Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Jonesboro Open Mic Comedy Scene, or a Hotbed of Privilege and Oppression? You Decide!

As some of you may know, I dabble in stand up comedy, and have been performing at open mics in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Now, Jonesboro is not a very progressive place, but I've found that the caliber of people drawn to perform at these open mics are at least a notch above the stereotypical redneck local, in terms of general enlightenment and progressiveness. And yes, the last couple open mics that were held at the fabulous TheArts@311 have had a tinge of meanness to the jokes. I wouldn't say anyone came off as a Klansman, but then again I do personally know most of the regular performers to some degree, and genuinely like the crazy lot of them. Maybe my perception is a little tainted by how much I love the venue, and how much I admire so many of my peers performing at these free open mic events. Maybe lines have been crossed that I blurred over in my mind because I can't see through all my white male privilege. 

After the open mic that I just got home from, I saw this exchange in the event page's facebook profile. 

Now, I think it's important to point out the person who posted this is white. I know, it's weird to assume someone with a "Protest Hoody" profile pic throwing around the word "Cracker" is a white person. To explain such a phenomenon , I can only assume that this person is, I suspect, a Radical Feminist Social Justice Warrior of the Tumblr variety. Sounds like a good thing on paper, right? 

Turns out these Tumblr Social Justice Warriors, or just SJW's for short, are a very unique and new band of bigots themselves. Let me explain, if you look into this SJW movement, you will find a few ideas that seem like they could come from a progressive place, but in fact are just thinly veiled racism, and sexism. 

They do that by creating an elaborate new language, all built around the concept of The Patriarchy, and that bigotry only exists from power levels down, and that any hatred from a lower power level directed at a higher power level is not bigotry, but "fighting back against the oppressors." Basically, it's perfectly fine to hate straight people, white people, and men, because that's not bigotry, because The Patriarchy and feels. (If you want to delve even deeper into this abyss of double speak excuses for hatred, feel free to check your privilege HERE.)

A lot of you are probably scratching your heads right now. It just doesn't make any sense to you. Well, that's good, that means you've not been brainwashed by the Tumblr SJW cult. You understand that hating a person based on their gender is bigotry, and that hating a person for their race is racism, even if the object of the hatred is male or Caucasian.

So just how does a person take this irrational leap? Obviously the same way anyone believes any hateful bullshit, they have a dogma, and they have closed their minds to all opposing evidence of the dogma. 

What do you see when you see this picture? Do you see the words "DIE SCUM" and immediately assume this person is a dangerous fanatical bigot? 


Well, if you see that, according the the SJW dogma, you are blinded by your privilege, be it male privilege, white privilege, or if you're just a level headed female person of color, you're probably blinded by your CIS Privilege. What's CIS Privilege? Well, a cis-gendered is pretty much just the opposite of a trans-gendered person. Seems kind of complicated doesn't it? Almost like wherever rationality may lie, there's some strange code words and dogmatic fanaticism right around the corner ready to stop the logic party in it's tracks. 

But that's just how this group operates. And the sad thing is that most of these people come into this fanaticism from a good place. Genuine good intentions that I can sympathize with. Most people who know me know that I'm very much not a heterosexual. That I have been the victim of violent homophobia. I am against bigotry and social injustice. Yet, here's the difference, I'm not a radical. I'm not a fanatic. I don't hold onto any dogmas. 

That's not to say that I'm somehow better than people who have dogmas, or that I have a more objective perception on any issue, but I feel sometimes that a lack of belief system has helped me see through a lot of the bullshit in the world. Hell, maybe it's helped my comedy. Some people seem to like what I do. 

So this bizarre new form of bigotry has shown it's presence in the local comedy scene. A bunch of my friends and colleagues (and maybe even myself I'm not so sure if I came off as ableist since I did mock George W Bush), have been called "breeder cracker pricks" and told to sleep on the train tracks by an attractive, well to do, white lady with a strange ideology, and I can't help but feel somewhat amused. 

I'm sure no one's going to kill themselves over this lady's comments, and thankfully my friend who did reply to her comment was self deprecating enough to turn her blood-lust and bigotry into praise of his performance (which really was one of the best performances of the night), and the admin for the venue's facebook page was gracious enough to even thank her for showing up. 

And this highlights what I think is pretty great about our little, local open mic comedy scene, that we're allowed to be ourselves, and make mistakes, and be offensive, and push the envelope, and maybe even be a bit of a bigot, and we'll still be welcome back, and even sometimes thanked for showing up. Because when it comes right down to it, none of us are really evil people. Not even the lady who spouted sexist and racist slurs and wished death on the performers. I understand where she's really coming from, and though it is a dark place, I see her good intentions. 

Sure there may be an abundance of straight white males, but it's a lot more diverse than you would expect from a town with the nickname "Fort God." And, I hope this Social Justice Warrior feels vindicated somewhat in her poorly picked battle she started on a facebook event page for a show that double digits worth of people showed up to, in a town most people have never heard of. 

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