple pie at the door

and leave quietly, b’bye—

would you have me forget

those children who say “amerika” softly at night

like a prayer before nightmares—

and the monolingual anglosaxon men

in their tailored business suits

shaking their heads and reading their text

“you have to go through the right channels

i’m sorryNEXT!”

oh, say can you see

by the white fluorescent right—

the king of clubs is paining the roses white—

and deporting immigrant children

in the middle of the night

because they cannot write english.

god bless America,

that racist, sexist, classist, ageist, ableist, heightist, imageist,

heterosexist, capitalist community

which i call home, which,

would you have me forget,

is nevertheless one of the few on earth

in which i can speak my mind

and pray or not pray

to whatever god or godess i choose or shoose to refuse

without being mutilated or murdered for it—

would you have me forget

that in a large country in southeast asia

the lips of my labia would have been sewn together

with a white-hot needle

when i was twelve

would you have me forget

that in a mid-size nation in central africa

i would be the property of husband,

lord and master

would you have me forget

that in an industrialized nation in western europe,

i would have to flee the country

to have an abortion

or a divorce

would you have me forget

that i could be shot

as a matter of course

for raising my voice


and i pray to a god that i gave up with santa claus

to thank her

for birthing me here

where the sidewalks, at least, are paved with potholes of potential

and where else would rather be?

i sit here, in the audience,

reeling from the weight of my internal contradictions

and hysterical afflictions of patriotic asphyxiation

for loving a broken nation

that it’s up to us to fix—

power of the people, remember?

at least it doesn’t take a military coup

ask not what your country can do for you

cuz i am tired through and through of waiting

of hating my home

i still love my country

i guess it’s like my momma says

[In the second version of the show, the Speaking Freely News theme “Rocked by Rape” would start in over the last line of this poem.]

i yell because i care.

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